It’s utterly disappointing how the conventional forms of communication are the first ones to cut off during catastrophes. We’ve seen it time and again how useless cellular phones and wirelines can be during calamities; hence, the need to provide a dependable emergency communication tool to save lives. This is when the best handheld ham radio for survival comes to the rescue.
A handheld radio for survival, while capable of broadcasting, is more often used for two-way conversations. It is the preferred means of communicating during emergencies because it does not depend on crash-prone terrestrial facilities. Instead, it uses various frequencies and channels to connect and is more dependable under harsher conditions.
Ahead, I’ll make it easy for you to choose the best handheld ham radio by reviewing the most reliable amateur radios out there. Read on and learn about the must-have radio features that make the top-rated handheld ham radio for survival.
Best Handheld Ham Radio for Survival Reviews
1. BaoFeng BF-F8HP Two-Way Radio
Better performance and broader reach are what the BaoFeng BF-F8HP Two-Way Radio promises us, mainly because it’s an upgraded version of their older generation UV-5R.
Upgrades mean better services, and as a testament to that, this handheld radio for survival produces twice the power output of its predecessor. Higher power output means a wide range of coverage, so you can use this ham radio to communicate from a farther place.
And it doesn’t end there, as it also comes with an enhanced high-gain antenna that allows you to extend your reach even more!
Another thing that impresses me about this latest version is its larger battery size. It’s 30% bigger, so you can rely on its battery life to last longer, affording you a reliable line of communication while awaiting rescue. And although it’s bigger, it remains a handy radio.
Indeed, everything is better with this handheld radio because it is now packaged in a sturdier, more reliable casing. You can expect it not to crush easily under the rubbles as it’s nothing near a walkie-talkie that readily breaks on falls.
Another thing I like about BF-F8HP is its flexibility. It allows you to choose from various power output settings from high power to low power, frequency range, and bands. It has the right power settings for your communication needs. It’s so versatile that I am able to use it at home and while on the road.
2. BTECH UV-5X3 Two-Way Radio
BTECH UV-5×3 Two-Way Radio has all the functionality of basic handheld ham radios for survival and so much more. In fact, it even has an exclusive firmware that you won’t see in any other brands. Check out this ham radio for survival’s cool features.
So what’s new with UV-5X3? First off, it’s equipped with a dual display that shows both the channel’s name and frequency. Recall just how frustrating it was when you forgot the programmed frequency channel, making you scan right from the start. And that happens almost always! But that’s a thing in the past now as channel recall is a breeze with this upgraded feature.
It is also a tri band radio so it leaves you with more functionality.
Ever wished you can manage the channel list without a computer? Consider this feature your dream come true because adding and deleting channels is made easier with this new modification menu. No computer? No problem. Manage your memory channels from your radio!
Now, let me give you one more reason to believe that this is the most favorite handheld ham radio for survival. Its frequency scanning is modifiable, too. You only need to enter the frequency range that you want to scan with this tri band radio. This customization skips unnecessary full-frequency scanning.
Even the Automatic Number Identification (ANI) is upgraded. It now comes with a decode function that allows you to identify the caller as dispatcher info appears on display.
You can also remotely access your radio, with the option to transmit or disable radio functions or switch on the microphone using a distant command. This function also allows anyone to identify if the radio is within the “inspect range.”
3. Yaesu FT-60R Radio Transceiver
Are you looking for a top-notch ham radio offered at an excellent value? Take a peek at Yaesu’s FT-60R – a brand that does not run short on high quality radio features, upgrades, and reliability.
Personally, what I look for first and foremost in any ham radio is durability. If this buddy is going to be with me in rough times, like my survival would depend on it, then it better be amazingly sturdy. Luckily, toughness is one of the qualities of this ham radio. It’s built with a rugged, solid casing to resist drops and falls.
But toughness isn’t all that it can offer. It has wide range coverage. Plus, it’s functional, whether you’re stationary or on the road. So, if you’re going outdoors, especially for off-the-road adventures, be safe and bring the best handheld ham radios for survival with you.
This radio model from Yaesu is also equipped with an Emergency Automatic Identification feature. This thing makes search-and-rescue a lot easier. It works by transmitting a signal so that the rescuers can easily track the distress person’s location.
If you’re still looking for other things to love about this handheld ham radio for survival, know that it comes with a free antenna. This paves the way for an even better radio experience; thus, adding an external antenna is optional.
Its compact size makes it handy, so it’s easy to carry along during emergencies or tuck on your belt.
Programming shouldn’t be much of a trouble because it comes with a clear, straightforward guide that you can refer to.s.
4. Kenwood TH-D74A Handheld Transceiver
The features of this ham radio for survival do not disappoint as it comes with vast capabilities to help you in times of emergencies and is truly high power.
Its Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) is top-notch, with real-time Global Positioning System (GPS) that allows monitoring of the radio owner’s exact location. This is an essential feature for use in tracking and monitoring. This transceiver can be your best buddy when venturing into areas without cellular coverage.
The APRS of this radio is also weather-reporting capable and is storm forecasting-ready – another highly important capability. This can be a life-saving tool for users.
It also supports Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio (D-STAR) operation. As the radio goes digital, it uses less bandwidth, making way for a more precise, interference-free, high power communication. Data transmission and reception are also improved with the use of D-STAR.
If you’re a fan of Bluetooth connectivity, I got good news for you. This hand radio also supports Bluetooth and even USB connection. Plus, it has a memory slot for 32 gigs micro SD. This means you can record anything on this radio!
Programming the memory channels of this handheld radio is also a breeze, as it comes with a free Kenwood software dedicated to that. A lot of people often find programming to be tedious with other brands but not with KENWOOD. Its manual is straightforward and is helpful in setting up and providing troubleshooting suggestions.
5. BaoFeng UV-5RA Two-Way Radio
If what you’re looking for in a ham radio is an impressive sound clarity, then the UV-5RA is the one for you.
Clear and interference-free communication is of paramount importance in emergencies, so this criterion is a must when choosing a ham radio. This model achieves a top-notch level of clarity through its 50 CTCSS and 104 DCS.
The frequency ranges are also versatile, so it leaves the users many options in terms of choosing a frequency to operate. It sports Very High Frequency and Ultra High Frequency capabilities.
For ease of use, it features a dual-display screen to monitor two frequencies simultaneously.
Another cool feature that goes with this handheld ham radio is the FM radio, which I use every so often. The good thing is you don’t have to worry about missing calls since your call will supersede that function.
6. Tenway UV-5R Pro Ham Radio
Were you a Tenway UV-5R avid who wished it would get an upgrade? Then consider this your dream come true because indeed, this model has just gotten better with its PRO version.
So what’s in store for the handheld ham radio fanatics with this upgraded version?
Well, first off, the power setting has just gotten more powerful. It provides multiple power settings : high, medium, and low, and the frequency selection includes FM, VHF, and UHF.
The sound is also way clearer with this one due to its filtered signal using CTCSS and CDCSS. Say goodbye to annoying interferences occuring you’re with your radio. Add up to that is an A-list built-in speaker for a louder and pristine sound. It even has an earpiece in the form of an earbud for better listening.
Other exciting features include the built-in LED flashlight, which we all could use at some point. Having this extra capability is a huge relief as you no longer have to carry another device with.
This ham radio is also equipped with battery-saving functions to ensure long battery life and become an able buddy in times of calamities. You don’t have to worry about going around with an almost empty battery, as it will warn you even before that happens. It will also send an emergency alert should nearby disasters and emergencies come up.
Some handy accessories come with this unit, including a high-gain, high power antenna, a handheld ham radio speaker. With the latter, you can mount your radio on the car, and just be on the handheld ham radio speaker for ease of use. A USB cable also comes free to help you program on a computer.
The construction is also very solid, so it’s genuinely dependable as it is durable and high-quality ham radio.
7. Retevis RT5 Two Way Radio
Are you looking for a high-power, long-range, dual-band and top-rated handheld ham radio for survival? Retevis RT5 could be what you’re looking for.
The coolest thing I find about this brand is its dual-band capacity. Imagine being able to monitor two frequencies and channels at the same time when most of its competitors can only do one. This feature will also allow the radio owner to communicate with two channels/frequencies simultaneously.
It supports 128 channels in its memory, helping avert interferences from high traffic channels or frequencies, especially those coming from neighboring users.
As mentioned, this handheld ham radio is also a high-range radio with a high-gain antenna to allow long-distance communication. Plus, you can opt to add more repeaters for more distant coverage.
Setting up memory channels is also more comfortable with this brand. In detail, most settings are programmable through the keypad. So, you wouldn’t need your computer to do the basics.
It also supports long operational hours as it is equipped with a power-saving function. You will also get an alert when the battery runs low to ensure non-stop use. Plus, the unit includes a charger jack compatible with cars for charging on your drive to remote areas.
Aside from being a communication tool, it can also provide illumination as it comes with a built-in flashlight. And if you’re bored, this radio can also be a source of entertainment as you can log on to FM radio.
It’s also a warning radio because it sends weather updates to inform you of inclement weather for protection and safety.
8. Yaesu VX-6R Ham Radio Transceiver
Some actions can happen in the waters. And when the time comes, you’ll surely be thanking yourself if you have this submersible amateur radio transceiver by Yaesu.
You got it right! This handheld ham radio works even underwater, so you can respond and call for help simultaneously for water emergencies. Situations like these are tough for rescuers who don’t own submersibles. And if it can work underwater, using it under the rain is a walk in the park for this radio.
What I personally like about this radio is its numerous low power settings. Any amateur radio user knows that the spectrum allocated for them is becoming more crowded. Since you can’t go higher without a license, the key is to dive lower. And this ham radio can achieve that.
It also sports an exclusive feature, the ARTS or Auto-Range Transponder System, which signals the radio owner when heading to areas beyond the communication range.
Other features supported by this ham include receiving AM/FM broadcast and weather alerts. So it’s a truly great company that allows you to listen to the news and receive weather updates at the same time.
It also takes security a notch higher with its password-protected system, so it’s rendered useless when thieves get a hold of your radio.
Its black magnesium casing ensures durability and reliability when used under harsh conditions. So it is not just a waterproof handheld ham radio; it is also weatherterproof.
The radio integrates Private Line and Digital Private Line Tones (PL) and (DPL) to filter transmissions sent on similar frequencies within the area for a more precise, interference-free communication.
It is also compact in size and handy, making a comfortable fit in hand. It is also easy to hang on the waist as well. It makes a great company in times of emergency.
9. BaoFeng UV-82HP Dual Band Radio
If you’re an avid BaoFeng user or yet to be, you will surely enjoy the second generation of its UV-82 series of dual band radio. This version is packed with upgraded features and added functionality.
One of the snappy features of UV-82HP is the multiple power settings, including low, medium, and high power output. Such a feature allows flexibility in selecting frequencies and avoiding congested channels in your amateur radio.
And to avoid incidental toggling of VFO/ MR, you now have the option to lock the frequency mode through a software. It may be a basic feature, but many amateur radio users have had crazy times getting back to the right frequency without this.
Also, we all like our handheld ham radio to support DPTT, but this dual band radio does more than that. Its dual push-to-talk capability is made easier to operate via software synchronization. So, why go through a confusing scheme when you can have it easy with this upgrade in your amateur radio?
And oh, this dual band radio comes with an 80-page comprehensive user’s guide that answers every question you have about the radio and its usage. No newbie will ever stumble on their way to learning the basics of amateur radio with this guide. That’s how much BaoFeng cares for its patrons.
Now, let’s not forget about coverage and performance because as far as ham radio usage is concerned. Anyhow, the unit includes a high-gain V-85 antenna that lets enthusiasts reach far and wide range of coverage.
And if you have accessories from other UV-82 models, don’t throw them out yet because this upgraded dual band radio model is still very much compatible with all old auxiliaries.
One more thing. I also love how customizable this dual band best handheld ham radio is in terms of operation. It allows you to program 128 memory channels, with the option of adding or wiping out channels from your scanning list to do away with lengthy and unnecessary channel audits. Plus, you can assign alphanumeric names to your channel for easy recall.
10. TYT MD-UV380 Handheld Ham Radio
Newbies don’t need to splurge to learn the basics of Digital Mobile Radio. So, if you’re looking for a low-cost one to start your amateur radio journey, TYT MD-UV380 makes a great option.
If you have used TYT before, then you’re up for a better experience because MD-UV380 has fresh features in its upgraded firmware at an amazingly affordable price.
It’s easy to give this radio a 5-star rating if we go by how well it is constructed and the ease of operation once initial programming is set up.
It also comes with a long antenna that allows dual-band operation, making it a reliable radio to carry as an alternative to mobile phones. You’ll never know when towers may knock-off, leaving you without a means of communication. So it’s not wise to solely rely on cellular units
You can also access your radio from afar using a remote command. This feature allows you to deactivate, stun, or switch off the radio from afar.
Interestingly, this model also has a voice prompt function available, primarily intended to help the visually impaired manage the gadget.
11. TIDRADIO TD-F9GP Walkie Talkies
Take a peek at TIDRADIO TD-F9GP and feast on its practical features that will surely help you progress your amateur radio skills.
TD-F9GP is a high-power radio capable of broadcasting up to 8 watts, with options to go medium and low at 4 and 1 watt, respectively. The amount of adaptability it offers is truly beneficial in times of emergencies, giving you a more comprehensive range of frequencies to operate.
It is also dual-band so you can monitor two frequencies simultaneously – a handy feature you will need in emergencies. The radio also allows the programming of 128 memory channels, so recalling your frequencies will be much easier.
It has a scan function which allows you to choose between VFO and MR, so you don’t need to go through every channel in your scan list. This saves your radio substantial battery power for a longer operation.
It also sports a dual-band and dual-frequency display to steer you clear of confusion. Plus, the keypad can be locked to prevent misoperation and losing frequencies you are intently monitoring.
Often, a low battery unit can come between you and your rescuer. To ensure that you are always prompted about how your unit is running, a low-battery alert system and a time-out timer are integrated. But on top of that, the package includes an additional battery for more prolonged usage.
You can instantly use the radio with all the necessary accessories to fully function. Plus, equipment from UV-82 and UV-5R are all compatible with this model, so you can bring them all in for this to work even better.
Other cool stuff present in this radio is the LED flashlight and emergency alert system to complete its survival services.
12. Mirkit Radio MK3X Ham Radio
Are you looking for a handheld ham radio that can provide you with the most extended battery life? Check out one of Mirkit’s model that can give just what you need.
We often obsess ourselves with the most ambitious features they can offer, and end up sideswiping other practical but equally important features, such as battery life.
Mirkit knows battery life is crucial in times of emergencies, and if we are to take survival seriously, then our handheld ham radio must support longer operating hours. Hence, the producers of the model MK3X made sure they can give you extra battery life by extending battery capacity to 2100 mAh.
On top of sporting an excellent battery, it also operates as a Tri-band radio. This means you can use both the VHF and UHF plus the 220-225 MHz for more flexibility.
And of course, we all want our radios handy. This radio also fits comfortably on your hands, and the keys are soft to touch.
Further, you can use it straight from the package as it comes with all the necessities. It includes an antenna, charger, battery, headset, microphone, and of course, the manual. It also has a lanyard.
What to Look for When Buying Handheld Ham Radio for Survival
There are various things to consider when buying a handheld ham radio for survival. Purchasing the best one for you would help you in critical situations. For instance, the radio’s portability will allow you to take the product anywhere in comfort. It must also be easy to use to help you navigate faster, especially in critical situations.
If you’re a beginner in operating these radios, it would be best if you could buy a model that is precisely intended for novices. This feature should include an easy to read and user-friendly manual. And, the chosen radio should come with simple designs and features that beginners can easily operate.
Versatility is also one crucial factor in considering the ideal handheld ham radio for survival. This feature should come necessary if you want to have an excellent assistant during emergency scenarios.
Other Important Factors to Consider
Those features mentioned above in buying the best handheld ham radio for survival are essential. Yet, there are still multiple factors that must be considered, such as the battery type of the radio, antenna connection, and the presence of an FM radio.
Upon viewing the radio’s battery type, there are those equipped with rechargeable ones. Some companies do not provide you with a charger, so you must thoroughly check whether the product comes with a complete packaging set.
Besides that, ham radios also come with various antennas, such as SMA or BNC. Knowing a little about these things would help you choose the right product for you. These characteristics may come in handy, especially in emergencies, where the presence of power supply and communication is limited.
Before purchasing a ham radio for survival, you need to ask yourself the following: What do you want to do with your radio? What frequencies do you have contact to? These are just some of the questions that you must consider to obtain the perfect handheld ham radio for your survival.
Also, having a memory bank in a transceiver is also essential if you want to note your desired frequencies.
What is a Handheld Ham Radio for Survival?
Handheld ham radio is a radio intended to provide communication, especially in dire situations. This radio is handy in keeping you informed of the events should there be a calamity or incursion in your area.
It also allows for a concrete communication between two parties within a designated amount of radius. Its features are way ahead of the usual mobile phones as it does mostly rely on frequencies to provide communication. Another significant similarity of this radio from mobile phones and other internet-dependent radios such as laptops is that it could function with rechargeable battery packs.
Handheld ham radios also come with multiple features, such as an FM voice transmitter that only requires low power to operate. So you could communicate with your loved ones for a longer time than what mobile phones could provide.
Some of these models also have an adjustment knob for manual channels, a convenient feature especially for clear proper communication between two people.
How Does it Work?
A handheld ham radio for survival requires a variety of frequencies to maintain communication. One good thing about these radios is its broad scope of frequency range bands across the radio spectrum, usually allotted by the FCC for amateur use.
However, there is a need for an FCC license so you could speak on a radio. Upon obtaining a permit, you will then have access to a comprehensive radio network system that focuses on prepping and offering valued communications means. It also provides you the legality you need to use the tool. Therefore, handheld ham radios are reliable radios, especially during disasters.
What are the Different Types of Handheld Ham Radios for Survival?
There are various types of handheld ham radios for survival equipped with unique features for your liking. You can choose a handheld ham radio for beginners with a user-friendly design for easy navigation. This type of ham radio would help you in maintaining communication even in difficult times.
The design of handheld ham radio or portable ham radios varies depending on the manufacturer. Some of them come with high-gain handheld ham radio antennas and may either be dual-band or tri-band.
The presence of different types of antenna would also result in a few variations of antenna connection. Your handheld ham radio could either occupy an SMA or BNC antenna connection, depending on your radio.
Some radios come with a memory bank where you could store and save your ideal frequencies, while others do not have this kind of feature. Various battery types are also available for different hand radios. You have to choose an ideal one for you.
Why Do You Need a Handheld Ham Radio for Survival?
When a disaster strikes, traditional methods of communication may come interrupted due to excessive usage. Some critical situations put out the signal or power in your area. A tower may fall off, and there might be a power outage, which eventually limits the signal and other means of communication in your area. There’s no telling when disasters will strike, so we must come prepared and equipped with the essential tools, especially in difficult situations.
These occurrences are where handheld ham radios for survival becomes necessary as it can provide communication lines. With this radio, you can have a signal series even in a diverse list of real-world situations, such as being stuck in woods, ocean, urban areas with no signal, and even in the middle of nowhere.
You can also ask for help with this transceiver, and you can have rescue pick you and your loved ones. Handheld ham radio provides a tenfold functionality and power compared to other devices and mobile phones. Therefore, having a ham radio will provide you a safety net when outdoors as it is an excellent way of maintaining communication, especially when disaster strikes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Most Trusted Handheld Ham Radio for Survival Brands?
There is a long list of brands that provide excellent quality when it comes to handheld ham radios. However, all of them come with varying features that may or may not suit your liking.
Upon reviewing various opinions on different websites, the most common and highly suggested brand is BaoFeng, and Yaesu among others. This brand for handheld ham radio for survival guarantees a durable and highly functional ham radio, which may help you and your family in difficult situations, especially during emergencies.
How Far Can a Handheld Ham Radio Transmit?
The transmitting capability of handheld ham radios for survival greatly varies on its type. However, a handheld ham radio unit’s usual distance could cover one to two miles from your point of origin. Ham radios receive a signal from someone near and rebroadcast it into the greater network, which is a process similar to mobile phone towers.
What is the Best Type of Radio for Survival?
If you’re looking for the best radio type that would accompany you for your survival needs, ham radios always top the list. These types of transceivers provide exceptional portability and versatility on the run. You could carry it anywhere, and you could transmit signals for up to two miles within your radius.
How to Use?
Handheld ham radios for survival operate under a wide variety of frequencies that allow you to maintain communication. However, you must have a license from the FCC to connect and communicate using a ham radio.
Planning for survival should take up our conscious mind, given the relentless disasters and emergencies we face every day. And with that, the best handheld ham radio for survival should no longer be a nice to have, but a must-have device for survival. It’s got the qualities a best buddy could ever have, reliable, up for the tough times and a life-saver.