9 Best Mobile Ham Radios of 2020
It’s night, probably the darkest one you’ve ever seen so far. But all of a sudden, you’ve understood that darkness is not the only thing that’s waiting to scare the hell out of you. It’s your flat tires and and ‘No signal’ sign on your phone. As a bonus, you’re in the middle of nowhere. So you’ve got no chances of getting help.
Now, rewind the clock once more. Go back to the same situation and think you’ve got one of the best mobile ham radios right on the top of your truck’s dashboard. All you had to do is call at the right channel for help, and before you know it, your best buddy showed up with his tow truck.
Missing having a Ham radio already? Don’t, because today we’re going to tell you about the best Ham radios you can think to grab in the first place.
Benefits of Ham Radios
If you’re buying things that don’t even worth it, then congratulations, you’ve served yourself with junks. But we can feel that you’re serious this time and want a real piece of tech. As you’re here for your Ham radio, then let me clear that why and how grabbing one of those are going to get you benefitted.
Disasters aren’t going to ask for your permission before striking in. When they do, then there’s a good chance that you won’t be hearing from anyone any sooner. But when you’ve got a Ham radio right within your reach, you won’t have to worry twice about getting connected.
A tech feels like pure sweetness when you don’t need to put a lot of effort into setting it up. Count a Ham or amateur radio in that list too. Because setting it up is easy taking a walk in the park.
One of the best things about the Ham radios is, wherever you want them to be, they can be there. Thanks to their lightweight and portable feature that has made that possible. No matter where you go, you won’t have to leave them back in your home anyway.
9 Best Mobile Ham Radios Review
What to choose, why to choose and how to choose - all these questions of yours are standing on the verge of their answer. Once you check out these fantastic radios we’re going to tell you about, we bet you’ll return with one of your best radios so far.
1. BTECH Mobile UV-50X2
These days most of the mobile radios are designed in a way where looking at them gives you feeling like staring at some heebie-jeebies. But BTech thought of breaking that tradition with the simplest design, their UV-50X2.
BTECH knows that you’re not here for the look only. So, they’ve filled it up with some impressive features as well, and that starts with the power settings. Now, it doesn’t matter if you want to keep it at low (10W) or high (50W); it can play up to the mark in both ways.
And the frequency range? They’ve kept that bar high as well with the 65-108 MHz. But that’s only for commercial FM radio reception. However, if you take your eyes to the VHF, then you’re going to get simply 136-174 MHz(Rx/Tx). Along with that, they kept the sound quality at a superb level.
Don’t think this dual-band radio has forgotten about the UHF. The range will be stunningly at 400-520 MHz(Rx/Tx), enough to make you fall in love with it. And for a better radio experience, you’ve got the Narrowband (Narrow)/ Broad (Wide) selectable option available here as well.
But the best part is yet to come. No, it’s not the 200 programmable memory channels we’re pointing at. It’s the adding and deleting option that you’re going to get on this one. In order to save you from the mess, this piece will do it for you without even any software.
To finish off your days of sticking to a single-channel, BTECH gave it the LCD screen with nine colors. Now, if you want to have eyes on two channels at once, that isn’t going to be a problem anymore.
For making the UV-50X2 as their finest, BTECH filled it up with tons of features that can blow your mind. Auto Power-Off Function, Settings for Channel Mode Editing, Auto Scan – you just name it, and this dark goblin owns it.
2. Kenwood TM-V71A
You might have already understood that we believe the Kenwood steps in only to create nothing but the best. After all, you’ve already met one of their finest. But now they’ve thought of bringing something more capable, and they’ve named it the TM-V71A.
Are you among those who think that power output can make radios better in every way? Don’t worry; you won’t be disappointed with the TM-V71A then. Its 50W power output has made it one of the most powerful radios out there. You can even put it at a high, low, or medium output level anytime you want.
And the number of multifunction memory channels? Kenwood has kept it 1000 once again. But what if you need to receive two different frequencies on the same band? Well, Kenwood got that covered for you too. Yes, we’re talking about the VHF X VHF and UHF X UHF here.
How would you’ve felt if you have more that one operating profile in your radio? It would’ve made everything so easy if you could’ve jumped to one from another without taking a headache of altering your current one. Then get ready to have it all at once because TM-V71A has five entire operating profiles for you.
You’re thinking to grab a Ham radio to deal with the naturally odd situations as well, right? Then you’re literally going to thank for the Weather Alert feature on this one. It can not only receive NOAA Weather Band for you but also respond to emergency catastrophic situations.
To save you from the color boredom, Kenwood has given it a touch of color once again. So they’ve given it a wide invertible LCD screen with the color options of Amber and Green.
3. ICOM IC-2730A
Some of the radio manufacturers claim that they sell solutions to your problems. But when you look at the IC-2730A of ICOM, you’ll believe that they’re not building solutions, but excellence too.
The first thing they’ve focused on is power output. With its 5m 10 and 50W power output, you can easily break the power limits of its competitors. Moreover, to make your reach to the farthest, it comes with the 118-174 and 375-550 MHZ frequency range. Now no one is too far anymore for you.
It looks like keeping the number of channels in 1000 was giving ICOM the feeling of being too common. So, they’ve made that number 1052. Now you can have more memory channels than all those regular radios that you see around.
For adding a new feather to its versatility, ICOM made this one with the ability to receive UHF-UHF, VHF-UHF, and VHF-VHF frequencies. To get you expanded visibility even in the lowest light, it comes with a bright LCD screen. Now you can check out all the settings and channels clear as a day, every single time.
Want to know something more interesting? It can go to a wireless mode through Bluetooth. All you need is to get the UT-137 board installed. Once you’re done there, the Bluetooth headset will get you the wireless control over the IC-2730A. The PTT and three programmable buttons will help you out with that.
And yes, it comes with the VOX operation as well. So, in case you need a hands-free communication, that’ll back you up. But what if you accidentally hit any button? Well, that’s why ICOM gave it a keypad lock to prevent that.
4. ICOM IC-2300H
It looks like ICOM just can’t help to give their best shot whenever it comes to making Ham radios; otherwise, why they would’ve made something amazing again like the IC-2300H amateur radio. They’ve filled the tech with tons of features that can simply leave you amazed every time.
As ICOM has rocked the world of radios before, they know their way through. So, they’ve started with power again. This time they’ve thought of taking a bit higher with the 65W output. If you lately thought that 50W is a high bar, then what you’d say about this one?
To give it the touch of perfection, the ICOM has added a decent frequency coverage on this one. You’ll get 136-174 MHz on the receive and 144-148 MHz on the transmit part. So, from now on, the wide areas aren’t going to be a big deal for you to cover anymore.
Keeping the operation easy has always been the thing of ICOM. Fortunately, they’ve maintained that over here as well with their simple user interface and easy-to-read LCD screen. Looking for some extra spice in the story? Well, you can change the display color between amber and green.
Along with ensuring high-quality sound with superb clarity, the number of alpha-numeric memory channels is adequate for any average user. So, if you’re not trying to connect to Mars, these 207 channels will perform perfectly.
Having a multiple scan option is like a blessing as you’re going to need a variety of them depending on the situation. ICOM decided not to deprive you of them and added a full scan, programmed scan, bank scan, skip scan, memory scan, tone scan, DMS, and priority scan.
To make it a bit more interesting and efficient as a com tech, ICOM included the weather alert feature on this one. So, if you need to know what kind of harshness the weather is waiting ahead with before it hits you, this will bring in all the updates you need to know.
5. Yaesu FT-8900R
There’re two kinds of people in this world. One buys junk with the money, and the other goes for the real deal. If you’re on the second list, then FT-8900R from Yaesu is probably what you’re looking for. After all, you want nothing but the best performance, right?
Being easy to use doesn’t make a radio a better one. There’s more to it like the power and frequency range. Yeasu thought of giving it all in one, the FT-8900R. They’ve made it capable of delivering an output level of 35 Watt on 430 MHz. But when it’s the 29/50/144 MHz, you’ll get an amazing output level of 50W.
If you want 28-29.7 MHz or 50-54 MHz, it got this in. 50-54 MHz or 108-180 MHz? No problem. Want to go a bit higher like 300-480 MHz or 700-985 MHz? This quad-band operation radio got all of it under its wings. So, all you have to do is just name the number.
But what about the number of channels? Is it any good? Well, with the 800+ channels, we don’t think you’re going to have any problems on that part, especially when it’s enriched with different programming options.
Are you missing having a personal predictor of the bad weather? Then let the FT-8900R fill that gap up for you. You can have access to a ton of weather channels with it and get all the alerts before falling into a bad situation. Sounds like a perfect catch, doesn’t it?
Wait for a second! The final surprise is still on its way. It’s the Two-Channel Operation of the FT-8900R we’re talking about. Due to being truly independent on that part, now you can have two radios in one. Now you can cut off your budget on buying two radios at once, with a smiley face, of course.
6. Yaesu FTM-3200DR
Again, Yaesu knows how to make you fall in love with their techs. Because they understand your necessities and what you’re looking for. So to show that off a bit, they’ve brought another amazing piece with the name FTM-3200DR.
Yeasu earlier thought that having a transmitter powerful as 50W is enough for radio communication. It seems they’ve changed their mind and thought to get you something better. So, this time they’ve taken it to 65W. Even in the toughest situation, nothing can stop you from pushing your voice to a longer distance.
And in the question of the frequency range, it can beat a lot of the regular radios in the race. On the transmitting, its range is 144 - 148 MHz and 136 - 174 MHz on receiving. With this kind of range, connecting anyone you want will be easy as pie.
But what about the sound quality? Does it do any good? Thanks to its front panel speaker, that can get you nothing but crystal clear and loud audio. All those junks with blurry sounds will feel like a useless box once you bring this one in.
Now answer a question first, what do you do to recognize if the transmission you’re getting is analog or digital? To make that easier than ever, FTM-3200DR offers the AMS or the Automatic Mode Select option. This is also the same feature that makes the radio switch to the right mode accordingly.
One of the good things about Yeasu is they never build a tech without getting it some unique feature. No, it’s no the 220 memory channels we’re talking about. On this one, they’ve added the Digital Group Monitor or GM function. It’s a way to check out the presence of registered group members within a certain range.
7. Kenwood TM-281A
So, you’re planning to settle down with nothing but the sturdiest piece in the market? Well, then Kenwood has added one of them on their list lately that probably will match to all your required criteria for sure. Yes, you’ve guessed it right, it’s the TM-281A that we’ve added to our list this time.
Thanks to its rugged and compact design for making it sustain any kind of rough tracks, you’ll take your ride through. But Kenwood is not a brand that focuses on the exterior only. So, they’ve taken the RF power at 65W, which is higher than almost any regular radio you’d like to have in the wilderness or anywhere else.
But a mobile radio is of no use if it can’t get you the message with the perfect clarity. So, to take care of that part, TM-281A comes with a large oval speaker in the front. The sound quality is so clear on that one, you’ll forget about all of your old junks that you used to call a radio.
Now, rather than getting stuck in fewer channels, you can take a leap to wider frequencies with the 200 channels and one call channel. As it has the memory name function, you can identify 100 of them with six alphanumeric characters.
What if you need to go far a scan to track down the right frequency? Well, let the multiple scan functions deal with that. Thanks to its DCS and CTCSS encoder/decoder function, now you can keep all the incoming conversations separate.
8. TYT TH-9800 PLUS
It’s time to wrap up our review part with something more interesting, more unique. What about the TH-9800 PLUS from TYT? TYT poured almost every bit of perfection that you’d like to have on your next radio. Let’s check out what this one actually got in its bag.
To put it in the row of the best quad-band radio, TYT gave it more than enough power along with the perfect frequency range. On the VHF transmission, you can get 5 to 50W of huge power there. But when you try the same on the UHF, there’s no way for you to be disappointed with its humongous 40W of power.
And thinking about the frequency range? We don’t think you can get anything but the finest performance with its 26 – 33 MHz, 47 – 54 MHz, 136 – 174 MHz, and 400 – 480 MHz.
TYT knows how irritating it makes you feel when you have to get stuck with only a few channels. So, they’ve thought of bringing change to that with their 809 memory channels. You might be thinking, what’s new to that? Well, with independent settings, you’ve got the power to alter them the way you want.
Nowhere in the manual, TYT said that you’d get everything ready as a complete dish. But don’t think that they haven’t kept the door of programming open for you. Interestingly, you can program it manually and through a computer as well. So, if things are not going in your way, you can just turn the flow in your favor.
9. Kenwood TM-D710G
The first one that has hit our list of bests is the TM-D710G from Kenwood. This piece is built to get you rid every bit of communicational uncertainty, even in the oddest situations. Want to know how? Then let’s start exploring what this bad boy is holding within.
If you’re roaming disappointed looking for authentic dual-band radio but not getting any, then TM-D710G is here to save you. This amazing tech allows you to receive from VHF+VHF/VHF+UHF/UHF+UHF. It is something thing that you’re not going to get in every amateur radio.
Kenwood has taken their best strike is on the number of channels on this one. Any guess here? Well, the number of multifunctional channels this piece has within is 1000!
But the most surprising part is its five independent operation profiles. Now you can jump into any of them whenever you want, and you won’t even have to end up in screwing the settings anymore.
Are you looking for a wide reception part here? Well, this powerful 50 Watt radio has nailed that too with a receive coverage of 118-524MHz. Then it skips to the 800-1300 MHz, which, by the way, excludes the cellular-blocked frequencies. Through the invertible color display, you’ll get to check it all out at once.
The independent volume and squelch knob with the programmable function keys will be there to make the operation more comfortable than ever. And when you’re done with it all, the automatic shut off system will save you from the hassle of shutting on/off manually.
Like your personal tracking device, this one ain’t going to get you lost. Thanks to its built-in GPS that has made that possible. Like a cherry on the top, Kenwood has included the Target Point function in this one. This way, you can see your target location’s distance and direction accurately in real-time.
But what about the time itself? Not in every place you go it is going to stay stuck at the same time due to different time zones. Don’t worry, the Automatic time adjustment function in the TM-D710G will be there to fix that up for you.
Features to Look for Before Buying a Ham Radio
Doesn’t it look too simple to get a Ham radio? Yes, it does, especially when you love throwing stones in the dark. But if you think a bit more clearly rather than fretting, then you’ll understand there’s more to focus on before swiping your card.
However, don’t worry, we’re here for you. All you need to do is just check out some particular aspects of a Ham radio if you want to reach a better decision on that part. Here they are –
You don’t want to limit your radio with a lower range, right? Then don’t even think about getting a radio that offers a lower power output. If you really want to push your voice to a farther location, then go for something that has at least 35 Watts of power output.
Nevertheless, you’ll get to see some radios even up to 50 or 50+ Watts as well. Try to pick one of them in order to make it farther.
The next thing you need to put your eyes on is the frequency range - the higher, the better. Try to pick the one with a dual-band feature to have the maximum convenience because they’re what can help you out when you need to monitor more than one frequency at once.
If we’re not guessing wrong, then you’re probably not thinking about sticking to one single frequency for the whole time, right? In that case, you’re going to need a good number of memory channels to store a ton of frequencies. So, before you go for the purchase, check if the radio is offering enough memory channels or not.
You’re not planning to play blind here, do you? If not, then check out if the one you’re putting your hands on has an LCD screen that doesn’t compromise on the visual quality. It’ll be better if it has an illuminated keypad. That’ll make things easier for you to read.
The weather is not going to be your friend all the time. So, before you fall into the wrath of it, check out if the radio you’re buying has the weather alert feature or not.
Getting the right frequency depends on how good the radio is with its scanning function. But finding the right one can be tricky at times. So, it’ll be better if you can grab one with multiple scan functions, especially full scan, programmed scan, memory scan, ban scan, etc.
You’ll get to see a lot of the Ham radios that you can program manually. But before getting excited and buying one, check how the programming actually functions. Some of them can be programmed through the keypads and some through a computer. Choose the second one if you want it to be less-hassling.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it important to get a license for using Ham radio?
Yes, you do. If you need to use the radio legally, then you better get a license from the FCC.
2. How many types of licenses are there for Ham radio?
Basically, there’re three types of radio licenses you can apply for. The first one is the Technician License, the second one is the General License, and the last one on that list is the Amateur-extra License.
3. What type of radio is required for short-distance communication?
The VHF/UHF radio should be enough for such kind of communication. But make sure it has enough power like 3-5 Watts.
4. What is the major difference between handheld and mobile radio?
The two significant differences between these two are power and portability. You’ll find the handheld one is comparatively more portable and the mobile radio is more powerful.
5. What squelch feature does on a mobile radio?
Noise is one of the major drawbacks in the case of radio communication. So, squelch minimizes the noise to a higher extent to keep the communication clear and annoyance free.
Radio communications are never free of challenges. But when you’re choosing the wrong tech to do so, you can be sure that you’ve just pushed difficulty level from rookie to pro. However, to get you out of there, we’ve tried to give you some useful suggestions on the best mobile ham radios.
Now it’s on you, which one you’re going to put on your dashboard and make every bit of your communication clear as a day.