TRAVELING

Best Emergency Radio: Getting the Latest Updates

Radio in the wild
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

Do you live in an area where natural disasters are more common than you would like? The power outs are often, but you still want to know what’s going on in the world and if you can expect some more bad weather? Unfortunately, we know the feeling. But, don’t worry, there is a solution for your being-ahead-of-the-weather problem, and it is known as the best emergency radio the market offers.

While most of us have access to the internet, going online might not be possible during storms and hurricanes, especially if there is a blackout. Having access to a battery operated radio during natural disaster can help you with supplies and evacuation plans.

Portability of battery-operated radios

In this guide, we are going to talk about the features of emergency radios that you need to know about, as well as show you several of the most wanted emergency radios on the market, that you can purchase in case you find yourself in an emergency. Now, let’s get prepared!

Our Top Picks

Product NameWeightDimensionsSolar PanelsSpecific FeaturesPrice
Kaito 5 Way1.5 lb2.5 x 8 x 5 inchesYes7 band radio, brushless generatorCheck price on Amazon
American Red Cross FRX31.33 lb5.8 x 6.9 x 2.6 inchesYesHand crank, Aux input, chargerCheck price on Amazon
IronSnow Dynamo0.45 lb1.7 x 5 x 2.4 inchesYesLight, compact, hand crankCheck price on Amazon
C Crane CC Solar Observer1 lb2 x 7.25 x 5.5 inchesYesWinds up, LED flashlightCheck price on Amazon
Sangean MMR-880.86 lb2.71 x 5.98 x 3.3 inchesNoHandstrap, 19 presets, USBCheck price on Amazon
Eton FRX 50.9 lb5.8 x 2.3 x 7.1 inchesYesHand crank, rechargeableCheck price on Amazon
Grundig S450DLX 3.6 lb12.2 x 3.9 x 7.6 inchesNo50 station memory, low distortionCheck price on Amazon
Midland ER2001 lb9 x 2.8 x 6.5 inchesNoLED flashlight, USB charging, rechargeableCheck price on Amazon
La Cross 810-8050.35 lb7.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inchesNoEarphone jack, non-slip, ruggedCheck price on Amazon
Ambient Weather WR-0900.2 lb2.2 x 1 x 3.5 inchesNoPocket sized, 7 NOAA channelsCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

Climate change is just one reason why we should always have a reliable emergency radio at home or at work. Radios are not only good for weather information, but for public alerts and news as well. Looking for a good radio can be confusing if you don’t know where to start. Luckily we have some tips for you to keep in mind when searching for a good battery operated radio.

Portability

During times of emergencies, you always have to travel light. For example, if you are evacuating your home for a hurricane, you can only bring the essentials with you, and bringing a big chunky radio is not a good option.

Emergency radio portability and weight

When looking for something portable, make sure that it is small enough to fit in your backpack or purse. Small, lightweight radios won’t take up too much room so you can carry it with you not only during emergencies, but on camping and backpacking trips as well.

Multiple Power Options

During hurricane season, bringing extra batteries with you, might be the last thing on your mind. Aside from this, you have no way of knowing how long the emergency situation will last.

Many uses of a radio

When looking for a good radio, make sure you have multiple power options so that you can always power the radio. Good options include solar, hand crank, DC or AC power options. Solar and hand crank options are good to have when there is a blackout and you can’t charge your unit through the wall socket.

NOAA Sticker

NOAA or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration operates under the US Department of Commerce. Their National Weather Service mission is to “provide weather, water, and climate data, forecasts and warnings for the protection of life and property and enhancement of the national economy.”

Their goal is to have a weather-ready nation which is why they broadcast all forecasts and weather related events in the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR), a nationwide network of radio stations. They broadcast continuous weather reports from the nearest National Weather Service office so that all citizens and residents are kept informed at all times.

Emergency radio with NOAA Sticker

If you’re going to use your radio for emergency or survival preparation, get a radio with a NOAA sticker. NOAA sends their alerts through FM or AM so receiving these bands are important. These radios usually cost around $15 – $50.

Multiuse

Some emergency radios have more than one function. Aside from receiving NOAA alerts they also have flashlights that can be used for illumination or as a signaling beacon.

Other radios are also capable of USB charging of smartphones, which are very helpful when your phone runs out of juice. A multi-purpose radio can be convenient because you can get lots of use from 1 single device.

Antenna

Emergency radios are also great for camping. If you are a camper, consider taking an emergency radio with you so that you can be updated on weather in your camping area.

Emergency radio with antenna

For this purpose, consider a radio with an antenna so that you can receive broadcast in obscure areas. The best choice would be an external telescopic antenna since it has a much better range than the integrated ones.

Best Products on Today’s Market

Now that you are aware of the features that you should know about when it comes to the best emergency radio, you are now ready to peruse some of the best radios on the market currently. When you are reading below, keep in mind the features that you need so you can get the best radio for you. Happy shopping!

Kaito 5 Way Emergency RadioKaito 5 Way Emergency Radio

Price: Approx $50

Weight: 1.5 lb

Dimensions: 2.5 x 8 x 5 inches

Specific features: High quality AC-type brushless generator, solar panels, 7-band weather radio

Best use: Solar power use, night and day use

Description: If you are looking for a dependable radio you can check out the Kaito 5 Way Emergency Radio. The best things about this model are the brushless generator and the solar panels that power and charge the radio. To catch as much of the sun’s rays as possible, the radio is designed to tilt. It also has a 5-LED reading lamp so that the user can read during poor light conditions.

This radio also has other gizmos that make it useful during emergency situations. It has a super bright LED on one side that can be used as a signaling device as well as a USB port so you can connect cell phones or an iPod for charging.

Aside from this, it comes with 6 different cell phone tips that can charge any mobile phone by using the crank. Overall, this is a great durable, high performance radio that will serve you great during emergencies, but will also come quite handy for camping.

PROS:

  • Various colors to choose from
  • 7 band weather radio
  • Has solar powered panels

CONS:

  • Hard to tune
  • Does not come with a wall charging unit

Related: You can improve your radio’s performance by getting better reception with the Kaito T-1 Radio Antenna. It extends to 23 feet and only about $10 in cost.

Check the price on Amazon

American Red Cross FRX3 Weather Alert RadioAmerican Red Cross FRX3 Weather Alert Radio

Price: Approx $60

Weight: 1.33 lb

Dimensions: 5.8 x 6.9 x 2.6 inches

Specific features: Receives AM & FM weather band alert, cell phone charger via USB, multiple power options: built-in rechargeable, AAA batteries, hand crank, solar power, LED flashlight/beacon, AUX input

Best use: No power, solar panel use

Description: Because of the climate changes, everybody in America needs to be prepared during emergency situations and disasters. Therefore, the American Red Cross RX3 Weather Alert Radio has been created. You can use this radio anytime, especially at night because it has a flashlight.

One of the best ways to prepare for an emergency situation is to get information and you can easily receive weather alerts through AM and FM stations with this radio.

The best thing about this emergency radio, is the different power sources you can use to make sure you have the power to receive weather alerts. You can use solar power, a hand crank, AAA batteries and built-in rechargeable batteries.

Turn on the alert function so that the radio can automatically broadcast emergency weather alert such as severe storms, hurricanes and tornadoes in your area. To charge your cell phone, simply plug it into the USB port. No emergency or disaster kit is complete without this radio.

PROS:

  • Can charge your phone
  • Alerts for disasters and emergencies
  • Various power sources

CONS:

  • No charging gauge
  • Out of date technology
  • Uses a 2.0 mini connector, not a 2.0 micro connector

Related: If you are in an emergency situation and there is no electricity to turn on the heater or prepare a meal, you can always start a fire with the Fire Starter with Compass and Whistle. This product works great and is windproof and weather resistant.

Check the price on Amazon

iRonsnow IS-088 Emergency Solar RadioiRonsnow IS-088 Emergency Solar Radio

Price: Approx $20

Weight: 0.45 lb

Dimensions: 1.7 x 5 x 2.4 inches

Specific features: Compact AM/FM NOAA Weather Radio, 3-LED flashlight, DC recharge, hand crank recharging or solar charging, weighs 0.45 lb

Best use: Survival, power or no power

Description: This compact iRonsnow IS-088 Emergency Solar Radio has a powerful 3-LED flashlight and cell phone charger. You can charge this radio 3 different ways: using the USB charger, hand crank or through solar charging.

This is a self-powered radio you and your family can depend on anytime, in any weather. Just 5 minutes of hand cranking, will give enough power for 5 minutes of radio time, 30 minutes of flashlight time, and 5 minutes of cell phone talk time. It also has a wrist lanyard so you can bring it with you at all times. With the included flashlight, you can use it at night time, or if the power is out.

All in all, with the various ways of charging, plus, high reliability and charging a cell phone fully, and an array of color choices, this is definitely one emergency radio to check out as it is versatile and dependable.

PROS:

  • 3 power options
  • USB charging
  • Flashlight included

CONS:

  • Short battery life
  • No earphone jack
  • No internal storage for cables

Related: If you know you will need batteries for your emergency radio, you can buy them in bulk. The AmazonBasics AAA Performance Alkaline Batteries come in a 36 pack and will definitely last you a long time during an emergency situation.

Check the price on Amazon

C. Crane CC Solar Observer RadioC Crane CC Solar Observer Radio

Price: Approx $60

Weight: 1 lb

Dimensions: 7.2 x 2 x 5.5 inches

Specific features: Solar powered with LED flashlight, wind up powering option

Best use: Lack of electricity, outdoor or indoor use

Description: Those who are looking for a radio with great reception, easy to wind up, and with the dials are easy to move, should definitely take into consideration the C. Crane CC Solar Observer Radio. It’s light, easy to use, and the flashlight works well, and you will definitely be pleased with this emergency radio model’s retro, compact design.

The best way to charge this radio is by solar power. Simply leave it outside for 8 hours straight, and it will be good to go for 4-6 hours depending on the volume. If there is no sun, just use the hand crank for 90 seconds to get 12 minutes of radio time.

You can also opt to purchase the AC adapter to charge the battery pack. However, if you don’t like any of these options you can just insert 3 AA batteries for power. The radio also has a radio jack for private radio listening and a USB port for cell phone charging.

PROS:

  • Nice reception
  • Solar powered
  • Can wind up if you need to

CONS:

  • Not for use in sunlight
  • Solar charging takes a while
  • No power supply included

Related: Be sure to keep an AC adapter around for your emergency radio. The Solar Observer 5v AC Adapter is under $20 and works perfectly with the radio we have reviewed above.

Check the price on Amazon

Sangean MMR-88 Emergency RadioSangean MMR-88 Emergency Radio

Price: Approx $70

Weight: 0.86 lb

Dimensions: 2.71 x 5.98 x 3.3 in

Specific features: Public alert certified weather alert radio, DSP Digital AM/FM/WX Tuner, 19 preset channels, USB A to Micro B Cable, bright backlight USB, hand strap

Best use: Indoor, outdoor, for emergencies, camping

Description: The Sangean MMR-88 Emergency Radio can be charged 3 ways: hand crank, USB and solar power. This way you don’t run out of power so you can listen to alert bulletins, weather stations and music anytime anywhere. This is a Public Alert Certified radio, and it alerts you when there is a severe weather warning.

The crank efficiency is above average, while the battery is one of the quickest to charge. It also has clear audio quality for a small radio especially if the reception is exceptional. This radio also comes with other emergency standbys like a Morse-code beacon, siren and water resistant casing.

We also have to mention that the radio is easy to see with the bright yellow color, and the LED screen allows you to see what you are doing clearly, when making adjustments. The ability to have 19 presets is a great bonus, and if all else fails, you can use the hand crank if needed.

PROS:

  • 3 power types
  • 19 presets
  • Phone charger

CONS:

  • Reception can have static
  • Doesn’t permanently hold the preset stations
  • Short battery life

Related: Consider having an extra USB cable around in case of emergencies. You can plug it right into the radio and your phone to get a full charge when the power is out. The Syncing and Charging Cord is moderately priced and comes in a 3 pack.

Check the price on Amazon

Eton FRX5 Emergency RadioEton FRX5 Emergency Radio

Price: Approx $130

Weight: 0.9 lb

Dimensions: 5.8 x 2.3 x 7.1 inches

Specific features: Receives AM/FM/NOAA for information and entertainment, rechargeable lithium batteries, 5V 2.1A USB output for fast charging of smartphones and tablets, high efficiency solar panels, hand crank

Best use: Emergencies, bad weather

Description: The Eton FRX5 Emergency Radio is essential for every home, emergency kit or backpack. Sporting a rechargeable lithium battery, this radio can be charged using the sun or hand crank. The solar cells can charge the radio in 5 to 6 hours, while turning the crank for 4 minutes will give you 10-15 minutes of music, news or weather alert.

A USB cable can also be used to recharge the lithium battery or you can use a couple of AAA batteries if you prefer this option. But aside from news and weather alerts, it also has an AUX input so you can listen to your own tunes. Use the USB to “dump charge” your device.

Overall, with the fact that this radio is highly portable, offers different power options as well as the fast charging for phones through the USB cord, we consider it to be a great, well rounded emergency radio that also offers both S.A.M.E and NOAA alerts.

PROS:

  • Various power sources
  • A.M.E and NOAA alerts
  • Rechargeable batteries

CONS:

  • More costly than others
  • Stations can have static
  • Buttons are hard to push

Related: Along with an emergency radio, you need to have an emergency preparedness kit. The Deluxe 2-Person Perfect Survival Kit includes all that you need in case of fire, hurricane, or bad weather.

Check the price on Amazon

Grundig S450DLX RadioGrundig S450DLX Radio

Price: Approx $90

Weight: 3.6 lb

Dimensions: 3.9 x 12.2 x 7.6 inches

Specific features: High signal sensitivity, strong anti-interference, low background noise and lower distortion, 50 station memory

Best use: Camping, inclement weather

Description: If you want something with a crisp and clear audio, get the Grundig S450DLX Radio. It has a 50 station memory so you can find your favorite station easily. With MCU control, large backlight LCD display, frequency clock and battery indicator and dual alarm clock.

Aside from picking up information from weather stations, it can also pick up AM/FM/3 band SW. Measuring at 3.9 x 12.2 x 7.6 inches, the radio is very portable excellent for emergency and disaster situations as well as camping and backpacking. The quick-tune button jumps from one station to the next. The alarm clock also has a wake-up, sleep and snooze function so you can use it every day at home.

While it is not waterproof, it does show a bright LCD display and has an earphone jack included, which are great bonus features.

PROS:

  • Has an AC adapter
  • 50 station memory
  • Includes carrying handle

CONS:

  • Batteries cannot charge inside
  • Not waterproof
  • Tuning dial grinds

Related: For better reception, you can purchase a short wave antenna to get better quality. The Sangean ANT-60 Short Wave Antenna can extend over 20 feet and comes with a case to keep your antenna protected.

Check the price on Amazon

Midland ER200 Emergency Weather RadioMidland ER200 Emergency Weather Radio

Price: Approx $70

Weight: 1 lb

Dimensions: 9 x 2.8 x 6.5 inches

Specific features: Super bright LED flashlight at 130 Lumens, USB charging for smartphones and other devices, rechargeable and replaceable 2000 mAh lithium ion batteries, SOS flashlight beacon that flashes Morse code

Best use: Severe weather, dark areas

Description: The Midland ER200 Emergency Weather Radio is one of the smallest radios for disaster, weather alert and camping. At just At 10.6 ounces, it is a heavyweight because aside from severe weather forecasts and weather alerts it also has an extremely bright LED flashlight and an SOS flashlight beacon that flashes in Morse code to use for signaling.

Furthermore, you can also select the lower illumination option to preserve battery life. The LCD display is backlit so you can see the chosen stations, time or the weather channel. With 2000 mAh battery life, the ER200 can be used up to 25 hours of normal use. But if the radio needs charging, you can use mini USB, hand crank or solar panels. The radio can also be used to charge other devices such as cell phones and tablets.

Overall, this is a radio that is definitely worth checking out, and you will love how bright the flashlight is and that it has a decent battery life.

PROS:

  • Backlit LCD display
  • 130 Lumens of light
  • Up to 25 hours of average use

CONS:

  • Small
  • Batteries get expensive for this model
  • For some, the crank does not work properly

Related: If you are able to use rechargeable batteries for your radio, you can charge them by using the Battery Charger With USB Port. Under $20, this includes a USB port and will never overcharge your batteries.

Check the price on Amazon

La Crosse 810-805 Weather RadioLa Crosse 810-805 Weather Radio

Price: Approx $25

Weight: 0.35 lb

Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches

Specific features: NOAA weather band, USA-made IC chip, 3.5mm earphone jack socket, ergonomic, rugged design with non-slip rubber finish for portability

Best use: Hurricanes, tornadoes, camping

Description: The La Crosse 810-805 Weather Alert Radio is one of the best weather radios out there. It picks up all 7 NOAA weather band channels, and its IC chip is one of the best and is made in the USA, and is known for its high frequency. The small, compact and rugged frame is built for portability.

It also has a 3.5 mm earphone jack socket if you want to listen to music privately. The radio uses 3 AA alkaline batteries and can last for days on alert mode. The 5 watt built in flashlight is good quality. The radio comes with a lanyard for easy carrying and portability.

Small and portable, this radio gives you a lot for such a little radio. It is built tough, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking if you are out camping or backpacking. We liked the feature of having the LCD screen turn from blue to red when there is a severe weather alert.

PROS:

  • Rugged, won’t slip
  • Affordable, made of high quality
  • Gets all 7 NOAA weather band channels

CONS:

  • Reception can have static
  • Can stop working by itself
  • No batteries included

Related: In an emergency situation, you will need to stay hydrated. You can consider the DATREX Emergency Water Pouch. You can get them in bulk and be able to use them in a survival or disaster situation. Each one is 125 ml.

Check the price on Amazon

Ambient Weather WR-090 Emergency Alert RadioAmbient Weather WR-090 Emergency Pocket

Price: Approx $20

Weight: 0.2 lb

Dimensions: 2.2 x 1 x 3.5 inches

Specific features: Pocket-size digital AM/FM/NOAA weather radio with real-time alert, gets all 7 NOAA weather channels, compact and stylish design, telescopic antenna can extend 8 inches

Best use: Civil emergency, indoor, outdoor

Description: Receive 24/7 National Weather Bureau broadcasts wherever you are. Ambient Weather WR-090 Emergency Alert Radio with Digital Tuner and Flashlight has an alert button that turns on automatically when there is dangerous weather or civil emergencies.

The radio has AM/FM/WeatherBand so you can access news and weather information whenever you need it. Aside from extreme weather and emergencies, the compact and rugged construction of the radio is also excellent for camping and backpacking.

The radio also has an integrated flashlight that can also be powered through the USB port. Get better reception all the time, thanks to the telescopic antenna that can extend up to 8 inches so you can get signal wherever you are.

You will also love the fact that this radio like the bonus features such as a bright flashlight as well as a USB power cable, earphone jack and the lanyard. This makes the radio easier to use and more functional. Lightweight and portable, you will get an alert when there is severe weather and can take appropriate shelter.

PROS:

  • Many bonus features
  • Antenna retracts
  • Earphone jack

CONS:

  • Not the best sound quality
  • Can have wiring problems
  • Seems cheap

Related: The Cobra CPI1590 1500W Professional Power Inverter includes 3 AC outlets and a USB port. It protects against the failure of most kinds, include power outages and thermal shutdowns.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

With the Cobra power inverter, we have reached the end of our article. We hope that by now, you realized that the weather can be unpredictable at times, and that it is better to get fair warning whenever possible. Having an emergency radio with you during camping, backpacking, at home and at work can help you prepare for possible weather changes in your area.

If you read the features to consider, you will know how to find the radio model that will suit all your personal needs. And, we are pretty sure that the model you were looking for was in the product reviews section. Also, don’t forget to consider the related products as they will make your level of emergency preparedness even higher.

Vector emergency radio

At the end, remember, cell phones are not always reliable as cellular towers can go down during a storm. An emergency radio is your best bet in bad weather situations. This way you can stay informed as best as possible.

Now, we would like to know your thoughts. Have you had experience with any of the radios mentioned above? Do you have a great product that we didn’t include in the list? Leave a comment in the comments section below and share your stories with us.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Kendra Larson

    It’s sad the Grundig S450DLX is constructed so bad, because it is GREAT product! I used self-adhesive rubber feet on the bottom to keep it from sliding, so with them, and the weight of the batteries, the radio stays rock solid stationary with any button press or turn of a dial. Excellent battery life and great sound.

  • Mark Foster

    Hi there! Did you have some issues with your Grundig radio? I think like all radios, it tends to be lightweight so make sure you do put it on top of something solid. When in camp and I find no solid platform to put my radio, I tie it with a paracord lanyard and attach it to my upright backpack. That way, you’ll also protect the radio.

  • Richard Taylor

    The American Red Cross Radio is indispensable in an emergency. Not only can it be charged itself in a multitude of ways (hand crank, batteries, USB), it can also provide charge for your phone. It’s not going to replace your phone charger but in an emergency, at least, it might be your best hope. Nice size to fit in a backpack for camping and the like, where the weather radio will most certainly come in handy. Using the hand crank for just 90 seconds will allow for 5-7 minutes of radio so the this is a great, versatile radio.

  • Mark Foster

    Ah, you’ve discovered the American Red Cross Radio! It’s the best one, yet and very affordable. I gave one to my parents so they can monitor storms and be ready for anything. I also have this radio for a long time and it has served me well even in the remotest places. 🙂

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