The 21st century has brought always-on, always-connect Internet devices to our pocket, keeping us in constant communication no matter where we go. Well, almost anywhere we go.
Even today, if you wander outside larger metropolitan areas it is still possible to lose a cell signal and find yourself without a reliable means of communication. Fortunately, there are alternative options that can still help us to stay in contact with others, even while traveling in some of the most remote areas imaginable.
One such option is the Cobra Road Trip portable CB radio, a powerful and handy device for travelers, overlanders, campers, and backpackers who frequently find themselves off the grid.
A CB for the 21st Century
Mention the term “CB radio” (CB stands for citizen’s band by the way) to someone of a certain generation and it is sure to conjure up images of big rigs and cheesy 1970s movies. You might even remember the square and bulky, dash-mounted CBs of that same era. For a time, the CB craze was big deal in the U.S. and it seems like everyone was installing them in their vehicles for those “just-in-case” emergency situations.
The Cobra Road Trip doesn’t resembles those ancient CBs in any way. In fact, this device looks more like a two-way radio or walkie-talkie, allowing you to carry it around with you wherever you go. This makes it much more useful and versatile than the CBs of the past, freeing it from the confines of a vehicle and allowing it to hit the trail, campsite, or mountaintop.
Weighing in at just 9 ounces (255 grams), the Road Trip feels substantial in hand, but isn’t so heavy that you don’t want to carry it with you. It’s powerful antenna is rugged enough to stay solidly in place, but easy to remove when not in use. This allows the device to breakdown to a somewhat smaller size, making it easier to carry in backpack.
Versatile and Powerful
Despite its size and portability, the Road Trip doesn’t compromise much in the way of features. While most two-way radios top out at about 25 channels and have limited capabilities, a CB is capable of broadcasting on 40 channels and have the added benefit of increased power. That results in less interference, clearer audio, and greater range.
In addition to the basic CB radio features, Cobra has given the Road Trip a few nice options that allow it to stand out further. For example, the handheld unit can actually operate on two different channels at once, which comes in handy when you’re coordinating conversations between two different parties. The device can also scan all 40 CB channels to search for broadcasts, which can make connecting with others much easier too.
Other nice features include a built-in NOAA radio for receiving weather alerts and storm warnings and an omni-directional microphone that is paired with a noise-reduction system that helps keep the users voice clear and audible at all times. A powerful magnetic mount holds the removable antenna firmly in place, while an onboard mic/speaker jack makes the Road Trip easy to use hands-free. The device’s rugged body also does a great job of conveying a sense of durability too, and while this radio isn’t waterproof, it can survive in light rain and snow without much difficulty.
The Cobra Road Trip is capable of broadcasting with up to 4 watts of power, which is pretty impressive for a device this size. This gives it an average range of up to 4 miles, although that distance can vary depending on terrain, elevation, interference, and other factors. With a clear line of sight and at a higher altitude, a CB can broadcast for 20 miles or more. But in a densely packed area at a lower elevation, that number could be less. For my testing however, found the 4 mile range to be pretty accurate in a variety of conditions.
In order to achieve that power output, the Road Trip requires nine—yes, nine!—AA batteries. That’s a hefty number of power cells and if you’ll be using the radio regularly, you’ll want to invest in rechargeable for sure. I would have liked to have seen Cobra include a rechargeable power pack out of the box, but if its any consolation, the radio itself can serve as a charger when plugged into a wall outlet.
Battery life varies widely depending on how much you use the radio and the quality of the batteries used. Cheap power cells will get eaten up in a matter of hours, but if you spring for higher quality options the runtime improves nicely. For in-car use, Cobra does include a 12-volt power adapter though, which is handy for not just operating while driving, but recharging batteries on the go too.
Battery life aside, the Cobra Road Trip CB is a good option for someone who needs reliable communications on the go. Whether you’re hiking in the backcountry, overlanding on a remote trail, or traveling in a place with spotty cell service, having a radio like this one can prove invaluable. Not only does it facilitate two-way communication, it allows you to scan what other others are saying nearby, providing updates on a wide variety of things that can be happening around you.
Cobra has managed to pack a lot of value into this device. Make no mistake, this is a full-featured CB that you can carry with you wherever you go. It offers solid range and good performance in a variety of conditions, and when paired with a second Road Trip, it becomes a powerful communication tool that is both fun and useful. Just be sure to stock up on batteries, because if you plan to use this radio regularly, you’re going to need them.
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