May 10, 2006 at 3:55 pm #1218549
I’ve begun a search for a very small, light radio I can take on long trips. I searched on this site but didn’t come up with anything I could use for my search. Does anyone out there have a favorite radio they take out there with them? If so, what is the brand and weight? Thanks for your help.May 10, 2006 at 6:30 pm #1356208
I have used the following for the past few years when I hike solo:
Outstanding performance in a small package, built in speaker. Pricey, but quality. I use it at the gym as well.May 10, 2006 at 8:41 pm #1356215
I use a radio while commuting every day (gotta get my NPR). I’ve tried a few and my complaint with really tiny radios is that the reception is poor, which won’t help you a bit in the woods. Many of the new minis are FM only, compunding the reception problems. I have a little Radio Shack rig that is FM only, has dedicated earbud headphones and uses little LR44 watch cell batteries and goes through them pretty fast. Reception is okay in the city but doubtful out in the woods. It is tiny and just a couple ounces– and no longer made. I’m not unhappy with it as I knew it was toy-like when I bought it– for 99 cents in a thrift store.
If you get something like this that has oddball and expensive batteries, Ebay is a great source for cheap batteries in bulk. I’ve had very good results with coin cells for mini led lights.
My daily commuter radio of late is the Sony SRF-M80V. It can set 10 FM presets, 5 AM, and gets TV and weather bands. 3.6 ounces and runs on two AAA batteries. Battery life is good, but I can’t tell you how many hours. There is a lock switch so your don’t accidently turn it on and run the batteies down or change the station while under way. It has a clock and some timing functions too. The radio is not in current production but there are new and refurbished units still available. You will find a number of them on Ebay, most of which are refurbished.
Reception on most of these headphones-only “sports radios” are designed more for FM, which is a 25-mile medium, IMHO. The headphone wire is used as the antenna on most models and you can find yourself moving the wire around like a pair of TV rabbit ears to get a decent signal. I love to see what kind of AM and SW stations I can pull in at night.
The headphones are lightweight headband/in-the-ear-speaker style. I use a pair of Koss “The Plug” headphones with some adaptation. The Koss phones are an in-the-eat style with a soft foam insert you squeeze and pop into your ear. I found them hard to wear and some clever fellow on a forum came up with the idea of using serrated style earplugs to replace the foam inserts on the Koss units. There is a tiny plastic tube that runs through the foam and will fit inside a pair of industrial serrated earplugs once you pull out the hard plastic center and trim the end to open the inner channel so the sound can flow through. They are comfortable and stay put, as well as sealing out outside noise.
My favorite radio is a Tecsun R919 which is a 9 band AM/FM/SW pocket radio. It is also sold as a Grundig and LL Bean carries the same radio with their own model number. I bought mine on Ebay. It is analog tuning (uses a wheel) but has a digital readout. The antenna telescopes and the radio comes with a longwire antenna extension for better SW reception. I rigged up the antenna between my trekking poles when I was out at Cape Alava in the Olympic National Park and I could pull in every country on the Pacific Rim and AM stations from Victoria, Canada. This radio has a clock with sleep and alarm functions and has a small speaker and a headphone jack. The radio weights 6.3oz with two AA batteries and looks like a small walkie-talkie. It’s a little big and a little heavy for real UL use, but it will pull in a signal and is easy on batteries. I count it as a luxury in my gear list.
I use a pair of Sony clip-on headphones similar to the current MDR-J11G. They are inexpensive, very light, and allow you to hear some outside sounds. You can wear them with a hat on and they stay put.
The ultimate would be a unit that is a GPS, PDA, and AM/FM/SW radio. Adding FRS walkie-talkie functions would really be over the top– a hikers Blackberry if you will. I would personally settle for a PDA with AM/FM/SW functions. I imagine adding MP3 would make it easier to market.
Gene’s find with the Sangean dt300vw is worth a look.May 10, 2006 at 9:01 pm #1356217
Here is a fairly detailed site about pocket radios that emphasises sensitivity and sound quality (although most of his comments are subjective). The site sells at least one model that he likes, although it looks like they are out of stock.May 10, 2006 at 10:26 pm #1356222
E. H. ClemmonsBPL Member
I have seen fixup’s site and he has a good rep, but ccrane is mainstream and they will answer the phone when you call. Fixup is a headphone guy and has radios to match. No speakers. Try also googling shortwave and search around. I have a Sony SW100 which is nice but not super light nor super cheap. I think CCrane may be your best bet to speak to an actual person who can help you choose exactly what you need. Sounds like FM plus a speaker if you are not too far in the woods. Eton, Sangean, and others do small well. Sangean has a better reputation, particularly for quality SW, which might be breathtaking in the backcountry. But Eton makes the Porsche design radio and they sell them on amazon and circuit city. Sony has nothing very light with a speaker any more. With a headphone, you will have lighter choices but less flexibility. I would take a radio with a speaker even if I was going light. After shopping around, I paid to fix my 10 year old Sony. Good luck.May 10, 2006 at 11:12 pm #1356224
I,m also in the market for an ultra light radio. Check this out
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000222MY/qid=1147327528/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-7108220-0496005?n=507846&s=electronics&v=glanceMay 11, 2006 at 6:28 am #1356232
Steven HanlonBPL Member
@asciibaronLocale: Mid Atlantic
being into ham radio, i have a rather heavy (14oz) handheld radio that enables me to get help if needed. i usually take it with me on the AT as there are a good number of repeaters that are easily accessed along the trail.
the radio also receives automatic weather alerts – if the NWS issues a severe weather alert, the radio will automatically change to the NWS transmitter frequency. it has saved me from hiking thru a major thunderstorm with tons of lightning – scary business on a ridge line.
i am looking to replace my heavy radio with something much lighter that also has wideband receive – Icom and Yaesu make radios that fit into your palm and are feature rich with excellent receivers. the transmitters are low power – 1w or less. in some places you’d have a better chance of yelling, but in others, this is more than enough power.
thought i’d just throw this out as an option – you can listen to broadcast stations, receive wx alerts, and have a way to get help – all in a very small form factor. getting your ham radio license to use this type of radio is relatively easy and could pay off if you ever need to get help in the backcountry. if your interested, just let me know.
-steve, wm3oMay 11, 2006 at 9:53 am #1356239
Has anyone tried the XM/Delphi MyFi portable satellite radio on the trail? I wonder if reception has the same issues that GPS units do with canyons and foilage.May 11, 2006 at 10:04 am #1356240
Satellite radio does have the same (or very similar) limitations as GPS. Any physical obstruction will block reception. Satellite radio is a line-of-sight technology. If you can’t see the sky, neither can your radio.May 11, 2006 at 1:23 pm #1356246
toccs rerennihcsBPL Member
@dremboLocale: western slope Sierra Nevada
I bookmarked this page some time ago after reading another discussion somewhere about radios. http://www.radios4you.com/kaito-ka105-LG.html
I never got around to buying one but it must have had something going for it for me to bookmark it.
I took my XM radio with me on a trip last fall. However, I forgot the antenna and was unable to fashion anything workable from fishing line and pine cones, so that ended up being dead weight.
Now I take my sony HD5 mp3 player(not really mp3, but thats another story). I must have at least 300 CDs of music on there so that keeps me entertained on long lonely nights. No news or any info on the outside world, however, if thats what your looking for. I just downloaded about 5 hours of comedy off of my satellite radio and put it on my mp3 player, ready for my next trip. That will be good listening, I hope.May 11, 2006 at 3:24 pm #1356253
Thanks for all the great information. I did call the ccrane folks and had a nice conversation with someone there. I think I’m leaning towards the DT300vw. I don’t think I will really know how it works for my application till I get it out there and really use it in all settings. I am definately NOT an electronics type so I appreciate all the experience and opinion you all shared with me.May 14, 2006 at 2:35 am #1356359
I picked up a pocket-sized Grundig AM/FM/SW radio at REI a couple of years ago. I was astonished at how good the AM, FM & SW reception is in the Cascades. I think you’ll be pleased with the performance of a decent radio.May 14, 2006 at 10:15 am #1356375
You can get self stowing long-wire antennas that will clip on the telescoping antenna of just about any of these portable world-band radios (see http://www.radios4you.com/antenna-r4u-LG.html ).
The Tecsun radio I bought came with a wire with a snap clip on one end to fit the antenna and a small lapel-style clip on the other to hang it.
A small roll of light insuated wire will work too– just strip off some insulation on one end and wrap it around the end of the telescoping antenna. You could get really high-tech and add alligator clips too.
I use my trekking poles to stretch out the wire if a tree branch isn’t handy.
This simple addition will make a huge difference in SW reception. I would avoid using long wires in exposed areas like ridge lines and lightning-prone weather.May 14, 2006 at 11:34 am #1356380
Stop the presses! I found this radio at http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/portable/0247.html
3oz without batteries (2AA), AM/FM/SW reception and an LED flashlight built in — for $22.
“The County Comm GP-4L is smaller than a pack of cigarettes, but can tune in the world. This amazing radio tunes AM, FM and has two shortwave bands. Shortwave band 1 tunes from 5.95-9.95 MHz to include the 49, 41 and 31 meter bands. Shortwave band 2 tunes from 11.65-17.9 MHz to include the 25, 19 and 16 meter bands. Medium wave coverage is 530 to 1710 kHz and FM is 80-108 MHz. This radio also features a 12 hour format clock with timer function. The buttons to set the clock are on the rear panel. This radio requires 3 – 4.5 VDC or two AA cells (not supplied).
External 3-4.5 VDC [-]
Battery Two AA cells [UM3] (not supplied)
AM Band 520 – 1710 kHz
SW1 Band 5950 – 9950 kHz
SW2 Band 11650 – 17900 kHz
FM Band 80 – 108 MHz
Speaker Size 1.5 inch 40mm
Earphone Jack 3.5 mm
Output Power 120 mW
Antenna System AM Ferrite bar and FM/SW telescopic whip
Clock Format 12 hour
Size 2.5 x 3.5 x 0.9 inches (65x87x21mm)
Weight 3 oz (85 g) not including batteries. “May 14, 2006 at 8:55 pm #1356401
E. H. ClemmonsBPL Member
County comm has lots of cool stuff including the matching antenna. I have bought a lot of stuff from them and they have always come though for me.May 15, 2006 at 6:46 am #1356411
I went surfing for their web site after seeing the radio on Universal radio. They have a Microlight clone for $1 each, and as you said, all kinds of interesting gear: County CommMay 15, 2006 at 8:47 am #1356415
Bill FornshellBPL Member
@bfornshellLocale: Southern Texas
LobeMan® FM Radio
Price Was: $14.50
• Miniature radio design
• Lightweight and compact—weighs less than 1 oz.
• High impact silver plastic radio housing – modified teardrop shape wear behind either ear by rotating speaker bud
• Hands free
• No bulky wires or attachments
• FM frequency only—receiving range from 88 to 107.9
• Scan button (tuner)
• Hi/low volume and off switch
• Reset button
• Thin, soft wire antenna
• Antenna measures approximately 20″ long
• Radio including ear bud measures 3″ long x 1-3/8″ wide x ½” deep
• Antenna measures approximately 20″ long
• Uses one CR2032 3V lithium battery (25—30 hours battery life/included)
• Instructions included
• Clear plastic storage box with locking lid included
• Comes packed in clamshell plastic packaging
• Made in ChinaMay 15, 2006 at 12:46 pm #1356423
I saw that when I found the microfleece shirts on the same site. I dismissed it, but I didn’t see the specs with the 20″ wire for the antenna– that makes a lot of difference. That’s about as cheap and light as it’s going to get. If it gets decent reception, $8 isn’t bad. I do have my doubts.May 15, 2006 at 3:10 pm #1356426
How about an iPod Nano (1.5 oz) with a iPod radio remote (15.7 grams). It is FM only, but I found the reception to be much better than the Xin modified SRF-S84 I had previously. Also, the Sony was not very good quality, tho the sound quality was pretty good. The iPod & radio remote has great quality, and of course can put bring along up to 4 gigs of music, pictures, has a clock, games, stopwatch, alarm clock, calendar, and a text file reader. The backlight can be used as a tent light in a pinch.
The only downside is the non swappable internal lithium ion battery. Rated at 14 hours (probably not with the radio), I know of any lightweight external solutions to power it.May 15, 2006 at 3:53 pm #1356431
Nice toy– nice price too. $230-$250 for the ipod and another $45-$50 for the remote and FM is very limited with tall piles of rocks all-round. And then there’s the battery.
Great for music for an overnighter, but… nice try.
I have an FM headphone for my cellular phone that would have about the same limitations. Then I wouldn’t recieve in two media and I could have a dead battery too! It just doesn’t get any better than that <grin>
AM and SW bounce off the atmosphere so you can get all kinds of broadcasts at night. I’ll go with the baby AM/FM/SW boxes.
Camping on the beach and picking up Radio Sweden and an interview in Swedish with actress Liv Uhlman — a lot of stuff that sounded like the Chef on Sesame Street punctuated by long YAAAAAAWH’s :) Political music from mainland China — heck, I wanted to bring in the harvest myself! Every variation on evangelical Christianity you can imagine. The BBC broadcasts are worth the bother. AM comes in from all over the place– you listen for a while and get a call sign from Oklahoma City and you’re on top of a mountian in the North Cascades, etc.May 15, 2006 at 7:57 pm #1356440
@dangLocale: Pacific Northwet
I just received my Ccrane catalog and they have a new pocket radio, a Sangean DT180V Pocket radio. AM/FM/TV Digital radio. Weight 1.7 oz.
Looks pretty nice. $59
DanMay 16, 2006 at 5:36 am #1356454
>>>”Has anyone tried the XM/Delphi MyFi portable satellite radio on the trail?”< << I have the same radio, and yes it does have similar issues as GPS units. If the overhead cover is thick, you will likely have difficulty getting a signal.May 16, 2006 at 9:44 am #1356460
Dan said: “I just received my Ccrane catalog and they have a new pocket radio, a Sangean DT180V Pocket radio. AM/FM/TV Digital radio. Weight 1.7 oz.
Looks pretty nice. $59″
It’s not on Sangean’s web site– too new I guess. Either way, it looks good for AM/FM. I like the one AAA battery setup. I have several AAA devices and it makes it easy to swap spares or prioritize if you really run low.
With all these headphone-type radios, the headphones you use can make a difference in reception– experiment if you have others around the house.
I did notice there are other suppliers with prices more in the $44 range. J&R is taking pre-orders on a white version that will be released soon– we must have our electronic jewelry, eh? :)
http://www.jr.com/JRProductPage.process?Product=4098946May 22, 2006 at 8:01 pm #1356778
I ordered a County Comm GP-4L from Universal Radio and it arrived today. For $22, it’s a keeper. It is easy to set up the clock and alarm. Tuning is accurate (the LCD reads close to the broadcast frequency). Reception is good. The speaker is so-so — about what I expected. The earbud headphones are a throw-away– use a pair from one of your other noisemakers. I guess you could keep them for a back-up– they do work.
So, it is light, small, cheap, recieves well, will wake you up in the morning, pulls in international broadcasts, runs on AA batteries (reports are good on battery usage)and it will light up your tent with an LED bright enough to read by. I like the Spartan design– does exactly what it needs to do and not a thing more. Kinda retro — like an AM/FM/SW Coleman stove :)Jun 6, 2006 at 7:50 pm #1357592
@ericlLocale: Northern Colorado
I believe the Sinclair AM radios are the lightest, though I can’t remember how much mine weighs. (.25oz??)
They don’t market the FM anymore, but you may find one used.
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