By Steve Janes
Although snowmobiling is usually a very “individual” activity done in groups, every so often I like to take my wife with me for a ride. And with her, it’s less “individual” and more of a “couples” thing. The challenge was to figure out a way to interact with her without necessarily having to “babysit” her on the trail.
I came across the Cardo PackTalk Bold, a dynamic communication system that is hands free and voice activated. With the Cardo, I’m able to talk to my wife while we are riding down the trail. And when we go off trail I can coach her when to get off her butt and what side of the snowmobile to stand on.
The Cardo PackTalk is more than a two-way intercom system. First, you can connect to up to 15 riders. It also connects with your phone for hands-free calling. It has Bluetooth capability and you can also use it for music from your smartphone or FM radio.
It is impressive how lightweight and compact the Cardo system is. Attach it to your helmet and you’re good to go. A 13-hour battery life lasts all day on the trail.
The first thing to note is that Cardo sells its products worldwide so the directions come in multiple languages … 10 to be exact. Sometimes it can be difficult finding a language you can understand when all 10 directions are stacked next to each other.
However, the instructions are fairly straightforward—attach the back plate to your helmet, position the microphone and insert the ear speakers.
To attach the back plate, there are two ways this can be done depending on the style of your helmet; by clip on and by adhesive. With most full-face or motocross style helmets, the adhesive method is probably the best option.
This method is simple: Find where you want to mount the back plate; clean the area; peel off the protective backing sheet; and press the adhesive base onto the helmet for about 15 seconds.
Now take the time to attach your microphone and ear speakers to your helmet. You will want to keep most of the wires tucked inside your helmet pads so they are out of the way. Be carful when plugging in your mic wire … we found it possible to bend the tiny post in the connection.
Once you allow the adhesive adequate time to dry, you can insert your Cardo PackTalk onto the base plate and you are ready to go.
The easiest way to learn how to operate the Cardo is by the tutorial found on YouTube at https://youtu.be/HS9FQl9BMuM. However, the PackTalk Bold Pocket Guide is fairly simple to follow and you only have to deal with three languages.
First you turn the system on. Then pair it to your phone. Since the system is voice activated once on, all you need to do is say “hey Cardo” and it will respond to your commands. There are also buttons you can push … if you like to physically make the adjustments to your system.
Cardo offers rider-to-rider intercom communications, access to mobile phone communications (via Bluetooth), access to music and FM radio.
- I like the simple way to talk to fellow riders without having to click or que the mic.
- I like phone access—I hear when calls come in.
- I like how easy it is to get to music or FM radio and how clear the sound comes through the system.
- I don’t like the “clip on” backing plate. It’s not designed for motorcross style snowmobile helmets. The adhesive attachment works well but is permanent so you can’t move your system from helmet to helmet.
- I don’t like the limited range of the intercom system. It will reach up to one mile in line-of-sight but if you are riding in terrain the distance is reduced.