It might seem that technology changes on a daily basis lately, and products from years ago are no longer useful. However, the amateur radio world is using the same technology that it was many decades ago: the ham radio. The best devices offer you the chance to communicate with people in your own town or all the way across the country. The best ham radio can work as a tool or be used for pleasure and meeting new friends.
Whether you are someone who has been sending out a callsign for years or you are just becoming interested in radio, you want to be sure you invest in the top options. While the technology behind the radios hasn’t changed, that doesn’t mean that features aren’t being added. Choosing the perfect radio to purchase can take a lot of research and we wanted to help with that. We’ll be sharing the top nine options for devices you can purchase today.
We’ll also share a bit of insight into the things that matter most on these radios. That means you can easily select the radio you want with the features you are most likely to use. By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll be all set to make a purchase so you can start talking to individuals near you and even across the world.
Best Ham Radios for 2020
|Name||Number of Power Levels||Weight|
|BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio||3||10.1 Ounces||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|Kenwood TM-281A 144MHz FM Transceiver||1||2.5 Pounds||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|Yaesu FT-857D Amateur Radio Transceiver||1||4.6 Pounds||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two-Way Radio||2||8.8 Ounces||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|Kenwood TH-D72A 144/440 MHz Handheld Amateur Transceiver||1||13.1 Ounces||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|ICOM 2300H 05 144MHz Amateur Radio||1||4.8 Pounds||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|AnyTone AT-778UV Dual-Band Transceiver Mobile Radio||3||2.7 Pounds||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|Yaesu VX-6R Tri-Band Submersible Amateur Ham Radio Transceiver||3||2.88 Ounces||CHECK LATEST PRICE|
|N/A||BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Radio||3||1.3 Pounds|
BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio
When you want the top ham radios you can find, this option is a great choice. It is a dual-band handheld radio that improves upon its ancestor by offering a higher level of transmission. It comes with a rugged base and a clip so you can take it anywhere you go. This ham device has three power levels, an antenna, and a user manual included.
You receive a large battery with this device and one of the best selections of powers to choose from. Each device can work for you up for 18 to 24 hours when in use. In addition, the battery powers other items such as the built-in FM radio and the included flashlight. It was designed to offer a simple user experience and includes a manual that will help you customize the radio for your specific needs.
When you choose this package, it comes with the radio, a 2,000mAh battery, a V-85 antenna, and an adapter. Included are an earpiece, a hand strap, a belt clip, and a battery charger. This ham radio additionally comes with a one-year warranty.
Kenwood TM-281A 144MHz FM Transceiver
No matter what you are using a ham radio for, this model from Kenwood will meet your needs. It’s a compact transceiver that has a lot to offer each time you put it to use. This is a device with some of the best mobile performance, and you can expect a great level of quality. When you choose to purchase this device, you get ruggedness and plenty of reliability, no matter how much you utilize it.
The make of this radio is among the best you will see. If you like to purchase quality good, this will offer that you need. It has great speakers, a lighted keypad, and a great output.
Yaesu FT-857D Amateur Radio Transceiver
From the same manufacturers who made the Yaesu FT-60R, this device also provides a lot of performance. When you get this product, you get extra components such as a power cable and a microphone. You will need to provide your own antenna, but this shouldn’t be much of an issue for someone who already has an existing radio.
This device transmits on two bands at once, which is great for someone who wishes to utilize it for emergency contact. It has a number of excellent features such as 200 memory slots, built-in digital signal processing, and spectrum display. It’s a rugger option that is easily an example of the best ham radios you can purchase.
BaoFeng UV-5R Dual-Band Two-Way Radio
This make and model of radio is compact with four watts of power in two separate frequency levels. This is one of the best budget ham devices and additionally includes features such as an FM broadcast band. Those who are looking for the best features will appreciate that it comes with the radio, a battery pack, and an earpiece. It also offers a headset, a clip for the belt, a hand strap, and an adapter. You’ll get a great quality adapter and a user manual.
Some of the special features provided include a low battery alert, a large LCD display, a time-out timer, and a channel monitor.
Kenwood TH-D72A 144/440 MHz Handheld Amateur Transceiver
When you want the best power in one small package, this Kenwood is a great choice. As one of the top options for individuals who want great performance, it offers built-in great performance APRS firmware through a standard USB port. You also get with your purchase programming software you can utilize as you like. It has as much storage as most models and comes with extras such as a belt clip.
This radio has a high-capacity battery, 1000 memory channels, and enhanced operating visibility along with simple use for beginners.
ICOM 2300H 05 144MHz Amateur Radio
When you choose a radio for ham purposes, you want to get a great level of power. You may also want to ensure that it doesn’t cost too much, such as some of the top of the line models on the market. This make from ICOM offers all of those things, including up to 10 memory banks for scans, and 200 channels for other things.
This device has been tested in situations with shock, high temperatures, and vibration to ensure it can handle any conditions you end up in.
AnyTone AT-778UV Dual-Band Transceiver Mobile Radio
As one of the best ham radios, this item comes with a two-band radio but no extra components. That means you get a base with plenty of power, but it does not come with extra items for use. You will need to make an additional purchase to get that. The ham does make quick transmission and comes with 200 channels, such as the best models out there.
If you like the idea of a reasonably priced radio with a lighted keypad mic, built-in speakers, and a cooling fan, this could be the perfect choice for you.
Yaesu VX-6R Tri-Band Submersible Amateur Ham Radio Transceiver
As one of the top hamradio available, this device has a great level of power and is perfect for people young and old who are new to using this kind of communication. You will get one military-grade, compact, waterproof radio that is submersible for the highest quality. It has a high-quality make and you also get a selection of additional features when you purchase it.
When you get this ham radio, you get the receiver radio, a belt clip, an antenna, a battery and a charger, and a manual.
BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual-Band Radio
The last of the best radios to make our list is from BaoFeng. This is the second generation of the device and includes new features like three levels and an output that reaches up to eight watts. It has a VFO/MR mode that can be locked using software, a dual push-to-talk switch, and a large and in-depth user’s guide.
This radio has 128 memory channels for you to program, which you can remove or add using free software. You can also add names to the channels for even more convenience.
Everything You Need to Know About Ham Radios
The first thing you are going to want to know when choosing a ham radio is exactly what it consists of. An amateur or ham radio is a device that can be used for private, non-commercial use of certain radio frequencies. You can hit up the ham to socialize, to get in touch with other individuals or organizations in an emergency, or just to learn more about wireless communication.
The world of ham radios is a diverse one, and if you get involved, you’ll meet all sorts of people known as “hams.” You could talk to a 10-year old from across the world one day using a ham radio, then spend the next day on your radio talking to a person who is 50-years old and right down the street.
You should also know that those who use a ham radio can be using it in several different ways. Many people like to use a ham radio for voice talk, but others may use it with packet, Morse code, radio teletype, PSK, or one of many others.
Benefits of Ham Radios
If you are curious why so many are utilizing a ham radio, we can answer that question. In fact, there are several reasons to start utilizing ham radios:
- You join up with a community of over two million users around the globe.
- Ham radio can be used in emergencies. Those who operate a ham radio can help with rescue and supply missions when other communication fails.
- Ham can also assist you with communicating anywhere you are, even in the middle of a desert or the top of a mountain.
- With ham, you get to enjoy a fascinating hobby that involves communication and radio technology.
Requirements to be Licensed to Use Ham
You do need a license in order to use ham radios, but the process is fairly simple. You simply want to choose the type of license and follow the instructions below:
- Technician License – This is the best option for someone new to utilizing ham. You pass an exam with 35 questions in order to receive access to many frequencies over 30 megahertz as well as some HF band privileges. This allows you to use your ham radio locally and domestically.
- General License – This license also requires a 35 question exam. After passing, you can use ham for international communication. You must have the technician license first.
- Amateur Extra License – For this license, you need to pass a 50 question exam. This lets you enjoy utilizing operating privileges on all bands and modes. Having the general license is required first.
What to Know About Transceivers
The first thing you kneed to understand about a ham radio is what a receiver is. Simply put, a transceiver consists of a transmitter and a receiver that are combined into a single unit. Most of the modern ham radios on the market are going to fall under this classification.
The frequencies you can use with your radio will depend on what licenses you have qualified for. Keep in mind that every radio is different, and some will not work with every frequency. When considering a VHF UHF ham, make sure you purchase one that has the frequencies you are interested in accessing.
In most cases, the digital radio you choose is going to have five watts of power at a maximum. There are a few higher-powered options if you go with a base device. Those who plan to use a handheld radio want to ensure it has both high and low-power options that you can adjust as you wish. In general, these radios will have plenty of power for what you need to do.
If you are looking for an emergency digital radio, you are likely going to be choosing a two-meter option. The 440MHz band will offer most of the features you will use. A dual-band radio can let you monitor two frequencies at once, which is also a popular option. General coverage is a feature that lets you pick up TV, AM, and FM frequencies.
Those who will be talking locally or for emergencies will perhaps need only a few dozen memory slots, which is found in older devices. However, those who want to speak nationally or internationally will want to choose a device with 100 to 200 memory slots to ensure the best results.
Consider whether you will be utilizing the radio in low light or at night. If so, you may want to consider a model with a backlit display. Since emergencies can happen around the clock, any other device can leave you working in the dark. Having the option to turn the light on and off is also useful for saving electricity or battery.
If a ham lets you program it, that means manual programming. The devices that allow this typically utilize a keypad and a CB radio display. Some of the more modern types will come with a USB cable so they can be connected to a computer. This can be useful since you can download programming software to speed up inputting commands.
When you want the best ham radio on the market, you can look to the options above for great choices. Use the information we provided to determine what features matter most to you so you can be sure you get them. Operating a radio can be a lot of fun and teach you a lot, so don’t be afraid to give it a shot. Let us know what device you chose below and have fun!