Bug Out Bag Radio Gear for Emergency Communication

bug out bag communication radio

Radios serve as a crucial link when conventional communication systems fail during disasters. They provide a reliable means to receive updates and maintain contact, making them indispensable in any bug out bag and a valuable item for any 72 hour prepper.

Selecting the Best Radio for Your Bug out Bag

  1. Ham Radio: Ham or amateur radios are renowned for their ability to operate across HF, VHF, and UHF frequencies, covering long distances. Brands like Yaesu and Baofeng are popular for their robust features. However, operating a ham radio requires a ham radio license, making it essential for radio operators to be well-versed in its usage.
  2. GMRS and FRS Radios: Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio (GMRS) are excellent for short to medium-range communication. They are user-friendly walkie-talkies, with FRS ones not requiring a license. These two-way radios are ideal for coordinating with family or a group within short distances.
  3. CB Radios: Citizen Band (CB) radios are known for their ease of use and no license requirement. While their range is more limited compared to ham radios, they are useful for local communication and can be a vital part of your bug-out communications kit.
  4. NOAA Weather Radios: A NOAA weather radio is essential for receiving weather alerts and updates. This can be critical in situations like hurricanes, where weather conditions can change rapidly.
prepper baofeng radio

Other Options

  1. Satellite Phones: In scenarios where traditional radio signals are unreliable or unavailable, satellite phones become invaluable. Unlike conventional radios, satellite phones can provide communication capabilities over long distances, even in remote areas like the vast wilderness of Alaska. They operate by connecting directly to orbiting satellites, thus bypassing the need for terrestrial cell networks.
  2. Two-Way Radios with Extended Range: For those who need something more robust than typical FRS radios but less complex than ham radios, high-powered two-way radios are an excellent choice. These radios, often operating in VHF and UHF bands, offer extended-range capabilities, making them suitable for both short and long-distance communication. Brands like Midland and Motorola offer models that strike a balance between portability and power. They are particularly useful for preppers who need reliable communication over varied terrains without the complexity of ham radios.
  3. Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) and Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs): In extreme situations, especially in remote locations, PLBs and EPIRBs can be lifesavers. These devices are designed to send out a distress signal with your location to search and rescue services via satellite. While they don’t offer two-way communication, their ability to alert rescue services in dire situations makes them an essential part of any emergency communication kit, especially for those venturing into isolated areas.
radio communication tower

Enhancing Your Radio Gear

  • Antennas: An upgraded antenna can significantly improve the range and reception of your radio, whether it’s a handheld, mobile radio, or base station setup.
  • Power Sources: Radios with multiple power options, including standard and rechargeable batteries, are ideal. Solar-powered or hand-crank radios offer resilience in situations where conventional power sources are unavailable.
  • Additional Features: Features like built-in flashlights, SOS signals, waterproof capabilities, and portability enhance the utility of your radio gear in diverse situations.

Communications Plan

A well-thought-out plan is as important as the gear itself. This plan should include frequency lists for ham, FRS, CB, and GMRS radios, a protocol for regular check-ins, and emergency communication strategies. Non-electronic signaling devices like signal mirrors and whistles should also be part of this plan.

prepper cb radio 1

Understanding Licensing and Regulations

Operating certain radios like GMRS and ham radios may require a license from the FCC. It’s important to understand these requirements and obtain the necessary licenses to operate legally and effectively.

The Importance of Practice and Familiarity

Regularly testing your gear and practicing with your radio equipment is crucial as a prepper. Familiarize yourself with the functions of different radios, from handheld models to more complex amateur radios. Understanding how to transmit and receive across various frequencies and using different radio services can be vital in an emergency.

survival ham radio


Your bug out bag’s radio gear is a critical component of your overall emergency preparedness strategy. By choosing the right combination of radios—be it ham radios, CB, FRS, GMRS radios, or NOAA weather radios—and complementing them with essential accessories like antennas, power sources, and a solid communications plan, you ensure that you are well-prepared for any emergency. Remember, in the unpredictable realm of emergencies, being prepared with effective communication tools is key to ensuring safety and coordination.

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