Radioactivity is a part of our planet. It has existed from the very beginning and it exists today. It is everywhere – in the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. This naturally occurring radioactivity can be detected in our bodies as well – in our bones, muscles, and tissue. But, it’s man-produced radioactivity that we fear most. A Geiger counter is a device that detects and measures ionizing radiation, the most harmful kind of radiation on our planet.
We think that we are the undisputed rulers of this planet firmly in control of our environment. However, Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters remind us how suddenly things can get out of control. Not to mention small viruses like COVID-19 who know nothing about our power and authority.
Do I Need a Geiger Counter?
Well, I can’t answer this question for you. The truth is that if we wanted to cover all possible SHTF scenarios, we would end up with more gear than we can store. So, we need to prioritize. The need for a Geiger counter depends on perceived radiation hazard levels.
I’d say that if you live anywhere near a nuclear plant, it is a good idea to have one (just ask the people from the town of Okuma where the Fukushima power plant is located). While I don’t believe in the possibility of a nuclear war, the threat of nuclear terrorism is real and possible. But, it also depends on where you live.
Today’s Geiger counters are more accurate, more affordable, and much more compact than they used to be. It makes them available and easy to carry and store. You can pack them into your bug out bag (BOB) without taking up much space. Truth be told, I wouldn’t keep it in my BOB all the time. I would store it somewhere else and add it if there’s a nuclear accident or a significant nuclear hazard.
If a nuclear accident happens, this gadget suddenly becomes vital. It will tell you how bad it is, how much protection your shelter provides, and when it’s safe to relocate.
But, at the end of the day, it is your call. If you want to add a Geiger counter to your equipment, here are some of the best models.
Best Geiger Counter or Dosimeter – 7 Top Picks Reviewed
1. GQ GMC300E Digital Geiger Counter
This is a pocket-size Geiger counter, so it’s easy to carry around. It comes with a USB port for external power supply. But it has an internal rechargeable battery, too.
It’s a simple budget model that detects beta, gamma, and X-ray radiation. But don’t let it fool you, it’s a high-quality and reliable device. Moreover, it’s very easy to use, read, and configure. You can connect it with a PC to download data history and monitor radiation levels.
- Audio and visual signals
- Easy to read and understand
- Easy to carry around
- USB port and rechargeable battery
- Automatic data recording
- Internal memory
2. RADEX RD1503+ Geiger Counter, Outdoor Edition
This model is accurate and reliable. It is pretty compact and lightweight so you can carry it with you. It was commonly used in the Fukushima region after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. So, it’s field-tested and proven. That’s all you need from a Geiger counter unless you work in a lab and deal with radioactive materials. It picks beta, gamma, and X-ray radiation.
- Battery powered
- LCD display
- Data history
3. NukAlertTM Nuclear Radiation Detector
This is the simplest high-quality model out there. It is a keychain nuclear radiation detector. There’s no on and off button, no display, and no confusion. It monitors the radiation levels all the time. It comes with a 10+ year battery.
The speed of ticking relates to the radiation level. The clicking sound is barely audible when the level of radiation is normal. As the radiation levels rise, ticking becomes faster and louder.
- Battery powered
- Chirp alarm
- Sturdy and durable
- EMP immune
- Works all the time, no tweaking required
4. SOEKS 112 Compact Digital Geiger Counter
All models on our list are compact, but SOEKS 112 beats them all in this department. 1 x 1 x 5 inches really makes it compact and convenient to carry around. It is powered by two LR44 batteries. It also stands out with an impressive range from 0.01 to 999 uSv/h. You can customize it by setting alarm thresholds.
- Sensitive and accurate
- Wide detection range
5. RADEX RD1706 Dual-Pro Professional Radiation Detector / Geiger Counter
I have started with the most affordable and simple models. Most civilians don’t need more than that. However, professional-grade products offer all these qualities and then some. If you want sturdier, more reliable Geiger counters you’ll have to spend a little bit more. RADEX RD 1706 is a great value for money. It offers higher sensitivity and higher precision. Also, it has a much wider detection range than most basic models.
- Highly sensitive readings
- Outstanding accuracy
- Detection range up to 999uSv/h
- Rugged and sturdy
- Compact and portable
6. GCA-07W Professional Digital Geiger Counter
This is another professional Geiger counter. It is precise and reliable. Moreover, there are a few additional accessories such as an external wand and a jack for headphones or external speakers. You probably won’t need them in the case of a nuclear disaster, but they are convenient for testing your environment or food.
- Detects, alpha, beta, gamma, and X-ray radiation
- Connects to a PC
- Extremely accurate
- Wide detection range
7. SOEKS EcoVisor F4 Geiger Counter Radiation Detector
If you prefer multi-purpose tools, this one may be the best choice for you. It is a Geiger counter, but it can also measure EMF (electromagnetic field) levels in your home, nitrate levels in your food, and water quality (levels of dissolved solids). It’s an impressive 4-in-1 device. You can monitor radiation levels and radiation doses. While it’s a little bit bigger than typical hand-held Geiger counters, it is also very accurate.
- Accurate radiation detection
- Large touch screen
- Easy to use
- EMF measuring
- Nitrate tester
- Water tester
A Geiger counter is a cool device even if it’s not a top-priority survival item. However, in the case of a nuclear disaster, it would become irreplaceable. It’s also not a bad idea to check out your home and your working environment occasionally. Sometimes we are exposed to slightly higher levels of radiation even if we don’t know it. So, if you want to be fully prepared, you might want to have one of these gadgets.
Hopefully, you will never have to use it in a nuclear disaster scenario, but if it ever happens, this device can make the difference between life and death. In the meantime, you can monitor your environment and the food you eat.