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13 Best Handheld Ham Radios Of 2022

13 Best Handheld Ham Radios Of 2022
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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.

If you are interested in ham radios, you may also be interested in our list of the best long range listening devices

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.
  • Ham radios arent known as hands free devices, but you can get an earpiece with a mic (normally for walkie-talkies) that you can use with your ham radio.

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.

Best Handheld Ham Radios Of 2022

Best Overall
BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band...
Best LCD
TYT MD-380 - DMR/Moto TRBO Ham Radio
BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band...
TYT MD-380 - DMR/Moto TRBO Ham Radio
Prime Benefits
More Information
Best Overall
BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band...
BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band...
Prime Benefits
More Information
Best LCD
TYT MD-380 - DMR/Moto TRBO Ham Radio
TYT MD-380 - DMR/Moto TRBO Ham Radio
Prime Benefits
More Information

1. Best Overall: 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.

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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.

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

You need to download some information from a CD to the radio
No water resistant cover

BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band...
  • 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: VHF: 136-174 MHz(Rx/Tx). UHF: 400-520...
  • The BF-F8HP was designed in the USA and because not everyone is a radio-expert we really wanted to focus on...


2. 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.

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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.

Has over 220 channels
FM broadcast radio station
Affordable price
The antenna easily picks up the signals

This handheld radio can be a little heavy
Manual programming can be a bit tricky

No products found.


3. 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.

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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.

The antenna uses SMA connection
Well-built body
Excellent audio quality and volume
Attractive price

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
  • 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


4. 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.

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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.

Can be used a repeater
Powerful 3800 mAH rechargeable battery
Rugged and durable construction
Simple to use and install

Manual programming can be a bit challenging

BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band...
  • 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: VHF: 136-174 MHz(Rx/Tx). UHF: 400-520...
  • The BF-F8HP was designed in the USA and because not everyone is a radio-expert we really wanted to focus on...


5: 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.

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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.

Well-built, solid design
Inexpensive price
Excellent battery life
Water-resistant casing

The stock antenna could be a little better
The volume knob is awkwardly positioned

No products found.

6. 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.

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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.

Easy to program
Big screen LCD display with nice graphics
Dual capability
Cross band repeat

The manual could be a little better
Low output transmit audio
The display can be a bit annoying during sunny days


7. 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.

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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.

Excellent frequency range
High-definition 2-color LED display
Inbuilt speaker and microphone
Great frequency range
Extremely strong and durable

Manual programming can be a pain
Scanning could be better
No PPT lockout function

No products found.


8. 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).

Audible button beeps
Customizable display options
Hands-free operation using the VOX feature
Backlit keyboard and LCD display

Scanning speed is a bit slow
Modifying an existing entry can be a bit hectic


9. 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.

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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.

Fantastic sound quality
Compact and comfortable design
Great broadcasting range
FM radio reception after you reprogram

Not compatible with other FRS radios
No automatic beep or alert after transmission

No products found.


10. Best For Emergencies/Natural Disasters: TYT UV8000D 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.

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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.

Can store up to 25 radio channels
Pocket-friendly price
Tri-color background light
Cross-band repeater function
Easy to use

Tends to overheat while on use
Bulky user manual

No products found.


11. 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.

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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.

Easy to add channels
FM radio broadcast
High-quality belt clip and wrist strap
Can monitor two channels simultaneously

No programmed NOAA channels
GMRS locked to 23 channel locations
Slow scanning

BTECH GMRS-V1 GMRS Two-Way Radio, GMRS Repeater...
  • The GMRS-V1 has one built-in receiver but can "watch" two channels (semi duplex). Monitor 2 GMRS channels or...
  • Channel Skip: Easily add or remove a channel from the scanning list - if you have a nuisance channel, just...
  • Features: 25KHz/12.5KHz Switchable FM Radio Large Tri-color LCD Display (3 Selectable Colors) LED Flashlight...


12. 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.

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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.

Excellent battery life
Rugged construction
High-quality antenna
Simple keypad buttons
FM radio reception
Superb receiver sensitivity

No clock
Doesn’t come with a USB programming cable

No products found.


13. 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.

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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.

Manually programmable
Large 2-line LCD display
128 memory channels
FM radio reception
1800mAH rechargeable battery

The user manual may be too technical for some people

No products found.

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 operations. 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 a 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.

Ham Radios with 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 a 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.