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Top 8: Best Handheld Ham Radio

Updated On October 22, 2020

Handheld ham radios are more than just communication devices: they are enjoyable gadgets that many people buy just for the sake of fun. They can contribute to fruitful and engaging conversations, make it easy to interact with loved ones for free, and render it possible to enjoy high-quality wireless communication. When the need arises, handheld ham radios can also become reliable communication devices.

So, why not have a look at the top 8 best handheld radios in the market today? In fact, we're going to cover more than that in our guide:
  • Quick links to each ham radio with a summary statement to let you know why we picked it
  • Detailed reviews of each handheld ham radio that explain its features in-depth
  • Quick specifications about each radio that cover the most important technical facts
  • Discussion about the various factors to consider when buying a handheld ham radio

Quick Summary: Top 8 Best Handheld Ham Radio of 2020


Our professional editors pick and rate these products specifically for each category and recommend the best product we can. We may receive a commission from affiliated links
A heavy-duty and premium quality ham radio with outstanding features and performance but the most expensive price on our list.
An excellent quality ham radio that is utilized by important public industries so there's no doubt on its magnificent performance and efficiency.
Also Great: 3. Midland Waterproof GMRS Two-Way Radio
A very budget-friendly radio which is perfect for regular travelers and adventurers due to its extraordinarily high signal reception range.
Also Great: 4. Tri-Band Yaesu VX-6R
A tough competitor with lots of alphanumeric channels, strongly-built body, waterproof casing, great performance, and the ability to survive underwater for a decent amount of time.
Also Good: 5. Yaesu FT-70DR FT-70
Another remarkable ham radio with a unique display screen and illuminated keypad, a fine choice for regular travelers and adventurers.
Also Good: 6. TYT MD-380
This is a brilliant ham radio with a very high number of channels at an incredibly attractive price, highly recommended for those who want to give digital mobile radios a try.
Also Good: 7. TYT UV8000E
A superb choice for professional radio operators while also being straightforward enough to be used by beginners.
Also Good: 8. HESENATE HT-UV82
Basic ham radio with a reasonable number of functions, good frequency range, and lots of extras that come along for free with the purchase.
Top 3 Quick Comparison
Product
Photo
Frequency
Battery
Link
Best Overall
Multi-mode, 144, 220 and 440 MHz
 Included
Runner Up
VHF and UHF, (25-54 MHz) (108 - 174 MHz) (406 - 512 MHz)
Not Included
Also Great
58 kilometers signal reception range
Not Included
Our Reviews

Best Overall 
Quick Specs
  • Frequency: Multi-mode, 144, 220 and 440 MHz
  • Battery: Included
  • Dimensions: 2.2 x 1.33 x 4.72 inches
  • Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Channels: 1,000
  • Price: $$$
This is a premium handheld ham radio that has countless amazing features. It is a well-constructed and extremely resilient transceiver (weatherproof and meets IP54/55 requirements) that provides a terrific user experience. Its boosted performance is another essential factor that draws users to it despite the fact that it is nowhere near the group of low-cost options in the market. This outstanding ham radio features 4 distinct output settings: 0.05 W, 0.5 W, 2W, and 5W. It likewise features a high-quality battery that can last in between 6 and 15 hours, depending upon the power setting.

The Kenwood TH-D74A is light-weight ham radio. It has a TFT screen that makes it much easier for users to check out crystal clearly regardless of whether the time of the day is morning or night. It includes a broad band and multi-mode reception that lets it work on 3 different frequencies (144, 220, and 440 MHz). It has an integrated high-performance system with an automatic clock setting and works with APRS communication protocol in addition to the D-star radio network.
Product Reviews:
This Radio Does It All
"There isn't much this little radio can't do. (I won't list all of its capabilities; you can read the product description.) One of the main features I was looking for was APRS and this radio doesn't disappoint."
Runner Up
Quick Specs
  • Frequency: VHF and UHF, (25-54 MHz) (108 - 174 MHz) (406 - 512 MHz)
  • Battery: x2 AA batteries (not included)
  • Dimensions: 1 x 5 x 3 inches
  • Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Channels: 300
  • Price: $$
This is a wonderfully versatile handheld ham radio. Its application has been utilized in crucial areas such as public security, civil air, railway, NOAA Weather, CB radio, and other important names. Its compact build and strong development make it perfect for outside usage. With its 10 preprogrammed service search bands, you can quickly look for frequencies normally utilized by authorities, marine, fire prevention departments, law enforcement, and a number of others. The sound quality is remarkable too so you can listen to important events as they unfold. It gets channels on the following frequencies: VHF and UHF, (25-54 MHz) (108 - 174 MHz) (406 - 512 MHz).

Some other essential functions that make this ham radio a terrific device is firstly a PC programmable port and a totally free software application, Close Call RF Capture Technology, narrowband compliance, VHF low/high and UHF frequencies, along with the capability to configure 50 channels in each of the 10 banks of the radio's memory. Along with its rechargeable battery, it operates on 2 AA batteries but they are not included in the purchase but are cheap to buy.
Product Reviews:
I've been listening to the railroad!
"I bought this exclusively for railroad listening, and it works great. I live near several major rail yards, so proximity to the signals isn't an issue."
Also Great
Quick Specs
  • Frequency: 58 kilometers signal reception range
  • Battery: x4 AA batteries (included)
  • Dimensions: 2.5 x 1.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Channels: 50
  • Price: $$
This is among those ham radios that are perfect for regular travelers who want to keep communication unrestricted whilst vacationing somewhere or on a camping trip. It is a sturdy and water-resistant radio that offers obstruction-free and crystal clear point-to-point communication with exceptional reception, transmission, and audio quality. It is an economical and trustworthy ham radio choice with some of the best features to take your experience to another level. Among the most exceptional features is the Easy Voice and Sound Activation Transmission (eVOX) system.

This water-resistant two-way communication radio provides an outstanding signal range of about 58 kilometers in locations with little or no blockages. There is likewise a weather condition scan function that instantly locks onto any active regional weather channel to keep you updated with the latest news.
Product Reviews:
Works great out-of-the-box
"Bought an FCC License for the GMRS channels thinking we would need to use the higher power for consistently good communications."
Also Great
Quick Specs
  • Frequency: Transmits Band Frequencies 144, 220 & 430Mhz & receives 0.5-999Mhz
  • Battery: 1 Lithium-ion (included)
  • Dimensions: 2.28 x 1.12 x 3.5 inches
  • Weight: 2.82 ounces
  • Channels: 900
  • Price: $$$
Another premium Tri-band transceiver is the VX-6R by Yaesu. It is a compact gadget that has a reliable design for use in harsh outdoor conditions. This fabulous radio is versatile in nature with lots of amazing features. The special Emergency Automatic Identification (EAI) system is a distinct function that can keep Yaesu users safe if they find themselves in an emergency situation. Another remarkable perk is that of 900 alphanumeric memory channels, the capability to set a security password, a multicolor LED backlighting, weather condition alert, and a lot of others.

The Yaesu VX-6R ham radio can get AM/FM broadcast radio, law enforcement, weather, civil air & marine bands. The radio is encased within a sturdy magnesium alloy. In addition, it is water-resistant and submersible (can survive under a depth of 3 feet for 30 minutes). The purchase bundle contains an Antenna, x1 Lithium-ion battery, and a charger.
Product Reviews:
These radios will easily go into a pocket
"I've had this radio for a bit over a month. It's very small for what it does and very solidly built. A hunting buddy and I decided to get our HAM licenses and these radios for more reliable service versus GMSR radios when in the field."
Also Great
Quick Specs
  • Frequency: TX: 144 - 148 MHz & 430 - 450 MHz
  • Battery: 1 Lithium-ion (not included)
  • Dimensions: 4.5 x 3 x 1.5 inches
  • Weight: 8.3 ounces
  • Channels: N/A
  • Price: $$$
This dual-band handheld radio offers approximately 5W of trusted RF power, and its big front speaker provides 700mW of high-quality audio output. This is just one of the countless features that makes it a leading option for numerous ham radio fans. Overall, it is a great choice for regular travelers. It is likewise an exceedingly distinct transceiver: it uses an alphanumeric display screen on an illuminated keypad and has a wide range of scan modes.

The Yaesu FT-70DR Dual Band ham radio uses high-level signal transmittal and audio quality. Its antenna is of very fine quality and is capable of catching even the weakest of signals. Other than that, it can receive the civil air band. Along with being waterproof and dustproof, it has a robust body that is immune to small damage and scratches.
Product Reviews:
Great radio and easy to program without a computer
"A great radio for the money! I have a Yaesu FT-65 and a couple of Baofengs, and the Yaesu FT-70DR is now my daily carry. Easy to program without a computer."
Also Good
Quick Specs
  • Frequency: 400 - 470 MHz
  • Battery: 1 Lithium Polymer (not included)
  • Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.6 x 3.4 inches
  • Weight: 1.55 pounds
  • Channels: 1000
  • Price: $$
This is a terrific option for people that wish to delve into attempting DMR (digital mobile radio) yet do not have enough cash to invest in the high-end choices. This sturdy DMR/Moto radio is surprisingly inexpensive and provides a great variety of features and clear-cut audio. It is a user-friendly radio that is simple to program by linking to a computer system; users can quickly personalize it to fit their requirements.

The TYT MD-380 Ham radio utilizes the special time-division multi-access innovation that enables a number of users to share the very same channel frequency by separating the signal into different time slots. The frequency range is about 400 to 470 MHz; the channel number is enormous; 1000, and it has an extremely effective antenna for high-quality transmission. It likewise has an integrated DCS/CTCSS for different analog features. It comes along with a bundle of other valuable extras that consist of a battery charger, belt clip,  additional antenna, and an instructions manual.
Product Reviews:
Loaded with custom firmware made the MD-380 even better!
"Out of the box, it's a great radio. However, it's possible to make it even better by loading a custom firmware called 'MD380Tools' which allows the entire DMR database to be loaded onto the radio (currently more than 52,000 calls). "
Also Good
Quick Specs
  • Frequency: UHF 420-450 MHz(Rx/Tx), VHF 144-148 MHz(Rx/Tx)
  • Battery: 1 Lithium-ion (included)
  • Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.5 x 2.5 inches
  • Weight: 1.75 pounds
  • Channels: 128
  • Price: $$
This is an ideal gadget for licensed and professional radio operators. It can easily send and get on UHF and VHF bands over a range of about 6 KM. It also has a wide range of other outstanding functions that make it a fantastic ham radio for starts and veterans both. It is FCC Part 15B Certified and includes 2 high-quality antennas. Also, it has a cross-band repeater function to make your experience more delightful.

The TYT UV8000E 10W/5W Power settings let you utilize it in various modes based upon what you require at the moment. The design likewise features software application assistance that consists of several personalization alternatives consisting of a channel setup page. Last but not least, the radio comes with a 3600mAh battery which provides reliable battery life, enabling you to take your radio on long journeys and operate it for a significant amount of time.
Product Reviews:
Top notch high power handheld.
"My second one of these high quality ht's. High power, cross banding, and standard SMA antenna connector. Super battery life."
Also Good
Quick Specs
  • Frequency: 65-108MHz (FM Receive only), 136-174MHz and 400-520MHz (TX/RX)
  • Battery: 1 Lithium-ion (included)
  • Dimensions: 8.11 x 7.17 x 2.56 inches
  • Weight: 1.01 pounds
  • Channels: 128
  • Price: $$
A basic dual-band portable long-range ham radio with support for two-way communication. It is a sturdy gadget that can improve, boost, and increase your communication experience when you are out traveling. Like other high-level ham radios, it provides triple power output: high 8W, Mid 4W, and Low 1W. It is likewise backed with a 1800mAh Li-ion battery pack that will provide hours of constant operation depending upon the power output you are using. This battery comes along with the purchase so you don't need to spend any extra bucks for that.

Moreover, the range of frequency provided by this radio is 65-108MHz (for FM only), 136-174MHz, and 400-520MHz (TX/RX). It provides 128 channels, 50 CTCSS, and 105 CDCSS. It likewise supports computer programming via a programming cable. There are great deals of other excellent functions like VOX,  automatic time-out, tail tone removal, call tone, important notifications, battery preservation mode, LED flashlight, and much more. The purchase bundle includes lots of extras like an earpiece, adapter, battery charger, belt strap, battery pack, and an instructions manual.
Product Reviews:
Good basic radio
"Works good. To enter/exit VFO mode you have to hold menu while turning it on. Keep holding menu until the welcome screen clears.
Good audio and range. Pretty basic design. Wish it had a knob for tuning."

Features to Look Out For

Before you make the final decision of buying the best handheld ham radio, make sure the following features are present:


Frequency Range

For amateur radios and their users, it is very important to watch out for radios that gain access to VHF and UHF bands as they need low power as compared to HF bands. Unless you need some really high-quality communication and are willing to spend some extra bucks on them, HF is not that important. (1, 2, 3)


Battery Life

While a lot of the best Handheld Ham Radio devices are restricted to about 5 W of power, there are some that have higher-powered alternatives. 5 suffices usually, however it is exceedingly better to buy radios that include low and high power choices. Having the ability to change the power output according to your requirement will be of tremendous benefit to you in countless scenarios.

Ease of Programmability

The capability to set the Ham radio as you want is a really desirable feature. It is much better when you have a radio that can be easily programmed manually. For radios that need to be linked to computer systems to be programmed, you should make sure that the connection cable comes with the purchase. Many individuals discover manual programming to be a better option due to the convenience of access to keypad and buttons.

Memory Slots

The variety of memory slots you will require will depend upon what you wish to utilize the radio for. If you are utilizing it for communication around your town or emergency situations, a dozen of them should do the job. If you need it for nationwide and global interaction, weather conditions, and other prominent applications, a few hundred slots should be enough for a good hand radio.

Backlit Display

This is another preferable function you need to think about. It can end up being extremely handy when users find themselves in some sort of an emergency situation. Although a backlit screen and an illuminated keypad are useful features,  make sure that they can be turned off when not required, or otherwise, your battery will drain very quickly.

Antennas

Some Handheld Ham Radios include antennas whereas others do not. If you are trying to find a design with an antenna, ascertain that the antenna is of high quality. If the quality is unsatisfactory, it is much better to purchase a separate antenna(s) to increase reception and transmission.

Conclusion

The best handheld ham radio is a multipurpose device that can be used for fun, survival, and general communication. Regardless of what you need the gadget for, it is essential that you purchase one that is of the best quality. In this guide, we have evaluated 8 of the absolute best of these radios with detailed reviews for each, followed by a buying guide that is guaranteed to give you crucial knowledge of crucial features to look out for when selecting the best handheld ham radio for you.

You may also check our other guides: best spy microphone, best USB spy camera, best button camera among others. We have also great articles that you can check. We hope these guides help you decide which device best fits your need!
Our Top Pick Again
This is a premium handheld ham radio that has countless amazing features. It is a well-constructed and extremely resilient transceiver (weatherproof and meets IP54/55 requirements) that provides a terrific user experience.

Resources

(1) VHF – https://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/definition/VHF
(2) UHF – https://www.techopedia.com/definition/9811/ultra-high-frequency-uhf
(3) HF – https://www.britannica.com/technology/HF 

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