When you are alone in the wilderness, the best emergency radio (hand crank) made of rubber can come in handy. Not only does it entertain you with the favorite tunes and favorable weather forecasts: it can be crucial for your safety to have one. Learn about solar power batteries that can run your radio for a long while: all that in our article.
For sure, radio is one of the oldest means of getting information on news, weather, and traffic jams. But we usually never think of it as something that can give us a helping hand in an emergency, although any survivalist has to add a good hand-crank radio to their survival gear when the crisis strikes. Why? You might ask. The answer is simple: emergency radio transcends information from the public emergency alert system on weather emergencies. You might argue that your mobile phone also has a radio application. Still, if a survival situation is happening right this minute, the phone will not be much usable, especially with a dead battery. Here is what else a preppers list should have.
But first, we will give you an overview of the key features you have to look for in the best emergency radio. And if you are tired of searching or the time is limited, you can fast track for the second section, where we provide you with the best emergency radio reviews.
Main Characteristics of an Emergency Radio
You would like to have a tactical flashlight, some cans of survival food, and a water storage tank in emergencies. As with many other devices, an emergency radio has to possess certain properties to ensure your survival. Suppose it checks a few boxes of water-resistant with LED flashlight, possibly solar-motorized, and supporting FM/NOAA bands. But the best emergency radios, as the devices meant for survival, should have a combination of all features mentioned below.
Power is the first key factor you have to pay attention to when choosing an emergency radio. In a moment of danger, it is vital to be ready for power shortages. It is wise to choose batteries with big energy capacities since devices have a longer battery life that allows them to function as a power bank for (re)-charging your portable appliances such as a phone or a satnav. You can also have a solar power charger in cases when the power goes out.
Power sources for weather alert radio include such well-known options:
- solar panels
- rechargeable battery
- AA/AAA batteries
How to spot the best emergency radio? They usually have more than two options to get the power to the device: hand-crank, USB, solar panel options, and alkaline batteries as a back-up power source. Hand-cranking might be even a better option in comparison to batteries since you need nothing else for it except your hands, a bit of muscle power, and time. Most of the emergency radios are likely to have a hand-crank as an in-built function. The more options, the better. You will not need to have a power bank to charge your radio first and then be informed.
NOAA Weather Alert
Any emergency radio should have NOAA weather channels on their support specification. NOAA alerts are one of the best emergency weather alerts since they allow you to get notifications anywhere at any time of the day and night. It is possible since NOAA is a system where nationwide weather broadcasting programs are interconnected. Such alerts, though, can only be picked up by a special receiver. That’s why the best emergency radio should have “NOAA support” written somewhere in the device description lines. And when you have an NOAA weather radio, the notification will immediately come to you when the disaster comes. You have to tune in to one of the seven frequencies.
No, weather bands are not musicians that play the music that can transport you from a rainy day in Washington DC to a sunny day in Florida, but something close to it. Weather bands are sound waves in the radio range that are meant to transmit weather information constantly. Sure, some AM/FM radios provide weather information during commercial breaks and in between songs. You can still choose special weather bands and restrict receiving specific radio bands via specific area message encoding. An emergency radio is meant to transfer weather alerts continuously broadcast in a region where you live. An FM weather alert is no doubts way better than no warning at all in times of an emergency heading your way.
Sometimes in an emergency, we need more than just a radio, but a combination of vital devices that has to be at hand. And the best emergency weather radio undoubtedly should have a few extra tools, such as:
- LED flashlights to guide your way in the dark or serve as a reading lamp
- Ultrasonic dog whistle for spooking wild animals
- micro-USB for other portable devices
The best emergency radios may not feature all of these aforementioned functions and still be considered the best. In the next section, we will name seven radios that may save your life in an emergency.
The best hand crank radios on the market
This section highlights the necessary traits of the best emergency radios available in stock and provides you with sufficient choice options for radio you better use in emergency weather situations.
When you seek a portable and lightweight emergency radio, then type ESKY ES-CR01 in the search bar since it is one of the best compact radios on the market. Since the weight does not exceed a kilogram and the hand crank may be easily folded and hidden, it is easily portable, and you can clip the radio to your belt. ESKY ES-CR01 radio is known for its efficient hand-cranking; it produces a very high amount of power within a limited time. You get around 20 minutes of radio with having spent just a minute of winding up the hand-crank. So, if the time is limited, you can refer to this power source, and not to the solar power, because in an emergency, every minute counts.
A USB-port this emergency radio has is a good way to charge your mobile devices. The 50-lumen LED flashlight not only gives you the chance to find your way in the darkness but also send broad and vivid visual distress signals into the air. As with many other emergency radios, ESKY ES-CR01 supports AF/FM, NOAA weather channels. Water-resistant quality and efficient hand-crank and the 1000mAh battery make it one of the best devices suitable for a survival situation under bad weather conditions.
Sangean MMR 88 Emergency
Sangean MMR 88 Emergency radio belongs to the best emergency radios group if durability, compatibility, and user-friendliness are the key search parameters for you. Thanks to its rigid design, it is an extremely stable radio, so no hurricane is an obstacle. The in-built jack for the headphones makes it possible for Sangean MMR 88 radio to pop weather alert notifications in any noisy environment. This crank radio is equipped with a micro-USB that is compatible with most mobile devices to serve as a power bank.
If a design of an emergency weather radio should have a tick near it, then MMR 88 will not disappoint you: the digital screen shows the charge indicator and rubber caps look classy and save the device’s uniformity when it is dropped. The only weakness of the Sangean MMR 88 radio is that it can be powered within limited power sources. It is 3-way powered emergency radio (hand-crank, solar, and USB mode). It does not support AAA batteries, which are a standard in most countries. Apart from that, Sangean MMR 88 also features a 4-mode LED flashlight, supports AM/FM bands, and 7 NOAA weather channels.
Kaito KA500 Voyager
When it comes to choosing one of the best emergency radios, then Kaito KA500 Voyager radio may be the best choice for such a purpose. This 5-way powered radio (USB, solar panels, worldwide standard AA batteries, hand-crank) most reviewers rank reliable radio. Thus, in an emergency, you will not end up with no power at all, and what is more, Kaito KA500 has a USB-port for recharging your mobile devices.
Kaito KA500 is considered a reliable radio for its charging options and some perks that go along with it. They include AM/FM/NOAA and 2-band shortwave capability and an alert mode with permanent access to the Public Emergency Alert System. The in-built LED flashlight can serve as a reading lamp, as an extra signaling option, or a way to light the path where you are going. Kaito KA500 is also an extremely light radio with a weight of around 1.6 p, making it an amazing survival radio.
The American Red Cross FRX3+
The American Red Cross FRX3+ radio is a weather alert radio that anyone cherishing practicality and durability will love. This radio is no different from any other emergency radio in the sense of being water-resistant, using solar power for the rechargeable battery, and providing fresh NOAA alerts. Solar panel located on the upper side of the handle gets the highest amount of solar energy available on the spot. LED flashlight and AM/FM/NOAA bands the American Red Cross features come along with a vivid beacon visible from afar. This way, you will never lose this survival radio. With the American Red Cross, your phone will never be on low battery thanks to the in-built Li-ion battery that can serve as a power bank.
C. Crane Co COBS CC Solar Observer Wind up Radio
The C. Crane Co COBS CC Solar radio has a design for the people who venerate traditions and associate an emergency radio with a foursquare black box recorder. But even if you fancy something more modern, do not skip the description for this emergency radio since it may outrank some of the best mentioned here. Despite lacking automatic weather alerts, it has an in-built NOAA receiver, so you will not be left uninformed in an emergency. It is a perfect emergency radio if caught up in the dark since it has a 3-LED flashlight making it three times brighter than the usual LED flashlights installed in other radios. No worries, you will not end up with no power at all since this emergency radio can be powered by means of a hand-crank, solar, AAA batteries, and a USB adapter.
Midland ER310 radio is a 5-way powered emergency radio, and it comes with a Lithium rechargeable battery and a battery charger. The Midland battery life provides more than 30 minutes of radio and 15 minutes of flashlight power. Midland ER310 also features an ultrasonic dog whistle, LED flashlight, and it stores alerts in its memory for about an hour. This way, Midland makes sure you will not miss any alerts in an emergency. A feature any survival radio producer should take note of, indeed. What is more special about this emergency radio is that you will hear a siren and see a LED flashlight when an audio notification pops up. Midland ER310 is a water-resistant crank NOAA weather radio that any survivalist should get for a try since its durability and long battery life makes it one of the best emergency radios in stock.
Kaito Voyager V2
This emergency hand-crank radio has gained a lot of attention due to its small size and vivid green design that might help you disguise in the greens when needed. The antenna can pick up all the necessary bands (AM/FM/NOAA), but also shortwave radio frequencies are not out of range as for the other survival radios. In general, this emergency radio features functions like charging via hand-crank, USB, or batteries, which is an amazing option if you have some spare ones at hand. Your phone died? No worries, Kaito Voyager V2 is the best power bank you will have.
This emergency radio might not be your first choice, but it is definitely worth your attention. Runningsnail MD-088s is a solar crank NOAA weather emergency radio that comes with an emergency LED flashlight rescuers can easily spot on the search. Being of the lightest emergency radios on the market with only 7.8 ous, Runningsnail MD-088s has earned the fame of an easy-to-carry radio whose design can fool into believing it is just a Handycam. But remember that little pigeons can carry great messages, and this emergency radio is one of such kind. You have to power it up using a solar panel, our absolute favorite hand-crank, or via USB. Although if no such power sources are at hand, Runningsnail MD-088s also runs on an AAA-batteries.
Being water-resistant, extremely light, and compact for sure adds Runningsnail MD-088s radio on the best emergency radios’ shelf. But we should mention that this radio also supports FM and 7 NOAA weather bands and has some of the brightest LED flashlights on the market. Wisely hidden behind the solar panel micro-USB jack allows you to connect your portable devices for power.
The Bottom Line
Here we mentioned a few of the best multi-way powered emergency radios: they have a solar panel, hand-crank generator, micro-USB charging options enough to give you around half an hour of flashlight power. We recommend you to focus on a hand-cranking as the main way to power up such an important tool of your survival gear since it does not require any additional tools installed, like a solar panel. Remember, though, that not only power is the thing you should seek in an emergency radio but also such tools as a LED flashlight, a whistle, or a power bank. And any radio certainly should connect you to the vital emergency info via FM or NOAA weather bands.
A hand-crank emergency radio is a must-own for any person who wants to feel as if they have done anything in their power to ensure their survival. The solar panel might break, a cell phone might die, USB gets in mud and stops working, but hand-crank is always there to help you out in an emergency. Even though we live in a modern world with dozens of ways to reach information, (hand-crank/AM/FM/NOAA) radio remains one of the never-disappearing ways of staying informed.
What is a weather radio?
A weather radio is a receiver of radio wavelengths specifically designed to broadcast weather information directly from official governmental services continuously. You can usually hear the following information on such a radio: warnings, forecasts, current weather observations, and other emergency notifications. The best emergency radio may also act as a power bank due to USB-charger installed.
What is AM/FM weather portable radio?
AM/FM weather radio is a kind of emergency radio that can pick up AM/FM radio wavelengths and then transcend them to the listener. In AM radio, the wavelengths’ amplitudes change through time, whereas on FM radio, the signal changes. In most cases, any emergency weather radio supports both types of radio wavelengths and enables weather alerts for receiving no matter where you are at the moment, especially with a transportable radio at hand.
How do weather radios work?
The basic working principle of any emergency weather radio goes as follows: the energy from hand-crank, solar panel, or AAA batteries feeds the devices’ batteries, they pick up NOAA/AM/FM radio waves and then transcend emergency information to the listener in the form of (NOAA) alerts. As you can see, emergency radios are no different from the usual radios you have at home.
What is a solar-powered AM/FM radio?
Solar-powered AM/FM radio has the in-built solar panel for transforming energy emitted by the Sun into an electrical one. The solar power panel produces solar power via a series of sequential reactions that, in the end, allow you to enjoy AM/FM radio. Solar power is one of the renewable power sources making such emergency radios eco-friendly in terms of power consumption, of course, if you live in an area with enough sun irradiation. And in this case, we bet that you have a solar panel installed on your roof. By the way, most emergency radios powered this way also have the hand crank as an option.
What is a hand-crank radio?
A hand-crank radio is a gadget with a magnet packed in a conductive wire coil. Suppose you move or crank this wire around the magnet, the electricity used for the radio to run on begins to be produced. First, you wind the radio up, then tune into the wished radio wavelength and get notifications straightaway. Once the volume starts cracking down, it is the sign that the radio should be cranked again. In our opinion, anyone should have a hand-crank as their first option for an emergency radio since it is easy to maintain and nothing else required except your muscles and a bit of time.