Best Handheld Ham Radio for Survival

Are you in the market for the best handheld radios for survival? What you’re looking for is a ham radio that offers survival and outdoor features plus weatherproofing.

Some of the ham radios below are best suited for premium users while others are a good choice for beginners. Note that we did not arrange the items in any particular order.


BaoFeng BF-F8HP

BaoFeng BF-F8HP

You can think of the BF-F8HP as a powerful entry level survival ham radio. When you use it on VHF it performs with 8 watts of power but goes down to 7 watts when you switch over to UHF. Note that other handhelds usually operate at 4 watts in these bands.

It is a durable unit and one of the best handheld radios for survival in its price point. This radio has a hardened case—but not waterproofed, mind. It has three different power settings, which allows you to extend the battery life.

Pros

  • Comes with a built in FM receiver
  • Easy to program, which is great for beginners
  • Sold at a competitive price point
  • Two channel monitoring

Cons

  • It is not waterproof
  • Programming cable sold separately


Yaesu FT-60R

Next in our list of best portable ham radio for survival is the Yaesu FT-60R. One of the best things about this radio is its battery life. It comes with a 1400mAh battery, which is pretty good compared to many other ham radios in the market.

It has 1,000 memory channels and features NOAA Weather Alert. It’s a powerful radio with a powerful output at 5W (high and low) and 2W (middle). It transmits at 144-148 Mhz and features locking mode so it doesn’t switch to other frequencies by accident.

Pros

  • Dual band
  • Durable
  • Locking mode
  • Comes with useful accessories
  • High power

Cons

  • A bit pricey


Yaesu FT-65R


The next in our list of the best handheld ham radio models for survival is one that has a massive antenna, the Yaesu FT-65R. It is a small yet powerful ham radio. It is great for outdoor use and it is water resistant.

If you’re looking for something more powerful than the number 2 radio on our list, consider this one as an upgrade.

Output is at 5 watts and has 1,000 memory channels. It also has three power settings, which will also allow you to extend its battery life. Note that it has an aluminum case, which makes it quite durable and lightweight.

Pros

  • Long battery life
  • Easy to program
  • Locking mode
  • Very good display—allows you to read even when the sun is out
  • Simple controls, which is great for newbies too

Cons

  • Programming cable is sold separately
  • Programming this ham radio can be a bit tricky
  • Menu can be a bit confusing


BaoFeng Radio UV-82+ 8W Handheld Dual Band VHF/UHF

Our next best handheld ham radio for survival is one that probably has the best range. BaoFeng Radio UV-82+ 8W is actually an upgrade of a previous model and comes with a few new features.

It is outfitted with a NA 771 High Gain Antenna that can be extended, which further increases its range. It has 8 watts of power, which is double what other radios can give. It comes with a 2800mAh battery, which gives you a lot of operating time.

Pros

  • Really long range
  • Long battery life
  • High power
  • High gain antenna

Cons

  • More expensive than many radios in this list


TYT MD-UV 380

We believe that the TYT MD-UV 380 is probably the best survival ham radio with digital display. It is dual band and can transmit and receive on UHF and VHF. Note that this is a full featured ham radio. If you’re serious about your amateur radio hobby then this might be a good choice in its price range.

It can store up to 100,000 contacts and has 3,000 programmable channels. It has a really good battery life (2000mAh).

One of the best things about it is its high resolution screen. It is easy to operate even for beginners and the menu is relatively easy to understand. However, programming this ham radio can be a bit tough.

Pros

  • High resolution screen that is clear and visible in all lighting conditions
  • Good battery life
  • Full set of features—great for survival applications
  • Dual band

Cons

  • Not that easy to program
  • Operates on a single frequency


BaoFeng UV-5R

BaoFeng UV-5R

If you’re looking for a handheld ham radio that has a compact design then the UV-5R may be a good choice for you. This is a good pick for the best handheld ham radio for survival that is light and easy to carry.

It comes with the standard 4W power with a frequency range of 136-174 MHz and 400-480 MHz. It supports dual watch and reception. It also doubles up as a FM transceiver.

Pros

  • Wide range of channels
  • Battery saver
  • Sold at a good price point

Cons

  • Standard power (4 watts)


Kenwood TH-d74A Review

The Kenwood TH-d74A has a great handheld ham radio range. It is a full featured unit, which makes it one of the best handheld ham radios for survival. The big downside about this is its price—it is one of the premium portable ham radios on our list.

One of its features is the built-in GPS position receiver and a Built-in TNC. It also has MIL-STD810 weatherproofing, which is pretty good. It features nine scan modes, 1,000 memory channels, and stand-alone digipeater functions.

Pros

  • Lots of functions
  • Menu is easy to navigate
  • Great for outdoors—good weatherproofing
  • Plenty of power
  • Wide range

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Complicated to use—not for beginners


BaoFeng UV5R

If you’re looking for something that is easy on the budget and rather easy to use then the BaoFeng UV5R might be a good option. It is compact and economical—it’s easy to carry around. It has 128 channels, dual band, and a range of 65-108 MHz.

Pros

  • Battery saver mode
  • Easy to use
  • Easy on the budget
  • Good option for beginners

Cons

  • Charging mode is a bit problematic


TIDRADIO 8Watt Ham Radio

If the BaoFeng UV5R felt like it lacked power, then maybe you might like the TIDRADIO TD-F9GP. This probably the best hand radio that is easy on the budget, basic features, but with twice the power at 8 watts.

The battery life is also pretty impressive (2100 mAH battery). It also has a decent range at 65-108 MHz.

Pros

  • Easy on the budget
  • Basic features
  • Good battery life
  • More power

Cons

  • Not easy to program
  • Range is okay but could have been better


BaoFeng Walkie Talkie UV-5R5 5W

If you’re really into BaoFeng ham radios but want something that will fit your budget, then maybe Baofeng UV-5R5 will be a good option. It’s a dual band ham radio transceiver, which also gives you better handling.

It comes with a bigger battery at 1800mah capacity. It also features an FM radio and a built-in flashlight.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Good design
  • Better battery life

Cons

  • You need to find better charging wires

This wraps up our list of the best handheld ham radio for survival. You need to check which features you prefer and at what price point. We have included a wide selection in our list.

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