MARATHON SHORTWAVE RADIO ALARM CLOCK
BY JERRY ADAMS
June 25, 2014
Portland, Oregon, USA
6' 1" (1.85 m)
195 lb (88.50 kg)
I started hiking about 45 years ago. My first backpack was 40 years ago. I currently try to do one backpack trip of 1 to 5 nights every month (which can be tricky in the winter). Mostly I stay in the Western half of Oregon and Washington. In recent years I have shifted to lightweight - my pack weight without food and water is about 12 lb (6 kg). I make a lot of my own gear - silnylon tarp-tent, bivy, synthetic bag, simple bag style pack.
Manufacturer: Marathon Watch Co.
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.marathonwatch.com
Listed Weight: 3 oz (85 g) without batteries
Measured Weight: 3.2 oz (91 g)
Listed Dimensions: 3.4 x 2.55 x .83 in (86 x 65 x 21 mm)
Measured Dimension: 3.5 x 2.6 x 0.83 in (89 x 66 x 21 mm)
2 AA batteries weigh an additional 1.25 oz (35 g)
The Marathon Shortwave Radio Alarm Clock (henceforth called the Marathon radio or just radio) is a portable AM/FM/SW radio. It also has a built in LED light and alarm clock function. There's a built in speaker, and it can be used with headphones that plug in.
I heard about this radio and bought it from Countycomm Inc. for US$28. I've heard this radio referred to as "the Countycomm GP-4L radio". I have not heard of it mentioned as the "Marathon radio". There is no mention of Marathon on the Countycomm website or vice versa.
It's funny that on both the Marathon Watch and Countycomm websites, this radio is not prominently displayed - I have to search for it. Both companies are Canadian companies.
I like to listen to the AM or FM radio while backpacking. This radio was recommended so I tried it out.
The outside is a silver or grey plastic.
On the front:
* LCD display that shows what frequency is tuned to or what time it is
* an LED indicator that shows if a station is detected
On the top:
* LED light
* headphone plug
On the rear:
* buttons for hour, min, time set, and alarm set on/off
On the right:
* Tuning knob
* Volume knob
* Input power plug (5 volts)
* Battery door
On the left:
* switch for FM/AM/SW1/SW2
* switch for light/off/radio
Sensitivity from the manufacturers specs. If these are compared to specs for other radios, a smaller number means that that radio will tune in weaker signals better:
The radio uses 2 AA batteries, or it can run off an external 5 volt power supply. Alkaline batteries fit well. I used NiMh batteries, which are a tiny bit larger than alkaline. They didn't fit very well. I had to push them in firmly, and then the case opened up a tiny crack. The only problem with the ill-fitting cover is that it wouldn't be as waterproof; but since the radio is not supposed to be waterproof anyway it dosn't matter.
The tuner is analog - meaning the tuning knob is rotated by hand until the desired station is achieved. There is a digital display showing what frequency it's at currently.
I only used this radio on one backpack trip. The reception wasn't very good so I didn't take it any more. I have been using it around the city.
I went on a backpack trip to Walupt Lake in the Goat Rocks in central Washington. I tried tuning in stations during the day. I could not get any AM or FM stations. I had my old trusty portable radio and it got several AM stations, so I quit using the Marathon radio.
One thing cool about the radio, is it has a shortwave tuner. I tried listening to shortwave stations, and got quite a few, but there wasn't anything too interesting.
I like the built-in speaker. The lack of a built-in speaker in my old trusty portable radio is what led me on the search for a new radio. The speaker works well (for a portable radio).
The manufacturer's web site says the batteries last for 150 hours with speakers at 40% volume. I verified that this is approximately true with NiMh batteries. 150 hours may be for alkaline batteries, but I think it'll be similar for both battery types
I don't like the analog tuner. When I adjust it to a station, and then let my finger off the knob, it changes slightly. And over a few minutes it can change a little. Since it's an analog tuner there are no pre-sets, where I can push any of several buttons to get favorite stations I have previously programmed.
The light weight is good although slightly more than the radio I have been using. I also carry an external speaker with my old radio, which makes it heavier than the Marathon, so I am satisfied with the Marathon weight.
When I plug in headphones, the speaker turns off, as is typical of electronic devices with a headphone plug.
One minor complaint is that they say when the batteries are replaced, the clock setting is retained, but what happens is the clock gets reset to 12:00.
The Marathon Shortwave Radio Alarm Clock is a portable AM/FM/SW radio.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Some good things:
* Light weight
* Built-in speaker - reasonable quality and volume for a portable radio
* Interesting to try short wave stations
* LED light is nice in case my headlamp dies
Some bad things:
* It's a little heavier than the lightest portable radio, mainly because it uses 2 AA batteries, but maybe this is needed because it has a speaker
* The tuning isn't very good for far from the city when I'm backpacking
* I don't like the analog tuner because it's difficult to get an exact frequency and it drifts a little
* Since it has an analog tuner, there are no channel pre-sets
* There's no belt clip
If I wasn't so lazy, I'd return it because of the poor tuning, but it does work well for city use.
Read more reviews of Marathon gear
Read more gear reviews by jerry adams