GMRS Repeaters: The essential guide to extending your reach

GMRS Repeaters: The essential guide to extending your reach

GMRS Repeaters: The essential guide to extending your reach

By: Audry Jean. Contributions by: Steve Gonzalez

Prepare to tune in, turn up, and Go Further™ with your Rugged GMRS Radio

In the world of two-way radio communication, GMRS repeaters play a crucial yet often overlooked role, significantly extending the range of handheld and mobile radios far beyond their usual limits.

After acquiring your GMRS license and callsign, you’re probably wondering, what’s next? How can I extend my range while on the trail? As adventurers, we recognize that the landscape within a single-day adventure can vary greatly. So, how can we guarantee that our communication remains uninterrupted and without restrictions? We can’t! However, we can take steps to get the most out of our communication gear.

Let's explore the realm of GMRS repeaters and learn how to enhance the performance of your radio by using them.

What is a GMRS repeater? And WHY should I know how to use one?

A repeater acts as a range enhancer for GMRS frequency radios. It operates by receiving and then rebroadcasting radio signals, allowing them to cover a wider area than what a standard handheld or mobile radio can achieve on its own. These devices are best installed at elevated locations to guarantee the broadest possible signal distribution, letting it transmit above and over obstructions that would normally block signals at ground level.

Graphic showing how a repeater works for transmitting signals over vast distances. Go Further with Rugged Radios

Powerful and advanced, these towers receive, amplify, and retransmit signals across vast distances, enabling seamless communication in diverse and challenging terrain.

How gmrs radios transmit signals by line of sight.

Two-way radios, including GMRS, function best when there's a direct line of sight between them. For example, with zero obstructions, a walkie-talkie can provide clear communication over distances of 5, 10, or even 15-plus miles. The presence of barriers such as trees, hills, and mountains can greatly reduce any radio's range.

One of the major benefits of utilizing GMRS is the ability to use a GMRS repeater for maximum range in difficult terrains. To make this happen, you will need a repeater-capable mobile or handheld radio. You can check out our GMRS radio lineup here.

With over 1,700 repeaters nationwide, a repeater-friendly radio could get you a maximum range where cell signal is impossible.

How to find a repeater is the premier online resource for information on repeater channels throughout the United States. To gain access to vital data such as repeater frequencies and tone codes, registration is required using your call sign.

Steps for accessing a repeater

After obtaining your GMRS license and call sign, the next steps are straightforward. If you find yourself having trouble gaining access to information regarding your GMRS license, FRN number, or call sign, please check out this article on

Click on the steps below for guidance

Step 1: Visit 

Step 2: Register for an account or Login if you already have one.

Step 3: Navigate to the repeater map

Use the MAP feature on the menu to find and select a repeater within the region of your exploration. While some repeaters are accessible to all, many require prior authorization.

Map of repeaters across the united states

Step 4: Find and select the repeater you'd like to connect to 

Gardnerville, Nevada GMRS repeater

Step 5: Click View Details

Once you click on "View Details" you will have access to important repeater information, such as the repeater name, type, owner, frequencies, tone codes, and whether or not special permissions are required.

view details page of a repeater on

Step 6: Request Access 

Check the “TYPE” section to see if permission is needed. If permission IS NEEDED, click the “Request Access” button on that screen.

  • Note: If permission is not required, the input and output tone will be accessible on this page. If you request access, an email will be sent to your registered email with the tone codes you need to use the repeater.

Step 7: Fill out the Repeater Request Access Form 

When finished, click “Submit Request”

  • Note: You can view your repeater requests in the right sidebar labeled “My Requests” on any page of

Step 8: Check your email

Check the email you used to register your account. The repeater information, including frequencies and tone codes, will be sent there once the request is granted.

Already Know Your Repeater Info? Start Here!

Step 9: Find your repeater channel

Compare the frequency of the repeater you wish to use to our Rugged Radios repeater channel chart. The repeater channels on this list are pre-programmed on every Rugged GMRS Radio. Select the correct channel on your radio according to this chart.

  • Note: If you are using a different brand of radio - check your manual for repeater channel information.

Step 10: Input your tone codes

Now that you have input your repeater channel, that same email will include the necessary tone codes for receiving or transmitting on the repeater channels. Compare this information with the chart below to find the correct tone code number for your radio.

Step 11: Radio Check!

Radio Check!

You've successfully connected to your repeater and can now transmit further than ever before.

Take this opportunity to learn about radio etiquette and transmitting on a repeater.

Let's Cut Through the Chatter... Tone Codes aren't scary

Using tone codes on a GMRS repeater can significantly enhance communication clarity and reduce traffic. Tone codes, also known as CTCSS (Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System) or DCS (Digital-Coded Squelch), help PREVENT interference from other users by only allowing radios with the matching tone to communicate. All Rugged brand GMRS Radios have the ability to use cross-tone (C-CDC) and separate transmit (T-CDC) or receive (R-CDC) tones. Additionally, using tone codes can extend battery life by reducing unnecessary radio transmission and reception. Remember- although they are often referred to as "privacy tones" in the realm of radios, THEY ARE NOT PRIVATE!! 

Go Further™ with GMRS Repeaters

By now, you should feel confident and prepared to make the most of your handheld or mobile radios in the world of GMRS repeaters. If you have any remaining questions, don't hesitate to reach out to one of our team members. We look forward to hearing your voice on the radio waves.

Get Your GMRS License

A valid FCC license is necessary to legally operate a GMRS radio. Thankfully, there are no tests required to obtain a GMRS license, they are valid for 10 years, and they cover your immediate family—regardless of age! As an added bonus, your GMRS license now costs ONLY $35 as of April 19, 2022 — 50% less than the previous $70 fee!


Pine Watt
Pine Watt

Does connecting to a repeater allow me to send a message farther than the listed max range of 15-20 miles?!

That Radio Gal
That Radio Gal

Great information on GMRS repeaters! The step by step video made it sooo easy 🙌 For a newbie (like me) it breaks down the important stuff without too much radio jargon that is intimidating…

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