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Top 5 Best Handheld Radios of 2024

When you’re out and about, whether you’re in the middle of nowhere or roaming around a big city, there’s nothing worse than not being able to stay connected to what’s going on. You don’t want to be stuck in the wilderness with no radio or turned away from that cool party because you forgot your portable radio. Here’s a look at the best handheld radios on the market. 

If you want to know which handheld is best for you, read. This article aims to help you decide which radio might be right for your needs and what will serve them beautifully in terms of quality and performance.

best handheld radios

OUR TOP PICKS

BEST OVERALL: Uniden BCD436HP HomePatrol Series Digital Handheld Scanner

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The HomePatrol-1’s handheld radios simplicity of use has been included for the first time in a typical handheld scanner with the BCD436HP. Thanks to Uniden’s unique Close Call RF Capture feature, GPS Connectivity, Extra-Large Display, Radio System Analysis, and Discover Modes, the most cutting-edge scanner features are at your fingertips. Even if the frequency is not preprogrammed into a channel, It Close Call automatically finds and listens to nearby transmissions.

During an NOAA Weather or Emergency Alert, a code for your particular location will notify you of hazardous conditions in your immediate vicinity. Additionally, communications on APCO 25 Phase 1, Phase 2, X2-TDMA, Motorola, EDACS, and LTR trunked systems are followed.

Pros:

  • Simple to use and requires no programming
  • Turn it on, type in your zip code, and TrunkTracker V will take care of the rest.
  • This straightforward digital scanner will start receiving messages right away.
  • Combining the comprehensive radio system database from Radio Reference allows for this feature.

Cons:

  • Cheap material, made of plastic

TOP SELLER: Uniden Bearcat BC125AT Handheld Scanner, 500-Alpha-Tagged Channels

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With the Uniden BC125AT Compact Bearcat handheld radios, you can listen in and keep informed. This advanced scanner features a practical, compact design and 500 alpha-tagged channels. 

The Do Not Disturb Mode stops Close Call checks while a transmission is in progress, and Close Call RF capture technology immediately adjusts to signals from neighboring transmitters. Using this Bearcat scanner, you may listen to both military and civilian air bands. Additionally, you can receive critical weather and safety notifications.

Plus, another great thing for you is that you can immediately access more than 40,000 frequencies with the Bearcat BC125AT handheld radios.

Pros:

  • Decent sound
  • Small in size and cozy in the hand
  • Labeling and programming of alphanumeric channels. Knowing what is happening is made easier by the capability to apply labels to each channel as it shows on the screen during a broadcast.
  • You could quickly and simply enter the frequencies you desired and a name for each channel using the free Windows software that was accessible from the Uniden website (link in the owner’s handbook).
  • Any bank can be locked out extremely easily.

Cons:

  • Although the bundled rechargeable batteries are good, the charger in the Uniden can only be adjusted for time in hours. If the charger is configured to charge for six hours, insert a set of fully charged cells and plug in the Uniden; it will charge for that time.
  • When the device is off, it only charges the batteries via the USB cord.

TOP-BUDGET: Uniden Bearcat SR30C, 500-Channel Compact Handheld Scanner

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These Uniden Bearcat handheld radios are portable, user-friendly, and multifunctional. Your scanner incorporates Close Call RF capture technology in addition to its conventional scanning features, which is intended to assist you in finding and recognizing strong local radio signals in your neighborhood. Up to 500 frequencies can be stored in the scanner’s memory. 

You may scan broadcasts with the scanner, which also has service bands preprogrammed for your convenience. Without laborious and complex programming, you can easily search the frequencies the police and other agencies utilize the most. You get immediate access to more than 32,000 thrilling frequencies with the scanner.

The scanner can be configured to identify and offer details about adjacent radio signals. Ten banks are in the scanner. To make it simpler to recognize calls, you can store up to 50 frequencies (for a total of 500 frequencies) in each bank.

Pros:

  • Small and practical price
  • Relatively affordable
  • Play more than 32,000 frequencies 
  • IMPROVE FUNCTION assists in preventing missing responses in two-way discussions

Cons:

  • The antenna won’t come off

BEST COMPACT: Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio

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A VHF handheld radio is necessary for safety and communication during a sea expedition. Cobra has you covered safety features and constant access to emergency warnings and broadcasts. This floating radio features an orange core for increased visibility and is the best value in our line of portable VHF radios. It is guaranteed by 50 years of Cobra quality. 

It offers full access to all NOAA weather channels, 6 Watts of power for communications over greater distances, and alert tones for weather situations. Additionally, it has all of the essential functions, including a noise-canceling microphone, a submersible device that is JIS7/IPX7 rated, Tri-Watch, Memory Channels, Memory Scan, and BURP.

Pros:

  • Maximum Protection
  • Security First
  • Transparent Communication
  • If your radio falls overboard, you can easily retrieve it thanks to its floating design and orange core.

Cons:

  •  You can barely hear it when you are on the water

TOP RATED: President Randy FCC Handheld or Mobile CB Radio

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At least 20 years have passed since handheld CBs required an upgrade. This handheld radio model succeeds in doing so. Although a bit pricey, it is exceptionally well crafted. I had hoped for a longer range, but when we tested with the handheld on the front porch and the vehicle CB (amped unit) while driving around, we communicated clearly 5 miles around nearby houses. It was about a mile of clear space on a freeway without any obstacles. One watt and 3 watts of power were benches tested. The range of our GMRS handhelds is more than twice that of this CB handheld.

The battery has a good length of life and is compact. This new radio is considerably better because it uses a lithium-ion battery. Thanks to its quick charging time and possible eight hours of reception, you can talk for at least two hours without it dying on you.

However, this radio will appeal to CB enthusiasts who prefer AM (no Sideband or FM). Wait a few months if you want the AM/FM version; I’m sure they’re working on one for the US market. I don’t need it because I don’t use FM on my CB radio.

Pros:

  • LCD 7-Color Display
  • Weather Network
  • Automatic Squelch Control (ASC)
  • VOX
  • Two emergency programming channels

Cons:

  • The price is too high

COMPARE PRODUCTS

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BUYING GUIDE

best handheld radios
Top 5 Best Handheld Radios of [year] 5

A handheld radio works as a great way to pass the time while traveling. It can entertain and inform you on one device. But spending money on your radio might not be worth it if you’re unsure which product is best for you and your needs. That’s why we recommend handheld radios for travelers or those who want a portable device that can provide hours of entertainment.

Weight

If you’re hiking or backpacking and carrying a radio, you want your handheld radio to be as light as possible. The device’s weight should not exceed three pounds for long-distance walking or running.

Battery Life

Less battery life is generally more convenient for those who only need to make a call once in a while without recharging their device. Newer models can boast a battery life of up to 24 hours.

Quality of Sound

best handheld radios

Sound is important to communication because you don’t want to be misunderstood, especially when backpacking. A handheld radio with a high-quality sound will help you get the message across in all conditions, both under and above water.

FAQS

Will my handheld radio reduce the amount of cheating happening in class?

The radio is a proven way to help increase learning since people are more engaged and focused.

Will this radio work while I’m moving quickly on my bike?

Yes, the device has an average range of 15 miles per channel and can transmit at 1200 meters per second. It also has a built-in volume limiter so that you can enjoy music as you ride without disturbing others around you.

Does my radio need a license to use it?

No, the device is legal in the United States and has been used by millions of users without any problems. It is designed to help you find people in your area and talk with them over voice or text chat.

CONCLUSION

To conclude, the best handheld radios for camping should be heavy-duty to withstand the rugged conditions you are likely to encounter. In addition, the handheld radio must operate on an analog frequency such as 2 meters or 440 MHz for compatibility with other amateur radio operators. The final criterion should be a long battery life to avoid frequent interruptions in your communications.

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