3 Best Portable Radios for Camping – Emergency Weather Radios

Camping would not be complete without a radio for you to listen to some pleasant music around the campfire before going to bed. Radios are essential for a safe camping trip. Weather can change rapidly, and advanced weather warnings can make the difference between life and death.

Technical advancements over the last two decades have included the use of solar and hand cranking to power these small devices. This means that the radio never needs fresh batteries and is good for an indefinite period. Further developments are the doubling up of hand cranks to power power-packs and torches. We have investigated and narrowed the choice down to find the best portable radio for camping.

 

Top 3 Best Portable Radios for Camping

1. Syihlon NOAA Emergency Weather Radio

Syihlon Emergency Portable Camping Radio

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The Syihlon NOAA Emergency Weather Radio provides 4-6 hours of operation time, on normal volume, while using the internal battery. The battery is simple to recharge by either cranking the handle or leaving it in the sun for the solar panel to do the work. The 2Ah lithium-ion battery will also power one of its’ LED bulbs for up to 12 hours.

Features

  • Charging: Hand Crank, Solar Panel, Micro-USB
  • Light: 1W LED Flashlight, Reading Lamp
  • Power: 2Ah Li-Ion Battery or 3 AAA Batteries
  • Output: USB
  • Weight, Dimensions: 0.66lb, 5.6×3.0x1.8 Inches
  • Colors: Red
  • Accessories: Braid Belt, Charging Cable

There are three sockets on the radio, protected by a rubber seal that clips over the holes when not in use. The USB socket can also charge small devices, such as a smartphone. If you need to charge the battery at night, it is a simple process of folding the handle out and cranking it. In addition, the radio has a micro-USB port.

It is possible to extend the life of the large power-pack by using the headphone jack on the side of the radio. Besides the tuning bands of AM and FM, it will receive the Weather Band for emergency NOAA weather warnings.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Multiple ways to charge
  • Emergency alarm
  • Bright light
Cons
  • It is a bit large and bulky
  • Heavy

 

 

2. CrazyFire Solar Hand Crank Weather Radio

CrazyFire Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio for Camping

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The CrazyFire Solar Hand Crank Weather Radio is around the same weight as the Syihlon and takes up a little more space in a backpack. For power sources, the radio comes with a 2Ah lithium-ion battery, a fold-away hand crank, and solar capability. One-minute of crank time equates to 20-minutes of radio at normal volume or 10-minutes of lighting. The stored energy in the battery serves as a power pack to charge other devices through the USB port. The rechargeable battery can also be charged via solar polar.

Features

  • Charging: Hand Crank, Solar Panel, Micro-USB
  • Light: 1W LED Flashlight, Reading Lamp
  • Power: 2Ah Li-Ion Battery
  • Output: USB
  • Weight, Dimensions: 0.65lb, 6.0×3.0x2.5 Inches
  • Colors: Blue, Orange

Like the Syihlon, the CrazyFire radio has 3 radio modes, including the NOAA Weather Band. This radio has a single high quality spotlight and no reading light, which reaches a brightness of 120 lumens. The battery is enough to power the light for up to 15-hours on a single charge or powers the radio for up to 12 hours. In addition to the battery, the radio can also operate using two other power sources: solar power and hand cranking.

The radio has an alarm that will sound and can light up in emergencies when depressed. And to vary the theme, this radio comes in a bright blue or orange to make it easier to find in the field.

With a waterproof level of IPX3, you can confidently use the radio during rain storms.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Multiple methods of charging
  • Emergency alarm
  • Includes reading light
  • Water resistant
Cons
  • Single light is not very bright
  • A bit large and bulky

 

 

3. Lukasa NOAA Portable Weather Radio

Lukasa Emergency Portable Radio

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The Lukasa NOAA Portable Weather Radio is the largest of our three favorite camping radios. It is also the heaviest, but not by too much. The power bank is the same size across the three radios, at 2Ah, and will charge a small portable device through a USB socket. The Lukasa will tune in to one of the three main broadcasting services that include the Weather Band for NOAA emergency notices.

Features

  • Charging: Hand Crank, Solar panel, Micro-USB
  • Light: 1W LED Flashlight
  • Power: 2Ah Li-Ion Battery
  • Output: USB
  • Weight, Dimensions: 0.83lb, 6.5×3.7×2.6 Inches
  • Colors: Red, Green

This is a solid radio, built to last, and waterproof. There is an SOS alarm button on top of the unit, which makes an emergency sound, and flashes red when pressed. This radio has a four-stage power indicator under the tuning rail, and the battery is recharged by cranking the handle or with solar power.

On a full charge, the battery will last for up to 12 hours of listening time, or 6 hours of lighting. This unit feels sturdy; the material seems thicker than the other models. A carry strap is a good idea, as it means that you do not have to set it down, and you can continue to listen on the move.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Robust
  • SOS Alarm
  • Carry Handle
  • Water resistant
Cons
  • No Headphone Jack
  • No Reading Light
  • Large size

 

 

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Portable Radio for Camping

When it comes to choosing a portable radio for camping, there are a few important factors to consider. Because these radios are intended for emergencies and could potentially be life saving, it is important to select the best possible option.

  • Is it Strong?
  • How Often will I Need to Crank it?
  • What are the Extras?

Durability

The most important factor for an emergency radio is robustness. Will the radio survive the relative ill-treatment of being crushed into a backpack and occasionally kicked into a stream? Some functions make a lot of sense, like a headphone jack. If you want to save some power and the weather is bad, the radio will need to be set to high volume to get over the noise of a storm.

Features

Headphones assume little power, and it means that you can wear them plugged into the radio as you are walking. A reading light is another good idea, and if you need both hands to hold a map, it means holding the heavy light in your mouth. Efficiency is key to making the power last and avoids you having to crank the handle all the time.

Charging Method

Because portable camping radios are intended for emergency use, it is very important that you consider the charging methods they are capable of utilizing. While larger electronic radios and devices require a large battery or portable generator, small camping radios are typically much more energy efficient. Some radios are solar powered, while others must be plugged into a battery or outlet to charge. Many can even be powered via an attached hand crank. Generally, most modern portable radios will provide two or three different methods of charging.

 

Final Verdict

The Lukasa Portable Radio comes in as the strongest of the units, a simple design with rounded corners. Though this shape has had the effect of increasing the radios’ size and weight. It is a compromise, being a little larger and heavier, but it is stronger.

The CrazyFire Portable Radio is the smallest and lightest, but it also appears the least strong of the three. The functionality is good, the smaller size may make it less prone to stress in a backpack, and it is IPX3 waterproof.

The Syihlon Portable Radio has a few extras that make it a little better. A reading light, in addition to the torch. The ability to add AAA batteries seems a little redundant for a camping radio, but it does mean it will double up as a home radio. And the headphone-jack is the best idea for a radio, designed for situations where a speaker would not produce enough sound to be heard.

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