(Last Updated On: May 24, 2020)

If you are in the market for a ham radio to use as a hobby, it will surely bring you hours of education, socializing and fun.

If you are looking to purchase one to use during times of disaster, it will be your number one companion when disaster strikes.

Whatever reason you are looking for a ham radio, we have taken the time to round up a list of the best handheld ham radios on the market.

best handheld ham radio

 

So What Is A Ham Radio?

So, funny story. Ham is actually a corruption of the word amateur as in amateur radio. It’s just what it sounds like.

Ham or amateur radio is normally used for activities such as communication experimenting, fun and socializing and even emergency communication.

While there are tabletop ham radios, the most common types of ham radios resemble walkie-talkies and are known as handheld ham radios.

Many people use ham radios as a hobby – in fact it’s the foundation of many amateur radio clubs out there.

These people can be found all over the world and are known as ‘hams’. They range from young hobbyists in school to seasoned enthusiast with decades of experience in amateur radio communications.

 

Why Use Ham Radios?

If you aren’t an audiophile, then you may be wondering ‘why use ham radios in today’s modern age?’

handheld ham radios

Well, there are several reasons people still use ham radios. Of course, it’s a hobby for many people, but there are many other reasons:

  • In the event of natural disasters such as a hurricane, earthquake or tsunami, when phones are out of service, ham radios will still work.
  • Handheld ham radios are great for camping in remote areas where phones don’t work.
  • Besides the joy of having a non-failing communication device, handheld ham radios are known lifesavers in case of emergencies.
  • Handheld ham radios are great for hiking in areas where phones don’t work or would get damaged easily.
  • It’s a good way to escape the modern gadgets while still staying in touch. Yep, handheld ham radios are a fun way to communicate while staying away from smartphones and the internet.

Having shown you all the benefits of ham radios, let look at the best handheld ham radios out there.

 

How To Choose The Best Handheld Ham Radio

Before we go on to the list of the best handheld ham radios on the market, let’s explain the criteria we used to choose the best ham radios out there.

When searching for best handheld ham radios, you will find that there are several makes and models on the market to choose from.

best handheld ham radios

Ham radios not only come in different designs but offer a variety of different features as well. Having said that, the ham radio you choose should depend on what you are looking for.

Are you looking for a very long-range ham radio or are you looking for a ham radio with a very long battery life? Think about these things before purchasing.

This is why we have chosen to present the best handheld ham radios in different categories.

Regardless of what you are looking for, we have put together a list of the best handheld ham radios on the market.

Take your time to go through the list and find the best handheld radio that suits your requirements.


 

HAM IMAGENAME & BEST FEATUREAMAZON LINKS
Best Overall:
Kenwood TH-D72A
View on Amazon
Best User Experience:
BaoFeng BF-F8HP
View on Amazon
Best Frequency Coverage:
Baofeng Black UV-5R V2+
View on Amazon
Most Affordable:
Baofeng-UV5RA
View on Amazon
Best Heavy Duty:
Baofeng UV-82X
View on Amazon
Best for Survival:
Yaesu VX-6DR
View on Amazon
Best LCD:
TYT MD-380
View on Amazon
Best Design:
Baofeng Yellow BF-F9 V2+
View on Amazon
Best for Hiking:
Yaesu FT-60R
View on Amazon
Largest LCD:
Wouxun KG-UV8D
View on Amazon
Best Lightweight:
Baofeng UV-5R
View on Amazon
Best Hands-Free:
Wouxun KG-UV6D
View on Amazon
Best Speaker:
Yaesu Original VX-6R
View on Amazon
Best Broadcasting Range:
BaoFeng BF-888S
View on Amazon
Best For Emergencies/Natural Disasters:
TYT UV8000E Ham Radio
View on Amazon
Best Battery:
Hesenate HT-UV8R
View on Amazon
Best Dual-Frequency:
Btech GMRS-V1 GMRS Radio
View on Amazon
Best Radio Flashlight:
Amcrest ATR-22 Baofeng
View on Amazon
Best FM Radio:
BaoFeng UV-82HP
View on Amazon
Best Anti-Interference:
BaoFeng UV-82L
View on Amazon

 


Best Handheld Ham Radios Of 2019

Preview
Best Overall
Kenwood TH-D72A 144/440 MHz Handheld Amateur Transceiver w/...
Best User Experience
BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio...
Most Affordable
Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two Way Radio 136-174/400-480 MHz Dual-Band...
Title
Kenwood TH-D72A 144/440 MHz Handheld Amateur Transceiver w/...
BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio...
Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two Way Radio 136-174/400-480 MHz Dual-Band...
Power
5W
7.4W
5W
Price
$419.95
$69.89
$27.19
Prime Benefits
-
-
-
User-Rating
Best Overall
Preview
Kenwood TH-D72A 144/440 MHz Handheld Amateur Transceiver w/...
Title
Kenwood TH-D72A 144/440 MHz Handheld Amateur Transceiver w/...
Power
5W
Price
$419.95
Prime Benefits
-
User-Rating
More Information
Best User Experience
Preview
BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio...
Title
BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio...
Power
7.4W
Price
$69.89
Prime Benefits
-
User-Rating
More Information
Most Affordable
Preview
Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two Way Radio 136-174/400-480 MHz Dual-Band...
Title
Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two Way Radio 136-174/400-480 MHz Dual-Band...
Power
5W
Price
$27.19
Prime Benefits
-
User-Rating
More Information

1. Best Overall: Kenwood TH-D72A

Offering features rarely seen in most ham radios, the TH-D72A is among the best products from Kenwood.

It has a solid construction and comes at a reasonable price, making it the strongest contender on the list for anyone looking for handheld radio.

Check Availability On Amazon

The Kenwood TH-D72A is among the few ham radios with an inbuilt GPS with data that can be exported to your PC mapping software through a USB port.

The battery gives you up to 6 hours of continuous life at maximum power output (5W).

You can reduce the output as low as needed or turn off radio functions and the GPS tracker to get more than 30 hours. The radio also meets IP54 and MIL-STD810 standards for weatherproofing and durability.

Pros
  • Can receive on two frequencies through the same band
  • Compatible with APRS data communications
  • IP54 weatherproof
  • Excellent battery life
Cons
  • The antenna mount can break off easily
Kenwood TH-D72A 144/440 MHz Handheld Amateur Transceiver w/...
28 Reviews
Kenwood TH-D72A 144/440 MHz Handheld Amateur Transceiver w/...
  • Built-in high-performance GPS receiver APRS firmware equipped as standard USB (Mini-B) port (USB PC...
  • Kenwood Sky Command System II Compatible with ARRL "Travel Plus" for Repeaters Simple node access with...
  • Built-in 1200/9600 bps TNC compliant with AX.25 protocol Long operating hours (high-capacity battery...

2. Best User Experience: BaoFeng BF-F8HP Handheld Ham Radio

With a custom design that offers convenience and a delightful user experience, the BaoFeng BF-F8HP is a big step up from the UV-5R.

The all-new state-of-the-art chipset comes with more transmission power, offering 6 watts on UHF and 7.4 watts on VHF.

Check Availability On Amazon

This handheld ham radio has a 2000 mAh battery that allows you to enjoy listening to the built-in FM radio and still have enough power to last for a whole day.

The BaoFeng BF-F8HP offers 128 programmable memory channels. You can add or remove channels from the scanning list as you please using the free computer software.

This ham radio also comes with a flashlight and a handy manual to guide you through the customization options and its capabilities.

Pros
  • A lot of power in a handheld device
  • Compatible with all accessories used for the BaoFeng UV-5R
  • Affordable price
  • Great audio quality
  • Built-in FM-radio and flashlight
  • Bright and customizable 3 color display
Cons
  • You need to download some information from a CD to the radio
  • No water resistant cover
SALE!!
BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio...
5,078 Reviews
BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio...
  • Upgrades from our Previous Generation UV-5R: Twice the Output Power (8 watts up from 4 watts output), New...
  • High / Med / Low Power Settings (8W, 4W, 1W); Frequency Range: 65-108 MHz(Only commercial FM radio reception)...
  • The BF-F8HP was designed in the USA and because not everyone is a radio-expert we really wanted to focus on...

 

3. Best Frequency Coverage: Baofeng Black UV-5R V2+ Handheld Ham Radio

The BaoFeng’s unique approach to making high-quality ham radios is evident in the UV-5R V2+. It is easily one of the best handheld ham radios on the market.

Check Availability On Amazon

This handheld ham radio comes with a multiband FM transceiver that has huge frequency coverage and can support two-way communications. It also comes with a tough metallic casing that ensures its internal parts are well-protected if you drop it.

Another great feature that comes with the BaoFeng UV-5R V2+ is the all-new advanced auto-band detection that eliminates the need to use the band button. It also comes with a two-color LED screen that offers a high-quality display.

All these high-tech features and durability gives it unmatched superiority among its competitors.

Pros
  • Advanced auto-band detection
  • High-quality display
  • Durable
Cons
  • Only 2 frequency ranges
  • Can’t access some stations without authorization
SALE!!
BaoFeng UV-5R EX 5W Dual Band Two Way Radio Long Range (Upgraded...
235 Reviews
BaoFeng UV-5R EX 5W Dual Band Two Way Radio Long Range (Upgraded...
  • 128 memory channel; frequency range: VHF 136-174mhz (RX/TX), UHF 400-520MHz (RX/TX); 50 ctcss/105 DCS; vox...
  • Upgraded version of UV-5R: better squelch and faster channel scan. Improved streamlined shell is not as blocky...
  • 1800mAh large capacity battery can last up to 48 hours standby, and it comes with tri-color backlit LCD...

 

4. Most Affordable: Baofeng-UV5RA Handheld Ham Radio

The UV5RA-Ham from Baofeng is a basic low-cost two-way ham radio that supports dual reception and perception.

Its power reaches up to 5 watts, and it offers a range of other delightful features at a low budget.

Check Availability On Amazon

These extra features include a battery save function, a selectable frequency, built-in flashlight and key lock.

With the Baofeng-UV5RA-Ham, you can enjoy regular FM broadcasts, through special VHF receive band.

The casing is solid and you can detach the antenna.

Besides that, you will be impressed by the high-quality screen display that allows you to see the graphics from any angle. The keyboard is also easy to use.

Pros
  • Its solid casing makes it very durable
  • Great service at a budget price
  • Largely simple to use
  • 2-way communication
Cons
  • It can be hard to program
  • Not suitable for communication over long distances
SALE!!
Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two Way Radio 136-174/400-480 MHz Dual-Band...
2,930 Reviews
Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two Way Radio 136-174/400-480 MHz Dual-Band...
  • included components 1X User Manual
  • operating system Mac OS X

 

5. Best Heavy Duty: Baofeng UV-82X Handheld Ham Radio

As a revamped version of the successful BaoFeng UV-5, the UV-82X is an awesome addition to this manufacturer’s line of radios. This handheld ham radio comes with a dual band transceiver and a LCD panel to display the menu.

Check Availability On Amazon

The body is built with a heavy-duty plastic material that can withstand rough conditions and make the radio last for a very long time.

The BaoFeng UV-82X features a 1800 mAH rechargeable battery that lasts for about 3 days after charging. This ham radio comes with a built-in voice-operated transmit that gives you fantastic hands-free operation.

It also comes with an FM broadcast station, and you can still monitor other radio frequencies in the background.

Pros
  • Has over 220 channels
  • FM broadcast radio station
  • Affordable price
  • The antenna easily picks up the signals
Cons
  • This handheld radio can be a little heavy
  • Manual programming can be a bit tricky
SALE!!
Pofung UV-82 VHF UHF FM Transceiver Dual Band Two Way Radio
1,459 Reviews
Pofung UV-82 VHF UHF FM Transceiver Dual Band Two Way Radio
  • Pofung is rebranding Name of Baofeng.The BaoFeng UV-82 has one built-in receiver but can "watch" two channels...
  • A/B band independent operation,128 groups channels storage, Shortcut menu operation mode
  • VFO & Memory channels scan, Emergency Alarm ,Tri-color background light selectable

 

6. Best Handheld Ham Radio for Survival: Yaesu VX-6DR AND VX-8DR Handheld Ham Radio

If you are a survivalist looking for a ham radio that will help you in case of a disaster, the Yaesu VX is the one. This is really the best handheld ham radio for using during those tough times.

Check Availability On Amazon

This handheld ham radio has an armored shell around it, allowing it to withstand a heavy impact. Its body is waterproof, and it features an optional GPS antenna add-on that will guide you to safety, in case of a catastrophic event.

Designed to be the perfect communication tool for a survivalist, the Yaesu VX has a wide frequency range. It can also pick up public service channels, AM/FM stations, audio aircraft and analog TV stations, as well as short-wave frequencies.

The best part is that you only need one hand to operate it, with the exception of a few commands.

Bottom line, this is the best handheld ham radio for survival out there.

Pros
  • Integrated compass display
  • One hand operation
  • Extra-tough shell to survive disasters
  • Built-in environmental sensors to monitor temperature and pressure
Cons
  • The user manual is bulky and time-consuming to read.
Tri-Band Yaesu VX-6R Submersible Amateur Ham Radio Transceiver...
105 Reviews
Tri-Band Yaesu VX-6R Submersible Amateur Ham Radio Transceiver...
  • Compact, Mil-Spec, Waterproof & Submersible Tri Band Ham Radio!
  • Transmits the 144, 220 & 430Mhz Amateur Ham Radio Bands, & receives 0.5-999Mhz!
  • Output Power is 5 Watts on 2 meter & 70cm, & 1.5W on 222Mhz, with multiple lower power settings!

 

7. Best LCD: TYT MD-380 Handheld Ham Radio

Although it’s TYT’s first DMR digital handheld ham radio, we have found that the MD-380 is one of the best handheld ham radios on the market. Kudos to them!

It is a two-way portable radio which comes with a revolutionary LCD display and a unique DTMF keypad.

Check Availability On Amazon

This high-resolution display gives you high-tech graphics and clear text message. This handheld ham radio has the capability to receive about 1000 channels and is very easy to use.

As you can tell, the TYT MD-380 has a lot of great features, and they are available at a fraction of the price of its competitors. The audio quality is fantastic and you can program the radio using the keyboard.

These high-tech features are offered at a very attractive price.

Pros
  • The antenna uses SMA connection
  • Well-built body
  • Excellent audio quality and volume
  • Attractive price
Cons
  • Needs a software polish
  • No Bluetooth connectivity
  • The desktop charger takes too long to charge the radio
TYT MD-380 - DMR/Moto TRBO Ham Radio
215 Reviews
TYT MD-380 - DMR/Moto TRBO Ham Radio
  • TYT MD-380 UHF Analog/Digital DMR Radio + USB cable
  • USB Programming Cable and software
  • AC Charger, 2000 mAh Battery, Belt Clip, Antenna, English Manual

 

8. Best Design: Baofeng Yellow BF-F9 V2+ Handheld Ham Radio

As one of the most impressive handheld ham radios from Baofeng and one of the best handheld ham radios on the market, the Yellow BF-F9 V2+ comes with 8 watts of transmission power.

Check Availability On Amazon

It has an extended frequency range like the BaoFeng UV-82 and it offers a whole lot of other features. This includes a tri-color LCD display and a noise reduction feature that comes with the new chipset.

With an automatic scanning feature, the BaoFeng Yellow BF-F9 V2+ allows you to scan for a particular frequency and channel easily.

More importantly, this lightweight radio comes with a handy keypad lock feature that helps you avoid pressing the keys accidentally.

The BF-F9 V2+ can accommodate about 128 channels and it comes with a dual reception feature that lets the radio work with two different frequencies.

Pros
  • Can be used a repeater
  • Powerful 3800 mAH rechargeable battery
  • Rugged and durable construction
  • Simple to use and install
Cons
  • Manual programming can be a bit challenging
Baofeng Radio US Yellow BF-F9 V2+ 5Watt Tri-Power (1/4/5w)...
1,960 Reviews
Baofeng Radio US Yellow BF-F9 V2+ 5Watt Tri-Power (1/4/5w)...
  • Amcrest Direct (Amcrest Industries) is the authorized US Baofeng exclusive distributor of the BF-F9 V2+....
  • Tri-Power Low / Medium / High Settings (1/4/5 Watts). Frequency Range: 65-108MHz (FM Receive only),145-155MHZ...
  • VOX and OFFSET Functions, Dual Standby /Dual Watch, A/B band independent operation, Transmitter Time-Out Timer...

 

9: Best for Hiking: Yaesu FT-60R Handheld Ham Radio

The Yaesu FT-60R handheld ham radio is the best handheld ham radio for hiking and camping. In fact, it is possibly the best handheld ham radio for survival.

Check Availability On Amazon

This water-resistant portable ham radio features a plastic frame and a sturdy aluminum case that won’t crack easily when you drop it.

The battery life is also very good for those long days in the woods, with a single charge lasting for about 3-4 days.

This ham radio is inexpensive, yet it is one of the best handheld ham radios on the market offering 5 watts of raw power and comes with an audio alarm to notify you when the battery is low.

More importantly, the Yaesu FT-60R can receive about 1000 memory channels. In addition to that, its receiver has a wide coverage.

It also comes with a password feature to restrict unauthorized access and a backlit keypad to go with the alphanumeric display.

Pros
  • Well-built, solid design
  • Inexpensive price
  • Excellent battery life
  • Water-resistant casing
Cons
  • The stock antenna could be a little better
  • The volume knob is awkwardly positioned
Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band Handheld 5W VHF/UHF Amateur Radio...
153 Reviews
Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band Handheld 5W VHF/UHF Amateur Radio...
  • Dual Band VHF/UHF 2 Meter & 70cm Amateur Radio.
  • CTCSS/DCS (PL & DPL), DTMF, AlphaNumeric Display, Lighted Keypad, Scan modes.
  • Receives 108-520Mhz and 700-999.99Mhz (less cell), Transmits 144-148Mhz & 430-470Mhz, Locking mode prevents...

10. Largest LCD:Wouxun KG-UV8D Handheld Ham Radio

The Wouxun KG-UV8D is a nice dual band ham radio that will fit well in your arms, giving you a comfortable feel. This top of the line radio is powered by a 7.4V 2600mAH rechargeable battery that lasts for about 12 hours, while in use.

Check Availability On Amazon

The unit also comes with a battery saver feature to increase the efficiency of the battery, allowing it to last longer.

Wouxun has designed the KG-UV8D to look quite cool (cool for a ham radio), allowing it to look as good as it functions.

This ham radio comes with a big LCD display, a hands-free operation feature, and a high illumination flashlight.

Other great features include 999 programmable memory channels, a stopwatch, a removable antenna, and a user manual.

Pros
  • Easy to program
  • Big screen LCD display with nice graphics
  • Dual capability
  • Cross band repeat
Cons
  • The manual could be a little better
  • Low output transmit audio
  • The display can be a bit annoying during sunny days
Wouxun KG-UV8D Plus Dual-Band Two Way Radio
1 Reviews
Wouxun KG-UV8D Plus Dual-Band Two Way Radio
  • Voice Commander
  • Backlight intensity can be adjusted
  • FM radio can be stored and retrieved 20 sets of frequency

 

11. Best Lightweight: Baofeng UV-5R Handheld Ham Radio

This unit loads up a lot of great features in a strong and lightweight handset, making it easy to use and carry around.

Check Availability On Amazon

Asides from having an ergonomic design, the BaoFeng UV-5R rocks a rechargeable Li-ion battery, lasting for 2-3 days after charging.

This device has a nice coverage area, with the antenna transmitting within a 7 miles range.

Finally, it comes with a small LED flashlight that can be used in case of emergencies.

Pros
  • Excellent frequency range
  • High-definition 2-color LED display
  • Inbuilt speaker and microphone
  • Great frequency range
  • Extremely strong and durable
Cons
  • Manual programming can be a pain
  • Scanning could be better
  • No PPT lockout function
BaoFeng Walkie Talkie UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio with one more...
605 Reviews
BaoFeng Walkie Talkie UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio with one more...
  • Baofeng radio one more stand by Battery not need to worry not power, one Battery in use the other battery is...
  • All the necessary accessary already include, not need to pay other money to buy other accessary
  • TIDRADIO-771 Long antenna help you increase the traking range.

 

12. Best Hands-Free: Wouxun KG-UV6D Handheld Ham Radio

If you are looking for a ham radio that gives you great features at an affordable price, the Wouxun KG-UV6D is your best bet. Its one of the best handheld ham radios on the market, that is relatively inexpensive.

Wouxun KG-UV6D Handheld Ham RadioCheck Availability On Amazon

This dual-band radio features 199 memory channels, an LCD display, and a backlit keypad. The radio also includes a voice prompt feature that allows you to enjoy hands-free operation.

With a strong and water-resistant body, the Wuoxun KG-UV6D is excellent for camping and all sorts of outdoor activities.

The radio also features a high illumination flashlight, FM radio, battery meter and a keypad lock to prevent changing the settings accidentally.

The power saver feature included comes in handy when trying to maintain long battery life (there is a battery-meter as well as a low battery alert).

Pros
  • Audible button beeps
  • Customizable display options
  • Hands-free operation using the VOX feature
  • Backlit keyboard and LCD display
Cons
  • Scanning speed is a bit slow
  • Modifying an existing entry can be a bit hectic
Wouxun KG-UV8D Plus Cross Band Repeater Duplex Work Mode Dual...
10 Reviews
Wouxun KG-UV8D Plus Cross Band Repeater Duplex Work Mode Dual...
  • This model has been FCC certified, FCC ID: B1703024KG-UV8D Plus. Wouxun KG-UV8D Plus is Upgade of KG-UV8D
  • Duplex Work Mode and Dual Receiving,It can TX on one area while RX on the other area simultaneously , other,...
  • Cross Band Repeater,Frequency offset and direction programmable in repeater Mode UHF/VHF or VHF/UHF cross-band...

 

13. Best Speaker: Yaesu Original VX-6R Handheld Ham Radio

The Yaesu Original VX-6R is one of the finest handheld ham radios that features several beneficial features. This tri-band radio is waterproof and perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and climbing.

Check Availability On Amazon

It has an emergency function that will convey your call signal on a UHF channel.

When it comes to functionality, the Yaesu Original VX-6R features 1000 memory channels. This gadget mainly transmits 430 MHz as well as 144.220, while the receiver gets 0.5-999MHz.

More importantly, it comes with a good speaker and a readable screen display. This small unit also has a great power output (5 watts) and an excellent airband scanner.

Pros
  • Waterproof
  • Great power range selection
  • Emergency automatic ID
  • Password lock feature
  • 1000 memory channels
Cons
  • Long alpha tags (six letter tags)
  • Manual programming can be a pain
  • Poor quality belt clip
Tri-Band Yaesu VX-6R Submersible Amateur Ham Radio Transceiver...
105 Reviews
Tri-Band Yaesu VX-6R Submersible Amateur Ham Radio Transceiver...
  • Compact, Mil-Spec, Waterproof & Submersible Tri Band Ham Radio!
  • Transmits the 144, 220 & 430Mhz Amateur Ham Radio Bands, & receives 0.5-999Mhz!
  • Output Power is 5 Watts on 2 meter & 70cm, & 1.5W on 222Mhz, with multiple lower power settings!

 

14. Best Broadcasting Range: BaoFeng BF-888S Handheld Ham Radio

The BaoFeng BF-888S is a full-featured handheld radio that has a coverage range of up to 6km on open ground. This two-way unit comes with a high-quality antenna, charger and a user manual.

View on Amazon

The rugged construction gives the radio a very attractive look.

Its exterior is made of dense moulded plastic to make it durable.

Aside from having a great construction and a comfortable design, the BaoFeng BF-888S has a 1500mAH Li-ion battery that gives you a full day’s worth of charge.

Even better, it takes only 3 to 4 hours to recharge the battery.

The sound is crystal clear and you can enjoy a broadcasting range of about 2 miles under optimum conditions. You can also boost the range by installing a higher quality antenna.

Pros
  • Fantastic sound quality
  • Compact and comfortable design
  • Great broadcasting range
  • FM radio reception after you reprogram
Cons
  • Not compatible with other FRS radios
  • No automatic beep or alert after transmission
BaoFeng BF-888S Walkie Talkie 2pcs in One Box with Rechargeable...
2,769 Reviews
BaoFeng BF-888S Walkie Talkie 2pcs in One Box with Rechargeable...
  • 2 Watt Programmable Handheld Amateur Radio
  • Frequency Range: UHF: 400-520 MHz(Rx/Tx).The BF-888S include a built-in high illumination flashlight and an...
  • Customize Programming by Using the PC03 FTDI Programming Cable

 

15. Best For Emergencies/Natural Disasters: TYT UV8000E Handheld Ham Radio

The TYT UV8000E is one of the best handheld ham radios on the market, with a maximum transmission distance of about 6km.

This unit not only comes at an affordable price, but it also includes a whole range of unique features that many of its competitors don’t have.

Check Availability On Amazon

That includes a cross-band repeater function, dual display, and 128 channels.

This radio offers a tri-color background light which you can customize to suit your taste.

The emergency alarm function also comes in handy in case of a disaster. Its 3600 mAH battery lasts about 2 days.

It also includes a VOX transmitting function, FM radio, hands-free scanning and reverse frequency function.

Pros
  • Can store up to 25 radio channels
  • Pocket-friendly price
  • Tri-color background light
  • Cross-band repeater function
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • Tends to overheat while on use
  • Bulky user manual
TYT UV8000E 10W High Power Dual Band VHF UHF Two-Way Radio Ham...
142 Reviews
TYT UV8000E 10W High Power Dual Band VHF UHF Two-Way Radio Ham...
  • FCC Part 15B Certified (ID: POD-ANG7)
  • Upgrades from our Previous Generation TYT TH-UV8000D. Comes with 2 high gain antennas, you would gain an...
  • Cross-band repeater feature plus 10W high power output integrated into this little portable radio, hitting the...

 

16. Best Battery: Hesenate HT-UV8R Handheld Ham Radio

Check Availability On Amazon

Built with a very classic design, the Hesenate HT-UV8R is an upgrade version of the HT-UV5R and it comes with more advanced features.

The upgrades make the HT-UV8R best handheld ham radios out there right now. This small ham radio is easy to hold.

Moreover, it comes with a belt clip as well as a hand strap.

The unit also comes with an 1800 mAH battery that lasts for about 2-3 days, without the need for a recharge.

The Hesenate HT-UV8R is a great two-way radio that comes in three power levels, with the maximum being about 8watts.

This tri-power radio comes with a nice dual display and an attractive keypad that makes it easy to use.

The HT-UV8R also features a flashlight, mic and a high-tech speaker.

Pros
  • Long lasting battery life
  • 8watt high power output
  • Excellent display
  • Dual-band antenna
  • Small and strong build
Cons
  • Programming can be difficult
HESENATE HT-UV8R Plus High Power 8-Watt w/3800mAh Large Battery...
53 Reviews
HESENATE HT-UV8R Plus High Power 8-Watt w/3800mAh Large Battery...
  • 1. Hesenate Handheld Transceiver Series, Manufactured by Official Baofeng--Quality Assurance, 3-Month...
  • 2. Great value Reliable unit for REASONABLE price to start in Amateur Radio, Upgrades with 3800mAh Extended...
  • 3. Features: 8-Watt High Power Tri-Power Low / Medium / High Settings (1/4/8 Watts), 3800mAh Large Battery

 

17. Best Dual-Frequency: Btech GMRS-V1 GMRS Two-Way Handheld Ham Radio

The Btech GMRS-V1 is a top quality ham radio that features a tri-color adjustable display and a superb dual watch receiver. That means that the GMRS-V1 can monitor two different frequencies, giving priority to the one that receives a call.

Check Availability On Amazon

You can also listen to an FM broadcast station, while still ensuring that you don’t miss an incoming call.

With these features, it has earned its place on this list of the best handheld ham radios out there.

For those who like having a lot of information about a specific channel, the Btech GMRS-V1 is just what you need.

You can easily synchronize the displays and configure them to show the frequency and channel name.

Finding a new channel is also very simple and you can add or remove the ones you don’t like from the list.

Pros
  • Easy to add channels
  • FM radio broadcast
  • High-quality belt clip and wrist strap
  • Can monitor two channels simultaneously
Cons
  • No programmed NOAA channels
  • GMRS locked to 23 channel locations
  • Slow scanning
SALE!!
BTECH GMRS-V1 GMRS Two-Way Radio, GMRS Repeater Capable, with...
243 Reviews
BTECH GMRS-V1 GMRS Two-Way Radio, GMRS Repeater Capable, with...
  • BaoFeng Tech is the only authorized BaoFeng & BTECH Distributor to honor the Manufacturer Warranty. Only...
  • Channel Skip: Easily add or remove a channel from the scanning list - if you have a nuisance channel, just...
  • The GMRS-V1 has one built-in receiver but can "watch" two channels (semi duplex). Monitor 2 GMRS channels or...

 

18. Best Radio Flashlight: Amcrest ATR-22 Baofeng Two-Way Handheld Ham Radio

The Amcrest ATR-22 BaoFeng is a two-way radio and a handheld receiver that gives you excellent service in different climatic conditions. This 16-channel radio comes with a high-tech Li-ion battery that lasts for about 12-24 hours.

Check Availability On Amazon

The unit also features a built-in LED flashlight that will help you survive in the dark.

Boasting an ergonomic design, the Amcrest ATR-22 Baofeng is easy to hold and use for a long duration. Its sturdy design allows it to withstand roughness, bumps and scratches.

All these features will comfortably meet your personal and professional needs at a very friendly price.

Pros
  • Automatic battery saver function
  • Hands-off monitoring while scanning
  • Bright flashlight
  • High pitch Emergency alarm/ siren
  • Multiple color options
Cons
  • No screen display
  • You need a programming cable
Amcrest ATR-22 Two-Way Radio Walkie Talkie (420-470 MHz),...
72 Reviews
Amcrest ATR-22 Two-Way Radio Walkie Talkie (420-470 MHz),...
  • This radio utilizes a frequency of 420-470 MHz with an upgraded 1800mah battery. With its included headphone...
  • Features squelch so that sound can only be heard when receiving signals. This walkie talkie is equipped with...
  • Scanning allows this ham radio to provide hands-off monitoring for your favorite frequencies. Transmit with...

 

19. Best FM Radio: BaoFeng UV-82HP Handheld Ham Radio

The BaoFeng UV-82HP is a great update of its predecessor, the UV-82 model. This unit retains the original rugged design of its predecessor and comes with a whole lot of improved features to make the user experience much better.

Check Availability On Amazon

With these upgrades, the UV-82Hp is worthy of this list of the best handheld ham radios available.

That includes a 7watt transmission power, 12hour battery life and an improved antenna for good reception.

With the UV-82HP, you can listen to FM radio, while your favourite repeater is idle.

Like other BoaFeng products, this lightweight ham radio comes with a nice LCD display and a backlit keyboard that makes it easy to use at any time.

The unit also comes with a power saving feature all at an affordable price.

Pros
  • Excellent battery life
  • Rugged construction
  • High-quality antenna
  • Simple keypad buttons
  • FM radio reception
  • Superb receiver sensitivity
Cons
  • No clock
  • Doesn’t come with a USB programming cable
SALE!!
Pofung UV-82 VHF UHF FM Transceiver Dual Band Two Way Radio
1,459 Reviews
Pofung UV-82 VHF UHF FM Transceiver Dual Band Two Way Radio
  • Pofung is rebranding Name of Baofeng.The BaoFeng UV-82 has one built-in receiver but can "watch" two channels...
  • A/B band independent operation,128 groups channels storage, Shortcut menu operation mode
  • VFO & Memory channels scan, Emergency Alarm ,Tri-color background light selectable

 

20. Best Anti-Interference: BaoFeng UV-82L Two Way Handheld Ham Radio

As one of the latest products from BaoFeng, the UV-82L two-way radio comes with anti-inference ability and strong stability.

Check Availability On Amazon

This fine ham radio features a high-tech SMP speaker that delivers perfect audio quality, similar to major brands like Motorola.

Its performance is as good as the design and you won’t be disappointed with the way it feels on your arm.

The BaoFeng UV-82L two-way radio comes with a dual push-to-talk button and a 18cm booster antenna supporting a longer distance of coverage.

It is also very stable when it comes to receiving signals, and comes with two signal indicators, one for sending and the other for receiving. The unit also comes with an LED flashlight and a large LCD display.

Pros
  • Manually programmable
  • Large 2-line LCD display
  • 128 memory channels
  • FM radio reception
  • 1800mAH rechargeable battery
Cons
  • The user manual may be too technical for some people
SALE!!
Baofeng UV-82L Dual Band Two Way Radio Ham Handheld Walkie Talkie...
84 Reviews
Baofeng UV-82L Dual Band Two Way Radio Ham Handheld Walkie Talkie...
  • Frequency Range: 136-174 and 400-520MHz, Dual Band, Dual Display, Dual Frequency, Dual Standby
  • A/B band independent operation, 128 groups channels storage, Shortcut menu operation mode
  • VFO and Memory channels scan, Emergency Alarm, Tri-color background light selectable

How Do Ham Enthusiasts Communicate?

Even though hams are primarily radios, ham operators don’t just communicate over voice, but other means as well. Hams also communicate via Morse code, teletype, PSK, and sometimes even pictures.

ham radio emergency communications

 

Ham Radio Benefits

There are many ham radio clubs around the world because many people find it fascinating. However, beyond fascination, there are some important benefits of ham radios as well:

• You can communicate from anywhere in the world.
• Ham operators are part of a community of millions around the world
• Ham radios are critical during emergencies, especially in developing areas without access

to proper telephone infrastructure. In fact, even in developed countries, communications infrastructure often fail during times of disaster. It’s in these times that ham radios are most useful.

 

Licensing Requirements For Ham Radios

Now before you run off and purchase a ham radio, you should know that ham radios are governed by strict laws.

The reason for this is that ham radios operate on certain radio frequencies. Radio frequencies are segmented because only certain communications are allowed over certain bands.

If ham operators aren’t careful, they can crossover into bands which they aren’t supposed to which may very well have a negative impact on other important communication channels. As such, in most jurisdictions, you will need to obtain a license before engaging in amateur radio communications.

ham radio licenseThere’s some good news however. Ham radio licensing is easier to get these days than it was some years ago.

The grade license you obtain will among other things, determine the frequencies over which you can operate your ham radio. In most countries, there are just about three types of licenses offered:

The Technical License: The technical license is really for entry level amateur radio enthusiasts. This is generally used by hobbyists and people who just want to get their feet wet with amateur radio.

In the United States, obtaining a technical license requires that you pass an exam of about 35 questions. With this license, you will have the ability to communicate domestically and locally and get access to frequencies over 30 megahertz. In fact, you will also get access to a few HF band frequencies as well.

The General License: The general license is a step up from the technical license. To get this license, you will need to pass another examination of another 35 questions.

The Amateur Extra License: Both previous licenses are prerequisites to obtaining the amateur extra license. For this license, you are required to pass a more difficult, 50-question exam.

 

Important Aspects of Handheld Ham Radios

Ham radios can look a bit intimidating to those who are unfamiliar with them. Ham radios have several different important parts such as the transceiver and memory slots.

As a ham enthusiast, there are a few things that you should know about before diving into ham radio operation. We discuss the major ones below:

What Is a Transceiver?

The name might give it away, transceiver. Can’t figure it out? Well a transceiver is transmitter and receiver combined into a single unit. In fact, most radios made today combine the transmitter and receiver onto a single board and so most modern radios have transceivers within them.

 

Ham Radio Power

If you are keen on signal strength, coverage and range, then the power rating of a ham radio should be an important factor for you.

There are handheld ham radios and powered ham radios. Powered ham radios are normally able to deliver more power (in terms of coverage, signal strength, etc.).

However, if you are going with a handheld ham radio, you should make sure it has high and low power options so that you can adjust it as needed.

 

Ham Radio Frequency

We mentioned frequency above with respect to ham radio operations and licensing. To repeat, the license you have will determine the frequencies over which you are allowed to operate.

ham radio frequency

It’s important to note that not all ham radios will work with all frequencies, so it’s important that you select the right radio that covers the frequency range that you wish to operate over.

 

Ham Radio Bands

Bands are very important when it comes to buying a ham radio. The best ham radios are built to work with varying bands. Ham radio bands include:

ham radio bands
Two-meter Ham Band (144 MHz to 148 MHz): Ham radios covering this band are generally used for emergency purposes such as in hurricanes or floods. This for a number of reasons including the fact that the licenses for this band is easy to get, yet it’s easy to setup and very reliable for local communications.

440 MHz Band (430 MHz to 440 MHz or 420 to 450): This band is widely used for general communication. In fact, it is often used by RADAR systems as well.

Now depending on the radio you have, it may be able to operate in just one of these bands, both or several bands. Most modern radios allow operation in at least two bands (dual band) or several bands (general coverage):

Dual Band: as mentioned, dual-band allows the ham operator to cover two frequencies at the same time.

General Coverage: general coverage allows the ham operator to pick up a wide array of signals including ham radio bands, AM and FM and even TV frequencies.

 

Memory Slots

Yes, ham radios use storage too. They store information is little storage banks called memory slots. However, each slot does not hold a lot of data, even for the best handheld ham radios.

So, if you are only using your ham radio in special one-off occasions such as emergencies, you may be fine with less than 50 slots. However, if you will be using it on an ongoing basis, you will need upwards of 100 slots.

 

Backlit Display

Most handheld ham radios are made with a backlit LCD display. These ham radios are important for people who will be using them in emergencies, in dark places etc. They are also great for some people with some sight deficiencies.

handheld ham radio lcdHowever, you should also remember that you never know when you will need to use your ham radio in a dark environment and so if you are buying a handheld ham radio, you might as well get one with backlit LCD.

Finally, if you are worried about the light consuming too much power, you can purchase one that has the feature to switch off the backlight.

 

Programming Your Handheld Ham Radio

Before you go off and use your shiny new handheld ham radio, you need to setup the device first.

You need to tell it what frequencies to operate on and similar data.
Now the procedure you use to program your ham radio will depend on the type of ham radio.

If you are programming an analog radio, that will be different from programming for a digital mode radio. Yet, some radios are special cases and require special programming such as the Beufang.

Ham radio chirp

Most models come with a keypad that can be used to program the device. Alternatively, the newer, more high tech and some of the current best handheld ham radios can be connected to a computer running software such as CHIRP that you can use to quickly and easily program your handheld ham radio. Best of all, it is open source and completely FREE!

 

Handheld Ham Radio Range

Most handheld ham radios have a good range of between 1 and 2 miles. However, you will get a better range in areas that have more ham radio repeaters. These are devices that pick up ham radio signals and rebroadcast them to the wider network.

 

Bottom Line:

There you have it, the best handheld ham radios on the market. Though buying a handheld ham radio can be a little tricky, you can easily find one that you will truly appreciate. All you need to do is to ensure that the device suits your needs ranging from the design to the coverage range. After going through the list, we hope you found the best handheld ham radio for your own needs – one that offers beneficial features that you will enjoy.