Whether your goal is to listen to music or tune in to weather forecasts, it's nice to have a radio when exploring the great outdoors. In addition to being able to withstand the elements, the best portable radios for camping are equipped with a full range of AM/FM radio capabilities. This allows you to enjoy some tunes while also being prepared for an emergency. There are a few key factors to consider when shopping around:
- Weight: Although there isn't a hard and fast rule as to how much your radio should weigh, you'll be carrying it around a lot so it should be as light as possible. If you can find one under 5 pounds, that's a major perk.
- IP rating: This metric, which indicates how resistant your radio is to water and dust, is important to consider given the weather and environmental elements you'll likely encounter. The first digit measures a radio's resistance to solid materials (like dirt and dust), while the second digit represents water-resistance. An IP67 rating means your radio will be fully dust-resistant and able to handle being temporarily submerged in water.
- Battery life: When weighing your options, think about how long you typically camp for and how much of that time you'll spend listening to the radio. If you only plan to tune in to weather broadcasts, you won't need as much battery life; if you want to play music from dawn til dusk, one of the options below has a battery life of 20 hours.
In addition to these qualities, there are bonus features to look for as well. Bluetooth functionality, for example, adds a big convenience factor while other pluses include a built-in flashlight, USB charging ports, and alternative power options (for example, solar or hand-crank).
Check out this list of the best portable radios for camping below to find the one that's right for you.
1. The basic option
Weight: 4 pounds
IP rating: IPX5
Battery life: 10 hours
With an AM/FM radio and wireless Bluetooth capabilities, this is one of the best-sounding portable radios for the money. It offers a wide range of listening options, giving you the option of tuning in to radio broadcasts or playing music from your phone. It weighs just 4 pounds and measures a little more than a foot long, so it's a convenient and compact option, too. Best of all, the device is rated IPX5, which means it's splash-proof (though not dust-proof). This portable speaker also has a long battery life, allowing you to listen to music or new broadcasts for up to 10 hours at a time.
2. The budget option
Weight: .68 pound
IP rating: IPX3
Battery life: 3 hours (for solar/hand crank)
Equipped with an AM/FM radio, this wallet-friendly option is one of the best portable radios on a budget. It's lightweight and compact, with a bonus USB power bank you can use to charge your phone or other devices. It can be operated three ways — via AAA batteries, solar power, or by hand-crank. This makes it an excellent radio for outdoor adventures, as well as emergency scenarios. It also has a flashlight built-in, along with a handy LED reading light. The only downside is that at IPX-3, this radio isn't dust-resistant and it's only mildly water-resistant.
3. The investment option
Weight: 9.5 pounds
IP rating: IP67
Battery life: 20 hours
For folks who camp a lot and are ready to invest in a high-quality Bluetooth speaker for their wilderness excursions, this waterproof outdoor radio is just the ticket. Although it's heavier than the other options at 9.5 pounds, the sound quality makes up for it in spades. The compact speaker measures about 1.5 feet in length and features a digital signal processor for extra clarity. This radio's battery can go for a whopping 20 hours, making it well-equipped for a full weekend of camping and then some. It has built-in LED lights and a power bank to charge devices. Best of all, it's rated IP67, which means it's totally dust-proof, and can handle brief submersion in shallow water. In fact, it will even float upright if accidentally dropped in water.
4. The best two-way radio
Weight: 0.77 pound each
IP rating: IP67
Battery life: 12 to 18 hours
If you're looking for a camping radio to use for communication instead of playing music or listening to news broadcasts, these DEWALT walkie-talkies rank among the best two-way radios out there. With an IP67 rating, they are fully dust-proof and capable of being briefly submerged in water. They boast a signal range up to 300,000 square feet and come with 22 preset channels to reduce interference. The dust-proof design makes them equipped for rugged trails and they're shock-resistant, too. What's more, the powerful batteries last 12 to 18 hours. The one potential downside is that they don't have AM/FM radio capabilities.
Also great: A portable Bluetooth speaker that's waterproof & dustproof
Weight: 0.24 pound
IP rating: IP67
Battery life: 6 hours
If you're just looking for a tough Bluetooth speaker that allows you to play music or podcasts via your smartphone, this is the way to go. At just a quarter of a pound, this miniature Bluetooth speaker is the lightest option on the list. With an IP67 rating and six-hour battery life, this pocket-sized radio is fully dust-proof and can survive being submerged in water for short periods of time. It also offers a wireless range of up to 30 feet — and this one floats too. Reviewers on Amazon lauded the sound quality, calling it "excellent," "fantastic," and "perfect." "I can literally feel the bass," wrote one fan. The only con is that, like the previous option, it's not equipped with an AM/FM radio.