Over the last few years, audio technology in the field of portable speakers and headphones has advanced in rapid leaps. Bluetooth speakers have become more rugged and sport higher waterproof ratings, making it possible to take your music wherever you go. It is not surprising to see those technological and design advances spill over into AM/FM radio devices. Our increasingly more mobile and outdoor, active lifestyles made the advent of outdoor radios almost inevitable.
Three Types of Outdoor Radios
There are some high quality rugged outdoor radio players available on the market today but the sector has developed into 3 main categories. If you are looking for an outdoor radio, chances are you have a very specific reason for buying it, associated with it’s intended use. You are most likely looking for one of 3 types of outdoor radios
Best for the beach, the yard and everyday.
Best for emergencies, and camping.
Best for use in factories, and on construction sites.
Emergency radios are probably the closest to a true “outdoor radio” in that their purpose is very much to provide you with a radio to take into the outdoors. These serve not only as a source of entertainment on your camping adventures but are made to function as a way of staying connected with the outside world, often outside cell-phone coverage areas, in case of an emergency. Many of these radios have various power sources which include a combination of long-life batteries, a hand crank to recharge the batteries manually and solar panels to charge via sunlight when available.
Jobsite radios are rugged, almost indestructible radios designed specifically to enable builders and construction workers to enjoy their favorite radio stations while on the job. Many of these are from well-known power-tool brands as an extension of their product offering and leverage existing technologies like battery power-packs used in other tools from the same brand. They are often designed with large control buttons and “roll-cage” type frames to not only protect them but also make them easy to pick up and move around with gloved hands.
Portable radios, for the lack of a better word, are devices that are best suited for use on the beach or around the yard. These are more often than not a portable Bluetooth speaker that doubles as an FM radio. While including an FM or AM receiver into a portable speaker increase the cost and is therefore often left out, there are a fair number of manufacturers who still see the benefit of including this feature into their designs, effectively turning the speaker into an outdoor radio with all the benefits of a Bluetooth speaker.
Editors Note: We constantly curate our content to keep it fresh and relevant. This list was updated on July 13th, 2020 to add the Monster Roam 2 to our list of outdoor radios. Click here to see the full update history.
4 Great Portable Outdoor Radios
Our selection of “everyday” outdoor radios is targeted at those products that deliver great sound, crisp AM/FM reception, and includes some of the features that you’d expect to see in an everyday-use music device. These are intended to be used outside, so we’re looking for radios with some level of water-resistance to enable it to deal with accidental or intentional water splashes and exposure to the elements. We’ve picked a few that not only looks cool and sleek but will deliver on all these requirements. Here they are…
The Monster Roam 2 is a great outdoor radio portable Bluetooth speaker combination designed to be taken with you wherever you go. The 30 W speaker has a digital signal processor to ensure better reception and sound quality in all modes.
The “outdoor credentials” of the Roam 2 is as good as it gets with a IP67 water- and dust-proof rating, meaning this speaker can be submerged in water and will still work. In fact, the Roam 2 has been designed to float with the speaker drivers up, meaning you can still listen to your music with the radio floating int he pool!
For those individuals who like being a bit different, the LED lights on this outdoor radio can be changed to customize the appearance of the speaker. All of that with a solid 20 hr playback time on a single charge makes this one of our favorite outdoor radios on the market today.
The Dolphin LX-20 is a great Bluetooth speaker FM radio combination if you’re looking for a cool rugged device to take to the beach or anywhere outdoors for that matter. The design paradigm again follows the traditional “boombox” feel and 2x 15-watt speakers deliver and impactful sound, making this outdoor radio a worthy addition to our list.
The Dolphin sports 3000 mAh battery that will deliver 10 hrs of playtime at medium volume. Enough for a day at the beach. There’s a useful battery level indicator.
Besides the AM/FM functionality, the Dolphin LX-20 is a competent Bluetooth speaker, equipped with the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology so you can stream music from your phone or any other compatible device. One of the things we like about this outdoor radio is the variety of inputs and connection options. There are also USB and Aux inputs as well as a slot for an SD card, something that is becoming rarer nowadays but we love the extra flexibility.
The dolphin is equipped with WaveSync technology, allowing you to pair 2 speakers together and for when you really need to fill a space with sound. The tube design and sleek handle make it easy to haul around, and the IPX5 water-resistant rating means you can take it to the beach or camping without fear of damaging your new investment.
Overall a great outdoor radio that will deliver crisp, clear sound for hours of fun.
Monster’s NOMAD is a powerful, 30-watt outdoor speaker that boasts supreme weather-resistant properties. The reason why we’ve labeled it as “best long-play outdoor speaker” is because it has 30 hours of battery life. This will ensure that you can have your fun outdoor for more than an entire day without stopping.
NOMAD is supplied with 30-watts of power, making it quite strong. It’s fitted with the latest Bluetooth feature, and it’s characterized by IPX4 water-resistant rating. All in all, this outdoor radio configuration might be a bit more expensive than your average radio, but it’s definitely worth the cash.
ION Audio’s Tailgater Express is absolutely the best compact outdoor radio on the market. In fact, it was the #1 best-selling unpowered speaker cabinet for a time. By simply looking at it, you can come to a safe conclusion why it’s so practical – it’s incredibly small and quite lightweight (weighing only 6 pounds).
Now, for the best part – the battery life of ION Tailgater Express tailgate speaker can hold up to full 30 hours. It comes with a 1/8″ cable accessory, and it’s powered with 20 Watts. This magnificent outdoor speaker also comes equipped with a Bluetooth feature, with an effective range of 100 feet.
The built-in radio features 10 preset controls, and you can use the Tailgater express in virtually any outdoor situation – camping, hiking, etc. This unit has been declared IPX4 Water-Resistant, but it’s also NFC compatible.
In conclusion, Ion Tailgater Express is incredibly affordable, powerful, versatile, and very compact. It’s obvious why it holds a massive value for the cash.
3 Great Emergency Outdoor Radios
Emergency outdoor and camping radios 2 primary functions. The first is to keep you entertained while you’re out and about, and the second, probably more important function is to function as an early-warning system for possible weather and threats and keep you connected to the outside world in case of emergency.
For this reason, these outdoor radios all come with multiple power sources to ensure they don’t lose power, turning your radio into a doorstop. They will typically be pre-programmed to some useful weather warning and alert stations and systems. On tap of that, most designers will include a lighting feature of sorts. Here is our pick of the top emergency camping radios you can buy today.
Kaito prides itself on the fact that it has been a supplier of emergency outdoor radios to the State Department, the United States Army, the United Nations, the American Red Cross, and other government agencies and NGOs for their humanitarian relief efforts for many years. When you take a closer look at this rugged versatile outdoor radio it’s easy to see why.
The Kaito KA500 can be powered in 6 ways. Being able to keep your radio powered and connected during an emergency is the single most important requirement. Without power, it turns into a doorstop. The Kaito has a hand crank generator, flip-up solar panel, a compartment for 3 AA batteries, 5V USB input, 5V AC/DC input with a wall power adapter, and a built-in 600 mAh NiMH replaceable and rechargeable battery pack. The battery doubles as a power bank for your other USB charging devices.
The Kaito comes with 7 pre-programmed and numbered weather channels and tuning to any other frequency is easy and the controls are extremely accurate. We love the “alert” mode on this outdoor radio that will when set, automatically switch the device on when it receives an alert signal from any NOAA weather broadcast.
As with most other emergency radios, this one also includes a built-in flashlight, reading light, and LED S.O.S. beacon.
The RunningSnail MD-088P emergency radio is an upgrade of the ever-popular MD-088s model by the same company. The new version has a slightly larger body but more importantly, the battery has been upgraded to a 2000mAh battery from the previous 1000mAh version. The solar panels are slightly larger, and they have added battery level indicators (which is really useful).
Other than that, RunningSnail had not changed much from the original designs and that’s a good thing. This was already a great product and these improvements are actual improvements while keeping the features than makes this one of the best outdoor radios available today.
AM/FM and NOAA weather reception are crisp and clear and you can keep track of your local hazard and weather warnings like pending storms or hurricanes.
This outdoor radio includes a 1W LED flashlight that is not the brightest flashlight you’ll have but is more than sufficient for emergency situations. A dedicated SOS button will switch on a flashing red light with low power consumption to alert potential searchers or rescue teams of your location.
The RunningSnail MD-088P outdoor radio can be charged either via USB cable, hand crank, or solar panels. The radio can double as a power bank to charge your phone or other devices in case of an emergency.
The FosPower Emergency Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio is pretty similar to other emergency outdoor radios in this niche. It has a 2000mAh power bank that powers the radio but can also recharge phones, tablets, flashlights, or other devices. The battery can be charged via USB, built-in solar panels, or a hand-crank. The radio can also be powered with AAA batteries.
The FosPower receiver will reliably connect you to AM/FM stations in the area or emergency NOAA weather forecasts and hazard alerts. Finally, the FosPower has 2 light modes a 1W flashlight for use in and around your base and a low-power 4 LED reading light.
This is a great compact emergency radio to take camping or just keep around the house if you live in hurricane or tornado areas.
The Best Jobsite Radios
Jobsite radios are exactly that. These outdoor radios are intended to be used on construction sites and in factories and are therefor some of the most rugged and hard-wearing radios you can buy. Most sport some sort of roll-cage to help protect them, large handles and control knobs to make it easy to operate with gloves, and can be powered by the same batteries you use on the rest of your power tools.
Sangean’s U3 outdoor radio system is one of the finest AM/FM models that money can buy. It was designed in such a way that it will easily withstand harsh weather conditions, and it comes supplied with a set of powerful features.
First of all, this radio comes with 10 preset stations, of which 5 are AM and the other 5 are FM. Furthermore, it comes supplied with a selectable shutoff timer and auto scan functions. The LCD display is backlit in a clearly visible orange color, so you won’t have issues with seeing what you are doing.
Lastly, it’s water and splash-resistant, which makes it ideal for outdoor use. It’s made of premium-quality rugged materials, so it’s safe to say that this radio can withstand quite a lot of abuse.
In conclusion, Sangean U3 AM/FM Ultra Rugged Digital Tuning Radio Receiver is the best of the best. It’s very powerful, the controls on the LCD screen are easily noticeable, the preset functions are extremely convenient, and the price is fair. If you are ever in search of a high-end outdoor radio system, you should definitely at least consider Sangean’s U3 Radio Reciever, we guarantee that you won’t be sorry.
The DEWALT DCR018 Compact Jobsite Radio is one of the finest and most popular jobsite radios currently on the market. DEWALT is renowned for its high-quality and well-engineered power tools and their attempt at a job site radio is no different. If you already use DEWALT as your primary tool brand, then this will come as no surprise to you and this radio will be completely at home amongst the rest of your stuff on the back of your pickup.
The DEWALT job site radio is designed to utilize the standard battery packs from their power tool range. These are available in 12V MAX, 18V, and 20V MAX. If you’re not a DEWALT tool owner, you can still enjoy this radio as it can also be powered via AC/DC.
As expected this is a rugged device, designed to survive and sound great on a construction site. The entire radio is encased in a heavy-duty outer shell with a roll cage that protects it from the typical hazards associated with being out in the open on a building project.
You can charge your DEWALT power-packs while they are on your radio via a USB or AC wall outlet. There’s also a 3.5mm Aux input to connect other digital audio devices.
The DEWALT DCR018 is a great looking jobsite radio that will be more than comfortable in your next campsite as well!