Recommended Radio Gear

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I am writing this article because of the overwhelming amount of questions that I receive on a regular basis about communications. We live in a time where we are more connected than people have ever been in history. With cell phones, texting, email and social media, it is easier now to communicate with people than it ever has been.

The problem with all of these methods is that they rely on infrastructure and all of this infrastructure is fragile. What if parts of it break? What if parts of it become censored? I want my family, friends, and tribe to be able to continue to communicate regardless of circumstance.

This article is no substitute for training and experience, but it is a good place to start if you want to make yourself and your community more resilient.


First a quick legal disclaimer. The FCC has rules in place for just about every aspect of radio communications. They have and will fine people for breaking rules, however if life, limb or eyesight are at risk, use any means at your disposal to help protect yourself and those you love.

It is your responsibility to be educated. As one of my mentors used to say “Know the rules and know why you are breaking them. Do not break them out of laziness or ignorance.”

FRS Rules
Ham Rules
GMRS Rules
MURS Rules


All of the recommendations that I am making will be marked as “No license required” or “Ham” or “GMRS”. If it is marked as “No license required” it is either a MURS or FRS radio and does not require licensing to use.

If it is labeled “Ham”, it is legal to own or use in an emergency, but not legal to use during normal times unless you are a licensed amateur.

If it is labeled “GMRS” you can purchase, and listen, but you are supposed to buy a “GMRS” license from the FCC before you transmit.


All of us are constrained by logistics. Regardless of what your budget is we all have one, and being wise in our gear choices allows us to cover more bases. If you have something that is almost as good but costs half as much, it means that you can buy more of the item or use the money you saved for something else.

“The amateurs discuss tactics: the professionals discuss logistics.”


Logistics matter, so what I have attempted to compile here is a list of equipment that will get the job done, but not break the bank.


Hand Held Radios

This is the quickest/ easiest way to increase your capability. Having a handheld radio in your pack and knowing how to use it could save your life or the life of a loved one. Make sure you standardize and decide on what frequencies/ channels you are going to be using with your people before you actually need them. Also make sure you get some practice reps in, because you will most likely discover some holes in your plan when you first try them.

I recommend keeping these radios in your hiking packs, vehicles and having a few spares around the house.

BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio

This is a Ham radio, it is more capable than any of the other listed handheld radios, but requires a license to transmit on. You can pair this radio with an aftermarket handheld antenna to increase the range a small amount, or pair the radio with a magnet mounted roof antenna to increase your range significantly. Ham license required.


If you are going to standardize on the MURS system this is the radio to get. Another good thing about this radio and MURS in general is that you are allowed to use external antennas. This is one of the best things you can do to increase your transmission/ reception range. No license required.

BTECH GMRS-V1 GMRS Two-Way Radio, GMRS Repeater Capable, with Dual Band Scanning Receiver (136-174.99mhz (VHF) 400-520.99mhz (UHF))

This is the best option if you are going to go the GMRS route. With GMRS you get a little bit more power (5 watts for GMRS vs 2 watts for FRS and 2 watts for MURS), the downside is that you need a license and it is commonly used platform which means you will most likely have interference from other users. GMRS license required.

Retevis RT27 Two-Way Radios Rechargeable 2 Way Radio for Adults UHF FRS 22 Ch

This is an inexpensive option that is very simple to use. Think hand out radio. No license required

Retevis RT22 Two Way Radios Rechargeable Walkie Talkies 16 CH

This is an inexpensive option, and it is small and charges from a USB cable. Also another good hand out option. No license required.

Handheld Radio Accessories

Authentic Genuine Nagoya NA-771 15.6-Inch Whip VHF/UHF (144/430Mhz) Antenna SMA-Female for BTECH and BaoFeng Radios

This is an improved antenna for the UV-5R or for the MURS V1, it will increase your range at a cost of being bigger/ bulkier.

Authentic Genuine Nagoya UT-72 Super Loading Coil 19-Inch Magnetic Mount VHF/UHF (144/430Mhz) Antenna PL-259

This antenna uses a magnet to attach to your vehicle roof, it will work with the UV-5R, MURS V1, as well as any of the mobile radios listed. Having this antenna on the roof of your vehicle will dramatically increase your transmit and receive distances.

BTECH, BaoFeng BL-5 Battery Eliminator for for BF-F8HP, UV-5X3, and UV-5R Radios

This allows you to power your UV-5R from a 12v cigarette lighter. This is a great addition to have in your vehicle, especially if you are not going to run a mobile radio.

Baofeng BL-5L 3800mAh Extended Battery Compatible with UV-5R RD-5R UV-5RTP UV-5R Plus, Original Pack, Black

This replacement battery for the UV-5R has over twice the capacity of the original battery.

Mobile Radios

BTECH Mini UV-25X4 25 Watt Tri-Band Base, Mobile Radio: 136-174mhz (VHF), 220-230mhz (1.25M), 400-520mhz (UHF) Amateur (Ham)

Requires a Ham license.

Radioddity DB25 Pro Dual Band Quad-standby Mini Mobile Car Truck Radio, VHF UHF 4 Color Display, 25W Vehicle Transceiver with Cable + 50W High Gain Quad Band Antenna

Requires a Ham license.

LEIXEN VV-898S Dual Band VHF/UHF 5W/10W/25W 136-174/400-470MHz Two Way Radio Car Mobile Radio Tranceiver Amateur Ham with USB Programming Cable

Requires a Ham license.

Mobile Radio Accessories:

Authentic Genuine Nagoya UT-72 Super Loading Coil 19-Inch Magnetic Mount VHF/UHF (144/430Mhz) Antenna PL-259

This antenna uses a magnet to attach to your vehicle roof, it will work with the UV-5R, MURS V1, as well as any of the mobile radios listed. Having this antenna on the roof of your vehicle will dramatically increase your transmit and receive distances.

MPD Digital Cablesonline 100ft RG8x Coax Uhf (PL259) Male to Male 50 Ohm Antenna Cable – R-U100 – Coax cable

This is for setting up a mobile radio in your house or running a HF antenna.

Battery Tender 6V/12V, 4A Selectable Lead Acid & Lithium Battery Charger

This battery charger can be used to keep your 12v battery charged that you use to run your mobile radio in your house. Sometimes the charger will add radio noise, if that is the case, unplug before transmitting.

12v 18ah AGM Rechargeable Deep Cycle Replacement Battery for CB19-12 by Casil

Use this battery to power your mobile radio in your house and use the above listed battery tender (charger) to keep the battery charged.

Tram 1410 Broad Band Discone/Scanner Base Antenna

This is the antenna to use for your home. Put it on as high up as you can/ either external to your house on a pipe (make sure you ground it) or in your attic if you have an asphalt roof. Use the above listed 50 ohm coax cable to connect the antenna to the radio. I picked this antenna because it has the one of the widest coverages to transmit and receive on.

Driveway Alarms

If you need driveway or zone alarms, this is the system that I recommend. The main reason to use the Dakota Alert brand is that they use MURS frequencies, which means that you can listen to your driveway or zone alarms with any MURS radio.

Dakota Alert PIR Driveway Alarm

You can use this for driveways or any zone that you want to monitor.

Dakota Alert Vehicle Alarm

This device gets buried in your driveway and will only alert if a vehicle drives over it. This is a good option if you get a lot of false alarms with your PIR device.

Dakota Alert Base Station

If you are not going to use a mobile radio or handheld radio to monitor your driveway/ zone alarms then you will need this. A better option is getting any of the above listed mobile radios and using it to monitor the MURS driveway alarm frequency.

High Frequency (HF) Radios

HF radios allow us to communicate over long distances, hundreds or even thousands of miles with no infrastructure. This is done by bouncing the radio waves off of the ionosphere. The downside is that it requires more training and equipment to make it happen.

If you are interested in learning HF communications I would recommend that you get your Ham license, otherwise there is no legal way to train and become proficient.

FT-891 FT891 Yaesu Original FT-891 HF/50 MHz All Mode Analog Ultra Compact Mobile/Base Transceiver – 100 Watts

This is a solid choice for HF comms. It is relatively inexpensive and very compact, the downside is that a lot of features are buried in different layers of menus. Requires a Ham license.

Yaesu FT-818ND FT-818 6W HF/VHF/UHF All Mode Mobile Transceiver

This radio is very similar to the FT891. The differences are this radio is smaller, will only put out 6 watts, and will also do VHF/UHF. Unless you plan on mostly using your radio while backpacking I would recommend getting the more powerful radio. Requires a Ham license.

LDG Electronics Z-100PLUS Automatic Antenna Tuner 1.8-54 MHz, 0.1-125 Watts, 2 Year Warranty

While not technically mandatory to have an antenna tuner, it will make your life much easier. You will use this to tune your dipole antenna.

HF Antenna

For the most reliable regional communication I recommend setting up your dipole antenna in a NVIS configuration (the practical explanation for a NVIS antenna that it is a dipole antenna hung 10-15 ft above ground). You can do a little research and build a dipole antenna pretty easily or you can purchase something like this.

I could spend many more weeks writing this article, but I want to get the information out there. Feel free to hit me up if you have any questions.