When the Internet is down and electricity connection is uncertain, we might as well lose all sort of communication with the rest of the world if not for one gadget that requires neither of these factors: a shortwave radio.
It is the shortwave radio that can be the only source of news, communication and entertainment when everything else fails.
In areas where you might not get either an Internet connection or even electricity, if you are travelling someplace exotic where civilization hasn't yet reached, the best shortwave radio is what you are going to need the most.
So if you are on the lookout for a good shortwave radio for yourself, you can find all the information required in this one article.
What is a Shortwave Radio?
The best shortwave radio works between the frequencies of 1,719kHz to 30,000kHz.
The name is so derived because these radios emit and receive relatively shorter waves than other kinds of radios, namely the AM radio that emits both long and medium waves and FM radios that emit extremely high frequencies.
However, despite these radios emitting short waves, shortwave radios can emit waves that can travel hundreds and thousands of miles around the world.
BBC World Services is an excellent example of shortwave radio service, still broadcasting at present since the 20th century, as are Voice of America and Radio France Internationale.
It was during the 20th century that shortwave radios and radio stations gained popularity, and almost every country in the world had similar broadcasting stations.
They were extremely helpful in relaying current news and information, especially during war and other emergency situations.
Even in remote locations without any electricity, internet and antennas, shortwave radios can emit its messages.
This is why these radios are mostly used for transmitting information and utility content, used by the military and defense services throughout the world.
In regular times, too, cryptic messages, morse codes and random numbers can be heard from shortwave radios, used by the military, marine communication, aircrafts and submarines, and other such organizations.
Top 10 Best Shortwave Radios
Here is a list of 12 of the best shortwave radios available in the market at present, along with all their features and specialties.
1. Eton Elite Classic Clear Sounding Radio NETLITE750
Small and compact, this is an AM/FM/LW/VHF/Shortwave radio from the Eton Store, only 5.75” x 14.65” x 7.24” in size.
With two very convenient handles on either side, it is very easy to carry this shortwave radio in your hands wherever you are, or even to attach them to a hook with your backpack.
It is also lightweight enough not to be a bother or a burden when you are hiking, camping, trekking, backpacking or visiting someplace remote.
The Eton Satellite 750 can broadcast every single radio wavelength, making it a AM, FM, LW, VHF and shortwave radio.
The extremely sensitive 360° AM antenna that can be rotated in every angle, it is easy to catch even the weakest signal and give it a bold and clear sound.
This radio ignores every kind of interference from the environment and only bring the best sound quality every single time.
This shortwave radio from Eton also comes with unbelievable memory and can save up to 1000 channels, including 100 channels for each band and 500 customizable ones. Wherever you are in the world, you can tune into all your favorite channels with absolute ease!
Additional features of this radio include dual alarm clocks and an IN and OUT audio connection for added audio devices, although the radio itself gives out a very clear and bold audio.
2. Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital Dual Conversion Radio
Portable and lightweight at only 7.3” x 1.3” x 4.45”, this digital conversion radio from TECSUN runs on both battery and charge. Black and grey in color, it looks like a traditional radio from the 20th century with a small LCD monitor and easy to use buttons and knobs.
It is also a full range coverage radio that can catch AM, FM, Longwave and Shortwave radio signals, and give you a clear and loud sound.
With the PLL synthesized digital dual conversion receiver, you can undoubtedly catch and listen to all your favorite channels and stations at all times.
This shortwave radio from TECSUN also comes with 4 and 5 selectable bandwidth filters on AM and SSB respectively, and also comes with a single side band receiver with a 10 Hz tuning step.
As an additional feature, this radio has a 24 hour alarm clock and a 0 to 120 minutes sleep timer. This radio is powered by a single 18659 Li-on rechargeable batter and comes with a built-in charger and battery.
3. Eton ELITE NELITESATELLIT Executive Radio
Only at 7.4” x 13.11” x 2.6”, this is another radio from Eton that receives all kinds of radio wavelengths, including AM, MW, FM, RDS, LW and Shortwave, or SW.
It comes with a small LCD screen and features precision automatic digital tuning or manual tuning. Extremely versatile, the Eton ELITE NELITESATELLIT can also pick up signals from VHF aircraft band and SSB sideband.
With the leather cover case, the radio will always be protected from any kind of external harm and danger, so that you can carry it along with you on your travels, hikes and treks.
This radio runs on AA sized batteries, but can be also recharged to work for a long time. It comes with a built-in alarm clock and can save dozens of stations and channels for you.
4. Kaito KA500 5-Way Powered Solar Power Radio
The KA500 from Kaito isn’t just a shortwave radio, but at the same time, this radio comes with a flashlight, a cell phone charger, a weather alert radio and a reading lamp.
This 5-in-1 shortwave radio is only 8.5” x 5” x 2.25” in size and comes with crystal clear mono sound. It runs on a hand crank generator, batteries, 5V AC/DC input, %V USB input, as well as a built-in NiMH rechargeable battery.
This makes it the perfect radio to take with you on any kind of trips and travels, hikes and camping trips.
With a single radio, you can get adequate coverage of all AM, FM and 2-band shortwave stations wherever you are in the world, with the added feature of 7 pre-programed NOAA weather channels.
Besides, with this one radio, you can also listen to dozens of other entertainment, news, sports and business related radio stations around the world.
What’s unique about this shortwave radio is that it can be used as a cell phone charger in case you need one, with the built-in standard DC 5V USB output port on the radio body.
The 5 LED reading lamp, the LED flashlight and the red LED SOS beacon light can also be quite helpful when you are on a hike, a trail, camping or trekking.
The telescopic antenna can be extended up to 14.5” which can capture the weakest of signals and give you crystal clear sound on every channel and station.
The radio is made from strong water-resistant and impact resistant ABS metal, and can last years with extensive use.
5. C. Crane CC Skywave Portable Travel Radio
Small, lightweight and portable, the CC Skywave radio from C. Crane is a travel friendly radio that is only 4.75” x 1.1” x 3” in size and weighs only 8 ounces.
Although quite small, this radio can actually capture all kinds of signals from AM, FM, NOAA weather band, Shortwave, VHF aviation and SSB stations, giving you crystal clear, bold and loud sound every single time.
The digitally tuned multiband receiver that comes built-into this radio has the utmost sensitivity and selectivity that is enhanced with multiple bandwidth settings.
You can manually or digitally tune all the stations or channels that are your favorite to listen to.
This radio from C. Crane also comes with direct frequency entry, automatic scanning and storing, 400 memories for stored stations and channels and 10 aviation memories.
As added features, this shortwave and multiple function radio also comes with a 12/24 hour clock, a lighted LCD display, an alarm clock, a faux leather case, a fold out back stand and a pair of high-quality CC Buds earphones.
On batteries, this radio can run for a total of 70 hours on earbuds, and 60 hours on the built-in speaker. The radio runs on both batteries , a CC Skywave AC power adaptor or a mini USB port.
6. Greadio Portable Shortwave Radio
Looking at the Greadio portable radio, you’ll definitely be reminded of one of the classical radios from the early 50s or 60s.
This radio looks the same at the classic radio sets our parents and grandparents were used to, but is fully digital and filled with heaps of features.
It is a AM, FM, shortwave and transistor radio that comes with a large LCD screen and a long antenna that can catch all the radio stations and signals in your area, regardless of where you are in the world.
You can use this radio to listen to all your favorite entertainment, news, sports, business and NPR channels.
Very simple to operate and use, the Greadio portable radio is only 9.4” x 2.4” x 5.9” in size, and you can change the stations and the volume simply by turning a knob.
This radio runs on AC power, DC power as well as batteries. With the convenient handle on the top, you can carry this radio anywhere, and even attach it to your backpack with a hook.
Because of the 5mm earphone jack, you can even listen to your music and news in private without disturbing others.
7. PPLEE 5-Way Powered 5000mAh best Weather Radio
If you are an outdoorsy person who loves to go hiking, trekking, camping or backpacking, then this is definitely the best shortwave radio for you.
This is not just a AM, FM and Shortwave radio, but also a 5-in-1 device that also comes with a flashlight, a USB charging port, an SOS alarm and SOS red light signal, a reading light and a compact compass.
In short, this is a device that can help you survive in the wilderness and also help other people to find you in case of a disaster.
This amazing shortwave radio can be powered with AAA batteries, a built-in 5000mAh Li-on rechargeable battery, a solar panel, a USB output, as well as a hand crank when everything else fails.
As a radio, the PPLEE 5-way radio is also amazing! It comes with 7 NOAA weather band, and can catch the signals from all the AM, FM and shortwave stations and channels around you.
Because this is a crank radio, it can be independently connected to 7 different NOAA weather channels when you are outside the house, keeping you informed of the weather and of impending natural disasters.
With the 5mm earphone jack, you can listen to your favorite channels in private although the sound quality of the radio is quite loud and can be easily adjusted with the volume knob.
The camping flashlight and the LED reading light are equipped with multiple light sources and can light up a wide area, especially helpful during camping and in the darkness.
8. MESQOOL 5000mAh Weather Radio
This is another outdoor radio for people who prefer to spend their leisure time camping, hiking, exploring or trekking.
This radio from MESQOOL comes with all the important features needed to survive in the wilderness, along with a strong antenna to catch all the NOAA, AM, FM and shortwave radio stations and channels in your area.
This outdoor survival radio also comes with a built-in power bank to charge your cell phone and other gadgets, as well as a flashlight, a reading light, and a loud SOS alarm and alert light.
The Mesqool weather radio can be powered with AAA batteries, a 5000mAh Li-on rechargeable battery, a solar crank, a micro USB input connection, and even a winding up handle for emergencies.
It can independently connect to 7 NOAA weather channels to keep you informed of your surroundings, the weather and also of any imminent natural disasters and dangers.
The loud and easily noticeable SOS light and alarm can alert others of your location when needed, and the bright camping lamp/flashlight can provide light to a wide area in the darkness.
The SOS flashing light can be quite helpful to find others when you are lost or in need of assistance, and the light flashes in a SOS morse code to make the process easier.
With the 3.5mm earphone jack, you can listen to your favorite channels in private, and the radio also comes with a pocket compass, a nylon wrist strap and a carabiner clip.
9. Retekess V115 Digital AM FM Portable Radio
One unique feature of the Retekess V115 is that this radio also comes with a recorder so that you can record your voice and save the clips in a microSD card.
This is a feature that is quite helpful but not present in most portable and outdoor radios available in the market.
Only 4.7” x 3.1” x 0.9” in size, this is indeed a small, lightweight and portable radio from Retekess that can be carried in your shirt or jacket pockets, as well as inside your backpack when you are travelling.
This radio comes with four built-in languages including Chinese, English, Spanish and Russian.
It can capture and emit all AM, FM and 9-band shortwave radio stations and channels in your vicinity clearly and confidently, with a loud and clear sound.
You can both manually and automatically tune the channels by pressing the number keys or by automatic search, jumping from channel to channel.
Changing the volume is also easy with two easy-to-find volume buttons near the bottom, as it is easy to record your voice or listen to your own recordings.
This radio from Retekess responds from 87 to 108 MHz AM, 520 to 1710 MHz FM and 4.75 to 21.8 MHz Shortwave.
Although with this radio, reception for the FM channel is the strongest, but the other channels are equally loud and clear.
With the digital radio bass sound with a built-in MIC recording, this is quite a helpful radio to have with you at all times.
10. RADIWOW SIHUADON R108 Shortwave Radio
This is a portable AM, FM and shortwave radio that also comes with the additional features of a temperature display, an alarm clock and a sleeping time alarm.
This portable radio is only 5.04” x 1.22” x 2.99” in size and can be powered with batteries, making it the right radio to carry with you on your camping and hiking trips, and your travels.
It is lightweight and small, but can receive strong signals from all AM, FM, DSP receivers with ATS, Shortwave and Air Band stations in your vicinity.
The backlit LCD monitor and the high quality radio output are helpful qualities in this radio, which also comes with an USB charger, an external antenna, a 5C rechargeable battery and a manual.
11. Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 Digital Radio
The Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 in itself looks more like a complicated machine than a simple radio, but it is actually quite easy to use. This is a professional-quality AM, FM, LW, Shortwave and NOAA weather channel radio that would be perfect for both when you are at home and outdoors.
With the automatic connection to all the NOAA weather stations in your vicinity, this is a great radio to take with you on trips, camping, backpacking or hiking trips, so that you can always listen to the weather forecast and stay aware of any imminent danger.
Besides, this is also an ideal radio to listen to all your favorite entertainment, news and sports channels.
As added features, this radio from Kaito also comes with a calendar, a dual setting alarm clock, a thermometer, a humidity meter and a thermometer.
This radio can also save 335 channels and stations for easy listening, with an AT and memory tuning, a direct digit entry and 4 tuning methods. With only 9.5” x 5.5” x 2.5” in size, this radio can be charged in 5 ways.
12. Sangean ATS-909X World Band Receiver
Lightweight, slim and portable, this is a travel-friendly radio from Sangean that can easily receive and emit strong signals from all AM, FM, LW, SW and EEPROM stations in the vicinity.
It comes with a 406 memory preset for stations and also comes with an auto tuning system.
You can actually use 5 different ways to tune in to your favorite channels with this radio: by direct frequency tuning, automatic scanning, manual tuning, rotary, memory recall and fine tuning.
This radio will automatically connect to the strongest signal when turned on, with the built-in 42 world city time plus D.S.T.device for two cities.
As added features, the Sangean ATS-909X radio comes with 3 alarm settings, so that you can wake up to your favorite station every day, an adjustable sleep timer, a built-in battery charger and individual headphone amplifiers.
How Do I Choose a Shortwave Radio?
Although there are a lot of options on the market when choosing a shortwave radio, only a few of them might be the perfect ones for you.
The right shortwave radio for your preferences and needs will depend on a few important factors, which you should definitely regard before choosing a model.
The best and the most important factor to consider would be your listening preferences, i.e. what you would use your shortwave radio to listen to, and where you would listen to them.
Some radios are manufactured solely to stay inside the house and listen to your favorite channels while others are more suited for extreme weather and the outdoors.
Certain models, like the Kaito KA500 5-Way Powered Solar Power Radio and the PPLEE 5-Way Powered 5000mAh Weather Radio are made for the outdoors.
Apart from being made from sturdy material that can withstand speed and weather, these radios come with added features like flashlights, reading lamps and SOS flashing signals perfect for taking with you on camping and hiking trips.
On the other hand, the RADIWOW SIHUADON R108 Shortwave Radio and the Retekess V115 Digital AM FM Portable Radio are radios that you can use anywhere - both outside and inside the house.
Another important factor to consider is the total range of frequencies covered by the particular radio you are considering.
Shortwave radios search for frequencies at the higher end of the broadcasting band, which is somewhere between 1700kHz and 30MHz.
Any shortwave radio that covers the frequencies in between these two numbers should be fine enough for your needs.
Fortunately, all of the radios mentioned in this article are shortwave radios and receive the frequencies mentioned above.
Radios which have a narrow bandwidth can actually reduce interference from a lot of available broadcasts in the same area.
To reduce the chances of that happening, it is important that you choose a shortwave radio that has a comparatively larger and wider bandwidth.
You will actually have the choice to select between a radio with a narrow or a wide bandwidth when it comes to shortwave radios.
At the same time, the size of the antenna is actually a sign of better reception in a shortwave radio.
The longer the antenna extends, the better your chance of being connected to more broadcasting stations, which happens with models like the Kaito KA500 5-Way Powered Solar Power Radio.
When buying a shortwave radio, you can sometimes get added features with it that are quite helpful, namely flashlights and reading lamps, SOS emergency alarms and light signals, emergency cell phone chargers, etc.
These features are present in a number of shortwave radios in this list and extremely helpful when you are away from home, in the wilderness or travelling to a remote location with your radio.
Therefore, based on all these criteria's, depending on what you need the most, you can definitely choose a shortwave radio for yourself.
Is it Worth Buying a Shortwave Radio?
Because we are so dependent on digital technology these days, mostly on our smartphones and our computers, buying something as simple and as old-fashioned as a shortwave radio might seem useless at times.
These days, we actually have AM/FM radios on our cell phones that we can listen to anytime we want, making a separate radio unnecessary.
Most people listen to the radio only when they are driving or in a vehicle these days; even then, listening to the radio has taken a backseat to listening to their favorite music CDs, audiobooks and podcasts.
However, with a shortwave radio, it’s different. These radios are quite helpful if you live in an area where electricity and the Internet might prove to be unreliable at times, or if your region is prone to natural disasters.
With one of these shortwave radios, you won’t need electricity or the Internet to listen to the news or entertainment.
A shortwave radio can, very easily, connect to any available broadcasting station in the vicinity without requiring electricity or anything else.
In case of any natural disasters when every other kind of communication gets disconnected or down, a shortwave radio might be the only way to get news or weather updates.
Even in the face of a terrible disaster, radios work perfectly well as long as some station is broadcasting them, which makes them the perfect gadgets to keep around if you live in such an area.
When travelling someplace remote, or when camping, hiking or backpacking through a remote area, a shortwave radio might still be working even when you are out of cell phone service and network.
Hikers and campers use a shortwave radio not just to stay updated of the weather and the local news, but also to entertain themselves when their smartphones are not working.
Apart from all these reasons, some people still prefer to listen to a radio the old-fashioned way rather than watch television, listen to music on their phone or anything similar.
For them, buying a good shortwave radio isn’t just worth the money, but also a good idea.
What Should I Listen to On a Shortwave Radio?
Most of the time, people buy shortwave radios because they want to keep it as a backup device in case they lose all their other communication devices.
Since we are mostly used to our cell phones, smartphones and laptops for most of our daily communication, radios are simply not in the equation of our busy lives.
However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to listen to on shortwave radios unless disaster strikes.
While shortwave radios are a great help at listening to news and weather updates, they can also be used for entertainment purposes.
The best shortwave radios can actually tune in to stations and channels from all around the world, even from countries that are thousands of miles away from where we are living.
If the weather is clear and there are no external interference, anyone can tune in to listen to music, news and programs from other countries.
When on hikes or camping, in locations where cell phone services are out of network, your shortwave radio can be your only and the best source of entertainment.
In an open clearing with no tall buildings and lot of open space, a simple and basic shortwave radio can actually tune in to hundreds of music stations, interviews, sports news, business updates, radio dramas, weather updates or talk shows.
With so many stations and channels to choose from, one or dozens of them would undoubtedly be playing something you like,
Radio France Internationale at 9.970 kHz, Radio New Zealand Internationale at 9.765 Hz, BBC World Service English at 9.740 kHz, Voice of Iran at 9.740 kHz, Voice of Turkey at 9,820 kHz - these are some of the most common news and entertainment broadcasting services that are well-known and popular in the entire world.
Besides the channels that are broadcasted around the world in almost every single nation, sometimes, people can hear other things on a shortwave radio.
This includes transmission made by various military and naval transports in the area, shipping transmissions, sailing messages, military signals, aviation and intelligence signals, as well as police car transmissions, etc.
Since these kind of military and similar groups also use the same wavelengths to transmit and receive their messages, their messages are relayed to all the shortwave radios in the vicinity.
Although these cannot be considered entertainment, some people find listening to these messages entertaining.
Are Shortwave Radios Obsolete?
Shortwave radios are definitely not obsolete although it is not the first choice of entertainment for most people these days.
Shortwave radios still have a group of faithful followers even though the number is gradually decreasing every day.
Although the number of listeners of shortwave radio aren’t as many as it was a few decades ago, most nations of the world still continue their broadcasting stations and send out news updates, music, information and entertainment regularly.
Because shortwave radios can receive signals from a great distance, these stations can connect to the shortwave radios of users from neighboring and distant countries.
Besides, shortwave radios can be a source of news updates and information when all other sources of communication fail.
Because shortwave radios aren’t dependent on electricity or the Internet, they still work fine when other modes of communication are down because of natural disasters or other calamities.
For this reason alone, shortwave radios are definitely not obsolete but can be an important mode of communication at times.
At the same time, people travelling to remote areas or people going camping, trekking, backpacking or hiking rely on the dependability of a shortwave radio to keep them updated of the weather and local news.
In areas where cell phone service might be obsolete and out of network, a shortwave radio will keep on working.
While the radio cannot be used to transmit or relay messages to neighboring radios, it can still be used to get weather news and updates.
Also, because these days shortwave radios also come with added features like flashlights and SOS alarms, they can be the ideal tool to carry with you on your travels and camping trips.
Therefore, shortwave radios are definitely not obsolete in this fast day and age, just because they aren’t used regularly, by everyone or for much.
How Far Can a Shortwave Radio Reach?
Shortwave radios can actually reach and broadcast much farther than FM radios, whose broadcasting distance is somewhat between 88 to 108 MHz.
The simplest and the most basic shortwave radios can easily, without any kind of hindrance, reach messages coming from more than thousands of miles away. Sometimes, this includes relaying messages and stations from another country or even another continent.
This is the reason, people with shortwave radios from around the world can listen to programs being transmitted from USA, Japan, New Zealand, Canada or France while living in Asia.
Do You Need a License for Owning a Shortwave Radio?
At present, no license is required to purchase or listen to a shortwave radio. Wherever you are in the world, a shortwave radio can be purchased just like purchasing a television set or a music system.
As long as the device isn’t being used to transmit messages to other shortwave radios or aren’t capable of relaying messages, it can be used safely without requiring any kind of license.
Although the use of a shortwave radio has decreased considerably in the last couple of decades after smartphones and the Internet became a part of our life, there’s no denying it’s importance in some special cases.
When all other smarter and faster modes of communication fail, it is a shortwave radio that prevails and give us the important news updates, entertainment and weather report we need to know.