Before we get to the Best Portable Outdoor Radios currently available, let’s take a walk down memory lane…
It was a German, Heinrich Hertz, who discovered that radio waves existed in 1886. Contrary to belief, he didn’t invent them; they were always there. He just found them. They were first put to practical use by an Italian, Marconi, in 1895. But only began commercial use in 1900. The rest is history as they say.
Outdoor radio is not a new phenomenon. It has been around in various formats, almost as long as radio has been around. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but between the two world wars, it really began to take a more established format.
The development of Radar…
Despite many countries claiming the accolade, the introduction of radar is a British thing. It was first demonstrated on June 17th, 1935, by the developers and scientists Watson Watt, Wilkins, and Bowen. It was to play a pivotal role during the Battle of Britain at the start of the Second War War. And as most historians agree, it was the single most important development in the defeat of the Nazi regime.
Since then, it has been common to have outdoor radio. On the beach, in the garden at home, anywhere really. In the past, it has always been at the mercy of the weather. Today we have better technology, and we can have a radio in all weathers.
So, let’s take a look at the Best Portable Outdoor Radios on the market and find the perfect one for you…
Top 10 Best Portable Outdoor Radios in 2021 Reviews
1 Panasonic RF-2400D AM / FM Radio
Founded in 1918 in Osaka, Japan as a lightbulb manufacturer, Panasonic, along with Sony, Hitachi, Toshiba, and Pioneer, has grown to become the largest manufacturer of electronic equipment in the world. It specializes in home consumer products and in 2012 was listed as the world’s 4th largest manufacturer of TV’s.
It has been making radios commercially since the 1950s, so they know a thing or two about them by now.
A classic design…
The RF-2400D is a classic style radio that has an air of the 60s about it. It is quite small and portable at 3.23 inches by 9.21 by 4.8 inches and weighs just 1 pound. It has a speaker size of 10 cms and a ferrite antenna to give a good reception. The antenna is extendable and folds back easily when not in use.
It is an AM and FM analog radio with an FM range of 87 to 108MHz, or 520 to 1730 kHz FM. It is either battery-powered or AC and takes 4 AA batteries. The power cord is 5 feet in length and detachable. A 3.5mm headphone socket is included, but being monaural sound is received through only one ear.
Basic but adequate…
The FM reception is very good, especially in towns and cities. It is a little tricky to tune as the dial is quite small, and the frequencies are close together. Once tuned, though, it retains its fix very well. Volume is adequate without being what you would call loud, and the sound is basic but adequate. This is not a stereo radio, mono only.
This is a great little radio that is excellent at picking up signals. The sound is adequate, given it is only a small speaker. It isn’t waterproof, so if you are using it next to the pool, we’d advise you not to drop it in. For the price point, it is an excellent buy.
- Nice retro design and solid build.
- Very good price point with excellent station reception.
- Not waterproof.
2 Sangean LB-100 Ultra Rugged Compact AM / FM Radio
Just a look at this radio tells you what it is all about. It is a tough little radio made for any environment you wish to use it in. And it looks like it can handle being on a building site and even if a pile of bricks dropped on it – it will just play on.
Further to its rugged exterior that will handle impacts, it is also built to resist dust and rain. It has a rating that shows it is water-resistant rather than waterproof. This radio will go just about everywhere.
A rugged little radio…
It has a pivoting flexible antenna made of plastic and a PLL tuner for a great reception. The roll cage installed around the radio offers it fantastic protection from impacts. The body of the radio is quite tough anyway with its well built rotary dial and rotating controls. The tuner has been given a large LCD screen that has backlighting. This ensures that it is visible in all conditions for tuning via the AM/FM tuner.
The backlight is bright on power-up and when you are changing stations. It then dims to save battery life. It is powered either by four ‘C’ batteries or AC power. The power cable can be folded up and stored under the radio.
Well, having established its credential to be used as a spare football for lunchtimes, how does it sound?
Remarkably good with a nice spread of sound. Usually, radios built for the wild outdoors don’t fare so well indoors. This, though has a sound quality that is good inside as well as out.
The only criticism is that it doesn’t have a tone control. Voice can sometimes be a little on the bassy side. The AM/FM stations have ten presets that can be stored. Five for AM and five for FM. It also has a loudness button that gives a volume and bass increase.
It has a very affordable price point, and for such a durable radio, it is an attractive buy and makes a great outdoor radio system.
- Exceptionally tough build.
- Decent sound at an affordable price.
- No tone control.
3 Sangean PR-D18BK AM/FM/Portable Digital Radio
Another product from Sangean electronics who do seem to like their products to have a rugged build. They are a Chinese company based in Taipei, Taiwan, and have representation overseas in the Netherlands and the US.
Like other Sangean models, we have looked at this is also a rugged portable radio. It is made of plastic, but it certainly doesn’t feel cheap or weak in the hand. Around the edges, there is a rubber bumper that will protect it from any unexpected bumps or even being dropped.
It has been built to be easy to use…
This makes a very pleasant change form a lot of today’s ‘high tech’ things we are confronted with. Some companies appear to make things complicated to prove they can be complicated. Pointless, in our opinion. Nothing like that here.
The speaker takes up about a third of the front. A well-positioned LCD screen that is lit takes up a bit of space but is clear and easy to read. There are simple and clearly labeled button controls for all the functions. This includes the built-in alarm, a nice feature with timer and snooze button, and for the presets.
There are ten presets, five for AM and five for FM. It operates on four AA batteries or on mains power at 100 or 240v. The AC adapter is not supplied and needs to be bought separately.
It only has one quite small speaker, but don’t let that fool you…
This little thing can put out some volume. Don’t expect too much in the way of the bass, though. There is a difference between the sound for AM and FM, and speakers usually appear to have a bias. With this radio, the bias is certainly towards its AM sound. The FM is just adequate.
It is a great compact little radio and ideal for carrying around. At 6.5 x 1.4 x 4.2 inches, it is very portable, and weighing only 12.8 ounces is not going to be a burden.
A great little radio, though while not being retro, seems to have that flavor. The very affordable price point makes this a good little outdoor radio system.
- Compact and portable with a nice plain design.
- Easy to use with nice features at an affordable price.
- Speaker won’t give you any bottom end.
4 Sbode Bluetooth Speaker Portable Radio
At first glance, you think someone’s left their torch behind. This is a radio with a difference, and it’s always nice to see a bit of design creativity.
It is built like a tank…
Even so, it is not particularly heavy and measures just 7.4 inches by 2.7 by 2.7 inches. It is, therefore, very compact and portable. In fact, you can pretty much take it anywhere. Battery life is about 8 hours, and it will fully recharge in three hours. This is a battery only item. There is no mains facility.
The housing is a tough rubber, but it is covered with a woven material for extra strength and durability. It is designed to be just about everything proof, except water. And it can handle the rain and any matter that you can wash off like sand, which makes it good for the beach. It is water-resistant but not waterproof, so it won’t take too kindly to joining you for a swim.
It has an FM radio, and the station tuning is easy and precise and will allow you to automatically search as well as save a channel. The FM reception is quite good, and this unit is dedicated to producing clear FM sounds.
It does produce an impressive sound with two speakers, and double bass radiators enhance the bass sound. The job of the radiators is to produce a bigger bass sound from a small environment. So where you have a small body size, the radiators will give you that extra bit of low end.
It delivers about 9 watts output, is Bluetooth 4.2 compatible, and also has a built-in mic. The controls, including the volume control, are displayed down one side and are not all at first clear what they are. Once you have that understanding using it is easy and uncomplicated.
This is certainly a different type of outdoor radio with Bluetooth. The emphasis is much more on the speaker’s side and what it will achieve. From a radio point of view, that makes it a bit limited. From the speaker angle, it is excellent. The sound is powerful and covers all the frequency ranges. It is definitely an out and about system, and is set at a very affordable price point.
- Very compact design and good sounds.
- Will withstand most adverse conditions.
- Some will prefer a more conventional radio that also has AM.
5 Antimi Bluetooth Speaker, FM Radio
This is a radio that is also designed for outdoor use. It is compact and portable and measuring just 6.7 inches by 1.6 by 2.4 inches and weighs just over half a pound – it is not going to take up too much space.
The body is all-metal, but the design ensures it is easy to hold with its rounded edges, and it can go anywhere you decide to take it. It appears to be glued together instead of having screws, which will make replacing the battery at some point difficult.
It might be a compact little unit, but the speaker delivers a decent sound. The design incorporates two speakers, each of three watts capacity. The system increases the bass to provide a little extra bottom end, but we wouldn’t say it is going to wake up the neighbors. However, it is an adequate volume for its designed purpose.
It will give you eight to ten hours of playtime from its rechargeable lithium battery and will take about three hours to fully recharge.
A little more complicated than usual…
It is an FM only radio that provides a decent reception. There is a color display that gives information like battery status and which station it is currently tuned to. Controls are quite extensive though we wouldn’t call them self-explanatory at all. Whereas with some well-designed control panels, you don’t need to reach for the manual. With this radio, you will.
It has a Bluetooth connection that will pair up with your Bluetooth compatible devices, including most phones and tablets. It also has an Aux in to allow you to play music from non-Bluetooth devices. The cable is provided. It also has a built-in microphone so you can answer calls. And the ports for the USB, 3.5mm socket, and Micro SD card are grouped together.
It is a decent radio with good connectable functions, and at the price point, it is very affordable. It could be considered as the best outdoor radio with Bluetooth because it is so well put together.
- Well made with a nice design and good features.
- Very cost-effective price.
- Replacing the battery might be a problem.
6 ION Audio Bluetooth, AM/FM Radio
There are portable radios, and then there are portable radios. In fact, it resembles a karaoke machine more than it does a portable radio. You certainly won’t be taking this down to the beach on a Sunday afternoon.
This is no radio for the faint-hearted. In fact, we aren’t even sure it qualifies as a radio as we understand the term. We have never heard of a portable radio that will punch out 100 watts of power before. This one does.
Built for the road, or anywhere for that matter…
It is made from a tough composite plastic that is road ready, to say the least. And has a retractable handle and wheels, so it moves around a bit like a luggage case you will see at the airport. It has two handles that are built-in to the design, and it weighs 21 pounds.
The battery pack is rechargeable and is no slouch, either. It will give you abut 50 hours of playtime depending on how you use it. However, it is not Bluetooth compatible, but you can, of course, connect your Bluetooth devices as regular connections via your phone or tablet.
Time for a singalong…
It has an AM/FM radio and a mic input, which means it could actually be used for a bit of karaoke. The mic has a lead of about ten feet and its own volume control. There is also a Master Volume and a bass boost.
An LED-lit screen gives you performance information, including battery status. Also included on the front panel is a USB port. This can be used for charging tablets or phones. Inside the box are a wide-dispersion tweeter and an 8-inch woofer.
Don’t get it wet…
This is not a water-resistant product, so any use outdoors in inclement weather would mean that it would need to be in a covered area. The onboard battery is a 12-volt acid battery that is easily replaced should the need arise.
When other people take their portable radios into crowded places, they will lose the sound. That is not going to happen here. It really does not feel like a portable radio. But it has a radio, and it is portable, just, so let’s include it. They are going to know you are at the party if you bring this along! Quite a bit more expensive than the usual portable radio.
- Big sound that offers more options than just a radio.
- Rugged build.
- Very large and heavy to carry around.
7 Xeno X21 Portable Outdoor Wireless Bluetooth FM Radio
Another portable radio built-in the shape of a torch. It seems to be a popular design idea and one that has its benefits. It is well made with a robust construction. The cylinder design has rubber bumpers for protection from accidental knocks. It has an IP6X rating, which means it is splashproof rather than waterproof. But it is also dustproof and has resistance to shock.
For quite a small unit, it does produce a very good sound. It is rated at 15 watts and has a certain crisp clarity across the frequencies. The bass is improved by having passive radiators at each end. These are made from aluminum and produce a rich deep sound.
Plenty of connections…
This is a very multi-functional unit and is equally suitable inside and outside. Connections are good with a built-in slot for a micro SD card. Just plug in your favorite downloaded music. Or use the Bluetooth connection. Further connectivity comes from the AUX, which allows you to use phones, tablets, and laptops.
The huge positive about the design is that it is compact and portable and can be taken just about anywhere. Added to that is the sound which has a certain quality that suits both music and the spoken word. So listening to your favorite music or favorites sports channel is all going to sound good.
The Lithium battery, which is rechargeable, will give you about 10 hours of usage. There is a speakerphone that is hands-free, which allows you to answer any calls from a connected device, and a travel case. Controls are placed down one side and are not particularly explanatory.
For those that like interesting designs, it is a great little radio. It won’t suit those that want a more conventional design. As an outdoor radio with Bluetooth, it is very good. It is set at an attractively affordable price point.
- Well made with a good compact design and connections.
- Good sound with extra bass at an affordable price.
- Won’t suit those that prefer a more conventional design.
8 Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker with FM Radio
This is another product that is described as a radio but appears to put that option way down on its function list. As such, it isn’t what you might call a portable radio. But more a portable speaker with radio included. However, it is going to be a popular item because of its flexibility.
Having said that, it does have a few limitations. It does not receive AM. It is FM only, and it doesn’t have an input for headphones. For connections to other sources, it relies on Bluetooth and doesn’t even have an AUX connection.
It is quite a compact little unit measuring 5.9 inches by 2.7in by 1.7inches and weighs just 12 ounces. It is waterproof as against just water-resistant and has an IP67 certification. That means it can take being submerged in water for a reasonably short period of time and not too deep. It is also shockproof and built to withstand some heavy knocks.
Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity is provided. It will pair up with any other enabled device, your phone, tablet and will accept either OS or Android systems. Sound quality is not the best, and at a maximum of 6 watts quite a bit less than some others, It has a Lithium battery, which should provide about 8 hours playtime.
Easy to use…
Controls are rather sparse, with some located on the front and others on the back with the speaker. They are easy to use but are not completely obvious what purpose each serves. It is set at a very affordable price point.
It is a reasonable little radio with an unconventional design. We are still not quite sure why you would need a radio that you can submerge, but never mind. It is well-built and tough to go anywhere with you, even in the sea.
- Sturdy, rugged build that will withstand water and heavy shock.
- Affordable price.
- Won’t suit those wanting a conventional portable radio or those that don’t go in the water.
9 DreamSky AM FM Portable Radio
This little portable radio is a throwback to a bygone age in its basic design. A simple, uncomplicated design that is easy to use makes this an excellent little radio for carrying around with you.
At just 4.7 inches by 0.8 by 2.9 inches, it is even small enough to fit in your pocket. At 8 eight and a half ounces, you will hardly know it’s there.
Both AM and FM bands are included, and it uses a metal telescopic aerial to make sure you get a good reception. The antenna can be extended out to about 14 inches if you are in an area with a weak signal.
The speaker is small, but it delivers a reasonable, clear sound providing you aren’t expecting too much. There is a 3.5mm socket for headphones if you need some isolation. It is powered by two AA batteries and has no mains supply.
Simple is beautiful…
It is extremely simple to operate, which is one of its characteristics. Just a matter of turn it on and away you go. Tuning through the old-fashioned dial on the front controls is also easy. Just an off and on and an AM/FM selector. Nothing fancy at all. Simple is beautiful is the idea behind this little radio.
If you just want a simple portable radio to carry with you for whatever reason, this is a great little product. It isn’t waterproof, and you can’t throw it off buildings. And it doesn’t answer calls or let you play music with great white sharks before they eat you. It is just a good old outdoor radio system. In fact, let’s be honest here; it isn’t – It’s a very cost-effective good old outdoor radio system. At this price point, you really can’t go wrong.
- Compact and very easy to use.
- Very affordable little radio with AM and FM.
- Some are going to want more tech.
10 ZesGood Portable Transistor Radio
Now here is a trip to Back to the Future. This even looks like our first ever what we called in those days, transistor radio. We were very young when we had our first. It was, like this little radio, just so easy to use. We got under the covers one night to listen to Muhammed Ali fight Sonny Liston. Until we were caught!
It hasn’t got anything clever, and you haven’t got to wrestle with technology that often lets you down to get it to work. It just provides a good little sound from its small HD speaker. The extendable antenna helps you achieve a good reception even in difficult reception areas.
Simplicity is exaggerated with its three extensive controls. Off and on, AM/FM selector, volume, and a station tuner. Real heavy metal tech. That is why it is so good and so much fun.
At 4.53 inches by 2.56 by 0.98 inches and weighing 6 ounces, you could have it in your pocket and not even know it. It also has a 3.5mm headphone socket.
Simplicity at it’s best…
For those of us fed up that we have to go to an online manual. And even then spend an hour working out how to turn something on, this is perfect. It’s not waterproof, shark-proof, and it won’t bounce if you throw it off a building. It’s just neat and simple and does its job. It is a portable radio, and they don’t come much more portable.
And all this at a price point that is less than the cost of some of the manuals. It is a winner as far as we are concerned. And it must be considered as one of the Best Portable Outdoor Radios.
- Small and compact and lightweight.
- Basic but perfectly adequate sound and good reception.
- At this price, nothing.
Best Portable Outdoor Radios Buyer’s Guide
Time to go Portable…
What do you need from a portable radio? It depends on what you need it for, we suppose. We could envisage a situation where you could need it for safety reasons to take and make calls if it has that facility. But most people just want to take it on a picnic, to the pool or down to the beach.
What sort of extra technology you need is your personal preference? But this is a radio, not a music workstation. Phones and tablets have their own built-in playback options. So why do you need to have the ability to play them through a radio? Because it sounds better? Maybe. And answering calls through a radio? If we were going down to the beach for the afternoon, I’m not sure we would want to.
Some of the designs we looked at didn’t actually seem like Portable radios. They were something else that is a little hard to define. They are good for some of course, but if you want a portable radio, do you need all that extra stuff?
The great thing about it is that there are so many choices and options. At least one to suit anybody and nearly all are very affordable.
So, what are the Best Portable Outdoor Radios?
We would keep it very simple, and we would also keep it very traditional. We want a portable radio, not a connection with the space station. There are other products for that. Simple means easy to operate, compact, AM/FM is a must and just looks and sounds ok.
We are not expecting anything great sound-wise. After all, it’s a portable radio. We have therefore chosen as the best of all the Best Portable Outdoor Radios the …
We also loved the DreamSky and the ZesGood, but this is simply the best of the lot.