The Best 5 CB Radios for Overlanding – A Comprehensive Review and Guide

Overlanding has become an increasingly popular outdoor activity, combining off-road driving with camping for an adventurous journey across the great outdoors. An essential piece of equipment for this activity is a reliable CB (Citizens Band) radio, offering essential communication with fellow travelers, assistance during emergencies, and updates about weather and road conditions.

In this article, we will review the top five CB radios for overlanding, highlighting their features, benefits, and why they are the ultimate choice for your adventurous needs. Each review was conducted considering the essential features of CB radios such as range, durability, ease of use, and additional features.

Uniden Bearcat 980 SSB – The Long Range Champion

The Uniden Bearcat 980 SSB earns the top spot in our list because of its impressive range and clarity, even in the most remote locations. With Single Side Band (SSB) functionality, this unit provides the extended range that overlanding enthusiasts need.

Its large, easy-to-read display offers seven color options, and a built-in SWR meter facilitates antenna tuning for the optimal signal. NOAA weather alerts keep you informed of changing weather conditions, while the radio’s noise-canceling microphone eliminates background noise, ensuring clear communication.

Bearcat 980 SSB’s robust construction can withstand harsh environments, making it a perfect companion for your overlanding trips. Additional features like RF gain control and automatic noise limiter (ANL) help fine-tune your reception, providing excellent performance even in areas with high interference.

Cobra 29 LX MAX – The Smart CB Radio

Cobra 29 LX MAX goes beyond being a traditional CB radio, offering smart features like smartphone connectivity and enhanced safety. The standout feature is the iRadar app integration, which provides access to the largest community-based radar, laser, and safety camera databases.

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This radio also includes NOAA weather channels, alerting you of severe weather situations or emergencies. The four-color selectable display, automatic diagnostic scanning, and Radio Check Diagnostic ensure the device is always functioning at its peak.

Cobra’s patented SoundTracker system drastically reduces static and noise, providing clear communication. The Rewind-Say-Again feature is invaluable in overlanding situations, allowing you to replay missed transmissions.

Galaxy DX-959 – The Performance Powerhouse

The Galaxy DX-959 shines in its raw performance and durability. It boasts a solid range, SSB capability, and an adjustable RF and mic gain controls for the best communication experience.

A unique feature of the DX-959 is the five-digit frequency counter, which gives precise information about the channel frequency, thus enhancing your control. An end-of-transmission roger beep, an automatic SWR circuit, and a high SWR alert make this a complete package for overlanding.

The DX-959’s backlit faceplate and meter allow you to operate even in low-light conditions. This sturdy radio is built to last, featuring high-quality materials that resist harsh environmental conditions, making it an ideal companion for overlanding enthusiasts.

Uniden PRO520XL – The Budget-friendly favorite

The Midland 75-822 proves that great things do come in small packages. This portable CB radio offers flexibility like no other, operating as a mobile radio or quickly converting to a handheld radio when you leave your vehicle.

Despite its compact size, it doesn’t compromise on features. It includes 40 channels, 10 NOAA weather channels, and a dual watch to monitor two channels simultaneously. Automatic Noise Limiter improves reception in areas with high interference, while the keypad lock prevents accidental activation of settings.

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The Midland 75-822 is perfect for overlanders looking for a lightweight, compact CB radio without sacrificing range and functionality.

President McKinley USA – The User-friendly Masterpiece

The President McKinley USA is a top-tier, user-friendly CB radio that offers a plethora of features. Its compact, modern design features a large, multicolor LCD, which is adjustable for day and night driving.

McKinley USA excels in performance, offering 40 channels with SSB, providing longer range for remote overlanding. Advanced features like automatic squelch control, ANL, and NB filters, and dynamic RF gain control contribute to clear and precise communication.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of this CB radio is its ease of use, with an intuitive interface and controls that are straightforward even for beginners. This combined with a weather channel with alert feature, a front-facing speaker, and PA capability, make it a well-rounded CB radio for overlanding.

Troubleshooting Common CB Radio Problems

Like any piece of equipment, CB radios may encounter problems. Here’s how to troubleshoot some common issues:

Poor Range: If you’re experiencing poor range, the issue may lie with your antenna. Ensure it’s installed correctly, properly grounded, and well-tuned using an SWR meter.

Static Noise: Excessive static can be due to various factors. Check for potential interference from nearby electronic devices or loose connections in your setup.

Inaudible Transmission: If your transmission is not clear or loud enough, it could be due to a microphone problem. Check your microphone for any damage or loose connections.

Channel Interference: If you’re experiencing cross-channel interference, you might be close to another strong CB signal, or your squelch setting may be too low. Adjust your squelch control to minimize interference.

Power Issues: If your CB radio isn’t powering up, check the power connections and the fuse. Ensure your power source is adequate for the radio’s requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the importance of a CB radio in overlanding?

CB radios are essential for overlanding because they provide a reliable means of communication in areas where cellular reception may be poor or non-existent. They allow you to keep in touch with other travelers, access emergency channels, and receive weather updates.

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Why should I choose a CB radio with SSB (Single Side Band)?

CB radios with SSB offer an extended range compared to traditional CB radios. This is especially useful in overlanding, where you may venture into remote areas with limited communication infrastructure.

What is the significance of NOAA weather channels on a CB radio?

NOAA weather channels provide regular weather updates and severe weather warnings. This is critical in overlanding, as sudden changes in weather can be hazardous.

How does the automatic noise limiter (ANL) feature improve CB radio use?

An ANL reduces static and interference, improving the clarity of your radio transmission and reception. This is particularly useful in overlanding, where you may encounter various sources of signal interference.

Are all CB radios suitable for overlanding?

While any CB radio provides basic communication, specific models are more suitable for overlanding due to their extended range, ruggedness, and features like SSB, NOAA weather channels, and ANL.

Can I use my CB radio as a public address (PA) system?

Yes, some CB radios, like the President McKinley USA, have PA capability, meaning you can use them as a public address system when connected to a PA speaker.

Is it difficult to install a CB radio in my vehicle?

Most CB radios come with detailed instructions for installation. However, the process may require some technical know-how. If you’re not comfortable, it’s best to seek help from a professional.

Can I use my CB radio for other activities beyond overlanding?

Absolutely. While this article focuses on overlanding, CB radios are versatile tools useful in many outdoor activities, including camping, off-roading, and boating.

Remember, each overlanding journey is unique, and the CB radio that suits one person might not suit another. Consider your individual needs and circumstances when choosing your device. Happy overlanding!


In conclusion, these top five CB radios for overlanding are the cream of the crop, offering an outstanding combination of range, durability, innovative features, and user-friendliness. When preparing for your next overlanding adventure, ensure you have a reliable CB radio from our list above, ensuring you remain connected, informed, and safe throughout your journey.

Always remember, your choice of a CB radio can make or break your overlanding experience. Consider your specific needs, the terrain you’ll be exploring, and select the radio that suits your adventure best. Stay tuned, stay connected, and most importantly, enjoy your overlanding adventure.

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