We have tested lots of Radio systems over the years and the best survival radio communications systems are the HAM Radios, I find the BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) combined with a HAM license as a great, cheap and reliable way to have communication when the SHTF.
Are you planning a new adventure in the outdoors or you would want to know that you’re ready to face any situation but you’re not sure what kind of equipment you need to pack?
Well, besides comfortable clothes, reliable shoes, a raincoat or waterproof clothes, tent and sleeping bag if you intend to spend the night out there, something to help you make the fire, and a multi-tool, you should also pack a radio communication system.
The BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) combined with a HAM license is one of the best survival radio communications systems out there for its price and it is the radio system that we would choose to have when the times get rough.
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You see, mobile phones don’t always work in the wilderness, as you may not get sufficient satellite signal from your service provider.
In this case, the good old communication systems based on radio waves are the most reliable.
They will allow you to get help or announce a crisis situation, which makes a radio communication system indispensable when exploring the outdoors.
Of course, there are several types of this kind of systems on the market, so it may be hard to decide which one is best.
Because we wanted to give you a helping hand, we came up with a list with the best survival radio communications systems that can represent your escape plan in case you’re in trouble.
Radio Communications Systems
A radio communication device is transmitter/ transceiver that allows the transmission of information by speech or encrypted data
Between a group of users located at different locations through radio waves.
The condition for a common connection is that the group of radios will maintain contact on the same radio frequency, in other words: on the same channel.
A wireless network can be integrated into different types of devices, depending on surface requirements for compliance,
Provided a clean and continuous connection for a given distance, where the main parameter determining the range of contact is the Power of the output that transmits from the antenna to the air (EIRP – effective isotropic radiated power) and the wave propagation in space.
What is Radio Frequency Communication?
Everyone is familiar with the home radio, or the portable transistor device, through which we listen to news broadcasts and music from the air.
The radio communication used by the army, walkie-talkies used by children, or cell phones, all use radio waves.
This communication is wireless, meaning there is no wire connecting the transmitter to the receiver.
The broadcasts go through space from the transmitter to the transceiver.
Radio-frequency communication is the transmission of information, found in an electrical form, by means of electromagnetic waves at high frequencies also called radio waves:
RF = Radio Frequency
Radiofrequency frequencies include the range from 100,000 Hz (100 KHz) to 1012 Hz (1,000 GHz).
The definition of radio is also included in the transmission processes as well as the reception processes of radio waves.
Radio transmissions from a broadcasting station to the masses are carried out in all directions, allowing each radio receiver to listen to these broadcasts.
On the other hand, there are radio transmissions sent via directional antennas only in a certain direction.
Communication to the general public via radio waves is a cheap means of mass communication, and a large percentage of the population is able to purchase radios.
Broadcast radio can be absorbed by thousands (and even millions) of listeners around the world, almost at the same time.
Hence the common name for radio and television broadcasts – mass media.
What is the radio frequency spectrum?
The spectrum of radio waves is usually divided into fields according to the applications it uses:
- 535 kHz – 1.7 MHz – AM radio broadcasts.
- 5.9 MHz – 26.1 MHz – shortwave broadcasts.
- 26.96 MHz – 27.41 MHz – civilian radio broadcasts (CB = Citizens Band).
- 54 MHz – 88 MHz – TV broadcasts (low frequency channels).
- 88 MHz – 108 MHz – FM radio broadcasts.
- 174 MHz – 220 MHz – high-frequency television broadcasts.
What is the distribution of the radio spectrum fields?
It is customary to divide the spectrum of radio waves into fields:
Long Waves: Frequency ranges of 10-300 kHz are used for long-range broadcasts of thousands of kilometers.
Middle Waves: Frequencies of 300 kHz to 3 MHz are used for long-range broadcasts of hundreds of kilometers.
Short Waves: In frequencies of 3 MHz to 30 MHz, they are used for long-range broadcasts of thousands of kilometers, while the waves return from the ionosphere layer.
Best Survival Radio Communications Systems
The HAM Radio
If you are ready to invest in a high-quality radio communication system, it is worth knowing that the HAM radios, also known as Amateur radios, are the best.
The best device that support HAM frequencies and comes with a great price tag is the BaoFeng BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen).
The best way to view its FAQ, reviews and its current price is from this top seller on Amazon.
This is why we chose to start our list with this type of systems.
Why is it so great? Well, from all the radio communications systems out there, this is one of the most powerful while being extremely versatile at the same time.
Ham radios can be used with a license which is easy to get and within the certain frequency allocation set by ITU(explain on the laws at the end of the article), I also added a link to a great manual guide for HAM radios(also at the end of this article).
This is given by the fact that there are more than 1 million frequencies at your disposal when using this particular type of system.
And this will be translated into survival chances that will be significantly improved, as you will have more ways of reaching out and getting help in a timely manner.
Just how good can a HAM radio be?
In spite of the fact that HAM radios are considered as being hobbies instead of anything else, they can cover very large distances and allow people to communicate at all times.
With the help of the HAM radio, people can communicate with each other across the city, from one part of the world to the other, and even in the wide outer space.
The best part is that anyone can use a HAM radio station and install one anywhere, this is why they are so practical.
If you have a HAM radio in handy, it doesn’t matter if you are stranded on top of a mountain, facing a flat tire on a road, or anywhere else where you don’t have a telephone, mobile phone, or the Internet to rely on.
In all of these cases, the HAM radio will save you.
Having a HAM license will pretty much get you covered and it is cheap and easy to get one.
You can check out this great video to understand more about HAM Radio!
HAM Radio Basics
If you have a scanner radio in handy, then you will be able to listen to all the frequencies available in the area of your location.
Why is this useful? Listening to the fire department, police department, governmental institutions, and so on, will give you precious and useful information.
This is more than welcome in the case of a disaster.
So, a scanner radio is something you should have available in your house, not just when you are exploring the outdoors.
Let us say that you live in an area where hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, and other hazards, may occur.
In case of a crisis situation, a scanner radio will be your connection with the outside world, allowing you to know when the danger is over, when it is possible to leave your house or shelter, and what is going on in an emergency situation.
This particular option may be an affordable one, but it may not be as effective as other options.
This is due to the fact that a CB radio has limited power, of only 4 watts, meaning that its transmission ability will be limited by this.
Fortunately, there are ways to tune and enhance this radio communication system and make it more effective and reliable.
Still, you will notice that there are quite a few CB radios on the market but what separates one from the other are the features that they present.
So, it is worth taking a better look at each model and doing some research before making your final choice.
The Family Radio System(FRS), also known as walkie-talkies, are powerful pieces of equipment, but, unfortunately, have a very low range of action.
In other words, they can be used on short distances only, so they can’t be used in case you are stranded in an isolated location.
In general, the FRS and GMRS are quite similar and shares 7 common channels, the GMRS offers more channels and required a different license.
There are available Hybrid Radios which are a combination of both FRS and GMRS radios in one device.
But, due to the fact that it is a very affordable solution, you should add it to your survival kit because it will allow you to stay in contact with your family members or group members if you don’t get too far from each other.
Thus, if something bad will happen while you are at home or in the area of your camp, you will have the FRS radios to use for communicating important information without leaving your safe area.
What’s the maximum range of action for this type of radio communication system? Tests show that they can work anywhere between 22 and 36 miles, but such performances can be achieved only in the best conditions.
In the case of a disaster, for example, you should be aware that this range will be shorter than the one presented by the manufacturer.
Here is an example of a very popular GMRS radio that is being sold on Amazon.
The PMR446 radios(personal mobile radio) uses a UHF frequency which is open and doesn’t require any license in most of the countries in the European Union.
It is being used in walkie-talkies just like the FRS/GMRS radios in America and Canada and it is basically the European equivalent to the American FRS/GMRS radios.
A PMR446 walkie-talkie has been around for several years. Consumers and businesses recognize the benefits of having good communications, and these devices offer effective low-cost multi-purpose communications.
The great advantage of PMR446 radios is that anyone can use them anywhere, without the need for a license! These devices are ideal for users of different types.
For example in the building, catering, event management, neighborhood patrols, factories, and agricultural farms. Families can use them on hiking and they are of course excellent as communication devices in times of trouble.
PMR446 radios are simple. Usually, they have only a few buttons, so they are very easy to use.
There is no need for a license, no charge for calls, no need to pass a test or sign an airtime agreement.
They can even be used in many European Union countries, but we recommend that you first determine whether the relevant countries have implemented all of the 446PMR regulations.
PMR446 radios are cheaper than conventional licensed radio systems. From the cheapest, which are suitable for use in leisure, to the most expensive devices – the ideals for professional business applications. Walkie Talkies use a variety of power sources: from the basic models that use AA batteries to the commercial models that work on rechargeable Li-ion batteries and long-lasting chargers.
Note that these radios are great for close range communication and we do recommend having them in addition to a good HAM radio system.
Solar powered versus batteries
Systems that can be powered by solar energy mean that you will have a functional radio communication system no matter where you go, as long as you allow it to charge under the daylight when you are not using the radio.
Still, if you are stranded in your house, bunker, or any other place where daylight is scarce, a solar-powered radio will not work.
This is when a battery-operated device will turn to be more effective.
Thus, you can add a battery-powered radio in your survival kit at home, and add several extra batteries to the package as well, and take a solar-powered version for when you’re exploring outdoors or camping.
Radio systems that use the clean and renewable energy from the sun are great, as you will not depend on the existence of functional batteries, as long as you allow it to charge properly under the sun.
But they do have their own limitations, as mentioned earlier.
Portable or non-portable radios
As you can tell, portable radio communication systems are extremely useful when you’re on the move.
They are rather small and light weighted, so you will have no problems putting them in your backpack and have them available no matter where you go.
They are also useful at home, in case of emergency, allowing you to move if the case.
Non –portable radios are usually more powerful, as they don’t depend on batteries, being constantly connected to a source of power, so they have an increased transmission capability.
However, they cannot be used on the move, so they are more useful at home, office, or base camp, in case you want something reliable and powerful to use in times of need.
2-Way Radios(Transceiver) vs broadcast receiver
A 2-way radio is simply a radio that has the capability both to receive and transmit signals from other radios on the same radio frequency, unlike a broadcast receiver which can only receive signals.
having the ability to send signals(messages) can be extremely important in times of crisis, and this is another reason why we like so much the BaoFeng BF-F8HP and it is our favorite radio system that also comes with a great price tag 0f 62.89$ for the new 3Gen system.
Please note that The BaoFeng BF-F8HP does not meet the legal requirements to transmit on FRS or GMRS frequencies although it has the abilities to serve as one, however with a HAM license this device would be extremely helpful in a case of survival situation.
The laws about frequency usage
When it comes to using a radio communications system, in spite of the fact that these systems are made for amateurs, it is recommended to know the laws in this sector.
The radio frequency allocation in the case of amateur radios is set by the International Telecommunication Union or ITU, so the same laws apply all over the world.
Practically, this allocation makes reference to the radio spectrum that is dedicated to being used by amateurs only.
Thus, it is free to use an amateur radio communication system as long as it is set in the frequency ranges authorized by the ITU.
But, in order to know the correct band frequency allowed by the ITU, you will need to check the ITU regulations for your country, as the specifications vary from one country to another.
You will find the list with the authorized frequency ranges mentioned as band allocations, so all you need to check is the ITU region corresponding to your country.
FCC regulations for radio frequency
The FCC or Federal Communications Commission is the US authority in charge of the regulations and safety concerning the use of devices that utilize the Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields.
The FCC also watches over the consequences of using these fields on the environment and human health.
Thus, back in 1996, the FCC adopted the Maximum Permissible Exposure limits to radio fields, which is found between 300 kHz and 100 GHz.
This way, using radio communication systems is safe for you and for the people around you.
If you want to make sure that a radio communication system is safe to use and respects the active regulations in this domain, make sure it is FCC-approved before making the purchase.
If you want to understand more about the world of amateur radio, I have found a great manual guide that will cover it up for you, you can check it out here!
We hope that we helped you to understand what are the Best Survival Radio Communications Systems.
We have a great related article about survival tents for families here!