Let’s cut to the chase and admit that this is a fine 2-way radio, right at the outset. We’re not exactly the only BaoFeng BF-F8HP Review to say praise this set. Thousands of customers along with quite a few industry experts agree with this assessment.
Is it perfect? Not quite, though it’s fantastic for what it costs.
There’s just one thing you need first to use this—a ham radio license. Even a Technician level license will do (the General and Amateur Extra licenses offer more privileges).
This is not just because of the red tape, but also because this radio has lots of power with a wide frequency range. You have to be aware of the rules and laws regarding ham radio in your vicinity, or else you risk breaking the law (and paying fines).
Still, once you get your ham radio license, you’re in for a treat with the BaoFeng BF-F8HP.
Table of Contents
- BaoFeng BF-F8HP Review
- Alternative Options of BaoFeng BF-F8HP
- Final Words
BaoFeng BF-F8HP Review
BaoFeng has made a significant name for themselves as a trustworthy supplier of high-quality mobile communication devices.
With that in mind, the BF-F8HP is one of their flagship handheld ham radios, and with an 8-watt output, one of their most powerful handsets. To elaborate, here are some of its core specifications and features
- 136-174 MHz
- 400-520 MHz
- 65-108 MHZ (commercial FM radio, reception only)
This comes with a 2000mAh battery, which works well enough. If you send a 10-second transmission every 5 minutes or so, your battery lasts for about 17.5 hours. That means for most people who don’t use the radio that hard, the battery will last for much longer.
You do have a battery indicator on the display, and it will loudly tell you about your low voltage” when you’re down to the last 10 minutes of battery life.
Of course, you’re always free to buy a more powerful battery. In fact, it makes sense to bring spares just to be safe.
This isn’t really large, since it measures 2 by 1.25 by 3.75 inches. Put in the antenna, and you extend the height by 6.5 inches.
Still, quite a few radios are more compact. It’s not lightweight either, as it weighs in at 7.8 ounces.
You might think it’s a bit on the bulky size, and the antenna length can be annoying for some people. But when you factor in its capabilities, you might be surprised at how such a small thing can do so much.
Clarity and Range
It is this factor that elevates the BaoFeng BF-F8HP above all the others in its class. The range is higher than usual and you enjoy terrific sound clarity. This is true for just about any kind of terrain and weather condition.
In conditions such as heavy snowstorms, this can still transmit to a radio a mile away—and that’s with a large hill in between these 2 radios. Without obstructions, it can send transmissions more than 10 miles out.
In fact, if you stand on the summit of a mountain, you can even get transmissions from more than 40 or even 60 miles out.
All these come with terrific sound clarity, and we’re just talking about the antenna it came with. You can even improve things by buying a longer antenna.
Ease of Use
Some people have mentioned that this was a bit complicated to use and hard to learn. If you just want a simple radio with an easy setup, then this is not the 2-way radio you want.
That’s actually true—if you don’t have a ham radio license. But if you already have that license, then you already have the training and knowledge to use this right, and it will be easy for you.
The manual has been improved a lot this time, and that’s a huge relief. It will guide you to explore and understand all the technical capabilities of the radio. Better yet, go online and watch YouTube videos on how to use this.
There are a lot of settings and menus to go through, so you can end up making a lot of mistakes. It’s certainly a lot more complicated than other radios.
But still, it’s not that hard when you already have your ham radio license.
The buttons are also small, which makes this harder to use. If you have large fingers while wearing gloves, you’ll have to practice using the buttons until you get it right.
The tough plastic casing holds out very well even after months of hard use, and it doesn’t even show a lot of wear. The volume knob works well and the antenna is nicely flexible, so both components don’t have issues when you just set the radio in a backpack.
The screen cover for the speaker does tend to collect a lot of grime when you’re in dusty areas, but this doesn’t affect how the radio works. For most people in most situations, this radio should hold up nicely.
The main problem with this is that it’s not rated for water resistance. So, don’t use it on the water.
You must program this radio before use, lest you find yourself in hot water with the FCC and U.S. military.
Fortunately, programming the BF-F8HP is a fairly simple process using either the handset keypad or the GUI PC interface. In addition, the comprehensive user manual that ships with the radio thoroughly covers the programming process.
- Fantastic range
- Extremely clear sound
- Lots of technical capabilities to explore
- In-depth manual
- Tough enough on land
- Not for use on water
- A bit complicated
- Tiny buttons
- You need a ham radio license to use it legally
What exactly do you get when you buy the BaoFeng BF-F8HP?
Aside from 2-way radio itself, you also get the detachable V-85 antenna that you ought to attach to the radio plus the 2000 mAh battery to power it. The accessories that come with the purchase also include the power adapter, the battery charger, a belt clip and a hand strap, and the earpiece.
There’s also a nice user’s manual to help you out.
Is this a Chinese product?
It depends on how you view it. It was designed in the US, however.
Is this worth the money?
Do you have a ham radio license? If so, then it’s definitely worth the price.
If you don’t have a ham radio license, then go pick another 2-way radio. That’s because there’s no way you can use this legally without one. Why take the legal risk?
Alternative Options of BaoFeng BF-F8HP
To add perspective to the BaoFeng BF-F8HP review, we will consider the features of two other handheld ham radios of similar specifications.
1. Yaesu FT-60R Dual Band
When it comes to handheld ham radios, the Yaesu FT-60R is probably one of the most robust and reliable models available. Also, this particular radio is not only bullet-proof but feature-rich as well. It is powerful and easy to use with intuitive programming and controls.
Here are the specifications for the FT-60R.
- Band allocation: Dual-band VHF/UHF
- TX/RX frequency range: Receives 108-520 Mhz and 700-999.99 Mhz; Transmits 144-148 Mhz and 430-470 Mhz
- Output power: Adjustable 0.5 watts, 2-watt, 5-watt
- Battery: 1,400 mAh
- Channels: 1,000 memory channels with locking mode
As mentioned, programming the FT-60R is relatively simple, using the handset keypad or PC interface. In addition, the handset features PTT, an alphanumeric display, backlit keypad, and a frequency scan mode.
2. Tytera TYT MD-380 DMR
Tytera is an up-and-coming mobile communications company and has made a name for itself with ham handhelds such as the TYT MD-380 DMR. Harnessing digital mobile radio, or DMR technology, the MD-380 is an affordable UHF-only ham handheld with an impressive feature set.
So, let’s take a look at what makes the Tytera MD-380 tick.
- Frequency Range: 400-480 MHz (UHF)
- Output power: high: 5 watts; low: 1 watt
- Frequency stability: ±1.0 PPM
- FM modulation mode: 12.5 kHz: 11K0F3E
- Modulation maximum deviation: 2.5 kHz at 12.5 kHz
- Battery: 2,000 mAh Li-ion
- Channels: 1,000
- Channel Spacing: 12.5 kHz
Programming frequencies, repeater, and zone information are simple with the MD-380. The LCD is bright, clear, and easy to use, and the controls are well thought out and positioned.
All considered, it’s not hard to see why the Tytera MD-380 is fast becoming a very popular option among mobile ham radio enthusiasts.
One thing the BaoFeng BF-F8HP review makes apparent fairly quickly is just how popular mobile ham radio is becoming. In conclusion, the BF-F8HP is a clear leader in most ham radio aficionados’ minds.
And rightly so, as this little radio offers so much in terms of versatility, functionality, and sheer power.
If you’ve had any experience with this radio or would like to share insights into the mobile ham radio game, please use the comments section below.