Hams love adventures. Be it venturing off the road or tinkering with their electronics (which can count as an adventure for some people). They like doing the unusual.
If you are one of the adventure-junkie types, you may have considered going off-road. And your inherent passion for Ham radio may have compelled you to get a mobile rig for the jeep you plan on off-roading with.
If that’s so, you don’t want to miss this article.
In this article, I am sharing my top picks of mobile rigs, one of which may just be the best Ham radio for your own jeep!
Best Ham Radio for a Jeep – Our Picks
A ham radio operators’ requirements are diverse. And they become more versatile when you are looking for the best ham radio for your Jeep Wrangler or TJ.
I have considered all possible requirements and expectations you may have from your new rig while researching for this article. So, the devices I present here address all common mobile Ham radio requirements. I am sure you’ll find one that satisfies your communication needs.
Remember, this list of mobile Ham radios is in no particular order.
The Kenwood TM-V71A is a 50-watt dual-band Ham radio that works on the 2m and 70cm bands.
The radio is equipped with dual VFO and crossband repeat features to diversify and augment your communication.
Kenwood’s TM-V71A comes with a detachable and invertible faceplate, so you have added orientation flexibility. What, I believe, makes it the best Ham radio for Wrangler or TJ is the large backlit LCD. The screen has two backlight colors, lighting up in amber and green, making it easier to view the display screen.
This radio has 1000 split memory channels. Moreover, it can also receive NOAA weather bands and responds to emergency transmissions by sounding an audible alert tone.
Being fairly simple to set up, it is a great radio for beginners. But according to some users, programming channels into the Kenwood TM-V71A might have a bit of a learning curve.
Moreover, this radio does not have GPS. So, if you are looking for a device that enables APRS, this might not be the best choice.
But the next one maybe.
Yaesu Original FTM-400 DR/XDR
Yaesu is yet another brand that has earned itself a solid reputation, especially in the Ham radio world.
Finding its place in my list of the best Ham radio for a jeep is the Yaesu’s FTM-400 DR/XDR. This dual-band ham radio operates as an analog and digital radio and transmits on the popular 2m and 70 cm VHF and UHF bands.
This radio is equipped with the latest GPS technology, giving it exceptional APRS capabilities. It also has a crossband repeat feature and can work as a repeater when connected to a compatible HT.
The GPS and Crossband repeat functionalities, along with its small size and light weight, make it an excellent choice for jeeps and off-road adventures.
This radio is great for beginners as it is simple to set up and easy to use.
Yaesu’s FTM-400 DR ships with a computer cable to supplement channel programming and works with Yaesu’s native memory software, thus eliminating the need to invest in other software programs.
But, if you are accustomed to using the CHIRP software for programming, you may be interested in my next pick.
BTECH Mobile UV-5X3
The BTECH UV-5X3 is a triband radio, operating at 5-watts power on the VHF, UHF, and 1.25m bands.
If you want to use a Ham radio as a walkie-talkie, the BTECH radio might be your best choice.
This radio is extremely lightweight and claims to be waterproof. It has 128 different frequency channels and can connect with a computer to enable easy channel programming. And unlike the last one, it uses CHIRP software, which makes it a great choice for people already familiar with it.
The mobile radio is rechargeable with a 1500 mAh battery and comes with a charger. It also ships with an earpiece kit, a wrist strap, and a belt clip.
The BTECH radio has a large blue backlight LCD, making it easier for you to see what frequency you are on.
Additionally, unlike its predecessors, the UV-5X3 features display synchronization, allowing users to see the channel’s frequency and name at once on the screen.
What makes it more attractive is its channel mode modifications.
Using the UV-5X3, you don’t have to delete channels when adding new ones. You can simply modify existing channels and be ready to go.
If an adventure-compatible Handy-Talkie is what you are looking for, the BTECH UV-5X3 might make for the best Ham radio for your jeep.
Icom ID 5100-A
Icom is yet another brand that has left its mark in the Ham radio world. In today’s list, I am sharing with you the Icom ID 5100-A.
The ID 5100-A is a dual-band transceiver with variable power outputs and works on the VHF/UHF spectrum.
This radio boasts 1000 regular channels with around 1200 repeater memories.
The Icom ID 5100-A stands apart in this list with its 5.5-inch “industry-leading” touch display. But that’s not all. This device also happens to be one of the most tech-advanced rigs with its capability to interface with Android and Bluetooth technologies.
This radio also has integrated GPS, allowing you to share your position data, illuminating the possibility that people can come find you if you wander off and get lost.
Besides the APRS, the radio also has a crossband repeat feature. And all of these functionalities can make this device the best ham radio for your jeep JK.
Baofeng radios are one of the most popular HT devices.
The Baofeng UV-5R may be among the most affordable options on this list. But affordability does not translate into bad quality, at least when it comes to Baofeng.
It works on the VHF and UHF spectrum, on the 2m and 70cm bands. The UV-5R comes with a rechargeable 1800 mAh Li-ion battery and is said to support 12-24 hours of continuous use before dying.
The radio features 4 watts of power output and has 128 channels, a large LCD with tri-colored background light, and an emergency flashlight.
No other option screams “off-roading” more than the Baofeng UV-5R.
However, the limited power may restrict the Ham radio’s reach, and it does not have GPS either. So, try not to get lost when using this device.
Oh, and it may not be too waterproof either, so try not to drop it in a lake or something.
The Baofeng Handy-Talkie ships with a belt clip and a wrist strap giving you a choice in how you want to carry it. It also comes with an adapter and a desktop charger.
Despite a few shortcomings, its affordability and diverse functionality can make Baofeng UV-5R the best Ham radio for a jeep, especially for the new Hams.
The best Ham radio for your jeep is the one that is reliable, sturdy, and easy to operate while driving.
Keeping these factors in mind, I have presented my top-five picks that may make for the best Ham radio for a jeep in this article.
However, before you invest in any Ham radio, I recommend that you take a minute and assess your communication scene to know your requirements. This way, you will be able to buy yourself a rig that’s most suitable for your application.
Also, if you don’t have a ham radio license yet, get that first. Being licensed will enable you to communicate with other Hams and teach you the technical details that make choosing the right radio easier.