Baofeng UV 5RV2+ Review: Why Baofeng Radios are a Bad Choice for Preppers

When it comes to emergency communications there’s a lot of advice out there on what types of emergency radios you should carry in your bugout bags. But sadly, the recommendations are usually coming from people who have little to no experience in emergency communications – and most of them have no experience with ham radio.

I’ve been a Licensed Ham Radio operator for over 20 years now, I’ve had numerous radios and talked to people from around the globe; I’ve done so on equipment that ranged from high-tech top of the line gear to cobbled together radio parts and antennas that looked like some sort of mad science fair project. I’m not telling you this to brag, I just want you to know that when I recommend a product, or in this case tell you to stay away from a product, I do so from experience.

The Preppers Radio: The Infamous Baofeng Ham Radio

Baofeng UV 5RV2 Ham Radio

Baofeng Radios are infamous in the prepping community. Go to almost any prepping website and you will see read an article from someone telling you how you need these little radios in your bag, claiming they are the perfect prepping radio: BULLSHIT!

Buying Preparedness gear isn’t something that should be taken lightly, and counting on some cheaply made Chinese crap is only asking for trouble.

Listen, I really wanted to like these radios; I mean who wouldn’t want a radio that often times sells for a tenth of the price of the big boys? But when it comes to preparedness, price is often a reliable indicator of what you can expect.

Baofeng Review from a Real Ham Radio Operator

I planned on doing a couple of videos showing real-world tests, showing you what you can expect from these radios during an emergency; but why bother? When you are shipped multiple units that won’t even reliably hold the battery pack without duct taping it to the radio, is there really even a point to going any further? Is that a radio that you would really trust in an emergency situation?

Baofeng has some of the worst quality control issues that I have ever seen. The radios are mass produced in China, and performance is really a crapshoot from radio to radio.

  • The radios suck as transmitters and the power output widely varies from radio to radio. (Transmit power is rated at 5 Watt; according to my meter it’s putting out about 3)
  • The receiver filtering is BAD! In A/B testing against other brands (Yaesu, Icom, & Kenwood) with identical power and antenna setups, you quickly realize how little the Baofeng actually picks up.
  • Factory Antenna if Horrible! I knew that going in so I ordered a Nagoya Whip Antenna which did help.
  • Baofeng Battery Packs are apparently notorious for not fitting the actual radios! Even during normal operation, the battery will not stay in the radio tight enough to maintain constant power. There are actually websites dedicated to modding the battery pack so it will fit, but again, why bother? If you have to mod a brand new battery pack to fit the radio, is it really a radio that you can count on during an emergency? And because I noticed a few people in the comments claim this isn’t a manufacturer battery — IT IS! The battery came directly from Baofeng, sealed in the box with the radio. I’ve had 3 factory batteries that would not fit right without shaving them down and rigging them to prevent them from falling out during a hike.

Baofeng Alternatives: Ham Radios that Preppers can actually count on!

When it comes to buying a radio that is specifically for preparedness purposes I recommend sticking with the big three: Kenwood, Yaesu, or Icom. Yes, the radios are more expensive, but the quality control doesn’t get much better. I also recommend looking for something that is specifically made for outdoor use in the elements, like the below Yaesu Radios.

8 Comments

  1. Haters wont like this,but add an inexpensive mag mount antenna and the mighty Boafengs range gets hugely improved in both receive and transmit.

    Costs? 140 dollars IIRC… got 2 baofengs,2 ht antennas and a mag mount,programming cable and Ham licenses for 2 people.I have a 40 mile radius via a local repeater.Darn good with just an HT in my book.

    I can hear and respond to anything happening on my mtn.Works for me just fine.

  2. Baofengs get a bad reputation due to the clones out there that are truly junk. You want a good working Baofeng ? Do your homework first and know who your buying your radios from. Not all Baofengs are equal but the real ones due work. I own 4 Baofengs …two UV5rs and 2 UV82 V2+ all function perfectly. Range in Urban area is 4 1/2 miles with UV82v2+ and 2 miles with UV5r in simplex mode (radio to radio) and i hit 40 mile plus repeaters with my uv5rs and more with my uv82v2+ s.

    • And by clones i mean the radios clamming to be baofengs but are just junk copys made to make a quick buck from unsuspecting buyers. So yea make sure your really buying what you want and not a copy.

  3. I have the UV5R and it works fine, though to be honest its pretty complicated for me. I programmed it with the Chirp software but have no clue how to use the damn thing… So now studying for my Amateur Ham license which hopefully will help me understand the functions. I met with a friend who is a Ham expert level and he taught me all about antennae systems so that’s makes total sense which allowed me to build a telescopic mobile mast with a car antennae mount on the top, gives me better range. Another item I would recommend is the ‘The Dummies Guide To Ham Radio’ it makes learning about HAM/Comms much more understandable.

  4. Not for nothing, but I also own 2 Baofengs…..UV5R and the BF-F8HP… both work great for me and my situation. I hit repeaters 30-40 miles and have talked to others over 50 miles away via repeater. Rubber duck junk, so I made 2 meter ground plane from stuff I had laying around and stuck it on 2 pieces of PVC pipe, threw away the rubber duck and have made great contacts. For what it is worth…have a nice day

  5. The problem I see with most preppers, even if they are licensed HAMs, is that they choose VHF/UHF type radios. These radios will be totally useless during a SHTF scenario, except for very short range communications. The problem is that to be effective with a VHF/UHF radio is that you will need a functioning repeater for any type of usable range. You should pick High-Frequency (HF) radios, since you don’t need a repeater. Plus any type of broadcasts that you would want to receive/monitor will be in the shortwave bands. So radios with the ability to transmit and receive 30 MHz and below is your best bet. You should also have a radio that is capable of transmitting and receiving in the 27 MHZ citizen band frequencies, since people are more likely to have these radios than Amateur band radios.

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