While phones are versatile and convenient communication tools, they are miles behind the old radio hams in reliability. The old technology will come in handy when all other forms of modern communications fail!
Whether you are an overlander looking for a reliable way to communicate with fellow adventurers or a cautious prepper getting ready for the next zombie apocalypse, our thoughtful selection of the best ham radios for beginners should be of help!
What Do You Need To Know Before Buying A Ham Radio?
You Need A Ham Radio License:
Although you don’t need a license to listen to ham radio, you must have one for broadcasting.
Basically, there are three license levels; technician class, general class, and amateur extra class. For beginners, the technician class should suffice. Luckily, the acquisition doesn’t cost much in terms of money and time. Here’s a simple guide to getting your Ham Radio License.
Be Patient With Yourself:
Even the most experienced ham radio user you know of didn’t begin up there. It takes time to get more familiar with the device and other equipment. Thankfully, most manufacturers include a detailed but understandable user manual. Youtube videos and other tutorials are also available for most models.
It’s Not Just The Ham Radio:
When buying one, don’t only look at the transmission ability of the device. Also, pay attention to factors like battery capacity, screen size, portability, and convenience features like Bluetooth, flashlight, VOX, and FM radio. You will often find these features helpful when not walkie-talking.
BaoFeng UV-82HP is one of the most reliable options if you are beginning to familiarize yourself with airwaves. The dual-band radio is powerful and costs much less than other options coming with similar capabilities.
BaoFeng UV-82HP is an improved version of the UV-5R, another common walkie-talkie for amateurs and veterans alike. However, the more recent version outshines the mother model in many ways, not just looks.
You have three power levels to choose from here; 1- low, 5-medium, and 7/8-high, giving you the versatility you need for short and long-distance communication.
What’s more, the walkie-talkie delivers clear sound signals with little to no noise at 1 watt for 25 miles range. That’s an impressive feature, especially for a device in its price range.
Finally, you’ll also appreciate the versatility of this option. Precisely, outside the communication realm, the UV-82HP also serves as a flashlight, emergency alarm, and a lot more, with the ample 1800-mAh battery keeping it powered for all these.
#2 BAOFENG BF-F8HP Dual Band Two-Way Radio
The BAOFENG BF-F8HP is another thoughtful selection for beginners. It’s small, portable, and possesses enough power, meaning veterans will also appreciate having it as part of their gear when they need to use a two-way radio.
Like the UV-82HP, this walkie-talkie is a beefed-up version of the UV-5R, so it’s more powerful, has a 30% larger battery, features more durable construction, and has a better overall performance. Read more about Baofeng BF radios here.
Even with all these improvements, the BF-F8HP maintains a simple design. Even so, the manufacturer sends it alongside a detailed user guide to equip you with everything you need to become a pro right from day one!
The unit has three selectable power levels; 1W low, 4W mid, and 8W high settings. All these options give you the versatility you need in radio communication, with the improved anti-interference features of the antenna ensuring that you communicate effectively in any of the settings.
#3 Radioddity GS-5B Bluetooth Handheld Ham Radio
Right from the color to power to functionality, the Radioddity GS-5B is head and shoulders above most options you’ll find out there.
The durably-constructed unit comes in a bright orange body. Sure, given the opportunity to choose, not many of us would go by that color.
However, for devices intended for use in emergencies, for instance, ham radios, sometimes we have to look beyond our interests and go for what works best for the work. The bright orange color is highly conspicuous, so it’s easy to spot when you need to use the device urgently.
One of the standout features of this 5W model from the earlier-reviewed BAOFENG models is that it has Bluetooth. Hence, you can connect it with your Android or iOS device for easy programming using the Radioddity GS-5B App. But if you don’t want to follow this way, the ham radio still allows you to program it manually using the responsive keypads.
The high-strength materials can tolerate the harshest weather conditions. The IP56 waterproof rating is also a plus, especially for an outdoor device. But still, I’d recommend that you keep it far from moisture when out in the rain.
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#4 BTECH DMR-6X2 Dual Band Two-Way Radio
If you want a ham radio that you can use as a beginner and remain useful as you gain more skills, the BTECH DMR-6X2 should make an ideal purchase. The piece works ideally for both experienced and inexperienced hands.
The two-way radio will allow you to store up to 4000 channels. That’s more than most members of the competition can achieve. The device also boasts high outputs of 7W when on VHF and 6W for UHF, allowing you to communicate effectively with minimal disturbance.
The 1.77-inch color display is clear and uses a font that is easy to read. In addition, you can choose between two themes depending on the time of use – vibrant blue for the day and the contrasting black theme for nighttime operations.
The high capacity 2100 mAh battery keeps the unit powered all through. As if not enough, the box includes a backup 3100-mAh battery to ensure you remain connected to your loved ones throughout your time off-road.
Other box contents include a programming cable, two belt clips, charger base, wrist wrap, charger transformer, earpiece kit, and other extras to make your life in the radio tech world easy.