If you’re into survival stuff or need something for emergency purposes, a HAM radio can turn out to be a very useful tool. But as all of them are not designed with emergency or survival needs in mind, you need to get very specific here.
However, if you’re reading this, then you don’t have to do anything as we have done all the hard work for you and reviewed the 5 best handheld (or portable) HAM radios for survival.
Best Handheld HAM Radios for Survival
Here are our survival handheld HAM radio reviews.
The BaoFeng UV-82HP is an excellent option especially if you’re on a budget. It supports NOAA weather alerts too, and also has a bright LED flashlight on the top.
It comes with 3 power levels, with the maximum power output being an impressive 8 watts. It’s also easy to program and supports dual band operation. It offers a lot of versatility too with a wide range of features like an emergency alarm, FM radio, ability to monitor two channels or frequencies at once, and supporting different calling methods.
The display is easy to read and the button layout is neat and well-organized. The build quality doesn’t leave anything to be desired as well making it a perfect survival radio option too.
- Supports NOAA weather alerts and has a bright LED flashlight
- Comes with 3 power levels with the max output being 8 watts
- Dual band radio with lots of features, great battery life and impressive versatility
- Supports manual programming using the keypad
- Can be a bit tricky to program
2. Yaesu FT-60R
The Yaesu FT-60R isn’t labeled as an emergency radio but it has everything you will need in a HAM radio for survival. It supports NOAA weather alerts and emergency channels in the 800 to 900 MHz range. Furthermore, it boasts a fairly large frequency range when it comes to receiving, which makes it an even better option for survival purpose.
In addition, it also comes with 3 transmit power levels and over one thousand memory channels. It’s also a dual band handheld HAM radio.
The power output is 5 watts but it would suffice for survival purpose. There are also many other features like an alphanumeric display, lock mode to prevent accidental changes, and a solid build quality. It’s also easy to program.
- Dual band radio with a large frequency range
- Supports both NOAA weather alerts and many useful emergency channels
- Very functional with 3 transmit power levels
- Great build quality
- Small keypad
3. Kaito KA500
The Kaito KA500 is one of the highest-rated weather and emergency HAM radios, and that’s for a reason. It’s amazingly functional with 5-way power and can even be powered by solar power, which is great especially at this price. It’s not a handheld radio but is fairly portable.
It works well both as a crank radio and a flashlight, so it will definitely turn out to be an incredibly useful tool for survival. It doesn’t have any issues picking up pretty much every weather bands out there, as well as even the local and shortwave radio bands.
The sound is good enough too, and the light is sufficiently bright. What’s more, it can also charge your mobile phone to some extent if need be, and is also built very well overall.
- Fantastic functionality with 6-way power, including solar power as well
- Picks up all types of weather, shortwave and local bands
- Good sound, bright light, and solid build quality
- Charges your phone to some extent
- You do need to check it periodically to make sure it’s still working, as it can stop working if left unused for too long
The RunningSnail is another great option that’s particularly designed to be an emergency radio although not exactly a typical handheld radio. It supports the NOAA weather alerts and other emergency weather alerts for emergencies like tornadoes, hurricanes and so on.
Its 1W LED flashlight works great when you land yourself in completely dark conditions in survival situations. It also works as a 2000mAh powerbank that can be charged using multiple sources like hand crank, USB charging, using 3 AAA batteries and even with solar power.
It can charge your devices like smartphones as well, and also features an SOS alarm with a bright red light to ask for help or warn others.
- Specifically designed to be an emergency and survival HAM radio and works great at that
- Supports a wide range of emergency channels
- The flashlight is bright and works well
- Multiple charging options including solar power and ability to charge your smartphone
- The battery life isn’t very impressive, so you will need to carry a considerable number of AAA batteries for survival situations
The BaoFeng BF-F8HP is another option from BaoFeng that would serve your purpose well if you’re looking for a useful survival radio. It allows you to hit a lot of local repeaters easily, even if you’re at a considerable distance from them. It also comes with a built-in flashlight.
It’s surprisingly easy to use and program, and supports both the CHIRP and the BaoFeng software. It’s a dual band radios and allows you to access many different bands, including the weather band and the maritime band. Of course, it supports the NOAA weather station as well.
It’s built very well and shouldn’t have any problem being resistant to rough survival conditions.
- Allows you to hit local repeaters easily and even at long distances
- Very easy to use and program with both CHIRP and the BaoFeng software as your programming options
- Supports NOAA weather station and the weather band
- Great build quality
- You would have to reprogram it when using in the US especially if you’re also going to use it as a general HAM radio
Survival Handheld HAM Radio Buyer’s Guide
While there’s a plethora of handheld HAM radios on the market, only a small percentage of them are fit to be used for survival purposes. While we have made it much easier for you to choose the right one for your needs by reviewing the 5 best HAM radios for survival above, it doesn’t hurt to understand what are some of the main factors to consider when making your choice here.
Remember that you’re not buying a HAM radio here for using it as a general HAM radio or just for communication. You’re buying it for survival purposes, and that’s the reason the weather functionality is going to be very important.
So look for a radio that supports weather stations and alerts, particularly the NOAA weather alerts, which all of our reviewed radios do.
It can be hard to manage to manage a flashlight AND a HAM radio together when in survival situations, so it can be a great help if your HAM radio comes with a flashlight.
All of our reviewed radios except the Yaesu FT-60R come with a flashlight, and some of them have a very bright light that will easily and fully light up the darkest of conditions. So if the flashlight is important to you avoid the FT-60R and go with one of the other 4 options.
The more functional your HAM radio (with respect to their “emergency” features), the better it will serve you during a survival situation.
And when it comes to emergency radios in particular, the good ones support quite a few charging options including solar power, making it great for really demanding survival situations. In addition, they also allow you to charge your smartphone to some extent, which can again turn out to be very useful.