The NotARubicon

Jeep Owner
Even though HAM is technically a much better technology than CB, most are still using CB's probably due to simplicity..
Which do YOU use, and why?
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Todd Ockert

I still have the ability to mount my CB in the Jeep, but it is usually staying at the house.

We have made the switch to the VHF/UHF race radios.
We can debate all day long on the legalities of these radios, but that is not for here.

We have the Rugged Radios RM-50 with the remote head.
The main body of the radio is mounted under the seat, and remote head is mounted up on the roll bar.

Most people will tell you that the Rugged or even the PCI radios are over priced Chinese junk.
They are doing something to these radios to make them more rugged and withstand the abuse in our rigs.
A couple of friends bought the cheap version on eBay and Amazon, and had them fail early on.
Tried to return them for a refund, and got crickets from the companies that they bought them from.

The Rugged Radio can also be programmed with Chirp, and we have loaded extra frequencies for the club.
These radios come pre-programmed with the GMRS and FRS frequencies.

Watch for an upcoming article on Modern Jeeper that I wrote.



Jeep Owner
Looking forward to your article Todd. I have a relatively cheap Uniden CB and a Firestik antenna (mounted on the cowl with a reinforced metal plate). I have had no difficulties hearing or sending communications within the CB range. In Texas, because most of the wheeling is on contained private property, CBs are generally sufficient. On backcountry expeditions with an overlanding club, I began using a cheap handheld HAM, with a magnet hood-mounted antenna, to “monitor” the discussions — there is no question that increased range is superior to CB, and hence much safer and effective.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Jeep Newb
For simplification, CB is an HF Radio with locked channels any one can use, Ham is HF, UHF, and VHF radios with locked channels that only licensed members can use. Commercial is UHF and VHF radios with locked channels only commercial business can use. Anyone can buy any radio without a license.

So not getting into the legalities, the title should be changed. CB VS Ham is incorrect. It should be CB VS Commercial radios. This is just a little education on the topic. Ham radios refer to a specific frequency range, just like CB and Commercial. Ham Radio is a carved out section of frequencies that only ham operators are allowed to use by the FCC. They are very touchy about the subject and any violation of the laws, like using Commercial radios(Rugged Radios operate on the Commercial band). So long story short do not use Ham frequencies without a license. These guys make it a point to track you down if you are doing something illegal on ham radios. If you do not think its possible, check out a Ham Fest, they literally track down a small radio device hidden by someone and usually you get a prize for finding it.

A little insight. I first bought a cb radio(CB channels are HF). I was excited to install it for an upcoming Rubicon trip. Then I got an email saying how everyone is using VHF/UHF radios from Rugged Radios. So I priced one out. Why would I want three different radios in my jeep when I can buy one that will do all three for the price of a Rugged Radio. I have nothing against them. I just know there are better radios out there for the money. If you do not want to hassle with programming a radio then by all means buy a Rugged Radio.

So boring stuff aside. Look into Yaesu, Icom, or Kenwood Radios. These are all quality radios. They sell all different types of mounts. There are cool features like texting, sending video, distance and direction of a friends radio. If you get a Ham License which is not impossible to do you can even make phone calls from your radio through a repeater, if available. If you MARS mod these radios you unlock all transmit frequencies including the Commercial frequencies. Ham radios come locked at the factory to only transmit on the ham frequencies. You have to take out one resistor and the radio is unlocked. Search youtube or google for your radio and MARS Mod.

Lastly Rugged Radios are the Best Overpriced Chinese Junk, sorry Todd. I will give you, Rugged Radios have great support for the equipment they sell. With a little knowledge you can have a better radio with more features for the same price.

Todd Ockert

The Ham radio in the video looked like a Baofang radio. You can get them on Amazon now for $35 and up, and now even come in an 8 watt unit.
they are easy to program using Chirp, and you can download frequency lists from the software or other sites.

I can go buy a Kenwood, or Icom and spend lots of money on one of those radios, and they are more expensive than a Rugged Radio.
There are also lots of other cheap stuff on eBay or Amazon, but it is hard to tell the quality stuff from the junk.

I have seen people also starting to buy the Midland GMRS radio that is gaining some traction.
It might be a better alternative to CB, as the mobile unit has 50 watts of power.
The handheld units are still down around 5 or 8 watts.
You can buy a Baofang on Amazon and program it yourself with Chirp.

Do your own research on what radios are FCC compliant though!



Jeep Newb
I'm gonna throw my two cents in here...

Oregon has lots of outback country with zero cell service, in the mountains, CB is of limited use. Usually under two miles or so. It's fine for chatter among a group on the trail, but useless if you need to call back to civilization.

All that said, with the repeaters around our state, you'd be hard pressed to find anyplace that isn't covered by a VHS (Ham) repeater. There are even a few GMRS frequency repeaters going up also.

The Technician class license is really pretty easy to get, check with local Ham clubs and find one offering a "Ham Cram" or other class. The study guide is available for a reasonable price from multiple sources and there is no end of Youtube videos online offering free help.

If you find yourself in Oregon with your Tech ticket, give a shout.



Jeep Newb
Anyone going 4-wheeling outside of cellular phone range really owes it to themselves to get a basic Technician-class Amateur Radio license and a ham radio. If you get hopelessly stuck, broken down, or someone gets hurt, communication becomes a very real lifesaver. Even the cheapo Baofeng radios are perfectly fine, but just like with Jeep parts, you get what you pay for with higher-end radios. I personally use Yaesu radios, but Kenwood, ICOM, and several other brands make high quality stuff you'll be able to rely upon

But don't you dare use ham radio frequencies without first obtaining an amateur radio license. Seriously. Do the right thing. You'll appreciate the knowledge you gain from a ham radio class anyway.


Todd Ockert

Do your research on the best radio for your area.
There are many options, FRS, GMRS, Ham amateur or commercial.
Know if it requires a license to operate! GMRS and Ham both require a license.

Know how to operate it also, like using the repeaters to increase range.



Jeep Newb
The hot ticket I'm seeing this days is the Baofang radios on the FRS frequencies. Cheaper, easier to install, and way better range than a CB.

Since we aren't discussing the legalities of things...

They work. A lot of the rugged radios that I've seen look just like a rebadged Baofang...

mac 'also great radios for listening in at Ultra4 events' gyvr


Jeep Owner
Another vote for Baofengs. Seriously buy it pre programmed, turn knob on, talk a little, get out and spot with it, toss it back on the console and ride.


Jeep Newb
I have a Baofeng and a Cobra CB. Most of the big rides (Trailfest, Dixie Run, Offroad Jamboree, etc) we use CB’s because more people have them. Some of the smaller rides with local Jeep clubs we use the Baofeng if everyone has one BUT we are not trying to reach miles to talk to each other.


Weekend Wheeler
I’m showing my lack of knowledge here, a HAM radio and CB won’t talk to each other correct?

The NotARubicon

Jeep Owner
I’m showing my lack of knowledge here, a HAM radio and CB won’t talk to each other correct?
That is correct.. Some know-it-all may chime in and say that there is some obscure model radio that exists somewhere on the planet that will do both, but, basically, no, they don't talk to each other..


Staff member
Not only with HAM and CB not talk to each other, they both use different antennas, so you won't find a radio that does both CB and HAM. You can find HAM and Race Radio together, yes.