Top 10 Best Handheld Ham Radios 2021 [Top Picks]

The invention of the radio changed the world for good. People finally realized what it meant to have the world in their hands. All these years later, radio created an amazing hobby that unites the world together. With some of the best Handheld ham radios playing a key role in this regard.

The amateur radio, popularly known as ham radio, is a group of people using radios as a medium of communication across the world. This communication can work in several ways. From voice to contact each other, to using morse code or different radio teletypes.

Amateur radio users use specific frequencies to communicate with each other. The amateurs have 26 radio bands allocated to them for their use. These bands range from 1.8 Megahertz to 275 gigahertz. This wide range allows users to talk across towns, cities, countries and even continents.

However, the market for the best Handheld ham radios is very saturated, and not every product is worth the price. We present some of the Handheld ham radios available right now.

A Glimpse at Some Of The Best Of The Bests

 Handheld Ham Radio

Best Handheld Ham Radio Quick Chart

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Types of Ham Radios

type of hum radioHam radios might seem like an expensive, technical and complicated hobby. While that might not be the case, it’s something people need to understand well. There are many types of ham radios out there, some of the common types are:

Amateur “Ham” Radio:

Here, the word amateur refers to noncommercial use. These radios have a frequency range of 1.8 – 1300 MHz with some changes here and there. These can only be used for personal communication and voluntary use, these cannot be used to make money under any circumstances. While some prefer the base station, which is highly expensive and power-consuming, the handheld personal ham radios are just as popular.

Citizen Band:

This ranges from 26 – 27 MHz (HF) with an 11-meter band and 40 channels. These became popular in the 70s, although not very popular currently, they’re still popular among off-road truckers and travelers.

While these two are the most common bands for amateur radios. There are bands specifically fixed for police, firefighters, and people of specific professions who need to communicate.

Impact of Ham Radios

Ham radios have created a community of people irrespective of age, profession, gender or race. Ham radios can transmit information far away, even when there is no cellphone network or internet present. This can help people contact each other in terms of natural disasters when all contact options have broken down.

When other options have broken down. ham radios are used to contact each other, spread news and awareness. The red Cross, and even local governments use ham radios to communicate with people in times of crisis.

Ham radios helped in communication among different agencies during the 9/11 attacks and the devastating hurricane Katrina. In both of these cases, every other communication method broke down.

Also, being a ham connects you to a massive community. Currently, there are more than 2 million people using ham radios as a hobby. But before we discuss ham radios, here are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Considerable factors of Handheld ham radios

Ham radios, popularly known as ham radios have a massive community. However, before you start, you need to know some basics. Some of the key factors are:

Connection type:

Ham radio connections work in several ways. While there are bands allocated for ham radio communication, other mediums work as well. People often use Morse code to contact, as the beeps from Morse code travel more lengths than the human voice.

Licensing:

To start as a ham, you need a proper license. Licensing helps you stay on the records. The FCC is responsible for licensing. The license holders also help the government at times, as the radio can help you contact, even when every other option is closed. Hams have played a vital role in saving people from 9/11 to floods in Italy and hams were vital to the crisis as well.

Price:

You need to get yourself a ham radio before getting to work. A standard device would set you back for about 200USD, while there are other tools, add ons and more high-end devices available.

Programming:

Generally, ham radios consist of numerous channels based on specific frequencies. However, these channels are often programmed by computers, so having an idea of software regarding radios is also necessary.

While these are the most rudimentary things a person needs to keep in mind. There are other technicalities, nitty-gritty that affects your use of amateur radio.

Best Handheld Ham Radios

Top  10 Best Handheld Ham Radios Reviewed

All the recommendations in our review are based on in-depth research. Hence, you won’t go wrong buying anyone of this. When choosing the best-rated Handheld Ham Radio, you must be vigilant in noticing both the pros and cons of the product.

1.Yaesu Original FT-65 FT-65R  Dual-Band Rugged- Editor Choice

Yaesu Original FT-65 FT-65R 144/440 Dual-Band Rugged & Compact Handheld Transceiver, 5W - 3 Year Warranty

The best first ham radio on the list is Yaesu Original FT-65 FT-65R 144/440 Dual-Band Rugged. Yaesu is a company that’s known to deliver. For commercial and amateur radio equipment, they’ve established their name in the market.

This specific product is one of the best handheld radios out there, and rightfully so. Again, you will see significant improvements in FT-65R over Baofeng UV82. The display, for example, is so easy to read with a nice large signal meter.

Overall, this Yaesu device will give you the feeling that you are buying your last best ham radio for emergency purpose. Why should you choose Yaesu FT-65R over its previous version, FT-65R? The reasons are apparent.

The FT-65R comes with commercial-grade standards. Also, it comes with an IP54 rating, protecting dust and water. On top of that, the MIL-810-C, D, and E standards make this radio more convenient even in the harshest environments. Plus, it is one of the best Yaesu handhelds available on the market.

FM Band receiver, ARTS (Automatic Range Transponder System), DTMF operation all are things which it can boast of.CTCSS/DCS operation and TOT (time out timer) are the other things that it comes with.

Key features

  • Built with  5 Watts of reliable RF output power, this radio will give you an excellent taste of hearing. Thus, you will never miss even a single call. Enjoy the clear output from its oversized front panel speaker.
  • It comes with a powerful 1950 mAh Li-Ion battery pack that gives the radio over 9 hours of operating time.
  • Its four dedicated recall keys will help you store and recall desired frequencies quickly and easily.
  • Its Weather Alert scan tells users when severe weather is approaching.
  • With optional software and SCU-35 programming cable, you can program any necessary applications into it from your PC. 
  • Transceiver to Transceiver cloning is very easy in FT-65R. You can do it with an optional SCU-36 clone cable.
Pros
  • Waterproof
  • Dust Proof
  • Easy to Operate
  • Well-Craftmanship
  • It is comfortable at hand
Cons
  • Slightly overpriced
  • Receiving function is poor

Final Verdict

Great product, worth spending a bit of money on. However, some users have complained about faulty products being delivered and not living up to the price point. So, think wisely before making a purchase.

2. Uniden Bearcat BC125AT Handheld Scanner

 

Uniden Bearcat BC125AT Handheld Scanner, 500-Alpha-Tagged Channels, Close Call Technology, PC Programable, Aviation, Marine, Railroad, NASCAR, Racing, and Non-Digital Police/Fire/Public Safety.

Next on the list, is one of Amazon’s bestsellers. Keep in mind, this is much more than just a handheld scanner. With 500 available channels and 40,000 frequency controls, this thing is a machine on its own.

Unlike the other best portable ham radio, this one gives you access to not only civilian bands, but also military fire service, airplanes, etc. So, it’s a wide range of products in one.

Uniden Bearcat BC125AT Handheld Scanner, 500-Alpha-Tagged Channels, Close Call Technology, PC Programable, Aviation, Marine, Railroad, NASCAR, Racing, and Non-Digital Police/Fire/Public Safety.

The device contains 10 storage banks, where you can save the 500 channels in order of preference. While the LCD screen makes reading a lot easier.

Key features

  • Only 14.4 ounces of weight, this is one of the lightest in terms of ham Radios
  • Access to 500 channels, with several preset options. You get everything you want and can start listening instantly
  • LCD screen with orange backlight. The backlight of the screen is very visible, even at low lights
  • Access to over 40,000 frequencies, which can be accessed anytime. Thus, allowing a lot more than just ham radios.
Pros
  • Lightweight, easy to carry
  • Access to over 50 channels and 40,000 frequencies.
  • 10 preset modes for you to adjust and utilize
  • Easy to use and program for efficiency
  • Affordable

Cons
  • Underwhelming battery life.
  • Requires separate cables for programming
  • Underwhelming customer service

Final Verdict

From the looks of things, it’s not a complete package. Also, with questionable customer service and battery life, a lot of questions might arrive. However, the original product itself is great and if you can use it carefully, that’s all that matters.

3.BaoFeng UV-82HP (Red) High Power Dual Band Radio

BaoFeng UV-82HP (RED) High Power Dual Band Radio: 136-174mhz (VHF) 400-520mhz (UHF) Amateur (Ham) Portable Two-Way

BaoFeng is an expert in the handheld radio area. They’ve made some of the best cheap handheld ham radios out there, and their presence in the list testifies that. The BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Radio is one of the best handheld ham radios for survival at its disposal.

This radio is surprisingly power-friendly. It can save a great deal of power. It has three usage modes, which you can toggle based on your device’s battery, even though most of them are exceptionally energy effective.

Different modes can be locked using their software to make it easier to use to ensure safety and protection. Also, with its multiple switch modes, you can quickly adapt to your preferred mode to make things easier.

With multiple programmable channels with presets and options to download, this is one of the most powerful handheld ham radios you can find around.

BaoFeng UV-82HP (RED) High Power Dual Band Radio: 136-174mhz (VHF) 400-520mhz (UHF) Amateur (Ham) Portable Two-Way

Taking one of the Baofeng UV-82 series means you will enjoy the higher quality build of the radios. But, you can buy UV-82HP units to enjoy the extra couple of watts over the UV-82C units or UV-82 units.

Moreover, it is portable ham radio as it is so lightweight. If we talk about one of the quality handheld ham radios, it will be one of the best portable ham radios available.

Key features

  • Three power levels (low, medium, high) can be toggled based on your power usage
  • VFO/MR frequency mode that can be toggled by additional software
  • Dual push to talk switch which can be triggered based on use 
  • Built with FM Broadcast Station, you can easily listen to FM radios despite monitoring radio frequencies in the background and prioritizing incoming calls. Thus, you won’t miss any calls
  • Special V-85 antenna for better performance
  • 128 programmable memory channels. Channels can be added or removed based on preference 
  • Free computer software to make everything easier
  •  Additional flashlight and emergency alarm 
  • Semi duplex transmission method 
  • Comes with a complete kit 
  • It comes with an internal VOX(Voice Operated Transmit)  function that gives you the taste of convenient hands-free operation.
Pros
  • Bigger body and larger button without excessive weight
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use software
  • Powerful LCD screen
  • Multiple switch options
  • 128 programmable channels
  • Free computer software
Cons
  • Product not approved by the FCC
  • Weaker than other radios of its price point

Final Verdict

The lack of licensing is always a question mark. However, there are a lot of tweaks here and there that make this product absolutely worth it. However, it’s still questionable, so think it through before buying.

4. Radioddity GS-5B Bluetooth Programming Handheld Ham Radio

Radioddity GS-5B Bluetooth Programming Handheld Ham Radio Dual Band Long Range Two Way Radio with Dual PTT, USB Rechargeable, S-Meter, Programming Cable, RainproofUp next is the GS-5B Bluetooth Programming Handheld Ham Radio by Radioddity. It’s one of the best handheld radios that can work as ham radio and a wireless connection between multiple people at a closed distance.

Also, it supports significant scale frequencies instead of relying on channels. Thus it gives you manual control of multiple network bands. From police, firefighters to personal communication. Paired with a powerful battery and rainproofing, this is one of the best cheap ham radios available on the market.

Besides, it is a Bluetooth ham radio. Most importantly, it fits the bill for a more industrial type radio that can endure a harsh regular environment. Its case is definitely much sturdier than a typical handheld amateur radio available on the market. Again, its reception is much better than any handheld Baofeng.

Radioddity GS-5B Bluetooth Programming Handheld Ham Radio Dual Band Long Range Two Way Radio with Dual PTT, USB Rechargeable, S-Meter, Programming Cable, Rainproof

Finally, this small ham radio is well made and includes all of the basic features you need in Bluetooth ham radio.

Key features

  • It comes with a 7.4 Volt 2,000 mah battery pack.
  • Listed as VHF / UHF radio, it belongs to the transmit range of 136-175 mhz and 400-520 mhz
  • Screen quality is excellent and it is easy to read
  • Safety and lock mode that ensures protection 
  •  4W output on high power on all tested channels and roughly 0.5 W on low power transmission.
  • The USB charging is just WOW. And, you can charge your radio from car charger or the wall adapter that comes with it.
  • It comes with a bright flashlight on the bottom
  • Can split CTCSS tones and DCS
  • Comes with FM broadcast reception common to most Chinese radios
  • Programming via Bluetooth facility
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Great Audio Quality
  • Huge frequency support
  • Waterproof
Cons
  • Little bit heavier
  • Hard to understand all the technicalities

Final Verdict
It’s pretty cheap, so it’s good for starters. However, its technical parts can be hard to understand and the cell phone reception can be a concern at times. Otherwise, it’s a great product.

5. BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio

BaoFeng UV-5R VHF/UHF Dual Band Radio 136-174 400-480Mhz TransceiverNext up on the list, in the UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio by BaoFeng. It’s a compact, powerful and reliable radio tool, that’s very affordable. If you look closely, it’s a complete value for its money.

This specific product gives you two frequency choices, for different contact zones. It also comes with different receive bands. There is a small screen that features a dual clock, frequency range, and standby.

Also, it has a high receiving band capability which covers a large area and allows high-end monitoring. It isn’t the best handheld radio you can get, but it is undoubtedly the best you can get for the money

Key features

  • Features two bands for transmission, ranging from 136-174 MHz and 400-520 MHz respectively.
  • It has dual-band support along with the dual-frequency.
  • Has 128 channels in its specific frequency range with built-in VOX support
  • Has a large LCD screen with multiple alert signs that can be projected.
  • The complete package comes with Antenna 136-174/400-479.995Mhz, Earphone Mic/Headset, Belt Clip, Hand Strap, ENG Manual, Adapter and a Desktop Charger (100V-240V).
Pros
  • Cheaper comparing to most competitors
  • Supports 128 channels
  • Tricolor LED screen with multiple alert signs
  • Powerful LED flashlight
  • Multiple frequencies ranges for communication
  • Complete package with all the necessary amenities
Cons
  • Underwhelming customer service
  • Complicated charging system
  • Minimal volume control

Final Verdict

From the looks of things, it is a complete package. However, some of the easier parts have been made complicated by the designers. This can result in occasional users finding the product hard to use. However, it’s very effective once you get the hang of it, which makes it a value for money product.

6.Ailunce HD1 Amateur Radios,Digital Walkie Talkies Waterproof IP67 GPS UHF VHF

Ailunce HD1 DMR Radios,Amateur Radios,Digital Walkie Talkies Waterproof IP67 GPS UHF VHF 3000 Channels 200000 Contacts 3200mAh FM (1 Pack)

Ailunce is one of the best cheap handheld ham radio makers.They have considerable expertise in this regard and have spent countless hours researching, product testing and implementing them to constantly provide amazing stuff for their clients.

The Ailunce HD1 DMR Radios,Amateur Radios,Digital Walkie Talkies Waterproof IP67 GPS UHF VHF is a modern, powerful ham handheld radio that uses the build to its absolute perfection.

Ailunce HD1 DMR Radios,Amateur Radios,Digital Walkie Talkies Waterproof IP67 GPS UHF VHF 3000 Channels 200000 Contacts 3200mAh FM (1 Pack)

This one of the most powerful handheld ham radios comes with an antenna, one adapter, one charger, one user’s manual, one belt clip, and one sling. This allows the radio to receive and communicate in a number of frequencies.

Also, its high build quality is enough to impress you. And, you will fall in love with this one of the best handheld ham radio transceivers available on the market. No matter either you love DMR or Analog, It will give you the taste of both.

Key features

  • For the money, you can enjoy the full VHF and UHF bands, narrow or wideband
  • 3000 channels to choose from multiple streams. From police to firefighter to airplanes.
  • High-accuracy GPS track everywhere you go
  • Massive 3200mAh battery which can go days without hassle once charged. 
  • Software and front panel programmable
  • Computer programming available to tweak the settings according to need. A programming cable is in the package
  • LCD display, which can be chosen based on users’ preference.
Pros
  • Powerful battery life
  • Commercial quality
  • Color LCD Display
  • Solid Build Quality
  • Easy to Program
  • Great Audio Quality
Cons
  • Doesn’t last for a very long time
  • A few minor issues with the CPS

Final Verdict
It is one of the best handheld VHF radios with GPS. Also, it is one of the best in terms of screen, battery life and ease of use. However, it’s about time Ailunce takes their customers seriously.

7. BaoFeng UV-82 8W High Power Ham Radio- Also Great

BaoFeng UV-82 BaoFeng Radio Ham Radio 2 Way Radio BaoFeng Walkie Talkies(2 Pack-Black)

As mentioned before, BaoFeng never fails to keep its standards up by providing radios of amazing qualities. But this radio is quite to think about. Their frequency range is quite impressive and all the functions they promise us.

However, this one is just as good as their other lineup. The screen features a shortcut menu which makes the entire user experience pleasant

Also, an easy option to memory scan the channels and optional vox makes life a lot easier.

Overall, it’s a product you can spend some money on, with little fear of regret in the future.

Key features

  • Shortcut menu operation mode
  • VFO & Memory channels scan
  • Tri-color background light selectable
  • VOX selectable
  • High /Low RF Power Switchable
  • Channel Monitor
  • Voice companding
  • PC programmable
Pros
  • Frequency Range is 136-174 & 400-520MHz
  • Channel Step is 2.5/5/6.25/10/12.5/25KHz 50 CTCSS/ 104DCS coder & tone searching FM radio and 25 stations storage
  • Has storage of 128 channels
  • Comes with full accessories
  • Battery life is better than expected
Cons
  • The sound quality could be better
  • A bit more expensive than BaoFengs most products
  • Is not very user-friendly

Final Verdict

BaoFeng has better radios and products compared to UV-82. It could be quite costly, so it is up to the customer if they want to grab this.

8.TIDRADIO TD-H6 Upgraded UV-5R High Power Ham Radio Handheld

TIDRADIO TD-H6 Upgraded UV-5R High Power Ham Radio Handheld Two Way Radios with Driver Free Programming Cable Includes Full Kit Walkie Talkies

Tidradio is a top-rated company when it comes to handheld ham radio. For over 15 years, they’ve provided the best handheld ham radio for beginners all over the world, with little to no complaints. And with such astounding success, they have the confidence to boast of their products and deliveries.

This specific product from Tidradio boasts of its quality, claiming it to be better than a number of its market competitors. While this might be a show of overconfidence on their part, their product shall shine without the marketing strategy. What makes this one special over its previous version, TD-H5, is its solid built quality along with its reliability.

Moreover, it seems to be more durable than the previous one. However, its programming cable appears to be a piece of junk despite being the best ht radio.

This best ham ht also features two distinct power modes, which you can use at times, to maximize battery life or maximize user experience. Also, it features advanced voice companding and squelch technology that allows users to hear and contact in noisy and dire environments.

Again, specific codes and modes have been set to prevent unwanted sound from entering your Radio and causing a nuisance. Additionally, it gets a better reception than UV-5r. Want to know the speciality of this Radio?

Remarkably, you can program it with a computer to access many other essential features that can easily change your Radio’s face. Also, it is compatible with BaoFeng user accessories. Thus having the accessories of one can help you in both.

Key features

  • It comes with nice screen backlit keypad
  • FM, VHF, and UHF frequencies 
  • High end voice commanding technology that can be accessed from any part of the world, allowing users to get outstanding voice quality in listening and speaking. Even under dire circumstances
  • CTCSS/DCS codes have been established in the product to ensure that the user doesn’t suffer from irrelevant calls and sounds. 
  • Works with BaoFeng add ons, thus allowing control over much more freedom in terms of user control and customization. 
  • Also, it can be paired  with BaoFeng products when necessary. 
  • Different power modes to make full use of it’s capabilities
  • Multiple frequency ranges to communicate with different groups 
  • Ability to control spam and irrelevant calls 
  • Two charging methods 
  • Powerful two 2200 mAh batteries for longer airtime
  • Includes 2 antennas
  • It comes with a belt clip and a handy sling
  • 128 preset channels with option to scan more channels
  • VOX control to ensure noise cancellation
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile in uses
  • Powerful battery life
  • 128 channels with option to scan more channels
  • Noise cancellation features
  • Multiple frequency ranges
  • Ability to counter spam and irrelevant sounds
Cons
  • The manual isn’t very well detailed
  • The programming cable and process is extremely complicated
  • Has software issues

Final Verdict

Hardware-wise, this is everything you need and more. High-end product, powerful sound, powerful clarity and option to counter. However, software falls pretty flat at times. Bugs, complicated tools and everything just makes this a pain to use. However, if excess programming isn’t your thing, this is a great product.

9.Baofeng UV5RA Ham Two Way Radio

Baofeng Ham Radio UV-5RA 5W First, of first, BaoFeng radios are designed to be affordable radios for licensed amateur radio enthusiasts and commercial users. The Baofeng UV-5RA is a compact, economical HT covering 2 meters and 440 MHz. It has a special VHF receive band from 65 – 108 MHz which includes the regular FM broadcast band.

Key features

  • Frequency Range: 65-108MHz (FM Receive only); 136-174 MHz and 400-520 MHz (TX/RX)
  • Channel No.: 128
  • Has the frequency stability of ±2.5ppm
  • Selectable wide/narrow
  • Battery save function
  • VOX, DCS/CTCSS encode
  • Keylock and a built-in flashlight
Pros
  • They are very affordable
  • The sound quality is loved by the clients
  • The material quality is also worth notable
Cons
  • Battery charger might cause trouble
  • The instructions are not user-friendly
  • Pathetic battery life

Final Verdict:

If you are in tight budget and could sacrifice some features, then this Baofeng UV5RA Ham will fit your needs. It is compact and economical as well.

10.BTECH UV-5X3 5 Watt Tri-Band Radio

 

BTECH DMR-6X2 Taking the classic design and adding a lot of tweaks to the classic, the BTECH UV-5X3 is a great play on the classic design but improved. With powerful new hardware and firmware, this is genuinely one of the best Handheld ham radios out there.

The first massive improvement is the dual LCD screen. This not only gives a lot of advantages when using two frequencies at a time. but also, makes things easier by showing both frequency and channel names on the screen.

Also, the new device gives you an option to modify the channel list. While you’d need a computer to do so in the past, it’s not the case anymore. With channel modification options that won’t require deleting older stuff.

Also, you can set a frequency range on your own, and choose specific channels from there. Allowing you to visit every possible band out there.

Key features

  • Multiple frequency bands with the option to choose your own from a massive range.
  • Powerful new firmware that can be catered according to user requirement
  • Option to modify the channel list instead of deleting lists for minor changes and start all over again
  • Option to program and reprogram the device without a computer connection
  • Dual LCD screen that shows both channel frequency and name
  • Two separate power levels
  • CHIRP software connection
  • 128 programmable channels
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Powerful battery life
  • Dual LCD screen
  • Option to show both frequency and channel name
  • Channel skipping options
  • Programming can be done without a computer
  • CHIRP support
  • Comes in a complete kit
  • US-based warranty for faulty products
Cons
  • Underwhelming repeater service
  • Bad noise filtering
  • Bad squelch service

Final Verdict:

You can add this to your budget list as it is in classic design with new hardware and firmware. You might fall in love with its LCD screen. So who are you waiting for? Don’t think twice to select this product.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) About Best Handheld Ham Radios

1. Can Ham radios transmit information without a network or internet?

Answer: Yes it can. Ham radios can transmit information far away without a network or internet. Ham radio is a wireless device. It can be used for times of crisis like storm, flood and in a far-away land where the network is not available

 2. Do I need a license to have Ham radio?

Answer: Yes, I need a proper license to use Ham radio. Licensing is the legality of the device. So I have to use this device legally.

3. Does Ham radio have GPS and APRS support?

Answer: Yes, a Ham radio consists of both GPS and APRS support. Through this system, a person can identify the location where he or she is in.

 4. Is Ham radio waterproof?

Answer: A Ham radio is waterproof. A person can work through Ham radio even being at the water. Water doesn’t harm the technical system of a Ham radio as it is water-resistant.

 5. Is Ham radio light enough to carry?

Answer: A Ham radio is light enough to carry. It is very handy. It can be carried anywhere at any time.

Conclusion

Ham Radios are a very old hobby for men. However, they might still seem extremely complicated and expensive. This is partially correct because amateur radio enthusiasts never tried simplifying their hobby to the world. However, we’ve tried to present some of the best ham radios to make your understanding easier.

However, other more technical aspects require more attention as well. Try going through buyers’ guides, user manuals, etc, and have a proper understanding of the product before investing.

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