I’m almost enjoying some music while on the trail. Whether it’s mushing or running, I have my MP3 player or similar. This winter, rather than wear headphones, I got a Bosch jobsite radio. The problem with headphones is they invariably become uncomfortable after an hour or two when they’re under a hat. I’ve tried dozens of different types, and no matter how good they feel at first, or without a hat, they don’t stay comfortable. Even the hat system varies, by layering up more in colder temperatures.
I’d come across the Dewalt jobsite radio, but saw better reviews for the Bosch brand. I got inspired to use this after my GE “Super radio” (my second one!), which I’d used outside for a few years, stopped working. The GE was fine for summers, and features particularly good FM reception. But in winters, the dial (an old-style knob attached to waxed string inside the unit) didn’t work properly, and it was hard to keep tuned to a station as temperature varied.
The Bosch and Dewalt radios are designed to be tough, and to handle warm and cold temperatures. I got the basic model, PB360S, which does not include a CD or an ipod cradle. But it does take SD cards, and has a built-in battery charging enclosure.
The radio isn’t small or light. It’s mounted inside a 1 foot square cage, with metal and plastic handles and corners. It’s a tough little unit.
So tough that after seeing it function quite well at temps of -30F and lower, I decided to strap it to my sled and take it mushing. It works just fine! The FM stays tuned, the buttons and knobs continue to function, and it sounds pretty good.
It’s hard to tell whether the dogs prefer it to silence, but I like to think it helps to keep them entertained. A few other mushers have carried speakers on their sleds, with the same rationale.
My complaint is about battery operation and charging. First, this unit, at over $200, didn’t come with a battery. (Contrast this with every other Bosch or other brand rechargeable tool or accessory, which comes with one or more batteries). After buying one, I found the battery does not charge when it’s cold (i.e., below freezing). So, I finally bought another tool that came with two 18V batteries and a charger, and now charge my battery inside before popping it into the radio. This works fine, but at the coldest temps the battery only lasts a few hours.
So far, it’s been a very solid product, and has greatly improved the entertainment value for the musher during those hours on the trail (and during setup and aprez-mush). Plus, I’ve been giving the dogs educational lessons about rock and roll artists, songs, and other history.