Reviewing The Best Handheld Ham Radios of 2021
Best Overall - Baofeng BF-F8HP Dual Band Two Way Radio
Best Premium - Whistler WS1040 Handheld Ham Radio
Best Budget - Radioddity GM-30
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Ham radios, also called amateur radios, are devices that use radio frequencies as a way to communicate and connect with people. They use voice, data, image, and text communications through RF spectrum frequencies.
Owning a handheld ham radio might sound far-fetched, especially in this digital age. Many people don’t believe that ham radios are used anymore, and that’s simply not true. These simple devices can be extremely handy to have in case of an emergency, especially when there’s no other way to communicate with other people.
Finding the best handheld ham radio can be challenging, especially if you’re buying one for the first time. The market is full of high-quality handheld ham radios that boast advanced features and the latest technology.
We’ve put together a list of some of the best handheld ham radios on the market today to help you make an informed decision.
Let’s take a look at the best handheld ham radios on the market today!
Best Handheld Ham Radio Buyer’s Guide
You should keep an eye out for several things when you purchase the best handheld ham radio, including the following items.
A handheld ham radio that has a dual band as a feature will allow you to listen to two frequencies at the same time. It also makes it easy for you to choose the frequency that you want to transmit on.
Be aware that the antenna that comes with some dual-band ham radios aren’t compatible with the dual-band feature. If this is the case, you need to find an external antenna that does work with this feature.
There’s a question that you should be asking yourself before buying a handheld ham radio: can it be manually programmed and programmed with the software?
If the ham radio can only be programmed with software, you must ensure that the cable you need to program the device is functioning and available. For a handheld ham radio to be manually programmed, there must be a functioning keyboard.
Battery Life and Rechargeability
After you’ve used the best handheld ham radio for a couple of hours, it will need to be recharged. You must ensure that the radio has an external DC connector before you purchase it.
This makes it easier to recharge the battery and ensures that there’s always enough power for the ham radio to work.
Clear and Understandable User Manual
You must find a handheld ham radio with a clear and easy to understand user manual. This is important because you need to know how to operate your device and how to diagnose any issues that might arise.
When problems come up, it should be easy for you to troubleshoot the problem by using the user manual.
The purpose of your handheld ham radio is to be able to understand what’s being said. This is why it’s so important that you find the best handheld ham radio with a good speaker and an external headphone jack.
The headphone jack is essential because if the outside noise becomes too much, you can easily plug in headphones and clearly hear the information.
How Does the Best Handheld Ham Radio Work?
Ham radios typically use a range of radio frequencies for communication purposes. Non-hams can “listen in” to hams using radio scanners or receivers.
Ham radio uses various frequency bands across the radio spectrum. The frequencies used are typically allocated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and are meant only for amateur use. Many ham radios operate in the frequency above the AM broadcast band.
Some ham radios use Morse code and others that use voice. However, Morse code is much more reliable because the signals can still get through even when voices can’t. If you’re looking for AM FM radios, you can check out our buying guide on the best ones.
Do You Need a License to Work a Ham Radio?
A license isn’t required to purchase a ham radio or monitor/listen to many amateur ham radio frequencies. However, you will need an FCC license to transmit on amateur radio frequencies in the United States. There are three levels of licenses for amateur use, and you only need to pass a simple multiple-choice question exam.
Here are the three types of licenses that you can obtain:
This is typically issued to those just beginning to use ham radio. It’s considered an entry-level license, and you’re only required to pass a single exam to get the licensure. After getting this license, you can transmit on a frequency above 30 MHz
You have to pass an exam with 35 questions to get this license. To even be eligible for this license, you need to have passed or obtained the technician’s written exam. With this licensure, you would have access to all amateur operating modes and radio bands.
Amateur Extra License
This is a high-level license and requires passing a difficult exam with 50 questions. Before sitting for this exam, you need to have passed the previous license class exams. If you obtain this license, you can operate on all modes and bands.
Benefits of the Best Handheld Ham Radio
When the phones and Internet go down, you’re still able to communicate using a ham radio. That’s the main benefit of owning and operating a ham radio; it’s an emergency radio that can be used to connect to others when there’s no other way to communicate.
Another benefit is that they can be used in different locations. For example, you could use one when hunting. A two-way radio can be useful when you’re in the woods, and you need to communicate with other hunters, receive emergency reports, and if the ham radio has GPS, track where you are.
Why You Should Invest in the Best Handheld Ham Radio
Because of the benefits of the best handheld ham radio, there are several reasons why you should consider investing in the best one. You can use ham radio to communicate from anywhere.
This is what makes them perfect for emergencies: they will work anywhere, and they don’t need to be connected to the internet, phone systems, or satellites to work, which means that if power facilities were to fail, you’d still be able to communicate.
Depending on all of the features that your handheld ham radio offers, it can also be used as a flashlight, emergency radio, weather radio, or car GPS.
Whether you’re on the hunt for a new hobby or you’re hoping to be prepared for the next emergency, the best handheld ham radio is a great investment to make. You’ll always be connected to other people, even when there’s no other way to communicate.
You’ll have peace of mind knowing that you have access to communication even when everything else is going wrong. That’s the most significant benefit to owning a handheld ham radio.
All of the handheld ham radios on the list above are considered the best on the market. They all offer various features, are powerful, easy to use, and durable, which allows you to use your ham radio to its full potential.