Best Outdoor Radios for the Garden (UK 2018)

Whether you’re gardening, camping or just relaxing in the sun, it’s nice to be able to listen to the radio outdoors. However, you can’t just take a regular radio outside and expose it to the elements without expecting trouble.

If you want to listen to the radio outside or in a greenhouse, it’s best to invest in something a bit tougher. You might also want to think about buying a solar-powered or wind-up radio so you don’t need to rely so much on batteries.

In this article we’ll look at some of the best outdoor radios on the market in the UK in 2018.

What to look for in an outdoor radio

Here are a few features to look for in a good outdoor radio:

  • Water resistance: There are very few (if any) truly waterproof radios, but you can buy models designed to withstand rain and damp.
  • Solar charging: The UK climate isn’t ideal for solar charging, but solar charging can be useful when you’re camping and run out of batteries.
  • Bluetooth: If you choose a radio with Bluetooth, you’ll be able to stream music or other audio from your phone. This is much better than listening to music through your phone’s tinny speakers. Outdoor radios with Bluetooth usually only have a Bluetooth receiver rather than a transmitter, so they can’t be used with Bluetooth headphones.

Types of radio to use outdoors

There are a few different kinds of radio that can work well outdoors:

  • Jobsite radios: These radios are designed for construction sites. They’re very tough and are usually water resistant up to a certain point. They tend to be expensive, but there’s little chance of the radio being ruined through outdoor use.
  • Solar radios: There are several small and inexpensive portable camping radios on the market that can be charged by winding them up or using solar energy. There are also some more expensive DAB radios with solar charging.
  • Shower radios: If rain is your main concern, a shower radio might be a good choice. These radios usually have the most water resistance but aren’t as sturdily built as jobsite radios.
  • Regular radios: If you’re careful about radio, a regular portable or pocket radio could be a good choice for using outside.

Below we’ve reviewed some of the top radios in these categories.

Jobsite Radios

A jobsite radio is a good choice if you want something that is:

  • Tough and rugged
  • Splash-proof or water resistant

Here are some of the top jobsite radios for listening to outdoors.

1. Makita DMR104 DAB Job Site Radio

The Makita DMR104 is a durable FM/DAB radio with a useful carrying handle. This radio has IPX4 water resistance which means it can cope with up to 5 minutes of rain. This means you can’t leave it out in the rain, but it should withstand being caught in the occasional shower.

Some of this radio’s other features include the ability to save 10 preset stations and a removable FM antenna.

One downside to this radio is that it doesn’t come with batteries included. The radio takes Makita rechargeable batteries, which you can buy online. Another downside is that the sound is very bassy.

While it doesn’t have Bluetooth, the Makita DMR104 has an aux-in port so you can connect it to a phone or other audio source with an aux cable.

You can read our full review of the Makita DMR104 here.

2. UEME Job Site DAB and FM Radio

The UEME Job Site radio is a cheaper alternative to the Makita DMR104 that comes with Bluetooth so you can stream audio wirelessly. Other features include the ability to save 20 preset stations and a splash-proof casing.

This radio takes 4 x C batteries, which are easier to get hold of than the bespoke battery pack the Makita DMR104 uses. However, the batteries will normally only last around 8 hours, so you will want to use rechargeable batteries.

The UEME Job Site is easy to use, robust and has decent sound quality. It’s quite cheap for a DAB site radio and could be a great choice for using in the garden.

Solar Radios

If you’re camping, sunbathing or gardening in the summer, a solar radio could be a good choice. You’ll probably still to use batteries and/or spend some time winding the radio up (if applicable) as the sun in the UK just isn’t strong enough to power something like a radio on its own.

Here are some of the best solar radios for listening to in the garden or camping.

1. Duronic Hybrid Radio

The Duronic Hybrid is a compact and inexpensive AM/FM radio. It measures just 13 x 7.3 x 4.1 cm and only weighs 203 g, so it’s very convenient for camping trips.

It features a 300mAh 2.4V battery with three charging options: winding the handle, using the built-in solar panel or charging via USB. You can keep it running by just relying on cranking the handle and leaving it to charge in the sun, though you might need to fall back on USB charging at times.

This radio isn’t advertised as being water-resistant, but it’s quite tough and suitable for using outside. If you accidentally leave the radio out in the rain, it’s not too expensive to replace.

Read our full review of the Duronic Hybrid here.

2. Roberts SolarDAB 2

The Roberts SolarDAB 2 is one of the few FM/DAB radios with a built-in solar panel. It takes 3 AA batteries which can be recharged using solar power (if they are rechargeable batteries). There’s a solar level indicator which will show you whether or not the radio is charging via solar power.

The SolarDAB 2 isn’t water resistant, but it’s a good radio for listening to in the garden or greenhouse, particularly in the summer when the solar charging will be more effective.

This radio has strong DAB reception and features a useful ‘Favourite’ button which will tune the radio in to your favourite station without you having to scroll through a menu.

Read our full review of the Roberts SolarDAB 2 here.

Shower Radios

As the name suggests, shower radios are designed for using in the shower rather than outdoors. However, since they are water-resistant, they can usually withstand light rain, so they can work well in the garden.

Here are some of the best shower radios that can be used outside.

1. Sony ICF-S80 Shower Radio

The Sony ICF-S80 is a small and light AM/FM shower radio with a nice design and a useful hanging strap. The radio has an IPX4 water resistance rating, which means it’s splash-proof rather than fully waterproof. This means it should withstand light rain, but won’t withstand being completely submerged in water!

This radio takes 3 x C batteries and boasts an impressive battery life of up to 100 hours. The Sony ICF-S80 has decent sound quality for a small radio and generally good reception. However, it seems fairly expensive for a small AM/FM radio.

Read our full review of the Sony ICF-S80 here.

2. John Lewis Spectrum Shower Radio

John Lewis Spectrum Shower Radio

The John Lewis Spectrum Shower Radio is quite similar to the Sony ICF-S80, but it offers FM and DAB radio rather than AM and FM. Like the Sony ICF-S80, this radio is water resistant to IPX4 level and has a carrying/hanging handle.

The battery life is much shorter than with the Sony ICF-S80 at around 8-12 hours. However, DAB radio gives you more stations to choose from.

This radio has a stylish, modern design and is reasonably priced. Its main downside is that it has a fiddly and unusual mechanism for turning it on and off.

Read our full review of the John Lewis Spectrum Shower Radio here.

Conclusion

There isn’t a single best radio for listening to outdoors. Which radio is right for you will depend on exactly where and when you want to listen to it. Here’s a summary of the radios reviewed here to help you make a quick decision:

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