10 Best HAM Radios [Portable & Handheld] | April 2021

Life changes are primarily due to Technology changes, and there is undoubtedly a link between them. But, certain things stay as they are, absorbing the changes and becoming obsolete. We are talking about HAM Radios, which does make use of the Internet.

 The Internet has brushed many things aside on its sweep, but the Ham radio has survived and has its users even now. The online shops do have them on their shelves, and they are improving year upon year. We have shortlisted ten of those Ham Radio models you can choose from to pursue your enthusiasm.

Available Different varieties of Ham Radio set:

Let me introduce different types of available radio sets so that you can make a final decision to buy them. This will help you to choose which one you need as per your requirements. We can mainly categorize them into 3 varieties: Handheld radio devices, mobile radio devices, and Base stations. Now I will explain the working and usage of all these three in brief.                                                                                                                                                                    

Handheld radio devices: – As the name suggests, these are easiest to carry and compact, which can be easily carried while traveling. These are usually available with belt clips or strings so that you can carry them easily or tuck them with your backpack while traveling or tracking. You may find them within 5-8 watts of power. It has the shortest range, and you may need repeaters to catch the range efficiently.

Mobile Units: – When your range requirements are more than handheld radio devices, mobile units are perfect for fulfilling it. Unlike handheld radio devices, mobile companies have 25-50 watts of range to catch signals for transmitting messages. These units have the ability to achieve a range of 50 Km if you connect them to suitable antennas.

Base station: – if your requirements are for a very long distance, and you want to access higher frequency, then a base station is the only solution to your requirements. The name “Base Station” may confuse you, but unlike its name, these are not bulgy ones. However, these are a bit larger than mobile devices in size. You can carry them easily if you have an adequate power supply and a good antenna. Its price may hit your packet adversely.

Things to Consider Before Making a Buying Decision: – 

You must consider your requirements before making any buying decision. As I have mentioned the available types of radio devices, you should understand the working of these 3 and check which one fulfills your requirement best.

The foremost thing you must keep in mind is that you may need a license to use it if you don’t already have it. After that, you need to consider the range which it should be covered by the device so that it can fulfill the purpose.

Last but not least is your budget. Yes, you must finalize your budget then look for the products that best suit your pocket. This way, you won’t cause any harm to your pocket. 

Attention! Before you go to buy your choice Ham Radio, do read our Buying Guide and FAQs. Also check out the questions:

This is the list of Best Ham Radios (Reviews & Buying Guide):

BEST HAM RADIOS
BEST HAM RADIOS

Now let’s take a look at the list of Handheld radios as below: –

1. BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio

BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio

The Baofeng comes with batteries with the power of 2100 Ah, an antenna which is-85 usually dual-band, Ch- 5 chargers, and user manual and requisite clip-on s. It is one of the basic models for the newbies manufacturers in China. This one is the most pocket friendly but in a lower range.  

Pros: 

  • Great purchase with affordable price 
  • The battery can last up to 6 hours of charge
  • Great customer support and warranty 
  • Great start for a fresher.

Cons: 

  • Antennae may be powerful but still weaker relatively.

Conclusions

When you talk about the most effective and performing two-way radios, the name Baofeng BF – F8HP is bound to crop up.  The new generation has several upgrades from the previous one in almost all its features. The output from 4 W to 8 W would mean contacting repeaters from a distance further away. The item is compact and fits in snugly, not disturbing the travel. It is a fresher’s radio as it is simple enough to understand but provides advanced features. 

2. WOUXUN KG-UV9D Plus Two Way Radio

WOUXUN KG-UV9D Plus Two Way Radio

The KG- UV9D is capable of high performance and a battery that can sustain 18 hours of usage. You will receive the Dual-band radio and the twin antennas. A rapid charger to hasten up the process with. Belt clip and a wrist strap. The all explaining user manual along with power chords are also available. 

Pros: 

  • Considered supreme in Analog 
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Display is bright
  • Snug and compact
  • 18 hours of battery 
  • Priced low

Cons: 

  • The SP/ MIC located on the right side pops up often 
  • The screen may be large but not scratch-proof as it is made of plastic. 
  • Difficult to program through a keyboard.

Conclusion: 

If you handle this compact radio with care, it is worth it. Yes, sunlight does obscure the display, it may be a plastic display, but the other technical features perform exceedingly well.

3. Kenwood Original TH-D74A 144/220/430 MHz Triband with Ultimate in APRS

Kenwood Original TH-D74A 144/220/430 MHz Triband with Ultimate in APRS

The Kenwood TH- D74A is excellent in its performance irrespective of the fact whether it is bright or dark in the skies. You can feel its sturdiness when you hold it, and the quality of the materials used to manufacture it is weather-resistant apart from being waterproof.  It weighs only 7.2 ounces, and you get all the power cables, including accessories. Battery power is just above the expected ratings as its strong LCD may run it dry if used for a long while. 

Pros: 

  • It has GPS
  • It is all-weather resistant
  • Excellent backlit display 
  • Dstar 
  • IF Filter
  • Morse Code can be played back. 

Cons: 

  • It is expensive
  • Many menus, and would take extra time to get adjusted to
  • Extra Antenna purchase
  • A Ham for the intermediate users and not beginners.

Conclusion: 

With the price up a bit, to gain all those features, the user should not hesitate in purchasing this Ham radio as the benefits outdo the disadvantages. It has a weatherproof rating and a menu list of 14.

4. ICOM 2300H 05 144MHz Amateur Radio

ICOM 2300H 05 144MHz Amateur Radio

Size does matter. The same cannot be said about the ICOM 2300H as it is relatively small in size but far ahead of many of its rivals. What you would get in the package are the 144Mhz radio and 207 Alphanumeric memory channels. The manual is excellent, and all screws with accessories. The encoder) the decoder is there and all packed into a compact case. 

Pros:

  • It is very versatile given the size
  • Can be mounted anyplace 
  • Wide range offered
  • It is compatible with almost all vehicles.
  • Climatic changes informed in advance.

Cons: 

  • It has only one band 
  • Programmable cable to be purchased separately.

 Conclusion: 

The display of 207 alphanumeric characters can be scanned despite varying conditions. With an LCD screen that can be customized and it’s the capability to be mounted anywhere, the ICOM 2300 H does pack a punch.

5. TYT TH-9800 Quad Band 50W Cross-Band Mobile Car Ham Radio Black

TYT TH-9800 Quad Band 50W Cross-Band Mobile Car Ham Radio Black

The TYT TH – 9800 comes in with a reputation of the highest rating. The screen is a large one allowing a very visible display. You will receive a TYT 9800 Transceiver with a handheld microphone and its hanger. The manual, which is self-descriptive, is sure to provide proper guidance. All the power cables are made available. 

Pros: 

  • The faceplate is detachable
  • Compatibility with CHIRP
  • programming cable
  • Can be operated on all frequencies.
  • Full duplex model.

Cons: 

  • Faulty fuses
  • Transmission problems may occur.

Conclusion: 

It’s a quad-band model with complete efficiency. There are 809 channels, and memory is 256, and that is enough to safeguard the settings. Few complaints have surfaced on its transmission and mainly on the fuse issues. If both are allowed to persist, the brand may lose its high rating, which it enjoys at present.

6. BTECH Mini UV-25X4 25 Watt Tri-Band Base, Mobile Radio: VHF, 1.25M, UHF Amateur (Ham)

BTECH Mini UV-25X4 25 Watt Tri-Band Base, Mobile Radio: VHF, 1.25M, UHF Amateur (Ham)

BTECH is nothing but an abbreviation of BAOFENG TECH. This is a Chinese product with its own set of attractions. The third band can transmit it at 1. 25 m bandwidth, and the fourth one between 350 and 390 MHZ. You will get a DTMF Microphone handheld, a UV – 25×4 Mobile radio, and all other screws and hardware. 

Pros: 

  • The product is inexpensive
  • Ease of transportation
  • Right devise if you want to gain entry into VHF and UHF.

Cons: 

  • For proper audio, external speakers need to be fitted with a 3.5 TRRS jack. 
  • The power is lower comparatively

Conclusion: 

It comes with an LCD screen through which the display can be adjusted. It can display name and frequency simultaneously. With the weight at hardly a pound, it can be carried anywhere.

7. TYT MD-9600 Dual Band Digital DMR Mobile Car Truck Transceiver

TYT MD-9600 Dual Band Digital DMR Mobile Car Truck Transceiver

You would get the TYTTH – 9900 mobile Transceiver and handheld with a handheld microphone to communicate with. All the power cables with one fixed bracket to serve as a microphone hanger. Screws and other accessories are in place with 809 memory channels.

Pros: 

  • Durability
  • Power output above expectations
  • CHIRP can be used for programming

Cons: 

  • The cross band repeater is not consistent among all users.
  • After sales support is not supportive  

Which HAM Radio has four bands but does not charge you accordingly. That Ham radio could only be TYTTH – 9800, which has many features that can be appreciated. Notable is the audio, the full quad-band accompanied by a quad antenna. Almost all the features are button controlled, and the battery retention is impressive. 

8. Yaesu Original FT-450D HF/50 MHz Compact Amateur Base Transceiver

Yaesu Original FT-450D HF/50 MHz Compact Amateur Base Transceiver

Any operator who develops a   HAM radio would have an inexperienced buyer in mind. The Yaesu FT – 450D is meant for such amateurs but does not compromise the features found. The DSP functions, state of the art design, and filters are all there with a dual antenna, Automatic. 

Pros: 

  • Price meets features
  • Signal capture at its best, thanks to DSP.
  • Voice recorder is digital.

Cons: 

  • AM cannot exceed 25 Watts
  • Pan adapter missing 

Conclusion: 

There is no doubt that the Yaesu FT_450 has plenty to offer even though the price is well below the thousand Dollar mark. It gets rid of noise interference, and the manual is easy to read and follow.

9. Kenwood TS-480HX HF/50 MHz Amateur Base Transceiver 200 Watts – Original

Kenwood TS-480HX HF/50 MHz Amateur Base Transceiver 200 Watts – Original

The purpose of a HAM Radio has always been to get in touch with the other. With base stations transmitting at 100 KW, Kenwood’s TS- 480HX transmits at 200 KW. It is considered a king in its niche for such features even though the price may be a bit high.  

Pros: 

  • With exceptional transmission power and fans that keep the unit cooler, usage increases. 

Cons: 

  • Charging the device requires a lot of power supply
  • The maximum filters at any point in time cannot exceed two.
  • Too expensive for an average user.

Conclusion:

Even though the price may be out of reach, it should be considered a long term investment. The product enjoys a 5/5 rating in most sites and the transmission power at 200 MHz is excellent. If you aim to be an average user only, rule out this product. In case you choose to be the real Ham radio man, buy this.

The Buyers Guide- Other important features.

  1. Backlit LCD Display

The backlit LCD screen display plays a vital role for night users. It makes it easy to read in the dimmest of circumstances. One should be aware such displays do consume the battery at a faster pace than usual. So, it’s better to turn it on when the necessity arises.

  1. Power:

Power supplies to ham Radios differ: The optimum power supply should be ensured for the ham radios:

  • HF – range starts from 3-30 MHz
  • VHF –  Range is between from 30-300 MHz
  • UHF-  Range starts from 300 MHz to 3 GHz
  • Any Ham radio- 5 watts of output.
  1. Types of bands and purpose:

Bands are a part of ham radio, but one should not buy a ham radio as it has more bands. Found below are the types of band and suitability.

  • Two-meter ham band: would suit communication that could be an emergency. Also suitable for local area news. A radio with 440 MHz would do.
  • Ten meter Ham band: This is meant for people who take this hobby seriously.
  • Dual Band Radio: This ham radio would allow simultaneous communication and listen effectively. 
  • Tri-band Radios: For people who are not satisfied with two bands.
  • General coverage band: For people who want extra features like TV, AM, FM, etc.
  1. Memory Slots:

Memory on the ham radio is dependent on the users. If the communication is within a radius or not too often, limited memory slots will fulfill the purpose. If the objective is more exhaustive, it’s best to buy a ham radio with maximum memory like international communication.

  1. Frequency range

Similar to the band frequencies depend on the user. Found below are those different types of frequencies and the licenses issued :

  • Technician: Best to have above 50 MHz
  • General: Below 30 MHz, which would provide phone, data privileges, but within limits.
  • Amateur extra Allows all Amateur privileges.

The process to obtain the licenses can be decided by your performance in exams conducted for this purpose.

6.Durability

Longevity is one thought that rages in anyone’s mind whatever they intend to purchase in the market, be it any product. Products may be expensive, and the customer is bound to take the product’s durability into account as the investment should be extended to the maximum period into the future. 

Breakdowns or cessation of the product would not auger well with the customer, disrupting all his plans. The other choice of buying yet another product is not advisable given that the product did not last in the short run. The onus falls on the manufacturers to manufacture the products with the best quality raw materials and ensure sturdy finished products. 

7.Versatility

Gone are the days when you bought something to focus on just one particular task.Versatility in basic terms would mean something to excel on many fronts. Therefore the purpose of buying a product maybe for more than one meaning. Competition pushes the versatility and quality of products. Compatibility of the same with other devices is an expectation which manufacturers should consider fulfilling. 

Benefits of Ham Radio: 

  • Best aid in terms of communication with prolonged disaster.
  • A hobby but skill too
  • It’s an exclusive community you would proudly be part off
  • You could be the first to be aware of emergencies, local or International.

FAQs:

Q1. What is Ham Radio? 

A: What was once a popular hobby and served usefully during emergency services became severe business after the US government passed a regulation in 1914. Now you require a license to own one.

Q2: What is the easiest way to become a Ham Radio operator? 

A: There are no shortcuts. We need to pass an examination that has 35 questions. I would rather suggest you master the skill rather than finding shortcuts to it. You need to practice regularly to master any skill. Patience and persistence is the key to get the advanced understanding and operate it properly.

Q3: As I need to pass the examination, do I need to join some institute to learn the codes?

A: Earlier, it was a must, but after 2007 it has been discontinued. Now you learn it yourself and as per your own schedule. You can even try testing it and get your hands on it. You can try involving in mucking.

Q4: Which is the best Ham radio to buy? 

A: It depends on your immediate requirement, for the advanced Ham’s are costly, and you may not have a use for it. For a start, you can invest in the Baofeng UV-5R Radio.

Q5: If I am a beginner, which one should I buy, to start with?

A: Ah! I would love to help you understand that there is no such thing that you must buy any particular model or brand. I would suggest you buy one within your budget and get started with it. Once you understand it’s working, then after that you can upgrade it as and when required.

Q6: Are these portable and easy to carry outside, do I need a car for them?

A: All you need is an adequate supply of power and a good quality antenna so that it can be accessed without any restrictions. Yes, you can carry it anywhere, but you must make sure that it should be able to catch signals easily.  

Final Thoughts:

We hope you have made an in-depth study of our list of top Ham Radios. As you may observe, several choices may attract you, but you should choose the one that suits your requirements and consider whether it fits your budget. 

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