Survey 3: What QRP HF transceiver would you choose for air travel?

Many of us are traveling this summer and with pandemic concerns lessening, we are taking to the air and going much further afield!

This summer, I’ve gotten a number of inquiries from readers asking about the “best” HF QRP radios for air travel.

While I have suggestions, in truth, these days the radio selection often comes down to availability. It might be difficult to order and receive your first choice radio prior to your travels unless you scope out the used market or are simply looking ahead to travels next year.

With air travel in mind, of course, transceiver size and weight become important factors especially if, like me, you’re a one-bag traveler.

In addition, being able to easily power the radio without a large/heavy external battery/power supply is also important.

This is why QRP radios are so ideal for air travel; they’re so much easier to stash in luggage compared with their 100 watt siblings.

Survey #3

The first and second surveys we posted were so much fun and insightful! As I mentioned in May, I’ve a number of surveys in store this year.

As with our previous, surveys, this one also also focuses specifically on HF QRP transceivers.

If you would like to participate, please use the Google Form below. If you don’t see the radio you would choose in this list, feel free to add it in the “Other” selection, but again, please do not list 100 watt radios in this particular survey that focuses on QRP HF transceivers.

While the survey form doesn’t allow for comments, this QRPer post does! Please consider sharing your thoughts about the radio you chose in the survey–this is a brilliant way to elaborate on your entire travel set-up. Being a radio, pack, and travel geek? I love this stuff!

Thank you!

21 thoughts on “Survey 3: What QRP HF transceiver would you choose for air travel?”

  1. I chose the TR-35 as it is the smallest QRP radio I have. If I was going to check baggage, I would bring my IC-705. I would use both with an Elecraft T1 tuner. and my homebrew EFHW antenna. Power would be a Bioenno 3 Amp/Hr battery.

  2. In terms of size, weight, bands, power requirements, and cost, I would take the Venus SW-3B. It’s small, light weight, covers 20/30/40m, runs for hours on a small LiFePo4 battery, and if it is lost/stolen/damaged, it isn’t as big of a deal as if it was a more expensive rig. I took my Venus SW-3B on a recent trip to the US and it was great for SOTA, BOTA, IOTA, and POTA activations.

    One other option for travelling is to guest operate at a station. On a recent trip to the US, I operated from W1AW in CT. Some museums like the Diefenbunker in Ottawa and Ontario Science Centre in Toronto have stations; you can usually guest operate if you talk to the right people in advance.

    1. 100% agree. I took my sw-3b to Switzerland, I didn’t even pull it out of my carry on. Raised zero interest through security. My report is here on

      It’s not the end of the world if it’s lost or damaged. I use it will a k6ark efhw and a talentcell battery pack.

      I think qmx would be amazing too, especially if SSB supports comes later.

  3. I have both a Xiegu X5105 and an X6100 that are my designated travel radios. Both of these rigs are essentially a “shack in a box” with internal batteries, great internal tuners, built-in microphones, internal speakers and coverage from 160m through 6m on all modes. Performance is adequate for a portable vacation rig and both are ruggedly constructed.

    I picked the X5105 in this survey as the bigger battery edges out the better performance of the X6100 in this application in my opinion.

    I consider both of these radios “expendable”. If damaged or somehow lost while travelling they can be replaced at a cost much less than replacing my IC-705.

  4. I don’t own one yet, but someday I hope to have a QRP Labs QMX. THat might replace my KX1 as my “one travel rig to rule them all”!

  5. Just flew cross country with my TX-500. Considerations were slimness (I had it in my carryon backpack), ingress protection (lots of use in the sand here) and support for bands higher than 17m, which is something many of my more compact radios lack.

  6. Air travel to an interesting location where I would operate from my vacation home -and- in the field: KX-3. It is a bit bigger and heavier, and more capable, than my KX-2. It is an all-in-one radio, tuner, all hf band radio. All I need is an antenna system and I’m on the air; wires or yagi. No overload. Batteries inside the radio or external. Solid, no worries. Contest or POTA. No worries.

  7. I travel a fair amount and always take the IC-705. It’s a larger option, but is so versatile I make that compromise. Internal battery, can charge from any 5V or 12V source, 160M-70CM, best digital rig out there and many more.

    It let’s me play radio in the hotel as if I have my base rig, play POTA, or if I were to need to send an emergency winlink email or HF APRS text.

    I go into more detail in a guest post from a few months ago. I’ve changed out my antennas a little (dropped the magloop for most and added the AX1), but the basic load out is the same.

  8. Ever since I got the X6100 (a bit more than a year ago) it has been my go-to radio for every activity, typically with a 3 Ah Bioenno external battery and either a 20m BNC-adapter dipole or a QRPguys EFHW antenna.
    “Shack-in-a-box”, light and compact enough to carry anywhere; well, what’s not to love?

  9. The TR-35 gets the nod from me. It is small, rugged, frugal with power, and highly capable. It lives with a linked EFHW that gives resonant coverage on all its available bands. All-in-all, a very nice package for high portability. Someday a QMX may replace it for travel, but the kit still sits unassembled on my bench…

  10. Going with the KX2 or the X6100. If it’s a shorter trip or there’s a higher risk of damage / loss / theft, the X6100 gets the nod – if the worst happened, I’d be upset but not quite as inconsolable as if something happened to the KX2!

    If it’s more Stay and Play then the KX2 is the choice.

    And if it’s a longer trip – I haven’t done one in a long time! – I’d probably take both if I could swing it. I’d hate to go somewhere with plans for lots of ham-time only to find a kaput radio in my bag.

  11. Ft817 as it also covers vhf,uhf. With alkaline battery tray. Buy batteries there for portable ops. (holidays dollars). Suitable small wall wart power supply for mains ops.

  12. I have many qrp radios. KX2 is my best friend and as they are practically impossible to get hold of and it’s very expensive I wouldn’t dream of taking it on a plane, through customs and security in a foreign land.

    I wouldn’t take my ic-705 also because of the value.

    Tru usdx would be a possible, but I just don’t enjoy using it, I’m sure many do, but it’s not one for me.

    I took my SW-3b to Switzerland, it was a dream, such a small package, low value and just a great little radio. I also taken the FT-818, I noticed it’s quite heavy and it did raise a few questions I’m going through security.

    Qcx mini would also be great option but not as versatile as the Venus with 40/30/20 bands.

    As per my reply above, I think QMX will be Amazing choice especially if SSB firmware update transpires.


  13. Venus SW-3B. Great radio. Plenty of features. Popular bands. Small…And if it is stolen, you buy another (in fact, I have two already, just in case). I like the KX3, I just don’t want to travel with it. My KX1 is now a shack queen, as I use it more than the KX3.

  14. I recently flew and took the IC-705 so that I would have 6 meter capability if the bands were to open. I have a Lowepro photographer’s backpack with good padding and the TSA people had no interest in the radio but scanned the AH-705 tuner several times. It did no good to have a radio in the hotel room though, even five watts drove the GFCI outlet and GFCI-protected hair drier crazy. People on other floors were probably wondering why their hair dryer was buzzing like a fire alarm! 🙂

  15. I only have a uBITX 6 so that gets my vote. The qmx sounds nice with ssb, 705 & others is to costly to repair or replace. Thank you for doing this, the same thought crossed my mind when I took a trip recently.

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