By the author of The Faithful Prepper and The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications.
The Organic Prepper has intelligent readers. One only needs to read through the comment section to realize this. Just the other day, a commenter on an article of mine pointed out that there were different types of UV-5R radios.
While I knew that there were different battery pack versions, colors, etc., out there, I had no clue that there were UV-5Rs with different spectrum abilities. (Lesson learned: read the comments section more often.)
What are some of the different types of Baofeng UV-5R radios out there? Let’s take a quick look…
A quick caveat
For starters, there are a number of different Baofeng units that are available out there. Not everything that you’ll see on this list is technically considered a UV-5R, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, we’re calling it a duck here. Also…
Watch out for the fakes.
There are a number of knockoff versions of UV-5R radios out there that you are going to want to avoid. Baofeng is the brand that you are looking for, though, to my understanding, B-TECH is the real deal brand-wise as well. Anything else you find online, just stay away from it.
This is an 8W version that has a big ol’ battery pack that will give you plenty of juice for when you’re out and about. If you only want to use this radio for licensed ham radio contacts, you’re in luck, as this version only is capable of transmitting and receiving on 144-148MHz/420-520MHz.
It’s kind of a bummer of radio, in my opinion, as this means you aren’t going to be able to pick up any of the analog (old school) public service radio transmissions in your region, nor will you be able to pick up a host of other interesting frequencies that older UV-5Rs were capable of picking up.
If I had a choice between the above or this one, I’d pick the above. You end up with a bigger battery pack and the ability to work the exact same frequencies – 144-148MHz/420-520MHz. This is pretty lame of a version if you ask me.
(Comms aren’t the only prep you should be looking into. Do you have your food storage in order? Make sure you check out our free QUICKSTART Guide to home canning to get the info you need sooner rather than too late.)
This is more like it. For starters, this version of the UV-5R is a tri-band. That means it can pick up three different segments of the radio wave spectrum. Typically, the UV-5R is a dual-band radio – capable of picking up the 2-meter band (good for rural locations) and the 70 cm band (good for urban locations).
This radio can also pick up the 1.25-meter band – a feature I personally like for the reason that nobody seems to ever be on the 1.25-meter band (at least where I live). If you don’t want everybody with a radio in your area to hear your conversation with your buddy about your secret fishing holes, it’s pleasant to have access to a band that is not anywhere as busy as the 2-meter band. Two antennas are included to allow you to listen in on the 1.25-meter band (a 2-meter/70cm band antenna won’t work on 1.25 meter).
Another benefit of this radio is that you can listen in on more than the UV-5R models above. You have access to 136-174MHz, 400-520MHz, and 220-260MHz.
The programming cable is thrown in here as well, meaning you can instantly download CHIRP and upload your settings to your radio without having to make a second online purchase. Want a one-and-done UV-5R? This is it.
This is the UV-5RIII just without the programming cable. If you already have a cable, this can save you $10.
Okay, so this isn’t technically a UV-5R. It’s so similar, though, that I think it’s pointless to call it by any other name. This is just a slightly upgraded version of the UV-5RIII. You end up with a bigger battery, tri-band capability, two antennas (one of which is for the 1.25-meter band), and a waterproof radio in your hands.
Most UV-5R models aren’t waterproof at all, so this alone is a nice feature. When scanning through a band, you also have the option of setting a start and end frequency for the scanning process.
If you’re tired of your radio picking up two old guys hogging up a repeater every time you try to scan through the 2-meter band, this can help you to avoid doing so and to scan through what you really want to hear faster. I’m personally not aware of any other UV-5R that does that (but, again, this technically isn’t a UV-5R).
These are bare-bones preps that will help to keep your neighborhood safe.
Comms preps don’t have to be expensive, and a UV-5R is a perfect example as to why. Aside from helping you to transmit valuable information over sizable distances instantaneously, these may also make great barter items as they’re a fairly practical unit of value. Just make sure you know the type of UV-5R that you are buying before you ever hit that “Buy” button.
What are your thoughts here? Are there other versions of the UV-5R that we didn’t cover that people need to know about? Do you have other advice here that you can share? Let us know in the comments below.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has three published books, The Faithful Prepper, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.