Home Radios Kenwood TM-281A Radio Review: Single-Band 2 Meter Radio

Kenwood TM-281A Radio Review: Single-Band 2 Meter Radio

Kenwood TF-281 2 Meter Radio

When someone starts talking about Kenwood radios, the first thing that pops into my mind is an HF Rig. While that’s what they are most famous for, Kenwood does make some UHF/VHF radios. Today we are going to look at one of those radios.

The Kenwood TM-281A is a single-band 2 Meter mobile radio that receives (RX) on 136 – 174 MHz and transmits (TX) from 144 – 148 MHz.

A Prepper’s take on the Kenwood TM-281A

From a preparedness standpoint, and this is something I say about all single-band radios no matter who the manufacturer is, I’m not the biggest fan of single-band radios. I want to cover as much ground as I can, and during an emergency, I want to make sure I give myself the opportunity to cover a wide range of frequencies.

With that being said, let’s take a look at our impressions of the Kenwood TM-281A and then you can decide whether or not it’s a valuable addition to your emergency communication stockpile.

From a Preparedness Standpoint, here are some of the things we do like about the Kenwood TM-281A

What this radio does have going for it is it’s built like a tank. I don’t exactly go easy on my radios, and I have more radios with missing knobs, dents and dings than I have radios that look like they just came off the showroom floor. The TM-281A is a radio that I think can stand up to a lot of abuse. The radio is built to military standards and is built to meet strict U.S. Department of Defense MIL-STD 810 C, D, E, F & G environmental standards for vibration and shock.

From a prepper’s point of view, that’s a hard thing to overlook! When shit starts to go –sideways, you want a radio that is going to take a beating and be able to operate in a wide variety of situations. Multi-band radios are awesome, and give you a much wider range, but if the radio craps our two days into an emergency situation is it really better than the single-band radio that will still be going 20 years later?

And that’s not hyperbole; I have some single-band radios that are 25+ years old that are still going strong; on the other hand, I have bought a bunch of those Chinese made crap Baofengs that cover every VHF/UHF frequency imaginable and I can’t tell you how many took a dump on me after a couple of months.

Here are a couple of our first impressions:

  • Signal reports have all been great with this radio.
  • No Frills: For some, this might be a negative thing, but for us, it’s exactly the way we like an emergency communications radio to be! The more crap they try to cram into a radio the more shit that’s bound to go wrong!
  • Extremely easy to program manually!

The things we didn’t like about this 2 Meter Kenwood:

  • Our biggest problem with the radio is it’s only a single band radio, otherwise, we think Kenwood hit this one out of the park!
  • We would have liked a little more memory, but since it’s single-band radio 200 memory channels isn’t that huge of a downfall and is probably more than most people will ever use.

Kenwood TM-281A 2 Meter Radio Specs and Features

Kenwood TM-281A 2 Meter Radio

Frequency Coverage:

Transmit: 144 – 148 MHz
Receive: 136 – 174 MHz

Memory Channels:

200 Memory Channels

Output power

65 Watts

Recommended Accessories and Add-ons


We paired the radio with an antenna that we already had on one on our vehicle, the MFJ-1729 Magmount antenna. It’s one of our favorite magmount antennas.

Cables If you don’t want to manually program the radio then you are going to want to get the KRS-271/281 USB Software (Version 4.50) and USB Programming Cable.

Find The Kenwood TM-281A on Amazon

Survival Book

Survival Book

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