Communication is very important, and that’s why singling out the best mobile ham radio is a crucial step in ensuring you stay in contact with other hikers, outdoorsmen, and hunters. If you want to or enjoy communicating with other people, a ham radio could be a nice and fun hobby.
Ham is a name that was derived from the initials of the first amateur radio operators. In the 21st century, ham radios have become very popular and more advanced technologically to suit different communication applications.
Ham radios have unique antennas, and they have special communication channels. You can use the channels to communicate effectively. Even more, most of these radios have additional features like a flashlight, FM radio, and other amazing features. Equipped with the best mobile ham radio, you can comfortably take your communication to the next level.
Best Mobile Ham Radios at a glimpse:-
- Top Pick – Kenwood Original TM-V71A
- Best Value – Kenwood TM 281A
- Premium Pick – Stryker SR-955 HPC 10M
- Budget Pick – QYT KT 8900 Mini Dual Band
Best Mobile Ham Radio Reviews 2021
Communication has never been this enjoyable. Kenwood ham radio is a high-power dual-band radio and has both UHF and VHF, making it the best solution for all your communication needs. It is also easily portable because it is about 3 pounds heavy and perfectly fits your pocket. This radio is highly ranked in the best portable RS Two-Way Radios, which makes it the best ham radio trans receiver in the market.
Kenwood ham radio has a high RF power output (50 watts) and provides exceptional connectivity. The radio is a dual receiver on the same band and has many multifunction memory channels (more than 1,000 channels). It has an automatic dialer and a Sysop mode for node terminal operation, which makes it very easy to operate.
This fantastic radio will also support repeaters’ data to give you an easier time when programming. The best thing is that you can use this radio for long distances without any interference. It is very well illustrated with easy-to-use instructions and easily programmed. It has a good solid build and is durable. The dual volume and squelch knobs make it easy to tune just the way you desire.
The unmistakable sound is also something to appreciate, and customer reviews show that it is great for Echolink as well as using it as a super-hotspot. The TM-V71A is one of the best dual-band UHF/VHF ham radios. The dual receiver on the same band feature enables VxV and UxU transmissions.
The only regret with this model is that it does not have a touchscreen option and seems a rather old school.
- Comes with a control cable for the control head
- High RF power output (50watts)
- Dual receiver
- Has a Sysop mod and an automatic receiver
- The radio supports repeaters
- Enables VxV and UxU transmissions
- It does not include a touch screen
The TM 281 A is one radio that you can always count on whether you are on the road or just relaxing in the house. It delivers the most powerful transmission and has very clear audio. The large backlit LCD on this radio will give you an easy time when operating it at night or in dark places. The keys are illuminated. This high power radio (65 Watts) is relatively compact, and this makes it durable. The TM 281A also comes with 200 memory channels, six alphanumeric characters that offer 100 memory channels.
TM 281 A ham radio also has a weather alert and so you can rely on it when on the road. The radio is made to meet the environmental standards MIL-STD 810 C, D, E, F & G made for regulating vibration and shock levels. The radio can be used for emergency frequencies if authorized by the local fire department and EMS agencies. The radio has a memory scan feature that allows you to monitor a single channel every three seconds while you scan. This speed is greater than most Chinese manufactured radios.
While the TM 281A is an outstanding trans receiver, it is slower when operating without a computer. It also does not do well for great distances. When on high power, it tends to heat up, so you will be forced to switch to low power when needed. You might also need to have it programmed before use as the range is a bit lower than what most users prefer.
TM 281A is undoubtedly among the best ham radio trans receiver options you can get, especially when it comes to offering the best value for money. The radio could be better if there was a cooling fan mechanism to avoid overheating. This is because high power is essential for transmission over higher distances.
- Clear audio and powerful transmissions
- It has a large backlight display LCD
- It has a weather alert receiver
- It can be used for emergency frequencies
- Memory scan feature
- It can be slow when operating without a computer
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3. Stryker SR-955 HPC 10M Amateur Radio (Premium Pick)
With the Stryker SR-955, you can scan the best local channels and also listen with minimal interference. It has AM/FM/SSB operation, making it a handy gadget to have. The SWR meter in this radio is automatically calibrating, and this makes measurements very precise.
Hi-Cut noise filter will also come in very handy when outdoors and especially in heavy traffic. The radio is made with a front microphone connector to easily mount it in tight spaces and still use it comfortably. The SR 955 also has a stable, high performing SSB operation, great AM radio and PC programming.
Stryker SR-955 has high power output (70 watts PEP), which is the highest for the radios reviewed so far. It is more advanced when it comes to LED lighting because, unlike the rest, it has a choice of colors to choose from. You can choose from 7 colors for the LED backlight with a push-button, or when using the CPU controller, it can scan through all the colors.
This amazing radio also has an advanced clarifier, a 32 position dimmer control, variable power control, and a variable talkback control.
The up-armored receiver of the SR-955 is very powerful and has a high filtering power. You can use it in noisy surroundings and the harshest conditions. It has the best mechanism for superior rejection of adjacent channels. The best ham radio Stryker SR-955 is very loud and clear, and it’s much better than talking on the phone. You will also learn to operate it very fast, and programming is easy.
While most ham radios will drift when switched to SSB, the SR-955 is very stable. The frequency counter on the radios reads up to 100 cycles and scans up to 40 channels. You can easily lock out the channels you do not want to scan, and this makes operating it easier. Stryker SR-955 is the premium pick when it comes to the best mobile ham radio choices.
The only limitation of this radio is that it is a 10-meter radio and cannot be interchangeably used for 11-meter citizen band radio. You may find it hard to use in long distances, and the weight is noticeably greater (6.7 pounds), making it less portable compared to the former models.
- It has an advanced clarifier
- A 32 position dimmer control
- It is loud and clear
- Can scan up to 40 channels
- It is stable and doesn’t drift when switched
- It has a 100 cycle frequency counter
- LED display lighting
- It is heavier than previous models (6.7 pounds)
KT 8900 is no doubt one of the best dual-band ham radio brands. With both VHF and UHF, the radio has a high-frequency range of 65- 108 MHz, 136-174 MHz, and 400-480 MHz.
You do not have to worry about overheating because it has a cooling fan. The output power is 25W for VHF and 20W for UHF, and it has an FM radio function. This radio can be operated remotely, and it has a remote stun as well as remote kill. It has an auto-lock function. You can access at least 200 channels on the KT 8900 Dual-band, making it the best dual-band trans receiver radio.
The package comes with the radio, a speaker mic, mounting brackets, a power cable, and a programming cable. You have to buy the programming cable separately. The programming cable jack is on the front side of the radio, and therefore, you can fix it in a tight space, and you don’t need to move it around when programming.
The radio is very light and portable at about 1.82 pounds. The radio has been highly rated for great value for money, great volume control, and also for its sound quality. The small size of the radio means you can mount it anywhere and not causes any disturbance. It is especially great for small cars.
The small display makes it hard to see which station you are tuning into when driving.
The microphone does not work well because of its positioning behind the silicone keypad. This ham radio had been rated the best for starters who are learning Ham etiquette and for people who do not wish to spend much on ham radio.
The KT 8900 is the budget pick for this review because it costs relatively less than the other models. You will get quality for a lower price with this radio if you don’t care so much for finer details.
When tuning, you will have a hard time because it does not save the channel names as they will probably not fit into the tiny screen. The microphone is also a bit strange as you have to talk directly into it for sound to carry through the transmitters. However, the QYT KT 8900 is still one of the best ham radio choices, especially due to its tiny size.
- High frequency
- It has a cooling system
- It can be operated remotely
- It has an auto-lock option
- Small in size (1.82 pounds)
- Chanel names are not indicated on the screen
This ICOM 2300H radio uses VHF tuner technology and is relatively small, although still big enough to have a good display. It has a record of 207 alphanumeric memory channels and a 3-inch LCD. The best feature of this radio is its multiple scan functions and its stable 65W output. The radio is durable with a compact case and adherent to the MIL-STD_ 810G specifications. ICOM 2300H has repeater functions specifically included for the US market, although other models that come from China do not have this.
It has a multicolored screen, and this makes it interesting as you may switch from green to amber to orange and so on. The package comes only with the unit, so you may have to get an antenna and other necessary accessories.
You may get the ICOM 2300H at a lower price, but most retailers will not cater to shipping costs. The great 2m radio can be used both as a base and as a mobile.
The sound is great, and you may hear it over noises in environments where noise cannot be avoided. It is simple in operation and quite durable as it is made sturdy. It also has a built-in cuts and dices decoder.
The product comes with a warning that it might contain cancer-causing agents. It is also not very durable, and the quality is relatively poor compared to other ham radios.
- VHF tuner technology
- It has a record of 207 alphanumeric memory channels
- multiple scan functions
- Stable 65W output
- It can be used both as a base and as a mobile
- It has cancer-causing agents
- Lower quality compared to other radios
This radio transmitter has a superior output power of 80 watts. However, it has a four output power selection system, with choices of 80W, 30W, 10W, and 5W. This allows you to choose the power they require for a certain operation and situation. The radio has a massive heat sink that ensures that the maximum power of 80W can be used without a cooling fan to prevent overheating. Reception is good even in noisy environments because the speaker has a 3W power output.
The single band ham radio trans receiver has 200 memory channels, a versatile scanning capability, an interactive program menu, and an alphanumeric channel display.
The FT-2980R is the best single band 2m radio for a lower price. The rock-solid build ensures that it is durable as it can withstand harsh weather and rough environments. The radio is easy to operate and good for ham radio beginners.
There is little static as you listen to the radio, probably because it is a single band and high power output.
The interface is a bit hard to understand; therefore, it will take some time to understand. You can use different programming software to run the radio.
- Superior output power (80 watts)
- Four output power selection system
- massive heat sink that ensures that the maximum power of 80W
- High-quality reception
- 200 memory channels
- It is durable
- It takes time to understand the interface for beginners
The UV 50-X2 has both UHF and VHF tuner technology and can be used both as a base and also as a mobile radio. The new model has a fully customized multicolor LCD screen, which is exciting to use.
You can easily adjust the display to look exactly as they like. The channel names can also be customized and shown on the screen display, making it easy to use when on the move. You can easily add and remove channels from the scanning list, and it has over 200 memory channels. You may have to use a different model antenna and computer programming cable for the best results when using the UV-50X2. The model operates as multiple radios in one, and it allows you to monitor numerous channels at once.
BTech radio is the best because it is made to the highest standards and uses an upgraded chipset, which lasts longer. The dual synchronized display mode helps you to view two channels displaying names and frequencies on the screen. You can easily customize the microphone output for any repeater frequencies. The frequency range is also greater as it expands to 520 MHz. The radio has an auto power-off function that helps to conserve battery power when not in use. This will come in handy, especially outdoors.
The UV-50X2 comes with a DTMF handheld microphone, vehicle mounting brackets with the screws and hardware, and a DC cable. You could say that it is a moderately sized radio, which makes portability easy.
Check out Best Baofeng Ham Radio Reviews
The radio has high/low power settings, broadband, narrowband selectable frequency, and a high-frequency range of up to 520MHz. All the buttons are on the radio’s face, making use easier and allowing you to fix the radio in a tight space. You might need to change to a different antenna to get good results in transmission, but generally, the radio will hit repeaters 20 to 30 miles away with ease. This is one of the best HF mobile ham radio.
Several features are unique to BTECH radios. They are fitted with an upgraded power chipset and also have a dual synchronize display mode. This way, you can synchronize two channels and view their details on display.
The microphone audio gain settings are perfect because they enable you to customize the microphone output. Memory channels can also be edited without being deleted. The radio also has new scanner modes with auto scan, scanning resume, and variable frequency scanning options. The quad watch delay time also allows the receiver to stay on the secondary channel longer after an incoming transmission, which avoids manual channel switching.
The BTECH mobile ham radio also has a randomization privacy mode. To monitor up to four channels, you can use a single line display of either the channel’s name or its frequency.
The UV50X2 supports group tones from analog tones. These include the CTCSS, DCS, 2Tone, 5Tone, and DMTF callers.
Tone calling is used in most repeater applications, and the UV-50X2 supports the latest standards. This is why it is one of the best ham radio trans receivers.
This radio is capable of sending ANI or caller ID and remote commands. It can receive DTMF tones or commands to kill or stun channels. This aspect makes it easy for it to be manipulated by outsiders. It may cause chaos if it fell into the wrong hands.
- Fully customized multicolor LCD screen
- It has DTMF handheld microphone
- It comes with vehicle mounting brackets with the screws and hardware, and a DC cable
- Memory channels can be edited and monitored
- Randomization privacy mode
- Supports group tones from analog tones
- New scanner modes with auto scan
- It may be used to cause harm if in the wrong hands
Verdict on Best Mobile Ham Radio Reviews
The Kenwood TM-V71A amateur mobile trans receiver is by far our top recommended pick for the best mobile ham radio. It may not be the best in the market. We recommend it based on the features, modest price, and great customer reviews (4.7-5) on Amazon. As a brand, Kenwood has a reputation for providing good radios, and this one is no exception. The dual-band radio is exceptionally good in transmission and sound clarity. The high RF power output it offers and the highest number of channels are best compared to the other models.
The radio has all the important aspects, and the only downside is the limited choice of backlight colors. The dual-band is best as a base radio, and you can use it as the primary rig. The solid construction of the radio ensures durability and makes it the very best mobile ham radio.
The TM-V71A excels over the rest in the best mobile radio reviews because it is modeled for higher transmission. This ham radio is simply built by being a dual-band transmitter but maximized for the best transmission and durability. The Ham radios advanced technology is way above the others in its league, and it has been modeled for maximum convenience.
Buyers Guide to Choosing the Best Mobile Ham Radio
So what does you look for when they are choosing the best mobile ham radio?
Frequency bands: you probably want a ham radio that has a great range of bands and frequency, especially for long travels. The range is determined by the type of ham radio you choose. The higher the output of the radio, the greater the distance that it can communicate.
Programming: It is also important to choose an easily programmable radio that will not give you a hard time operating. If the programming software does not come with the package, you will need to choose a ham radio whose program software is easily available in the market.
Output power: The output influences the maximum range that the ham radio can cover. When choosing the radio, you can choose high wattage as this is a guarantee for high distance transmission. If you are not concerned about the distance, the high output may be ignored over other good factors when choosing a good ham radio.
Durability is also a factor to consider when choosing the best mobile ham radio for the money you have. The rough roads will damage your ham radio, therefore getting a tough radio is important. You may look for ham radio with a compact, tough build that can withstand harsh weather and give long service. Sturdy metallic materials like aluminum can make for durable ham radios. The material has to be tested for shock, vibration, and also heat(temperatures).
Antenna: The antenna power is the one that will determine how far the radio signal carries. The best mobile ham radio will have a powerful antenna. Poor signals can be improved by raising the antenna either by installing it higher or moving to higher ground. You may replace the antenna with an aftermarket to ensure the best signals are achieved.
Function: The different models of ham radio are each designed with a certain function in mind. They are, therefore, suitable for different users according to their specific features. When choosing the best ham radio, you should have in mind the frequency they need to transmit, the distance they need to reach, and the transmitter’s cost. The ham radios can be used for emergencies, but permission must be sought from the relevant authorities.
Frequently asked questions about mobile ham radios
Single-band vs. dual-band
A dual-band radio has both the VHF and UHF tuning technology. It is like having two radios at once. There is a difference between a dual-band and a dual receive radio. The single-band radio cannot operate UHF and VHF at the same time. But a dual receive radio can, and this makes it akin to having two radios in one.
A single band ham radio will only have one component, VHF or UHF, and is generally cheaper than the dual-band. A single band radio is used to facilitate two-way communication on an analog platform using high frequency.
Dual-band vs. quad-band
Quad-band ham radios will normally have 10M, 6M, 2m, and 70 cm with an FM broadcast band radio function. This makes it have a high power and frequency reach compared to the dual-band radio. The system supports 850-1900 MHz frequency, which is used in the United States, and 900 to 1800 frequency used in other parts of the world.
The ultra-high frequency (UHF) has a frequency range of between 420 and 450 MHz and is the commonly named 70 cm band. The Very high frequency(VHF) band is between 144 to 148 MHz and is called the 2m band.
What is the range of mobile ham radios?
Ham radios range can be anywhere between 10 to 30 miles. The typical range for repeaters that can be considered reliable is up to 25 miles.
Antenna height greatly influences the distance that mobile ham radio can transmit. The range of transmission differs from one model to the other. Transmission is dependent on the height of the antenna, and the output, which is measured in watts.