It has been said that fortune favors those who are prepared. Nowhere is this truer than in the event of a disaster. In the aftermath of a natural disaster like a hurricane, earthquake or tsunami, or a man-made one like a terrorist attack, being prepared and ready may mean life or death for you and your loved ones.
Here is a list of the Best Handheld Ham Radios
Handheld Ham Radios
For outdoor survivalists, one of the key piece of equipment is the ham radio. Next to gears that help you to sustain life, information is vital to let you know the current situation, when and where is help, where is the safest place to stay, where other survivors are and whether more dangers are lurking.
In these days of cell phones, people do not pay much to ham radio. However during and after a disaster, cell communication is, more likely than not, not available. Communication over Ham radios, however, is much more likelier to remain intact.
A ham radio is approved by the FDA to operate on frequencies suitable for long range communication. It is can be used for two-way communication. Depending on the time of day and frequency, the communication can be world-wide.
If your are in the market for a Ham radio, you will quickly find that there are many makes and models to choose from. In addition to different shapes and sizes, there are many features available. Each model has its strength in some of the features, and some models have their own unique features. You should choose one that best matches its features and strength with your requirements.
Key Features to Consider When Choosing a Ham Radio
Power directly affects the ham radio’s range. You need more power in hilly areas where the signal needs to bounce off multiple repeaters. On the other hand, in open and flat terrain less power is required for a given range. In general you should go for higher power for survival purposes.
Available Frequency Range
For survivalists, a useful Ham radio should be preferably at least dual-band. Of course for general hobby use, this is not absolutely necessary. With multiple bands, you can transmit and receiving on different bands, which is very useful in an emergency situation. Also you should look for units that offer simultaneous transmission and reception on different channels.
The following are my reviews of 5 best Ham radios
Yaesu Original VX-6R
The Yaesu VX-6R is a triple band (2M, 220 & 440 MHz) HT with extensive receive coverage, and leading-edge features. It is submersible (JIS7: 30 minutes of submersion at depth of 3 feet) and extremely rugged. The VX-6R provides wide receiver coverage at 504 kHz ~ 998.99 MHz (cellular blocked), and puts out 5 Watts of power on the 144 and 430 MHz bands (1.5 W on 222 MHz).
This is a very well-built unit with lots of features. I particularly like the auto transmit features which transmits your ID and enables the microphone even while you are disabled. It also submerges up to 30 minutes in 3 feet of water. The password feature is nice as well.
This is a high-end unit that will satisfy the needs for most people. It will not let you down during an emergency.
Yaesu Original VX-6R Video Review
Baofeng-UV5RA-Ham Two Way Radio
Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
The Baofeng-UV5RA Ham Two Way Radio is a basic low cost unit, providing 5 watts in the frequency range of 136-174 MHz and 400-480 MHz. It offers special VHF receive band from 65 – 108 MHz which includes the regular FM broadcast band. Dual watch and dual reception is also supported.
For its price, it does most things surprisingly well, which seems to be a characteristic of most Baofeng units. The only thing that I do not like is that it is hard to program, but one hardly expects that from a low cost unit.
Baofeng-UV5RA-Ham Two Way Radio Video Review
Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
This unit supports a frequency range of 65-108 MHz ( the only commercial of FM radio reception). VHF: 136-174 MHz of (Rx/Tx). UHF: 220-260 MHz-(Rx/Tx), Broad (Wide) / Narrow bands (Narrow), Output power is 5W/1W, selectable.
This is quite a large unit. It’s ruggedly built and has a large speaker so the sound is great. However I find it a bit hard to fit in some pockets because of its size. This may not be a problem for others though. As with other Baofeng units in this review, all of its functions work well.
As one of the few choices in the 220 MHz arena and for its price, I would recommend this Ham radio if it fits your needs.
Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
The Midland-GXT1000VP operates in the frequency range of UHF 462.5 MHz - 467.7125 MHz and the weather band. It runs on a rechargeable battery pack but also accepts AA batteries. I would definitely recommend carrying some alkaline batteries or rechargeable batteries with you if you end up getting this Ham radio.
This unit has a long range, although not as long as the 36-mile range advertised. I also like the feature of being able to lock in the weather band for getting news and alerts of upcoming weather. The group call feature is nice if you have a group with everybody having the same unit.
Midland GXT1000VP4 Video Review
Baofeng-BF-F8+ 2nd Gen
Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
The Baofeng-BF-F8+ 2nd Gen is a dual band, dual display, dual frequency handheld Ham radio. It operates on frequency range 136MHz – 174 MHz, and 220 MHz – 260 MHz. Power output is 5 watts.
This is another low cost unit from Baofeng that has all the basic functions and does them all pretty well. It is rugged and feels good in the hand. It will serve most survivalists well. The only thing that I do not like is the LCD screen, which does not lit up after dimming, even when there is a transmission. For some people this may not be an issue, although I can imagine the inconvenience this would cause in some situations.
The Yaesu Original VX-6R is certainly one of the best Ham radios around, although it is not an inexpensive unit. If you are serious about having an excellent unit and not so concerned about the price, it is in my opinion the best choice. If you need the basic unit to start with, plus BaoFeng of BF-F8+ 2nd Gen is my recommendation.
Here is another article we put together on the topic of Ham Radio if you want to continue reading about it!