Digitally communicating with each other has seen a major revolution in recent years, especially in the case of long-distance conversations.
Now, talking to someone on the other side of our planet only requires some taps, clicks and a stable internet connection on both ends.
However, this overcrowded global system of digital communication stands on a delicate base of carefully designed complex structures distributed throughout the planet. If a few of these collapses, the entire network will come to a standstill.
That is why it would be a smart idea to adopt more private systems of digital communication. This is where amateur or ham radios excel. You and your acquaintances who stay closeby can continue talking to each other using these compact devices.
In order to operate them effectively, you will definitely need a compatible antenna that can access the same frequencies as your radio does. It may be confusing for you to choose the best antenna for ham radio out of so many options available in the market.
So here we are to briefly discuss the top twelve choices of ham radio antennas for you!
Ham Radio Antennas Comparison Chart
Max Power (Watt)
Whip Length (Collapsed)
3.5-4.8, 7-30, 30-54
500 SSB, 300 DATA/CW
HF, VHF, UHF
Benefits Of Using Antenna for Ham Radio
Ham radio antenna and its technology may seem archaic or unnecessary to many. However, this system actually brings in an impressive number of advantages for the users. Here we discuss a few of those:
In this day and age, most of us depend on cellular and internet communications all the time to reach our loved ones. We are almost always glued to our smartphones or computers to make sure that we don’t miss out on anything. Unfortunately, while doing so, we tend to forget a crucial factor - the giant infrastructures.
Both of these communication systems - be it local or global - rely on huge infrastructure to conduct the conversations smoothly. Tall network towers, sophisticated satellites roaming around the planet and more of such complex structures build the foundation of these systems.
This is where ham radio technology has an upper hand. The only groundwork it needs to operate is your handheld or mobile device! So when all other communication infrastructures fall down or go out of service, you can still maintain contact with your loved ones using a ham radio antenna.
It will become especially useful if your area is hit with a natural disaster that takes away power from those infrastructures. This antenna and the related devices can serve as the perfect emergency communication medium during that time.
Wide Range Of Frequencies
A ham radio antenna can give you access to a wide range of frequencies available in the radio-wave spectrum.
Such devices usually operate on the frequency bands of VHF, UHF and occasionally HF. This kind of higher frequency bands automatically offers a wider range of options to the user. The sections of frequency range available to your ham radio will open up many new doors of accessing an untapped territory of networks.
Besides, compared to other radio variations, the ham radio area is relatively less crowded. As a result, it will be easier for your antenna to transmit and receive messages clearly with the connected individuals.
Long Hours Of Conversation
You can use the ham radio antenna to establish a connection with your acquaintance and continue the conversation for long hours. However, this doesn’t mean that you should keep talking on your end for all those hours. Of course, you need to give the floor to the person on the other end as well.
Such an extended conversation should prove to be quite helpful if you or the other person is hit by a sudden unfortunate incident. The antenna will help to keep the communication going and stay updated on the latest developments from the sufferer’s side.
Easy To Use
Ham radios and their antenna are fairly easy to use compared to other communication devices. Configuring them to suit your own individual needs doesn’t take much practical experience or theoretical knowledge. You can also interface it with computers for better control of data transmission and reception.
Potential Reach In Outer Space
One of the most exciting aspects of investing in a ham radio antenna is its potential to reach the astronauts! After you get used to its basic operations and reach the intermediate level of expertise, you can try to intercept the frequencies which astronauts use for communication!
The space warriors of earth can respond to your messages and have a conversation with you through these devices. International space stations including NASA use ham radios for some of their projects to this day!
Another great aspect of using ham radio antenna is its affordability. Excluding some high-end amateur radio antennas which are meant to be used only by experts or professionals, most of them are actually very budget-friendly. You can get many of them within just 20 bucks!
So you can explore the grand area of ham radio communications and its exciting possibilities without ever going overboard with your expenses!
Top 12 Antenna For Ham Radio Reviews
1. Authentic Genuine Nagoya UT-72 Super Loading Coil VHF/UHF Antenna PL-259
BaoFeng is a native brand to the USA which specializes in manufacturing amateur radios. Their ham radios are undoubtedly among the most sought-after models in the ham radio community. That is because they come at highly affordable price points and last a long time.
However, those are not the only products provided by the brand. Along with those devices, they also produce relevant accessories to enhance your radio communications. Among them, the Nagoya antenna series stands out because of its popularity and features.
The particular model of UT-72 comes with some unique features like its dual-band mount. Its base is built from rare earth magnet which makes it easier for you to operate. The antenna is also thicker than other typical magnetic vertical antennas. It measures 2.5 mm in thickness while most antennas are 1.5 mm.
Its heavy-duty magnet enables you to put it up on vehicles with ease. You can set it up within a few seconds on cars, vans, SUVs and any other vehicle which has a steel or metal body. Once you place it in the vertical position, the antenna becomes omnidirectional.
Since each Nagoya UT-72 antenna is dual-band in nature, it can support both frequency ranges of 136-174 MHz and 400-520 MHz. However, the recommended range for use is set at 140 to 170 MHz and 420 to 470 MHz to achieve optimum performances.
You can use this 3.25-inch long antenna with both mobile and handheld ham radios. Its impressive compatibility also extends to both UHF SO-239 and SMA-female connectors.
To get you started with ease, the antenna set comes with a flexible SMA adapter cable. Installing it becomes less of a hassle with this cable in place.
2. Tram 1185 Amateur Dual-Band Magnet Antenna
Pretty much living up to their name, the brand of Solid Signal works only to make your TV and radio signals more solid.
They distribute specialized devices and accessories which help them in attaining that objective. However, you can only get their products online since it gives you enough time to weigh out the pros and cons of your options more efficiently.
This particular antenna from Solid Signal belongs to their Tram series. Similar to the previous option on our list, it also comes with a magnet mount and supports two frequency bands.
You can access the amateur sections of VHF and UHF bands with it. The supported ranges of frequencies here are 144 to 148 MHz and 440 to 450 MHz respectively.
It comes with the full set of components you would need to install the antenna on a surface. The 3-inch magnet mount stabilizes it on any even metal surface quite fast and saves you some valuable time while setting up the antenna.
There is also a PL-259 connector and an RG-58 coaxial cable included in the package. As a result, you don't have to purchase extra accessories to fully set up the antenna.
The coax cable will enable the ham radio to establish two-way communication. On the other hand, the connector will join the antenna with other pieces of equipment involved here.
In addition to providing you with quality performance and stable connections, the Tram antenna also looks quite good for your vehicle. It is painted with an elegant black coat finish which enhances the aesthetic value of your car.
3. Bingfu VHF UHF Ham Radio Amateur Radio Scanner Antenna
If you are running on a tight budget, Bingfu has a good solution to your ham radio antenna problem. It provides this dual-band radio antenna at an incredibly affordable price point. That is why it can be an ideal choice for those of you who are not used to such devices yet.
You can use it to access the ham radio frequencies available in UHF and VHF bands. To be more specific, you will get frequencies ranging from 20 to 1300 MHz while using this antenna. Of course, not all of them are available to be used for ham radio conversations. Nevertheless, it brings in a good number of them.
Another way this antenna can give you an upper hand financially is its device compatibility.
Ham radios are not the only instrument you can use this antenna with. It can also bring in connections for walkie-talkie, mobile radio and public radio scanner. Although these devices are similar, they have certain differences which the antenna manages to overcome.
The antenna stands pretty tall with a whip measured at 43 cm or 17 inches when fully extended. Its mount is magnetized to ensure a steady foot for the protruded antenna. The base of this antenna is a little over 2.5 inches in diameter.
It requires an RG58/U cable measured at 3 m or about 10 feet to establish and conduct the two-way communication successfully. The antenna also needs a BNC male connector for the setup to be complete. You can mount the antenna anywhere with its magnetic base.
4. Workman Magnetic Mobile Antenna Ham Radio
Similar to our previous items, this antenna for ham radio also comes with a magnetic base for convenient setup.
Because of this magnetized mount, the antenna becomes capable of fixing itself on any metal surface. As a result, you can snap it on your car anytime you need to go somewhere and enjoy the old-fashioned digital conversations privately. That is why these antennas are perfect for outdoor use.
Since its main objective is to provide you with a superior outdoor experience of two-way communication, you may not be so impressed with its resonance inside the house. However, once you take it out for a ride, the antenna will impress you with its calculated resonance and establish the required connections soon.
You may doubt its capability once you see the very compact design of the antenna. Regardless of the size, it actually comes with some pretty commendable functionalities and conveniences like the ones we have discussed so far.
Its compact size can actually help you by not taking up too much space on your car or on the surface you choose to set up the antenna.
With this magnetic mobile antenna from Workman, you can access the ham radio bands of 2m and 70cm. You can use it to transmit messages using the frequency ranges of 144 MHz to 148 MHz and 430 MHz to 470 MHz.
Along with the magnet mount antenna, you will be receiving a PL-259 connector and a high-quality coaxial cable measured at 12 feet in length.
5. Super Antenna MP1DXTR80 HF SuperWhip Tripod
If you have been thinking about upgrading your ham radio standards for a while, look no further! This extraordinary antenna comes with some captivating features which you may not find in other alternatives that often.
It is a fine choice for professional communications, especially because you will get a complete package of antenna essentials along with the main product.
The antenna itself can cover a length of up to 7 feet when fully extended. In the collapsed form, it will be only a foot long. Its whip is made of titanium which provides the antenna with extra strength and higher tolerance of temperatures.
Set it up easily with the 40m SuperSlider Coil and the 80m SuperCoil. Combine them with the tripod and universal mount for an easy solution to your ham radio experiments.
Additionally, the set also contains a “Super Go Bag” where you can pack in all these components and go for an exciting ride! As a result, this antenna has become the best ham radio antenna for portability. HF vertical antennas have very versatile connectivity a long distance. You can use it to transmit and receive radio frequencies on HF and VHF radio bands.
For all these high-end features, it should come as no surprise that the Super Antenna is available at a super high price point.
It is one of the most expensive options in the market but its entire package surely justifies the cost. With the tripod, a bag to carry all these components in and more, customers surely get enough for their money.
6. Tram Amateur Dual Band Hi-Gain Hi-Power Magnet Antenna
Make way for Solid Signal once again! Their Tram series is so popular among ham radio enthusiasts that they have multiple antennas competing for the same crown. This particular antenna of the Tram series shines in its own right because of the high gain it offers.
For radio antennas, the term ‘gain’ represents how efficiently it can convert an input signal or radio waves into electrical power. This input needs to come from a specific direction for the whole process to work. The higher gain an antenna has, the easier it will be for your radio to receive the signal from a distant target.
All you have to do with a high-gain antenna is point it in the target’s direction. It will then send an RF signal which will be amplified for hitting that target without failure. In the case of this particular dipole ham radio antenna from the Tram series, the gain is measured at 2.4 dBd and 5 dBd for the two bands respectively.
The former applies to the frequency range of 144 MHz to 148 MHz at ½ wave, while the latter is applicable to the frequencies 440 MHz to 450 MHz at ⅝ wave.
This dual-band antenna can be expanded to about 37 inches in length. Its black whip is made of the durable stainless steel and plated with chrome for aesthetic effects. It comes with a coil and a 3.5-inch magnet housing at an affordable price point.
7. VFAN Dualband Mobile Antenna VHF/UHF Ham Radio
Do you need to spend big to get the best antenna for ham radio?
The Dualband mobile antenna from VFAN can be the perfect choice for those of you who have been looking for cheap options available in the market.
It comes at an incredibly affordable price point which will definitely encourage the newbies to explore various facets of the ham radio technology. Like most antennas for amateur radio, this one also comes equipped with dual-band compatibility.
It works with both VHF and UHF bands of radio frequencies set at the 2m and 70cm parts of the spectrum respectively. To be more specific, the antenna can access the frequencies available in the range 437 MHz to 480 MHz and 137 MHz to 149 MHz.
By extending the antenna, you will be able to achieve a maximum length of 18 inches. You can fixate it on your car or any other metal surface because of its magnetized base. This magnet is a rare earth one that ensures immediate bond with the surface and keeps that tightness throughout the journey.
Because of such high strength of the 2.5-inch long rare earth magnet base, you can set it up on your vehicle roof within a second! As a result, the installation becomes faster and saves you some valuable time.
The gain of this antenna is either 2 dBi or 3 dBi depending on the band in use. Along with the antenna, you will also get a heavy-duty RG58 coaxial cable of length 10 feet and a PL-259 connector. It can last a long time since the materials are durable, antifreeze and designed to be waterproof.
8. The Survival Antenna
Ham radio is not only an accessory for many. It is also an important companion for their adventures. For those daredevil souls who are always on the hunt for something new and exciting, there is The Survival Antenna!
You can take this to the camps and ensure private conversations with your teammates during emergencies. Even when you are in a real-life situation, you can rely on this antenna to make your ham radio a reliable medium of communication during disasters.
It is built in a way that the antenna can survive and function properly in adverse weather. The fittings are made of stainless steel and brass - both of which are highly durable. These materials can also put up a strong fight against rust formation and similar decaying procedures.
Along with giving you and your loved ones an extra edge over others, the antenna brings in a number of different impressive features as well. It is compatible with both handheld ham radios and the ones you use on automobiles. You don’t need to get separate tools to either set it up or operate the antenna.
The level of convenience goes even higher with the 3 mil plastic bag that comes with this package. There are also cords and an adapter provided in it so that you can make the best possible arrangement for the antenna. Due to so many beneficial features, the Survival antenna is a little costlier than others.
9. HYS TC-110M CB/VHF/UHF/HF Ham Radio Antenna
Another great choice for those running on a tight budget is this ham radio antenna from HYS. Although it is available to all at a highly affordable price point, that doesn’t mean its quality is also on the cheaper end. The antenna can prove to be one of the finest performers for your ham radio communication so far!
With this one antenna, you can cover an impressive range of frequencies. It is compatible with three different radio bands of HF, VHF and UHF. As a result, you will have more room to explore within the radio wave spectrum.
Along with the compatibility with multiple bands, this antenna also brings in the convenience of a magnetic base. Having a base like this enables it to be set on the car’s surface smoothly. You can put it on your vehicle’s roof before going for a ride and maintain the strong radio connection because of it.
The antenna itself is made to be very strong and durable. Combining its physical attributes to the magnetic base, the total structure becomes an ideal solution for using with the mobile radio. You don’t have to worry about the antenna slipping away from the surface or breaking off during the ride.
Its base has a diameter of 110 mm or 4.5 inches. Along with this base and the antenna, you will also be receiving a 16.4 feet long RG58 coaxial cable for even easier portability.
All in all, the budget-friendliness, strength and conveniences make HYS antenna a good choice for Amateur radio users.
10. Eightwood Dual Band VHF UHF Ham Mobile Radio Antenna
The ham radio antenna from Eightwood looks quite different from the products you have seen so far. It is neither an erect metal stick nor something on a tripod. Rather, this antenna seems to be more similar to a microphone in appearance.
As a result, it can be among the most preferred antennas for those of you who are bored with the typical shape and the usual aesthetics. Putting this up on the roof of your car will definitely set you apart from the crowd.
According to its manufacturers, users can take advantage of this antenna by using it to access both VHF and UHF radio bands.
However, it has proved to be more effective for the latter due to certain discrepancies found in the VHF frequencies. So if your regular ham communication leans more towards UHF bands, this antenna can be a good choice for it.
You can use this antenna to access the frequencies within the ranges of 136 MHz to 174 MHz and 400 MHz to 470 MHz.
The antenna itself is a very compact one which stands at a height of only 3.54 inches. Therefore, if you don’t want a ham radio communication arrangement that takes up too much vertical space, this will be the ideal solution for it.
To set it up easily, an RG58 extension cable and a magnetic mount base come with the antenna. Both the extension cable connector and antenna mount connector are PL-259 in nature.
11. CA-2X4SRNMO Original Comet Dual Band VHF/UHF Mobile Antenna
Routing back to the traditional radio antenna again, let’s take a look at the dual-band mobile radio antenna from Comet. This brand doesn’t only work for electronic accessories or radio products. Apart from that, its main focus is developing antenna which guarantees high-level performance.
The model we’re discussing belongs to their CA-2x4SR series which is basically meant for broadband uses. Such antennas are meant for a narrow range of frequencies or frequency bands.
You can use this antenna to operate on the bands of VHF and UHF where most ham radios function. It offers useful services to every kind of user group ranging from amateurs to professionals. They can be used for recreational purposes, as well as something as serious as local search and rescue.
The antenna supports radio frequencies ranging from 140 to 160 MHz and 435 to 465 MHz. They make the radio capable of having both transmitting and receiving abilities.
It also generates an impressive amount of coverage so that a larger number of people can respond to you or send a message to you. This is one of the many reasons behind its popularity in the rescue missions and security jobs.
This is one of the best mobile ham radio antenna models. The structure contains a fold-over hinge so that you can minimize its size and therefore, store it in a less spacious area. When it is fully extended using the PL-259 connector, the antenna measures at 40 inches.
12. Bingfu VHF UHF Ham Radio Police Scanner Antenna
If you are someone who is struggling with their finances and need to manage a ham radio antenna within a few bucks, this can be the one for you!
The Bingfu amateur radio scanner antenna comes at an incredibly affordable price point. Along with the impressive affordability, it also brings you some conveniences like magnetic base, compact size and compatibility with professional devices.
Because of its slim and small-scale structure, the antenna will not take up too much space no matter where you want to install it. You can put it within the house for indoor use or fix it up on the roof of your car.
However, such a lightweight structure also poses the risk of falling down in the face of strong winds. So this may not be the ideal solution if you want to use ham radios while taking rides in an adverse atmosphere.
In order to make its grip on your car a little more stable, the antenna comes with a magnetic base. Unfortunately, its strength is not high enough to combat extreme atmospheres. You can only rely on it to keep the antenna in place during mildly challenging weather.
You will need to get yourself a BNC male connector so that the antenna can start performing. It will also enhance the efficiency of your entire radio communication system since you can connect and disconnect faster. Even professional radio scanners like the ones in police use this antenna for their operations.
Ham Radio Antenna Buying Guide
Handheld or Mobile
As you may know, there are mainly two kinds of ham radios available in the market - mobile and handheld. The first one is meant to be used on vehicles so that you can continue conversations over the radio even when you are on the go. In contrast, handheld ham radios need to be carried manually during use.
Since they need to be handled differently, the amateur radio antennas also come in two variations to complement the respective radio types. So you need to give it some thought and figure out which one would be the best ham radio antenna for your regular communication.
This is especially applicable to mobile radios. Such amateur radio devices are placed on the vehicle’s roof in order to be used. As a result, they are always at the risk of falling down anytime during the ride. That is why a magnetic base is essential for your mobile ham radio antenna.
A base that has been equipped with a strong magnet, particularly the rare earth ones, will be able to stay fastened on the metal roof throughout the journey. Therefore, you can say goodbye to the worries of losing your precious ham radio connections abruptly.
Similar to any other purchase, you need to keep the budgetary limits in mind before finding the ideal ham radio antenna for you. The good news is that most of these antennas are already available at very low price points. So you don’t need to break a sweat worrying over the total cost.
However, if you want a long-term solution for your ham radio experiences and need more sophisticated setups, the cost will definitely go higher.
The ham radio performs in mainly three bands of radio frequencies:
UHF - Ultra High Frequency
VHF - Very High Frequency
HF - High Frequency
These bands offer different sets of benefits and limitations to the ham radio operator. All of the antennas are not built with the same compatibility and most of them can only access one or two of the mentioned bands.
So you will need to know which features you actually need. Depending on that factor, you can narrow down the list to find the best ham antenna for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Is A Ham Radio?
Answer: Ham radios or amateur radios are primarily used for entertainment purposes. In this context, an amateur is someone with a non-commercial interest in communicating using radio waves.
You can use ham radio for private entertainment, message exchanges, contesting, self-training, emergency communication, and any experiments involving wireless technology.
Ham radios allow you to communicate to the next town, country, throughout the world, and even into space. It’s especially useful for use in places where there are weak or no cell phone signals at all.
2. What Is SWR?
Answer: In the world of radio and telecommunication, SWR is the abbreviated form of standing wave ratio. It measures if the impedance of antenna is matching that of its feeding line. This is an important step in the installation and tuning of antennas. For best results, SWR should be between 1.01:1 to 1.5:1.
3. What Is dBd or dBi?
Answer: Both dBd and dBi are units to measure the gain of ham radio antennas. Gain itself represents the strength of signals produced by such an antenna in a single direction. This entity is always measured in decibels. dBd stands for decibels related to a dipole antenna, while dBi is the same for an isotropic radiator.
4. How High Does A Ham Radio Antenna Need To Be?
Answer: The antennas for ham radio are usually somewhere between 35 to 120 feet. Of course, the taller it is the better since the vertical angle of each signal transmitted from these devices will dictate its effectiveness. So, if you can, extend the antenna at 120 feet or above for superior performance.
Even though the same device of ham radio is being used by many people for local conversations, all of them cannot work with the same kind of antenna. That is why doing a little bit of research on them is crucial before reaching your final decision.
For instance, some of them may seem like a good idea for their low price tag at first. However, they may not end up serving you for too long which means you will need to spend on another antenna for achieving the same purpose. Therefore, the moderately priced ones may actually be the better way to go.
We hope our detailed descriptions and guidelines have helped you to realize which factors are the most valuable to you. Now you can find the truly best ham radio antenna according to your preferences and objectives.
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