What to Look for When Buying a UHF Radio

So you want to buy an ultra high frequency or UHF radio but need help finding a quality product. Which traits are best?

Here’s what to look for when buying a UHF radio:

  • Antenna and gains
  • Battery life
  • Location tracking
  • Radio size
  • Radio weight
  • Water resistance
  • Ease of use
  • Durability
  • Encryption
  • Cost

While you could buy any old UHF radio on the market, paying attention to these features specifically will ensure a higher quality radio you should enjoy for a long time.

10 Things to Look for When Shopping for a UHF Radio

1. Antenna and Gains

Antennas play a tremendous role in UHF radio, so a good one is necessary.

Since UHF radio waves are shorter than VHF, most antennas are short to match.

The stubbiness of the antenna makes it efficient for use on mobile and handheld devices, from two-way radios to walkie-talkies.

Of course, we can’t discuss UHF radio antennas without mentioning gains.

This term refers to the transmitting antenna’s ability to transfer input power to directional radio waves or the receiving antenna’s ability to transfer radio waves to electrical power.

The higher the gains, the better the focus of the radio waves.

Further, the communication distance increases.

However, higher gains are also at a greater risk of interference.

Do you plan to primarily use UHF radio in a hilly region or another area with a lot of potential interference?

Low-gain antennas are the better pick.

However, high-gain antennas are more suitable for open areas, especially flat ones.

2. Battery Life

Batteries of different colors up close and some blurry
Prioritize the battery life when shopping for a UHF radio.

The next consideration in your quest for a UHF radio is battery life.

Many two-way radios, including VHF and UHF frequencies, use lithium-ion batteries. There’s a reason for that.

Lithium-ion batteries can sit for a while without any degradation in quality. They also affect memory less and have good energy density.

Some lithium-ion batteries can last for up to 14 hours at a clip but always do your homework before purchasing.

The general lifespan for lithium-ion radio batteries is between 18 and 24 months.

However, factors such as how often you charge the batteries, the charging methods used, how well you care for the batteries, and how often you use your UHF radio all affect the battery life span.

3. Location Tracking

This next factor is optional, as its usefulness depends on how you plan to use your UHF radio.

If you’re just in it for fun, this point doesn’t apply.

However, for those using UHF radio commercially, you should strongly consider a radio with location-tracking capabilities.

UHF radios that offer location tracking utilize GPS. You can use the radio among your fleet or a team to do more than communicate but find them if they’re lost or need help.

Emergency services can get to the team member fast thanks to location tracking.

Although a UHF radio with location tracking may be costlier, it’s beneficial for various reasons.

These radios often have good battery life and strong reception, and you can save your cell phone for other uses.

Location-tracking UHF radios are often durable due to their frequent usage in search and rescue operations.

That’s another benefit, as your radio will last for quite a while.

4. Radio Size

Stack of old school radios of varying sizes on a shelf
A UHF radio must be a good weight for your needs.

Consider the radio’s size as you narrow your search for UHF radios.

Just because a UHF radio is about the same size as a walkie-talkie doesn’t always mean these radios are as portable as you would assume.

It’s not so much the radio itself that drives up the size but the inclusion of necessary accessories like earpieces, microphones, and transceivers.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re using UHF radio for fun or commercial purposes. Either way, you must avoid a big, bulky radio dragging you down.

To save on space, look for UHF radios with built-in or compact mics and earpieces.

Compact transceivers, ideally handheld, will also make it easier and more convenient to transport your UHF radio wherever you need to take it.

5. Radio Weight

Going hand in hand with the size of your UHF radio is its weight.

Once again, the radio doesn’t weigh that much, usually between 10 and 13 ounces.

However, transceivers can be pretty weighty. Some weigh over 13 pounds without batteries.

When you add batteries, the weight can increase to almost 17 pounds.

These are considered portable transceivers. Nonportable transceivers can weigh even more.

The weight of your UHF radio might not matter to you quite as much if you’re going to keep it in one place.

However, if you’re interested in a portable radio, choose a model with a lightweight transceiver so you don’t break a sweat lugging it around.

6. Water Resistance

Up close image of water droplets on surface
A UHF radio must have a waterproof rating of IP68 or higher for optimal water protection.

This is another factor that impacts you depending on how you use your UHF radio.

If you’re interested in prolonged outdoor operation, choose a radio with water resistance.

You won’t have to worry about your radio whether you get caught in a drizzle or snowfall.

That extra assurance may drive up the cost of the radio, but it’s worthwhile.

Water-resistant UHF radios have an IP rating indicating their effectiveness at keeping out moisture.

The radio should have a rating of IP68 or higher to offer at least eight hours of water protection.

7. Ease of Use

When shopping for electronics, ease of use must be a top concern.

That said, how experienced you are with UHF radios will go a long way toward how simply you transition into use.

Even if you have to take some time to learn the ropes, you should still be able to use your radio easily.

If the radio has too many buttons or switches or goes too heavy on the settings and you just don’t use most of them, you won’t find your UHF radio very useful.

As a result, it could collect dust in the back of a closet.

8. Durability

What can take a licking and keep on ticking?

UHF radios, at least some of them.

Military-standard radios will be the most durable.

These radios are tested for environmental stress, including humidity, pressure changes, temperature extremes, vibrations, and mechanical shocks.

You can rest assured that your UHF radio can withstand many conditions you may put it through.

A military-standard UHF radio will be more expensive than one that doesn’t meet that standard.

By the way, you don’t need a UHF radio for military applications to buy a military-standard radio. Even if you’re pursuing UHF radio as a hobby, you still deserve a high-quality product!

9. Encryption

Encryption is another of those nice-to-have features in UHF radios. Most hobbyists won’t need encryption, which keeps communications secure. Still, it is an option, so you might prioritize it when shopping.

10. Cost

UHF radios with dollar signs floating about on a light blue background
UHF radios aren’t expensive, but you must still consider the cost before buying.

The last factor to consider when buying a UHF radio is its cost.

As we’ve gone over throughout this article, UHF radios come in all shapes and sizes with many features.

You only need some features depending on how you use your radio.

For example, while it’s always worth spending more on good radio quality, if you know you’ll use your UHF radio exclusively indoors, whether it’s waterproof is less critical.

Weigh the factors that are top priorities for you to determine what you need in a UHF radio, then shop for an appropriate model.

Be aware that consumer UHF radios tend to cost less than commercial models.

A consumer two-way radio is typically priced between $50 and $100, while a commercial UHF radio can cost $500 to $1,200 or more.

Where to Buy UHF Radios?

Now that you’ve got a good bunch of things to look for in UHF radios, where do you buy them anyway?

You guessed it! Amazon sells lots of them. Feel free to check out the most popular UHF radios that they have in stock here. We also make a small commission if you use these links. This helps support the blog and more content, so we appreciate it.

To check out the 5 bestselling UHF radios they have, check this out –

Bestseller No. 1
Baofeng UV-5R Ham Radio Long Range UV5R Wakie Talkies Dual Band VHF UHF Rechargeable Handheld Two Way Radio for Survival Gear,2Pack
  • 【1】With Function VFO & Memory channels scan,Dual display / Dual standby/ Auto Keypad Lock;FFC ID: 2AJGM-UV5R
  • 【2】The Radio is necessary for traveling, survival, hiking, cycling, work, camping, fishing, Emergency Alarm. it is Walkie talkie lover's favorite.
  • 【3】Support CHIRP & Keypad Programming:The UV-5R walkie-talkie can directly program the frequency manually, also work fine with chirp software;If your radio model is not find software,we will help you find software & special firmware for you.
  • 【4】Package Include: 2 X Portable radio 2 X 1800mAh Li-ion battery 2 X Charger 2 X Belt clip 2 X The sling 2 X Earpiece 2 X User's manual
Bestseller No. 2
AnyTone AT-778UV Dual Band Transceiver Mobile Radio VHF/Uhf Two Way Radio
  • If you are not satisfied with it in 1 month. Please feel free to Contact with us if you have any query. We will give you prompt reply and good after service
  • ☛AnyTone AT-778UV Mobile Radio is complied with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. complies with Part 15B and Part 97 of FCC rule, FCC ID is T4K-778UV. Frequency Range: VHF:136-174MHz UHF:400-490MHz
  • ☛25W/15W/5W DualBand VHF/UHF Mobile Radio Transceiver! 180 degree rotatable TFT LCD displayFull alloy body for heat radiation. It is with VOX Function too.
  • ☛Narrow Band compliant,Lighted Keypad mic, Built-in Speakers in both Radio & Mic,Built-In cooling Fan,DC power cable with fuse holder & More!!Single call, group call, selective call and emergency call are all available.
  • ☛ Please download the Programming Software from support in AnyTone website.You can find the AnyTone website address in the user's manual.
SaleBestseller No. 3
BAOFENG UV-5R Ham Radio 8W Long Range UV5R Dual Band Handheld 3800mAh Extended Battery Rechargeable Walkie Talkies for Adults with Earpiece,USB Charger and Programming Cable Full Kit,2Pack
1,747 Reviews
BAOFENG UV-5R Ham Radio 8W Long Range UV5R Dual Band Handheld 3800mAh Extended Battery Rechargeable Walkie Talkies for Adults with Earpiece,USB Charger and Programming Cable Full Kit,2Pack
  • 【Professional Baofeng UV-5R Full Set】High/medium/low power TX selectable,Outpower:8Watts.All You Need Is In One Box!Package contents include:Portable Radio,3800mAh Extended Battery,US Base Charger,USB Charger Cable,Programming Cable,Belt clip,The sling ,Earpiece,User's manual.
  • 【FCC Certified】Dual band/Dual display/Dual standby,128 groups of storage channels;50 CTCSS and 104 CDCSS,AUTO Keypad Lock,LED Flashlight;This model has been FCC certified,FCC ID: 2AJGM-UV5R.
  • 【Large Capacity 3800mAh Battery&USB Charger】Come with Large Capacity 3800mAh Battery,200% Standby time higher than original,power saving function can extend battery life,Keep you non-stop communication;With USB charging cable, it can support both the base charging and battery USB charging, which is convenient for use in various occasions.
  • 【USB Programming Cable】Come with USB Programming Cable,With PL2303 Chip,Drive free,more convenient and durable,can work fine with chirp software,Support Win10/Win11 etc System.If your radio model is not find software,we will help you find software&special firmware for you.
  • 【High Quality Headsets】Come with K Port Headset,K head connector: Ear 3.5mm stereo (top pin), Mic 2.5mm stereo (bottom pin),G shape Earpiece and 360°rotatable earplug fit your ear comfortably;Strong PTT button easily to place and long time use,strong iron clip that you can clip anywhere you want.
Bestseller No. 4
BAOFENG BF-F8HP (UV-5R 3rd Gen) 8-Watt Dual Band Two-Way Radio (136-174MHz VHF & 400-520MHz UHF) Includes Full Kit with Large Battery
  • Upgrades from our Previous Generation UV-5R: Twice the Output Power (8 watts up from 4 watts output), New Hardened Durable Radio Shell, 30% Larger Battery, V-85 High Gain Antenna (Twice the Antenna Performance), USA Support + In-depth User Guide Included; A PC03 FTDI Programming Cable is Recommended for Easier PC Programming
  • High / Med / Low Power Settings (8W, 4W, 1W); Frequency Range: VHF: 136-174 MHz(Rx/Tx). UHF: 400-520 MHz(Rx/Tx); Broad (Wide) / Narrowband (Narrow) Selectable
  • The BF-F8HP was designed in the USA and because not everyone is a radio-expert we really wanted to focus on providing an easier user experience! That starts with the new in-depth manual that guides you through the capabilities and customization of the BF-F8HP. On top of that the BF-F8HP also includes exclusive concierge customer help and warranty support. This concierge service is only available on select BaoFeng models such as the BF-F8HP, UV-82HP, and UV-5X3
  • Kit Includes: BF-F8HP, 2100mAh Battery, V-85 Dual Band Antenna, CH-5 Charger, CH-5 110V Adapter, Earpiece Kit, Wrist Strap, Belt Clip, User Manual
  • BTECH is proud to be in the USA, which allows you to have the best available local support for any issue that may arise. BTECH only engineers and develops radio products. That brand focus allows you to have the best available radios and accessories with the most features, with real USA warranty and support.
SaleBestseller No. 5
BaoFeng Radio UV-5R 8W 2Pack Handheld Ham Radios (VHF & UHF) with High Gain Antenna and Programming Cable (2Pack) (M)
  • 【Power Output】 High-8W /Medium-5W /Low-2W Power Switchable.
  • 【BaoFeng UV5R】 FCC ID: 2AJGM-UV5R, Transmit frequency range: VHF 144-148MHz and UHF 420-450MHz; Receive frequency range: VHF 136-174 MHz and UHF 400-480 MHz.
  • 【Programming Cable】The programmable radio supports Keyboard, PC, and CHIRP programming, The package comes with a CD disk that includes the programming APP, which makes programming easier.
  • 【Multi-function radio】128 channels, 50 CTCSS tones, 104 DCS, scan function, busy channel lock-out(BCLO), OFFSET(frequency offset for repeater access), VOX hands-free function, TOT, Squelch Adjustment, LED flashlight and alarm function for emergencies. It has analog and digital intermediate frequencies, option for repeaters achieves long range comminications.
  • 【Warranty】30-day hassle-free return and lifetime customer service. Feel free to contact us through the Amazon message if you encounter any issues, our support team is always there to help.

Wrapping Up

Buying a UHF radio requires consideration before you finalize a purchase, so you’re ultimately happy with the model you selected.

We hope the criteria we presented help you find an efficient UHF radio!

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