A two-way radio, also known as a handheld radio are well known to be used for personal emergency prepping, business, recreation, public safety, and industry. In some cases, they are used for work or families, as handheld radios cost less to use and are not prone to cellphone usage limits, roaming charges and monthly usage fees. Although more durable and often waterproof, one problem with two-way radios is the relatively limited operating distance, as they do not have a huge coverage like cellphones do. However, they will still allow you to communicate when the mobile network goes down during large disasters. Here are several tips that could improve your handheld radio performance during emergencies and every-day use.

Know which type to get

There are two types of operating bands for typical dual-band handheld radios, which include very high frequency (VHF) radios that operate on the MURS band, and ultra high frequency (UHF) radios that operate on the GMRS band. Both of these bands are great depending on the situation and the place you’re going to use the radio. A VHF MURS radio has a broad range and is best used in outdoor or rural areas, preferably without any buildings or solid obstacles in the way, and they can offer you clean voice quality. A UHF GMRS radio doesn’t have quite the broad range that a very high frequency radio does, but it can penetrate through and bounce around buildings and obstacles, giving better performance in urban or city areas. If you’re looking for a great VHF radio for your outdoor activities, emergencies or disaster kit, consider checking out MURS radios.

Buying another antenna


Most commercial-grade radios came with a stock, removable antenna. If you feel like your communication range doesn’t go far enough, consider purchasing a high-gain antenna, which is typically longer, at anywhere from 6-15 inches long, for a stronger signal. Upgrading your antenna is a low-cost and easy way to improve your performance rather than buying a new radio. For vehicle use, a magnetic-mount mobile antenna can greatly extend your operating range.


lksdjflksdjfBelieve it or not, when you use your 2-way radio with a fully-charged battery, it can help your transmit and receive range and quality, so you might want to charge your batteries or even buy another battery in case of emergencies.


Tip: A disposable battery might give you better power and may provide a longer operating time than rechargeable batteries, but they will cost you a lot more in the long run.

Out of range

If you’re out of range and are struggling to communicate with other radios, consider climbing to the highest point in your area, which might be a hilltop or building roof; this will help your radio to get a better signal, allowing you to receive and transmit further. Many people overlook that standing up, rotating their body, moving around the immediate area and holding the radio in a vertical orientation can greatly improve their operating range.