It never hurts to prepare for the worst in life. In fact, it has become almost a necessity these days with most areas in the world – particularly the United States – being prone to different types of natural or even manmade disaster and emergency situations.
Relying on your cell phone is probably the worst thing you can do in such a situation. But there are few things that could turn out to be more useful than a HAM radio.
A HAM radio doesn’t have the kind of limitations other technologies do. But you must make sure you’re picking one which has the features to be useful enough in emergency and SHTF situations. So without further ado, let’s find out what kind of options you have.
Best HAM Radios for SHTF
Here are our SHTF HAM radio reviews.
The BaoFeng BF-F8HP isn’t exactly the best overall HAM radio for SHTF, but taking the price factor into consideration it would be the perfect option for most users. There are many users buying this radio for survival and emergency purposes due to its reliability and rock-solid durability, among other factors.
It’s a dual band radio and supports the weather band as well as the maritime band. It pulls in weather stations like the NOAA Weather station extremely well and pretty quickly. The programming is surprisingly easy too and you would be able to program all the weather bands (as well as many other bands) in like less than 30 minutes.
The power output is 8 watts which is more than enough, and the ease of use is great so you don’t have to be an experienced HAM to use this radio.
- Reliable, rock-solid radio
- Supports all weather bands which can be easily programmed
- Great price
- 8 watts power output
- You may have to preprogram it when using in the US and not be able to use it right out of the box
2. Yaesu FT-60R
This is another great HAM radio for SHTF situations, but it’s much more functional than the one we reviewed above, which also reflects in the price difference. It’s a dual band radio too with different scan modes, alphanumeric display, great receiving and transmitting ability, useful locking mode, one thousand memory channels and much more.
The power output is 5 watts but it wouldn’t be a problem in SHTF situations. It supports NOAA weather alerts and many other weather bands as well. Many users have bought it for emergency situations and are perfectly satisfied with it. A particular user mentioned how it worked for them surprisingly well during an F4 tornado situation where there was no power or other communication.
This radio still received the NOAA weather alerts for them as well as continued to transmit on shortwave just as well. Easy to program and well-built, the Yaesu FT-60R is easily one of the best HAM radios for preppers and emergency situations.
- Impressively functional dual band radio
- Supports NOAA weather alerts and many other weather bands
- Receives weather updates as well as transmits surprisingly well in emergency situations
- Great build quality and easy to use and program
- The keypad is a bit on the smaller side
If you’re on a tight budget and looking for something even cheaper than the BF-F8HP for your SHTF preparations, then the BaoFeng UV5RA would be right up your alley. It’s surprisingly that despite its super cheap price tag it manages to offer dual band performance, emergency alarm, LED flashlight and a great overall functionality.
The power output is 7 watts which is again great for the price, and the UV5RA boasts great weather and emergency functionality. In fact, in a real emergency situation you’re allowed to transmit on any band with no restrictions whatsoever, and you can do that with this radio.
The build quality is great and this radio is easy to use and program.
- Surprisingly cheap yet amazingly functional
- Great weather and emergency functionality
- Comes with an LED flashlight and emergency alarm
- Solid build quality and easy programming
At this price we don’t want to complain about minor things especially for what you’re getting with this beast of a HAM radio.Check Price on Amazon
4. Kaito KA500
The Kaito KA500 is particularly designed for emergency use only, and works great at that. There’s NOAA weather alerts, AM/FM/SW functionality, 5-way powering options including solar power, flashlight, reading lamp, ability to charge your phone and much more.
A particular user mentioned how it got them through a hurricane, which speaks volumes about the real usefulness of this radio in an SHTF situation. Picks up the local and weather bands surprisingly well even in disaster situations.
- Specifically designed for emergency and SHTF situations
- 5-way powering options including solar power
- Ability to charge your cell phone
- Picks up weather and emergency bands well during a disaster situation too
- The performance isn’t as good on shortwave as it is on other bands
For someone looking for something well beyond a basic HAM radio for SHTF situations, the Kenwood TH-D74A would make a great choice. It’s pricey, but it makes up for the price difference with its advanced functionality.
The APRS and KISS functionality is amazing if you’re also looking to use for general HAM purposes and not just SHTF situations, there’s built-in GPS function, D-Star performance, bluetooth 3.0, advanced recording capabilities and much, much more.
It covers AM, FM, and CB stations as well, and of course also the weather stations with a weather alert function. It’s also a triband radio and operates over the 144/220/430 MHz bands, which can definitely turn out to be useful in SHTF situations. The build quality is impressive and weatherproof.
- Amazingly advanced functionality with APRS, KISS, built-in GPS and much more
- Triband radio with great performance all-round
- Picks up weather stations really well, and has a weather alert function
- Great weatherproof build quality
- Very pricey
SHTF HAM Radio Buyer’s Guide
As we have already reviewed the best HAM radios for SHTF situations in detail, let us just quickly go through the features your HAM radio must have.
- Must at least be a dual band radio, so that you can not just receive but also transmit to authorities that can help you
- Must be very durable to not get damaged during such a situation
- Must pick up the weather and emergency stations easily
- Must be good at both receiving and transmitting
- NOAA weather alerts are a great plus
- Ease of programming and use never hurts, especially if you’re new to the HAM technology
- Additional useful features like flashlight, memory channels, alphanumeric display and so on never hurt