Top 5 Best Handheld Ham Radio for Survival – Our Review 2021

Handheld ham radio

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?

Millions of people all over the world enjoy using radios as a hobby, these amateur radio operators refer to themselves as hams or radio hams.

Another name of ham radio is amateur radio.

To become an official radio ham you will have to take a test. Because wireless communication is done on varies brands thus there are several license classes. The more privilege license class you want to be a part of, the more difficult the examination of it will be.

Thou using radios as a hobby is fun but it is also useful in desperate times. for example; after the powerful Hurricane Andrew in South Florida blew all the grid stations. There was no way to communicate with the outside. In such a state of emergency, the Citizens Radio Service rose to the occasion. They managed to get in touch with the affected area and helped get help to those areas. In short ham radios provide the best survival radio communications systems.

What is a Dual-Band Handheld Radio?

A communication system that is manufactured to permit operation on two completely separate frequencies is referred to as dual-band. You will receive transmission according to the capabilities of the dual-band handheld radio.

A dual-band handheld radio is an essential component of any ham radio. As it allows long-range communication especially in case of emergencies.

In the electromagnetic spectrum, dual-band handheld radio can transmit on UHF and UHF bands. (Remember that we will refer to ultra-high frequencies as UHF and very high frequency as VHF, for convenience)

In case of ham radio, the UHF frequency ranges from 420-450 MHz, while the VHF ranges from 144-148 MHz.

In case of reception and transmission, you should know that some operators allow you to transit on brand while receiving on the other. This isn’t the case with every ham radio. Some allow you to transmit and receive within the same band, thou you will have to use separate frequencies to transmit and receive.

What to Look For While Choosing Best Handheld Ham Radio for Survival

  • Dual Band – This feature will give you the ability to monitor two different frequencies simultaneously. The dual-band function makes it easy for you to select the frequency you would like to transmit on. You should also be careful on the portable ham radio antenna that comes with the radio
  • Programming – Can the radio be programmed manually as well as via the software? If it can be programmed via software, you will need to ascertain if the programming cable is available and functioning. For a radio to be programmed manually, there needs to be a functional keyboard
  • Rechargeable battery – Ham radios require charging after a few hours use. It is essential to check if it has an external DC connection. This will make the work of recharging easier and ensure that the radio has enough power for it to operate at all times
  • A well-arranged user manual – The user manual will need to be user-friendly. This comes in handy when you try to operate your device
  • Speaker quality – Sometimes the audio quality of the portable ham radios is directly affected by the nature of the environment. If you are trying to listen to your radio in the city or on a busy market, it might be difficult to understand whatever is said via the radio. Looking for a radio that has a good speaker and an external earphone jack will mean you can block out surrounding sounds

Which are the Most Popular Ham Bands

This is quite a loaded question because the band frequencies depend on the time of day and many other factors.

Even the sunspot cycle can have an effect on the ham band, as it alters the ionosphere.

Plus, you have to look at the band condition at the given time. As some brands are only open at a time, while some are only operational for a few hours or minutes during the day.

But as we feel obliged to give a solid answer we would say that VHF / UHF bands 2 meter is typically the most popular.

The final verdict being that 2-meter radio handheld are best for you.

Top 5 Best Handheld Ham Radio for Survival

Image Name  
BaoFeng BF-F8HP Dual Band Two-Way Radio Check Price
BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio)r Check Price
Baofeng UV-82 Dual PTT Band Transceiver Amateur Portable Two Way Radio + Tactical Antenna Check Price
Yaesu FT-60R Yaesu Handheld Transciver Check Price
Bundle - 3 Items - Kenwood TH-D74A w/APRS & D-Star Check Price

1. BaoFeng BF-F8HP Dual Band Two-Way RadioBaoFeng BF-F8HP Dual Band Two-Way Radio


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.

Customers feedback

As the user guide comes with the exclusive warranty and customer help, a lot of feedback has been appraisal regarding their supreme service of this brand.

The majority of users have been new ham and they wanted a product that was within a reasonable price range.

BF-F8HP by Baofeng was just what they were looking for. Being the best handheld ham radio for beginners it got all the newcomers hooked.

With 73% positive remarks this is surely a product to buy.

There have been some complaints about having to manually input the frequencies. Some professionals have recommended that one should download the free Chirp programming app via FTDI programming cable. This installation will save you from the unnecessary hustle.


  • Has an 8-hour power output
  • Upgraded chipset
  • Comes with a better antenna


  • Increased power output does not make a significant difference
  • Relatively expensive

2. BaoFeng UV-5R RadioBaoFeng UV-5R Radio

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.

License information

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.

Customers feedback

If we say that this product has amazing feedback that would be an understatement. People have gotten hooked to ham radios after using this 2-meter radio handheld.

They have incorporated the device in their daily life and have failed to notice any drawbacks.

Its durability and programming have been a people favorite ever since it dropped into the market.

The feedback seems to agree with what we have mentioned that in the given price margin, this device offers more than enough.

Sadly, the majority of handheld ham radio reviews are full of people warning buyers that these devices will get them in trouble, as they require permits to use. This, of course, is not the fault of the radio. As a buyer, you should have been aware that you need a license to use specific frequencies.

The major reason that we have mentioned license again and again throughout the post is to make our reader fully aware as to what they are buying and what they need to do.


  • Rechargeable battery
  • Has an FM radio
  • Power saver feature.
  • A handy all-round radio.


  • Alarms are okay, but not necessary
  • Programming not intuitive

3. Baofeng UV-82 Dual PTT Band TransceiverBaofeng UV-82 Dual PTT Band Transceiver

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.

Major features

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.

Customers feedback

Without a doubt, the double PTT buttons are quite popular amongst the users. Customers love how easy to use the button is.

Plus, they also love the programming of this model.

All in all, this device has an amazing rating on battery life, sound quality and other features.

With such positive handheld ham radio reviews, we felt obliged to add this product to our list.

So without ado get yourself the most powerful handheld ham radio.


  • Affordable
  • Great battery life
  • Much better antenna
  • CHIRP programming


  • Alphanumeric programming only possible via the software
  • No clock

4. Yaesu FT-60R Handheld Transciver

Yaesu FT-60R Handheld Transciver
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!

Customers Feedback

Its features aren’t the only amazing thing, with 80% five star raking this is the best handheld ham radio reviews.

People had purchased this device not only for fun but also to use in case of emergencies and this radio didn’t let them down.

Thou you might need to hold of cable if you want to program it


  • It is inexpensive
  • Comes with a long-lasting battery
  • Has a sturdy shape


  • The menu system is difficult to understand especially to an amateur.

5. Bundle – 3 Items – Kenwood TH-D74A w/APRS & D-Star

Bundle - 3 Items -Kenwood TH-D74A w/APRS & D-Star
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.

Customer Feedback

Its enhanced durability and functionality contribute towards positive user experience. The users love how flexible this item is: it is compatible with a few applications.

With some of the most positive feedback, it is no doubt the best handheld ham radio for survival.


  • The menu has been structured well
  • Lightweight
  • 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


Ham radios by far have the widest range from 1.8 to 13000 MHZ. Thou there will be gaps in the frequency range.
You can purchase a ham radio by clicking on the check price button mentioned with each item.


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.

For further inquiries and feedback our comment section is always there for you. Plus, you can check out more reviews click here