The Best Handheld Ham Radio: Why Having One Is Important?

Amateur radios, or ham radios, are among the most popular devices that exist today. It can become a great mode of communication, regardless of the nature of the activity.

The best handheld ham radios, on the other hand, ensure that you can have a functional means of relaying important messages.

Handheld ham radios are usable on any occasion. Even if you are not a survivalist or outdoor enthusiasts, these radios can come beneficial.

They improve your capability of communicating with other people if there are no satellite services that can operate your mobile phones and laptops. When these modern devices fail, you can expect that ham radios will not.

Over the course of time, it was thought that these ham radios are already outdated. Particularly, the advent of smartphones in the market became one of the reasons why telephones, walkie-talkies, and ham radios were heavily superseded.

However, technical, industrial, and outdoor applications have told that these radios are the most useful. Take into account that even if these smartphones are ergonomic and modern, they are still delicate and limited.

For an extensive and hassle-free way of communicating, you can always rely upon oh ham radios.

Here are some of the top-rated ham radios in the market today.

Best Handheld Ham Radios On The 2019 Market

Rank

Picture

Name

Rating

Shop

#1

BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Radio Review

TOP PICK

​BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Radio

(4.8)

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#2

BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) Review

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

(4.5)

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#3

Radioddity GA-5S 7W High Power Two Way Radio Review

BUDGET OPTION

​Radioddity GA-5S High Power Two Way Radio

(4.5)

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#4

Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band Handheld 5W VHF - UHF Review

PREMIUM CHOICE

​Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band Handheld 5W VHF / UHF Amateur Radio Transceiver

(4.7)

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#5

Kenwood Original TH-D74A Review

​Versatility and Ruggedness

​Kenwood Original TH-D74A

(4)

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Let's now review each ham radio individually:

​1. BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Radio

PROS

  • ​Features burst options (2100Hz, 1750Hz, 1450Hz, and 1000Hz)
  • ​Comes with 128 programmable channels
  • ​Most of its operations can be configured through its software
  • ​Power levels can also be modified
  • ​Simple and hassle-free operation

Cons

  • ​No noticeable drawbacks

​The BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Radio is one of the most preferred handheld ham radios today.

It is produced by BaoFeng, which is the manufacturer of the highly popular UV-82 series. Specifically, the BaoFeng UV-82HP has been patterned to the UV-82 classic.

It has still the same capabilities as the UV-82. However, it is undeniable that its qualities have been improved dramatically.

There are new features that have been integrated on the UV-82HP of BaoFeng. One of these is the programmable power levels for the operation of the radio. You can configure it to low (1 watt), medium (5 watts), and high (7 watts).

The higher output you set on the device, the better the performance that it can deliver. You can certainly benefit from this device whenever you are in areas where transmission is a challenge.

Meanwhile, this ham radio features a lockable VFO/MR frequency mode via a software the comes on this package. It also has a push-to-talk switch that can configure so that you operate it through your preferences.

A high-gain antenna is integrated on the system of the BaoFeng UV-82HP. Because of this feature, the capability of the UV-82HP as a handheld ham radio has been doubled.

2. BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen)

PROS

  • ​Features a rugged case for maximum durability
  • ​Better antenna gain for better reception
  • ​Ergonomic and simple interface
  • ​Power output can be adjusted
  • ​Extensive battery life

Cons

  • ​Speaker quality is just average

​The BaoFeng BF-F8HP is another exceptional handheld ham radio that has been produced by BaoFeng.

It is a third-generation unit, which features multiple capabilities that have improved its operation and simplicity. This one is an upgraded version of the original UV-5R radio of BaoFeng.

The output power of the BaoFeng BF-F8HP has been doubled--from 4 watts of 8 watts. That's something that you can easily adore.

The case or the shell of this device has been hardened as well. It can resist scratches, cracks, and other potential damages that can be caused by impact.

Furthermore, the capacity of its battery has been increased by 30% as well. Meanwhile, its antenna has been upgraded so that it can have a better reception and reach. Specifically, the V-85 high-gain antenna will ensure that you will stay on the grid.

The power levels of this ham radio are configurable. It has high (8 watts), mid (4 watts), and low (1 watt) settings that can determine its overall output.

Any user can benefit from this radio. Even if you are not an expert on using these devices, the BaoFeng BF-F8HP can guarantee that you won't have a hard time using it. You'll enjoy using this one on any occasion.

3. Radioddity GA-5S High Power Two Way Radio

PROS

  • ​Comes with a high-gain antenna
  • ​Excellent reception and transmission
  • ​Features a programmable output
  • ​Full-light keypad for night operations
  • ​Extended standby time

Cons

  • ​Battery life is not that great

​For those that want to spend big on ham radios, the Radioddity GA-5S is a great option.

It is an entry-level two-way radio that has the same capabilities as other ham radios. 

Of course, you can expect that its quality is not as superb as its high-end counterparts. But still, the Radioddity GA-5S is still a decent option to consider. But why do I like it anyway?

Well, you see, this radio features configurable power output. The highest setting can reach 7 watts, which is more than enough to keep you connected. In fact, if the frequency and condition are correct, the maximum output of this device can escalate up to 9 watts.

Some even told me that this radio has better performance than those that have an 8-watt rating. On my experience on using this device, I might agree on such claims on a particular degree.

The reception that you can get from this device is also great. It features a high-gain antenna so that you can get solid and unbuffered signals. The distance of transmission that it can reach is around 5.5 miles, which is far greater than what other radios can accomplish.

When it comes to functionality, I can say that the Radioddity GA-5S is ergonomic. The keypads are very accessible, and most of its settings can be programmed.

4. Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band 

PROS

  • ​Password-secured connection to prevent unauthorized access to your transceiver
  • ​Can operate for extended periods
  • ​Extra ergonomic interface and display
  • ​Excellent speaker clarity
  • ​Reception has wide coverage

Cons

  • ​No noticeable drawbacks

​For those people who want to own reliable amateur radios, the Yaesu FT-60R is a reliable choice.

This unit is one of the most powerful ham radios that exist today. It features unique capabilities that ensure its performance, regardless of the application.

It has an exceptional coverage and reception. The device can receive signals from distant places. Furthermore, it boasts operating versatility that any users can benefit.

This ham radio can run for extended periods, thanks to its rechargeable nickel-metal hydride battery. When cranked in the 5-watt setting, this device can last for several hours without its transmission quality.

It is also capable of receiving coverage from UHF TV and VHF bands, aside from 144MHz and 430MHz. Public safety and emergency service frequencies can also be accessed in this radio.

The Yaesu FT-60R features an Emergency Automatic ID capability. The latter will automatically enable the radio to transmit your given callsign even without pressing the push-to-talk switch.

This is a great feature if you are disabled. Meanwhile, the Enhanced Paging and Code Squelch (EPCS) component of the radio allows selective paging and receiving.

5. Kenwood Original TH-D74A

PROS

  • ​Compatible with APRS
  • ​Comes with messaging feature
  • With never flat-tires and a folding handle
  • ​Excellent transmission capabilities
  • ​D-STAR compatible (capable of doing international and local communications)

Cons

  • ​The batteries have limited running time

​For serious applications, the Kenwood Original TH-D74A can be an exceptional choice.

This one is prolific--from its design down the functions that it can offer.

First, let me highlight the structural durability of this ham radio. The shell of this system is extremely sturdy.

It is also waterproof, which makes it an ideal choice for search and rescue operations.

This one has a TFT display with a color transflective feature. The latter ensures that you can see the display clearly, whether it is day or night. The system of the radio is equipped with Bluetooth capability.

It is compatible with micro SD and micro USB platforms. Interestingly, the radio has been integrated with GPS. All of these said features improve the overall functionality of the device while you are on the field.

The manufacturer has noted that the Kenwood Original TH-D74A is compatible with the APRS communication protocol.

This means that it can do real-time and no-lag two-way transmission through the use of packet communication. Moreover, it can also access other relevant information such as weather services and positional data. Several stations were already listed on the system of the Kenwood Original TH-D74A.

Why Do You Need the Best Ham Radios

Why Do You Need the Best Ham Radios

There are several events that I have to include in this article, which is all related to why ham radios are essential.

The first one is typhoon Katrina in 2005 that have taken the lives of thousands of people. Katrina has been dubbed as something that is devastating and ravaging.

Aside from the lives that it robbed, it also damaged network towers that have disrupted and overload various network service providers.

The second example that I have to set is the eventful toppling of the Twin Towers on September 1, 2011. The debris that fell down to the ground has resulted in power failures and severing of communication lines.

On these two tragedies, it has been obvious that the one the first services that can be easily compromised is communication. Once the communication facilities are damaged, your cellphones and computers would be rendered useless. Conventional means of sending messages or calling will be put into an indefinite hold until restoration procedures will take place.

If SHTF situations strike, all of us are susceptible to be isolated. Unless we don't invest in alternative means of communicating, things could get dire for us. The availability of ham radios is among the solutions that you can take. Considering their price and usability, ham radios are definitely a worthy investment.

Local Emergency Awareness

You can use handheld ham radios in a variety of recreational activities. However, you should know that one of the very functions of these radios is to provide information about impending disasters and on-going emergencies. These radios are pivotal in disseminating reliable information without delays and discrepancies.

You see, the news that you can see on your TVs are not that fast. In fact, they are quite late compared to the announcements made by local frequencies in ham radios. Of course, you can't rely too much on the internet, as they are filled with hoaxes and anything related to fake news.

Ham radios will enable you to hear various events from people who are within the scenario. They are fast, reliable, and extremely consistent. Today, ham radios can easily be carried. They are compact and can be placed in the car-in handsets of many vehicles. Even without your computer, TV, or cell phone, you can still hear the updates that you need.

Furthermore, various government agencies are using VHF and UHF frequencies to announce weather and disasters.

These frequencies are readily available on ham radios.

Connectivity

Connectivity of HAM Radio

Infrastructure damages are among the repercussions of natural and man-made disasters. Without the main facilities for power and internet, people are disconnected from the world. This situation could last for days, weeks, or even months--depending on the severity of the damage.

The best handheld ham radios can help you survive in these tragedies. If all the communication lines have been disrupted, summoning emergency services would be literally impossible. Assistance during these times can be difficult, especially if you don't have any means of contacting rescuers and government agencies.

On the other hand, ham radios can remain up and active, regardless of the scenario. Radio broadcasts are not dependent on satellite services.

Therefore, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other calamities can't intervene with them. They would be your only hope if you were stuck in rubble or stranded on a heavily-devastated place.

Just like I said, emergency services used by the government are transmitted on radio frequencies. They won't get cut, unless there are some unlikely scenario (like an EMP) that will take place. Some emergency services from third-party groups are also very active on the radio. You might want to join some local groups to ensure connectivity and updates from time to time.

Conclusion

It is imperative that people have the best handheld ham radios. Even if a lot of people don't consider them as an essential survival gear, they are still worthy of being placed in your checklist.

They can provide extensive and reliable sets of information wherever you are. Once you go off-the-grid, these radios will serve as your line to the outside world. Even if there are disasters and emergencies, these radios won't malfunction at all.

That's it for now. Do you have any questions about these ham radios? Ask me in the comment section below.

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