Different people around the globe talk to each other over ham radio. It comes with several advantages. For one, it is quite portable and easy to set up. It also comes in very handy in times of emergency.
Perhaps you are thinking about getting your own ham radio. What are the best mobile ham radios on the market? What factors should you consider before choosing one?
Well, this post is going to answer these questions. We have reviewed ten of the best models on the market today and have also provided a buying guide that can help you make the right buying choice.
The Best Mobile Ham Radio of 2020
1. Kenwood TM-D710G
Our number one product and our favorite on this roundup is the Kenwood TM-D710G. It is a hugely popular option, and for a good reason. It comes with several impressive features that make it an excellent choice for anyone interested in buying a mobile ham radio.
The Kenwood brand is very popular in the communication industry as the company has consistently produced several high-quality products.
If you are a beginner who is just starting to learn how to use a ham radio, you will definitely like using this product. It is also ideal for those that do not want to spend plenty of money on their ham radio.
It is a dual-band radio that can receive several types of frequencies. Some of these signals include VHF + VFT, UHF + UHF, and VHF + UHF. Hence, it is one of the most versatile options you will find on the market today.
Aside from that, it also comes with a whopping 1000 memory channels that you can even customize. Design-wise, it comes in a highly durable casing that is made from high-quality materials. The low-profile also means that it can fit inside your car with impressive ease.
It is so easy to use as it is made with beginners in mind. If stuck, you can always refer to the easy to read and understand user manual included in the package. To set it up is very easy as long as you closely adhere to instructions in the manual.
There are two power settings on this unit: high and low. With a frequency of between 118-534 MH and 800-1300 MHZ, this ham radio serves well with commercial radio reception.
A highly versatile option, it can even be used as a car GPS. In addition to the in built GPS, it has an LCD screen and other good features.
The drawback here is that the unit came in damaged; which is likely a shipping problem. Also, I wish it came with a microphone extension.
Overall, the ease of use and functionality makes this one of the best mobile ham radios you can buy today.
2. Icom IC-2730A
The second product on this roundup is another excellent product by ICOM. This time, it is the IC-2730 A ham radio.
First of all, this unit is one of the most affordable units on the market. However, do not let the low price fool you: it is still one of the best products around. Made by communication devices giant ICOM, it comes with several impressive features that make it a worthy contender on this list. The performance is highly consistent and of high quality.
First of all, it comes with 3 power outputs. The 5W, 15W and 50w output means that it is quite powerful. The mobile ham radio also comes with 118-174 MHZ and 1275-550 MHZ frequencies. What this means is that connecting is a breeze.
When you are not communicating with other people, you can listen to the radio via the FM radio.
There are up to 1052 memory channels, which is slightly higher than the number of channels found in other units on this roundup.
Mobile units are relatively versatile, and this unit is able to receive VHF-VHF, UHF-UHF, and VHF-UHF frequencies.
Furthermore, this unit allows you to use it in the darkest conditions as it features its own LCD screen that shows channels and settings whenever you need it.
The keypad features sturdy buttons that won’t pop out, and you also get a keypad lock to avoid accidentally pressing it.
The drawback of this unit is that it doesn’t come with a good manual. Furthermore, the speakers are quite small.
With its standard features and affordability, this unit offers you a cheap way to enjoy mobile ham radio technology. It is power, easy to use, and can connect to different frequencies so easily.
3. Kenwood Original TM-V71A
This Kenwood unit is one of the best options you can buy today. Kenwood is a hugely popular manufacturer and is one of the biggest in the world. It produces a truly wide plethora of devices across industries, and the TM-V71A is one of the company’s best offering in the ham radio space.
Without a doubt, this unit comes with almost everything you might desire to find in your mobile ham radio. Despite the many features that it possesses, users find it to be very easy to use and highly reliable in terms of performance.
First, it is highly reliable when running on 440 MHZ frequency. At this frequency, you will discover that you can use it for up to a 2 meter range.
Additionally, it has different power ranges. These are 5 W, 10 W, and 50 W. Regardless of the power setting, you can rest assured of reliable performance.
The unit can share accurate GPS information and messages. Thus, with this mobile ham radio in your car, you won’t get lost.
It features an impressive Radio Frequency. You get up to 1000 memory channels with this unit. This means you can get radio stations and even weather alerts.
Lastly, the TFT display is very easy to read.
One unique feature of this unit is the Echo link sysop mode. Using this feature, you can connect it with a laptop or PC.
A large display allows you to see parameters easily.
One disadvantage of the unit is that the mic is somewhat heavy.
Other than that downside, its compatibility with a PC and other technologies, as well as the durability and dual band dual reception, makes it one of the best choices on the market right now.
4. Yaesu Ft-8900R
Next up on this roundup is a lovely unit that comes in a stout design. Just as the other options on this roundup, Yesua is a highly respected manufacturer of some of the best ham radios on the market today.
The FT-8900R is primarily made with some of the best materials available. Thus it will last for a very long time. Aside from the impressive durability, it also comes with several nice features that all will find appealing, regardless of their level of expertise.
One of the USPs of this excellent unit is that it has different programming options. One of such options which we found super impressive is that you get over 800 memory channels.
It is very easy to use, regardless of your level of expertise. It has a power output of 50 W on 10-2M and 35 W on 440MHZ. Interestingly, you can also choose lower power settings.
With its functionality, you can access different weather channels and receive weather alerts before you are caught unawares by the weather. There is a large LCD display that you can easily see.
Aside from these features, we also love the live dual displays, the operation kit, and the cross band repeater mode.
Any downsides? Well yes. For one, the user manual could be more detailed and easier to understand.
Aside from those drawbacks, it is a high quality unit that is affordable, durable, and reliable. It gives nice reception and novices will find it super-easy to use.
5. ICOM 2300H 05 Amateur Radio
Are you looking for a reliable, durable ham radio that can be used in your vehicle? Then you will likely enjoy using this unit.
It is a compact radio that is so portable and can be fitted in small spaces. It can be easily mounted to the dash of your vehicle regardless of the make. Furthermore, it comes with high power; thus, it has a pretty wide range and is capable of several features.
The design is also quite impressive and very useful. For one, there is a 207 display that features numbers and alphabets.
This display is so easy to read and highly visible in different conditions. The LCD monitor also comes in super-useful and can be customized between amber and green.
The device is highly customizable and gives you the option of different scan functions and other modes.
As with the best options available on the market, this unit comes with weather alerts. With this feature, you will know about any weather changes so that you can make proper preparations so as not to be caught unawares.
The downside of the unit is that it is restricted to a single band.
With 65W of output, it offers power and all the functionality that you need.
6. Icom IC-718
Up next is another unit from Icom. While VHF and UHF are great and will serve well in base stations, HF gives the user more functions and flexibility than the others. To access HF is not cheap. Equipment that can access HF usually costs plenty of money.
Fortunately, there is a relatively cheap option: Icom IC-718. It is an excellent offering on the market that comes with the ability to access HF as well as other features.
It comes with several features that are very easy to use, which isn’t very surprising, considering that it is a beginner option.
Unlike other options on the market that come with so many features that might confuse a person new to ham radio, the features are simple and easy to use.
These models are so durable and can last for years when properly maintained. It also delivers reliable performance over the years.
Many folks that bought the first models have continued using them even till now due to the ease of use and durability. After all, why fix something if it isn’t broken?
A thoroughly enjoyable unit to use, the downside of the unit is that it is quite noisy without DSP. Furthermore, it is quite thin on extra features.
hence more experienced users might want something with more features. However, these basic features are sufficient for mobile or base installations.
Overall, the ease of use makes it one of the best mobile ham radios on the market.
7. Kenwood TM-281A
Yet another unit from Kenwood, the TM-281A is a compact and highly durable mobile ham radio.
It looks rather simple, design-wise, but it fits into the décor of the vehicle quite well.
It comes with a maximum power output of 65 W, which makes it one of the most powerful units on this roundup.
With up to 2000 memory channels, it is one of the most versatile on the market. It also comes with arguably the best audio quality, as it comes with large speakers. Therefore, you will hear very clearly over this mobile ham radio.
One downside of the unit is that some of the controls are poorly labelled.
Aside from that issue, it is one of the best options. With its compact, durable build and the clear audio, you can rest assured of satisfactory performance for a long time.
8. Yaesu FTM-3200DR
The next unit on this roundup comes from Yaesu who already have a representative on this list. This time, it is the FTM-3200DR that is considered.
It is one of the most durable products you will find in this roundup. The casing is made of some of the best materials on the market. Hence, you will use it for a long period.
Aside from durability, it also has other nice features that make it a good ham radio.
Performance-wise, it comes with a power output of up to 65 watts.
It also comes with C4FM digital mode. Coupled with the auto mode selection features, you will be hard-pressed to find a more versatile option on the market.
This device can store up to 220 channels, which isn’t very impressive. However, these channels can be customized to store weather channels and listen to radio stations.
If you are looking for a budget-level option, though, you will be pleased with the overall features of this unit.
It might be cheap, but it can receive frequencies of 136-174 MHZ easily. Additionally, the speaker is pretty loud and can be heard over noisy conditions.
One unique feature of the unit is that it comes with digital group monitoring. With this, a set of folks in the range are instantly registered.
In spite of all the good features, it comes with its downsides. The major issue with this unit is that the fan is quite loud.
However, considering the price and other features as listed above, it is a small price to pay.
9. TYT TH-9800 PLUS
The TYT TH-9800 PLUS is an impressive offering that offers up really good performance. It is affordable as well, despite all the nice features that it has.
Some of the best features we found include the ability to store up to 809 channels. It also has up to 26 memories.
These can include weather channels (so you’ll never be caught unaware by bad weather), and radio stations on AM and FM frequencies. Furthermore, it comes with a pair of variable power settings.
It supports the standard UHF and VHF frequencies in all their variations. Additionally, it can receive on the HF frequency as well.
Power-wise, it utilizes up to 50 W of power and has a maximum output of 40 watts.
Using this mobile ham radio is pretty straightforward. We found programming it to be a breeze.
One issue with this unit is that it is quite poor in terms of durability. Furthermore, there are issues with the fuse. When it is first used, you might have issues with the fuse and need to get a new one.
With and ease of use and wide range of frequencies, this affordable unit is one of the best mobile ham radios you will find on the market today.
10. BTECH Mobile UV-50X2
This is the last product on this roundup, but it isn’t the least. It is a highly rated unit that comes with several features that elevate it above most of the other units in its price range.
It is highly compatible with VHF frequencies and can receive and transmits frequency bands with ease. Specifically, this unit transmits 140 -148 MHz and receives 137 -174 MHz frequency bands.
Furthermore, on the UHF frequency, it has a frequency range of 400-520 MHz.
It features an easy to see LCD screen with customizable colors. Additionally, the equipment gives you the ability to edit channels.
The minimal antenna is one drawback of this unit. Furthermore, as a result of its low price, it isn’t as packed with features as other units we have considered.
Other than that, the durability and plenty of useful features make it a good choice for anyone interested in ham radios. It is super easy to install and comes at one of the lowest prices you can find for a mobile ham radio.
Buying a mobile ham radio might seem easy; until you head to the market. There are so many models from different manufacturers on the market today.
However, do not fret. In this section, we have provided a guide on the essential features to consider before choosing a ham radio.
Ham radios are divided into three main types. First, you have the handheld radio. This type of radio is easy to carry around, and the manufacturers often make it with parts that make it highly portable.
However, their small, portable size means that they compromise on power and range. Therefore, they only give up to 8 W of power and are mainly meant for local use.
Mobile radios are similar to handheld radios, but they give you more range. Some of these units can easily access more than one band. The main difference, though, is the power.
Whereas handheld units have a maximum power output of 8 watts, these models can deliver up to 50 watts of power. Therefore, they have so much more range than handheld models.
A base station is the most powerful of the radios. While they aren’t very big and can even be carried around, the main reason while they are not very popular is the price. They are more expensive and might be out of reach of most folks.
However, if you can afford them, you will enjoy using them. They have the best range and can operate on VHF, UHF, and HF frequencies.
The purpose of your getting the ham radio will affect your buying choice. If you are looking to use it for local communication, then you might just need a handheld ham radio. If you need to communicate farther, you will need a base station or mobile radio.
This refers to how you plan to use it. You have to decide on where you want to use it. The model you choose will depend on whether you will be using it in your car, or you will be taking it around with you.
There are some features, for example, flashlights and radios that are not found in all ham radios. Thus you must consider if you want these additional features in your unit.
As with other devices on the market, ham radios come in a wide range of prices. Some are reactively cheap, while others cost plenty of money. Thus, you should have a budget and work with that.
While choosing the best ham mobile radio can be challenging, this review and guide can make the process easier. From the roundup, our top choice is the Kenwood TM-D710G.
It is a dual-band radio that can receive several types of frequencies. It is also durable and affordable. Choose this unit or any of those reviewed above and rest assured of excellent performance.