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Best Survival Radio Communication Systems in 2020

You never really understand the importance of survival radio communication systems until you have actually needed them. To prevent you from being stranded with no means of communication, it’s a good idea to prepare for such situations by learning about the best survival radio communications systems beforehand.

Top 7 Survival Radio Communication Systems – Reviews & Comparison

1 – Baofeng UV5RA HAM Two-Way Radio 

Baofeng UV5RA

First up in our article is the highly coveted HAM radio, also known as an amateur radio. These radios can operate independently between the A/B bands and come with extra features like an LED flashlight and an emergency alarm – useful in case of an emergency situation.

You’re looking at a good 4 watts of power when using this emergency HAM radio. It also comes with a battery-saving mode, which is very useful for people in emergency when there are no charging ports nearby. Equipment like this ham radio doesn’t need to cost an arm and leg. The affordable price of the amateur radio is an advantage. 

PROS:
  • Independent operation
  • 4 watts power
  • 150 codes
  • Wide and narrow band selection
  • Two-way function
  • Extra features like a built-in flashlight
  • Battery-saving mode to save battery life

CONS:
  • The range might not be as advertised
  • The radio programming could be difficult

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2 – Uniden PRO505XL 40-Channel CB Radios 

Uniden PRO505XL

For this radio, you have the choice of purchasing just the single package, or ones complete with a lighter plug, antenna kit, or a coaxial cable. This good 40-channel radio is complete with public address functions and a large LCD display. 

It comes in a compact size that fits into pretty much any vehicle. CB radios like this are often used by people to communicate with the public and this one also allows you to connect this radio to an external speaker to further amplify your voice. 

You get much included in the package like the mounts and the manual. Plus, your purchase is protected by a 2-year warranty.

PROS:
  • Ability to connect to an external speaker
  • Large and clear LCD display
  • Compact size and fits well into vehicles
  • 4 different purchasing packages
  • Quick channel 9 function (emergency channel)
  • Comprehensive package including an antenna kit

CONS:
  • Might not last long

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3 – Midland LXT535VP3 22-Channel Camo GMRS Radios

Midland LXT535VP3

2-way radios help provide a means to send and receive a signal – similar to walkie talkies. Where our cell phones fail during disasters, an emergency radio like HAM radios, GMRS radios will be useful for survival or emergency communication. This is a long range option that provides a clear connection with no cell towers for 24 miles (given there is no obstruction in the local area). 

As for the right power supply, you can choose to connect this to rechargeable battery pack or use the conventional AAA batteries. Midland makes sure you get the most out of the radio by including everything you’d be using in the package — great for survival or any emergency.

PROS:
  • 2 way radio with channel scan
  • Dual power options
  • Comprehensive equipment package
  • Waterproof design for survival
  • 3-year manufacturer warranty
  • Clear speaking lines with the press of a button
  • Great equipment in case of an emergency

CONS:
  • May not be a long-range radio as advertised
  • The battery pack doesn’t give a powerful charge

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4 – Cobra ACXT1035R FLT Walkie Talkies 37-Mile Two Way Radios

Cobra ACXT1035R

These 2-way radios take long range to the next level as you can communicate within a 37-mile range. When an emergency situation or disaster strikes, who knows where your family and loved ones would be, so having a longer range increases the chances of successful communication. 

You’d want walkie-talkies in your survival kit especially if you don’t have a cell phone available.

It comes with weather alerts –  an information feature you could get in GMRS or HAM radios. The special design floats on water, so you’re able to easily retrieve your radio communications system. Again, another advantage you’d want over a cell phone when it comes to disasters and survival.

PROS:
  • You get weather alerts in case of unfavorable conditions
  • Reliable radio communication systems for survival in any situation
  • Floating design
  • Voice detection and you’re not required to press any buttons
  • Bright color for easy visual
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Everything included

CONS:
  • The radio may not be water-resistant as advertised
  • May not have the range

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5 – Uniden SX507-2CKHS Up to 50 Mile Range FRS Two Way Radio Walkie Talkie

Uniden SX507-2CKHS

This Family Radio Service (FRS) radio communication system has a mind-blowing 50-mile range and a broad frequency. Radio communication can be tough to establish in a time of crisis but a mobile GMRS radio, HAM radios, and an FM radio can often come in handy.

Your cell phone is designed to rely on a cell tower to send out a signal, which can hold you back during a disaster. With 22 channels and 149 privacy codes, you can always establish radio communication with people on a clear line using survival radios. The rechargeable AA batteries can give radio operators up to 14 hours of battery life.

PROS:
  • 22 channels, 149 privacy codes and 142 direct call codes will always give you an open line
  • They are as waterproof as communications systems can get (can be submerged up to three feet for 30 min
  • This family radio service device operates on industry standard frequencies
  • Compatible with other equipment
  • Get weather alerts for survival in harsh conditions
  • Great for a survival kit or bag

CONS:
  • Range may be much shorter than advertised
  • Shorter battery life

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6 – Midland 75-822 40 Channel CB Radio

Midland 75-822

This portable communication system offers a 4-watt power output. Other than charging with AA batteries, Midland affords you the choice of using the included cigarette lighter adapter for this mobile radio. 

Equipped with an automatic noise limiter (ANL), enjoy static-free and noiseless reception with this portable radio. It features a NOAA weather radio as well with alerts for survival warnings in your local area. Best of all, CB radios like this comes with a 1-year manufacturer warranty.

PROS:
  • Includes cigarette lighter adapter for vehicle charging
  • Comes with NOAA weather radio
  • 1-year manufacturer warranty
  • Features ANL technology
  • Get emergency channels in this mobile radio
  • Great addition to a survival kit or bag

CONS:
  • Short-range radio
  • Poor signal reception

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7 – BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio

BaoFeng UV-5R

This communications amateur radio has 128 channels and a dual band display. The ham radio even comes with an FM radio with a 4-watt power output and broad frequency.

To keep you from misdialing, the keypad lock will lock your keypad. Programming is going to be easy, and the small size of the ham radio is portable and easy to grip on the hand. Overall, it’s one of the best survival radios you can take in emergency situations. 

PROS:
  • Get to switch between high and low power
  • Built-in LED flashlight and VOX 
  • Low-battery and emergency alerts
  • LCD display
  • This amateur radio features a dual band display
  • Wide frequency range
  • Manufacturer warranty

CONS:
  • Consider that a HAM radio license could be required
  • Not reliable at times

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Best Survival Radio Communications Systems Buyer’s Guide

Especially those who are new to handheld radio systems, it can be hard to know where to start looking for the best one. We’ll do our best to answer your questions in this article and hopefully direct you to the best choice you can get by giving you tips on what to look for.

Type

As you can see from our list, there are a few different types of communications systems. While the topic of the top emergency radio is highly subjective, we’ll break each of them down so you’ll get a better idea which is right for you and best to use for getting information around the world or for your unique situation.

HAM Radio – Also known as amateur radios, HAM radios are used as a powerful communication system. They’re versatile at the same time. A lot of survivalists have at least one HAM radio because they see abundant information and benefits. 

You might need to obtain a HAM license to legally use this product, but they’re easy to have. The HAM radio has access to a ton of frequencies and information which will increase your chances of surviving a disaster. 

They are easy to use and easy to install, making them one of the most accessible and popular choices on the market. So if you are asking the question of the best survival radio communications systems, a HAM radio is definitely at the top of the list.

CB Radio – You’ll see CB radios come at very affordable prices, but with compromised quality and effectiveness. Compared to the HAM radio, this option is used with lower transmission rates due to the lower power output. It also has limited frequency spectrum. You don’t need a license for this radio though.

All this can be helped, however, with proper system tuning. There are ways to enhance these radios for better communication, like getting an external antenna. When you buy an antenna, things would be better.

GMRS Radio – This is a fancier system name for a walkie-talkie. While they can be the most powerful of the bunch with a wide frequency range, these lack the range the other radio systems have. They’re used in cases where you’re in isolation and don’t have a cell phone but need to locate family or get information around the local area. It’s also greaet if you’re part of a group. Note that you may need a license for this.

Since these best survival radios communications systems aren’t unattainable in terms of the price tag, you can buy all of them if you feel the need and just having the amateur or CB is not be enough. 

Keeping your options open and giving yourself more chances at clear communication with the use of these excellent systems will increase your chances of success.

Radio Communications Systems

Battery

Before we talk about the sort of charging and batteries a radio can come with, we should talk about battery life. The longer they’re designed to survive on a single charge, the better your chances are at getting and transmitting messages.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to use your radio systems for over 12 hours. Some come with rechargeable packs and some are even used right with your vehicle’s cigarette lighter port. 

Other options are battery-powered, so as long as you keep tons of batteries at hand, you can always make use of these radio systems.

Another thing to think about is whether you want a solar powered option versus one that requires batteries. Solar is readily available in the day so it’s something to consider. We suggest a hybrid of one that can be charged portably with one that operates on batteries or even solar power. You can also run the radio on batteries while charging through solar power during the day.

These offer you a three in one package in terms of charging that gives you convenience and more chances at successful service lines.

Range

The point of having a radio communication system is in the title itself – communication. 

Know that the broader and wider the range one of these radios have, the higher your chance of surviving disasters. Great range is a great help if you want to call others if you’re part of a group or emergency services.

A walkie-talkie is fun to use as children playing games or during camping, but sometimes those can lack the range you would want and require in an emergency situation. However, it’s a good replacement for a cell phone when you need it for survival and emergency situations.

Try to search for equipment with a range of over 20 miles and ones with ANL technology for clearer signal reception. Know that static and noise can hold back the use and operation and when you receive signals, so search for ones that can eliminate this problem.

Portable?

Portable radios could be much better for communication on the move. Good communications systems will allow you the liberty of free travel, especially during a disaster. It’s important that they’re small and lightweight in terms of design. A base radio system may not be for everyone.

Non-portable radios like large base options are comparatively more powerful than the former option, which really helps with the quality. Since they aren’t moveable, you won’t have to risk running out of batteries.

A way to make good use of a non-portable option is to use it at home, or set in a communication base somewhere in case of disasters and emergencies.

Follow the Law

Another important thing to know is not all best survival radio communications systems are going to be allowed without license. You may need a HAM license to communicate using HAM radios. A HAM license is quite easy to get, so just to make sure you abide by the law, know and look into what’s required to have a right to operate these systems in your city. There are different license types too, so read up on license privileges. The Technician license is the first one to get.

Water-Resistance

This is going to be a very important feature. You want to be sure your radio is set to survive in any kind of weather and emergencies too. It’s nice if they are still functional even if they are dropped into the water. It’s an important advantage over cell phones.

To make sure you have lines of communication regardless of the conditions, you should look into radio equipment that is waterproof or at least splashproof. If you happen to find one that can be submerged, then that’s an extra bonus!

Extra Features

What else do you think you’re going to need in a disaster or emergencies? Perhaps different ways to charge your radio, and the ability to receive weather alerts are important so you can set plans accordingly. Some radio designs even have LED flashlights and alarms set for use in disasters. 

If you’re able to find ones that have a compass, then your new radio can help you navigate your way out of the wilderness while offering clear communication.

Radio Communications Systems parts

Appearance

Appearance could depend on personal opinion, but there’s actually more to it than that. A brightly colored radio can be easily seen. In case you lose it, it will help make it easier for you to locate it.

Ease of Use

Hopefully, the device you offer won’t be too decked out to perform the most basic functions unsuccessfully. By the most basic function, we mean the ability to establish a clear communication connection with civilization. Many fancy frills and bells and whistles are nice, but make sure that your radio serves its main purpose well — which is to communicate.

Would Walkie-Talkies Work after EMP?

The world would quite possibly be plunged into chaos without electricity. A feared form of attack is an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) aimed at any country with an advanced society [1]. Many people ask if their emergency radio or walkie talkie could survive an EMP attack.

Some of these radios have built-in surge protectors that can potentially shield them from an EMP attack. It should be noted that an EMP doesn’t possess a 100% hit rate for all electronic devices. There’s still a chance even an unprotected device can still work. 

Many devices that are not connected to main power can still be operational. However, if you want to increase your chances, you can invest in EMP protective cases.

How Can We Communicate Without Electricity?

All of the radios that we have mentioned in the “Type” section above can be lifesavers in a time with no electricity or cell phones. Since a lot of the devices offer more than one way of charging, it’s very likely that they will have a good battery-charging option.

You won’t need to rely on electricity with a fully-charged battery pack or handy extra batteries. HAM devices are the top choice for many different rescue efforts and groups and they have more frequencies. And even if your cell phone is dead or you’re somewhere in the world with no cell towers nearby, having radios in your survival kit may save your life.

Unlike cell phones, HAM devices have access to NOAA frequencies, which is an indispensible feature. Not only will you get first-hand information on what’s going on in the local area, but you get updates on the weather and other necessary emergency communication important to surviving.

Radio Communications Systems device

To up your chances in the outside world, we suggest stocking up on more than just one of these devices for everyone in your family to use. Look at least two or more of these radios just in case.

GMRS radios work well with no electricity and many consider them the new and improved versions of the CB. They offer more power, but there’s a downside. GMRS frequencies may require radio operators to obtain an FCC license prior to using them. 

A CB radio is very easily accessible, but they do lack the power of a lot of their brother devices. The reason why they lack the necessary power to work wonders is because they are limited to 4-watt outputs.

In case you’re looking at that kind of output, the range equates to about 1-10 miles. This sounds pretty impressive until you learn that their counterparts can provide well over 20. Maybe you keep thinking about tuning your CB radio, but there are rules and limitations to what you’re able to do with it.

The FCC has strict rules and can look for people with illegal modifications and hand out fines. Also, it makes no difference if your CB radio is extremely powerful after modifications if the person you are trying to reach is still limited to the basic design.

Satellite phones, as we have frequently introduced, are also an excellent option in a time of world disaster. We understand that the pricing can run quite high, but there really isn’t a price tag on people’s lives. 

We suggest using other devices in tandem with these phones because if satellites go offline (which they have before), then it would be a disaster.

Our Top Pick – Baofeng UV5RA

Baofeng UV5RA

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While there are a lot of pros to like with all the products on our top list, we have to hand the crown to the Baofeng UV5RA HAM Two-Way Radios. Baofeng is a trusted brand around the world to produce very affordable and quality products. 

We chose this because it’s a HAM device, which possesses more benefits than the other types of survival radio. It also possesses some of the fancy bells and whistles we talked about like a built-in LED flashlight, alarms, and a built-in key lock.

The 128 channels makes sure there is always a clear line open and the large LCD display is clear and easy to read. Factor in the battery saver mode the ability to switch between high and low RF, then you know you have the best radio system on your hands.

William