Having a ham radio license is a GREAT idea for your survival. In the event the power grid ever goes down, HAM radio is the way to communicate with other people in your area. 

You can easily earn a ham license for just a few dollars, ARRL.org is the site to check out to get that started. 

Once you have your license, you need a great radio to get yourself started. A handheld HAM radio, also known as a handie, is the starting point. 

Let’s look at 8 great handheld HAM radios and let you decide which would best fit your needs. 

Top Outdoor Two-Way Radios in 2020

Product Name

Price

Rating


Pofung UV-82 Dual Band Radio

$

Tenway Ham Radio

$

HYS -TC High Power HAM Radio

$$

Baofeng UV- 5R5

$$

TD Radio 8-Watt Ham Radio

$

Kenwood TH-D74A Triband Radio

$$$$

Yaesu FT-70Dr Handheld Transceiver

$$$

Alinco DJ-MD5GTP Dual Band DMR

$$$

1. Pofung UV-82 Dual Band Radio


Overall Rating:

5 / 5

Pofung UV-82 Dual Band Radio is the same great radio as Baofeng but rebranded. You can get two radios in a pack for one great price. There are 128 memory channels on the radio, so you can store all your favorite repeaters and then some. 


The radio also has a low battery alert feature and has a great wall charger you can use to keep the battery charged up and ready. It is a larger and easier to hold version of the Baofeng that is reviewed later on this list and feels great in your hands.

Pros

  • Buttons are decently sized
  • Better build quality than UV 5R
  • Can be programmed even without CHIRP software

Cons

  • Manual is hard to understand.

2. Tenway Ham Radio


Overall Rating:

5 / 5

Tenway is a two-pack of HAM radios complete with a handheld mic, two longer antennas, and a programming cable. The sound on these radios is crystal clear, and you can operate on high power (puts out 8 watts) all the way to low power where just one watt is produced. 


Low battery alarm advises when it is time to change the battery. There are also earbuds included in case you have to keep things quiet.

Pros

  • Warranty included
  • Two radios for one great price
  • Handheld mics included

Cons

  • Instructions are hard for absolute beginners to understand

3. HYS -TC High Power HAM Radio


Overall Rating:

5 / 5

Here we have the HYS-TC high power HAM radio which is a ten-watt radio complete with an excellent LCD display. The shell is nice and hard and will keep your radio in good shape even if it is accidentally dropped. 


You can operate this two-way radio at 10 watts, 5 watts, or 1 watt to conserve power. There are 128 memory channels in this great little radio, so wherever you roam, you can save the repeater for future use.

Pros

  • Lightweight and same size as a phone
  • Durable body
  • 1-year warranty

Cons

  • Antenna is low gain. Extra antenna not included

4. Baofeng UV- 5R5


Overall Rating:

4.5 / 5

The antenna is the key to hitting local repeaters where two-way ham operators gather and share information, and this radio has a high-gain model not found on other models by this brand. 


You can operate this Baofeng UV-5R5 on low or high power, depending on how close you are to the repeaters. It even has a flashlight included for added safety and long battery life.

Pros

  • Exceptional quality for the price
  • Different colors to choose from
  • Flashlight included

Cons

  • Programming this radio is difficult

5. TD Radio 8-Watt Ham Radio


Overall Rating:

4.5 / 5

The Td Radio comes with all the accessories you could want, even an additional battery. It makes it very nice to take with you in a bug out bag or backpack. Like the other radios, you can operate simplex or on a repeater with this. 


There are 128 memory channels and an LED flashlight included. A longer, higher gain antenna is also included with the purchase, and with 8 watts of power, you can easily hit all your local repeaters and stay in the know.

Pros

  • Excellent starter kit for beginners
  • Can be programmed with CHIRP as a Baofeng BF8 -HP
  • Batteries last a long time.

Cons

  • Earpiece provided is rather weak sounding

6. Kenwood TH-D74A Triband Radio


Overall Rating:

4.5 / 5

It may be a radio only those in the HAM hobby may wish to purchase thanks to its large price tag. However, Kenwood is known for exceptional quality for a two-way radio. This unit has a GPS built-in, auto clock setting, and is good for multiple modes of radio such as APRS. 


The handheld is also weatherproof and features IF filtering for better receiving and transmission of CW, SSB, and AM. You can access FM, CB, AM, and of course, the two-meter band, which most beginner hams use to communicate locally. 


This radio is very advanced and is an excellent choice for those who are looking to get into HAM radio beyond a survivalist standpoint.

Pros

  • GPS functionality included
  • You can record conversations on an SD card
  • Bluetooth capable

Cons

  • The price is very high for most individuals

7. Yaesu FT-70Dr Handheld Transceiver


Overall Rating:

4.5 / 5

Yaesu FT-70DR is a radio engineered to guard against dust and water. It can transmit anywhere from 144-148 megahertz and430 to 450 megahertz also. The radio also comes with a mini USB so you can easily keep track of the memory channels and update software as necessary. 


The stock antenna is not so great, so be ready to buy another if you would like to hit further away repeaters.  Programming software comes directly from Yaesu, or you can program without a computer (recommended, as outdoors, you won't have computer access).

Pros

  • Durable for outdoors use
  • Provides 5 watts of power
  • Programming is easy once you get the hang of it

Cons

  • Battery life is not so great-lower than some of the cheaper models we reviewed!

8. Alinco DJ-MD5GTP Dual Band DMR


Overall Rating:

4.5 / 5

The coolest thing about this Alinco radio is the vocoder, which helps you get crystal clear signals even in busy places like parks, construction sites, or events. 


The LCD display is brightly colored and easy to see in the dark. GPS positioning is included. There are 4000 memory channels, so you will never run out of room to store your favorites.

Pros

  • Stock antenna is very strong
  • Small, compact and easy to carry
  • 36-hour battery life on standby

Cons

  • The instruction manual does not teach you how to program it manually
  • The radio is not waterproof.

Bottom Line

Once you have gotten the hang of using and understanding how to use a handheld HAM radio, it becomes a skill that needs to be practice often. That way, it will always come in handy during a survival situation or even if you just like being prepared.

Our favorite option for overall use and functions for a two-way radio is the Baofeng UV- 5R5 because it is reasonably priced and will put you into contact with other local hams, all without spending a huge sum. Go check it out for yourself and get on the air!