Do I need a survival radio to listen to music? Not at all. If you get lost in the wilderness and you don’t know your bearings, as well as the weather forecast, your hand crank radio can be extremely helpful. It can be charged using solar power, it can have a rechargeable battery, incorporate a siren, and have a fair price. To learn more about hand crank radios, read on!
Do you have a survival radio, just in case? Not yet? Read this article to find out what a survival radio is, the best survival radio options, and why you should get one.
Best Survival Radio Setup Usage
What do you think people choose as their main emergency walkie-talkie call device? That’s right, a cell phone. Cell phones are everywhere these days. And it’s not something bad. Mobile networks have made our everyday lives much easier and safer. Anywhere you are, and any time of day, you can call for help using your cellphone. Even more, if you don’t have a possibility to speak, you can type a message, or even send a picture of where you are and what your trouble is. So cell phones and mobile internet connection are amazing.
But since you’re reading this article, you know that we will not talk about everyday situations, no sir. We will speak about something extra-ordinary, which breaks the whole day-to-day routine and gives people new conditions and troubles to deal with. We will speak about some serious emergencies that rip you out of the coziness of your everyday secure existence.
Picture this. Something went terribly wrong. There’s a wide-scale disaster happening that has wiped away most of the things you grew accustomed to and took for granted.
- Among them is the mobile network.
- There is no signal.
- There is no internet connection.
- There is nothing.
- No way to call for help or stay up to date with news, emergency reports, and check on weather conditions.
- So do you still think you can count on your latest model smartphone at all times no matter what?
But what are the options? What should anyone concerned with safety and preparedness have in their emergency gear kit right next to a survival knife, first aid supplies, or a gas mask? It is a portable, easy-to-use NOAA survival radio.
Read on to learn more about survival radios
- Why is it important to get an emergency radio setup?
- What is amateur ham survival radio?
- Do you need an amateur radio license?
- What are the survival radio options for today?
- How to get started with emergency radios?
Emergency Radio Setup Prepping
To give you an idea of why getting an emergency survival radio is important, we’ll bring up a few tragic events. The devastating Katrina Hurricane shut down almost 70% of mobile towers in the area for several days. Cell phone networks got unavailable right after the Boston Marathon bombing incident. When the Sandy Hurricane was raging, its high winds and flooding tore cables between cellphone towers causing major mobile network malfunctions.
When an emergency event happens, hundreds or even thousands of people are trying to get through to rescue services to get help or their friends, families, and loved ones to tell them they are alright. This may lead to a massive network overload. The network jams up. Not even a mobile signal booster can help during a major gridlock.
But wait, there are mobile network backup systems, right? Won’t they do their thing when the time comes? Not really. Those systems will surely work fine but only for a short-term period. In the long run, mobile backup systems will eventually go out of order.
Should a nuke attack happen and leave the whole world in need of EMP protection, deaf and blind, you won’t need your cellphone anymore. That is why mobile phones should not be regarded as the only means of emergency connection. You just can’t rely on your smartphone, for that matter. So our strong recommendation is to get yourself a survival radio setup.
What is Amateur Survival Radio?
Ham radio (or amateur radio) is the best option for a survivalist radio. It is the only effective way to stay in touch with the rest of the world after a global disaster. Ham radio is not only a long-distance communication device. It is also a device that is best fitted to function off-grid. Normally, you will need to plug your ham radio into a power source when using it at home. But survival radios are portable pieces of equipment and have several power source options.
First of all, most survival radios function using AA batteries or AAA batteries. Our recommendation is to get a rechargeable battery pack and an AC adapter charger to have it close to your radio setup at all times.
Powerbank for Emergency Survival Radio
The next thing is getting a power bank. Since many modern-day best survival radios have USB ports and there will be no problem hooking them up to such external chargers. Another option to charge an emergency radio is solar power. There are survival radios with built-in solar panels, or you can buy an external solar power generator. Such a solar generator will make for an excellent charger for your emergency radio.
Having your survival radio fully charged will let you keep in touch with local rescue services and other ham radio operators during a catastrophe. So it is our strong belief that anyone concerned with emergency preparedness should get a ham radio and invest in several backup power source options.
We encourage you to watch the video below that will help you grasp the idea of how ham radio works:
And one more thing, using additional equipment, you can turn your ham radio into a portable modem to surf the web. More details on that in the video below:
Do You Need an Amateur Survival Radio License?
Do you even need some sort of license to operate your amateur radio?
If you get yourself a ham radio setup, you should be practicing to use it effectively. You must not wait for a wide-spread disaster to finally pull the ham radio out of your emergency bag and use it. With no practice, you will most likely fail. So operating an amateur radio to reach long distances takes a lot of practice.
A ham radio setup will also require a reliable power supply and large antennas that will allow you to communicate worldwide as other experienced radio enthusiasts do. So our recommendation for you is to get a radio license as soon as possible if you’re really into that whole survival radio thing.
However, there are some counter-arguments against getting a license. First of all, why do you need any kind of paper permission from authorities in a world gone down the drain after a global disaster? Imagine yourself in a post-apocalyptic scenery. Do you think you will have to care about any kind of paperwork to use your emergency radio?
Another point again getting a license is that many people – especially those into survival and preparedness – don’t fancy giving their private information such as a name, an address, etc. Those survivalists prefer keeping their personal data off the radars. And we totally understand that.
But if you don’t take any of that too seriously, we think that you still need to consider at least getting a radio license.
How Do You Get Emergency Radio Licensed?
To operate a ham radio inside the United States – whether you are a resident or not – you must get licensed. There are three types of radio licenses to choose from:
- Technician license;
- General license;
- Extra license.
1) A technician license is the first-level radio license. Getting it is straightforward, and it gives you the right to use local frequencies. In 2003, the Morse Code proficiency for amateur radio was eliminated, so getting a technician license is easier.
All you will have to do is pass a test consisting of only thirty-fiму questions. We recommend getting this book to prepare yourself for the technical license exam.
Once you’ve passed the test, you get the license. Along with the license comes respect among experienced ham radio operators. Some say there are situations when license ham radio users won’t even speak to someone without a license. So as soon as you get licensed, at least you’ll get respected among senior radio enthusiasts. Let alone you will learn something you didn’t know before. That is always fun.
2) General license will give you the right to go beyond local frequencies. Once you get this license, you are free to broadcast to longer distances depending on your equipment level.
3) To get an Extra license, you will have to pass a fifty-question test. Passing this test will get you licensed as an official Amateur Radio Operator. Unfortunately, you cannot skip the previous two steps to get to Extra license. Getting a Technician license and a General license first is obligatory. Again, get this book to prepare yourself for all the license tests.
And we also recommend you checking out this video on how to get licensed to operate an amateur radio setup in the US:
Getting Started with Amateur Survival Radios
If you are a beginner ham radio operator, your best bet is to become a local radio club member. It is not just a place where you will meet experienced ham radio operators but learn from them. Joining a radio club is pretty much like going to school, where you get to learn stuff. It is the fastest way to find out all the necessary information about using ham radios.
So if you’re into survival radios and there is a radio club close to you, our recommendation is to join it asap. Сheck out this website that will help you to find a radio club closest to your location.
First thing you will have to learn as a beginner radio operator is how your emergency radio works. You will have to learn all about its construction and components. Otherwise, you won’t make any progress in using this piece of equipment. Besides, the more you know about your emergency radio setup, the bigger the chances that you will repair it should it be necessary. And this is crucial since, in a post-disaster world, you will have to count only on yourself and your skills.
So the best way to put it is to say that a weather radio operator is not just someone who can push buttons, tune the dial, and speak into a receiver. A good survival radio operator knows everything about his setup. Know how to use it and maintain it.
When entering the world of emergency radios, be prepared that you will have to study a lot by reading books, educating yourself on specialized forums, and speaking to experienced emergency radio operators.
And finally, what you will have to do when getting started with emergency radios is to make sure you are not fully dependant on the central power supply. Since we’re talking about emergency radio options, the keyword is “emergency.” And what it means is that anything can happen during an emergency. Power shutdown is one of those things.
Setting Up Emergency Survival Radio
When setting up an emergency radio studio for yourself, you will have to be sure that your radio setup will operate even if there is no power. You will need to have a backup power plan to tune to weather stations, rescue channels, and other ham radio operators should the whole world go dark. Get yourself several backup power sources like a power bank, a hand crank power generator, a solar panel set if your emergency radio setup can use solar power.
You may also choose emergency radio models that come with a built-in solar panel or choose a hand-crank and solar survival radio with USB-ports that will also charge other electrical devices.
Read on to find out more about the best survival radios on the market that will help you receive emergency broadcasts, check on emergency weather channels, and stay in touch with fellow radio operators no matter what.
Getting Ready For No-power Scenarios
So you got yourself a portable or stationary emergency radio, and you think that you’re all set, right? Nope. Because having a survival radio and knowing how to use it is not everything a prepper needs. It is worth remembering that a world after some SHTF-event will probably be the world with next to no electricity. So an independent power source is what you will need to think of, as well.
Electricity makes the modern world go round. And, of course, should the world as we know it end throwing us back into the 19th century or even further back in time, we would get used to having no power at all in the long run. But it will surely take time. And before we learn new ways to live without electrically powered devices living off the grid, we will still need them for years to come after the world is gone.
So getting a rechargeable battery pack or a few is a good idea. You will also need a battery charger to recharge the collection of AA or AAA batteries. But what’s even better is getting yourself several various power sources so you will always be sure that your electrical devices will be going no matter what.
And when choosing those power sources, you better make sure they are portable. Well, at least some of them. Like those that you will use to power your radio setups on the go.
TOP Emergency Survival Radio Options
If you’re new to survival radios, then you should know that an experienced prepper will most likely own at least two emergency radios. One of them is an easy-to-carry solution like this one, and another one is a more elaborate full-fledged stationary radio set.
This section will show you the two most popular emergency radio setups: both portable and desktop.
1) BF-F8HP by BaoFeng Emergency Radio
BaoFeng’s third-generation model is a dual-band 2-way radio setup.
It is a high-quality 8-watt model that serves perfectly as an easy-to-carry amateur radio. It will fit in any survival bag and is extremely easy to use.
You can keep it in your bug-out-bag or have it ready for action in your bug-out-vehicle. Should a severe natural disaster or any other wide-spre
ad catastrophe happen, you will have a portable communication device with you at all times.
To upgrade your portable radio, you can get an external antenna. It will boost your radio’s transmitting capabilities. Another extra item to make the best of your portable radio is a carrying vest that will let you have your radio with you anywhere you go.
Your hands will be free while you will still be able to communicate.
2) Compact Amateur Base Transceiver by Yaesu
Yaesu’s FT-450D HF/50MHz radio station is a bigger option for those looking for a high-quality stationary radio setup. Of course, it is not as portable as the previous setup, but that’s not what this receiver is for.
This device is just perfect for those new to home radio setups. Make sure to check out the video below on what Yeasu’s Amateur Transeicer is and what it is good for:
More Portable Survival Radio for Emergency Use
However, some people find ham radios too complicated and are not ready to invest in emergency radios. Are there some alternatives they can choose from? Of course, there are! And here are the four best portable radio options for those looking for simpler communicating solutions.
1) A set of Walkie-Talkie Emergency Survival Radios
Walkie-talkie radios are the ultimate classics if you’re searching for a simple radio setup that will allow you and your partners to keep in touch on short distances. These radios are perfect for teamwork. That’s why you will see sets of walkie-talkies used during constructions, parades, or any other kind of work or event involving crowds of people.
During a survival experience, walkie-talkies will be good for hunting or maybe even preparing an ambush. Anything can happen in a post-disaster world, so you will need to be able to get in touch with your survival partners as soon as possible.
2) Hand Crank Radio and Solar Radio For Emergency
A hand-crank solar radio is something that preppers often choose as an add-up to a set of walkie-talkies. Why? Because a hand-crank radio is not only a communication device, it is a portable power generator by itself. And this is an absolute must-have.
Let’s make it clear. A hand-crank radio is not a communication device, per se. It cannot transmit audio messages from you and serves only as a receiver. But this piece of survival gear will prove it’s worth every penny spent on it as soon as you start using it, making the best of its main feature: a built-in hand crank generator.
With this generator, you not only get the radio going, but you can also charge other devices with it. Each modern-day hand-crank radio has a USB port in it. So you can just plug in your GPS-tracker or a set of walkie-talkies using a USB-cable, start turning a crank handle, and there you go. This radio device is beneficial since it will allow you to charge everything that has a USB port in it:
- battery charger;
- power bank;
- portable reading lamp.
But there’s more! This model of a hand-crank survival radio is actually a two-way powered device since it has two charging options. It can be charged using a crank handle or via a built-in solar panel.
A two-way powered Hand Crank Solar Radio also comes with a built-in LED flashlight, making it an excellent piece of survival gear that deserves its place in every prepper emergency kit. With this radio, you will be able to listen to rescue broadcasts, weather stations, etc., at all times without worrying that your radio will run out of power.
3) KA208 & KA500 by Kaito Emergency Survival Radio
Kaito KA208 is a pocket-sized NOAA receiver that is another listen-only device on our list. This powerful device’s main feature is its tiny size that makes it extremely easy to carry. You will absolutely have no problem taking it with you in your get home bag. And with this compact and lightweight piece of bug-out equipment on your hands, you will be able to listen to weather channels and creative latest emergency weather reports, tune to various rescue stations, and always stay up to date with what’s going on around you.
This device uses two AAA batteries. So you might want to have a set of spare batteries with you or use a portable charger. But if you want a more updated device, you may consider getting a Kaito KA500. This is a five-way powered receiver that can be charged via several power source options: via a built-in hand crank generator, a solar panel, two AA batteries, through a USB port, or via an AC adapter.
This radio device is an amazing piece of survival gear, indeed! It features a whole set of functions. Kaito KA500 serves as:
- A four-band radio receiver for AM/FM/SW/NOAA;
- A USB charger;
- A reading lamp;
- LED flashlight;
- LED SOS radio flashlight.
ABS material makes this multi-function weather radio water-resistant and impact-proof. Also, Kaito KA500 has amazing sound quality. This portable receiver will help you stay informed during emergencies at all times tuning in to weather channels and emergency stations.
4) GoTenna Survival Radio Antenna
And finally, the most peculiar survival device on our list – the GoTenna.
What is GoTenna? It is a tiny extension antenna for your cell phone that will let you make mobile calls with no need for mobile network towers. So it’s fair to say that with GoTenna, you get a portable network tower of your own.
And should you choose this as a curious add-on to your emergency kit, don’t forget to get two or more of those to be able to communicate to your family and friends. A person that you are calling via GoTenna must have one of their own to receive your call.
Survival Radio Conclusion
There is no way you can prepare yourself for the end of the world without getting an emergency radio. Should the world-as-we-know-it end, you will need a survival radio not any less than a set of hand tools, a first aid kit, or freeze-dried food storage.
And your best bet is to have a set of these radios. You will not only need a two-way communication device like a ham survival radio set to stay in touch with fellow radio operators or rescue teams. Another piece of emergency equipment is a compact and lightweight listen-only radio. A portable receiver will let you stay up-to-date with rescue news and reports and listen to emergency weather alerts wherever you are.
When looking for a survival radio option, go for the best radios on the market. Look for sound quality, rechargeable battery and multiple charging options like solar power or hand-crank charging, extended bandwidth to receive weather alert radio broadcasts, and additional features like a built-in LED flashlight, a reading lamp, USB ports, a built-in solar panel, and even an ultrasonic dog whistle.
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ
What is Emergency Survival Radio?
An emergency radio is a special kind of receiver that is used in emergencies. However, not every radio makes for a good emergency radio. An emergency radio must receive regular radio stations and NOAA weather channels that transmit weather alerts.
Another feature of a high-quality survival radio is multiple charging options like rechargeable AAA or AA batteries, a built-in solar panel, and a hand-crank turbine. Among other extra features are an LED flashlight, USB inputs, an SOS alarm, etc.
How to Choose the Best Survival Radio?
When you are looking for the best survival radio, follow these simple tips:
- An emergency radio should be portable. So you must look for a compact and lightweight option. You might also want to go for the models with straps that will let you have your hands free while carrying a receiver.
- Weather radio must receive AM/FM stations and, and foremost, receive NOAA channels. It is best when your receiver comes with pre-programmed NOAA stations.
- Make sure that your receiver supports various charging options. Go for the one that will have a solar panel and a hand-crank turbine.
- Look for next to perfect sound quality.
- Extra features such as an SOS beacon, a dog whistle, a LED flashlight, etc., will make for an excellent NOAA survival radio.
What is the Best Survival Radio?
There are many high-quality survival radio options. Among them are Sangean MMR 88, Kaito KA500, FosPower’s water-resistant hand-crank radio with a solar panel, Midland’s Hand-crank NOAA weather alert radio, NOAA Weather radio with a solar panel by RunningSnail, Eton ARCFRX3, and others.
What makes these models the best survival radios on the market is that they are easy-to-use portable devices with multiple charging options. All these models are hand-crank radios, which means you can charge them by turning a turbine handle. Plus, this feature lets you charge other devices via USB. The models also come with various additional features.
Sangean MMR 88 emergency radio has a LED flashlight and a LED indicator for weather alerts. Another cool thing about Sangean MMR 88 is that it has a built-in solar panel. Sangean MMR 88 comes with 7 pre-programmed NOAA weather stations, making it an excellent weather alert receiver.
The nearest rival to Sangean MMR 88 is the Kaito KA500 that comes with a pack of useful features and multiple charging options. This model is also water-resistant.
Eton ARCFRX3 is probably the most uniquely designed survival radio. This tiny NOAA weather alert system is red, so you can spot it in no time when time matters the most. Eton ARCFRX3 also comes with a solar panel and a USB input to charge other electrical devices.
NOAA Weather alert survival radio by Midland not only allows you to receive public emergency alert system signals and check other NOAA weather channels, but thanks to an ultrasonic dog whistle, it becomes an ultimate survival device if you have no possibility to call for help with your voice.
What is the Best Weather Radio?
According to online customer reviews, one of the best survival radio options is FosPower’s hand-crank weather radio. It receives AM & FM stations and NOAA weather channels. This water-resistant survival radio also comes with an LED flashlight and an SOS alarm signal.
Does a Hand-Crank Receiver Work Long Enough?
A hand-crank emergency radio will let you listen to NOAA broadcasts for several hours. But you should keep in mind that using other features of your receiver such as an LED flashlight or a built-in lamp will reduce the operating time. So use your hand-crank survival radio wisely.