It’s a scientific fact that spending more time outdoors is good for your mental health, and it’s even better when you’re not relying on high-tech gadgets during your adventures in nature. The best outdoor radios have an AM/FM tuner, can run on batteries, and have a rugged construction that can handle outdoor use.
The first thing you’ll want to look for in an outdoor radio is an AM/FM tuner, which will allow you to find the radio station you want to listen to. While the tuner lets you select a station, the receiver is what will pick up the radio transmission. Having the option to tune into both AM and FM radio is useful because while FM radio often has a better sound quality, it’s possible to pick up an AM radio signal from farther away. If you are backpacking or in a particularly remote location, AM radio can be essential, as it’s sometimes the only way to pick up weather reports and news broadcasts. In addition to the tuner, some radios also have preset buttons that allow you to tune into your favorite frequencies at the touch of a button.
It’s important for outdoor radios to have alternative modes for powering up, since you don’t want to be reliant on an electrical outlet. Many outdoor radios work with both outlets for charging up as well as batteries, though some smaller ones run exclusively on batteries. Others have solar-power and hand-crank charging capabilities, which can be especially useful in emergency situations where it may not be possible to replace dead batteries. Some radios not only have multiple ways to charge up, but can also be used as power banks for a smartphone or tablet.
You’ll also want to consider your radio’s durability. Ideally, outdoor radios will have some level of resistance to water since the elements can be unpredictable. If you plan to be out in wet or dusty conditions, look for a rating of at least IPX3, which means your radio can withstand splashes. If your radio does not have an IP rating, it can still be useful for outdoor adventuring, especially if it is on the smaller side. Weight is also an important consideration — even more so for activities like backpacking where you need to keep your load light. In general, it’s best to look for a radio that’s under 10 pounds for outdoor use.
Whether you’re camping, boating, or simply enjoy analog technology, here are three of the best outdoor radios you can buy on Amazon, and they’re all under $75.
1. The best overall
This waterproof AM/FM radio is one of the best options for the outdoors, thanks to its especially rugged construction. With a rating of IPX4, this radio splash-resistant, and has rubber shock blocks to make it even more durable. It also has a rolling cage design that gives it extra protection against impact, so if you drop this radio, it’s unlikely to break. At 6.8 pounds, it’s lightweight enough to take car camping or boating, though it may not be the best choice for backpackers. It features 10 station preset buttons, an AM/FM tuner, and a backlit display that makes it easy to read the frequency in most conditions. It works with both the included AC power cord as well as four C batteries, which are not included. The battery life is not listed, but reviewers noted that it can run for years with a few hours of daily use.
One reviewer wrote: “We have tried various radios at our remote cabin and none of them come in clearly. This is the third radio of this kind we have purchased for our outdoor cabins and they work great. Definitely recommend for anybody that is looking for a good sturdy outdoor radio for camping or remote locations.”
2. The best for emergency situations
A solar-powered hand-crank radio is ideal for emergency situations when you may not be able to charge up with an electrical outlet or replace dead batteries. This radio not only has three power-up options — AAA battery, solar power, and hand-crank — but can be used as a 2000mAh power bank for smartphones and small tablets. It features both a flashlight and an LED reading light, so you can have light as well as power in any situation, and the AM/FM tuner ensures that you can reliably receive NOAA weather reports and important news updates in addition to your favorite FM stations. The IPX3 rating means it can handle light sprays of water, and at just 10.9 ounces, it’s lightweight enough to take backpacking. The battery life is not listed, but reviewers wrote that it can run for around 48 hours of continuous use. Note that batteries are not included.
One reviewer wrote: “This is a great little radio to keep with you camping, boating, etc. Makes for a good backup battery. I use it in the boat for when I see some weather approaching.”
3. The best pocket-sized radio
If portability is your primary concern, this pocket-sized radio is a great budget-friendly option. It weighs just 3.4 ounces and fits in most pockets, so you can tune into AM/FM broadcasts from just about anywhere. This radio is powered by AAA batteries (which are not included), and can last up to 800 hours before the batteries need to be replaced. The long-range antenna helps to pick up reception no matter where your next adventure takes you, and while this radio does not have an IP rating, it’s easy to keep out of the elements thanks to its small size.
One reviewer wrote: “This is the best radio. Took it camping and had it on almost 24/7 for a week and never had to change out the batteries. The sound stayed clear and the volume was impressive. I am very happy with my purchase and plan to purchase another in the future.”