Best Mobile Ham Radios Reviews 2020

Wondering what is the best mobile ham radio for you?

It might be confusing picking the right one when there’s a lot of ham radios in the market to choose from. But the good news is that it doesn’t need to be frustrating anymore.

The best way to guarantee success and quality is by having the right information that points you in the right direction.

That said… 

I have compiled a list of the best mobile ham radios in the market. You will also discover what you need to consider when making a buying decision.

So, let’s jump in!

Here is a summary of the best mobile ham radios:-

  1. Kenwood TM-281ABest Single band mobile ham Radio (Review)
  2. ICOM 2300H 05 – 2nd Best Single band ham Radio (Review)
  3. BTECH Mini UV-25X2Best Dual band mobile ham radio (Review)
  4. QYT KT-8900 Mini Dual Band – Best mobile ham radio for the money (Review)
  5. TYT TH-9800 Plus Version – Best Quad band mobile ham Radio(Review)
  6. AnyTone AT-5555N – Best 10 meter band ham radio (Review)
  7. Stryker SR-955 HPC – Best Premium mobile ham radio (Review)
  8. BTECH Mobile UV-50X2 – 2nd Best dual band mobile ham radio (Review)

Best Mobile Ham Radios 2020

1. Kenwood TM-281A– Best Single Band Mobile Ham Radio

Features Summary

  • Channel Display mode.
  • Key lock.
  • Busy channel lockout.
  • Memory channel lockout.
  • Frequency ranges (144-148 MHz and 136-174 MHz).
  • 65 watts power output.

This is a single band and the best ham radio with a transceiver that delivers excellent mobile performance.

The radio is made of rugged, tough, and sturdy materials that make it suitable for use in off-road errands. The sturdy material makes it less vulnerable to damages caused by rough roads.

Besides, it runs on a power output of 65 watts which increases its efficiency to exceptional results. Also, this enhances its ability to transmit over long ranges and in areas with lots of obstructions.

But that’s not all:

You have the option to influence power settings. Therefore, you can choose high or low output according to your preference and how far you want to transmit.

It features a multi-color LCD display with up to 32 different brightness variations. This is important when setting the display lighting to match the external lighting. 

More importantly, it helps you to see the display functions without straining your eyes.

Also, the radio’s keypad has a backlight mode that lightens the keypad for ease of use. You will find this important when operating the radio in the dark or a poorly lit room.

Pros
  • Its front speaker ensures the voice is loud and clear.
  • It’s made of sturdy material hence its damage resistant.
  • Easy to program and to operate.
  • Supports 100 channels in memory.
Cons
  • It doesn’t come with preset frequencies.

2. ICOM 2300H 05 – 2nd Best Single Band Ham Radio

Features Summary

  • Multiple scan functions.
  • High wattage output.
  • Small compact size.
  • Alpha-numeric labels.
  • 207 memory channels.

This a powerful single band mobile radio with a maximum 65 watts power output. It’s compact in size, occupies a small space within your vehicle, and is designed to offer you excellent radio performance. 

The high power output enhances its performance by enabling you to communicate over wide ranges. Besides, this makes it possible to have lengthy conversations with friends and family.

Also, it operates on a frequency range of 144-148 MHz and 207 memory channels. With 207 memory channels, you can scan and save your favorite channels to this ample storage space.

You will find the radio easy to use since it has a user-friendly interface. Furthermore, its LCD display is large enough and operates on 6 alphanumeric characters.

This makes it possible to view operations on the display at a glance without losing sight of important information. It will also help you to see the screen labels from multiple different angles.

It’s made of strong aluminum material that is tested for shock, vibration, and temperature. This makes the radio robust and less susceptible to rough road damages.

More importantly, you won’t need to change to another radio or make repairs more often.

Pros
  • Easy to operate.
  • Made of sturdy aluminum material hence durable.
  • It’s possible to get weather alerts and updates.
  • High power wattage increases efficiency in communication.
Cons
  • It doesn’t have a cooling fan.

*Here is our review of the Best Handheld Ham Radios

3. BTECH Mini UV-25X2 -Best Dual Band Mobile Ham Radio

Features Summary

  • High and low power setting.
  • It works well with a magnetic mount antenna.
  • Expanded frequency range setting.
  • Channel mode editing settings.
  • Auto-scan.

This radio is high powered, dual-band radio that’s designed in the US. Besides, it has custom firmware and comes with full US warranty and customer support. 

This makes acquiring the radio risk-free and you can get help with it at any time. This makes it better than most radios in the market.

Being a dual-band mobile radio, it operates on a VHF frequency of 136-174 and UHF frequency of MHz 400-520 MHz. What makes this radio unique is the ability to expand the frequency range. 

Also, it has a dual power setting capability, thus, you can set it on high at 25 watts or low at 1o watts. This option gives you the freedom to set the radio on a power setting that meets your specifications and radio needs.

And here’s more…this radio features a colored LCD with a quad watch. Thus, you can view up to four frequencies or channels on the screen simultaneously. 

It’s made of sturdy material which makes it robust and less susceptible to damages. This enables you to enjoy the full benefits of the radio before thinking of repairs or replacements.

Furthermore, the radio is easy to install in your vehicle. It should only take you a few minutes and it’s a do it yourself task. But what is more pleasing is that it’s easy to program and use without the need for extra-ordinary skills.

Pros
  • It’s easy to program and operate.
  • Delivers clear and crispy sound.
  • It has a large colored LCD display screen.
Cons
  • You have to buy the programming cable separately.

4. QYT KT-8900 Mini Dual Band – Best Mobile Ham Radio For The Money

Features Summary

  • It comes with mounting brackets and screws.
  • 25-watt maximum power output.
  • Built with a cooling fan.
  • Dual-band radio.

This is a compact dual-band mobile transceiver amateur radio that is designed for use in cars. Since it’s made of sturdy material, it’s strong enough to endure off-road hurdles. 

This radio runs on a 25-watt power output that enhances its performance to transmit through obstacles such as concrete, wood, and metal. Thus, you are guaranteed of quality communication regardless of the obstructions

But here is more: 

The radio features an inbuilt cooling fan that cools down the radio after several hours of use. Overheating is likely to slow down the radio’s performance. That’s why the cooling fan is necessary.

The radio is easy to program. What you need is a computer and programming software. You’ll also need a Windows operating system installed on your computer. 

These can be any version of windows. Therefore, you’re sorted regardless of the version of windows you have installed in your PC.

Also, the radio is dual-band and runs on frequency ranges of 65-108 MHz for commercial FM, 136-174 MHz very high frequency, and 400-480 MHz ultra-high frequency.

The radio has up to 200 memory channels. You can scan and save all the channels of your choice. 

Pros
  • The radio is easy to install and use.
  • It delivers a clear crispy sound.
  • High power output enhances better performance.
  • It’s easy to program.
Cons
  • Programming is only possible on windows computers.

5. TYT TH-9800 Plus Version – Best Quad Band Mobile Ham Radio

Features Summary

  • Quad-band 10M/6M/2M/70cm.
  • 50/40 wattage output.
  • Digital FM broadcast band radio.
  • Keypad lock function.
  • 809 memory channels.
  • Channel name editing.

This is quad-band and 50 watts mobile transceiver radio that is designed for amateur base station use in vehicles. It’s an off-road radio that’s made of strong materials to prevent potential radio damages.

It has two power output options. These are the 50 watts and the 40 watts power output setting. 50 is the maximum wattage and it helps you to transmit effectively in areas with obstructions.

The package includes the ham radio, a mic hanger, a power cable, a mounting bracket, and screws. It also comes with an operating manual, a programming cable, and a factory Disc.

The user manual makes it easy to operate the radio without the need for specialized skills. Thus, anybody can learn how to use the radio by just following the manual instructions.

To get the best from the radio, you need to program it by adding the right channels. The best part: it comes with a programming cable and software. You only need a PC for a quick installation.

Moreover, customer service is completely available at your disposal. And, you can contact them in case you need some help. Since they are available on social media, it’s easier to reach out to them.

Pros
  • Easy to install and to operate.
  • High power output enhances quality performance and results.
  • Easy to access customer support.
Cons
  • Programming is only possible on windows computers.

6. AnyTone AT-5555N – Best 10 meter Band Ham Radio

Features Summary

  • Powerful output: AM 12W, FM 30W, SSB 30W.
  • Built-in speaker.
  • Frequency response AM/FM: 300-3000 Hz SSB: 450-2500 Hz.
  • Audio output power 3 watts.
  • Automatic gain control.

AnyTone is a high power output and 10M amateur radio that is designed for use in vehicles and outdoor activities such as hiking. This radio is known for its excellent performance.

It operates on three adjustable power settings depending on the band. AM runs on 12 watts, FM on 30 watts, and SSB on 30 watts. You can easily adjust power settings through its power knob.

The radio comes with a default frequency of 28.000-29.000 MHz. The good news is that you can expand the radio frequency so that the radio works optimally according to your geographical location.

To get this sorted, send an email to your seller and you’ll get an easy to read set of frequency expansion instructions.

Besides, the radio features a large red-colored LCD display that helps you to see operations at glance. This makes the radio less strenuous to use, especially when in the dark or a poorly lit place.

But what’s more amazing is the 1-year product warranty. This means acquiring the radio is risk-free for the first year.  

And if you’re not satisfied with the radio in the first month, you can send it back and ask for your money back.

Pros
  • The radio is easy to program and to use.
  • A large LCD display makes it easy to see operations at a glance.
  • It’s made of strong materials hence less susceptible to road damages.
  • Stellar audio quality.
Cons
  • It doesn’t work with repeaters.

7. Stryker SR-955 HPC – Best Premium Mobile Ham Radio

Features Summary

  • Multiple LCD color display.
  • Noise Filter.
  • Microphone gain control.
  • Power control.
  • AM and FM operation.
  • Dimmer control

This a 10-meter mobile radio with a record for frequency stability and clear crispy sound. It’s ideal for today’s mobile radio needs and is worth investing in.

Moreover, it features an outstanding LED-backlit faceplate with up to 7 different colors. Therefore, with the push of a button, you can set the faceplate to light according to your preference.

Alternatively, you can let the process be automatic by allowing the radios CPU to scan through and find the ideal color for the faceplate.  

The best part is that these alternative faceplate lightings will enable you to operate the radio effectively at night. You will also find it beneficial when in a poorly lit area.

Amazingly, it operates on power output of 70 watts. High power wattage enables the radio to transmit over long ranges. Therefore, communicating with other users scattered all over is going to be easy for you.

Also, this radio is PC programmable. You only need programming software and a computer to program the radio so that it suits and meets your radio needs. Moreover, programming is easy and takes a short time.

Its variable power control setting is meant to help you control the power output to your liking. You can set it on low or high depending on your objectives. 

Long-distance communication will require a high power output while short distance ranges will do fine with a low power setting.

Pros
  • High power output enhances its performance.
  • It’s easy to set up and use.
  • Noise filter promotes quality sound.
  • Its outstanding backlit faceplate makes it easy to see functions at a glance.
Cons
  • You can’t transmit on citizen band (CB).

Pros

  • High power output enhances its performance.
  • It’s easy to set up and use.
  • Noise filter promotes quality sound.
  • Its outstanding backlit faceplate makes it easy to see functions at a glance.

Cons

  • You can’t transmit on citizen band (CB).

*Check out our reviews on Best Long Range Two Way Radios

8. BTECH Mobile UV-50X2 – Dual Band Mobile Ham Radio

Features Summary

  • Dual simultaneous display.
  • Easy channel editing.
  • Supported group tones.
  • Programmable 200 memory channels.
  • Multi-color LCD display.
  • Loud 2W speaker.

This is a two-way and high power dual-band analog mobile radio that is designed in the USA. Unlike other radios, it comes with a custom made firmware that makes the radio simple to operate.

This radio features a robust multi-color LCD display screen that is also customizable. This makes it easy to adjust the screen settings according to your taste.

Also, you can customize channels to display in alphanumeric mode. The best part is that you can do the same to frequency settings. This helps in making the radio easy to operate.

This radio has 200 memory channels that you can program according to your interests and need. Moreover, you can scan for your favorite channels then add them to your channel list.

Channel list modification is possible and easy at the same time. The radio makes your work easy by allowing you to remove or add channels appropriately.

It comes with a programming cable and software for convenience in programming. However, you need to have a windows computer, then carefully follow programming instructions.

Pros
  • Delivers quality and clear sound.
  • Easy to program and install in your car.
  • Customizable display screen.
  • Easy to edit and add channels.
Cons
  • It doesn’t have APRS capabilities.

9. Radioddity DB25 Pro – Dual Band Mobile Ham Radio

Features Summary

  • 50 watts of maximum power output.
  • Quad-band antenna.
  • 4 colors screen display.
  • Frequency ranges: 136-174 MHz, 220-260 MHz, 350-390 MHz, and 400-480 MHz.
  • Scanning function.
  • Busy channel lock.

This is a dual-band quad standby mini mobile radio that’s designed for car trucks. It operates on; very high frequency (VHF), ultra-high frequency (UHF), and FM frequency of 65-108 MHz.

Also, the radio runs on a powerful quad-band 50 W antenna so that you get quality and reliable signals. Poor signal strength can interfere with your communication line. 

That’s why you need a powerful and reliable antenna to help you prevent that from happening. Moreover, this antenna is useful in the transmission of stable signals at any frequency.

The radio features a 4 color screen display that enables you to see operations at a glance. Besides, you can set the display screen to match your favorite color preference.

At best, this radio is known for loud and clear sound. This enables you to get every word so that you experience meaningful communication. 

The radio is easy to program and you can do it according to your preference. What you need is a programming cable and software that you can download from the manufacturer’s website. 

What’s more: you get a programming instruction manual that is easy to read, follow, and understand so that you can program appropriately.

Pros
  • It’s ideal for long-distance communication.
  • Its large LCD display makes it easy to operate.
  • It’s easy to program and operate.
  • It has noise cancellation capabilities.
  • Scanning function makes it easy to find important channels.
Cons
  • Its cooling fan only starts to work when the temperature rises above 45 degrees.

*Check out Best DMR Radios

10. Yaesu FT-2980R  – Single Band Mobile Ham Radio

Features Summary

  • 80 watts of high power output.
  • Large display screen.
  • Wireless internet linking access.
  • 221 memory channels.
  • Alpha-numeric labels.

This is a single band high power output mobile radio and an improved version of FT-2980 with exceptional performance. 

Unlike other mobile radios, it has a wireless internet linking function. This makes it possible to connect with other users across the globe.

It runs on 80 watts of power output that increases its performance efficiency. This makes it robust and capable of transmitting over long distances such as around the world. 

With this radio, you get adequate storage space for your favorite channels. This is possible as it has an extensive memory system that can take up to 221 memory channels.

Its display is huge and makes it easy to read the ongoing operations. It’s also easy to see the operations at a glance. 

Being that the screen is colored, it makes operating the radio simple especially at night and in poorly lit areas.

But that’s not all…you can edit channel names according to your preference using alphanumeric labels, thereby, making them easy to read.

Among the 221 channels, you can set and customize one as your home channel. You can allocate a frequently-used repeater channel or simplex frequency to this home channel. 

This is important for enhancing easy access.

Pros
  • It can facilitate communication over the internet.
  • It’s easy to set up, and operate.
  • Runs on high power for increased efficiency.
  • Adequate memory channels.
Cons
  • It doesn’t come with a programming cable.

Buyers Guide – Best Ham Radio

To make an informed buying decision, you need to check the radio for important features and functions. Below, you will find some of the main considerations you MUST put into perspective.

1. Durability

Rough roads are more likely to damage a mobile ham radio. Therefore, you want to ensure the radio is of high quality, is robust and less susceptible to off-road damages. 

The best way to achieve this is to find an amateur mobile radio that is made of sturdy metallic material like aluminum. 

Aluminum is tested for shock, vibration, and temperatures, and thus a guarantee that it will keep your radio strong and durable.

2. Output Power

Power output is the engine that determines the efficiency of mobile ham radio. This implies that power output influences the maximum range the radio can cover. 

Therefore, the higher the wattage, the wider the range and better the radio will perform. And the lower it is, the inefficient the radio will be. 

Thus, if you want to communicate over wide ranges, then, the best mobile ham radio for you is one with high power output.

3. Bands and Frequency

Radio communication takes place over frequencies. On the other hand, bands are a collection of multiple frequencies. Moreover, frequency strength determines the range of communication. 

If the frequency is weak, it will hinder proper communication. Thus, the best frequency is strong and covers a wider range. 

That said, you need to ensure the radio operates on a reliable and strong frequency range. This will facilitate prompt and uninterrupted communication.

The best mobile amateur radio is either a single band or dual-band. In turn, this determines if it’s operating on VHF, UHF or HF.

4. Programmable

The ability to program the radio enables you to add important Talk groups and channels that are relevant to your area. 

This also influences the number of people you can communicate with either locally or globally. Therefore, you should pick a mobile ham radio that is easy to program. 

More importantly, you need to be certain that programming accessories such as the software and the cable are easy to find in the market.

5. Antenna

Antenna power can either make or break a mobile radio’s performance. When operating in an area with poor or weak signals, you need a strong and powerful antenna.

Moreover, since poor signals hinder quality communication, you should double-check the strength of the radios antenna. 

Alternatively, you can get aftermarket antennas and replace it with the factory one. Aftermarket antennas are reliable and more powerful hence a guarantee that you will experience quality transmissions and receptions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Single Band Vs Dual Band?

The best dual-band mobile ham radio allows communication on two different frequency bands and it can be on either transmission or reception.

Also, dual-band communications take place on the ultra-high frequency (UHF) and very high frequency (VHF). UHF band has a frequency range of 420-450 MHz and is commonly referred to as the 70 cm band.

On the other hand, the VHF band has a frequency range of 144-148 MHz and is commonly referred to as the 2m band. 

Dual-band systems allow transmission and reception in two ways. First, it can take place on different bands where one band receives while another transmits.

Alternatively, transmission and reception can take place on one band but on a different frequency.

Unlike dual-band, a single-band system is used to facilitate two-way analog voice communication using the high-frequency (HF) portion of the radio spectrum.

The best HF mobile ham is used by marines, amateurs, and the military.  

2. Dual-Band Vs Quad-Band?

Both are multi-band systems though with a slight difference. A quad-band ham radio system supports up to four frequency bands. 

These are; 850-1900 MHz which is commonly used in America and the 900-1800 MHz which is used in areas outside America.

The Bottom Line

Finding the best mobile ham radio need not be a frustrating experience. By following this detailed Ham mobile radio guide, you set yourself on the right path to success.

Paul Dudley