Back in the days when only ham radios were limited to the military. Now, everyone wants to communicate and have fun using a ham radio. With the world now a global village, people are looking for better ways of communication. Hence, the need for the most powerful handheld ham radio. You may be tempted to ask, what’s ham radio?
If you have always had a radio and you love communicating and socializing, handheld ham radios are something you should consider. They are powerful devices that can keep you company and entertained for as long as possible and can even provide you with a lot of important information.
Ham radio is a device that uses radio waves to communicate with people. Ham radios are portable and deliver an excellent user experience. A good thing about handheld ham radio is it can be used as an emergency radio, which means you can use it to reach out to people when there are no alternatives.
Whether you are in danger or in a location like thick woods, desert, or in the middle of the sea where there is no network signal, you can use the ham radio and communicate your way through. It’s a great device that is liked by all and one which can go out of existence.
With the increasing numbers of ham radios, selecting the best handheld ham radio has become challenging. To ease your selection process, we have decided to list our top 5 most potent handheld ham radios, based on extensive research on features and budget.
4 Top Most Powerful Handheld Ham Radios 2021 Review
1. Yaesu Tri-Band VX-6R Amateur Ham Radio –Best Overall
If you are on the lookout for a radio that is ruggedly built and can withstand the pressure of wear and tear, you may consider buying this portable ham radio. This multi-band portable ham radio provides extensive coverage for effective two-way communication.
With 5 watts of power, this radio can transmit power on 144 and 430 MHz bands. It has a general coverage that can pick AM/FM and TV frequencies, so you are entertained on-the-go. Additional features like Emergency Automatic function, Enhanced Paging, Code Squelch, and a security password are packed in this submersible amateur ham radio.
● High Wattage: This device has an output power of 5 watts on 144 and 430 MHz bands and 1.5 watts on 222 MHz bands. It has adjustable power settings.
● Compact: This radio is tiny when you consider all the features packed into it.
● Rugged Design: Specifically designed for outdoor use, this handheld ham radio is built out of sturdy materials that withstand some wear and tear and a few hits.
● Submersion: Afraid of your device falling into water? You don’t need to worry because this radio waterproof and passed the JIS7 rating with a high score.
● Battery Capacity: With a 1250 mAh battery capacity, this radio can go on for a few hours of communication before running out.
● Additional features: This radio is packed with advanced features like EAI that automatically cause your ham radio to transmit your call sign, EPCS that enables you to call and receive calls from a particular station, a security password that protects your radio from unauthorized use. Other features include; Timer-Out Timer, Auto Range Transponder System, etc.
What I Like
- It can receive on multiple-band frequencies.
- Its easy-to-use. It has an intuitive keyboard that facilitates fast navigation.
- Portable as it easily fits into your pocket.
- It improves safety through easy communication and Emergency Automatic Identification System (EAI).
What I Dislike
- It has battery issues. The battery drains faster than it should.
- It’s expensive
The Yaesu VX-6R is packed with unbelievable features that are worthy of the price tag. However, if you consider battery capacity as paramount, this device is not an ideal choice.
2. Yaesu FT-60R – Best Dual Band Handheld Ham Radio
Yaesu is a company renowned for producing good handheld ham radios. The Yaesu FT-60R is no different. This amateur radio is easy-to-use, durable, and housed in a sturdy aluminum body to withstand hitting and daily pressure.
This handheld radio can keep you connected in any environment, irrespective of weather conditions and bad network reception. All thanks to the water-resistant case. With a vivid wide LCD screen, you will have no issue with reading blurry or unclear menus.
This ham radio transmits 144-148MHz & 430-470MHz and receives 108-520 and 700-999 MHz frequencies. The lock mode feature prevents accidental changes in frequency.
This radio boasts a variety of programming abilities and offers weather updates through NOAA. This dual-band radio can keep you out of uncomfortable weather and help you stay in control of future weather conditions.
It boasts of features that other Yaesu products have, such as; the exclusive Auto Range Transponder System (ARTS), RF Squelch, etc.
A 1400 mAh battery is enough to power this device to last for several days on a single charge. Five watts of power is high enough to power the transmission of this handheld ham radio.
• Ruggedly Built: This device is housed in an aluminum body that can withstand anything thrown at it.
• Waterproof: Water splashes or spills will never hinder your radio from working optimally because it’s water-resistant.
• Vivid Display: You need not be worried about reading blurry commands and menus on the screen.
• DTMF Auto-Dialer: This Yaesu product featured a programmable nine DTMF auto-dialer memories and up to 10 memory banks.
• Exclusive Auto Range Transponder System (ARTS): Yaesu’s exclusive feature alerts you when your ham radio is out of coverage.
• Scan mode: You can use this radio to perform a scan through the dual bands.
What I Like
- It’s affordable.
- Good battery life.
What I Dislike
- The antenna is not so strong.
- Programming frequencies into the memory is not accessible.
Portability and battery-wise, this device seems to be the best in this category. It can be an ideal choice for buyers who value portability and battery performance over other features.
3. Baofeng UV-5R Ham Radio – Best for Battery
This 8-watt powered device is an excellent choice for those who are just starting to use ham radios. In other words, people who are just getting into the world of handheld ham radios will make the right choice by selecting this device.
This device is user-friendly, affordable, and comes with a one-year customer service support. Should your device develop any fault at a time of use, you will get technical support services from the manufacturers.
Also, if you have any issues with the device’s setup and operations, you can request support from the professional team. This is why it’s an ideal device for novices.
This handheld ham radio packs excellent features like; three adjustable power settings, massive battery life that offers 30% more power than previous versions.
This means that you would be able to do more on your radio without recharging it every time. It has a frequency range of 136-174 MHz and 400-520 MHz, VOX feature, FM radio, sizeable vivid LCD, low battery alert, emergency radio, dual-band display, and keypad lock.
• Access to 1-year technical support: Once you have purchased a Baofeng ham radio, you get unlimited support for one year should you have complaints about your radio.
• High Power: With 8 watts of high power, transmission on frequencies is easy and fast.
• Built-in Flashlight: You don’t need to be afraid of moving in the dark. A built-in flashlight will enable you to see your way through smoothly in the darkness.
• Large Battery Life: A 1800 mAh battery will provide you several days of the power of constant use. You don’t need to charge your radio frequently.
• Additional Features: Auto keypad lock puts your keyboard on lock-down.
What I Like
- Great battery life. This device offers 30 percent more power than previous Baofeng models.
- It has three power adjustable power levels to conserve energy.
- It eases movement in the night with the built-in flashlight.
- Easily affordable.
- Access to customer service support.
What I Dislike
- You will need to have an FCC license to use this radio.
This ham radio is primarily designed for beginners. With the huge battery life and other cool features packed in this device at a friendly budget, you can not help but admire the power and versatility of this radio.
4. Btech UV-5X3 Ham Radio – Best for Budget and Beginners
If you search for another alternative to the Baofeng UV-5R ham radio, you should consider this handheld radio. For some reason, users capture this radio as the best ham radio for beginners.
This ham radio is primarily designed for people who are new to the world of communicating with ham radio and to those who have the hobby of socializing. It comes with all the essential features you may not find in other handheld ham radios. Hence, another ideal choice for notices.
It is affordable, easy-to-use, and suitable for indoor use. This rugged radio is among the few ham radios that have the new firmware features. This ham radio takes advantage of the bright LCD dual display to display information all at once.
That means that the LCD screen can display both channel frequency and channel name at the same time. This portable tri-band handheld radio can modify channel lists by editing, removing, or adding a channel.
It can easily be programmable with 128 programmable memory channels, has easy computer programming, and has DTMF remote decode. Powering this ham radio is a 1500 mAh battery that promises several days of constant usage. 5-watt power with two control levels allows you to stay in control of your communication range.
● High Wattage: This handheld radio has two adjustable levels of a maximum of 5 watts of power that determine your communication length.
● Large Battery: A 1500 mAh battery is enough to keep you in constant communication for days.
● Programming: Programming on this device is easy with 128 programmable memory channels and PC compatible CHIRP programming.
● Dual Display: Dual display enables you to see all the information at once. This radio also has a bright LCD screen for vivid viewing.
● Tri-band frequency range and selectable frequency range scanning.
What I Like
- Good battery backup.
- Dual standby mode.
- Suitable for indoor use.
What I Dislike
- Not easy to program for beginners.
- Not durable for outdoor use.
The Btech UV-5X3 Ham Radio might be ideal if you tend to have a ham radio that is not costly. This radio is also suitable for those who want to use this radio more indoors than outdoors.
Considerations for picking the most powerful handheld ham radio on the market- Ultimate Guide
There are certain factors you need to be on the lookout for before purchasing a ham radio. These factors are essential and will determine if a device is suitable for your purpose or not.
First of all, what do you plan on using a handheld ham radio for? You must think carefully before answering this question because you can use handheld ham radio for different purposes.
You can use handheld ham radio for communication during emergencies, used for socializing across countries. Some people love talking with it and see it as fun. Your need will determine the type of ham radio to buy. The following are essential factors to consider;
A solidly built ham radio won’t crack when dropped accidentally. It would help if you were on the lookout for a rugged ham radio and one that can survive in whatever circumstance it finds itself.
● Battery Life
Power backup is usually among the first few features that come to a buyer’s mind. A buyer would like a ham radio whose battery won’t drain in a matter of minutes.
It’s frustrating to have a ham radio that is always getting low and needing to get charged all the time. If you consider power backup as your main feature in ham radio, consider purchasing one that can last for several days when in use.
● Water Resistance
Mistakes do happen all the time. One cannot be too careful to commit an error. One such error water splashing or spilling on your radio accidentally.
If your ham radio is resistant to water, it will function normally as if nothing ever happened. If otherwise, you may damage your device. Repair or replacement would be inevitable.
● Ease of Use
Ham radios are generally easy to use. Some tend to be more complicated to use than others, so ensure that your device has a user manual included. You will need to get acquainted with the keyboard and functionality, especially if you are using it for the first time.
Even as a professional, you can hit a button accidentally and find yourself in an inoperable mode. A user manual will quickly tell you how to get back to normal mode.
Sometimes, these manuals are not written in good English, so you will have difficulty navigating your way through. You can download them online if available.
Everyone loves a handy device. If you consider this feature as necessary, you may have to buy a compact device that fits your requirements.
Some ham radios may operate on a frequency that you don’t have access to. That’s because you may have not the licensing requirements from FCC to access it.
There are three types of licenses that you can have: the technical permit, the general permit, and the amateur license. You are required to pass an examination before you can have a license.
The amount of power in ham radio is essential. Ham radio with a high Watts of power tends to be robust in the communication range. Most handheld ham radios have a maximum of 5 watts of power. Choose models that have the option of adjusting the wattage to prolong battery life.
If you intend to use your ham radio for emergencies, you may need a ham radio with the 440 MHz band as it’s the most used band for that purpose.
There is also a band-related feature like the general coverage that allows you to pick AM/FM frequencies, which means you can listen to stations. So if you want to use your radio more for fun, consider opting for radios with general coverage.
● Additional features
These features are not primarily needed but may add other functionality to your radio. These features are:
Backlit Display: If you will be using your ham radio more at night than during the day, ensure you purchase a model that has a backlit display. The radio should offer you an option of toggling the display on and off to conserve power so that you would be able to use it when needed.
Memory Slots: Depending on your area and distance of communication, a few memory slots to a hundred memory slots will do.
For example, if you will be using your ham radio for international communication and other applications, you will need about a hundred and above memory slots.
This the last but not the least factor a buyer considers before selecting a ham radio. Depending on the features, a typical ham radio should not cost more than an average of $190.
FAQs On Choosing a Powerful Handheld Ham Radio
● Can all handheld ham radio work outdoors?
Most handheld ham radios work outdoors. However, some perform better indoors than out. This is mostly due to their wattage and bands.
● Can a handheld ham radio work as a scanner?
Yes, most handheld ham radios can function as a scanner.
● Do you need an FCC license to use a handheld ham radio on specific frequencies?
Not all ham radios require a license from FCC before you can use them on specific frequencies. If you own one, get approval immediately before you get arrested for operating on a frequency illegally.
Now that you have known our most rugged handheld ham radios, it’s left for you to choose wisely and select the one based on your preference. Each handheld ham radio has distinctive features that differentiate them from the other.
We hope our review has been able to spell out each feature and make it easy to invest in ham radio and enjoy its features.
What’s your opinion on this review so far. Do you think a handheld ham radio is essential?