Smartphones are the best way to communicate. No room for debate there! But when you’re going out camping or hiking outdoors, they don’t make a lot of sense. Either the cell network will let you down, or the device will die on you, whatever comes first.
That’s where the old-school style of transmission of two-way radio still prevails.
But some of them require a license, where some have short-range. You can’t just get one and start using it. Not if you go for the best handheld CB radio. No need for a license, and the range is quite good.
So, if you’re feeling a bit intrigued, you might want to check out the handheld CB radio reviews I’ve got here.
Table of Contents
- Top 4 Handheld CB Radio – Comparison
- Best Handheld CB Radio Reviews
- 1. Midland 75-822 40 Channel Portable CB-Way Radio
- 2. Cobra HH50WXST HH50 Wxst Handheld CB Radio
- 3. Uniden PRO401HH Professional Series 40 Channel Handheld CB Radio
- 4. Midland 75-785 40-Channel Handheld CB Radio
- 5. Uniden BC75XLT 300-Channel Handheld CB Radio
- 6. Cobra HH 38 WX ST 4-Watt 40-Channel CB Radio
- 7. Cobra HHRT-50 40-Channel Access RoadTrip CB Radio
- 8. Retevis RT82 Dual Band Waterproof Digital 2 Way Radio
- 9. Cobra C75WXST Handheld CB Radio
- 10. Yaesu Original FT-65 FT-65R 144/440 Dual-Band Handheld Transceiver
- Handheld CB Radios Overview
Top 4 Handheld CB Radio – Comparison
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Best Handheld CB Radio Reviews
Many contenders could have made it into the list. However, I’ve tried my best and shorten the list with these 10-handheld CB radios. Check them out.
1. Midland 75-822 40 Channel Portable CB-Way Radio
First on the line is none other than the Midland 75-8222. The top pick by truckers all over the world. But hikers can enjoy it too.
That’s because this CB radio turns to a mobile radio in seconds. Yes, with the mobile attachment that comes with it, you can use it on your cars. In that case, you’ve got to ditch the portable antenna that comes with it and uses an external one on the vehicle.
Now, here you will get 40 different CB channels. But don’t worry, there is an auto-scan feature in place. You don’t need to go through channels manually to find activity. Even though it uses 4-watts output power, the reception will be loud and clear. All thanks feature like ANL and squelch control that improves reception while removing background noises to give you a clear sound.
I love the fact; it has a nice LCD backlit display. You know which feature or channel you’re using by looking at it. Plus, it’s easier to use in dark conditions.
If that weren’t enough, with it, you would get 10 NOAA channels to keep updated with the weather conditions. Plus, you got the route 9 and 19 to get noticed about any emergencies nearby.
But that’s not the impressive part. Here, you can keep your eyes on the emergency channel with another channel of your choice at the same time.
- Works both as portable and mobile CB radio.
- Number of Channels: 40
- 10 NOAA channels
- Emergency channels 9 and 19
- Has automatic noise limiter
- Squelch control to eliminate noise
- Runs on both AA and rechargeable NiMH battery
- Offers portable antenna
- Compact design with rubber grip
2. Cobra HH50WXST HH50 Wxst Handheld CB Radio
Similar to the Midland, this one also has a smaller dimension. But this one in terms of look is way ahead of its competitor.
But what’s so great about it?
For me, it’s the sound tracker system. What it does is that it cuts 90% of interference or static noise. That means it picks up your voice while avoiding all the other nonsenses happening around. So, the other person can hear you loud and clear.
Other than that, you get the typical features that you see in CB radios. For instance, the 40 citizens band channels. Plus, you got your NOAA alerts that tell you about the weather conditions and emergencies where you’re heading. But this one has an audible tone notification which is a nice addition as it gives you a head’s up.
Also, having a high/low power switch is a blessing. That’s because you can save battery using in low power whenever possible.
Not to forget, the LCD screen lets you keep track of everything. Even you can monitor two channels at once with it. And the magnetic mount antenna is the cherry on top as it makes mounting it on the device much easy.
- Easy to read display
- Power output: 4 watts
- Has NOAA and emergency radio
- Soundtrack system cuts 90% of interference
- Has 40 citizen band channels
- Dual watch channel
- Access to 10 weather channels
- Low/high power switch
- Omni-direction microphone
- Up to 4 miles range
3. Uniden PRO401HH Professional Series 40 Channel Handheld CB Radio
When everyone is busy making things complicated, Uniden went the other way around with its PRO401HH handheld CB radio. By looking at it, you can see that. There aren’t a lot of things, just a few buttons.
You have on-off/volume knob, squelch knob, channel up-down slider and a push-to-talk button. That’s it. Nothing fancy going on it. Only the things you need.
And it is also easy to operate. The display tells about the channel you’re on. Right beside that are two small LED indicators. One shows transmit; the other indicates low battery life—nothing to confuse you.
When you transmit using any of the 40 channels, the squelch control will let you get a clear sound. Alongside the ANL will work to provide better reception.
Plus, you have a low/high power setting. Using it, preserve the battery when needed. And when required, boost the power to get an extended range.
With a weight of just 1 pound, the simple, strategically placed design of the Uniden makes it perfect to use with only one hand.
- Offers 40 CB channels
- Low/High power setting
- Extend range
- Preserves battery life
- Simple to view LCD screen
- Powered using 9 AA batteries
- Includes: DC adapter, flexible antenna, Belt clip and strap
- Has auto noise cancel feature
- Rechargeable battery.
4. Midland 75-785 40-Channel Handheld CB Radio
When it comes to portability, the Midland 75-785 is hard to beat. You can see why’s that as it has a sleek design. In comparison with earlier Midland’s, this is 33% smaller. That’s impressive!
But shrinking the size isn’t the only wonder it has done with the unit.
You get a lot of cool features that make it such a great device. For starters, the reception on it is way better than many others. You expect it to be with features like ANL and squelch control in place. But the real game-changer is the Automatic gain control. Thanks to it even at long distances, you get better reception with the long-range handheld CB radio.
But to that, it doesn’t go past the 4 watts output power limit. So, no fines for breaking the FCC rule.
Now, just like the earlier Midland, you get 40 channels. Also, here tuning through channels won’t be any hassle thanks to PLL channel selection.
But what I love most about the unit is its transmission quality. Even from your end, you’re able to send crystal-clear sound. All thanks to the electrostatic microphone that is built-in the unit.
- Runs on both DC power, AA and rechargeable battery.
- Offers 40 CB channels
- Cigarette lighter adapter for mobile use
- Automatic noise limiter for improved reception
- Squelch control for eliminating noise
- High/low power switch for battery saving
- Automatic gain control
- Electrostat microphone for better transmission
5. Uniden BC75XLT 300-Channel Handheld CB Radio
Finding a free channel for communication in CB radios is hard. Not if you have the Uniden BC75XLT on you.
In this compact handheld scanner CB, you get up to 300 channels. Each of the ten banks can hold up to 30 routes for you to find a free transmission line easily. That’s not all!
With the BC75XLT, you get something called the RF capture. What it does is it detects and tunes transmissions happening nearby without even you tuning into them. So, if there is an emergency in the area, you will get to know about that right away. Plus, the NOAA feature is also up for grabs.
Alongside that, you get your 10-typical emergency frequencies that get used by police, fire brigades and more. You can listen to them too.
Unlike the other ones, here you will find a port and free software to programme the unit with your PC. With the USB port, you can even charge the handheld radio with your PC.
Or use the AA battery to use it whichever you prefer.
- Offers 300 channels
- Programmable search ranges: 10
- Close call RF capture
- Narrow band compatible
- Runs using Linux
- Comes with free software for easy PC programming
- Runs using AA alkaline battery
- Has ten pre-programmed service search bands.
6. Cobra HH 38 WX ST 4-Watt 40-Channel CB Radio
Another Cobra made to the list. This time it is the Cobra HH 38 WX ST. And like the earlier, it has the same sleek design going for it.
However, this one has a nice palm grip to it, which makes it ideal for camping and hiking trips. Besides that, you will find the same quality features that the earlier Cobra had to offer.
One such is the Sound Tracker System. Expect to get clear and loud sound quality as it will reduce 90% of the noise. Like most other, 40 channels is all that you get. But you can monitor two pre-selected channels at once using the Dual watch feature, which is a big plus.
And to be ready for those storms and emergencies heading towards you, the device has the NOAA weather and emergency channels. It will connect to any of the ten weather channels to give you the latest update about the weather condition in your area.
With a range of up to 4 miles, this is a perfect gear to take on the trips. Don’t worry about its battery life, with feature like the high/low power switch; you can reduce power use to get more hours of use.
- Sound Tracker System cuts 90% of noise
- 10 NOAA channels
- Emergency radio channel
- Channel scan- 40 citizen bands
- Dual watch feature
- Maximum power output is 4 watts
- Range up to 4 miles
- High/low power switch
7. Cobra HHRT-50 40-Channel Access RoadTrip CB Radio
Do you need a CB radio to use from the car and on foot? Then check out the Cobra HHRT50.
What’s unique about this handheld radio is its antenna. You can attach it to the device and use it as a typical walkie-talkie like device. But while using inside from the car, you can take it apart and use the magnetic mount to set on top of your car’s roof—no need for an extra one.
In all other aspects, it is similar to the HH50WXST that you’ve seen earlier—same design and everything. That means sound tracker system is in action to provide you clear, crystal quality sound.
The same way, you get NOAA weather channels to be prepared for any incoming hazards near you. You don’t have to tune the channel. It gives instant access to keep you updated. Not to forget, an audible tone is there to notify of any emergency.
What sets it apart is its 3-channel monitoring. With most, you get to observe two channels at once. It gives you an additional channel to monitor. But that’s for the weather. For regular channels to communicate, you get a dual watch like all others.
With full coverage of 40 channels at your disposal, having an open line to get some small chat won’t be that hard with it.
- 40 CB channels
- Dual watch monitoring
- 10 NOAA weather channels
- 3-weather channel monitoring at once
- Noise cancellation up to 90% with Sound tracker system
- Magnetic mount for mobile antenna
- 4 watts maximum power output
- High/low power switch
- 75% battery extended life
- Omni-directional microphone
- Up to 4 miles range
8. Retevis RT82 Dual Band Waterproof Digital 2 Way Radio
While the last Uniden was too simple, the Retevis is the complete opposite. The RT82 model gives the CB radio fanatics the joy of using a complex device. And it’s not a bad thing at all as most people fall in love with CB radio fans because of its complexity.
The device is more like a cellphone than a radio with keypads and a massive screen on it. Here, you get to be on two frequency range: VHF and UHF. That gives you a total of 3000 channels. In total, you can have 10000 contacts list. Bonkers!
I love the fact; the keypad are backlit. That makes it easier for you to operate at night. Plus, the big trackball design helps you to reduce keypad use a lot—clever bit of engineering.
And that cleverness doesn’t end there. Like others, you can monitor two channels at the same time. But unlike others, it gives you a point to point time slot that lets you enjoy two group calls under one channel. And you can record your calls in it, by the way. If you miss something while transmission, record it to hear it back again.
Take it with anywhere you want; this IP67 rated device can immerse in water up to 30 minutes. And it will work in also any temperature range.
- Dual band support: VHF and UHF
- Up to 3000 channels
- Has a 2200mAh battery
- Gives 8-12 hours use with normal use
- Has 150 hours standby time
- Dual channel watch
- Call recording up to 8 hours
- IP67 waterproof and dust-proof rating
9. Cobra C75WXST Handheld CB Radio
This microphone style handheld CB radio got all the controls on it. Therefore, you can mount it on the car and use it as a typical mobile radio. Or take it with you on the hikes.
But what more it has?
To start, you get the standard 40 channels in the unit. You can use each of them to communicate. There are extra 10-channels, but those are for to keep you updated about the weather conditions near your area.
On the device, you can set two channels to monitor at once. And communicating with it a pleasure thanks to the Sound Track system of its. It cuts about 90% of the noise around to transmit crystal-clear sound to the other end.
One feature that stands out to me personally is the lock control. With compact devices such as this, there is always the risk of accidental channel changes. This one solves that issue.
All in all, this small CB radio is a good deal to be overlooked.
- Backlit LCD display.
- Emergency channel button
- Has 4 memories
- Auto channel scanning
- Dual watch
- Remote mounting system
- 40 CB channels
- NOAA channels: 10
10. Yaesu Original FT-65 FT-65R 144/440 Dual-Band Handheld Transceiver
Weighing just around 0.24 pounds and standing at just 2.1×1.2×4.1(LxWxH) inches, the Yaesu is hands down one of the most compact devices on the list.
Similar to the Retevis model, this one uses dual-band technology to transmit. You can get on both VHF or UHF bands to get in touch with someone else on the frequency. But that’s not the most surprising fact about it.
The real surprise lies in the power output. While the FCC regulation allows only 4 watts output, this comes with 5-watt power output. So, if you want to extend the range further, you can do that. But do that on your own risk!
Other than that, you get a big front built-in speaker on the unit, that gives crisp, clear sound for you to hear. Plus, you got a nice LED screen that’s quite visible at dark conditions.
With 9 hours of operation, the unit gives great talk hours to you with its 1950mAh Li-ion battery. Not to forget, with low power setting in use, you can extend these hours.
What not to love!
- Max power output- 5 watts.
- Low power settings of 2.5w and 0.5w
- Has IP54 rating
- Comes with MIL-810-C, D and E rating
- Big front speaker delivers full 1-watt power
- Features a large LED screen
- Uses a 1950mAh Li-Ion battery
- 9-hours of operation time.
Handheld CB Radios Overview
Handheld small CB radio is just like the walkie-talkie that you can carry around with you. No need for a base station or anything. It’s a mobile-like device that is compact and portable. That’s it.
Best Handheld CB Radio Buying Guide
Have you made your mind to buy a handheld CB radio? Good! If you’re ready to be part of the CB radio user world, then this buying guide is just for you.
Here, you will get to know about the basic things that you need to look for in the long-range handheld CB radio.
You’re getting the CB radio to communicate. That’s the reality. So, it is evident that the first thing that needs consideration is the transmission range.
If you’re planning to use it for a job site or activities like trucking, camping, or anything such as where the distance between you and the person you’re trying to connect won’t be far, then a regular CB radio will do the job.
But if you need to get in touch with someone who is out of the 25-30 miles range, then a long-range handheld CB radio is your best bet. And to get that kind of coverage, you’ve to always rely on a longer antenna.
So, a quick tip that you can try to follow is that get a device that lets you use an external antenna. That way, you can improve the range of your device.
Automatic noise reduce:
All that range would be of no good if you can’t hear the person from the other end saying clearly. Or vice-versa. That’s where the automatic noise reduction feature in the CB radio comes in play.
To help you get crystal clear sound, this will remove the background noises while transmitting. Or anything that interferes with the hearing.
But make sure the device you’re getting has the feature.
LCD display & Keypad
Having an LCD on the device is crucial. That way, you will know important information from it.
Get a large display on the device with backlit so that you can see things even in the dark. Besides the screen, make sure to find a device that has a good keypad.
If the buttons are too small, you will have trouble using it. Keep that in mind!
Portability and Mobility:
Getting a handheld CB radio over station based ones is for one reason and one reason only. To get the freedom to move around with the device.
That’s why keeping the use of the device in mind while picking a model. If you’re going to use it for the ride, then getting a slightly bigger model won’t hurt.
But if you want to carry it around while walking, then a smaller CB radio should be your top-pick.
It is something you need to be careful about while getting the device. That’s because the small handheld CB radio you are looking to get should not have a power output more than 4 watts. It’s the maximum output power allowed by FCC. IF you go beyond that, then it will cause interference with other devices. And be ready to pay some hefty fines for that.
It is one of the most crucial features than many of us overlook. The Squelch control is nothing but the system that lets you set the threshold of the speaker from which the sound comes out. It is what enables you to mute those annoying hissing sound when the speaker is in use.
With a proper handheld CB radio, you will get around 40 channels. That’s a lot of frequencies to go through for activity.
If you don’t have that patience or the luxury to go through each channel to find activities, then getting a channel scanning option on the device is a must. That way, it will discover a signal where conversations are happening.
The CB radio isn’t the typical station-based that you connect to a power socket to run. You will be carrying it around with you. So, how will you power it up for use?
Yes, you would need a battery. But how much talk time that battery will allow you is the question.
There is no use of a device that lets you use it for 2-3 hours. You need a solid unit that can give you at least 10+ hours of use.
And with units that have high/low power mode, you can even improve on that talk time.
But getting a long lifespan isn’t enough. You’ve got to make sure the battery on the unit is rechargeable. That way, you don’t have to change batteries whenever the old one dies.
Design and Quality:
Handheld CB radio has a distinct look that is similar to the walkie-talkie. That’s because you carry them in your hand. But you will find these devices with a cord or a USB port. That’s to charge it.
Now, it’s all up to you what kind of device you want in terms of design. You can get a small or a slightly bigger unit. With many buttons or that has less. Make sure you have got a clear picture in mind for the device.
And to make sure about the quality, go for a unit that offers weather-resistant materials; that way, you will be able to use it outdoor in any condition.
Looking at the handheld CB radio reviews, you will find that most of them offer at least 40 channels. That’s the standard number of channels you should expect to get in your device.
If you can get more than that’s a plus.
Antenna and Antenna Tuner:
I’ve given a hint about it already. With longer antennas, you will get more reach. So, if you get a device that allows to change antenna and offers antenna tuning, go for it. That will give you the chance to improve your current machine without going to the market looking for a new handheld model.
No doubt, there are many great handheld CB radios that you can find that might not come from a well-known brand. But there is a reason you trust in a brand. They have been making great products that took them on top.
That’s why going for products from particular brands like Midland, Cobra, Uniden, or any of the other mentioned here are much more preferable, as you know they have stood the test of time.
It is an aspect that you can’t overlook. Yes, you will find devices with more features and superb quality, but going for that shouldn’t be your goal if you can’t afford it.
Try to look into the market and get a device that suits your budget. See if the handheld radio CB you’ve got ticks the box of your needs. The more boxes it ticks, the better.
But always, it has to come within the budget. If you don’t have any such restriction and can afford to spend without any regret of spending too much on the device, then go nuts!
How to Use a Handheld CB radio?
I can’t take you through every device and tell you how to use it. And there is no need for it as you will need to operate all the same way. Let’s check out what you need to do.
- The first thing is to explore channels. So, after powering up the unit, tune frequencies. As there are 40 channels, you might be people hogging frequencies quite often. Wait for them to finish.
- When you get the line free, ask for a radio check. Do this twice to see if anyone responds. You need to figure out what the person on the other end is looking for here. If he’s up for conversation and you’re interested too, talk. Be polite and don’t take too much time as people are waiting in the queue.
- If you’re planning to talk with friends, then you’ve got to have a particular station picked. Then do the same. Give a radio check and wait for a response. But be sure you’ve got the right guy. For that, you can use code words. But whatever you do, don’t use a crowded station for your small talks.
- And lastly, the best use of it that you can do is in emergencies. Police, highway patrols, and other rescue services are on Channel 9. Send distress messages here in crises.
Finding the best handheld CB radio can be a tricky task. If you know what you’re doing and what you’re looking for, then it won’t be a problem.
But if you don’t want to go through the trouble, then don’t. Just check the list and see if anyone of them feels good to you.
Or get one on your own accord. Take the help of the buying guide for some help.
Just be a part of the CB radio world.