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The best CB radios offer great range, audio clarity, and are a breeze to use regardless of setting. They're a great way to stay in touch with friends whether you're hiking, drifting on a tube down a river, or in the midst of a multicar epic road trip. They're also very handy in a number of emergency situations.
Our top choice, the Cobra 29 LX at Amazon, satisfies all those prereqs and has a ton of advances features as well. It covers all 40 CB channels, and has 10 NOAA weather channels to stay on top of conditions locally and nationally.
For an alternative crisis radio solution, our list of the best emergency radios has you covered, or read on for the best CB radios currently available.
With an outstanding range of 13 miles, the Cobra 29 LX is one of the most innovative models ever produced in the category. All 40 CB radio channels are available, while active channel scanning helps narrow down user preferences to tune in the channels of your choice quickly. Additionally, the Cobra includes 10 NOAA weather channels for listening and adds detection/alerts for any abnormal weather conditions.
The multi-color display allows you to see transmission level, battery power, time and frequency level, while the speaker delivers some of the best sounds in the category. As an added bump in functionality, the Cobra doubles as a PA system as long as you have a separately purchased PA speaker.
With an easy-to-read, seven-color display, the Uniden BEARCAT CB 980SSB CB radio is great if you're looking for something very compact. It comes with mounting brackets for professional-type vehicles but is also perfectly suitable for everyday cars. It has noise-cancelation to drown out blaring engines on the highway, 40 available channels, NOAA weather alerts and up to six miles range of use.
The color display allows for enhanced viewing in any lighting conditions and can be brightened or dimmed when needed. The extra-long microphone cord comes in very handy when you consider the 980SSB for larger types of vehicles. Supporting SSB, the BEARCAT transmits between five to eight watts on AM and 10 to 12 watts SSB peak, which can be enhanced to 10 and 15 watts with a little bit of fine-tuning.
Ultra-compact and ready to fit in nearly any shape or size vehicle, the Uniden PRO510XL is an outstanding choice for anyone looking to get started in the CB world. The simplified menu options are paired with a plastic body that ultimately helps keep the cost down.
The front of the Uniden includes a digital LCD to display any of the 40 channels available along with its respective signal strength. The inclusion of both an automatic noise limiter and squelch control helps reduce background noise from a passing vehicle. The stock microphone offers decent enough audio quality and user reviews point out that it beats numerous competitors without sounding muffled to other CB radio users.
A terrific combination of performance and controls make the Cobra 18WXSTII mobile CB radio an excellent choice. The Cobra provides access to the standard 40 CB channels with additional access to 10 of NOAA's weather channels for greater functionality. The backlit LCD display provides an easy way to keep track of signal strength, power output and channel selection without worrying about outside lighting conditions.
Unique to the Cobra is the inclusion of a dual watch function that allows the CB radio to monitor two channels at the same time, which can be highly beneficial during times of heavy radio traffic. Clear sound emanates from the front speaker, while the included noise-cancelation technology can reduce up to 90 percent of external sounds during radio conversations. The nine-foot microphone cord is plenty long for vehicles of all sizes. And last channel retention allows you to quickly flip between your current and previous station.
Offering a standout combination of price and features, the Midland 1001LWX 40-channel mobile CB radio is a great bang for your buck. The compact size makes it ideal for truckers, while the basic feature set makes it perfect for everyone else, from beginners to advanced CB radio users. All 40 standard CB radio channels are available along with four watts of output power for around five miles of range.
A channel locking system helps you stick to the channel of your choice even as the Midland consistently scans nearby weather channels and provides emergency notifications and weather alerts. To increase reception, you have complete control over RF gain, plus an automatic noise limiter also helps to improve a weak signal.
The CB radio also doubles as a public-address system (if you have a separately purchased PA speaker), and switching between both functionalities is easy as flipping a switch.
With looks that more closely resemble a walkie-talkie than a CB radio, the Midland 75-822 allows for complete portability. The backlit display adds easy readability no matter the hour of the day, while its small size helps it fit nearly anywhere inside a vehicle. Powered by six AA batteries or an included adapter for charging via a vehicle's 12V port, the Midland includes all 40 CB channels, plus 10 NOAA channels and four watts of output power for a range of around one to three miles.
Automatic squelch controls help to improve reception in weaker signal areas and also enhance sound quality by eliminating background noise. A dual channel watch feature allows you to monitor an emergency channel, plus another channel more relevant to your current travels simultaneously.
Sure it's pricey, but the Galaxy-DX-959 CB radio offers a host of features and durable hardware. With the ability to utilize both AM and SSB modes, the driver-friendly format of the menu features make it easy to adjust bands while on-the-go. The easy-to-read LED back-lit display is convenient for reading during the evening hours and there is a dimming option to help avoid distractions.
The primary display lets you know which channel you're currently on and a second display adds a five-digit frequency counter. The inclusion of Galaxy's Galaxy Noise Filter helps increase signal distance, which adds bonus points to the already notably excellent clear audio that's heard loud and clear by receiving CB radios. There's also a variable talkback feature that allows you to adjust the volume and gain of your voice.
The Uniden PRO520 XL Pro series is a a heavy duty CB radio that's ideal for truckers and those on the go. It's capable of transmitting at 4 watts of power, has RF gain control, and supports 40-channel operation. One of the biggest selling points is that the radio is compact, but rugged, so you don't have to be afraid of using it for off-road and commercial uses. There's even an external speaker jack, so you can connect a PA speaker to address people outside your vehicles.
The Cobra 29 LX (view on Amazon) will be the best CB radio fit for most with its outstanding range and active channel scanning. However, if you're looking for a set bristling with features, check out the Cobra 18WXSTII at Walmart. It has a great combination of performance and controls, along with an LCD display to let you keep track of signal strength.