Best Weatherproof Portable FM/AM Radio For Outdoor Activities
A weatherproof portable radio can be an important accessory to carry with you during outdoor activities. It can let you stay connected to the rest of the world. And it can also keep you up to date with the latest news and weather while you’re kayaking, camping, or hiking in remote locations.
The style you choose will probably depend on your choice of activity. But to give you some inspiration and tips on some handy features you might like, we’ve put this guide together.
Top 7 Best Weatherproof FM Radios Reviewed
1: Sangean LB-100 Ultra Rugged Compact AM/FM Radio (best overall)
This Sangean LB-100 is a durable outdoor radio that can be ideal for taking on camping trips, extended kayaking trips, or fishing trips. It has a 9 foot attached AC power cord so it can be easily plugged into a portable battery with an AC power socket.
It can also run on four C batteries (sold separately) when you’re completely away from other power sources.
This radio has AM/FM frequencies and 10 station presets for convenience. It’s built for durability, with a tough, shock-resistant design and a protective roll-cage to prevent damage if dropped. It’s also resistant to water - mostly for splashes and rain and is built to withstand sand and dust.
Additionally, it has a digital LCD screen with a backlight to show you which radio station you’re listening to. It can also display the time, which can be handy if you’re off the grid.
2: Dolphin LX-20 Dual Portable Bluetooth Waterproof Tube Speaker (best bluetooth radio)
The Dolphin LX-20 is designed to be a portable beach-proof speaker that you can use to play music from your phone using the speaker’s bluetooth connectivity. But it also has USB and SD ports for further personalized wireless playback and charging. In addition to this, it has a built-in radio with FM frequency.
A good feature of this one is the battery. It features a 3000 mAh lithium-ion battery that can power the speaker for as long as 10 hours. It also has the benefit of a battery indicator light so you can easily tell when it’s time to recharge.
This can also be a good option if you’re looking for a higher quality sound, as it has two 15 watt speakers for increased volume and clarity. Another feature of this radio is the multi-colored LED lights which can add some fun to any camping trip or evening at the beach.
3: Kaito KA500 Voyager 5-Way Powered Emergency Radio (best for emergencies)
This Kaito KA500 is a durable and compact radio that can be ideal for use in an emergency. It features AM, FM, SW1, and SW2 frequencies and has the added benefit of all seven national weather channels pre-programmed for convenience and safety. The weather channels are designed to work in the US and Canada.
There are several ways to power this radio, including solar and a hand crank, which can make it even more useful if you’re off the grid. It also benefits from having a built-in USB port that can allow you to charge your phone using the radio’s power.
Another useful feature for emergency use is the telescopic antenna which extends up to 14.5 inches for improved reception. The handy LED signal indicator can let you know if the channel signal is strong or weak, so you can adjust it accordingly.
For added convenience, you’ll find a built-in flashlight and reading light, which can be useful on overnight trips. This is a very lightweight option that can be a good choice if you want to pack it into a backpack for a hiking trip or store it in a hatch on your kayak, as it shouldn’t add too much weight to your boat.
4: Ion Audio Tailgater Express AM/FM Speaker (best for sound)
This Ion Audio Tailgater Express is a compact, water-resistant speaker with a built-in AM/FM radio. It has 20 watts of speaker output with a dynamic amplifier and a four-inch woofer for clear, higher quality sound.
This can be an easy one to carry since it has a built-in carrying handle and is relatively lightweight. A great feature of the Tailgater Express is the rechargeable battery which can give you up to 30 hours of continuous playback on a single charge.
Another nice feature of this one is the bluetooth connectivity which can let you stream your playlists from your phone or tablet from up to 100 feet away. You can also charge your phone or tablet from the radio through the USB port. This can be a particularly handy feature to have when you’re far from any charging points and need to keep your phone battery alive.
5: Rocam Weather Radio (best budget portable radio)
This Rocam Weather Radio can be a good option if you’re looking for a more affordable radio. This one features 5-way power options, including a hand crank and solar power for traveling off the grid. There is also an included lithium-ion battery that can be charged before your trip, giving you up to 14 hours of light and 12 hours of radio playback.
This has a built-in flashlight and a reading light, making it ideal for camping and emergency use. While it’s not waterproof and cannot be safely submerged, it does have a splash-proof exterior which can be useful in rainy conditions.
It can pick up AM, FM, and SW frequencies, and has seven pre-programmed national weather channels for ease of use.
As well as being affordable, this is a compact size which means it can be great if you’re short on space and ideal for storing on a kayak. It’s also pretty lightweight so it shouldn’t weigh down your gear too much.
6: Greeous Waterproof Hurricane Radio
This Greeous Hurricane Radio is a very compact portable radio that can be great if you’re short on space. It features both AM and FM radio frequencies plus it can pick up seven national weather stations so that you can keep up to date with the latest forecasts and dangerous weather alerts.
This is a water-resistant option that can be ideal for light rain or little splashes but it’s not designed to be submerged in water or left out in heavy rain. It’s recommended that you dry it or leave it in the sun for a couple of hours if it gets splashed.
This features four different types of power sources, with a hand crank and solar power for off-the-grid use. It also benefits from having a USB port for easy charging the main battery, or you can power it with three AAA batteries (sold separately).
As an added feature this also has a built-in flashlight for night use.
7: C Crane CC Solar Observer AM/FM Radio (not waterproof)
The C Crane CC Solar Observer is a compact radio with AM/FM frequencies, as well as weather bands. While it’s not waterproof, this can be a good option for camping trips or other outdoor pursuits where water-resistance is not essential.
The Solar Observer features a rechargeable battery (AC adapter not included) but it can also be powered using three AA batteries (sold separately). In addition to this, you can also wind the hand crank to power the radio. The hand crank can give you up to 30 minutes of power for every 90 seconds of winding.
Another useful feature of this is that it can run off solar power. Fully charging it using solar power can take around 20 hours of full sunlight but once charged it can provide up to six hours of play time. It also benefits from having a built-in LED flashlight, which could come in handy while camping.
Outdoor FM/AM Radio Features To Look Out For
Water resistance can be a useful feature to have on an outdoor radio as it can usually mean it can continue to work in the rain. This can be a more important feature to have if you plan to take the radio on a kayak or canoe trip where it may get splashed.
However, it can be important to remember that water-resistance does not necessarily mean waterproof. A water-resistant radio can generally withstand rain and splashes but it usually won’t be able to withstand being submerged in water.
This means that if you are kayaking, you may still want to store your radio inside a dry bag until you reach your camp. Or at least make sure it’s not going to take a dive overboard if you plan to use it out on the deck while you’re paddling.
If a radio is water-resistant it should have a protection rating, usually beginning with IPX. The ratings are categorized from 1 to 9, with IPX1 being the lowest or least water-resistant, and IPX9 being the highest. The lower the number the less water the product can withstand.
IPX1 radios should be able to withstand very light rain for no more than 10 minutes. At the other end of the spectrum, a product with a rating of IPX9 should be able to withstand high-pressure water jets at a high water temperature.
Most water-resistant speakers and radios will usually fall somewhere between IPX3 and IPX5. Generally, none of the products with these ratings will be able to be submerged in water and will usually be considered splash-proof, meaning they can generally survive being out in the rain.
It can be a good idea to look for a radio that has multiple power options, as this can give you increased versatility and can be more useful in an emergency if your initial battery power fails or drains.
A hand crank can be a good feature to have as this can let you power the radio by hand, usually by cranking a lever. You may find you have to crank the lever a fair amount of times to be able to power the radio for a decent length of time.
But a hand crank can be an ideal power source for extended kayaking trips where you may not have the opportunity to power the radio any other way.
Solar power can also be useful if you’re heading out on an extended trip. However, this can often take a while to charge, often many hours in direct sunlight, so it might not be suitable for everyone and might be better as a backup power source rather than your main option.
Some products may have the option of being powered by single-use batteries. This can be a good back-up power option, but you’ll need to remember to pack spare batteries in with your gear, which might not always be convenient.
Most weather-proof radios will usually have some type of battery, even if they have other power sources. How long the battery lasts can be important if you plan to use the radio throughout your trip.
Some speakers that have built-in lithium-ion batteries (similar to what’s in your phone) can last much longer than older types of batteries or single-use batteries, for example.
If you will be solely running your radio from battery power it can be beneficial to opt for one with a lithium-ion battery, as these can weigh less and last longer than those that use single-use batteries. Sometimes you can get more than 24 hours of constant use from a single charge, which might be suitable for a weekend camping trip, as long as you don’t need the radio to be switched on the entire time.
As well as being able to withstand rain and river splashes it can be a good idea to choose a radio that can also stand up to rugged outdoor life. This means you should look for a durable product that can resist sand and dust but can also withstand being dropped or thrown around with the rest of your gear.
Some radios have built-in antennas, which may be useful for preventing damage to the antenna. But if you’re out in the wilderness, miles from civilization, you may want the option of an extending, or telescopic, antenna which may be able to boost your reception and let you pick up more channels or a clearer signal.
When you’re choosing accessories for outdoor use, size can often be important. This can be especially true if you plan to pack those accessories into a deck bag or a storage hatch on your kayak, as you’ll want to make sure they fit.
Outdoor radios can vary in size, with some being quite bulky compared to others. If you plan to pack light, you may want to think about the available space you have either on board your boat or in your gear bags.
Weight can also be important, particularly if you plan to hike into remote areas, as a heavy radio could be uncomfortable to carry.
Having pre-programmed weather stations can be a common feature on many emergency and outdoor radios. These channels can provide you with weather alerts for your area and can be especially useful during multi-day kayaking trips where your location is likely to change as you proceed on your route.
The weather channels are available in the United States and some US overseas territories, and they are also available in Canada through Canada’s weather service.
The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has seven stations that are available throughout the United States, with a large number of local stations available too.
Many radios and speakers that are designed for outdoor use will often have additional features that can come in handy during your trip or activity.
Whether any additional features will be useful to you will likely depend on your activity or how you plan to use the radio.
Bluetooth connectivity can be a great feature to have if you want to be able to use the speakers to play your personalized playlists from your phone or tablet without having to physically connect your phone to the speaker. If you’re camping in a group, for example, this could be a nice feature to have.
Another useful feature found on some outdoor radios is a flashlight. This can be ideal if you want to cut down on gear, as it can mean you may not necessarily need to pack a separate flashlight.
Flashlights can be particularly important on radios for emergency use, such as during power outages. But they can also be ideal to have with you on camping trips. Some radios may also have the added benefit of a built-in reading light, sometimes in addition to a flashlight, making them great for both camping trips and emergency use.
Some outdoor radios may also feature USB ports or other ports of connectivity. This can be useful if you want to be able to charge your phone or other device using the radio’s power source. Some of these ports can also be used to charge the radio when plugged into another power source, such as a portable battery or household electricity.
Final Words: To Help You Avoid “Radio Ga Ga”
If you’re looking for the best weatherproof radio for a multi-day kayaking trip or camping trip, we think the winner is the Sangean LB-100 because of its high level of durability thanks to its shock-resistant design and its protective roll-cage shell. This can also be easily used with a portable battery with AC outlets.
Another great option and good runner-up, especially if you’re after extra features, is the Dolphin LX-20. This one has great sound, water-resistance and has the added benefit of bluetooth connectivity so it can be ideal for group camping trips or days out by the lake.
As an alternative choice, the Kaito KA500 Voyager can be an ideal option for emergencies. This one has the added benefit of having five different power options, including a hand crank, making it a good choice if you plan to kayak in remote areas. It’s also very compact and lightweight.
Remember to think about the extra features that you want your outdoor radio to have. Consider where you plan to use the radio and whether you want to be able to fit it in a gear bag or a deck storage hatch. For multi-day excursions, pre-set weather stations can be useful.
Not all of these radios will be suitable for everyone, so it can be important that you check out each product for yourself before you settle on one.