Last updated on February 26th, 2021
Finding the best handheld ham radio for survival can be quite difficult, especially if you are a first-time buyer. In a seemingly flooded market, knowing which high-quality radio with the most advanced features and latest technology to purchase is almost impossible.
But is owning a ham radio in today’s digital era really necessary? These simple communication gadgets are still essential and can come in handy at the least expected time. They are great for outdoor adventures and emergency cases.
What is a Ham Radio?
What is a Dual-Band Handheld Radio?
What to Look For While Choosing Best Handheld Ham Radio for Survival
Which are the Most Popular Ham Bands
Top 5 Best Handheld Ham Radio for Survival
BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174MHz VHF & 400-520MHz UHF) Includes Full Kit with Large Battery
The BF-F8HP is a dual band handheld radio, which is an improved version of the UV-5R.
One of the major improvements has been that this best handheld ham radio has more transmit power due to its new generation chipset and concierge service.
The Baofeng BF-F8HP is affordable, easy to use and extremely popular among beginners as well as experienced hams. This handheld ham radio is the best survival radio and the best Baofeng radio with some exciting features that make the experience invaluable.
It boasts of three power levels which are low- 1 watt, medium-4/5 watts, and high-7/8 watts. With this radio, it is possible to monitor two channels simultaneously, thanks to its Dual watch receiver, also known as semi-duplex.
You do not have to worry about not having enough power when you have the 2000Mah power battery as your back up. This is a portable ham radio that even a beginner can comfortably use.
Being the best portable ham radio it does all that while being compatible with the accessories of model UV-5R. So in case you have wanted to upgrade to this radio you don’t have to worry about buying new accessories to compliment it.
This long-range handheld radio has the latest firmware. So on getting this device, you will be the proud owner of some very innovative design.
The company realizes that not everyone is a radio expert thus to make this model into the best ham radio for beginners they have included a fully detailed manual. This manual will guide the user regarding the customization and capabilities of the model.
Being the most powerful handheld ham radio it has the capability of transmitting up to 8 watts of power, making it one of, if not the best handheld radio manufactured by Baofeng.
- Has an 8-hour power output
- Upgraded chipset
- Comes with a better antenna
- Increased power output does not make a significant difference
- Relatively expensive
BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio (Black) (Renewed)
While the radio enthusiastic will prefer to have a proper radio and a complete setup. But this best mobile ham radio for the money doesn’t fall short of amazing features.
So if you’re new to the wonders to ham radio, this would be the best pick for you.
This Baofeng ham radio (black renewed) can watch two channels at the same time. It has a frequency range of 65-108mhz. Features high/low power settings of 4W/1W and contains a programmable radio.
The FM broadcast radio can be used on amateur frequencies and can transmit on both the Narrowband (12.5 kHz) and a wide band of about 25 kHz.
This best beginner ham radio has 128 programmable memory channels with the option of adding and removing as the user sees fit. The battery is a 1800mAh Lithium-Ion with a power capacity of about 12 hours.
When you are not in need of the power from the battery, these hand held radios contain a save feature that saves power to be used when needed, which makes it the best survival radio.
A little known fact is that with UV-5R you can use more than 2 watts of power to transmit and receive on 5 Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS) Frequency.
With MURS you can use an external antenna to transmit and receive. The range in such a case is up to 10 miles. Amazing isn’t it?
On getting this item from amazon you will get the latest firmware. Firmware here means the software of the radio.
The build of this best ham radio for beginners is quite strong and can be used by rough handlers.
As far as the programming of this best handheld radio scanner is concerned, it’s quite satisfactory.
Thou ham radio gear for sale is available in many places, but what they all fail to inform you is that you will require a license to use the gear. This is because you can only legally use GMRS and Amateur Radio Services.
Plus, in case of emergencies, you should know which channel you have to refer to.
You can, of course, use Family Radio Services (FRS)frequencies like other walkie-talkies if you’re not ready to get your license.
- Rechargeable battery
- Has an FM radio
- Power saver feature.
- A handy all-round radio.
- Alarms are okay, but not necessary
- Programming not intuitive
Baofeng UV-82 Plus High Power 3800mAh DC Connector Battery 8W Dual PTT Band Transceiver Amateur Portable Two Way Radio + Tactical Antenna
This best handheld ham radio for survival is one of the finest Baofeng radio models on the market. With a v-85 antenna for optimum performance, it has a switch known as a PTT switch which comes in handy when you opt to transmit on two frequencies.
It also comes with a dual push to talk button. In addition to this, it has the capability of receiving two frequencies at the same time, at different bands. This is made possible by a feature known as a dual watch receiver.
The UV-82 comes with a double push-to-talk button. The efficiency of the button makes it the best emergency radio on the market. The dual PTT is a remarkable leap forward in the HT machinery and so the device is credited for being the best portable ham radio.
Using it you to transfer on two frequencies. By pressing the button up, you can transmit on “Frequency A” and by pushing the button down you can transmit on “Frequency B”. Frequency A or B can also be utilized as a scanner of channels, frequencies, DTS and CTCSS tones.
Added features of this best handheld ham radio include FM broadcasting capability with the incoming call given first priority. It has a total of 128 programmable channels that can be programmed via software or manually.
The BaoFeng UV-82 series has raised the bar on the best ham radio for beginners! Compared to the aforementioned BaoFeng products like UV-5R, this ham radio comes with a louder speaker.
But that’s not all, this best handheld ham radio for beginners has a comparatively solid case with larger buttons and an innovative chipset.
The PCB board on this device that outperforms the accuracy, range, and output of the preceding BaoFeng chipsets.
But don’t consider this as a remake of all the previous models. This is a completely new radio.
Lastly this long-range handheld radio can outperform the chipset of UV-5R and its power settings can either below (1W), medium (4W), and high (7W).
All of us want to personalize any equipment that we own and this isn’t just for the sake of making the device unique.
It’s also for making it easier for us to use.
BaoFeng UV-82 does this well.
With it having 128 programmable memory channels. It can get hard to handle. This it allows you to remove and add channels from the scanning list. You can do this by using the free computer software.
Furthermore, you can give channels alphanumeric names. This is also done using a computer. The radio has 2 power levels permitting you to choose how far you can connect. You can set VFO parameters using the CHIRP software.
You can easily program from a computer and set-up the ham radio to function exactly as need it to.
- Great battery life
- Much better antenna
- CHIRP programming
- Alphanumeric programming only possible via the software
- No clock
Yaesu FT-60R VHF/UHF 2m/70cm, 5w Max Handheld Transciver with Mars/Cap Modification for Extended Transmit Frequency Ranges
Topping the list of best survival radio communications systems is Yaesu FT-60R. Unlike the majority of ham radios available in the market, this one comes with a solid outer casing. Its outer casing is made of aluminum.
Being the perfect candidate for outdoor activity and as the best handheld ham radio for survival, it is water-resistant. Thus you won’t have to worry when it accidentally falls in water while your camping out. This long-range handheld radio features dual-band VHF/UHF frequencies.
Plus, it is also armed with an audio alert. So when your battery is getting low you will get a notification. This feature comes in handy especially when you don’t remember to keep a check on this thing.
Yaesu FT-60R has a supreme 5W power output. This helps provide more range. In case of close range conversations, you can tune on the radio at a less power output.
The lock feature of this best handheld radio scanner prevents accidental swapping of frequencies. With your frequency locked and loaded you can easily go about your work.
Furthermore, its backlit keypad and display reduce unnecessary eye strain during the dark.
Being one of the most powerful handheld ham radio it has 1000 memory stations and offers the best ham radio base station.
This Yaesu ham radio is considered among the best handheld ham radio for survival because of its superb audio quality which is coupled with a huge LCD display.
As the name suggests, it has a dual-band with a total of 5 watts output on both. It comes with two unique, the Emergency Automatic Identification Feature which is normally used in search and rescue situations.
Other prominent features
It helps those that cannot press the PTT switch for one reason or another. This means those who are disabled can also use this device. Its coverage covers a wide area at 144/430mHz and is easy to program manually.
To keep unwanted and unauthorized individuals from using this Yaesu radio, it features a password security feature. Undoubtedly we can say that it is one of the best portable radio.
The Yaesu FT-60R is the best ham radio for beginners as it takes things a step further up from the Quansheng and BaoFeng models.
Being the best emergency radio on the market It can receive and transmits signals within higher ranges. This in turn means that you’ll be more likely to connect with other operators more quickly.
Along with offering a thousand memory channels, it has a NOAA Weather Alert feature and the ability to obtain emergency frequencies in 800-900 Mhz.
Its aluminum body makes it durable and compact. Making it easy for this best portable ham radio to survive in the wilderness.
If you’re outdoorsy and looking for the best beginner ham radio, this may be the instrument for you!
- It is inexpensive
- Comes with a long-lasting battery
- Has a sturdy shape
- The menu system is difficult to understand especially to an amateur.
Bundle – 3 Items – Includes Kenwood TH-D74A 144/220/430MHz Tribander Digital Handheld w/APRS & D-Star with The New Radiowavz Antenna Tape (2m – 30m) and HAM Guides Quick Reference Card
The Kenwood TH-D74A enhanced functionality, durability and a great user experience that seasoned ham users love. It comes with four power output settings that start from 0.05W, followed by 0.5W, 2W and finally 5W. These power options make it one of the best handheld ham radio for survival.
Depending on the output level and usage of the radio, the battery has a capacity of 6-15 hours. Kenwood TH-D74A has a TFT display with a bit of color. This makes it possible for the user to read at any time of day or night.
In it is a GPS system, which comes in handy in search and rescue situations and has Bluetooth support. Coupled with a wide band and multi-mode reception, that can operate on three frequencies, namely 144, 220 and 440 MHz, its flexibility is impressive because of its compatibility with some applications.
These applications include APRS communication protocol, which allows two-way data transmission in real-time. This is made possible by the use of packet communications. The other application is the D-star, which is an amateur radio communications network.
- The menu has been structured well
- Easy configuration
- The display is easy to read in the sunlight
- The battery life will not last long if you’re into heavy GPS and APRS
- The handbook/manual for this Kenwood amateur radio is poor and not so helpful
As it is important to get the right and best handheld ham radio, thus you should understand what you are buying. Plus, you should be aware of the features and limitations of the products in order to avoid frustrations and product returns in the future.
So take your time in finding the best handheld ham radio for survival.
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Eva is Cartbig’s editor in chief and she has worked on everything Cartbig covers, from beyblades to lawn mowers. In her previous life, she held editorial positions in iEssent and BHP.
She loves reading, she has a daughter and a poorly behaved havanese dog.
She resides in Utah and she works remotely from a desk piled with post-it notes, science fiction books and all kinds of cameras. Even broken ones.