Have you ever found yourself in an emergency situation, such as a hurricane or tornado? Communication is a key in events such as these. Unfortunately, many people simply do not have necessary portable devices needed in order to keep themselves up to date on weather reports and other vital information that could help aid families when things that are out of ordinary do occur.
Baofeng radios, also known as ham radios, will work when other forms of electronic dispatch go down or are unavailable. They’re also used as a hobby, with numerous web tools and online forums which are dedicated to helping users get to know and understand the mechanics of the tool.
- Best Baofeng Radio 2018
- 1. BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) – Best Baofeng Radio
- 2. BaoFeng Pofung GT-3TP – Best Radio for Range
- 3. BaoFeng BF-888S – Best Radio for Family Use
- 4. BaoFeng Pofung UV-82 – Best Radio for Durability
- 5. BaoFeng BF-9500 – Best Radio for Indoor Use
- Best Baofeng Radio – Buyer’s Guide
- Which Baofeng radio is best
Best Baofeng Radio 2018
Below are five of the best Baofeng radios sold anywhere, chosen for their high-quality construction and the number of features to be found on the portable devices. A detailed Buyer’s Guide will follow afterward, concluding in the top two picks chosen out of the five at the end.
|Model||Power||Speaker Output||Range||Battery Life|
|7W||1W||VHF, UHF||18-24 hrs|
|Pofung GT-3TP||8W||1W||VHF, UHF||18-24 hrs|
|BF-888S (6PCS)||3-5W||1W||UHF||8 hrs|
|Pofung UV-82||5W||1W||VHF, UHF||18 hrs|
1. BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) – Best Baofeng Radio
The BaoFeng BF-F8HP is an all-black radio with a medium-sized antenna and lots of buttons on the front. There’s also a few placed on the sides. The antenna can be screwed on and off. So if you’re lugging it around in a bag, everything should fit so long as there’s small space available.
But that’s not the only thing included with the product. A charger and headset are included in the box in which the radio is docked on whenever the battery needs to be powered. This attempt to find a balance and best all-around value have led the BF-F8HP to be our best Baofeng Radio.
Long Battery Life
The battery should last several hours on full charge. So you shouldn’t have a problem of having to turn it off to conserve power every time it’s needed. As for the speakers mentioned on the body of the radio, the sound is great and maintains above average clarity when in active communication with other people on the receiving end.
If you’re the type that likes to carry items in your pockets, the radio should fit snugly inside most clothing. FM broadcasts are possible too, so even if you don’t have alerts broadcasted into the product, connecting to a local radio station will be easy to do as soon as the radio is turned on and tuned to the correct channel number.
While there are a few things that may annoy some users, most of the issues found on the BF-F8HP are common among all Baofeng radios. Anywhere where radio traffic is high may experience delays and/or signal interference in communication. And the belt clip that comes with the product must be screwed off in order for you to detach it from its housing.
Furthermore, you’ll probably want to acquire a cable if you do plan on programming everything from your computer. It’s highly suggested since most users won’t know how to do this manually from the radio itself. For people who wear sunglasses or other eyewear with polarized lenses, the digital LCD screen could be hard to make out and make the number hard to see without squinting.
2. BaoFeng Pofung GT-3TP – Best Radio for Range
Visually, the Baofeng PoFung GT-3TP is probably one of the prettiest ham radios featured out of all the other products on the list. It’s black in the front, having two orange strips that extend on the sides. Buttons are also showcased with orange highlights, making it a little easier to see in low light settings.
The LCD display is a little on the small side but does glow. So you should be able to quickly go through settings no matter how impaired your vision becomes. Because of these features alone, the radio is recommended for outdoor activities of all kinds. But there’s more to this portable device than appealing cosmetic features.
Use in nearly Any Location
One impressive aspect is how well communicating works when the Baofeng is used in cities and around locations with radio towers. Of course, interference is always a risk but the coverage stays close to three miles, even when in areas with very high congestion. Downtown areas with skyscrapers won’t impede signal as much as one would think. That means if you’re in such as location and need to communicate with someone within a radius of at least 2.7 miles, your signal should reach them in most cases.
Just like the other radio shown above, all of the accessories are the same. You can charge the product much like you would a wireless home phone, or even attach it to your car charger whenever you’re in transit.
The Headset and Antenna
If you’re looking for something with an antenna that won’t have to be replaced quickly, you’ll quickly notice how fragile the one is for this unit. It was made cheaply and will probably need a replacement early in the radio’s lifetime. Antenna quality is known to either improve or hurt signal strength. So consider getting a better one if you do plan on buying the GT-3TP.
The headset doesn’t hold up any better and often inputs decibels as low frequency, making it hard to hear chatter in both ham and FM channels. Furthermore, the instructions leave much left to the imagination and do not specify all features found with the product. For basic programming, you could either look at a video below or instructions from those who already own the product.
The GT-3TP isn’t a perfect radio, nor does it try to be. But it remains a top competitor and is surprisingly durable and simple to program, especially for a Chinese manufactured device.
Although not weatherproof, using the product in foggy or mildly wet conditions shouldn’t damage anything inside. Treat it well and this Baofeng will be sure to stay with you for years after it delivered to your door.
3. BaoFeng BF-888S – Best Radio for Family Use
Sometimes, having one Baofeng isn’t enough. You may have family or friends that would like to join in on the communication. Of course, smartphones are always good for day-to-day chats with the people you know. But when things become rugged, such as in remote areas in hunting or camping locations, having radios in possession could make such adventures much safer.
The Baofeng BF-888S is two ways and come in a pack of six. That means you won’t be the only one with access to services and other radio enthusiasts around. Once they are programmed, multiple people will be able to communicate with you, just like you may be accustomed to doing on ordinary mobile products.
There are fewer buttons located on this portable device than what’s shown in the other radios in the reviews. This results in a friendlier tool that’s easier for people to use that have little experience (or attention span) for learning the specifics of more advanced Baofeng equipment.
If you have children, you could show them how to stay in contact with you. And what channel will reach your signal. While there might be fewer configurations, the battery does manage to stay at the level of high-quality radios that maintain a steeper learning curve. Additionally, every radio has its own charging dock, headset, and belt clip. Each one is powered with a lithium-ion battery that should last up to eight hours without needing to go back on the docking station.
Programming the Baofeng
Going back to the headphones, you might find yourself using a replacement, depending on your preference. If you like those, which have low-frequency decibels, the sound quality could be very off-putting. They sound like the type of buds you would see packaged with most smartphone brands. Which isn’t always acceptable for some people. The knobs located on the top of the radio next to the antenna are also very cheap and may come off if handled carelessly.
Still, the BF-888S is a great entry-level Baofeng that works well for both beginners or people that need a way to communicate but anticipate being in situations where mobile devices would not be helpful. Hiking trips and visits to remote locations come to mind but due to the quality of radio available, having one for each family member or friend could prove as a useful backup to add with other gear during the event of an emergency. That way, you’ll be assured that there are enough radios to go around for everyone that is closest to you.
4. BaoFeng Pofung UV-82 – Best Radio for Durability
Finding a Baofeng that is heavy duty but manages to stay small isn’t always the easiest thing to come by. Many models are great to use but have dimensions that are too big for many users to fit them well on their belt buckle.
The Pofung UV-82, another Chinese model from the same brand as before, is sturdy yet retains an average weight, scaling a little over one pound. All the bells and whistles are here, including a charging dock, AC adapter, car charger, and battery pack. A one-ear headset is given as well, along with a battery that hooks up to the bottom of the radio.
A Baofeng with a Great FM Tuner
If you think that most of your time using the Baofeng will be spent on browsing FM channels, the signal should remain strong for this model. You can tune in to stations very fast and save those that you know without needing to flip through the manual.
Of course, more advanced settings will have to be configured with a little help, unless you’re already familiar with the mechanics of the product. It’s recommended that you do try to read up on the menu options before purchasing it though, something that could help you avoid the hassle of not understanding the booklet that’s given in the box.
Chinese Baofengs are well known for their lack of thorough user manuals, and the UV-82 is a good example. The instructions are given in broken English and at times are nearly indecipherable. If you run into issues with programming and cannot follow the instructions given, try searching for more detailed instructions on the web. And the screen may experience some fading issues if the radio is used for a long time without rest. Furthermore, there are no buttons situated on the product that will allow you to change from VFO to MR quickly. Yet if these shortcomings don’t bother you, the Baofen does work well once everything is set up.
5. BaoFeng BF-9500 – Best Radio for Indoor Use
The final product is the BF-9500, a radio that can be placed in an automobile as its own dock. You don’t have to do this though, so feel free to take it along with you on a belt strap. The BF-9500 arguably the best Baofeng radio for indoor use that we saw.
It’s certainly not handheld and is best for mobile locations too. Have a DC outlet, you’ll have to power it with a charger such as those found in a car. Here’s a two-way battery called the UV-5R that will help you use it away from a plug.
Best Baofeng Radio – Buyer’s Guide
How to Choose Baofeng Radio
Baofeng radios can be used for many tasks, whether you’re in a remote location on traveling around a large city. The advantages of having one are also numerous. However, there is a learning curve. You should familiarize yourself with certain aspects of the tools before you end your purchase. That way, you won’t end up with a radio that’ll collect dust in your garage!
Where they are Made
Baofeng radios are manufactured throughout the world. The most popular brands are produced in the United States, China, and Japan, with America producing the costliest models. China’s brands, while good in quality, tend to be easier for average consumers to acquire. There are many low-quality Chinese brands but improvements have been made in recent years, especially in regards to durability. For this reason, Asian models are oftentimes recommended to people that have begun using them for the first time.
If you’re unfamiliar with them and only need something that will get you through a short-term vacation or other outdoor events. Eastern brands are usually the best route to go. But if you want higher quality Baofengs that have a great wattage and will last you years after they are bought, products that are made closer to home would suffice.
Baofeng radios can be used for direct communication with anyone within range of your signal. To do this, you’ll need to acquire a ham radio license. There are three types of licenses available but an entry level is the most popular. Classes are abundant and can be found in your local area by searching online. Once you have received your ham radio license, you’ll be all set to make the most out of the products listed above.
This is the most common use for Baofengs. They’ll give you the ability to tune into various broadcasting frequencies such as law enforcement, weather monitoring, and lots of other departments tasked with providing assistance during the event of an emergency.
But to do this, you’ll have to either program the frequencies into your radio by hand or go to various websites to obtain the right code. There are lots of websites with different frequencies listed, of which you can find those close to your local area.
Depending on your location, a radio’s signal could be short or long in range. High-density places such as cities tend to lower the signal of most Baofengs. Other locations that could obstruct your reception are military bases and anywhere that’s close to a radio tower.
If you live in a place that is close to any of these places, try to find a radio with strong frequency range, of which is measured in wattage. The stronger the frequency, the higher than range. But in certain situations, this might be unavoidable. Most consumers shouldn’t any issues, however.
Most of the radios shown above take lithium-ion batteries that are sold with the product. But some must be run entirely from DC power, a direct current such as those found in automobiles.
If you’re going with a handheld product, understand that the battery could inconvenience you, especially if it must be unscrewed to be removed. The product you end up with could also have its own charging station where the radio is docked. Charging times vary but usually take around one hour.
Baofeng radios, as mentioned, make great tools for use in emergency situations. When satellite communication fails, ordinary mobile devices such as smartphones will fail. Baofeng will continue to work in these situations since they aren’t reliant on the same technology as newer methods of communication are.
Many families like to purchase them in bundles, programming for simple communication during camping, hiking, or sightseeing while on vacation. They are often placed in first aid or survival kits and can assist users with life-saving information during natural events such as hurricanes, snow storms, and even earthquakes. Whatever they are used for, you’ll be glad to have a Baofeng around if any such situation arises.
Which Baofeng radio is best
After looking through all the products shown above, you should have an idea on which Baofeng radio you think is the right one for purchase. But if not, there are two that stand out the most over the three others listed. The BaoFeng BF-F8HP and Pofung GT-3TP (the first and second products in the reviews) have clear communication channels, relatively easy navigational settings, and strong durability that will take them well past their warranty dates.
But that isn’t to say that the other radios shown are in any way inferior by a long margin. Individually, they could have something that you favor or need more. Whichever product you end up with, it’s a given that your Baofeng will keep you informed and in communication with the right people when the situation calls for it the most.