Best Handheld Ham Radio

Looking for the best handheld ham radio means finding a device that embodies reliability and versatility. Whether new to ham radio or a seasoned operator, having a dependable handheld ham radio is crucial for staying connected in various scenarios.

The market offers a range of options, each with unique features and capabilities, making it challenging to choose the right fit for your needs. Let’s explore the top contenders in the market to help you make an informed decision based on their strengths and weaknesses.

What to Consider when Buying Best handheld ham radio

When purchasing the best handheld ham radio, it’s essential to consider its versatility, features, and technical specifications. Below, we elaborate on factors to consider.

Versatility and Features

When choosing a handheld ham radio, consider the frequency ranges it covers and its signal clarity. An adjustable or replaceable antenna is essential for optimal performance. Memory channels store frequently used frequencies.

Dual-band capability allows communication on different ham radio bands. Consider the size, weight, battery life, and charging options for extended use.

These features will help you choose a handheld ham radio that meets your needs and preferences.

Technical Specifications

When choosing a handheld ham radio, it’s essential to consider its frequency range coverage, power output, and modulation modes.

The frequency range coverage determines the bands you can access for communication, so look for a radio with a wide coverage to access different frequencies.

The power output affects the signal strength, so consider your communication range requirements when selecting a radio.

Modulation modes like amplitude modulation (AM) and frequency modulation (FM) offer versatility in communication, so make sure the radio supports these modes.

Additionally, look for a clear LCD for easy viewing, a quality speaker for clear audio, a reliable microphone for transmitting, a frequency knob for easy tuning, and a responsive power button for quick activation.

These technical specifications will ensure that your handheld ham radio meets your communication needs.

Price Range

Handheld ham radios can vary in cost based on their features, brand, and capabilities. You should establish a budget and identify the essential features for your needs.

Additionally, consider whether the radio includes a battery pack and charging cradle or if these need to be purchased separately. Popular models like the Yaesu FT-3DR and Icom IC-V86 offer a range of prices, so it’s essential to compare their features and capabilities within your budget.

It’s also wise to factor in potential future expenses for accessories or upgrades when evaluating the overall cost of the handheld ham radio.

Portability and Ease of Use

When choosing the best handheld ham radio, focus on finding a device that combines easy portability with user-friendly features that fit your needs and budget. Look for a portable amateur radio that’s compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry around.

The radio should have intuitive controls and a simple interface for hassle-free operation. It should also allow quick and easy frequency adjustments to ensure seamless communication.

Additionally, prioritize a pocket ham radio with a durable and compact design, making it ideal for outdoor adventures or emergencies where portability is critical.

Ultimately, a handheld transceiver that’s lightweight and straightforward to use will ensure effective communication while on the move.

Purpose-Specific Recommendations

When choosing a handheld ham radio, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and environment.

If you’re looking for a compact radio for hiking or outdoor activities, prioritize a VHF/UHF handheld radio with a rugged build and long-lasting battery.

For emergency communication or disaster preparedness, look for a personal radio communicator with reliable signal coverage and a simple manual instruction guide.

The intended use of your HT radio will significantly influence the features you prioritize, such as waterproofing, frequency range, and power output.

Understanding your specific requirements will help you decide when selecting a handheld ham radio that best fits your needs and the environment in which you’ll be using it.


When selecting the best handheld ham radio, it’s essential to consider the specific needs and environment.

Brands like Yaesu, Kenwood, and BaoFeng offer various models with different features and capabilities. For instance, the Kenwood TH-DA, BaoFeng UV-R, and Wouxun KG-UVd are noteworthy models.

Each model has unique attributes such as frequency range, power output, durability, and ease of use.

Depending on budget and technical requirements, the AnyTone AT-DUV and Elecraft KX are also worth exploring.

Evaluating these models based on your requirements will help you find the best fit for your handheld ham radio communication needs.

Best handheld ham radio Reviews

The best handheld ham radio is the Yaesu FT-3DR. It stands out for its top-notch performance, offering a wide frequency range, making it suitable for various communication needs.

1. Yaesu FT-3DR: Best Handheld Ham Radio

For amateur radio enthusiasts seeking advanced features and reliable performance, the Yaesu FT-3DR handheld ham radio stands out as the top choice. Its high-resolution, full-color touch-screen display offers easy access to many functions. The radio’s built-in GPS and APRS support enable real-time location sharing and messaging. Dual-band operation provides flexibility in communication.

The durable construction ensures resilience in outdoor use, and Bluetooth capabilities allow for hands-free operation and data transfer. The Yaesu FT-3DR is a top-tier option, delivering exceptional functionality and performance for communication needs.

Best For: Amateur radio enthusiasts prioritizing advanced features and reliable performance.


  • High-resolution, full-color touch-screen display
  • Built-in GPS and APRS support
  • Dual-band operation for communication flexibility


  • It may have a higher price point compared to other handheld ham radios.

2. Kenwood TH-D74A: Best Frequency Range

Looking for a versatile handheld ham radio with an extensive frequency range and advanced digital transceiver capabilities? The Kenwood TH-D74A is the top choice. This tri-band radio covers the 144/220/430 MHz frequency bands, enabling diverse operations like simplex communications, single repeater relay, and inter-repeater gateway communications. Its wide frequency coverage supports local and international communications, leveraging D-STAR and APRS technologies.

The Kenwood TH-D74A is equipped to harness the latest developments in radio communications, making it perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and amateur radio operators seeking adaptability in their handheld ham radio.

Best For: Outdoor enthusiasts and amateur radio operators seeking a handheld ham radio with versatile frequency coverage and advanced digital transceiver capabilities.


  • Wide frequency coverage for diverse operations
  • Advanced digital transceiver capabilities with D-STAR and APRS support
  • Excellent visibility on the display during the day and night


  • It may require additional investment in compatible accessories.

3. BaoFeng UV-5R: Budget Option

The BaoFeng UV-5R handheld ham radio is a versatile entry-level option for amateur radio communication. It offers affordability and functionality, making it a popular choice for beginners.

The radio features a wide frequency range and customizable channel names, providing flexibility in communication. It’s legal for use on amateur frequencies and supports common analog tones.

Some users have reported sound or programming issues, but many appreciate its value for money, versatility, and ease of use.

4. Icom ID-51A PLUS2: Most Portable

The Icom ID-51A PLUS2 exemplifies portability, weighing only 255g with the battery pack and antenna. Its compact body, measuring 58x105x26.4 mm, makes it highly portable. This handheld ham radio offers V/V, U/U, V/U Dualwatch, and D-STAR DV Mode.

It also features DR Mode Operation, DV and FM Repeater Search Functions, and an integrated GPS receiver. Its IPX7 submersible construction ensures durability in various environments. Optional accessories, such as the long-lasting battery pack and direct rapid charging, add convenience for on-the-go use.

Whether hiking, camping, or engaging in outdoor activities, the Icom ID-51A PLUS2 ensures reliable communication in a portable package.

5. Yaesu VX-6R : Best for Outdoor Use

The Yaesu VX-6R handheld ham radio is a reliable and durable communication device for outdoor enthusiasts.

Yaesu is a well-respected brand known for premium quality ham radios, and the VX-6R upholds this tradition.

Its compact design and rugged construction make it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, or emergency preparedness.

The radio’s waterproof construction ensures reliable communication in harsh weather conditions, making it perfect for outdoor use.

Additionally, it offers advanced features for dependable communication, making it a top choice for outdoor enthusiasts who require a reliable handheld ham radio for their adventures.

Navick Ogutu
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Navick Ogutu
Navick Ogutu

- Hiking
- Birdwatching
- CB Radios
- Ham Radio
- Rock Climbing
- Skiing

Avid hiker and hiking enthusiast based in Nairobi, Kenya with over 20 years of experience exploring the country's most famous trails and natural wonders.

Navick has hiked extensively across Kenya, traversing renowned trails like Mount Kenya, the Aberdare Ranges, Hell's Gate National Park, and the Maasai Mara.

He provides hiking expertise on topics like outdoor skills, wildlife spotting, safety, and employing leave no trace principles.

Navick studied Urban and Regional Planning at The Technical University of Kenya.

A Note from Navick
"I want to share awe-inspiring landscapes, slopes, and products for hiking, rock climbing, bird-watching and skiing--not just in Kenya but globally."

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