Owning an emergency radio is wise for many reasons. In the event of a natural disaster or serious emergency, it’s important to be able to receive radio broadcasts and alerts. Radio communication is one of the most important factors considered in our post on building an effective nuclear survival kit. Depending on the scenario, radio communication might be the only form of receiving vital information — does your household emergency kit or survival backpack include a reliable radio device?
On a different note, if you’re a wilderness enthusiast who enjoys hiking and backpacking off the beaten path, you oughta have an emergency radio on hand. You don’t have to be days away from civilization to get caught in a sudden, violent storm without the proper equipment, and some of these units pack even smaller than a compact mess kit. If you spend time in the great outdoors hiking, boating, biking or backpacking, it’s a smart move to own a reliable, portable radio that you can tune in to weather alerts with — it could save your life.
Fortunately, there’s been some awesome recent advances in emergency radios. They are more compact, energy efficient and affordable then ever. Hand crank and solar powered radios are the solution to your radio lifeline dying in the middle of an emergency — self powered devices won’t quit on you when regular batteries do. Furthermore, most emergency radios have been built with a small array of features to further support you in the event of a survival scenario. Built in flash lights and power banks are commonly incorporated into modern emergency radios making them that much more capable of assisting you in serious situations.
Whatever your outdoor hobbies or home survival kit calls for, owning a self powered emergency radio is absolutely a good idea. Read through our list and find the unit that suits your needs best!
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1. Esky Hand Crank, Solar Powered Emergency Weather Radio (FM/AM/NOAA) With LED FlashlightPros:
- Highly compact at just two and a half by five inches
- Comes with input and output USB cords as well as a converter cord
- Flashlight is brighter than a lot of competitors
- This unit is an awesome choice of emergency radio, but there’s newer, improved models from Esky available (see item #3)
- Tuning dials take a little getting used to
- Not as durable as some of the competition
Here’s another capable emergency radio that can be self-powered by the included crank and also charged by the solar panel or by a micro USB cable. There’s a 1000 mAh power bank for charging other USB compatible devices and a strong 50 lumen flashlight included, so this radio has truly been made with a disaster or emergency scenario in mind.
This radio is exceptionally compact and lightweight at only eight ounces, so it can come with you on backpacking trips though the wilderness or remain at home in your family emergency kit.
The hand crank translates one minute of cranking into 20 minutes of radio time or 30 minutes of flashlight power — this is a highly energy efficient unit. You won’t have to crank this thing for a week in order to get some usable power, radio time or flash light use. It’s a highly portable power bank that if treated with care will provide you with unlimited juice for all your USB compatible devices.
Stay tuned in to what’s happening from within and outside of your home and don’t miss any updates or announcements during potential survival situations.
2. Esky Multi-Pupose Emergency Solar Hand Crank AM/ FM/ NOAA Weather Radio with 3W FlashlightPros:
- Has a particularly large battery capacity — this one has a long battery life and therefore give more juice to your USB compatible devices on one charge
- Four ways to charge (solar panel, hand crank, AAA batteries and USB cord)
- Has an emergency SOS feature that can broadcast alerts if you get into trouble
- The flashlight is stronger than the other unit by Esky listed
- Slightly less compact than several other emergency radios - but still impressively slim and compact at only six by two and a half inches
- Crank is poorly designed for extended use
- Buttons have a tendency to turn on in your pack if you don't store it mindfully
Here’s another radio from Esky that is quite comparable to the previous model listed. The main differences between the units is that this model has twice the battery capacity (2000mAH vs. 1000mAH) and can also be powered by AAA batteries.
The flashlight on this unit is also a bit brighter (3W). The rechargeable battery is good for up to 10 hours of light or 8 hours of radio time on a single charge! This radio is barely any less compact or lightweight than the previous model — it’s just an inch longer in length. This is another highly portable emergency radio that can really go anywhere.
This unit if taken care of should provide you with unlimited energy for all of your USB compatible devices. This radio can tune in to AM, FM and NOAA radio channels — but it can also broadcast an SOS alarm as an emergency signal if you get caught in a sticky situation. This feature could truly save your life in a survival scenario and is perhaps the most important aspect of this radio. Another winner from Esky.
3. iRonsnow Dynamo Solar Hand Crank Self Powered AM/FM/NOAA Weather RadioPros:
- This is a very compact and lightweight unit weighing in at less than half a pound and measuring just two and a half by five inches
- One of the most affordable emergency radios worth buying
- Nice quality flashlight
- Although this unit will work as a power bank, there’s better emergency radio options that will power other devices more efficiently - if a strong power bank is important to you keep reading
- Tuning dials can be frustrating to use
- Replacing batteries can be a challenge
Here’s an awesome unit from iRonsnow that comes at a super low cost. This radio can be powered by the included hand crank and solar power as well as by the USB port. Customer reviews insist this unit has excellent battery life on a full charge – but between the hand crank and solar panel that shouldn’t be much of a factor anyways.
There’s a very bright 1W LED light built into the radio so you’re covered in the event of a power outage or if you get caught on the trail after dark. This radio can tune in to AM, FM and most importantly NOAA radio stations so you won’t miss any important alerts or updates in the event of an emergency.
This is one of the most compact and lightweight emergency radios available, it’s impressively less than half a pound and only two and half by five inches! This unit will operate as a power bank, but don’t expect it to charge your smartphone in a matter of minutes.
There are better options available if you’re looking for an emergency radio to double as an effective power bank, but this unit will still absolutely give you a bit of juice if you need it. This one will fit inside or clip to a backpack with no problem — it’s the ideal unit for portable use. Reviews insist the radio component itself is of good quality, so don’t rule it out for your home survival kit just because of its small size.
4. Compass Culture Brand Emergency Solar/Crank Radio with SOS Bonus Survival Paracord BraceletPros:
- High capacity battery, bright flashlight and reading lamp and even a wrist band
- Tubes in to AM, FM and NOAA radio channels
- Includes a paracord survival bracelet
- Includes an SOS emergency broadcast alarm with a blinking red light
- Some customer complaints about issues with the antennae
- Great value considering the extra accessories, but there's more affordable options if you just need a radio
- Sliding scle for tuning rather than digital display
Here’s another reliable emergency radio that comes well reviewed by customers — and there’s even a bonus survival paracord bracelet included! I think this is my favorite unit included on this list, it combines all the best available features of an emergency radio into one package. There’s four ways to charge this radio (solar panel, hand crank, AAA batteries and USB cable) and it’s equipped with a larger, 2000mAh power bank.
This radio tunes in to AM and FM radio and will also pick up seven different NOAA weather channels. There’s a powerful, 4W LED reading lamp in addition to the flashlight, and even a wrist band for attaching this radio to your person. You’ll have 15 hours of light or six hours of radio time on one charge depending on how you charge up the radio. There’s even a SOS emergency alarm with a flashing red light if you find yourself in a scenario where you need to broadcast your location.
The included paracord survival bracelet is a totally awesome tool on its own! Aside from the length of valuable cordage you get from the paracord itself, there’s a whistle, a scraper, compass and fire starter incorporated into the construction. Pretty neat! For some other neat (and potentially life saving) survival tools and gadgets, check out our Top 10 Best Cool Survival Gear for Emergencies post.
5. Running Snail Emergency Solar/Crank Radio with 4000mAh BatteryPros:
- Long battery life and large capacity to hold charge — this unit is ideal for powering other electronic devices on one charge
- Speaker quality is excellent for the size and cost
- Can charge four different ways
- Still a highly portable unit despite it’s boom box style design
- Despite its look and design, this is still a hand held sized unit if you're looking for a larger speaker
- Fairly expensive option
- Packs cumbersome
I really like this little boom box from Running Snail. This is a tiny handheld unit, so if you’re looking something larger with some serious volume output, this isn’t it. On the other hand, this is one of the best quality emergency radios available concerning battery life and power bank ability and it’s still a highly portable unit.
The 4000mAh rechargeable battery is good for 10 to 12 hours of radio play time or up to 40 hours of flashlight time on one charge. That’s significantly more battery life than any of the other radios listed here.
This unit can be charged or powered by AAA batteries, the incorporated hand crank, solar panel or by USB cable. It takes about 7 hours to charge by USB cable. The speaker itself although small is a high definition speaker that despite its size puts out some good volume.
It’s not a full on boom box by any means, but you’ll be impressed with its sound. For the price point this is a superior piece of survival equipment that will perform great as both a survival tool and as a quality music player.