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The Best SHTF Radios for 2020

A portable SHTF radio is beneficial in case of serious emergencies that require the survival mode of an individual. It might be a land that is unexpectedly attacked or collapsed, which is nothing new with military troops. Or, perhaps, a group of friends experiencing dangerous tactical games in the jungle.

best shtf radio

Whatever these situations might be, their mutual common would be a chaotic scenario. Preparing yourself for the worst crisis of society with the best SHTF radio means you can save your life. You need to rely on your strength and become the best survivalist with an effective SHTF radio via this article.

Best SHTF Radio Reviews

1. BaoFeng UV-5R Ham Radio 

As one of the most famous names in the global radio industry, the brand BaoFeng has impressed me with its UV-5R ham radio. There are 128 slots available for saving strong channels within the FM frequency of 65-108MHz. Its dual-band display and frequency is named A/B with independent operation.

The transmission (Tx) power of this SHTF radio is selectable from low to high, depending on your requirements. The 50 CTCSS and 104 DCS coder and tone searching have already been functional for private conversations. I am more glad that the unit even offers a busy channel lockout function to enable further privacy.

If you wish to use the FM ham radio in poor light conditions, I suggest picking between 3 of its background color light options for the large LCD. It has different channel steps from 2.5 / 5 / 6.25 / 10 / 12.5 to 25KHz. Plus, the keypad lock would be really useful to avoid others from messing with current settings.

I enjoy the fact that this FM radio for SHTF allows you to select up to 9 grades of its VOX feature, the voice-operated exchange from a certain distance. Its lithium-ion battery life can last up to 24 hours on average. The emergency alert in the 25/12.5KHz range with an LED flashlight is good for surviving.

Although the sturdy antenna has been integrated onto the top of the radio, it seems to be quite small and short even for a micro-miniature transceiver like this one. It cannot be extended as well since this antenna is not a telescopic design. I always believe that a large telescopic antenna would be more useful.
Pros
  • 128 FM channels can be listened to & saved.
  • The A & B dual-band operates independently.
  • Offer privacy codes & a busy channel lockout.
  • There are 3 background lighting color choices.
  • It can be chosen from 0 to 9 grades of the VOX.
  • Include an emergency alert & a LED flashlight.
Cons
  • Its built-in antenna is neither large nor telescopic.
Rarely do I see that the BaoFeng UV-5R radio for SHTF communication fails to prove its value to a majority of potential users. It is truly a great radio choice for surviving through disastrous events with CTCSS/DCS tone searching and the VOX. Its transceiving ability can be improved if they use another antenna.

2. BaoFeng BF-F8HP Radio

Should you plan to equip yourself with a complete radio kit for prepper communications in times of crisis, here is a better suggestion of SHTF radio. This BaoFeng BF-8HP model is the third-gen of the UV-5R unit, and its pack contains all accessories such as earpieces, hand strap, and a belt clip to your advantage.

This two-way radio has advanced upgrades from the old version, twice the output power of 8W, with 1W and 4W for the low and medium power settings. I can tell that the shell has been much hardened to earn durability. Its V-85 high gain antenna is 7-inch tall to deliver twice the antenna performance.

Even when you use the transceiver unit at its high power mode, the 2000mAh battery that is 30% larger than the old radio still provides long using time. The normal battery life of this radio in high power is up to 20 hours. Not to talk about wide and selectable narrowband with dual-band frequency of VHF and UHF.

I must say that I feel disappointed in the radio earpieces quality, it is terrible. Their cheaply made foam cover ripped apart while I was struggling to put it on. The worst of all to mention is audio quality from the unit itself via these earpieces, incredibly bassy, and not worth being in the kit.
Pros
  • Its accessories kit is a complete, helpful set.
  • Enable 3 high/med/low output (8W/4W/1W).
  • The external shell is hardened for durability.
  • The 7-inch V-85 antenna performs brilliantly.
  • Its battery is 30% larger to allow 20-hour use.
Cons
  • The earpieces’ general quality is unacceptable.
The BaoFeng BF-F8HP radio is equipped with a brand new chipset and concierge support service for all levels, which is a fantastic bonus compared to its previous generation. This brand also supports a full accessories kit that comes with the unit for thoughtful preparation before the chaos.

3. RegeMoudal Solar Hand Crank Radio

I bet that you can calm yourself and others down much better in catastrophic situations if you carry an optimal emergency radio like this around. Though its size is slightly smaller than average, the hand crank RegeMoudal radio is genuinely a must-have item for emergencies with both AM and FM frequency.

It can never be wrong, in this case, for me to claim that this SHTF unit is a wonderful bug out radio. You can quickly broadcast the latest local weather news like severe storms and hurricanes through its NOAA weather alert. The emergency AM/FM small radio is water-resistant that responds to the IPX3 standard.

Its 2000mAh high capacity power bank is chargeable in 4 ways: hand crank, solar charging, micro USB cable, and 3 AAA batteries. A full charge will ensure 4 to 6 hours of continuous radio time. Input devices of 5V, such as smartphones or tablets, can be quickly charged through this SHTF radio as well.

The radio LED flashlight performs brightly with only 1W, and 6 different reading lamps are powerful enough to guide you in crisis or outdoor activities. This unit supports listening through a pair of earphones. There is an SOS alarm mode if you need to catch people’s attention in terms of a local collapse.

I appreciate how the brand tries to diversify the charging options for this radio, but the truth is, I do not feel comfortable turning its hand crank at all. You have to crank this AM/FM transceiver for around 5 minutes to get it working, and that still does not make it operate. I hope the brand can focus more on this crank.
Pros
  • An optimal unit has AM & FM frequency.
  • There are NOAA channels for weather alerts.
  • IPX3 standard of water resistance.
  • Its battery can be charged in 4 different ways.
  • Provide 5V input to charge other devices.
  • Contain a flashlight and 6 reading lamps.
Cons
  • It is not comfortable to rotate the hand crank.
It is great how a little rain cannot damage the internals of your strong RegeMoudal solar hand-crank radio. This device has what it takes to become a helpful companion when things start to turn ugly. Protect yourself and loved ones from unpredictable disasters with this 4-way rechargeable radio for SHTF.

4. FosPower Solar Hand Crank Radio

For those of you who are fond of using a hand crank and solar energy to provide radio, this one is another excellent choice for survivalist radio communication. Besides these two charging methods, you can insert 3 AAA batteries into the FosPower emergency radio if not able to generate its power.

It is constructed with a rugged shell that is rain-resistant of the IPX3 standard for uninterrupted use under the rain. You will have dependable access to the NOAA weather alert broadcasts in this AM/FM SHTF radio. Because it works with most USB-powered devices, it offers emergency power for any phone or tablet.

The solar radio for SHTF only needs to consume a maximum of 2W to enable enough running power. Its SOS alarm function would be much more effective if you want to inform others around of a serious emergency. To find ways in the dark, it helps you with a strong 1W flashlight and 4 other reading lights.

It will appear that if you live in a part of the country where the weather is volatile and unstable, you should get ready to hear the drone of the NOAA channels all the time. It falls to the main purpose of this radio, as sitting in silence until there is a weather alert. I hope the brand will repair this.
Pros
  • Its battery is chargeable in 3 different ways.
  • The rugged shell is water-resistant of IPX3.
  • Able to charge other USB devices.
  • Include an emergency SOS alarm mode.
  • There are a LED flashlight & 4 reading lamps.
Cons
  • The weather alert might stay on all the time.
The solar hand crank radio from FosPower performs well for both household and catastrophic outdoor situations. If the mobile devices run out of battery in such emergencies, this AM/FM unit can immediately supply it with a steady power source. Its complete LED lighting system is utterly helpful in poor light conditions.

5. RunningSnail Hand Crank Solar Radio

In my opinion, it is quite inconvenient sometimes to use an adapter to charge my cell phone through an SHTF radio. I am glad that this 1000mAh power bank of the RunningSnail solar radio allows me to connect a phone directly via a micro USB cable. It is made in a compact size that can be slid into your pocket with ease.

Other than the AM/FM frequency for SHTF radio communications, the unit also enables NOAA weather alert channels for your update of the latest local weather information. The built-in LED flashlight runs on 1W to light up a whole room and is beyond suitable for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, etc.

As you can tell, there are 3 different ways to provide power for the battery of this two-way radio for SHTF. Besides the regular charging through a provided micro USB cable, you can either pick the solar energy or a manual hand crank to power up its internal battery. Instructions and an appreciation card are in all packages.

I have experienced the SHTF emergency radio myself and concluded that it is nowhere ideal for a long power outage, specifically more than 24 hours after a full charge. This is because it takes much time and energy with the solar panel and hand crank. However, there is no real radio charging.
Pros
  • It does need an adapter to charge cell phones.
  • The small, compact size can be easily portable.
  • Enable quick updates on the local weather.
  • The 1W LED flashlight works well in the dark.
  • 3 different methods to charge its battery.
Cons
  • It is not suitable for a long power outage (>24h).
If other charging methods do not work, you should charge this device via its micro USB cable to ensure smooth communication in a power outage. Apart from the minor defection, I still find that this SHTF radio from RunningSnail is a must-have, effective companion to have around in terms of sudden disaster.

6. Kaito KA600 Digital Radio

Aside from the regular AM and FM frequency, this Kaito Voyager digital radio can be switched between the SW (shortwave) and LW (longwave) band. The NOAA weather alert is entirely in real-time for the highest level of safety. It also generates a radio data system (RDS), which is a communication protocol standard.

The transceiver unit deserves to be called the best ham radio for SHTF due to its 4 diverse tuning methods. It includes manual, direct digit entry, ATS, and memory tuning with up to 335 channel slots for quick access to your favorite stations. You can connect an external audio device to it via an Aux-in jack.

Its sleep timer is ideal for when you wish to fall asleep next to your favorite AM or FM channels on this digital SHTF radio. Moreover, the thermometer and humidity meter are displayed right on its large LED screen. If you ever forgot to charge the radio battery, it has an adjustable 180° solar panel to offer solar power.

Nevertheless, I sadly find out that the shortwave band of the AM/FM radio fails to pull in even a single station with the help of an antenna. I tried to do this at night, usually when the signal reception is working at its best. If the brand wants to gain more trust from users, I believe they need to improve this band.
Pros
  • Provide two band lengths of SW and LW.
  • Engineered to have a radio data system.
  • The unit can be tuned in 4 different methods.
  • Its memory channel storage has 335 spaces.
  • Include a thermometer and a humidity meter.
  • The adjustable panel for solar energy is 180°.
Cons
  • Its SW band cannot pull in any radio station.
I am incredibly impressed with how the brand Kaito manages to build a 180° solar panel to charge this SHTF radio model when there is no battery. It is wonderful for users like us to keep track of the surrounding environment via its two meters. Also, memory storage is spacious to save 335 stations.

What to Look for When Buying a SHTF Radio

best-radio-for-shtf

Rugged construction – Most brands attempt to build a hardened shell, so the SHTF radio is not damaged if falling from a certain height by accident. During a chaotic scene, your handheld AM/FM radio for SHTF is highly likely to go through many external impacts. Thus, it should have a rugged construction.

Several SHTF radios are made to be water-resistant and meet the IPX3 standard, both drop and rain-proof, in a short period. You can freely use such transceiver devices without worrying about moisture causing damages to the system. This is how radio construction should be like.

Long battery life – The vast majority of SHTF radio contains an integrated battery/power bank that is rechargeable. Despite being manufactured in a small size, most of them have a high mAh battery for longer use between charges. Just remember not to leave it overcharged to extend the battery life.

You can have up to 20 hours of continuous radio time and even longer if you only turn on its lighting. Solar energy, hand crank, and disposable AAA batteries are alternative sources if there is a power outage. A long battery life ensures uninterrupted survival radio communications throughout the whole crisis.

Stable transceiving – I see that an SHTF radio often supplies both AM/FM frequency. Consistent transceiving helps you stay connected with other users and do not lose the radio signal while being in a catastrophe. Furthermore, it increases the chance for you to get immediate support from a distance.

A lot of NOAA weather alerts channels are widely provided in a portable radio for SHTF. They are responsible for alarming you instantly when severe storms or heavy rainfalls are incoming to your neighborhood. I believe that the alerts on local weather of NOAA have been a genuine life savior for countless radio users.

SOS alarms and lighting – There will be times when you are unable to alert each individual around you, so the best option is to alarm them of dangerous situations with an SOS alarm. Its siren is loud enough for a major group of people to be aware of what is happening and starts evacuating from the area.

When you are stuck in the dark or poor light conditions, a 1W LED flashlight coming from the SHTF ham radio would be helpful. It can be turned on quickly and works at its best at a full battery charge. Aside from that, this radio will often have an extra 4 to 6 lamps to support your reading.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs-by-Hamtronic

What are the most trusted SHTF radio brands?

RegeMoudal, FosPower, Kaito, BaoFeng, and RunningSnail are currently the most trustworthy in the radio industry. As you can see in the section of the product review above, these brands can manufacture and produce the best radio for SHTF on the market with a lot of great features at reasonable prices.

All of the SHTF emergency radios from the mentioned brands are built to have a powerful shell and simple interface with large, clear buttons. Their small size is portable, and they provide AM/FM frequency along with NOAA weather alerts. You can gain fine signals from their transceiver through a built-in antenna.

Why do you need an SHTF radio?

An SHTF radio helps you survive through disastrous events that cannot be foreseen, such as another World War, global pandemic, major natural disasters, nuclear attack, food crisis, global warming, etc. When one of these circumstances happens, you would be less panic if using an SHTF radio.

Regardless of whether it may occur locally, regionally, nationally, or globally, an SHTF radio for survival communication is one critical part of your preparedness. Because most disasters are not predictable, it is important that you should buy this dual-band unit right away for your safety in the future.

Apart from a series of catastrophic situations like above, this type of radio is also effective for regular use in military or entertaining tactical games. Ham radio for SHTF is certainly flexible enough to meet all of these requirements. I would advise getting one and store it at home to prepare for surviving at any time.

How to set up and use it?

No installation is required, so you can begin using an SHTF radio out of the box. Check for the stable antenna attachment; it should be a telescopic one to be extendable in case of weak transceiving. Ensure a full charging process for its built-in battery, no matter the method is electricity, solar power or hand crank.

Scan through the SHTF radio frequencies of both AM and FM to find reliable stations and save them. Switch to a preferred band if it offers dual bands. As it is a two-way unit, you can communicate via its push-to-talk button on the side. Use the keypad lock to avoid others making unwanted changes to the initial settings.

The VOX feature is for hands-free operation. You should activate CTCSS/DCS privacy codes for private conversations. Tune to NOAA weather alert channels for more information on local weather events. A LED flashlight and reading lamps are available. Usually, there is a side USB portal to charge other mobile devices.

How to take care and maintain it?

It is not waterproof, so you should not submerge the SHTF radio underwater. Avoid charging the SHTF ham radio overnight since you are highly possible to leave it overcharged. In the long run, this can lead to battery degradation. Remember to retract the telescopic antenna before storage to avoid breakage.

Use a soft, damp cloth instead of applying any strong solvents to clean the exterior of this electronic unit. Always place it in a dry and airy area, away from water or direct sunlight. Users should ensure the most suitable environment to maintain the quality and high performance of radio for SHTF.

Where can I buy it?

If you are wondering where are the most reliable addresses to get a ham radio for SHTF communications, I will not hesitate to recommend Lowes, Home Depot, eBay, Walmart, Amazon, and Best Buy. These are either famous chain stores or online websites, so your shopping selections could be more versatile.

It does not matter which approach you choose to purchase an SHTF radio. The most important thing you should remember is to check for its guidelines for the product warranty. They have to be simple, easy to follow, and promise to solve all of your manufacturer defections for no charge within the warranty window.

Conclusion

I believe that you would only recognize how helpful an SHTF radio is when your survival skills are put to the test in chaos. It can act as an effective bug out tool during emergencies. Be prepared for the worst and save yourself with other loved ones by obtaining a powerful, stable AM/FM radio for SHTF.

If you are not interested in the devices I have reviewed above, take advantage of my detailed buying guide to support your shopping time. Just follow all of the advice from my personal experience. Then, you will do fine with the best SHTF radio for disastrous events. Thank you for reading this.

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