Great CB Radios Introduction
Survivalists, preppers, homesteaders, and those who want to be prepared for any emergency require a stable radio connection. Portable CB radios, also called handheld CB radios or walkie-talkies, are small devices that allow their owners to communicate using available channels or frequencies. These walkie-talkies can also catch the NOAA weather channels. They are found in almost any survival gear list and enhance convenience on the road by letting drivers listen to the portable radio and check the current road conditions — such transmissions help avoid traffic jams or car accidents, which is why CB radios are so popular among drivers.
In addition, these devices are preferable in emergencies. At least, that is what many users say. Of course, having a cell phone is great, but sometimes it is out of signal, and you cannot contact anyone in the external world. The compact CB radios were invented for these situations when your smartphone is useless because of a low battery or lack of signal.
Best Handheld Portable Radio Picks
There are many situations in which the best handheld CB radio can come in handy, especially in emergencies when cell towers may be out. There are various channels you can go to, and many people have a particular channel they choose ahead of time where they will” “me “t” friends and family for communication. Let us consider the best CB Radio options available on the market today.
This model is a far-reaching mobile radio device you can use to track the pending of horrible weather and be prepared for such in advance. To do so, you won’t need to do anything literally — the system is fully automatic.
This appliance also boasts multiple convenient charging possibilities. Here are they enlisted below:
- You can charge it through the process of cranking.
- Also, the Sun can help you out on that.
- A battery is also an option. Use the 18650 one.
- Rechargeable batteries again.
- A pretty regular adapter: MINI USB to AC.
- Your personal PC USB port will also do!
As to the lighting, the technology applied in this model brags 5 LED lamps to embrace comfort and harmlessness for reading what’s written on the screen. Overall, there is an inbuilt LED flashlight to use in case of emergency.
What is also cool about this radio model is that it incorporates an advanced Digital Face technology to track the whereabouts of the radio’s tuning. The device is pretty straightforward, and there are usually no difficulties using it, even without former experience.
- Dimensions: 9.5 inches x 5.5 inches x 2.5 inches
- Weight: 2 lbs.
- Features: The data is absolutely relevant, as the device keeps a constant connection with the National Weather Channel’s Emergency Alert System. This, in turn, is supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association for you to make it possible to tell where the horrid weather front is coming from.
Here is one more specimen of the best portable handheld radios that we chose for our top list in 2022. This one is also really appreciated by many survivalists and campers out there for its stable work and helpful features, which are so crucial in emergencies.
Let us consider its main specs and discover the benefits over the competition.
As to the portable radio’s charging options, it encompasses five of these:
- A cool solar-powered panel allows recharging the radio right from the Sun.
- If you prefer annual recharge, this survival radio model has a dynamo crank!
- As is the case with many such radio models, this one provides the opportunity for charging from the USB port.
- If you have three AA batteries, you will recharge this Kaito KA500 Solar Survival Radio without any difficulty absolutely anywhere.
- Not necessary to mention that this radio also has an AC Adapter compatibility, so you can recharge it this way, too.
Its maximum output is 200MW, and it is fully compatible with most Android-based telephone models.
Let us see some other options this survival radio model. The users can get access to the full spectrum (seven bands) of the NOAA service providing weather forecasting in live mode. Also, this device has an incorporated 5-LED flashlight in case you might need one in the wilderness. As a perk, you can even recharge your telephone via this radio’s output. In the pack, you get the radio itself, a USB adapter, and, of course, the written instruction to help you out if anything goes wrong.
All in all, this model embraces the features of the best weather band, wind up, and solar radios there exist.
- Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 2.6 inches
- Weight: 1.8 lbs.
- Features: AM, FM, SW1, SW2
The first CB radio we will look at is the Uniden 40-Channel Radio. This unit is perfect for long road trips when you might need to communicate with others. It features instant channel nine settings so that you can dial up that emergency channel with ease.
The signal/RF power indicator lets you check the relative strength of incoming transmissions, which can tell you how close you are to the person you are talking to on the mobile radio.
Next is the Cobra 29 LX 40-Channel Radio. One of the most updated CB radios that Cobra offers, the specs include a stunning multicolor digital display spanning the majority of such CB radios face offering information on the CB radio’s current channel, signal strength, and SWR levels, and more. Since the display is so large, it can be seen with ease at night and set to blue, red, amber, or green as color options.
Another awe-inspiring feature of the Cobra 29 LX is its 10 NOAA weather channels with automatic scanning and alerts that will keep you up to date with any severe weather events that you might need to know about. Channel scanning allows you to scan for active channels while a range of diagnostic features provides information on RF power, battery voltage, and antenna condition.
- Dimensions: 7.25 x 9.25 x 2.25 inches
- Weight: 5.6 pounds
- Features: Inst. channel 9, 19, and weather channels, memory channel, PA, Radio check diagnostic.
This portable radio unit also has a PA capability as well as instant weather channel scanning, clock, timer, alarm, a nine-foot microphone cable, and a memory channel feature.
The Midland 1001Z 40-Channel Radio is a handy, affordable little unit that will do just what you need it to do. The 40-channel, 4-watt radio is perfect for first-time users as well as seasoned CB users alike. The CB/PA switch allows you to use the mobile radio as a public address system when paired with an external speaker. Reception sensitivity is adjusted easily with the RF gain control and allows for clear emergency communications without any background noise. It is the perfect size to install in any car, truck, or RV.
This Midland is a great long-range mobile CB radio.
- Dimensions: 5 x 7 x 2 inches
- Weight: 2 pounds
- Features: 4 watts of power, squelch and RF gain control, locking microphone connector, instant channel 9
Since four watts is the maximum wattage allowed by law for a radio, you can trust that you will have the most powerful one around with this unit for the best communication range.
The Midland 75-785 40-Channel Handheld CB with an external antenna is a 7-watt input, 4-watt output handheld CB that features all 40 channels, just like a regular portable CB radio.
You can power this device with 9 AA batteries or the cigarette lighter DC adapter. The charge jack allows the NiCad batteries to be recharged without removing them from the device. This dependable little unit with an antenna features an automatic noise limiter as well as squelch control to allow for better reception and a lower background noise threshold.
The durability of this device allows you to take it just about anywhere since it is made of such a rugged construction.
Even though it is smaller and handheld, the features are all still there, including the maximum 4 watts allowed by law, for great reception and range with the help of the antenna.
- Dimensions: 7 x 2.25 x 2 inches
- Weight: .55 pounds
- Features: Small and handheld, 7-watt power in, 4-watt power out, 40 channels, different powering options, automatic noise limiter, and squelch control.
The bright LED display allows you to see with ease the information displayed on the CB radio, and it also features a high/low power switch to trim power when you want to save the charge or your batteries to use the radio long-term.
Finally, we have a compact Cobra handheld CB radio. This is another handheld radio model, just like the Midland 75-785, but with a few more options. Along with all 40 channels of the CB, it also features ten weather channels to keep you alert if there are emergency weather situations. The dual watch and full channel scan allow you to constantly scan for activity with a range of up to four miles or more. The high/low power switch can be used to reduce power consumption, while the sound tracker system cuts noise by up to 90 percent, which is a great feature for a handheld radio for your convenience.
- Dimensions: 2.5 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
- Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Features: Soundtracker system, NOAA weather and emergency radio, channel scan, dual watch, 4-watt power output, battery (9AA), or DC operation.
In addition, the Cobra HH comes with a belt clip, wrist strap, antenna, 12-volt cigarette lighter plug, and a handy operation manual.
Four More Portable CB Radio Models for Truckers and Hikers
Let us consider some more of the best portable handheld CB Radios available on the market today! Let us find out the points these models stand out for, as well as look into some cons that, perhaps, one can find in any a product there exist; portable CB radios are no exclusion.
For those keen on road tripping or camping far off the city, there is one solid option among the best CB Radios. This model incorporates the properties of the most popular mobile CB radios on the American market and beyond.
We have enlisted four more portable CB Radios for you to make your decision balanced and goals satisfied. Have a look:
1. Cobra HHRT 50 Portable Handheld CB Radio
There are situations in which the radio — even the expensive one — is incapable of either transmitting or receiving signals. Case in point: once you are trying to do either through your car’s metal frame. The answer is pretty simple: it is by FCC law that such portable CB radios should have a power output of less than four W.
As you can see, on top of the radio, there is a solid-looking antenna placed externally up there to provide a better signal. However, not as good as to make any amplification changes as to your signal. But the good news is that this antenna can actually make it possible to transmit and receive signals through the car’s frame.
There is also a powerful sound tracking system aboard. It helps reduce, according to the tests’ results, up to 90 percent of all the buzzes and noises on the channel so that you can enjoy the clear usage.
Moreover, there is a feature that truly makes this portable CB radio stand out among the competitors. It is the Dual Watch feature that makes it possible to track two channels at the same time.
Low power/ high power options are present here too. By manipulating these, you can easily make your battery last for longer periods. As to the power source, AA batteries are compatible with this Cobra HHRT50 portable CB radio model. You can recharge them, as well, and they go in the main package, though. Besides the batteries, you can use a DC wire, which can also be connected to your car’s lighter inside.
The mic is pretty awesome, too. It boasts an extensive scope of frequencies, and it can pick them from several different directions. All at once.
The range of this mobile handheld CB radio model is as wide as four miles. Depending on the location— and the land’s properties— the range may differ.
Cobra HHRT 50 portable CB radio Pros & Cons
- 40 channels full coverage
- Eternal antenna
- Batteries onboard
- Good mic
- Weather Tracking
- Dual Watch
- Compatible with external appliances
- Outdated batteries format
- No memory
- Inconvenient antenna
- Location-dependable range
2. Uniden PRO501HH Mobile CB Radio
At times when the conditions for using a CB radio are favorable —what I mean here are the listening conditions. If you want to get these conditions to the level of clearness as that of a crystal, have a look at this portable handheld CB radio model. You can also use it with earphones that you need to connect to the speaker jack, located externally.
Atmospheric conditions, in this case, are also a point of concern if we speak about this model. This model has a firm antenna that can enlarge the signal’s power. And it can also be upgraded by the owner.
This portable handheld CB radio model is sized by Squinch Control and Noise Limiting features that help reduce unpleasant sounds on channels.
The LCD display of this mobile CB radio is pretty good: it provides the opportunity to see what’s on it all day and night round. The max output is 4 W. The maximum range is five miles here, too.
Uniden PRO 501HH portable CB radio Pros & Cons
- Noise limiting features
- 40 channels
- 10 NOAA channel coverage
- Dual Watch
- Great display
- Rechargeable batteries
- Switchable power settings
- AUtomatic scan option
- Antenna appeals not to everybody
- Small transmission range
- The looks
- Short-lived battery
3. Midland 75-822 Handheld CB Radio
Here is one more good example of the best portable CB Radios I could find on the web. The Midland 75-822 portable handheld CB radio is a great system for those who like quality products for reasonable prices.
You can source them with six AA batteries; also, there is an opportunity to plug it in your car’s cigarette lighter that you surely have out there. The adaptor is included in the box, by the way.
The scanning range is 40 channels, and the output is just the same — 40 W due to regulations concerning portable handheld CB radios. Dual watches are on board here, too. Also, you can access emergency channels quite easily and quickly. You can use your antenna and mount it on the car, as well as use the portable CB radio model’s antenna.
Another good point is that the radio remembers the last channel, which most of this range CB radio models usually lack. Moreover, the battery lasts long term; you can get yourself a full six-pack of AA batteries with you if you plan to travel way too long. You can use a speaker and a mic simultaneously, which is nice.
Midland 75-822 portable handheld CB radio Pros & Cons
- Changeable antenna
- Memory capacity
- Lock function onboard
- Good noise limiting features
- Dual Watch is really convenient
- The screen could be better
- The basic antenna is low-power
- The bulky looks
4. Cobra HH50WXST Mobile handheld CB Radio
As to this portable handheld CB radio model, it looks pretty bulky, but the output of power is only 4 W, and four miles is the top range it can provide. Sometimes, they say, it reaches five miles, depending on the land and weather conditions. The signal can be amplified if you use one more antenna separately from the basic one.
This Cobra mobile handheld CB radio also keeps the memory about the last channel, which is awesome, compared to no such feature in many other popular CB radio models.
The battery can last for up to 30 days, and there is a sound tracking system that helps reduce the noises on the channels. By the way, the batteries can be recharged. You can also connect it to your car’s 12 V port.
You should use the car-mount antenna to reach higher levels of sound and signal range. There are 40 channels available for reach.
The mic here is awesome, too. There are ports for both speaker and microphone. To complete the 40-channel scanning, this little jigger needs only four seconds. And the Dual Watch feature makes this mobile handheld CB radio one of the best among the likes.
Cobra HH50WXST mobile CB radio Pros & Cons
- Ergonomy in design
- Quick scanning
- Dual Watch
- Long-lasting batteries
- Nice display
- Memory remains
- 40 channels range, with 10 NOAA ones
- Low-power antenna
- Too many batteries needed
- Fluctuating transmission range
Mobile Handheld Radio Variations
The CB abbreviation stands for a Citizens Band radio. Handheld CB radios vary based on certain features that make these exact radios different from others of the range. Some models gained popularity for their long service, others — for their signal quality. Getting such a transceiver remains to be a smart solution because if you look for a device for emergency communications, mobile phones are not always able to satisfy this need. Many of the compact CB radios are waterproof, which cannot be said about mobile phones. Ham radio is a way different story, but you have to consider using them as ll. They have longer-serving batteries (many handheld CS radios can operate on the battery pack or rechargeable batteries). And generally speaking, they are cheaper — you pay once and use them for years, and you do not need to pay monthly fees for the mobile phone lines.
In this article, we will take a closer look at different models representing the handheld CB radio, or, in other words, CB radio.
Best Portable Radios Compared: CB VS HAM
Pay attention to the text, and we will focus primarily on the CB radios. Some people might be wondering if handheld CB radios and ham radios have much in common or not. Even though they both follow the same conception of audio transmission, these radios differ quite a lot.
First of all, an ordinary mobile CB radio found in many a survival sack usually uses AM frequencies to transmit messages from one user to another via a clear microphone and speakers. In contrast, a ham radio sticks to FM for this purpose. For better or for worse, users claim that FM frequencies have much clearer and cleaner transmission than AM do.
Besides, the antenna systems vary from radio to radio, and these two types of radios definitely have different antenna systems. To make the antenna function well on the CB radio, it has to be tuned very well. Unfortunately, it often takes quite a lot of time (and effort) to tune the antenna on a CB radio, and this might not be very pleasant. And, because the handheld CB radios operate only when they manage to connect two users (you have a portable radio and your friend has a portable radio of one complect — then you can communicate with each other), the antenna of your friend (or any other user) has to be tuned well too. So, even if you have a perfectly tuned antenna, you still might face difficulties communicating with others.
Now, let us consider some of the best CB radio options available on the market today.
My favorite pick of these five CB radios is the Cobra HH 38 WX ST radio. While it is a handheld, there are many places you can use this radio that you cannot use the mountable radios that stay in the vehicle. With this model, you can still use it inside a vehicle, but in the event that you need to exit that vehicle, you can take this communication device with you. This makes it a great hybrid radio: it can be a good radio for drivers of trucks or for campers and hikers. And since it has a four-mile range, you know that you can get in touch with someone from almost anywhere.
Unlike the other long-range handheld CB radio model that we looked at today, this one features the 10-channel weather and emergency radio that is built-in.
Of all the ones mentioned in this article, this would be the best across a wide variety of situations, so if you aren’t going to be mostly in a car or mostly on foot, you might want to choose this one. It is a wonderful addition to a bug-out or EDC bag for quick access when you need it.
CB Radios Takeaway for Preppers
Now you have a deeper understanding of what the CB radios actually are, what features they might obtain, and which versions are the best on the market.
What kinds of the best radios exist?
But, for you to know, handheld CBs are not the only possible options. Basically, there are three main types of portable radios.
1. Handheld device
- Handheld devices are used to stay in touch while doing some active activities, like walking on a huge territory. These models are frequently used in such games as airsoft to communicate to other teammates or while hiking.
2. Mobile unit
- A mobile unit is a device that often has a plug-in antenna (or an external antenna) attached to your vehicle. Having an antenna increases your chances of catching better signals.
3. Base station
- People usually place base stations at home. This mechanism also has an external antenna that is usually located on the roof. An external antenna can turn out more beneficial in some cases.
CB Radios: things to consider in 2022
However, before buying a CB radio, you have to consider several issues. Pay attention to the list below:
Do I need An FCC license to use a CB?
Do you have such a license? If you do not, this is not a problem for people who intend to buy a CB. But, if you are “ham-fa,” you will have to get the license first.
Why even buy a portable CB?
Just because the CB radios are rather popular, some people get them simply because of the herd instinct. Of course, it is not prohibited to obtain one or more devices, but to avoid useless spendings, think if you need a CB or Ham radio or not. Do you drive a car? Do you play team games on large territories? Do you have kids to stay in touch with them on the walk? How often do you actually leave the house? Answer these questions to understand if this purchase can satisfy your needs.
What Mobile Radio type fits me?
When you realize that you definitely have to get a portable radio, choose the one that will meet your expectations in the best way. Should it be a mobile unit? Or maybe the handheld device will be the best option?
What CB Radio Features to look for?
Finally, when you define the type you need, think of the features you would like your device to have. Should it have a front mount mic or an Omni-directional microphone? What about the power cord? Having a fixed power level, which distances would you like it to cover? How many channels would you like to be able to scan? Does it have an antenna for better signals?
All features matter — small pieces of the puzzle create a unified picture.
Portable CB Radios for Safe Connection
In the modern world, many of us rely on cell phones. The majority of them are already “smart” — smartphones — they have access to the Internet, you can get any information you might need in seconds, and you can contact your relatives and friends easier than decades ago. But, in the case of emergencies, the smartphones might not be working at all. The battery might run out, the phone might be drowned in the water, or the phone signal might just not get through.
How can you stay in touch with your family or friends? What should you use? Small signals are quite outdated, do not you think so?
Luckily, now you do have a solution. Getting a CB radio for you and your loved ones might be one of the smartest decisions you have ever made.
Great Mobile CB Radios Purchaser’s Checklist
In this part, let us have a look at the most crucial features you should care to look for in the best portable CB radio models on the market before you find the right one!
Best Handheld CB Radios Transmission Range
Well, as you know, communication is what these mobile radios are made for. Small surprise that hikers, hunters, anglers, and all really like using CBs, and for a reason, though. The transmission range should be as high as you need, depending on the distance between the two speakers.
Generally, for hiking or hunting, the need for a high-range radio is scarce. Opt for ones with longer antennas: they have better transmission features.
CBs with Channel Scan Options
As a rule, the best portable CB radios provide access to 40 channels. If you do it by hand, it can ruin all the experience. Therefore, opt for those mobile CB radio models that have automatic scanning capabilities.
This feature is really helpful in emergency situations when time is running out, so you need to get the connection as soon as the radio catches a signal. It is also a great helper for those who are at the wheel and can not get distracted a bit.
Portable Radios with Quick Emergency Access
Most drivers truly appreciate portable handheld CB Radios for the ability to get the needed emergency channels in a frame of a second. The 40 channels we discussed earlier can include these emergency channels, too. Not only does it help to find these crucial channels quickly, but it also helps switch to them in a moment.
Great CB Radios’ Noise Limiting Features
When your portable CB radio has an automatic noise limiter, it is only good: the sound is clear, and your ears and nervous system are intact.
Ensure your mobile handheld CB radio has this feature unless you want to suffer from unclear sound in a survival situation.
CB’s Squelch Control Options
If you want your portable handheld CB radio system to fit your goals and expectations, mind that it has the squelch control.
It will provide you with the opportunity to send out clear sounding for better understanding by your companion.
Mobile CB Radio Display
A well-lit display is a good thing for any device. As to the portable CB radios, it will be so much more convenient to be able to read what’s on it day and night than to have to squint trying hard to make out what’s written up there.
Large screen. Good light, ample fonts — these features will be really helpful.
CB Radio Battery Capacity
Usually, the maximum time frame for a mobile CB radio’s batteries is around ten to twelve hours. The best portable handheld CB radios usually come with rechargeable batteries, which is awesome for your budget for the long term.
Accessory-Compatible CB Radios
This is also a very important point. Many portable CB radio models can be compatible with a wide range of different appliances, such as external microphones, earplugs, antenna, speakers, and so on.
If your CB radio system can be connected to one of these, good for you!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the range of a handheld CB radio?
When choosing from the best CB radios, you might get lost because of the variety of ranges these devices can provide you with. In general, you can count on a one-mile range for your radio between your vehicle and the vehicle of your partner. But, if you add an external antenna, you might increase the range significantly. For instance, some handheld CB devices might guarantee a range of three miles, whereas more advanced CB radios come with a range of up to 20 miles.
How much do CB radios cost?
You can count on a working compact radio if you are ready to pay at least 100 dollars for the device. The cheapest, nicely working CBS cost approximately 70 dollars. Usually, the relationship is direct: the more expensive the CB radio is, the more advanced and high-quality it is. Some of the professional radio representatives might cost up to 1000 dollars. Usually, the more necessary basics the radio includes, the higher its price. Try to pick the handheld radio with an external antenna, a built-in SWR meter, a dual watch function, and a belt clip, if possible.
What are CB handheld radios good for?
People widely operate portable CBs for different purposes. Such a radio is a nice helper in traveling, and it can connect you to an NOAA weather channel for you to “stay in touch” with the current conditions. Depending on the range the portable radio can provide, you can talk to other users, which your device can access. Switching from channel to channel, you can get information to avoid car accidents or traffic jams. That is why the “CB word” remains to be so popular even nowadays.
What are the main differences between CBs and Ham radios?
Ham portable radios and CBs have different power capabilities. Usually, a handheld ham can function just as well as your full-powered CB in the car.
But, CBS remains to be a popular choice among drivers for two key reasons. First of all, you do not need an FCC (Federal Communication Commission) license to obtain a CB radio, and a ham radio does require such a license. Second of all, CBS is considered to be a cheaper version, and this characteristic is usually of great value. You can get a handheld CB radio to talk to your friends or other drivers on the road and stay connected to the “CB world.”