The Ultimate Bikepacking Radio to Stay Connected on the Trails
| Reuben Howe
Bikepacking backpackers, advocates for adventure and fitness fanatics; come one, come all! Bikepacking has taken off in the last years, and has seen a hugely diverse array of sportsmen and women as well as birdwatchers and CO2-savers all take to their bikes and explore the country.
Whether you’re riding to see the world, drink in the vistas and encounter the wildlife or simply get from A to B in a unique and grounded way, Bikepacking is a hobby with many benefits. The ride is something you can truly make your own, that’s the thing, and choosing which gadgets you bring in your precious weight limit will change from cyclist to cyclist. Bikepacking Scotland and Wild Camping the Lake District are very different packing lists!
One thing we believe all Bikepackers should have, however, is a compact and light radio. Find out why a radio is a necessity for Bikepacking gear, and how you can get the most out of your limited carry weight on the long roads and rough trails.
Why Does Bikepacking Carry Weight Matter?
Firstly, a primary reason why an all-inclusive radio is a must is the limited weight you have available. While bikes are sturdy and of course load-bearing, there’s only so many saddlebags and backpack space you have before you’re making the cycling cumbersome.
Overstuffing bags creates an issue of physical space, where the bags can clip against your legs or wheels on tighter, adrenaline-fueled turns. Avoiding this is paramount to your safety and efficiency while cycling, so if you can get “all-in-one” gadgets then you’re saving valuable space, which in turn could save you a world of hurt.
Alongside the dimensions of your packs is the weight. While every cyclist is different and “slow and steady” is certainly a great way to go for a long, hearty trip filled with cooking and camping, some first-timers might want to minimise. Reaching into the 50+ Kilogram range can be excessive, and Bikepacking can be achieved with as little as 25 Kilogram total weight.
Ultimately, it’s up to you what matters enough to accept the extra weight, and how fast you want to be cruising around as well as how comfortable and homely you want camp to be. You set your own goals and objectives, and have your own reasons for being out here, so think about what you prioritise.
Why Do You Need a Bikepacking Camping Radio?
With so many features crammed in to such a small box, the MB290 radio has many benefits for Bikepacking:
Saves Weight and Space. Conserve Weight and Space by combining multiple functions
Stay connected. Keep in-touch while out on trails and camping
Personal Soundtrack. Ground yourself with your own music over Bluetooth
Unlimited recharging. Access to a power bank via hand-crank can recharge your entire Bikepacking Setup
Bright Torch for Safety. In-built Torch can signal from hundreds of meters away and help with camping
The Best Bikepacking Radio 2023
We have seen how saving space, weight, and having gadgets that suit multiple priorities or purposes are all vital to Bikepacking for beginners. Now, the gadget of the hour comes in…
DAB, DAB+ and FM Reception Telescopic Aerial
The least your radio should do is cover modern digital and analogue radio reception. DAB and DAB+ are widely available across the country and parts of Europe, while FM radio can be manually tuned to frequencies anywhere in the world provided you know the range to scan.
These stations are clear, crisp, and stable. Whether you need some chill vibes as you cruise down a hillside path or need to get pumped for the last mile before camp, having access to the 100s of stations on DAB and FM is invaluable.
3 Brightness LED Rechargeable Torch
Perhaps the most important auxiliary feature of this radio is the torch. Even if you’re a cyclist who prefers silence and that tangible connection to nature you get while Bikepacking, this radio still has something for you.
The LEDs in the front span 3 different brightness’ and can be activated all at once to bathe an area in light. Setting up a camp or packing up a stove is no longer a panic, as you have a light with you that barely weighs 400 grams. For those wondering if bringing a tent lantern was wise, you can have a reliable and lightweight alternative built in to your radio!
The next best thing is that this torch, can never run out…
Rechargeable in 3 Ways on the Road
Relying on mains power and batteries, even rechargeable ones, is a huge crutch for a Bikepacker. To truly be free, you need to have self-sufficient devices. While you have to carry battery packs, gas, oil and more for other equipment already, the MB290 camping radio needs nothing else.
The MB290 has 3 charging methods built-in, and 2 of them are completely independent from mains or even battery power:
Hand Crank Dynamo. That’s right, it’s a wind up radio! Except, because of the added features crammed into the box it’s also a hand-crank flashlight and a rechargeable Bluetooth speaker, too. Having access to unlimited kinetic charge is almost a necessity for Bikepacking where power can be scarce.
Solar Panel Charging. While not the largest panel on the planet, the small solar panel radio does maintain itself and keep itself alive between uses. If left un-used, the solar power radio can even fully charge in the UK! Stick it somewhere with the panel facing outwards from your back and enjoy passive charging all day.
USB-C Fast Charge Cable. The more traditional USB-C fast charge cable is the 3rd option, and relies upon a powered USB port. If you have a power bank or socket access then this is the fastest way to charge up before the next leg.
Bikepacking Power Pack
On top of all those charging methods, are ways to use that charge. Alongside the radio and torch the MB290 has an output USB port. This means you can juice up a phone, tablet, camping light and other Lightweight Bikepacking gear straight from your portable radio. Having so much versatility in one little gadget is what makes this thing so good for Bikepacking, giving you the freedom and independence to just go and never stop.
Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
The final use of this light, 426-gram radio is the Bluetooth connection. Instead of using radio as an audio source you can connect any Bluetooth device like your phone or tablet. Enjoying your own bespoke playlists while chugging away at a route or frying up a storm of oil and mushrooms is a unique experience that Bikepacking provides. Enhance your trips with whatever audio you choose, whenever you want!
Make Bikepacking Your Own
However you choose to load up your bike and whatever route you choose to take, the most important thing is that the experience is yours. Play the music you want, light the way with the torch and recharge all your chosen gadgets on the go with the solar and kinetic power bank. No matter your style and pace or choice of tech, the MB290 is a valuable addition to your kit which is why we recommend it as the best Bikepacking Radio of 2023.
The fact that even if you don't use the radio functions themselves, you still get a great torch and a fully self-sufficient power bank makes the MB290 easy to recommend, and once you've used it you'll have it as a permanent fixture in your saddlebag!
Now, stop reading and start cycling, there's a world out there waiting for you...