My post yesterday, Testing the Arrow 146-BP3 Yagi Antenna, got picked up by a couple sites, including Sparks31 and Amateurradio.com. Thanks, guys! It also generated the following question:
Can you recommend a ham radio for emergency use only (hand held if available)?
There really isn't a good, quick, "Buy this radio," type answer.
Obviously, ham radios are a valuable addition to your preps, otherwise I wouldn't write about them so much. However, being able to effectively use a radio is more complicated than unboxing it, turning it on, speaking into the mic, and expecting someone to answer with useful information. You must learn something about radio operations and get some practice in before the SHTF. To do so, you must get licensed.
Piccolo summed up very well on Arfcom, here, why you need to get your ham license before the SHTF.
Getting a ham license is not hard for most people. Kids get licensed. Morse code is no longer required. The entry level Technician license requires you to pass a 35 question multiple choice test. This allows you to operate on VHF and UHF frequencies, which are good for local communications. The next level up, General class, gives you access to most of the HF (shortwave) frequencies, which depending on your setup, can give you regional to global communication capabilities. This is a second 35 question exam. There's a lot of overlap in the two exams, so it's not uncommon for someone to pass the Technician exam and then take and pass the General exam in one sitting, for one $14 fee.
The American Radio Relay League has info on how to get licensed, here.
After you've read some of the Technician level study material you'll have a better idea of the capabilities you need/want in your commo gear.
Now, if I've convinced you of the need to get licensed, I'll mention that no license is required to purchase a ham radio, and you can listen as much as you want. Just don't key the transmitter until you're licensed.