Small shortwave radios are the cheap and easy solution when there’s not much room left after the essentials have been packed or you don’t want to risk the loss or any damage to one of your beloved more expensive receivers.
With the more pocket sized portable radios you do lose some of the specialized features that a fully digitized set brings but considering all of the models on this page can be purchased for around $20, its a lot safer than submitting a $200 plus receiver to the rigors of traveling (or camping).
All with manual tuning and splitting the frequencies between multiple selectable bands these radios don’t give continuous coverage and checking exactly where the gaps are is important to make sure they don’t cut out your favorite DX frequencies.
Kchibo KK-1012 Shortwave Radio
Frequency Coverage : 5.85-22.10 (with gaps), 530-1600KHz(MW), 82-108MHz(FM), 56-73MHz, 174-223MHz
Power Source : 3V Mains Adapter or 2x AA Batteries
Dimensions : 435 x 305 x 28mm
Weight : 210g
Kaito KA321 DSP Shortwave Radio
Frequency Coverage : 5.700-21.950 (with gaps), 522-1710KHz(MW), 64 – 108MHz(FM)
Power Source : 5V Mains Adapter or 2x AA Batteries
Dimensions : 4-3/4 x 2-3/4 x 5/8 Inches
Weight : 181g
DEGEN DE321 DSP Shortwave Receiver
Frequency Coverage : 5.70 – 21.95 (with gaps), 522-1710KHz(MW), 64-108MHz(FM)
Power Source : 2x AA Batteries
Dimensions : 12.2 x 7.2 x 2.3 cm
Weight : 115g
Our personal choice would be the Kchibo KK-1012 purely for its ability to receive sections of the VHF band. The 174-223 MHz slot isn’t that useful but there are still some interesting PMR and HAM transmissions in the VHF low slot 56-73 MHz.
Power requirements are low on all these radios, mainly because their not overburdened with displays and other features that are going to drain the batteries quicker.
Once you take the radio receiver out of the equation the audio amplifier running the front speaker is going to produce the most current drain. This can be cut back by using a pair of in ear “bud” headphones.
External Wire Antennas
We always find with any portable shortwave radio that an external antenna or even just a few foot of wire wrapped around the telescopic will do wonders for reception. These antenna setups are as compact as the radios themselves, making it ideal for traveling and can be put up very quickly.
The wire used in the antenna doesn’t have to be anything special and you can even get away with using a few feet of thin gauge electrical wire or maybe some bell wire. To avoid getting in a mess with longer lengths of wire I like to find something to wrap it around before packing it away.