Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
Best portable cb radio 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated April 1, 2020
Best portable cb radio of 2018
Based on customer reviews and my own experience with the cowboy method I’ve found the best 3 portable cb radio on the market. The best portable cb radio will make your fairytale dreams come true!
We’ve narrowed down our options based on the customer feedback (read positive reviews), functionality, material and size. In other words, we’ve put all fundamentals into consideration to come up with a comprehensive list that suits various needs. I have taken the initiative to educate you on the top three best portable cb radio that you can buy this year.
Test Results and Ratings
Why did this portable cb radio win the first place?
I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! The rear part fits perfectly! It is mounted really tight and reliable.
Why did this portable cb radio come in second place?
I really liked it. It is amazing in every aspect. It did even exceed my expectations for a bit, considering the affordable price. Seems that the material is good. It has a very beautiful color but I don’t really like the texture. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money.
Why did this portable cb radio take third place?
I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. I hope that the good reputation of the manufacturer will guarantee a long-term work. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment.
portable cb radio Buyer’s Guide
The ham radio frequencies you are permitted to use depend on which of the licenses above you have under your belt. Not all radios work with all frequencies, so make sure that you buy one which will offer you the frequencies you want to access.
Most handheld radios are limited to around five watts of power; you may find higher-powered options if you choose a base model. If you purchase a handheld, make sure it has high- and low-power settings you can manually adjust as per your needs.
For emergency communications, you will generally be using the two-meter ham band. The 440 MHz band is another that you will likely make plenty of use of. There are a couple of band-related features you may want to consider. One is dual band, which allows you to monitor two frequencies at the same time. Another is general coverage. This feature allows you not only to use ham radio bands, but also pick up AM, FM, and TV frequencies. Advanced features for bands include SSB and CW (Morse code).
If you will be using your ham radio at nighttime or in dim environments, you may want to purchase a model that includes a backlit display. Remember, emergencies sometimes happen in the dead of night. If the power goes out, you may be stuck operating in the dark. You should have the option to toggle the display light on and off so that you can conserve power when you do not need it.
This is the ability to manually program the CB radio. Most models allow you to do this using a keypad and the CB radio display. Some newer high-tech models include a cable you can hook up to a computer. This gives you access to programming software which makes it a lot easier to input what you want.
Usually when you purchase a new product, the quality of the user’s manual isn’t the top thing on your mind. But with ham radio, it is actually very important. Ham radio does have a learning curve, and if you are a beginner, you will need as much guidance as you can get.
Even if you are a ham radio veteran, you may still sometimes hit a button by mistake and find yourself in a mode you do not want to be in. Rather than having to experiment to get the radio back into the mode you want, it is helpful to be able to flip to a user manual which will tell you quickly and easily how to get back to regular operation.
Extra tough. With its rugged polycarbonate resin shell, the Yaesu VX-8DR is built to survive major disasters.
Survives water submersion. This ham radio can last for up to 30 minutes when submerged in meter of water.
Optional GPS. If you get the optional GPS antenna addon, you can broadcast your exact location, altitiude and speed.
Environmental sensors. This ham radio’s built-in sensors can monitor barometric pressure and temperature.
Wide frequency range. In addition to standard short-wave frequencies, this ham radio also picks up FM/AM broadcasts, analog TV stations, audio aircraft and public service channels.
Compass display. The integrated compass shows you what direction you’re headed on the LED display.
TYT MD-380: Excellent Quality Speakers by TYT shines when it comes to audio performance. Voices come in extra clear through its high quality speakers. Its microphones perform well too, and its built-in wind reduction system kicks in when you use this device outside. For even greater clarity, switch you can switch to digital mode.
Awesome audio quality. The audio quality that you get with the TYT MD-380 is quite impressive.
Color display. Most handheld ham radios have a monochrome screen, but this one boasts a full color LCD display.
Choose digital or analog mode. The TYT MD-380 makes it easy to switch between digital and analog operation.
Good menu system. This portable radio’s menus are easy to navigate and use.
Water resistant. Because it can survive rain, you can take the TYT MD-380 with you when you go camping.
Sends text messages. When in digital mode, you can communicate via text.
Comes with accessories. In addition to the TYT MD-380 itself, you also get a battery, a belt clip, a desktop charger, a programming cable and two different antennas.
How CB Radios work
CB radios operate using radio waves, just like VHF radios, cell phones, televisions, and AM/FM radios. Each CB radio is equipped with a long antenna, generally around feet. If you use your CB radio in your vehicle, the antenna will probably be mounted on the back of the vehicle. The antenna captures the signals and transforms them into audio which you hear through the speakers.
History of CB Radios
As mentioned previously, the FCC invented CB Radio in 194with the goal of giving individuals and small businesses a reliable two-way means of communication that wasn’t too hard to learn. CB radio reached a height of popularity during the 60s and 70s. The advent of solid-state technology allowed costs to drop precipitously.
When the 197oil crisis caused the US government to impose a nationwide speed limit of 5mph, CB radio really took off. It allowed drivers to warn one another about police cars and gas stations which were out of fuel. Over time, CB radio clubs formed and invented special jargon for on-the-road communications.
In a way, CB radio was a precursor to the anonymous chat rooms of the internet. Of course, with the growth of the internet and FRS radio, CB radio usage has declined.
Mobile vs. Handheld CB Radios
While there is such a thing as a base CB radio which you install at home, most users want CB radio for the road. There are two main types: mobile and handheld.
Mobile CB radios are relatively compact, though not as small as handheld models (see below). You can mount one directly under the dashboard of your vehicle or install it on the transmission hump. Want to reduce static from the spark plugs? Wire the radio to the battery directly.
This is the most compact option for a CB radio. As the name indicates, you can hold the model in your hand and talk, or you can set it on your dash. Handheld models are not as powerful as mobile or base units, but they do offer the best portability.
Power and Range
The FCC sets power limitations for all types of radio communication. The maximum power allowed for CB radios is four watts. There is an exception—SSB radios, which transmit on 1watts (we will delve into this in the features below). Most CB radios are limited to a maximum transmission range of around miles. Note that this is the range you get with a clear, unobstructed path between two radios. Anything that interferes with line of sight can interfere with transmission and reception.
Built-in SWR Meter
SWR stands for “standing wave ratio.” If your CB radio is equipped with a built-in SWR meter, you can measure how effectively the power signal your device is emanating is moving through the antenna. You can use the SWR meter to properly adjust your radio or maximum effectiveness.
This knob is yet another feature for reducing static. It is also known as a “clarifier control.” As you adjust it, you will notice that the pitch of the person’s voice on the other end changes. Delta tune is handy if the other person sounds “squeaky,” and you want to reduce that effect so you can make out what they are saying more clearly.
PRO505XL is a good choice for beginner CB radio users. It doesn’t have the full range of features found in professional CB devices. However, it is cheap compared to most CB radios. Plus, it’s very easy to install.
Simple installation. No need to take your car to a mechanic to install this radio. The whole installation process takes about 1minutes.
Mic sends out strong, clear signals. Even though it’s not as powerful as some CB radios, if you’re in range your transmissions will be strong and loud.
Minimalist design. The PRO505XL has less knobs and buttons compared to other CB radios. But if you’re looking for a beginner CB radio, simplicity is a good thing.
Very reasonable price tag. This radio is significantly cheaper than most CB radios on the market.
Good quality built-in speakers. The speakers are clear and loud enough to hear with your driver’s side window open.
Small, compact body. This CB is slimmer and more compact than most pro CB radios.
Inline fuse prevents electrical problems. If your radio short circuits, the fuse prevents your car’s electrical system from taking damage.
All Cobra products sport a distinctive look. The
Cobra 2LX is no exception. If you’re looking for a stylish CB radio that’s especially designed for CB radio users who like to keep track of weather alerts the Cobra 2is worth a hard look.
Switches to alert mode when there’s a storm coming. If stormclouds are gathering on the horizon, you’ll be the first to know.
Sleek design. The Cobra 2LX is the most attractive CB radio we’ve seen so far.
PA capability. A built-in PA jack allows you to make announcements as you drive if you buy a loudspeaker.
Diagnostic mode. This CB radio constantly monitors your antenna connection and alerts you of any pressing voltage issues.
Four display options. You can switch between four different colors.
Versatile. It performs well anywhere you take it.
Batteries last a long time. You can get to hours of use out of a single charge.
You can hook it up to an external antenna. Hooking up your car’s CB radio extends the 75-822’s range.
Low price. This radio costs much less than most CB radios that are built to be used in an automobile.
Accesses NOAA weather alert channels. If foul weather approaches, the 75-82fires off a short emergency tone.
This radio will not survive an encounter with pavement. The shell is made out of cheap plastic.
It’s the most common type that comes in many different sizes. It looks like a small box with plenty of knobs and a microphone attached to the front. The features depend on the models and brands, so choose the one that will fulfill your requirements.
The mobile and the all-in-handset units are the most popular choices for using in vehicles.
All-in-Handset CB Radio
Shaped like a handset, these devices are compact and ergonomically designed to feature all the controls into a small space. They are so easy to operate, and you can control all the dials with just one hand.
These radios are the most appropriate choices for smaller vehicles or for places where it will be difficult to mount a full-size unit.
Handheld CB Radio
They are walkie-talkie style units that run on batteries. Some models come with rechargeable battery packs so you can use them when you are mobile. Nonetheless, you can also use them in vehicles as most of the units have a cigarette cord and jacks for an adapter and a CB antenna.
Base Station CB Radio
These are the best devices for indoor use because they come with a built-in power supply. The units draw their power directly from a wall outlet (usually 110V). You will need a good base antenna and mount it up very high to get the optimum performance.
Get Updates on the Go
As you can install the device in your automobile, it becomes easier to get weather, travel, and traffic updates on the go. They are also effective for having warnings if there are any upcoming weather or safety hazards.
With a CB radio, you can avoid the traffic jam on the highway and plan your trip following the weather conditions.
Operate at Low Frequencies
For Urgent Situations
It’s an excellent medium of communication during emergencies. Lots of people prefer them because there’s no need to apply for a license for operating the radio. You can use the device for coordinating a response, reporting during disasters and crises, and chatting with other users while driving on the road.
In the case of CB radios, size matters. However, it’s because big units tend to be full-featured and therefore have better receivers and transmitters. They are likely to perform better than the smaller models.
The units are likely to have a public address (PA) function that helps to switch from the internal speaker to an external PA horn connected to the radio through a jack. You can transmit the broadcast over the horn in the PA mode.
The external speaker is another option that every high-quality CB radio should have. It allows you to have better reception with a clear audio at a low volume. Activating it will disable the built-in speaker.
The presence of an LCD screen is a vital factor to seriously consider when you are out there for buying the best CB radio. It displays data about free channels that you can use for transmitting the voice signals. There’s also an option that lets the user choose the information that they want the screen to show or hide.
High-quality CB radios are likely to have lots of properties. You can expect them to have weather channels that offer weather alerts right on the go. They also have switches for immediate access to two channels – Channel (for emergencies) and Channel 1(for highway/truckers).
The Channel Scanning scans all the available stations and stops after finding an active one. It is a good option for finding and tuning channels smoothly without requiring you to flip through the stations manually.
Uniden BEARCAT 980SSB
The Bearcat 980 SSB is a fully-featured radio in a compact size, a rare combination that you will see in CB radios. You can easily mount it to your car, pick-up truck, or other vehicles. It is perfect for professionals and amateurs who want the SSB feature on a CB radio.
The 2NW from Cobra is an upgraded version of the brand’s successful 2LTD model. It has come to the market with some new features and styling that the previous model does not have. It’s a great unit and one of the nicest looking Cobra radios that have ever been manufactured.
The DX 95is one of most popular and best-selling CB radios of the Galaxy brand. The unit is a bit expensive considering the competitions in the market. However, it stays ahead of the game with its large number of features and the ability to play in both the AM and SSB modes.
If you prefer to have a small radio with lots of features, the Cobra 7WXST fits the description. It’s a handheld unit that takes minimal space in a vehicle. You can hang it from the mic holder if you want to keep your hands free while driving. Stash into the glove box when not in use.
The Midland 75-82is a unique addition to the world of the two-way radios. It’s a real switch hitteras converting it between mobile and handheld radio configurations is a cinch. It nicely fits your hand but at the same time has the features of a large mobile unit with the flexibility of using battery power.
The Midland 1001Z is a compact, small unit that is ideal for both the seasoned and novice CB users. Although it’s not a fancy unit with scores of features, it covers all the 40 channels and has the basic qualities that will keep you going on the highway.
Midland 75-82CB Radio
Portable, 6AAA batteries, 40 channel coverage, NOAA weather alerts.
Handheld, 1000 channel memory, battery powered, Dual bandwidth, Weather/information alters, Alphanumeric display.
This handheld has a dual bandwidth. With an impressive 1000 channel memory, there are constant weather, information, and hazard alerts. The handheld can quickly transmit 144-14MHz and 430-470 MHz and receive 108-520 MHz and 700-999.9Mhz. Portable and easy to use: The radio is handheld and can be carried and used to scan channels easily. There is no need to it to be attached to a direct power source when using. Can be used when hiking or on the move because of the size and electricity supply.
No products found.
With an SWR Control, the Cobra 29LTD 40-Channel CB Radio allow you to calibrate the antenna to get the best transmission across all 40 channels. This radio has a full 4-watt RF power output, 9-inch microphone cord, front panel mic connector, and Cobra 40CH CB RF gain.
Unlike other radios with controls, this device has more tactile controls, allowing for easy adjustment under little to no light. But only if you memorize which button belongs where.
Other features include Antenna Warning Indicator, Adjustable Dynamike Boost, Delta Tune, Instant Channel 9, PA Capability, Switchable NB/ANL, and Talk Back.
FireStik feet II TUNABLE TIP
Another Firestik CB antenna makes this list and is not at all surprising. Firestik is known for keeping a constant level of quality across their models. This one is a heavy-duty antenna a bit on the larger side at 5’ or 15cm that features a tunable tip.
The main strong point of this antenna is the performance. After proper calibration with an SWR meter, this Firestik will allow you to get a strong reception for miles. The tuning part is actually simpler than on some other antennas but you need to be careful because the tuning knob is extremely sensitive. Even in less than optimal weather conditions, the antenna performs flawlessly and considering the size and price, this one is truly a steal.
If getting the best performance for the best price, I think it would be difficult to recommend another model than this Firestik. It’s very hard to find a better deal than this so if you’re interested, make sure you check this one out, you won’t be disappointed.
Midland Mobile CB Antenna
Established in 1972, Midland is now a major player in the industry of radio communications with a very wide and diverse range of products including CB antennas. They use the most advanced technologies for covering all kinds of communication needs. One great example of their dedication to quality is the Midland 18-2442, which is a center load mobile antenna system with a magnetic mount.
This one features a 17-stainless steel whip and with the help of a relief spring, the whip damage is minimized. The antenna uses a center-loaded coil to boost the efficiency and for optimal adherence it has a plastic coated magnetic base. It also comes prewired with cable and connector and works without any issues with all Midland Mobile Cb Radios.
As all CB enthusiasts who are just starting to get into this hobby, a CB antenna like the Midland 18-244needs to be finely tuned to run efficiently. If you follow the instructions correctly, this antenna will surely reward you with a powerful range with at least miles of guaranteed distance. Spending the extra money on an SWR meter and jumper cable could pay off in the end and that’s especially true for this antenna.
All in all, Midland did a decent job with this setup. It comes with plenty of coax cable and the magnet is very strong and reliable. It’s also quite fittingly priced considering what it offers, so you can definitely be satisfied with this one. With such strong capabilities, the Midland 18-244gains a spot on this recommended list of the best CB antennas on the market.
A decent investment, the FS-4RD CB antenna is the last Firestik product on this list, worth taking a look at thanks to a set of very balanced features. There is no need for more introductions regarding Firestik, a well-appreciated brand in the community of CB enthusiasts.
The FS-4RD is a powerful antenna when paired with a CB radio and one of its main selling points is the tunable tip. This allows for some refined calibration that brings out all the potential of the antenna so that the communications can be smooth and for distances as long as possible. So considering this, how exactly does this model fare in a real world scenario? The range is great, the performance of this antenna is actually above average with a listening range of about 20-2miles. One downside about the FS-4RD is the size, at feet, the antenna is quite long and you should be careful especially in places like underground parking lots. This, of course, is not necessarily a disadvantage as usually the longer the antenna the better the signal.
The cost of the CB radio
If you want to communicate with other effectively, then CB radio is the best choice. First and foremost, you should consider the price of the CB radio. Mostly, the price range is varying from one brand to another. So, it is very tough to find the best one.
The size of the CB radio
The second important factor is the size of the CB radio. The size is completely based on your purposes which mean if you want to implement the CB radio for your cars, buy the small size of the CB radio.
However, the people those who want to implement the CB radio in the trucks they should buy the large size of the CB radio.
Some of the CB radios come with the internal speakers so you may get the low range of sounds in high traffic. In case, if you want to get the high quality of the sounds, then purchase the external speakers. It is the best choice.
When it comes to the weight of this CB radio is quite low. So, you can implement it any of your vehicles which means you can install it in your cars or trucks anywhere you want.
However, it provides the noise blanker option. With the help of this blanker option, it can reduce the noise from the sounds.
The battery power of the CB radio
This CB radio analyzes the weather condition 2hours in a day so it will send the weather report in the case of emergency. It requires the external power to delivers the high-quality sounds so you can power on this device using the AA batteries.
Effective emergency alert
If you want to get the emergency alert of using the CB radio, then this is the exact product for you. This CB radio uses the national weather channels so it has the ability to provides the alert sounds to you while the weather conditions are in danger in your area.
Furthermore, it does not only provide the alert tone in critical weather conditions but also you can set the alarm or time to remember some special things.
Awesome weather scans
This Midland Mobile CB radio totally uses the 40 channels to communicate. It is specially designed to send the weather report effectively so it has the ability to scan the weather in 2hours completely and send the immediate report to you about the weather in your area.
Sometimes, you will get the weak signal due to some harmful disaster. At that time, you can’t able to hear the voice from other clearly. For that, this system provides the noise limiter. With the help of the noise limiter, the system reduces the unwanted background noise and delivers the high-quality of clear sounds to you.
It is made using the weightless types of the plastics so the overall weight of this system is just pound only. So, it is easy for transportable.
Uniden BEARCAT 880 Bearcat CB Radio
The main aim of this device is to view the reading in the display of the system so it offers the color of the large display to view the functions of the system. It works using the 40 types of approved channel. Moreover, it is simple to operate when comparing to the other brands in the open market.
Even, it is very easy to see the display in all bright light conditions. Additionally, this system allows to user to adjust the color of the display so you can set the colors of the display whatever you like to see.
Galaxy DX-959B Mobile CB Radio
This Galaxy DX-959B Mobile CB Radio comes with more demand in the market why because it is user-friendly. Besides, you can change the operation of the device easily in critical situations also.
Each and every button in the system comes with the separate functions so it will not confuse you to operate it. Moreover, it comes with the traditional design so you can use it for your home purposes also.
Blue attractive display
Generally, this CB radio comes with the blue and red color display so it is easy to view both days as well as nighttime. It provides the digits large LCD display screen which means you can you can view the frequency counter reading in digits and channel reading in digits.
Furthermore, it uses the GNF which mean galaxy noise filter. With the help of this filter, the system decreases the noise level and delivers the quite clear voice to communicate.
Motorcycle CB Radio
As we said in Part I, CBs’ history in the market, installed base, and simplicity are the reasons they continue to sell as the preferred BTB communication option from manufacturers. If you have a touring model or a bagger from one of the major manufacturers, chances are it has been designed to accept a CB. You can either order it pre-installed on your new bike from the factory (in the case of BMW, Harley, Honda and Kawasaki) or have it added later as an accessory. Since this type of installation is unique for each bike and is of a proprietary design, you’ll pay more, but the existing bike controls and/or integrated AM/FM radio will likely work in an well-behaved manner with the CB. Since the CB unit is usually mounted deep in the bowels of the bike, and often requires the addition of electrical filters, headphone jacks and other such electrical system refinements, installation is usually best left to the pros at your local dealer.
If your ride was never designed to accept an OEM CB unit (as is the case with many cruisers) you’ll have to go with an aftermarket supplier. But don’t despair; these solutions perform just as well. J&M; Audio makes a nice CB unit that mounts on the left handlebar, allowing use of a push-to-talk trigger and other controls while riding—just like the OEM setups. All the electronics are housed in the handlebar-mounted control unit so there’s nothing to squirrel away in the caverns of your bike. Model JMCB-2003B-DU provides a 40-channel CB radio, NOAA weather band radio, rider/passenger intercom and stereo music amplification from any portable music device, all integrated into a compact unit.
The industrious Swedes, who have given us dynamite, the adjustable spanner wrench and the PC mouse, have most recently given us Bluetooth. As we pointed out in Part I, Bluetooth was originally meant for short distance wire and cable replacement. Several vendors, such as J&M; Audio and Chatterbox, also build Bluetooth devices primarily for short range cable replacement. Bluetooth is also often integrated with other BTB communication technology to facilitate communication to devices like GPS units, digital audio players and phones. However, in this dedicated Bluetooth section, we’re talking about products that use Bluetooth technology primarily for longer range two-way radio communication in place of a GMRS/FRS or CB radio. Sena Technologies and Cardo Systems are just two of the manufacturers that have augmented the basic Bluetooth capabilities to allow for longer range BTB communications, and they also offer high quality products in this class. Both are helmet-mounted units, and both can link up with a multitude of other devices, such as your GPS for voice navigation, audio players for music, or a passenger’s unit for intercom capability. Both units claim 12–1hours of usage between charges and take 2–hours to fully recharge.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your portable cb radio wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of portable cb radio
- №1 — C Crane CC Skywave AM
- №2 — GES NET Mini Digital AM FM LCD Radio Speaker
- №3 — Midland 75-822 40 Channel CB-Way Radio