As you may know, Ham radios are capable of communicating over extremely long distances via satellites and distant relay towers. These radios are popular among a wide range of professions and they are impressively versatile from a technological standpoint. That said, we should point out that Ham radios have come a long way over the years, with the latest versions being far better equipped than their simplistic ancestors.
It is for this reason that you have to take the time and learn as much as you can about each particular model before settling on one to buy. To make things easier, we put together a list of the ten best Ham radios on the market for you to look at.
Best Ham Radios – Reviews
Known for its high performance and quality, the Yaesu FT-270R is a cut above the rest, thanks to its brilliant functions and features. With the ability to pick up on most VHF frequencies, it can transmit 140 MHz-148 MHz bands and receive 136 MHz-174 MHz bands well. Featuring a hardened, sturdy plastic casing, this ham radio gives you 200 memory slots to store all your favorite channels.
Equipped with 4 power settings, it also comes with an advanced search function and can scan CTCSS/DCS modes. Designed with an inbuilt speaker, a backlit display screen, and a premium quality microphone, this device is ideal for all kinds of outdoor activities.
The TYT UV8000E is a premium grade ham radio that is known for its great performance levels and affordable price. Equipped with two variable power settings, this device can work over a 6km radius with ease. Including a storage capacity of up to 128 channels, users can store local and international weather stations and other favorite channels.
Supporting bother UHF and VHF frequencies, this radio also supports CDCSS/DCS modes and comes with 25 inbuilt channels for the same. Thanks to its special low battery alarm mechanism, this radio alerts its users when the battery is low so that you can recharge it on time. It also comes with a DTMF function that enables remote accessibility and operation.
8Yaesu VX-6R Submersible
The Yaesu VX-6R Submersible is a tri-band ham radio that is uniquely designed with a waterproof casing that can last up to 30 minutes under 3 feet of water. Featuring a sturdy outer covering with a textured anti-slip surface, a backlit keyboard, and a large LCD display screen, this heavy-duty device is easy to handle. Ideal for those camping or trekking, this ham radio can withstand all kinds of weather conditions.
Backed up by a large storage capacity of up to 900 channels, users can store weather channels, both local and international as well as listen to AM and FM radio stations. Equipped with a power packed 1500 mAh FNB-101 Lithium battery that can be recharged, this device can be utilized for many hours on a single charge.
Uniquely designed with a USB charger along with a wall charging plug, the Retevis H-777 is a ham radio unlike any other. Featuring a simplistic design and outlook, this radio comes with 2 knobs that can be utilized to switch channels and control the number of channels.
Powered by a 1500mAH battery, this device takes 2-3 hours to charge, giving you 8-9 hours of non-stop usage. It also comes with an earpiece that enables hands-free communication. Thanks to its low voltage alert mechanism, users are notified as to when the battery is low so that you can save on your battery life.
The BTECH UV-5X3 is a robust tri-band ham radio that is uniquely designed with a UHF and VHF transceiver. Thanks to its versatile construction and outlook, this durable ham radio comes with a sturdy keyboard and a large display screen that is highly functional. Ideal for camping and trekking, this radio can hold up to 128 channels and can be utilized to make both local as well as international calls.
Equipped with three different power settings, it can also track the weather conditions around you. Backed up by a 1500mAh battery that can be recharged, this high quality, powerful and reliable ham radio also comes with a scan feature.
5Yaesu FT-857D Amateur Radio Transceiver
Made of high quality, premium grade polycarbonate, the Yaesu FT-857D is an ultra-durable, robust ham radio that is ideal for everyday utilization. Equipped with 4 power control settings, this lightweight portable device features a frequency range of 50MHz-440MHz approximately. Thanks to its heavy duty FNB-101 Lithium battery this device can last up to 5- 9 hours at a stretch.
Considered as one among the best radios of its kind, the Yaesu VX-8DR is loaded with an omnidirectional microphone and a top quality speakerphone. Owing to its top-notch biometric sensor mechanism, this radio can monitor temperature, pressure, altitude, and can also work as a location tracker if you attach a GPS editor.
Loaded with three power settings including high, medium and low (7W, 4W, and 1W), the BaoFeng UV-82HP is a premium grade ham radio that is backed up by some useful functions. With a frequency range of 65 to 108MHz, its 136-174 MHz (Rx/Tx) VHF, and 400-520 MHz UHF are selectable.
It also features a dual-band transceiver that comes with an LCD screen to display all its functions, along with a BCLO which is a busy channel lock and 128 storage capacity to save your favorite channels.
3Baofeng Yellow BF-F9
Equipped with three variable power settings including low, medium and high, the Baofeng Yellow BF-F9 is an impressive budget-friendly ham radio that comes with a ton of handy features. Thanks to its noise reduction mechanism are can filter all kinds of unwanted sounds and produce crystal clear communication.
Designed with a durable, sturdy casing, this ham radio features a large-sized LCD display screen that clearly lists all readings in tricolor. Backed up by an 1800 mAh battery, you will never face any power issues. It can also be utilized via AC and DC power supplies.
2BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen)
Ideal for camping and trekking, the BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) is a high-quality ham radio that is designed to produce twice the power as compared to other ham radios of its kind. Equipped with three different power settings, including 1W which is low, 4W which is medium, and 8W which is high.
It also comes with a frequency range that can be adjusted both in UHF (400-520MHz) and VHF (136-174MHz). Featuring a higher battery life that is 30% more than other radios, it also comes with a colored display that makes it easier to utilize. Other than its basic functions it also features an inbuilt flashlight that helps when outdoors.
Made from premium grade plastic, the BaoFeng UV-5R is an ultra-durable, reliable two-way radio loaded with a set of truly great features. Equipped with a high/low power control setting of 4W/1W, it comes with a unique frequency range of 65 to 108 MHz that is only applicable with FM radio reception as well as VHF 136-174 MHz (Rx/Tx) and UHF 400-520 MHz (Rx/Tx).
This device allows users to set customized channel names and comes with a handy display screen. It also features an automatic keypad locking system, a dual band, dual display as well as dual standby and a power packed 1500 mAh battery.
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Ham radios are extremely useful devices that anyone can use. It can be used to listen to the news, communicate with people all over the world and is especially handy in case of a disaster or emergency. That’s why it should be no surprise that more and more people are buying and using these devices.
And you can too if you learn how to properly use one. With that goal in mind, we’ve written the following guide which will help you jump right into using a ham radio and help you get the most out of the experience.
Getting Started With a Ham Radio
Step One: Get a License
Anyone can listen to Ham radio broadcasts, but if you intend on broadcasting at a specific frequency, then you are going to have to get a license. However, this isn’t difficult at all and usually just requires a person taking an exam and paying a small fee. There are organizations such as the Amateur Radio Relay league can help a person with the details. And each level of license allows the user to transmit at particular wattages and frequencies. For instance, there are licenses available that allow individuals to broadcast at 100-Watts and at 1,500-Watts on either a limited number of frequencies or on several frequencies.
Amateur Ham radio enthusiasts are allocated 26 different bands which start at 1.8 Megahertz and goes all the way 275 Gigahertz. This allows users to not only talk to each other across the city but to talk to people in just about every corner of the world. And the bands allocated for amateur enthusiasts are only the tip of the iceberg. There are bands specifically designated for government use, commercial radio use and even military use. There’s a whole world just waiting for the amateur enthusiasts and they can discover all kinds of bands used by their local police and fire departments, ships at sea and aircraft, too.
Of course, licensing may not be an issue if you plan on only using the Ham radio in an emergency. If you’re planning on using the radio only in emergencies, then you may not have to concern yourself with getting a license right away. Although you need to keep in mind that you may still be fined by the FCC if you broadcast regardless of circumstances. And that’s not even mentioning that at some point you are going to want to get a license so you don’t miss out on all of the fun of broadcasting.
Like I said earlier, you don’t need an FCC license just to listen to broadcasts. Many people own Ham radios just to listen to a wide assortment of channels. Using it in this way, as if it were a scanner, doesn’t require anything more than owning a Ham radio and you having the desire to spend some time listening to various channels. Just be sure not to broadcast if you don’t have a license because you can end up with a hefty fine, even if it were an accident.
Step Two: Have the Proper Equipment
Depending on how you plan on using your newly bought Ham radio, you may or may not need additional equipment. Many of the highly-rated models on the market today come with everything a person needs. They can include the antenna, a battery pack or other power supply, earphones and even a microphone.
For the basic Ham enthusiast who just wants to listen to channels or don’t need a lot of power for their personal use, then most likely no additional equipment is required. However, for those who are looking for a little more versatility or power, some additional equipment may be needed. Below are just some of the basics that may (or may not) be needed:
Not every Ham radio comes with a power receiver and sometimes the user has to purchase it separately. If yours is such a model, then be sure to get one that will work with your transceiver. Also, make sure that it’s rated with enough power to power your radio but not too much that it potentially blows a fuse. A very good power supply can be purchased for $150 or less.
Before purchasing any aftermarket antenna, make sure that it’s not only compatible with your transceiver but that it will also comply with zoning laws when you mount it. A good antenna usually costs under $100.
A tuner is a helpful piece of equipment to have when using a Ham radio. It connects the transceiver with the antenna and can be used to automatically or manually scan channels, depending upon which version is bought by the consumer. A good tuner can cost anywhere from $150 to $300.
Microphone, Earphone & Keys
If the Ham radio you purchased already had a microphone and/or earphone, then you don’t have to worry about purchasing one. However, some standalone transceivers don’t come with these pieces of equipment, and they need to be purchased separately.
Another piece of equipment that almost always has to be purchased separately is a Ham radio key. This device, if used, allows the user to transmit messages using Morse code.
You should also familiarize yourself with some of the miscellaneous equipment used to operate the radio. This may include cables, wires and other parts that can be used to connect some of the above pieces to the radio transceiver.
Before We Sign Off
Now that you’ve learned about some of the best Ham radio and phone radios currently available, learned how to set up your unit to be used as a scanner or for broadcasting, and have learned what it takes to get licensed and start broadcasting, we have just one question for you:
Why haven’t you bought your own Ham radio, yet? As you can clearly see, there’s a whole world out there waiting to not only open up to you but are also waiting for what you have to say. So get out there and join the Ham radio community.