In a time of need, there are a few key pieces of gear that every prepper should have. These include the likes of firearms, coats, ample food supplies, water, and more. Additionally, a piece of equipment that’s often critical to survival that many people forget about is a trusty ham radio. Ham radios can often act as a lifeline when it comes to communication, and as such, it’s time for us to run through our picks for the best handheld ham radio for survival needs.
Ham radios have been around for years, and they allow people to communicate with one another without the need for telephone lines or the Internet. It may not be the newest form of communication around, but it can often prove to be one of the most reliable.
Having a ham radio will allow you to keep in touch with your party members or other individuals when trying to survive in a STHF situation, and as such, it’s important to ensure that you’re rocking the best ham radio handheld that you can.
After a lot of testing and debate, these are the top 5 radios that we consider to be the best of the best.
1. BaoFeng BF-F8HP 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio
Our first ham radio pick is the BaoFeng BF-F8HP 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio. BaoFeng is one of the leading brands when it comes to modern ham radio systems, and the BF-F8HP is one of the company’s leading options to date.
So, just what makes this guy so special? For starters, the output power is increased from 4-watts up to 8-watts compared to the previous model, and there’s also a 30% larger battery to ensure that you can stay in communication longer without having to charge up as often. A hardened durable shell offers for increased reliability even in harsh environments, and the V-85 high-gain antenna allows for twice the performance compared to competing options.
The included in-depth user guide provides you with all of the information you need to get started with this radio, and the end-user experience is one of the simplest around. There are still a lot of controls and settings that you can mess around with, but general operations are very easy and simple to learn.
2. BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio
The other BaoFeng ham radio on our list is the UV-5R. This is considerably cheaper than the BF-F8HP, and while it doesn’t have quite as many features as its more expensive brother, there’s more than enough here to cover the basics for most people.
BaoFeng’s UV-5R offers the option to switch between high and low power settings (4-watts and 1-watt), and the frequency range goes from 65 MHz up to 108 MHz. Customizable channel names make it easy to quickly find the right channel that you want to use, and the 1500 mAh battery offers a lot of stamina for a radio of this size/price.
Other goodies that we really came to love include the automatic keypad lock, dual band setup, dual display, and the dual standby mode. Everything is packed into a body that feels very durable and like it could withstand a fair amount of abuse, and for folks that don’t need every single bell and whistle, this is a phenomenal buy.
3. BTECH UV-5X3 5 Watt Tri-Band Radio
Looking at something that’s a bit pricier, the BTECH UV-5X3 is a great purchase for ham radio enthusiasts that want a bit more power and flexibility than what the UV-5R has to offer. Most notably, the BTECH radio offers a tri-band system. Not everyone will need to make use of this, but for those that want as much control/power as possible, this is a really nice feature to have.
The body of the BTECH is very similar to many of BaoFeng’s products, and while some may see this as copying, we really aren’t all that disappointed with this decision. It may not be original, but BTECH offers a body that looks nice and offers a lot of durability no matter what kind of conditions you happen to be in.
Other nice features include a display sync, remote stun, kill, receive, inspect, and monitor. There’s too much here for us to list off every single addition, and that’s part of what makes the BTECH so darn great.
4. Yaesu Tri-Band VX-6R Submersible Amateur Ham Radio Transceiver
Let’s say that money isn’t a barrier for you. Assuming you have tons of cash to blow through and want to get the absolute best portable ham radio for survival, look no further than the Yaesu Tri-Band VX-6R Submersible Amateur Ham Radio Transceiver.
This is by far the most expensive radio on our list, and while it is quite costly, there’s a ton to play around with.
Yaesu packed in access to AM and FM channels, a Wideband Receive system that can range from 504 kHz up to 998.9 MHz, a super-sturdy black magnesium case, 900 memory options, severe weather alert system, and even a multi-color transmit/receive LED notification light.
Add this together with a backlight keypad and LCD display, Internet key for accessing Yaesu’s WIRES system, an ARTS-automatic in-range transponder, and more, and you’ve got a ham radio that has just about every feature and setting you could ask for.
5. Retevis RT5 Dual Band 2 Way Radio
Lastly, if you’re shopping for the best handheld ham radio for survival and want to stretch your dollars as far as possible, one of your best bets lies with the Retevis RT5 Dual Band 2 Way Radio. This has one of the higher list prices on our list, but what’s nice about this package is that you get two radios for the price of one!
Each radio can get up to 8-watts of power, allows for private calls, supports car charging, and even has a built-in flashlight for furthering your survival gear. There’s also a 4-color LCD display to easily see any need-to-know info even in the dark, 1-year warranty, and a 30-day return policy if you’re not happy with your purchase for whatever reason.
Retevis packs in all of the features that most people will need, and being able to get two radios at this price is an absolute steal.
Although not everyone is talking about ham radios nearly as much as they used to, that doesn’t mean they no longer have a place in the prepper world. Ham radios are just as important for survival as ever before, and the 5 products listed here are the best portable options currently available to you. If you want to ensure that you always have a safe and reliable means of communication, do yourself a favor and pick one of these up. You’ll be glad you did.