The Best Ham Radios to Buy

Yaesu FT-857D

Whether you’re brand-new to the world of ham radios or have actually been sending your callsign for years, technology advances and the entry of Chinese manufacturers have actually implied major enhancements and significant price cuts in this area over recent years.

While it’s still possible to invest 5 figures on a high-end rig, a decent handheld radio can likewise be gotten for well under fifty dollars. In in between lies a huge series of devices, portable and fixed, analog and digital, with an excessive array of features.

No matter your experience level or budget, there’s an excellent ham radio choice on the marketplace for you. Whether you’re searching for a solid entry-level alternative, a handheld device that’ll handle whatever you (and the weather condition) throws at it, the ideal radio for in-car use, or something else totally, we’ve located the best ham radios on the marketplace right now.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Kenwood TH-D72A

Kenwood TH-D72A
Price: $408

With features you’ll rarely find in the competition, solid construction, and a sensible price, the Kenwood TH-D72A is a formidable competitor when it comes to handheld radios.

It’s one of the really few with a built-in GPS receiver, the information from which can be exported to PC mapping software via the USB port. You’ll get around 6 hours of continuous use at the greatest (5W) output setting, and can reduce output to 0.5 W or 0.05 W as required. There’s also the alternative of shutting off the radio functions and using it as a GPS tracker, with 30+ hours of battery life.

The D72A can get all at once on both bands, or on two frequencies on the very same band. It satisfies both MIL-STD810 and IP54 requirements for durability and weatherproofing, and works with APRS information communications, as well as VHF and UHF bands. Backed by the Kenwood name, this is the best overall portable ham radio on the market today.

Best on a Budget: BaoFeng UV-5R

BaoFeng UV-5R
Price: $28

If you’re brief on cash, or simply want to dip your toes in the ham radio waters without a big monetary dedication, it’s difficult to pass by BaoFeng. This Chinese manufacturer has a variety of inexpensive two-way portable radios, and the UV-5R is one of the least expensive of the lot.

Despite its low price, nevertheless, this design has most of the highlights you’ll require in a portable radio, including VHF/UHF assistance, and switchable high/low power settings to assist conserve battery life. There’s likewise a built-in LED flashlight and industrial FM radio reception.

Range isn’t excellent with the basic antenna, but adding an economical high-gain option like the Nagoya NA-771 greatly boosts transfer and get range. Even skilled ham radio users swear by the UV-5R for backcountry use, since it’s reasonably robust, and if it does break or fall down a ravine, you’ll pay little to change.

The combination of cost, functions, and reliability make it easy to recommend for those on a spending plan.

Best for In-Car Use: Yaesu FT-857D

Yaesu FT-857D
Price: $940

Yaesu has a well-deserved reputation for producing quality radios, and the FT-857D is no exception. Developed for in-vehicle use, it’s small enough to be installed easily under the dash or in some in-dash slots but still has nearly all of the features you ‘d expect from a much bigger radio.

The 857D supports UHF, VHF, and HF bands, with fully-adjustable power output from 5W to 100W depending upon the band. FM broadcast reception is also included. The radio supports 200 memory channels that can be given customized names and organized into collections for quick setup.

Yaesu FT-857D

The menu interface can be a little confusing in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy enough to access the radio’s large variety of functions and settings. If you’re after a dependable general-purpose radio for use in your car or truck, that can do nearly anything you ask of it, the Yaesu FT-857D is an excellent choice.

Best for Getting Started With HF: Yaesu FT-450D

Yaesu FT-450D
Price: $750

If you’re after a good entry-level ham radio with all the functions you’ll require, made by a trustworthy maker, look no more than the compact Yaesu FT-450D. With approximately 100W of transmit power, support for VHF, UHF, and HF (6-160m bands), and a top quality digital signal processor for clearer noise, it covers all the bases for those beginning with ham radio who want something more effective than a portable device.

The Yaesu FT-450D weighs a portable 12.9 pounds and will run throughout the day on a 12v 30-amp battery, making it equally beneficial at home or wherever your travels take you. There’s also an optional carry deal with available if you’ll be moving it around regularly.

Regularly used in the field or mounted inside a Recreational Vehicle, this is a reliable, well-performing, and versatile radio that exceeds many competitors costing hundreds of dollars more.

Best for Durability: Yaesu VX-6R

Yaesu VX-6R
Price: $265

When you’re running outdoors, specifically in particularly rugged or remote areas, the last thing you require is to damage or drown your radio. If you know you’re likely to offer yours a difficult time, check out the rugged little Yaesu VX-6R portable.

The solid magnesium case helps protect it from even major drops and knocks, but the biggest selling point of the VX-6R is its waterproofing. Completely submersible, it’s rated to deal with 30 minutes under six feet of water, so even a fast dunk in a river or getting captured in a storm won’t cause any issues.

The radio has tri-band transferring (2 meter, 1.25 meter, and 70cm), with 4 different power output settings to help save battery and decrease heat buildup,

A great extra is the inclusion of ARTS (Automatic In-Range Transponder System), to help you stay in range of other devices in the field. All in all, the VX-6R is a feature-packed, rugged, and dependable companion when you’re heading into the backcountry.

Best Lightweight Option: TYT Tytera MD-380

TYT Tytera MD-380
Price: $132

When you’re bring a lot of equipment on your person, anything that assists keep the weight down is a welcome relief. Enter the TYT Tytera MD-380 handheld digital radio, which pointers the scales at simply 9 ounces, but does not skimp on features in spite of that.

While DMR (digital mobile radio) handsets require more competence to get set up, there are plenty of how-to guides online particularly for this design, and your local ham radio club can likely supply a “code plug” to get you began.

Able to run in both Tier 1 (low power) and Tier II modes, you’ll usually get a full day or more out of a single battery. Given that it takes up to eight hours to charge it back up again, however, you may wish to purchase a spare also.

With as much as 1,000 memory channels readily available, the handset runs in the UHF 400-480Mhz band and includes assistance for basic digital features such as text messages, encryption, and private or group calling. It’s also possible to operate in UHF analog mode as needed.

With a pair of antennas and a programming cable television included in package, the MD-380 is a perfect light-weight and affordable DMR choice.

Best for Battery Life: BaoFeng BF-F8HP

BaoFeng BF-F8HP
Price: $63

If you’re ill of your handheld radio going flat in the middle of a conversation and do not desire the extra inconvenience and weight of bring extra batteries, take a look at BaoFeng’s BF-F8HP. It comes with a 2,000 mAh battery that quits to 20 hours in high power mode or 24 hours at the mid-range setting.

The additional charge isn’t the only advantage about this dual-band UHF/VHF design, however. The maximum output has been improved to 8W, and there’s a flashlight and FM radio integrated in to make the radio even more useful.

It’s bundled with a high-gain seven-inch antenna (although that’s quickly gotten rid of if you choose a third-party option), and the company even consists of a “concierge service” for faster client help and warranty support.

Just like all BaoFeng radios, pricing is very competitive, so if you’re looking for better battery life in a cost effective plan, you’ve found it in the BF-F8HP.

Best for Extra Features: Kenwood TH-D74A

Kenwood TH-D74A
Price: $550

If you’re trying to find maximum adaptability in a portable radio, Kenwood’s TH-D74A is about as good as it gets.

This tri-band design (144/220/430Mhz) loads a substantial quantity into its 12-ounce frame, including a color display, built-in GPS and Bluetooth assistance, a microSD card for logging voice recordings and GPS tracking information, and APRS two-way data interaction.

An analog radio by default, the D74-An also supports digital interaction through D-STAR, and dual-frequency reception lets you send out and get on UHF and VHF concurrently. The device will quickly shrug off a little dust or water too, due to its IP54 ingress rating.

Unsurprisingly you’ll pay more for the D74A than many other models, however when it comes to functions, you’ll be hard-pressed to discover anything else that competes.

Morris T. Parson, Tech Support

Leading specialist in electronics and engineering. Author of dozens of articles on various topics from the world of hi-tech. Sound independent analysis of products, exploring new niches and global trends is his special passion.

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