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ADV ProductsAll-New Cardo PackTalk Headset Gets Slimmer and Smarter

All-New Cardo PackTalk Headset Gets Slimmer and Smarter

Now, there are two versions of the popular PackTalk headsets: Bold and Slim.

Published on 05.18.2018

While most of us want to get a little slimmer before the swimsuit season, Cardo Systems created the all-new PackTalk Slim headset in time for summer riding season. For years, the top of the line helmet communicator at Cardo was the PackTalk with its proprietary Dynamic Mesh Communication. Now the standard size PackTalk is called the PackTalk Bold and the all new smaller version is called the PackTalk Slim which only gives up a tiny bit of range to become the lowest profile full-feature communicator on the market.

Cardo Packtalk Slim Motorcycle Headset
The PackTalk Slim packs premium features including Mesh Communication technology into a slender 6.5 mm profile.

While the new PackTalk Bold is the same size and has the same button layout as the previous PackTalk units, there are some changes that, overall, are aimed at making using Cardo communicators simpler and more intuitive. Both Slim and Bold share all of the following features.

New Voice Commands

Previously, when you wanted to use the voice command system to tell the PackTalk to do something, you would have to tap the roller button or make a loud sound to activate the system. Cardo realized that taking your hand off the controls to activate the system sort of defeats the purpose of using voice command.


Cardo Packtalk Slim Motorcycle Headset

Now, with the natural voice operation feature, you can say “Hey Cardo” to activate the voice command system and not take your hand off the bar. With the other activation method (making a loud noise) there were a lot of false activations when riders accidently made loud noises (possibly expletives) when going through tough terrain. Now with the activation phrase, it will be less likely to activate the voice command system accidentally.

The voice command system is now wired for activating your phone’s voice assistant by saying “Hey Siri” or “OK Google.” Then you can use pretty much any command to get directions, order some dinner, or make a phone call. But, if you are using the “Hey Cardo” command to manipulate your PackTalk communicator, you still have to know the right commands to say. It isn’t as smart as Siri or Google Assistant, yet there is a little bit of leeway.

New Button Interface

Adventure Motorcycle

Again, following the theme of making everything simpler, the button patterns on the PackTalk Bold and Slim are brand new. The goal is to make the button mapping easier and faster to perform tasks. If you have an older PackTalk unit and update the firmware, the new button mapping will be uploaded to your unit making your user manual obsolete. Yet, you can download the new pocket guide that explains the button sequences and there are videos online that explain as well.

SmartPack Discontinued But Still Supported

Cardo Systems SmartPack communicator was a lower cost version of the PackTalk that also had the DMC mesh technology but was limited to four connections instead of 15 and had a smaller range. While they aren’t going to be made anymore, if you already have one, they are still being supported. Owners should know that with the most recent firmware update, Cardo has removed the 4-person max intercom connections restrictions. You can still find the SmartPack at a good price here.

New App For All Devices And Better Sound

In the past, Cardo had separate apps for each different device. Now there is one Cardo app to control them all. The app allows you to configure the device settings like FM radio presets, VOX sensitivity, phone presets and more. Plus the speakers are slightly larger and the audio processor is faster and has new enhancements to make the PackTalk sound output as best it can be.

Cardo Packtalk Slim Motorcycle Headset
The PackTalk Slim includes a battery pack that attaches to the back of your helmet and gives up to 13 hours of talk time.
Cardo Packtalk Slim Motorcycle Headset
Both the Slim and Bold units are IP67 Waterproof. Other features include Bluetooth 4.1 for phone and GPS connectivity, DMC comm and 15-way bike-to-bike conferencing.

Which PackTalk Is Right For You?

All the features found in the updated PackTalk Bold are also in the all new PackTalk Slim, so who would choose the bigger Bold? Well, if you are used to the PackTalk roller wheel system or if you want the most range possible, then the Bold might be a better choice. It has a range of 1.6 km (0.99 miles) and the Slim has a range of 1.2 km (0.75 miles). Also, although the Bold is bigger, it is all one unit while the Slim is very low profile, but there is a separate battery pack that attaches to the bottom/back of your helmet, which is also very low profile. For the rider who spends most of his/her time in tight, dense foliage, the Slim would be a better choice while the rider who needs maximum range and doesn’t mind a larger unit should think about the Bold.

Both PACKTALKs retail at an MSRP of $329.95 for single units and $579.95 for a DUO set. Here at ADV Pulse we’ll be getting a couple of Slims to test out so keep your eyes peeled for a full review soon.

Shopping Options

PackTalk Slim PackTalk Bold

Author: Sean Klinger

With his sights set on doing what he loved for a living, Sean left college with a BA in Journalism and dirt bike in his truck. After five years at a dirt-only motorcycle magazine shooting, testing, writing, editing, and a little off-road racing, he has switched gears to bigger bikes and longer adventures. He’ll probably get lost a few times but he’ll always have fun doing it. Two wheels and adventure is all he needs. 

Author: Sean Klinger

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May 18, 2018 11:20 am

Great presentation Sean, do you know if it enables communication with other brand ie Sena?

May 18, 2018 1:55 pm
Reply to  BenBern

Yes, via Bluetooth. Not through the mesh network.

April 8, 2019 9:09 am

Avoid!!! I purchased the packtalk slim for a 8 week trip around Vietnam. The unit broke 3 days into the trip. The charge connector came loose inside the unit and it would not charge.

I contacted cardo tech support who were completely useless, no advice, no apologies just a generic reply was very disappointed.

It caused major headaches for our group and we ended up having to replace with cheap Chinese units which suprisingly had much much better build quality.

I was very disappointed with this unit and would not recommend this unit or buy from cardo ever again.

Peter Olt
Peter Olt
August 1, 2019 3:45 pm

We just had the EXACT same thing happen as Simon’s post below. 4 out of 5 units failed in our ADV ride within 2 weeks. Bad design!!!! The charging sockets broke out of all units. They just emailed me saying they are redesigning the Slim model so I would definitely not buy until they release the revised design. When they worked they were great for what that’s worth.

Chris D
Chris D
January 20, 2020 10:51 am

I’ve had a PackTalk (not bold or slim) and it’s worked VERY well for me, my friends and family who ride! Easy setup & installation plus the app works fairly well too.


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