Portable radios can be considered as one of the best kinds of shortwave radios. Some researches show that people are more likely to buy a radio that has been designed a certain way in order to make its mobility easier. Taking a shortwave radio with you anywhere is such a great thing, and to us, these portable radios will always come first at the top of our list instead of tabletop radios.
With all of that being said, we would love to present you with some of the best portable shortwave radios of all time that we could possibly find on the market. You will for sure notice that some of these models are old and some are brand new and recently released.
Recommended reading more: shortwave radio reviews and buying guide
Let’s see if you agree with us and also think that some of these models might be the best portable shortwave radios ever made!
Our Top Pick portable shortwave radios
- Best Overall: Panasonic Portable Am FM radio
- Best for tabletop and Good Sound Quality: Greadio Portable Shortwave radio
- Best FM & AM Receiver for a gift: Greadio portable transistor radio
- Perfect for everywhere: Retro Portable radio AM FM shortwave transistor Prunus
- Great vintage style for indoors and outdoors: Coca-Cola Vintage radio
- Best Small shortwave radio: C Crane CC skywave SSB shortwave radio
- Best shortwave radio for travel: C Crane CC Skywave travel radio
- The last tested model: Sony ICF-P36 portable radio
Reviews on the best portable shortwave radios
What are shortwave radios being used for?
But, before the review part, for all of those people who are right now firstly hearing about the term shortwave radios, or, they do not know quite what these radios can do, we will be explaining what shortwave radios are being used for.
Shortwave radio is a term for all of those radios that are able to catch shortwave radio band frequencies. Basically, shortwave radios can be used for listening to radio stations from all across the world, as well as the ones in your country. Mostly, these radios are being used for emergency broadcasts, entertainment, and out of the hobby.
1. Best Overall (tested in 2016): Panasonic Portable Am FM radio
The first model that we will be showing you today is, above all, one of the most popular models of shortwave radios, and our personal favorite. As you can see, this is a very simple radio with a basic, yet effective design.
What makes this model so special is actually it’s smooth tuning due to the Auto Frequency control that enables stable tuning and reception of strong signals. Since this is obviously a portable radio model, it makes it perfect for camping trips, hikes, long walks, and similar outdoor, as well as indoor activities.
Do you say that you want to have some privacy while listening to your favorite tunes? Well, you can do that simply by hooking up your headphones to the radio! It contains a 3.5 mm headphone jack at the side so you can enjoy a little bit of privacy while streaming your favorite tunes.
If you like this model by now, you will like it even more when you find out that it is more than affordable. Paying only thirty dollars for an awesome portable shortwave radio is a good, cheap investment!
- This is a radio with a very simple design
- There is digital tuning available due to the AFC
- This radio is perfect for camping and outdoor activities
- It has a built-in headphone jack
- This is a portable radio that weights around one pound
- This radio works on 4AA batteries
- It contains a 10cm speaker and a ferrite antenna
2. Best for tabletop (tested in 2021): Greadio Portable Shortwave radio
This portable shortwave radio is very convenient to use. Due to its clear LCD screen, you can easily set up and use this compatible device. This AM FM transistor can be used by anyone since it has pretty basic and simple features, even by children!
When it comes to the reception of this shortwave radio, we can say that this transistor actually has everything that you might need. Since it contains a telescopic antenna, the reception is able to remain clear and strong the whole time you are using your radio. And, you have the complete power to search for Am radio stations which you want to hear. The rotary knob is there for good and precise tuning.
If you land on a radio station that you do not want to hear, simply tune it again, you might land on some radio station with music, news, sports, and an entertainment program!
Since this is one of the best tabletop shortwave radios, it is only natural that it can be powered using two different methods. The AC power supply is around 110V, while the DC power supply is 4D batteries.
- This radio has a big LCD screen that is easily readable
- There is a long antenna and an advanced DSP chip built into it
- This radio can simply be operated
- It has a classical design and a basic display
- The company offers a one year warranty for this radio
- It can be powered by a DC power supply or with an AC power supply
- It contains a headphone jack
3. Best FM & AM Receiver for a gift (tested in 2019): AM FM portable transistor radio
Now, this next model is simply perfect for all of the possible occasions or activities that you may have. You name it, fishing, camping, gardening, or even at home use are just some of the activities to which you can bring this transistor.
This model is, besides all, perfect for gifts! Who doesn’t love gifts? And, we are sure that by purchasing this transistor for your parents or grandparents they will for certain have an amazing gift to remember you by.
As you can see, this transistor has a very convenient design since it is small and it weighs around 1.7Ibs. There is even a handle, which we are sure grandparents will especially love if they like to have a cup of coffee with old music in their garden, and they do not want to carry around a huge speaker.
Do not worry about its reception at all it can work on 87-108 MHz frequencies for FM signals, and on 50-171 kHz for AM signals! A built in big speaker will make sure the all audio content coming from this little guy is being heard loud and clear. Oh, and, do not worry about its batteries running out too fast, it has an awesome ability to consume battery even if it has been working for a while!
- This radio is the perfect gift for anyone
- It contains a DSP chip
- This transistor has a headphone jack
- It works on a 110V C power supply, or on 4D batteries
- It has a very strong reception
4. Perfect for everywhere (tested in 2020): Retro Portable radio AM FM shortwave transistor Prunus
Well, guys, if you have daughters, this might be the perfect thing to buy them. Teenagers these days love retro things just as us old guys do. We are sure that this little retro beauty could make an excellent decoration for any kind of room!
Besides the idea of being used as room décor, this is actually a pretty good radio. It contains a headphone jack that can enable you private listening sessions, and, it actually has a strong battery built into it. Namely, it works on a 1200mAh rechargeable battery and can be powered in three ways.
The first way is via an AC adapter, the second way is by dual D-type cell batteries, and the third way is through charging that 1200mAh built in battery.
We cannot forget to tell you the best part about this radio! Okay, so, you will be blown off when you find out that this model actually has 4.0 Bluetooth technology built into it! With that being said, you could easily use this model as a speaker and play basically any kind of song from Spotify, Pandora, or YouTube right on it!
- This radio has Bluetooth technology built into it
- It can make a perfect décor for any kind of room
- This is an ideal gift for girls, seniors and juniors
- This radio can be charged in three different ways
- You can pair it to your smartphone and use it as a speaker
- It has the perfect retro design from the 1960s
5. Great vintage style for indoors and outdoors (tested in 2018): Coca-Cola Vintage radio
If you love Coca-Cola, you will for sure love this radio as well! This vintage style radio from Coca-Cola will be able to remind you of the retro age whenever you look at it. You can easily stream new music and listen to any kind of song that you want on this retro radio!
As you can see, it has a Coca-Cola inspired design which is very simple. Since it can catch both AM and FM radio frequencies you can enjoy listening to them anytime, anywhere! This radio has a manual tuning system built into it which means that you will simply have to move around and turn two knobs until you find the right radio station.
There is even a 7.25” antenna built into it and ready to make the reception even better!
This little guy could be carried around easily since it is pretty lightweight. On top of that, it contains a retractable handle that enables even easier transportation.
And lastly, it works on three 1.5V batteries which you will have to purchase separately.
- This is a vintage radio
- It has a very simple design
- This radio can receive both AM and FM radio frequencies
- It has a seven inch antenna built into it
- This radio contains a retractable handle that enables its portability
- It has a very attractive design
- This radio works on three 1.5V batteries
- It is available in attractive red and silver colors
- It contains two turning knobs for precise tuning
6. Best Small shortwave radio (tested in 2018): C Crane CC skywave SSB shortwave radio
We have presented you with this C Crane CC skywave radio a couple of times in our previous articles, but, it is just too good not to mention it in this list as well! As you can see, this is a compact radio that has an LCD display with orange backlighting, as well as some extra buttons just to help you out with the navigation throughout the unit.
Besides those things, this is a digitally tuned multi-band receiver that is very sensitive and can tune into all kinds of brands. There are around 400 radio station presets waiting for them to be found and fulfilled.
When you turn on the radio, you will notice that there is an alarm clock, as well as the timer located on the LCD display. But, besides that, this radio also has a rotary knob under the display. Oh, and it comes in a leather radio carry case so that you have a place to store it safely.
- This is one of the smallest multiband SSB radios
- It has a wide range of frequencies
- This is an NOAA weather alert radio as well
- This radio works on 2AA batteries
- It has 400 radio station presets
- It comes in a leather cover-up for storing
- This radio can be charged via an AC adapter or through a USB
- This radio can catch VHF Aviation frequencies
7. Best shortwave radio for travel (tested in 2015): C Crane CC Skywave travel radio
We must show you yet another one of C Crane’s wonderful portable shortwave radios. This one is a little bit more expensive than the previous model, but, it is also totally worth the money.
As well as the previous one, this one is also very small and lightweight. It is able to catch Am, FM, Shortwave, Weather, as well as Airband signals too. When turned on, this radio is able to be tuned automatically, and you will for sure notice that it has around 400 radio stations’ presets.
It can operate on 2AA batteries and can be charged in a few different ways. The good thing about this radio is that it also has a USB slot, which means that you can charge it via an AC adapter or through a USB cable. On top of that, by connecting your phone to this radio, you will be also able to charge your smartphone battery. This is helpful especially since this is the perfect shortwave travel radio.
- This radio can catch different signals and frequencies
- It comes in a carry case
- A one year warranty will be received when purchased
- It is able to work for approximately 60 hours before needing to be charged
- It contains a headphone jack
- There are 400 memory presets available
- It can automatically scan for new radio stations
- This radio also has a direct entry keypad
- It has a small built in speaker
8. The last tested model: Sony ICF-P36 portable radio
And, the last model that we will be showing you here today is this Sony ICF-P36 one. This model works on 2AA batteries which should be bought separately as they do not come alongside the unit inside of the box.
When turned on, if the battery is drained, there will be a LED light constantly blinking indicating you on time that the radio needs to be charged and powered up again. You are able to charge it through an AC adapter or simply just by changing the batteries on it.
If you are a person that likes to listen to their music privately, you will be able to do that with the help of this radio. Since this radio contains a headphone 3.5mm standard socket, you could connect even your smartphone headphones to it and listen to the radio stations privately.
One of the perks of owning this model is that it has a very modern and convenient design. Namely, this radio only weights around 220g.
- This radio can operate on two AA batteries
- It contains a standard headphone jack
- This radio also has a LED indicator for low battery power
- It is a very lightweight radio and easily portable
- This is one of the most modern-designed shortwave portable radios so far
Related: Best Shortwave radio under $500
How to choose the best portable shortwave radios for yourself?
Before you start choosing the next portable shortwave radio to purchase, there are some things that you should keep on your mind. We will be simply giving you suggestions, and pointing out on some of those things, but, you should definitely set your priorities and look for those kinds of features in a radio that you are about to purchase.
So, here we go with the tips.
- Define your budget
As you could have seen, many of these models that we have presented you with today have different price ranges. Some of these models are expensive, and some will cost you only around 20-30 dollars. What you should do before you decide to purchase any model is defining your budget. If you know what kind of features you are looking for in a radio model, define your budget accordingly and try to stick to it.
Some radios might be overpriced and have the same features as a cheap one, so, pay attention to that.
- The size matters
Since you are about to purchase a portable shortwave radio, you definitely do not want to buy one that is a bit heavy, which will not be convenient at all. So, make sure to check the radio’s weight before purchasing it, just to make sure that you can easily move around with it!
- Are batteries able to last long?
Portable radios are made to be functional. As well as smartphones, there can drain if they are constantly being used for longer periods of time. Before making a purchase, try to inform yourself as better as possible about the battery life of the radio which you might purchase. If you intend to use it for a couple of hours constantly and not turning it off, you will definitely need a radio with a stronger, more long lasting battery.
What are some of the advantages of owning the best portable shortwave radios?
In our case, since we travel a lot and like to have more outside activities than the inside ones, there are plenty of advantages of owning a shortwave radio. We will be displaying a couple of them, but, if you have had some model of shortwave portable radios before, we would totally like to hear your opinion on why you love them!
- They are convenient for traveling
If you are a person that likes to have music with them anywhere you go then a portable shortwave radio is definitely a good thing for you. Since they are pretty much lightweight and have the perfect dimensions, as well as the design, you could carry them around easily without even having the feeling that you are carrying a radio!
- Weather will never surprise you again
Again, if you are a person that definitely likes older things (in this case shortwave radios) than smartphones, then you definitely do not check the weather announcements on your phone constantly. Well, that is when these shortwave portable radios come in handy. Since some of these models are actually NOAA weather alert models, you will be at all times perfectly safe, and bad weather won’t ever surprise you. Even if you find yourself outside when the weather alert has been heard over the radio, you will have just enough time to relax and stay safe!
After this review, we really hope that we have brought shortwave radios even closer to you than we have before. Hopefully, you are now an expert on how portable shortwave radios work. We wanted to point out some of the best portable shortwave radios that we could possibly find, and we hope that you have maybe found a model, or a few, which you like the most.
There are many different portable shortwave models available on the market made by many different brands. If you have any favorite brand of radios, make sure to look them up and see if they might have a portable shortwave radio in stock. As we like to say this best portable shortwave radios list is our favorite pick!
Let us know which radio you like the most, until next time friends!
- What is portable shortwave radio?
Shortwave radios are devices that are able to catch shortwave band frequencies. To be more precise, portable shortwave radios are basically shortwave radios that could be carried around without losing their reception of signals. Portable shortwave radios are usually small-sized, lightweight, and have a very convenient design.
- Can I listen to portable shortwave radio stations on the internet?
Yes, absolutely you can! It might take you some skills in order to learn how to listen to them on the web but this is definitely a wonderful thing.