Best Handheld Ham Radios of 2019 for all the preppers

If you’re a fan of communicating over the radio, regardless of the reason, then you should definitely invest in a Ham Radio. You can use this piece of equipment for various purposes but it’s mainly bought by people who want to learn about something new, meet other individuals with the same interests, or simply have fun and pass time.

When you set your mind on having this radio then make sure you get the handheld option since it gives you the opportunity to take it with you no matter where you go. That’s not all, it can come particularly useful in case you have to survive on your own during a disaster.

Similar to any other product, it’s essential to learn all about the important features and functionalities before making a decision. To do so, you can simply read on and by the end of this article you’ll be ready to pick the item that perfectly suits your needs.


Definition of an Amateur or Ham Radio

As the name suggests, the Ham Radio is also known as an Amateur Radio since it can be used by everyone, literally! Whether you’re a bored teenager at home or middle-aged businesswoman with some spare time and interest in technology, this might be the answer you’re looking for.

Basically, this product will allow you to access specified radio frequencies which are intended for noncommercial use. In other worlds, you are not allowed to use this as a tool for profitability. The most common purpose of it though is socializing for recreational ends.

It’s important to note that you can communicate via pictures, packet, Morse code, radio teletype, and PSK with some radios. It’s not only limited to audio and speech but this remains the most common method.


Advantages of a Ham Radio

This item is more popular than you think with around two and a half million users spread across the four corners of the Earth. It’s safe to say that it deserves this recognition due to the huge benefits it presents.

You’ll most likely be able to initiate a communication from the most remote places in the world; it makes no difference if you were hiking in the Pacific Northwest or sailing in the Atlantic. This can come extremely useful in times of distress because when other communication means are down, this one is usually up and running. You might end up saving a life with this thing!

With that being said, it can be really fun if the radio is your thing. It’s amusing and may even provide an educational advantage if you’re looking in the right place.


Having a Ham Radio License

It’s mandatory to apply for a license in order to use a Ham Radio legally but don’t worry the process is relatively easy. However, there are different types of licenses involved:

  1. The Technician License is the first one you’ll receive after conducting the 35-question exam which then allows you to access all frequencies over 30 MHz in your area. In addition, you can also use some HF band privileges.
  2. Once the first one is acquired, you can move on to the General License that opens up international communication after going through a test made up of 35 questions.
  3. The final one is the Amateur Extra License which requires you to go through 50 additional questions but you’ll get to benefit from all the privileges on all the modes and bands.


Important features in a Ham Radio


Programming and Accessibility

Naturally, you might want to program the radio and edit its settings the way you see fit. You’ll usually be ale connect it to the computer by using the included cable but this privilege is not found in all the models in which case you should refer to the radio itself.


The important thing is to buy a radio that allows you to choose the power settings you need. However, whether you end up selecting high or low power, keep in mind that handheld radios have lower power than the base options.


When purchasing an amateur radio, check which type of license you have since it will dictate which frequencies you are allowed to use. Moreover, don’t forget that not all of the radios have all the frequencies so conduct a thorough research beforehand.


Again, different bands are found in different radios. For example, the general coverage gives you access to AM, FM, and TV frequencies in addition to the usual bands. On the other hand, the dual band gives you access to two frequencies simultaneously.
Most of the time, you will be using the 440 MHz band but the two-meter one can come in handy when there’s a crisis.

Memory sockets

The more you use your radio, the more memory slots you’ll need, it’s that simple! If you plan on actively participating in international communication then get the radio that has more than 100 slots.
If you’re only using it in times of emergencies then you shouldn’t need more than a couple dozen sockets.

User’s Manual

Just like any other device, reading the user’s manual can make the learning process much easier; you might discover useful features that you didn’t know were there. Of course the task might be a lot easier if you’re not a novice but it never hurts to store this beneficial booklet somewhere in case you end up needing it.
This is exceptionally important when you want to program the radio. Don’t worry though, nowadays everything can be found online so if you’re having a hard time with your newly-bought machine and the manual isn’t helping then surely you’ll find what you need online.

Screen and display

It goes without saying that a vivid display is important so check those reviews! Some models even offer a backlit screen which makes it much simpler to use the radio during the night or, you know, when the area is experiencing a power outage.


The Ham Radio and the Transceiver

By definition, the ham radio falls under the transceiver classification since it’s a transmitter and a receiver at the same time. In other words, you can send and pick up messages simultaneously.


Doomsday Preppers and the Ham Radio

If you’re a fan of the hit show Doomsday Preppers then you should know the importance of the HaM Radio, especially during a disaster. You can still use it to communicate with others in case you need any help or if you’re trying to assist someone else. Even when all the means of communication are down, you can still use this radio to communicate.


Two-Way Signal reviews the best Ham Radios

You should know by now that not all radios are the same! There’s a wide range of differing functions which means that the prices will change as well. Make sure you research well before making a decision. Here at Two-Way Signal, you can discover a varying selection of radios.

BaoFeng UV-5R MK4 8W High Power 2019

You don’t have to pay a lot to own a radio and even products which are not that expensive can have all the necessary functionalities. The BaoFeng UV-5R MK4 is the right choice if you’re on a low budget but want to experiment with a radio.

Pros of the BaoFeng UV-5R MK4

  • Variable power settings, you can change it from high (8W) to Med (5W) or even to Low (1W).
  • This product allows you to access a wide range of frequencies and even the commercial FM radio.
  • Contains the dual band option with dual frequency display and dual standby.
  • The keypad locks automatically so you wouldn’t press any button by mistake.
  • A 1800 mAh battery that ensures extended usage but remember that this is affected by your choice of power settings.
  • 100% Mirkit warranty inside the USA.

Cons of the BaoFeng UV-5R MK4

Even though you won’t pay more than 40$ to own it, this radio might be missing some features that are deemed important by veteran users.

TYT MD-380 DMR Digital Radio

This radio particularly stands out in terms of audio quality. The TYT MD-380 DMR speakers deliver a clear sound and the microphone is equipped with a wind reduction system that allows you to communicate comprehensively even when you’re in the open.

Pros of the TYT MD-380

  • Easily switch between the analog and digital modes.
  • You can exchange text messages if you’re using it on digital mode.
  • Clear and user-friendly menu ensuring a seamless experience.
  • This device also offers a great audio quality rarely found in other radios.
  • The water resistant feature allows you to use it even in the great outdoors.
  • Unlike the rest, you will enjoy a colorful LCD screen when you buy this machine.
  • Includes numerous accessories such as a belt clip, charger, two antennas, a battery, and the PC cable.

Cons of the TYT MD-380

The only downside to the TYT radios is that they can only be linked to the Windows operating system.

Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band Handheld

Unlike other radios that are made from plastic parts, the Yaesu FT-60R has an aluminum case which makes it water resistant.

Pros of the Yaesu FT-60R

  • As previously mentioned, the aluminium make-up makes it tough so it doesn’t break easily.
  • Equipped with all the necessary features and more but still has a competitive price compared to other radios in the same category.
  • Not the strongest on the market but with 5 watts of power, it’s stronger than most.
  • Long-lasting battery life allows continuous usage for a couple of days.
  • Perfect for new users since it has a simple system.
  • You will receive a sound notification when the battery is running low.

Cons of the Yaesu FT-60R

Some reviews reported to have issue with the volume knob and others said that the signal is weak sometimes due to the stock antenna. Don’t worry though, you can change it if it’s not working well for you.

Tri-Band Yaesu VX-6R Amateur Ham Radio

This brand is known for its strong products and the Yaesu VX-6R is no different. It’s well-built which makes it the best companion during camping trips.

Pros of the Yaesu VX-6R

  • Even though it’s sturdy and contains a lot of features, it has a small size.
  • User-friendly system and presents a seamless navigation process.
  • Another Yaesu speciality, the Emergency Automatic Identification (EAI) system allows you to communicate easily in your time of need.
  • Even if the radio falls completely under water, you can still use it since it’s waterproof.
  • Important functionalities are included: password lock, weather alerts, 900 memory channels, Morse code assistant, and much more.

Cons of the Yaesu VX-6R

The reports suggest that the battery does not last as long as expected and it’s mainly because it’s not big enough compared to the required operational capacity.

CP200D Original Motorola Two-way Radio

This transceiver marks the latest radio technology from Motorola. The CP200D is equipped with unique features that allow it to stand out from the competition.

Pros of the CP200D

  • Program both the analog and digital DMR to benefit from the interoperability.
  • Includes 16 Channels and the usual frequencies.
  • With a power of 4 Watts, it’s not among the highest in the industry but it’s enough for regular usage.
  • Relatively strong battery with 2250 mAh.
  • Comes with 2 years of warranty in the USA.
  • The whole package also includes the standard AC charger, antenna, belt clip, and battery.

Cons of the CP200D

It’s a strong radio but when compared to other brands with the same functionalities, it might seem a bit pricey with a tag that can reach up to 350$.

Kenwood Original TH-D74A Handheld Transceiver

This is not your average radio and it’s definitely appreciated by the pros even if it has a user-friendly software. The Kenwood TH-D74A has a high price but rightfully so thanks to the D-STAR digital transceiver and APRS support.

Pros of the Kenwood TH-D74A

  • Strong AM/SSB/CW reception because of the IF Filtering.
  • Easy navigation due to the responsive operating system.
  • Wide range of built-in and advanced features like the DSP voice processing, dual frequency reception, GPS logger mode, micro USB port, wideband reception, and that’s even the half of it!
  • Live data such as texts or coordinates can be exchange with the APRS support.
  • The D-STAR compatibility makes international communications seamless.
  • Weatherproofing is guaranteed with this radio.

Cons of the Kenwood TH-D74A

If you’re comfortable in paying this much for a ham radio then you should really consider spending several hours trying to learn about this device over the internet because users report that the manual is not as easy as they expected.


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