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 2020.
Choosing an Outdoor Radio
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.
Where to Buy an Outdoor Radio
It’s harder to find a water-resistant outdoor radio than a regular DAB radio. Some places to look are listed below.
Amazon UK sells over 200 million different products, so it’s unsurprising that they have quite a large choice of outdoor radios. All of the radios mentioned in this article are available on Amazon, except for John Lewis own-brand products. Amazon sell shower radios, jobsite radios, solar radios and shower speakers.
Argos have quite a large choice of radios, including some shower radios and speakers. However, they don’t sell jobsite radios from brands such as Makita.
On eBay, you can find a lot of cheap AM/FM portable radios and Bluetooth speakers which could be used outdoors. They are often made by lesser-known brands, so they might not be especially high quality. See their selection of outdoor radios here.
John Lewis sell a good own-brand shower radio, the Spectrum Shower Radio, but apart from that most of the radios they sell aren’t particularly suited to using outdoors.
Screwfix is the UK’s largest trade tools retailer. They sell a few rugged jobsite radios that are suitable for using outdoors, including products from DeWalt and Makita. See their selection here.
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 DMR112 Li-ion DAB/DAB+ Job Site Radio
Water-resistant? Yes (IP64 – showerproof)
The Makita DMR112 is a durable FM/DAB radio with a useful carrying handle. This radio has IP64 dust and shower-proofing which means it can cope with up to 10 minutes of rain and is completely protected from dust – ideal for building sites. This slightly lower water-resistant rating means you can’t keep it out in the rain, but it should withstand being caught in the occasional shower, given that it is dried off in between.
Some of this radio’s other features include the ability to save 5 preset stations and a foldable FM antenna.
One downside to this radio is that it doesn’t come with batteries or a charger included so you will have to purchase these separately. The radio only takes Makita rechargeable batteries, which are available to buy online, but at quite a substantial extra cost. So this outdoor radio does work out as quite an investment.
The Makita DMR112 is Bluetooth enabled and has an aux-in port so you can connect it to a phone or other audio source with an aux cable. So you can pop on your favourite playlist while you camp, work or garden.
2. UEME Job Site DAB and FM Radio
Water-resistant? Yes (splashproof)
The UEME Job Site radio is a cheaper alternative to the Makita DMR112 that also comes with Bluetooth so you can stream audio wirelessly. Other features include the ability to save 20 preset stations and a splashproof casing.
This radio takes 4 x C batteries, which are easier to get hold of than the bespoke battery pack the Makita DMR112 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.
3. DeWalt DCR020-GB
The DCR020-GB is a popular FM/DAB site radio from power tool manufacturer DeWalt.
It has a rugged design and has some useful features such as a USB port for charging a phone or other portable device.
However, it’s not advertised as being water-resistant, so we wouldn’t advise using it in the rain.
This radio accepts 10.8V, 14.4V and 18V XR Li-Ion batteries, which aren’t included. You can also plug it into the mains.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t charge the batteries while it’s plugged into the mains, so you need to charge them separately.
If you already have the DeWalt batteries and a charger and don’t need something water-resistant, the DCR020-GB is a good choice. Otherwise, there are more convenient and value-for-money options out there.
If you’re camping, sunbathing or gardening in the summer, a solar radio could be a good choice. You’ll probably still need 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 into your favourite station without you having to scroll through a menu.
Read our full review of the Roberts SolarDAB 2 here.
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
Water-resistant? Yes (IPX4)
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 pretty 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
Water-resistant? Yes (IPX4)
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.
3. Majority Eversden
Water-resistant? Yes (IPX5)
This budget DAB shower radio offers great value for money.
It’s water-resistant with an IPX5 rating, which means it can be exposed to jets of water without getting damaged.
As well as FM and DAB/DAB+ radio, this product also works as a Bluetooth speaker and an alarm clock.
It has a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 15 hours, and can also be plugged into the mains.
While this radio is designed for the shower, its water-resistant design and rechargeable battery make it a good choice for the garden or anywhere else outside.
Which Outdoor Radios Have Bluetooth?
If you want to listen to music from your phone while you’re outside, you’ll probably want a radio with Bluetooth. You could keep your phone indoors away from the elements while streaming music through the radio’s speaker if the Bluetooth range is long enough.
Here are some outdoor radios that have Bluetooth:
- UEME Job Site Radio
- Makita DMR106
- Makita DMR108
- Makita DMR112
- Makita DMR200
You could also consider using a Bluetooth shower speaker. Shower speakers aren’t technically radios, though they sometimes have a built-in FM radio. Shower speakers are usually fully waterproof, so they could be good for using outside.
Which Outdoor Radios Are Waterproof?
There aren’t many truly waterproof radios. As mentioned above, you could use a shower speaker if you want something fully waterproof.
The dust- and water-resistance of any radio is measured using IP codes. IP codes are four-character codes. The first two characters are the letters IP, which stands for “International Protection”. The next character is a number which relates to dust resistance and the final character is a number which relates to water resistance. The higher the number, the more resistance.
An example of an IP code is IPX4, which means. This code has an ‘X’ in the position for dust resistance, which means that it hasn’t been tested for dust resistance. The ‘4’ means that it can withstand being splashed with water for 10 minutes.
An IP code of IPX7 means a product can be fully immersed in water, so it’s fully waterproof. Some shower speakers have an IPX7 rating (we’ve written about a few in our roundup of the best shower radios).
Some products that are water-resistant (IPX4) include the following:
Some products that are waterproof (IPX7) include the following:
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:
- Makita DMR112: A rugged dust and splash-proof FM/DAB radio and Bluetooth.
- UEME Job Site DAB and FM Radio: A tough radio with FM, DAB and Bluetooth.
- DeWalt DCR020-GB: A rugged jobsite radio that would be a good choice for tradespeople.
- Duronic Hybrid Radio: A small AM/FM radio with solar charging.
- Roberts SolarDAB 2: An FM/DAB radio with solar charging and a built-in battery charger.
- Sony ICF-S80 Shower Radio: A water-resistant AM/FM radio.
- John Lewis Spectrum Shower Radio: A water-resistant FM/DAB radio.
- Majority Eversden: An inexpensive water-resistant FM/DAB radio with Bluetooth.