Finding the most suitable portable radio for your camping trip is a lot harder than it sounds.
Having a portable weather radio with you can be potentially life-saving, especially in camping areas with limited cell phone coverage.
After extensive testing, we’ve compiled some of our top picks for the best portable radios for camping.
Now that you’ve had a brief look at our top 3 picks, let’s take a deep dive to find the FM portable radio that’s best for your particular needs.
Did you know: Handheld radios were invented back in 1937 by a Canadian inventor by the name of Donald Lewis Hings. Learn more about the history of handheld radios.
Best Portable Radios for Camping – Top 10 Reviews
#1: Best All-Around Portable Radio for Camping – FosPower Emergency Radio Review
As mentioned earlier, this radio really is an all-rounder which is why it’s our top pick.
To start off, it has multiple ways to be powered. You get a 2000 mAh rechargeable battery. Not only can this battery be used to power the radio, the SOS alarm, and the light can also be used to charge your phone.
If the rechargeable battery runs out, you can use the solar panel to charge the portable radio or utilize the hand crank to power it temporarily.
We also loved the fact that this battery-operated radio can easily receive weather alerts and NOAA weather broadcasts. It’s a great companion to have on camping trips.
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy FosPower Emergency Radio
Battery life: With its 2000 mAh battery, you can utilize the radio for up to 12 hours on a single charge. In most cases, this is more than enough for a single camping trip. If you do run out of battery, you have several ways to charge it.
Portability: The radio is quite lightweight considering how rugged and sturdy it is. You can easily put it in your backpack and forget about it. It fits very snuggly inside and doesn’t weigh you down at all.
Build quality: It’s an emergency radio which means that it’s built to withstand tough weather conditions. You don’t have to worry about it getting wet on camping trips as it can easily withstand it.
- Easy to operate
- Can work as a flashlight
- Built-in SOS alarm
- Can be used as a power bank
- 3 different methods to power it
- Decent pricing
- Lifetime limited warranty
- Battery life could be longer
Best All-Around Portable Radio for Camping
The best all-around portable radio for camping is the FosPower Emergency Radio thanks to its versatility, excellent build quality, and ease of use.
#2: Best User-Friendly Radio for Camping – Panasonic RF-2400 Portable AM/FM Radio Review
This lightweight radio from Panasonic is great for entertainment on camping trips. The large dial coupled with the fluorescent tuner ensures that you can easily view it in the dark.
We were particularly impressed by its sound quality and how the 10 cm speaker is able to provide loud audio with clarity. You won’t notice any distortion or clipping, even at the loudest volume.
It has a 3.5 mm jack as well.
This is a welcome addition if you’re someone that stays up on camping trips while everyone else sleeps. You can put on your headphones and keep yourself entertained during quieter moments on your camping trip.
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy Panasonic RF-2400 Portable AM/FM Radio
Battery life: This is one of the best-performing radios on our list when it comes to battery life. You can power it with 4 AA batteries which will last you somewhere around 50 hours.
Portability: The AM/FM radio is incredibly lightweight and easy to carry. It even comes with a convenient carrying handle that you can use to easily bring it with you on camping trips.
Build quality: While it may seem fragile, the radio is actually fairly sturdy and resistant to drops. That being said, you shouldn’t leave it outdoors for too long as it’s not exactly weather-resistant.
- Great audio quality
- Can be powered with AA batteries or AC power
- Incredible battery life
- Sleek, retro design
- Reasonable pricing
- Great build quality
- No storage for the AC cord; This can be annoying on camping trips
Best User-Friendly Radio for Camping
The best user-friendly radio for camping is the Panasonic RF-2400 Portable AM/FM Radio thanks to its simplistic design, sturdiness, and loud sound output.
#3: Best Handheld Portable Radio for Camping – Vondior AM/FM Battery-Operated Portable Pocket Radio Review
While all radios that are meant for camping are designed to be portable, many people still feel that they take up too much space. For people like that, we feel that this radio is definitely worth considering.
It’s so small it can fit into your pocket.
If you keep it in your backpack, it’ll barely take up any space and certainly won’t weigh you down at all.
Since it’s so small, we expected the audio quality to be sub-par but we were dead wrong. The sound output is quite impressive and you can easily flip through FM stations with the help of the dial on the side.
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy Vondior AM/FM Battery-Operated Portable Pocket Radio
Battery life: The radio only takes 2 AA batteries to work and this set of batteries can last you anywhere between 700 to 800 hours. It’s an FM portable pocket radio that you can utilize for multiple trips without worrying about the batteries.
Portability: As mentioned above, it’s a pocket radio which means it’s small enough to be stored in your pocket. Not to mention that it’s lightweight as well so you can easily carry it around with no issues.
Build quality: Despite its lightweight and compact size, the radio is quite well-built and made from high-quality materials. As long as you treat it with care, it will last you a very long time.
- Small and lightweight
- Excellent sound quality
- FM range is inconsistent sometimes
Best Handheld Portable Radio for Camping
The best handheld portable radio for camping is the Vondior AM/FM Battery-Operated Portable Pocket Radio thanks to its small form factor, durability, and user-friendliness.
#4: Best High-End Portable Radio for Camping – ION Audio Block Rocker Plus Review
This entry differs from most of the other options in this list since it’s not what most people would call “portable”. It’s not a radio you want to take with you if you intend to “pack light”.
However, if you intend to go on smaller-scale camping trips with loved ones, this can be a great speaker to bring with you. It’s made from tough composite plastic and features a retractable handle. Moreover, it has wheels that you can use to move it around.
It’s an FM radio that also has a headphone jack.
We were particularly amused by the built-in microphone it has that can be utilized for karaoke sessions.
It’s not an emergency radio, it’s an entertainment radio for your camping trips.
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy ION Audio Block Rocker Plus
Battery life: The radio is easily able to work for 50 hours on a single charge which makes it more than suitable for standard outdoor trips.
Portability: While it’s fairly heavy, the retractable handle and wheels allow it to be carted around, much like a luggage case. This makes it relatively easier to move around.
Build quality: The tough composite plastic housing ensures that the speaker stays protected from external elements. The construction is solid and the speaker will surely last you many years.
- Can access both AM and FM stations
- Headphone jack
- Long battery life
- Built-in mic for karaoke
- Incredible audio quality
- Fairly heavy and bulky
Best High-End Portable Radio for Camping
The best high-end portable radio for camping is the ION Audio Block Rocker Plus thanks to its user-friendliness, loud audio output, and great battery life.
#5: Best Sleek Portable Radio for Camping – Antimi Bluetooth/FM Radio/MP3 Player Portable Wireless Speaker Review
This minimalistic device can work as a Bluetooth speaker, an MP3 player, and an FM radio.
For the most part, you can use it as an entertainment device on your camping trips. However, whenever you need to listen to weather alerts, you can easily utilize its capability to tune into radio waves.
It’s a highly versatile device.
Despite its sleek design, we were surprised to see that it’s actually not that fragile. It’s not weather-resistant or anything but it’s still fairly durable.
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy Antimi Bluetooth/FM Radio/MP3 Player Portable Wireless Speaker
Battery life: With its 2200 mAh battery, you can easily use it for up to 12 hours on a single charge. Once that runs out, you can utilize a power bank or a laptop to charge it with a USB cable.
Portability: It’s a super small radio that weighs less than a pound. You can easily put it inside your backpack without having to worry about it weighing you down.
Build quality: As mentioned earlier, the device is surprisingly durable. Since it’s not weather-resistant, you’ll still have to treat it with care when outdoors. However, as long as you make sure it’s not exposed to the elements for too long, it’ll last you a very long time.
- Built-in AUX port
- Can work as a Bluetooth speaker
- Decent battery life
- Decent audio quality
- Sleek, minimalist design
- Not weather-resistant
Best Sleek Portable Radio for Camping
The best sleek portable radio for camping is the Antimi Bluetooth/FM Radio/MP3 Player Portable Wireless Speaker thanks to its minimalist design, versatility, and ease of use.
#6: Best Sturdy Portable Radio for Camping – Sangean LB-100 Review
As soon as you look at this radio, you know what its strong suit is. This radio is designed to withstand the harshest of weather conditions and to be your companion throughout your toughest trips.
To stress-test its durability, we tested it across multiple trips with harsh weather conditions where it was subjected to sunlight, snow, and rain. We’re pleased to tell you that it worked consistently throughout our testing.
It can be powered with 4 C batteries or AC power.
The water-resistant speaker provides an incredibly loud output that makes this rugged portable radio very easy to hear, even during thunderstorms.
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy Sangean LB-100
Battery life: The battery life of this radio is decent but not all too impressive compared to other entries on our list. With a full set of C batteries, the radio lasts about 6 to 8 hours.
Portability: Even though it’s built to be sturdy, the radio is able to retain its portability by being small and lightweight. The roll cage may present some difficulties during packing but that’s about it.
Build quality: This is the best portable radio you can get in terms of sturdiness, in our opinion. The build quality is second to none and you can rest assured it will continue working even in the harshest conditions.
- Loud and clear sound
- Two methods to power it
- Mediocre battery life
Best Sturdy Portable Radio for Camping
The best sturdy portable radio for camping is the Sangean LB-100 thanks to its robust roll-cage and sturdy design. Despite its durability, the radio is also surprisingly lightweight.
#7: Best Portable Radio with Strong Reception – DreamSky AM/FM Portable Radio Review
Oftentimes, in many camping areas, the FM reception can be fairly dodgy. In such cases, you want a robust radio that is able to effortlessly pick up waves from FM radio stations. This device from DreamSky is one such radio.
DreamSky was really talking up its radio’s FM radio reception so we decided to put it to the test. We tested this radio in the most remote areas we could and were surprised to see how clear the FM output really was.
As for its design, it’s fairly old-school which makes it super intuitive to use and get the hang of.
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy DreamSky AM/FM Portable Radio
Battery life: The radio only takes two AA batteries to work and can last you up to 100 hours with a single set. We think that’s more than enough for a single camping trip, if not multiple.
Portability: It’s a super small and lightweight radio that barely takes up any space. Simply chuck it into your backpack and take it wherever you go.
Build quality: While the build quality is decent, we’re not so sure it’ll stand up so well to direct impact. Furthermore, the radio may start showing signs of wear and tear after a few camping trips.
- Incredible FM reception
- Great battery life
- Simplistic design
- Reasonably priced
- Build quality could be better
Best Portable Radio with Strong Reception
The best portable radio with strong reception is the DreamSky AM/FM Portable Radio. It’s a simple portable radio that is very easy to use and has a long battery life.
#8: Best Emergency Weather Radio for Camping – DaringSnail Emergency Hand Crank Radio Review
The best portable radio for camping not only needs to be an entertainment device but also, one that helps you out in dire circumstances. This camping radio comes with 3 different methods to power it to ensure it always stays operational on your camping trips.
The built-in flashlight is incredibly bright.
It can be extremely useful as a light source for your camp as well as if you have to venture out during nighttime.
During our testing, we found that it was easily able to access NOAA weather stations for quick updates.
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy DaringSnail Emergency Hand Crank Radio
Battery life: On a full charge, the radio will last you about 9 hours. However, after that, you have many ways to power it such as with the solar panel or the hand crank.
Portability: The radio is super lightweight and also quite small. The hand crank sticks out a little bit and may be annoying to pack in some cases but other than that, it’s super convenient.
Build quality: It’s an emergency NOAA weather radio and it’s built to last. You can easily use it in harsher conditions without worrying about it breaking down.
- Easy to operate
- Can work as a power bank for your phone
- Multiple ways to power it
- Small and lightweight
- Battery life could be better
Best Emergency Weather Radio for Camping
The best emergency weather radio for camping is the DaringSnail Emergency Hand Crank Radio. It’s super easy to use, very sturdy, and lightweight too.
#9: Best Portable Radio for Camping with Digital Display – PRUNUS J-288 Portable Radio Review
The thing that surprised us most about this radio was how consistent it was. The FM radio reception did not falter no matter how much we walked or traveled. Once we camped, it ran for many hours with little to no hiccups.
The digital display is quite cool since it allows you to easily operate it, even in low-light conditions.
You can even save some of your favorite radio stations so that you can flip to them with ease.
We also appreciate the cute little carrying strap attached to it that allows you to easily carry it around.
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy PRUNUS J-288 Portable Radio
Battery life: The battery can last you up to 10 hours on a single charge which is decent but not the best. Still, it’s more than enough for shorter camping trips.
Portability: The radio is quite lightweight and small which ensures that you can easily bring it with you on camping trips. As mentioned above, it also has a small strap that makes it even more convenient to carry.
Build quality: While the build quality is decent, we’re not so sure how well it would hold up to intense camping trips. Over the course of our testing, we could definitely see signs of wear and tear which makes us believe it may not last many users a long time.
- Headphone jack
- Consistent FM reception
- Clear audio quality
- Digital display
Best Portable Radio for Camping with Digital Display
The best portable radio for camping with a digital display is the PRUNUS J-288 Portable Radio. It’s simple to use and the radio reception is super strong.
#10: Best Multi-Purpose Portable Radio for Camping – Kaito KA500 Review
This radio can be a great choice since it can do a number of things for you. First of all, of course, it’s an emergency weather radio that has easy access to NOAA weather stations.
Furthermore, you can power it with a hand crank or its solar panel. We were pleased to see that it’s equipped with an SOS alarm as well as a light.
You can use the light as a flashlight or as a night-time reading lamp on your camping trip.
Furthermore, it’s even equipped with a USB port that can be utilized to charge your cell phone.
Factors to Consider Before you Decide to Buy Kaito KA500
Battery life: It can be powered with 3 AA batteries and that set will last you up to 100 hours depending on how much you use it. We feel this is more than enough for a single or even multiple camping trips.
Portability: The radio does not take up too much space and is fairly lightweight as well. You can easily pack it with little to no issues.
Build quality: It’s built as an outdoor emergency radio. That means that it’s designed to withstand harsh weather conditions. We tested it extensively for a month and found little to no signs of wear and tear.
- Equipped with a light and SOS alarm
- Can be used as a power bank for your cell phone
- Multiple ways to power it
- Easy to use
- NOAA weather alerts don’t work in some areas
Best Multi-Purpose Portable Radio for Camping
The best multi-purpose radio for camping is the Kaito KA500 since it can access both AM and FM radio stations, it can work as a flashlight and it even has an SOS alarm.
Don’t forget to check out the expert review on the Best handheld aviation radio.
Best Emergency Radio for Camping – Buyers’ Guide
Before you go out to buy a portable radio, it’s important to understand that they come in many variations. Not every portable radio will be right for your needs which is why you need to first assess what your needs actually are.
- Do you need something that’s able to withstand harsh weather conditions?
- How long do you need its battery life to be?
- Would AA batteries be more convenient for you than rechargeable ones?
These are just some of the many questions you must ask yourself before you buy a portable radio for camping. They’ll help you understand what features are important for you and what features you can afford not to have in your emergency radio.
The important factors to consider include
As you would with any other product, of course, you need to consider the price of the emergency radio you buy and the budget you have.
If you intend to buy a budget-friendly radio, then it’s very important to consider the manufacturer. There are many shady manufacturers that sell radios for cheap prices but that’s because the radios are made from cheap-quality materials.
It’s almost never worth it to buy such a radio because it’ll provide you with a poor user experience and will most likely break down very quickly.
|Hence, always buy from a reputable manufacturer if you’re opting for a budget-friendly radio with minimal features.|
Higher-end radios that are more expensive will, of course, have a lot more features than cheaper ones. They might have multiple sources to power them and they’ll most likely be built better as well.
Most portable radios usually have multiple different options to power them. The most rudimentary method that you’ll see in almost every radio is by using AA or AAA batteries.
Additionally, you’ll also find radios that can be charged through solar power. This is achieved by a solar panel that is usually attached to the exterior of the emergency radio.
Many radios also come with a built-in rechargeable battery. You can fully charge the radio before you go out on your camping trip to ensure it lasts a long time.
Even if the rechargeable battery does run out, many radios have the capability to recharge it with the help of a USB cable. They come equipped with a USB port that can be utilized to charge them with the help of a power bank, a laptop, etc.
If all of these options fail, some radios come with a hand crank lever that can be turned to generate just enough power to operate it. This feature is definitely something that can be very useful in emergency situations.
It should go without saying that the battery life of your portable radio is incredibly important. In this case, you must consider how long you’re usually out on camping trips and how much time you’ll spend using the radio.
Will the radio you’re buying be able to stay powered on throughout your camping trip?
This is what we meant when we said that you must assess your needs first before you buy a radio. If a radio is unable to stay charged for that long, then it’s a good idea to look at other options.
One other approach could be to opt for a radio that has multiple power sources as we discussed above. If your radio runs out of battery, you could recharge it with a laptop, a power bank, or a solar panel (assuming it has any of those capabilities).
In our opinion, if you intend to buy a portable radio for camping, then it’s a good idea to buy one that lasts at least 10 – 15 hours on a single charge. If your camping trips usually last many days, then your radio should be one that can be easily recharged while you’re there.
When you’re camping, you want the items you’re carrying to be as compact and lightweight as possible. This ensures you have an easy time unpacking, setting up camp, and packing back up when you have to leave.
A bulky, heavy radio is a camper’s worst enemy.
Just think about it: You’ll already be carrying supplies for the camp such as tents, poles, backpacks, etc. You don’t want a bulky, large radio adding to the weight. Hence, smaller, lightweight radios are definitely the best choice.
Most emergency radios are built with this in mind. That’s why you’ll notice that most of the radios on our list are super lightweight and compact.
Your portable radio should not weigh more than 5 pounds.
It should also be small enough that you can easily put it in one of your backpacks or even in your pocket.
A camping trip in the great outdoors is definitely not an environment for delicate equipment. Hence, it’s a good idea to opt for a radio that is sturdy and able to withstand rough conditions.
You don’t need to go all-out to invest in a super rugged radio but at the same time, buy something that’s at least somewhat sturdy.
Most emergency radios are weather-resistant.
They don’t get damaged due to rain, snow, or sleet. It’s a good idea to check out the IPX rating of the radio you intend to get as well. The IPX rating of a radio tells you how water-resistant it is.
We recommend that you opt for a radio that has an IPX rating of at least IPX5.
Check out the latest portable and handheld radios, their FAQs, and more.
Best Portable FM Radio for Camping – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I need a radio for camping?
It’s a very good idea to have a radio for camping because cell phone coverage is often very unreliable in most camping areas. In such cases, an emergency weather radio is the only way to stay in touch with the outside world.
These radios also provide access to NOAA weather stations which can give critical information to campers.
What are the pros and cons of an emergency portable radio?
- They can work as an SOS alarm and help you stay in touch with the outside world in harsh weather conditions.
- You can keep them charged using solar power and other methods, even when your cell phone runs out of battery.
- You can utilize it as a weather radio to provide potentially life-saving information to you during harsh weather.
- They can provide entertainment on camping trips.
- They can be expensive if you want all the extra features and different charging methods
- It can be difficult to learn how to use them at first
Are crank radios worth it?
Yes. If you intend to go on a long camping trip with precarious weather conditions, it’s almost essential to have a hand-crank radio.
They are sustainable radios that are able to stay powered even under the harshest of environments. Hence, they can provide you with critical weather information and help you communicate with the outside world as well.
Many of them also have a built-in SOS alarm and lighting features that can be extremely useful.
Can I charge my phone with an emergency radio?
That depends on the particular radio that you have. Most radios don’t have this feature but some specific ones do.
They can act as power banks that you can utilize to easily charge your phone with the help of a USB cable.
However, you shouldn’t rely on such radios as your sole power bank since they can’t charge your phone reliably.
How do I maintain my portable radio?
Most portable radios are fairly rugged and don’t require a lot of maintenance.
You should always wipe down your radio with a wet wipe or something similar after you return from your camping trip. Don’t wait for the dirt and grime to get caked up on it. Clean it up while it’s wet.
Also, you should ensure that they’re not exposed to a ton of extreme heat or rain during your camping trip. While many of them are sturdy and designed to handle those conditions, you should still do your best to ensure they’re not exposed to it.
To find the best portable radio for camping, we tested the most popular options for months under different conditions.
After rigorous testing and a week of discussion, we found the FosPower Emergency Radio to be the best of the best. It has all of the emergency features you’d need on a camping trip as well as multiple ways to power it. Furthermore, it’s not too expensive either.
Which portable radio do you think is the best for camping? Let us know in the comments section below.
We have complete reviews on radios tested by our experts, don’t forget to check them out.