Amateur radio, also known as ‘ham radio’, is a popular hobby and service that can facilitate communication between people in emergency situations. While some get into ham radio for the pure enjoyment and pleasure of working with electronics, many survivalists and preppers see the best handheld ham radio for survival as an essential tool to have at the ready in case disaster strikes.


Are you in a Hurry? Or you don’t feel like reading? We recommend the Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band Handheld as Our Pick.


In this article, we’re going to review the following best handheld ham radio for survival.


What Exactly is a Handheld Ham Radio?

Ham radio enables people to communicate with one another across communities, towns, countries, and the world. For survivalists, a handheld amateur radio is a means of staying connected and finding out what is happening should a disaster strike. It is not dependent upon the internet or cellphones, so for those who want to protect themselves and their families in the event of a natural disaster by staying connected, amateur radio is a popular choice. While handheld radios don’t have quite the power and range of fixed units, they have the benefit of being lightweight and portable. They are designed to be used while they are being carried on the go, operate via rechargeable battery packs, and have FM voice transmitter outputs of low-wattage on VHF and UHF bands.

Why Ham Radio is Popular Among Survivalists

For true survivalists, ham radio is the only way to go when it comes to maintaining communication in an emergency. For those living off the grid or wanting to be prepared in the event of a large-scale emergency situation, staying connected can be key to survival. Amateur radio allows operators to make their own broadcasts and listen to the broadcasts of others.

In these types of situations, purchasing a cheap GMRS/FRS handheld radio will simply not suffice. In order to speak on ham radio, you will need an FCC license. This license does not just give you legality, it also connects you to a huge network of radio clubs that specialize in prepping and are valuable resources.

Ham radios are approximately 10 times more powerful than your average handheld radios.

Many have removable antennas so you can customize your radio’s power needs.

Important Radio Features to Consider

Depending on the type and quality of your radio, you can do more than just talk on it; it can also involve Morse code, radio teletype, packet, image transmission, sending/receiving e-mail, or PSK.

Additional Features to Consider


Best handheld ham radio for survival

All the reviews are real-life experiences. Extensive research online and testing. We do not accept sponsorships. Genuine recommendations for those who need a bit of real advice.

Ready? Let’s start

Following are five popular options for high-quality amateur handheld radios worthy of your time and consideration.

Our Pick: Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band Handheld

<< Check Price on Amazon >>

Yaesu is a trusted name in the amateur radio community, and the Yaesu FT-60R dual-band handheld features an alphanumeric display, a lighted keypad, scan modes, and 1,000 memory channels. It has a handy locking mode to ensure that accidental frequency changes don’t occur while on the move.

It also receives NOAA weather alerts and receives emergency channels in 800-to-900Mhz. It has three power output levels at Hight, Medium, and Low. It includes a 1,400mAh battery, a charger, belt clip for ease of portability, and an antenna. This handheld ham radio is regarded as one of the most reliable and durable on the market.

What we like:

What we don’t like:


Runner Up: BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power Dual Band Radio
High Power Radio BaoFeng

<< Check Price on Amazon >>

The BaoFeng UV-82HP high-power dual-band handheld has three power settings: High, Medium, and Low. It has a frequency range of 65-108 MHz for commercial FM reception and has a setting for using broad or narrowband. With an LCD display and the handy channel lock to avoid accidental frequency switches and availability in a number of colors, the BaoFeng is known to produce a clear sound and is a great handheld option.

What we like:

What we don’t like:


Also Great: BTECH UV-5X3 5 Watt Tri-Band Radio

<< Check Price on Amazon >>

The BTECH UV-5×3 Watt tri-band radio features selectable frequency range scanning and channels that can be removed or added by scanning right in the menu. Can be paired with the Nagoya NA-320A antenna for an all-in-one experience. Using CHIRP software, this handheld is easily programmable and features VOX talk for a hands-free option. Additional features include busy channel lockout the transmission, squelch setting, alphanumeric channel storage, and is PC programmable. The kit includes the radio, 1,500mAh battery, dual-band antenna, single-band antenna, charger, adapter, earpiece, wrist strap, belt clip, and a user-friendly manual for easy programming.

What we like:

What we don’t like:


Also Great: Kenwood Original TH-D74A 144/220/430 MHz Triband

With Ultimate in APRS and D-Star Performance (Digital) Handheld Transceiver – 5W

<< Check Price on Amazon >>

A digital handheld is one for serious survivalists. This is a sophisticated piece of technology with APRS compliance via packet communication capable of exchanging real-time GPS positioning data and messages. It has a built-in high-performing GPS unit, wide-band, and multiple-mode reception. It also features an impressive TFT display and IF filtering for superior reception. It has a voice-recording feature, is compliant with Bluetooth, and micro-USB standards. It has common control, data import, memory channel, and 4 power options, and is fully weatherproof. This is one of the most expensive handhelds you can get, but its sophistication and design makes it an impressive and valuable means of communication in a variety of emergency situations.

What we like:

What we don’t like:


On a Budget: SAMCOM FPEN10A 20 Channels HAM GMRS 2 Way Radio

<< Check Price on Amazon >>

The SAMCOM FPEN10A 20 channels GMRS 2-way radio is an ideal set to purchase for keeping in close contact with a group. With 20 channels and 121 privacy codes, you can easily keep your conversations and channels private.

Their 2W transmitting output produces a clear and stable signal with a 2-to-3 mile communication range. There are adjustable power modes and a built-in group talk function so you can make direct calls to people not on the same channel. This is a great way to communicate in an organization or amongst a group of people. Also featuring VOX and a 360-degree rotating channel knob, it is easy to tune into a channel while on the move.

The SAMCOM 3-pack is fully FCC certified and offers an impressive lifetime warranty. This is a great handheld radio option for those on a budget and wanting to keep in touch with specific people.

What we like:

What we don’t like:

5 Additional Best handheld ham radio for survival Options

BaoFeng BF-F8HP Two-Way Radio

The BaoFeng BF-F8HP is an upgraded version of its previous generation with twice the power output, a more durable shell, larger battery, and twice the antenna performance. For $63, this is a great device capable of being a huge asset in times of emergency.

Whistler WS1040 Handheld Digital Scanner Radio

The Whistler WS1040 digital scanner radio features menu-driven programming with helpful assistance tips. There is a handy scan-list function that allows users to group, arrange, and scan objects by personal preference. With 100-watt power output, this is an amateur radio that is 100-percent reliable for $250.

Motorola Original VX-261-G7-5 UHF 450-512 MHz AC128U501-MOT-NA Handheld Two-way Transceiver

From the trusted Motorola name comes a 16-channel, 5-watt handheld. It is splashproof, works with repeaters, has a talk-around feature, channel scan, VOX, comes with an antenna and a desktop charger. For $199, this is not the most budget-friendly option, but if it is reliability and durability you are looking for, this is a good option.

Retevis RT5 2 Way Radio VHF/UHF Dual Band 

The Retevis RT5 2-Way Radio has 3 power options and is known for producing crystal-clear communication. This is a 5-pack, ideal for a group wanting to keep in touch in an emergency. It features a long range, VOX for hands-free operation on the move, and comes with a 2-year warranty. For $170, this is an excellent option for a family or group wanting to stay in close contact.

BaoFeng GT-3TP Mark-III 8W/4W/1W Ham Radio Handheld

The BaoFeng GT-3TP handheld is FCC certified and features 3 power settings, up to an 11-km talking range, and band selection. While only capable of receiving FM transmission, this is a budget-friendly option at $47.



When it comes to ham radio, survivalists know its uses and value in an emergency situation. Contact and information can be key to survival, and ham handheld radios can provide users with both. The winner of our roundup is the Yaesu FT-60R dual-band radio. While it has a higher price point than many of its competitors, this is a case of “you get what you pay for.” Its comprehensive list of features includes an alphanumeric display, lighted keypad, scan modes, 1,000 memory channels, and the handy locking mode to avoid frequency changes in transport. The Yaesu will allow you to keep in contact with others and keep you informed of NOAA weather alerts and updates from other emergency channels. With 3 power-output levels and a solid reputation for reliability and durability, its cost of $170 is a bargain for a valuable means of survival.

2 Responses

  1. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *