The CountyComm GP5/SSB: my go-to shortwave radio for hiking

CountyComm GP5/SSB while hiking

My two hiking companions: the CountyComm GP5/SSB and Hazel the dog.

Posting the Blinq deal a few moments ago reminded me that my favorite shortwave radio to use while hiking/walking is the CountyComm GP5/SSB.

I have CountyComm’s custom GP5 case which I clip to my belt or backpack. While hiking, I find it handy to open the case from the top, pull the radio out and operate/tune it with only one hand. Indeed, the vertical form factor of the GP5/SSB is ergonomically-ideal; I can control almost all of the radio functions without having to use two hands. A huge bonus while hiking on uneven terrain!

Typically, when I start a hike, I enable an EMT scan and within a minute or so, the GP5/SSB populates temporary memory positions with all of the signals it can easily receive. When you’re in the middle of the woods–far from sources of radio interference–you’ll be amazed by what you can hear.


Of course, with the antenna fully extended, one does have to watch out for low-hanging branches, etc.

CountyComm GP5/SSB while hiking

Since the telescoping antenna doesn’t swivel, it’s much easier to hold the radio in a way that the antenna points forward while you hike (bonus: it’ll catch all of the spider webs across the trail before your face does!).


So far, I’ve never used the external mediumwave ferrite bar antenna while hiking–I worry that I could drop the radio and damage either the antenna or the 1/8″ antenna jack.

I typically listen to the GP5 with headphones unless I’m walking a trail during the time of year when black bears are active (in which case the speaker helps alert bears that I’m in the neighborhood).


Of course, there are a few other radio models with an identical vertical form-factor–most notably, the:

If you’re not familiar with the CountyComm GP5/SSB, click here to read previous posts. I also featured the CountyComm GP5/DSP (Tecsun PL-360) in an ultra portable shoot out in 2014–click here to read.

Do you have a favorite shortwave portable for hiking, biking or cycling? Please comment!

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15 thoughts on “The CountyComm GP5/SSB: my go-to shortwave radio for hiking

  1. rcxb

    I prefer hand held radios myself, but prefer analog tuning as you can operate it in complete darkness without a thought. Despite overloading on strong stations, the Eton/Grundig M-300 is my favorite, and will likely remain so for a long time, as analog tuned radios seem to be near their end. Ave true to the topic, one is in my hiking gear. Same AA batteries as my flashlight comes in handy.

  2. Erica cole

    My GP5/SSB arrived yesterday. It will prove useful when England’s weather improves. I can certainly see myself sitting in a park somewhere surfing the airwaves. No walking or hiking because of my disabilities but this is such a small, light radio it really wouldn’t way me down too much.

  3. joshin

    How sensitive is the tuning dial on your GP5/SSB? Especially when compared to the PL-360?

    Mine is very slow, and do a very fast thumb flick to change frequencies, it won’t change the tuning speed to match – unlike my PL-360. For instance, on MW, a fast thumb flick will cause a change of 60khz, whereas my GP5/SSB will only change 10 or 20.

    Also, very occasionally despite the dial being in a notch, it will start flipping up and down between adjacent frequencies.

    Am I just lucky, or is this something others see?


    1. Larry Thompson

      Try using all those memories for better band surfing. Works really well for me.
      If you switch into SSB for ECSB tuning, the fine tuning is amazing. Three degrees of fine tuning. I find the regular tuning really good, accelerating as I do.

  4. Larry Thompson

    The Tecsun PL-365 is similar, but I believe the CountyComm GP5-SSB has an improved and more powerful microchip, made to military requirements.

      1. Larry Thompson

        As far as I can tell from the specs, the Tecsun PL365 was tweaked for the military for use in Iraq and Afghanistan and in rugged field conditions. That may explain the better micro-chip. I’ve had mine for a month now and I’m simply amazed at the sensitivity and performance. I’ve had 11 different rigs in my life and now have a Sony ICF-SW7600GR, Grundig G5, and the SDRPLAY. This little radio runs rings around them all.

        1. Harald Kuhl

          Thanks for your explanation. Is there a photograph online showing the micro-chip used in the GP5-SSB? When it´s different from the one used in the PL-365 it also may have another name printed on its cover.

          1. Samuel Rhine

            There are disassembly videos but it is actually the same radio. I have compared the 365 to gp5 and the only difference is slightly darker case color, plastic on the antenna tip instead of metal as well as a couple of buttons and dial being green/orange too on the GP5.

  5. Harald Kuhl

    My favourite radio for hinking is a Tecsun PL-365, which I believe is another name for the same radio. I also enjoy listening to SSB stations on the ham bands with it. It´s an amazing little radio.

  6. Paul Juarez

    Hi, I love ? mine. I take it for my ? walks here in the suburbs of Chicago. It’s a great radio. I live near a forest preserve and it comes in handy. Love this little guy! ?


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