A Review & Comparison of The Top Ham Radios For a Preppers and Survivalists

Outdoors Magazine is reader-supported. When you buy through links on this site, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

Being able to communicate in an emergency is a “must have” if you want to be able to protect yourself and your family when TSHTF. As a “survivalist” or “prepper” as we’re being called now, we cannot simply grab a cheap handheld GMRS/FRS radio from Walmart and to check the communications box.

You know the ones I’m talking about don’t you? Those little plastic things you buy for twenty bucks from the sporting goods section. Sure they’re fine as a toy for your kid, but I don’t know why people would be ok with one of those if their lives are going to depend on it.

If you do decide to go for the cheap handheld radio option, then whatever radio you use, please take them out and use them in a practical test environment and see how far they get you. I imagine that most of you would be utterly disappointed at their performance and you would rethink your plan to rely on them in an SHTF situation.

What you need is a ham radio that is suitable for preppers.

Why Should You Listen To me?

I’m a ham radio operator of 10+ years, so I’ve been through my fair share of equipment. I’m also active in the survivalist community, I frequent the forums and above all, I have first hand working knowledge of most, if not all of the products I am going to recommend to you today.

Parts of this article may cross over into the gray side of the legalities, but when your ass is on the line, that will be the last of your worries. Now, this is what I would recommend for survival purposes:

  • You do not need a license to buy one of these ham radios.
  • You do need a license to legally talk on them.

I would highly recommend to anyone interested in preparing for survival situations, to get a ham license because it’s not just about getting the license, but in the process of getting said license, you will learn a lot about the science of how the radio works on the inside.

Now don’t let this scare you, you don’t have to be a genius to do it. I studied for a whole two days and went and passed the test, so if I can do it, so can you. So I highly suggest everyone go get their license, it’s fun too and you’ll meet a lot of people.

Why Ham Radio?

In ham radio, there are radio clubs out there which specialize in prepping & survivalist stuff, and there’s a huge network of people to help you if you get stuck.

The main reason you should opt for a ham radio is that they are about 10 times more powerful than these handheld ‘toy radios’ that you see in sporting goods stores. Ham radios also have a removable antenna which means we interchange the antenna should we need something a little more powerful. For example, a telescopic antenna that’s a little over three feet long gets me many times the range of the standard rubber duck antenna.

The main benefit I wanted to tell you about today, however, is to do with the radio itself. The ham-radio that I would suggest you buy for the purpose of survival in an emergency situation is the Eton – Elite 750.

Now, when it comes to comms in an emergency, you want to be able to communicate with your family, friends, neighbors or prepper community. Therefore I recommend that you have a pair of the Eton – Elite 750‘s because in an emergency you’re going to need one and so it the other person.

It’s no use you having the best ham radio for preppers and them having a cheap crappy toy that will drop reception when you need it the most. So be sure to grab two of these beauties, they could save your life one day.

Personally, I have one and one for my wife to use as well, and here’s where we get into the gray area of legality.

It is perfectly legal to modify your radio to transmit outside of amateur radio bands. Now the Eton – Elite 750 is a dual band radio, they talk in the 2-meter and 70-centimeter bands (VHF/UHF) and I have modified mine, which you can do yourself as there is plenty of information online.

Simply put, my radio will now be able to talk to a lot more people than it used to when I first bought it. These radios when modded can talk to just about everyone from 136 megahertz to 174 in VHF and up in UHF from 420 to 470.

That is a heck of a lot of bandwidth and most commercial radios are in one of those two bands. So just to clarify, I’m not advocating breaking the law doing what I just mentioned, it could, in fact, be illegal in your state, however, there is a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Legalities of Ham Radio Use in an Emergency

The FCC has a rule that in the event of an emergency you are allowed to do anything you need to do, in order to get help.

Basically, you can do whatever you want with these radios and if you know what you’re doing you can actually get into police repeaters and Fire Department repeaters etc. I would only advocate this in an emergency and to listen only mode, don’t be stupid and mess with people’s lives of course.

If you get a ham license and you get one of these radios and go about it the legit way and modify the radio so that you can get into these other services if you need to, then should the time arise you will be able to get into:

  • GMRS
  • FRS
  • Marine VHF
  • Railroad VHF
  • Military VHF
  • Military UHF
  • Commercial VHF
  • Commercial UHF

So these are an enormously powerful tool folks, and it can get you into enormous trouble as well so I’m not advocating breaking the law but I am advocating being prepared with this radio and to have it properly set up ready for an emergency.

It will, hands down, be the best communications tool you can have and it beats a cell phone as cell phones likely won’t work. I’ve been in many situations where they do not work both caused by natural disaster and actually mostly caused by people panicking and overloading the cell phone system.

So these ham radios are very important, if you’re going to spend the money on radios where your life is going to depend on it, maybe the lives of your family, then do not spend twenty dollars for a pair of cheap mini child junk radios.

The Eton – Elite 750 are close to two hundred dollars each, so you need about four hundred dollars, plus extra for accessories like the antennas and that sort of thing. So plan on five hundred bucks, most people spend more of that on a gun, and in my personal option, a decent ham radio is just as important.

A gun will get you out of immediate danger, but a radio can call up reinforcements and get you out of dodge.

Here are some great ones to try and other great accessories!

Bestseller No. 1
QYT KT-980PLUS 50W Mobile Radio 144-148/420-450mhz Ham Radio Base Station w/Cable
  • [LEGALLY USE]▲▲ Per FCC Guidelines: Operation of an amateur station requires an amateur operator license grant from the FCC. It is ILLEGAL to UNLOCK the radio without permission.
  • I.FCC Certified Amateur Radio: This Mobile Radio comply with Part 15B + Part 97 (FCC ID: 2AV62KT-980PLUS). Frequency: TX: VHF:144-148/ UHF: 420-450MHz, RX: VHF:136-174/ UHF: 400-480MHz. Pleasa use the...
  • II.▲▲☞FONGHOO☜▲▲ Official Distributor of QYT. Inner Cooling Fan, Large LCD Display Design, Easy to use, with free program cables.
  • III.Nice, Solid & Compact Unit, Functional, Programmable & Reliable, Durable Base Station; BIG BANG for your bucks, Great Starter for new hand.
  • IV.Features: Dual Band, Quad Standby, Quad Watch, External Speaker Jacket, Mobile Radio Size: 5.5*6.8*1.7in, Weight: about 2.27lb.
Bestseller No. 2
Solarcon - IMAX-2000 CB/Ham Radio Base Station Vertical Antenna, 24-Feet
  • NOTE : The product use to be IMAX-2000 since 1998, now the product packaging has been updated to MAX-2000
  • Full 5/8 Wave Antenna
  • 24' Antenna in Three 8' Easy to Assemble Sections
  • 5.1dBI Gain
  • Broad Bandwidth that Covers Far Above and Below the Traditional CB Channels
Bestseller No. 3
BTECH Mini UV-25X4 25 Watt Tri-Band Base, Mobile Radio: VHF, 1.25M, UHF Amateur (Ham)
  • What Makes the UV-25X4 Unique: Dual Synchronize Display Mode, Mic Audio Gain Settings, In depth user's guide, Auto Power Off Function, Channel Mode Editing Settings, Auto Scan, Scanning Resume, and...
  • High / Low Power Settings (25W/10W); Frequency Range: 144-148MHz (VHF), 222-225MHz (1.25M), 420-450MHz (UHF); Broad (Wide) / Narrowband (Narrow) Selectable
  • Recommended Accessories: Pair UV-25X4 with the Nagoya TB-320A Antenna (and RB-50 Magnetic Mount) for easy installation. The PC04 FTDI Cable is recommended for easy computer programming
  • Dual Watch monitoring VHF/UHF and 220Mhz: The 220 MHz band antenna lowpass filter is switched with a relay and the 2 meter lowpass filter and 70 cm highpass filters are switched with PIN diodes -...
  • Tribander Mobile Radio Kit Includes: BTECH UV-25X4, Speaker Mic, 6 foot DC Cable with Cigarette Plug Connector, Radio & Mic Brackets, Mounting Hardware, and User Guide
Bestseller No. 4
Yaesu FT-991A Mini-Manual by Nifty Accessories
  • Provides clear descriptions for all controls, setup menus and modes of operation.
  • Simple step-by-step instructions, augmented with useful hints and explanations.
  • Indexed and organized for quick access to what you need by mode of operation.
  • Compact: 4.5 x 8 inches, fits in a map pocket, small enough to be kept with the radio.
  • Program your ham radio wherever you are at. An essential operating accessory!
Bestseller No. 5
Ham Radio (UV-5R) UHF VHF Dual Band 2-Way Radio with Rechargeable Li-ion Battery Handheld Walkie Talkies Complete Set with Earpiece and Programming Cable (4 Pack)
  • RF Power Output: High /Medium /Low Power Switchable, Programmable professional ham Radio Supports Keyboard or PC programming (for Outdoor /Home /Workplace use, etc.)
  • Power Source: Rechargeable 2100 mAh Li-ion Battery, Supports 12-20 Hours continual use, car charger adapter included. The package has 1 radio with 2 batteries along with accessories.
  • Frequency Range: VHF: 150-174 MHz(Rx/Tx). UHF: 400-480 MHz(Rx/Tx), 128 channel memory, fully in compliance with the FCC part 15B and part 90 regulations, you may need to apply for a radio license to...
  • Wide Compatibility: The Greaval UV5R Dual-band ham radio covers the most commonly used frequency range, compatible with many other radios such as the BF-F8HP/UV 82HP, etc. Bit-Trading is authorized by...
  • Complete Set: Package contains a full set of accessories, no more worry about looking for compatible accessories. Best choice for your business. 30-day hassle-free return, 18-month warranty, hardware...

Ham radios are a great tool for communication and provide a unique hobby for those interested in electronics and technology. They offer the ability to communicate with people from all over the world without relying on the internet or phone lines. Ham radio operators also play an important role in emergency communication during times of crisis, such as natural disasters, where regular communication systems may be unavailable. With the increasing reliance on technology in our daily lives, ham radios provide a break from the digital world and offer a chance to connect with others in a meaningful way. For these reasons, anyone interested in technology, communication, and community building should consider getting a ham radio.

Spread The Word

Share on facebook
Share
Share on pinterest
Pinterest