Whether you’re looking to ‘enjoy the tunes’ while relaxing around the campfire with friends and family or simply looking for an option to stay up to date on the latest weather forecast, portable radios have long been considered important camping gear. Today, I’m going to share the key features to consider when choosing a camp radio along with my recommendations for the best portable radio for camping at every price point.
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There is no denying that music can have an incredible impact on our emotions and well-being, helping us to relax, bringing about positivity and giving us a fun motivational boost when needed.
With an increased interest in streaming services such as Spotify and Amazon Music, you may be surprised to hear that traditional AM/FM radio is still considered to be one of the most reliable ways to enjoy your favourite music on the go.
Before we dig into how to pick the best radio for your needs, I want to address one of the biggest complaints that I see in the online travel communities that I belong to… The correct and respectful use of radios while camping.
Often, you will see people discouraging the use of the radio as they believe that camping is best experienced without the additional noise.
The truth is that camping can look different from one person to the next. One person may enjoy backcountry camping with nothing more than the gear that they carry on their back while, to another, camping involves staying in a travel trailer or RV with all the amenities, and that’s okay!
If you do enjoy music while you are camping, be sure to be respectful of those around you that may prefer the stillness and quiet of being out in nature.
What does this mean? Consider your neighbours when deciding on the appropriate volume for your music.
Furthermore, pay careful attention to the noise-related rules and regulations for the park or campground that you are staying at. There may be set ‘quiet hours’ where the use of a radio is not permitted, or areas that have been deemed ‘radio free’.
With the popularity of camping on the rise, we need to be more diligent than ever to remain aware of those that are around us. Ontario Parks has reported an increase in reservations of over 200% on March 1st, making it the highest volume they have ever seen on a single day!
If there is any question as to whether or not your radio use is disturbing those around you, consider turning it down or asking your neighbour if they are bothered by your music.
RELATED: ‘8 Tips for Successfully Using the New Ontario Parks Online Reservation System‘
What to Look for in A Portable Radio
When you are on a mission to select the best portable radio for camping, there are a few different factors to consider beyond just looking at the price tag.
Going back again to the statement that camping can look different from one person to the next, so too can the perfect radio!
If you’re a backcountry camper, you may be on the search for a small radio with the ability to quickly check in on the news and weather forecast while also being portable enough to tuck in your pack. Alternatively, a car camper may be looking for something that can hook up to their phone to listen to their favourite playlist.
Here are 5 factors to consider when deciding on which portable radio is best suited for your needs…
Charging Methods and Battery Life
There are a variety of different charging options available on the market today. Take a second to look at your camping style and which option (or combination of options) will best suit your needs. This includes both the ability to charge your radio as well as the battery life.
Do you prefer camping on an electrical site, plugging your radio in? Don’t overlook this point! You never know when you may find yourself in a situation where the power has been knocked out. In fact, those might be the moments that you want to check in with what’s happening the most!
The most popular charging methods available include AC/DC charging, disposable batteries, USB charging, solar power and hand crank.
If you’re looking for a radio to tune into local stations, checking the news or weather in the area, you want to make sure that you can actually pick up AM/FM radio stations! This means that you want to choose a radio with solid and reliable reception.
Look for a radio with a telescoping antenna which will give you more flexibility to pick up the various stations available.
Are you going to be in situations where your radio may be exposed to the elements? If so, you may want to consider selecting a waterproof unit for your adventures. Make sure that you get to know the IPX rating system. A radio that is rated IPX3 is designed to withstand a light rain, while a radio that is rated IPX7 can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.
Additionally, you may need to consider the ability of your radio to stand up to being dropped or knocked around. This is especially true if you are camping with young children!
A radio isn’t always just a radio! In fact, there are a number of additional features that you may wish to consider when deciding on the best portable radio for camping.
Many ‘emergency radios’ include built-in LED flash-lights, SOS signaling and USB charging for smaller devices, like a cellphone. Meanwhile, larger radios like ‘jobsite radios’ may have a large enough battery capacity to charge or power something larger, like a laptop.
Another feature to consider, depending on how you wish to use your radio, is whether or not you have the ability to use headphones. This could include either the use of a headphone jack for wired headphones or Bluetooth capability for wireless. This is a great option if you would like to enjoy some music at a time or place where it may not be permitted.
Another important factor to consider is the ability to transport your radio as necessary during your adventures. For some people, this factor isn’t all that important. If you are packing all of your gear in an RV or travel trailer, a larger radio can easily sit inside while you are on the way to your campsite.
However, if you are someone that enjoys ‘walk-in’ style sites or backcountry camping where you have to hike or paddle to access your campsite, you may need a smaller radio that can be tucked into a pocket or backpack.
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My Recommendations: The Best Portable Radio for Camping
Budget Radios (Under $25)
Esky Emergency Portable Solar Radio
Sony ICFP26 Portable AM/FM Radio
Prunus AM/FM Pocket Radio
Mid-Range Radios ($25-$100)
FosPower Emergency Solar Crank Portable Radio
RunningSnail Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Panasonic Portable Radio
Eton American Red Cross Emergency NOAA Weather Radio
Kaito KA500 Voyager Emergency Radio
Luxury Radios (Over $100)
Bosch PB360C-C Power Box Jobsite Radio
ION Audio Raptor Portable Speaker/Radio
What factors do you consider to be the most important when selecting the best portable radio for camping? Do you have a radio that you love? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comments!
29 thoughts on “The Best Portable Radio for Camping (at Every Price Point)”
I’ve never considered taking a radio camping with me before. But, it makes sense, and would be a great source of entertain before bedtime or first thing in the morning. This is a great guide and I’m glad you’ve shared a range of options here.
For us, it has been SO important to have a radio when we’re on longer trips simply to be able to listen in to the weather! We try to book at least a couple of trips that are over a week in length and we tent camp out where we often don’t have cell service. The weather can change a lot in that time and we want to be prepared lol
Solar powered radios would make sense, if you’re going camping a lot, especially if it also allows you to charge your other devices as well
Exactly! We have one that’s just battery-powered for a quick emergency (the Sony listed under budget radios) and our bigger radio set up has a solar panel and USB charging.
This is really useful. I went camping for the first time in a long time a few months ago and having a radio might have been nice!
It’s a nice break to be able to kick back and listen to some music occasionally.
We’re not a family of campers but to be honest any of these (probably the budget one!) would be perfect for me while I’m gardening. Not that I don’t love the sound of Nature but sometimes it would be lovely to have some soothing music as well 🙂
Exactly! I love the sound of nature but occasionally, I want to listen to a little music as well. We actively use the Sony radio listed under budget radios and I have nothing but the best to say about it. Even in areas where we’re camping with little to no cellphone service, in the middle of nowhere, it pulls in clear radio stations for us to enjoy.
Oddly enough, I have several of the very first portable radio that you recommended! I love that it is solar powered and has a flashlight attached to it. I haven’t gone camping in a while, but my husband and I keep them in our bug out bags because being able to hear the news is essential to safety in an emergency. I’m also big on music, but rarely use a traditional radio for that. I’ve been spoiled with Apple and Amazon music on my phone and at home. Radios have not lost their importance!
Yes! We keep a couple of emergency radios around the house for exactly the same purpose. If something were to happen, we know that we can still keep up to date on what is happening so that we can respond accordingly.
looks very nice! I kinda wish I loved listening to actual radio for my camping. very stylish!
I enjoy kicking back and enjoying a bit of music from time to time, but I also enjoy the peaceful quiet of nature. That’s the beauty of it all – you can enjoy what you want when you want without feeling like you ‘have to’ do anything in particular 🙂
I think a radio when camping is such a great idea although many manage with their mobile music. But a radio has it’s own charm. Thanks for some great options.
There is something about an actual radio that is just magical, isn’t there?
My partner loves camping so this is such a great post to come across! I much prefer radios for listening to much than through my phone! Thankyou for sharing x
If you’re looking for a way to pick up a radio station without breaking the bank, we have the Sony radio that I listed and bring it with us on almost every camping trip. We have been SO impressed with how well it will pick up a clear station regardless of where we go!
I agree about making sure people around you can’t hear your music. There’s nothing worse than listening to someone else’s music haha!
Definitely! There’s a fine balance between enjoying your music and disturbing those around you. Like I said, if in doubt, ask!
I for some reason don’t own a portable radio and this post just made me realize how they are still relevant. I am ordering one for when I decide to go camping in the near future.
They are great not only for camping but also in the event of a longer power outage. You can find out what’s going on in the world and stay ‘in the know’ while conserving your phone battery.
This post makes me want to go camping! I don’t have a portable radio so I’d definitely refer back to this guide if I decided to get one.
I am counting down the days to our first trip of the season! Less than a month, but it can’t come quickly enough!
OMG I love this! As soon as I read the title, I knew I should send this to my Dad. He bought a portable radio on this rural trip to the Philippines and literally brings it everywhere and has it on when we go camping. We switch from that and playing acoustic guitar around the campsite. Thanks for sharing x
Lynn | http://www.lynnmumbingmejia.com
That sounds like a great way to enjoy yourself when camping! I love being able to jump back and forth between quiet (the sounds of nature) and some great tunes!
OMG this post is perfect, thank you!
Katie | katieemmabeauty.com
Great post with lots of great comparisons.. I used to love camping as a kid!
It’s such a fun way to get out and reconnect with nature. We try to get at least 8-10 different trips in each year, although the lockdowns have been making that a little more challenging as of late lol
The FosPower radio arrived the identical day I ordered it. It arrived loaded so we tried all the features and everything worked. He visiting be|are} going to Beach Camp with our son in a very few weeks and was thrilled to host him. Since then he has been using it each day to pay attention to the radio and likes to charge the battery with the crank. up to now so good that i hope to induce more for the Christmas stockings.