I really hope that you never have to use an emergency radio. I know that emergencies can hit us at any moment. So, staying prepared for emergency situations like weather storms or earthquakes or any other disaster is always a wise choice. Time and again, natural disasters have proven that we can never be too prepared. One of the most important survival tools that you can lay your hands on is an emergency radio.
Having tested dozens of emergency radios over months, I have narrowed down 13 of the best emergency radios that can help you in survival situations. You can find out each and every radio review and benefits in this guide.
If you are short on time, here are my top 5 picks.
- Kaito KA500 Voyager – Our Favourite and Probably the best
- American Red Cross Weather Radio – Runner Up
- FosPower Emergency Radio
- RunningSnail MD-088s
- Midland ER310
- 13 Top Rated Emergency Weather Radios
- Emergency Radio Buying Guide – Tips to Pick the Right Radio For you
- What is a survival radio or an emergency weather radio?
- What is a hand-crank radio?
Best Emergency Radio & NOAA Weather Radios
#1. Kaito KA500 Voyager
Technical Specifications of Kaito KA500:
|Product Name||Kaito KA500 Voyager|
Kaito KA500 Voyager Emergency Radio Review
The Kaito KA500 is one of the finest, which explains why thousands of people not only trust it but also depend on it to emerge unscathed from emergencies. The true strength of the radio lies in multiple powering methods.
Kiato KA500 is a complete all-rounder. This is something I would wanna have in my emergency kit. This emergency radio price is also within budget. This is one of my personal favorites. I totally recommend it. – John (Radios expert Author)
There are five methods that you can use for powering this radio, which are:
- Solar panel
- AA batteries
- Wall charging (5V AC/DC)
- NiMH rechargeable batteries (that can also be replaced)
The hand-crank and the solar panel are of particular interest in emergencies because they are independent of the power grid. And, it can charge your mobile devices using a 5V USB input option so that you stay connected with those who matter the most.
That’s not the only good thing about Kaito KA500. It comes preconfigured with 7 NOAA channels that offer talk-shows, sports, entertainment, breaking news, and real-time weather forecast.
The radio also works with AM and FM bands, and it also comes with the Public Emergency Alert System.
The Kaito KA500 Voyager comes with an emergency red LED SOS light, a LED flashlight, a reading light, and a telescopic antenna for better radio signal reception.
The antenna can extend up to 14.5 inches and comes with an advanced semiconductor circuit design that increases its sensitivity.
Its body is made of water-resistant and impact-resistant ABS material, making it a perfect choice for outdoor use, especially in harsh conditions.
#2. American Red Cross Weather Radio – Eton FRX3+
Technical Specifications of American Red Cross Weather Radio:
|Product Name||American Red Cross Weather Radio|
|Weight||0.93125 pounds or 14.9 ounces|
American Red Cross Weather Radio – Eton FRX3+ Review
Manufactured by Eton, the American Red Cross Weather Radio does live up to the name of the American Red Cross. One glance at the radio will tell you that it is built for survival. It does not only have a practical design, but it also packs in a lot of versatility.
To begin with, it comes with NOAA weather band alongside AM and FM bands. So, you should rest assured that while it will allow you to stay connected to your favorite channels and talk-shows, it will also provide you with weather alters to ensure safety.
Some of the general features of the radio include a flashlight, a red beacon light, a solar panel, a hand-crank, a built-in rechargeable battery, and an alarm clock.
It will also allow you to recharge your phone and other mobile devices using the integrated USB port. Additionally, it has a 3.5 mm headphone jack if you need to shut off the external world for some time. Did I tell you that it is a digital radio with a large backlit display?
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you that you will not lose your radio in the dark, thanks to its glow-in-the-dark locator.
The neat design of the radio tucks in a telescopic antenna on the back and the hand crank on the front, reducing clutter. There is an easy carry handle that houses the solar panel nicely to easily absorb sunlight. The hand crank is large enough with an ergonomic design for easy usage.
#3. FosPower Emergency Radio
Specifications of FosPower Emergency Radio:
|Product Name||FosPower Emergency Radio|
FosPower Emergency Radio Review
The FosPower Emergency Radio is yet another amazing option to check out. It doubles up as a 2000 mAh power bank when you need to recharge your phone and other mobile devices.
You can use a micro USB to recharge the internal battery. If you are confused about micro USB, just use your smartphone charger to charge the internal battery!
Complete with a hand crank and a solar panel, the radio can stay on during emergency situations when the power supply is off. In case the alternative power sources are not working, you can put in AAA batteries to power this radio.
As far as the features are concerned, it will give you access to NOAA weather channels that will allow you to get real-time weather alerts. It also works with AM and FM bands so that you can stay informed about the latest news and developments during emergencies.
It comes with an SOS alarm (and a red light), a flashlight (1 watt), and a reading lamp. The tuning and volume knobs are well-placed, and there is a flip switch to jump between AM and FM reception.
The radio also packs in a telescopic antenna that can extend out to give better reception. The unit is very lightweight and comes with IPX-3 waterproofing so that you can take it out in the rain.
#4. RunningSnail MD-088s
Technical Specifications of RunningSnail MD-088s:
RunningSnail MD-088s Emergency NOAA Weather Radio Review
The blissfully light RunningSnail MD-008s emergency radio looks like a Handycam. Don’t be fooled, though! It is a radio with some superpowers engineered right into it. For starters, you can recharge it using its hand crank, a solar panel, or a USB cable. If you have a few spare AAA batteries, you can use them to power up this radio.
With full support for NOAA weather alerts and AM/FM reception, the radio will keep you abreast of recent developments during emergencies.
It has one of the brightest LED flashlights I have encountered so far. On a full charge, the flashlight can run for 10 to 12 hours. This is particularly helpful during power outages or power grid failures.
It is IPX-3 water-resistant, which means that you can spray up to 10 liters of water on it per minute, and it will stay functional. Don’t submerge it in water, though! It is not designed for that.
The good thing is that it can charge your phones or tablets and other smaller devices that have a USB charging facility.
#5. Midland ER310 Emergency Radio
Technical Specifications of Midland ER310:
Midland ER310 Emergency Radio Review
The Midland ER310 has a rugged look, which tells you that it is designed for survival scenarios. The radio is designed to be water-resistant but is not waterproof. So, don’t think of taking it out in driving rain or don’t submerge it in water. By doing so, you will destroy the radio.
What I liked about the radio is its ability to automatically scan through NOAA channels and lock on to the strongest signal. It means that it will give you alerts from no more than one or two NOAA channels. That should suffice because it will usually lock on to the NOAA channel that is closest to you. That is what matters, right?
The sound that this radio produces is in the range of 90 decibels, which is surprisingly loud for its small size. Yes, you won’t get the quality of Bose, but there’s enough clarity.
Complete with a solar panel and a hand crank, this radio comes with a rechargeable 2600 mAh that can last for 32 hours. You can even power up the radio using 6 AA batteries. It can even charge your phone or other mobile devices to allow for continuous communication.
It offers a 130 lumens LED flashlight, one of the brightest you can get in any emergency radio.
What I did like about the radio was its SOS flashlight beacon that sends out emergency signals in Morse code so that rescue teams can find you. Additionally, it is also capable of emitting ultrasonic dog whistles that can aid rescue teams and individuals in finding you.
It also comes with a big backlit screen that is easy to read and gives a quick indication about the battery level.
#6. Sangean MMR-88 Weather+Alert
Technical Specifications of Sangean MMR-88 Weather+Alert:
Sangean MMR-88 NOAA Weather Emergency Radio Review
One of the best, the Sangean MMR-88 emergency radio, is a piece of art. With a robust build quality, a large digital display, a neatly placed hand crank, a solar panel, a telescopic antenna, and big but neatly arranged buttons, make the MMR-88 more than just a pretty looking radio.
It is designed to work optimally in rugged outdoor conditions and during emergencies. The hand crank can give you the necessary power, which makes up for the absence of the possibility of powering it up with alkaline batteries.
It is a digital radio, which means it ditches the tuning knob you find in traditional radios. The backlit screen is big enough to read comfortably while giving clear information about the battery level.
There is an emergency flashlight that you can adjust to give out light in high, low, or SOS mode. In the SOS mode, the radio flashes light in morse code, making it easily understandable for rescue teams.
The radio comes equipped with an emergency buzzer that can let out a sound to alert you of emergencies. It has 7 preset NOAA channels for providing you with real-time weather alerts. There are 19 preset AM and FM channels as well.
The MMR-88 comes with heavy-duty rubberized caps on either side to protect it from accidental falls. Other features include the ability to charge your mobile devices using the radio and to hook up a pair of earphones through the 3.5mm headphone jack so that you can get the weather alerts even in very noisy environments.
#7. HOLABABY All Hazards NOAA Weather Alert Radio
Technical Specifications of HOLABABY All Hazards NOAA Weather Alert Radio:
|Product Name||HOLABABY (by Bestway innovations LLC)|
HOLABABY All Hazards NOAA Weather Alert Radio Review
Assuming that you have made peace with this name, allow me to introduce the HOLABABY All Hazards NOAA Weather Alert Radio. Well, you can call it HO-Radio9-Green because it is green in color.
Despite its weird name, this emergency radio is one of the finest that you can get. At just 14.9 ounces, this radio comes pre-programmed with 7 NOAA channels that will give you real-time alerts and updates. It supports both AM and FM bands as well so that you can enjoy your favorite radio channels and talk shows.
There are 5 ways you can power up this radio. It can use a wall socket (but you will need an AC adapter for that, which is not included in the package), AAA batteries (not included), rechargeable Li-ion battery, hand crank, and a solar panel. It can also double up as a power bank to charge your phone or other smaller devices with a USB charging option.
It comes with a bright LED flashlight that can guide your way during power outages. In case you need a reading lamp, the radio has your back covered. Hidden underneath the top solar panel, the reading lamp is a great addition for camping and emergency use.
The radio comes equipped with a red beacon light and a very loud emergency alarm to let rescue parties find your location with ease.
The manufacturer includes a nice hand strap for easy carrying. There is a hang buckle as well, so that you can hook it up to your backpack easily. The small compass is also added with the radio so that you never get lost in the wrong direction.
The telescopic antenna can extend out to improve radio reception in areas where reception is not that great.
#8. Zurio Emergency Radio
With a rugged build quality, the Zurio emergency radio is something you will want on your side when Mother Nature unleashes her fury. It is a must-have survival gear that comes complete with a flashlight, a loud emergency siren, and the ability to charge your phone’s battery, thanks to its 4000 mAh internal battery.
Technical Specifications of Zurio Emergency Radio:
The radio can operate with three AAA batteries, or using the hand crank or solar panel that can charge the internal battery. You can also charge the radio using a USB cable for the wall or using your car cigarette lighter power adapter.
It has one of the most efficient hand cranks I have ever seen. About 2 minutes of hand-cranking can make the radio last for about 20 minutes. The solar panel is not very efficient and will require several hours of charging before the radio gets enough charge to last for about 20 minutes. Zurio has added an AUX port so that you can play music using your phone or MP3 player. The sound of the speaker is loud and clear. The backlit LCD screen is big enough for easy readability in any lighting condition.
#9. Dodocool Emergency Radio
Well-built, the Dodocool emergency radio is yet another essential survival gear that you should have. It is one of the very few radios that look rugged because of its interesting design. It doesn’t just look rugged, it is rugged!
Made of waterproof ABS plastic, the radio is impact-resistant as well. It comes with all the usual stuff that you can find in the radios listed above.
For instance, you can power it up with 3 AAA batteries or hook it to a wall socket using a USB cable. You can hand-crank the radio to charge the internal 2000 mAh battery or use the solar panel on the top to charge its internal battery.
Yes, it has NOAA weather channels along with AM and FM band support. There’s a flashlight, reading lamp, and a built-in SOS alarm. You can also use this radio to charge your mobile phone or tablet.
Not only meant for emergencies, but this radio is also a great choice for hiking, hunting, camping, etc. It also throws in a retractable telescopic antenna, which, when extended out, can improve radio reception. The sound quality is also great, considering its small size.
#10. Esky ES-CR02
Another compact emergency radio, the Esky ES-CR02, packs a lot of features in a small size. With a built-in 1000 mAh rechargeable battery that can be recharged using a hand crank, a solar cell on the top of the radio, or using a USB cable.
The 1000 mAh internal rechargeable battery will allow you to recharge your phone or tablet so that you can stay connected to those who matter the most. It comes with an integrated flashlight that can guide you through the darkness in case of a power failure.
#11. RunningSnail MD-090
Pretty much the same as RunningSnail MD-088s, the MD-090 comes packed with a 2000 mAh internal battery that you can recharge using a USB cable, a hand crank, or the solar panel attached to the device.
You can even top up the rechargeable battery using a USB cable. You can also power up the radio using 3 dry batteries (AAA).
Though this radio looks more like a throwback transistor from the early 1900’s it is actually a hybrid tech that fits well into the 21st century. The 1 watt LED flashlight produces a bright light that can easily defeat any conventional flashlight of the same wattage.
The radio also comes with a reading lamp and a telescopic antenna, which, when fully extended, provides better reception for NOAA weather bands and AM/FM bands. Did I mention that it comes with an emergency alarm and a red SOS beacon light?
In case you are worried about its fragile looks, you shouldn’t be. This thing comes with an IPX3 waterproofing rating, making it a perfect companion during rain and snow.
#12. Eton Ultimate Emergency Radio with Bluetooth
The Eton Ultimate emergency radio maintains the same design as that of the American Red Cross Weather Radio. It comes laced with Bluetooth technology that will allow you to stream your favorite music from your phone or your Bluetooth-enabled MP3 player.
It sports as a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery that can be charged using a hand crank or a solar panel. You can also charge the battery using a USB cable. You can tuck in AAA batteries to power this thing up. This is also one of the contenders for the best emergency weather radios.
What’s interesting is that the solar panel is small and not very efficient compared to the hand crank. If you want to use the solar charging panel to recharge the internal battery fully, it will take several hours to do so, and there has to be direct sunlight.
The hand crank, though made of plastic, is efficient. It can provide a working charge within a few minutes of hand cranking.
The radio comes with a bright LED flashlight, a massive ambient light, or a table lamp that you can dim as per your whims.
The radio comes with a digital tuner, a red beacon light for an emergency, support for NOAA, AM, FM, and S.A.M.E. bands. The radio can recharge any smartphone or tablet using a USB cable.
#13. Jomst Emergency Radio with NOAA Alerts
I will wrap up the list with this exceptional radio from Jomst. It is an upgraded version from the previous model and comes with all the usual stuff you find in any emergency radio.
The main features of the Jomst emergency NOAA Weather radio include a hand crank, an adjustable solar panel, a reading lamp, a flashlight, and an SOS alarm. Additionally, the radio is capable of picking up transmissions from all NOAA channels, thereby giving you real-time alerts on the fast-changing conditions.
Apart from NOAA channels, the radio also supports both AM and FM bands so that you keep getting all the important news that you need for survival.
It includes a 2000 mAh internal battery that can not only power up the radio for 4 to 6 hours of continuous use or provide 12 hours of light, but also double up as a power bank for charging your mobile phone for a quick call or a text message.
You can recharge the internal battery of the unit by hand-cranking it or placing the radio under direct sunlight so that the solar panel can do its magic. You can also use a USB cord for charging the radio. If you have spare AAA batteries, you can use them for powering the radio as well.
Emergency Radio Buying Guide
Buying an emergency radio or NOAA Weather may look easy, but is it? There are many factors that you should consider before you buy the best Emergency radio. Wasting money on the weather radio, something that will eventually not perform as expected during a real emergency is the last thing you want.
So, before you buy an emergency radio, make sure that you are considering the following factors:
How is the emergency radio powered? Batteries? Electrical wall outlet? Solar panel? Hand crank? You need to understand that during an emergency, power grids may be knocked off! Electrical wall outlets will not work.
So, if you need to hook up your NOAA Weather radio or emergency radio to a wall outlet to power it on or to recharge its batteries, it is not the ideal survival or emergency radio. There have to be other alternative power sources.
Ideally, the best emergency radio should have a hand crank power option. A solar panel is always a great addition, but it is not a necessity.
The best option is the one which comes with rechargeable batteries, power cord, hand crank, and even a solar panel.
Hand crank and solar panel emergency radios are particularly helpful during events of a power grid failure or when you do not have access to a power source. (for instance, when you are out in the wild).
NOAA Weather Alert
It is a must that the emergency radio that you are purchasing has NOAA weather alter. An emergency radio should be able to tell you about the weather conditions so that you can prep up for any oncoming emergency.
Most of the emergency radios come with NOAA bands pre-programmed. If you find one that doesn’t have pre-programmed NOAA channels but allows you to program them, it is fine.
However, if an emergency radio never gives you NOAA channel access, you should avoid purchasing it.
A bright flashlight in an emergency radio will help you to find your way out of awful situations in the event of a power grid failure. Yes, most of the emergency weather radios you find in the market come with this option. So, this shouldn’t be a big problem.
During emergencies, you will never want extra weight on yourself. Extra weight will only slow you down. The ability to move fast can is vital during life or death situations. So, the weather radio or emergency radio you are purchasing should be lightweight.
Even a bulky Jobsite radio can give you weather alerts or provide a flashlight. Those features don’t make a job site radio an ideal option for emergencies.
Serves as a Charger
An emergency radio will not allow you to talk to someone else. For that, you have ham radios or CB radios. However, an emergency radio should preferably be capable of charging your phone or GPS devices.
During emergencies and power failures, staying connected to loved ones is important. Not only will it help in the rescue, but they also ensure that family members stay connected and provide moral support.
You definitely do not want a radio that is difficult to operate. Time is vital during emergencies. So, getting a radio that allows quick tuning and easy operation is imperative. Make sure that the radio that you are selecting is not overly complicated.
The radio you purchase should have a decently big screen that is easy to read. It is even better to get a radio with a backlit screen that you can read in any lighting condition, especially during the daytime.
If you get stranded during an emergency, you need a way to let the rescue teams know your whereabouts. Sending SOS signals is the most practical way of doing so. Those signals can be in the form of a beacon light or a loud alarm or siren. The emergency radio that you purchase should have at least one of these two attributes. If the unit has both, it is better.
Power outages are not uncommon during emergencies. Staying in the dark is never an option. So, the survival gear that you have with you should include a reading lamp that can allow quality and comforting time with your family members, especially children.
A reading lamp is different from a flashlight. A flashlight will send out directional rays of light while a reading lamp will illuminate the surrounding areas. It is useful in many ways. Whether you want to read out stories to your children or enjoy a good dinner, the ambient light is what you need.
Typically, a good emergency radio should include a reading lamp apart from a flashlight. If a radio ditches that, it is not really a complete emergency radio. Try to avoid such units.
The build quality of an emergency radio is important. You will most likely use the radio outdoors, especially during emergencies, where the weather conditions are not great. So, the radio you get should have a rugged build quality that can handle bad weather conditions. You should never settle for an emergency radio that fragile. It won’t last!
Price & Budget
Finally, your budget will play a big role. I will always suggest keeping a decent budget to get a quality radio with the most essential features. There are many cheap options that you can settle for, but they will not last for long. You don’t want a radio that breaks down in the middle of an emergency.
General F.A.Q. On Emergency Radio
What is a survival radio or an emergency radio?
A survival radio or an emergency radio is a radio that will give your weather alerts and may allow you to talk to others. This means that a ham radio or even a CB radio can be an emergency radio because even they give NOAA weather alerts besides letting you talk. Those radios that do not allow you to talk, but offer a host of other features like hand crank, solar panel, ability to charge phones and GPS devices, etc., alongside weather alerts, are also called emergency radio. Using a ham radio will require a license. Using CB radio will not require a license, but they aren’t very powerful when it comes to range. Other survival radios without transmission ability do not require any license, and anyone can use them anytime.
What is a hand-crank radio?
A hand-crank radio consists of a hand-powered generator. Such radios have a coil of conducting wire wrapped around a magnet. When you spin the coil rapidly around the magnet, electricity is generated, which charges the batteries. This method of electricity generation is pretty common in modern windmill farms. A hand-crank radio is an excellent choice for emergencies because it will allow you to generate electricity even when there is no electrical source nearby. Keeping your radio ‘on’ during emergencies is important. So yes, keeping a hand-crank radio available all the time can be a lifesaver!
Why do you need a radio? Why can’t you just use a phone?
You need to understand that when an emergency hits, the natural ways in which modern society work are all disrupted. There can be a food shortage, and it may be difficult to find clean water. The worst part is that most of the emergencies knock off the power grid. With electricity gone, it will become impossible to charge your phones after a few hours or days. Sooner or later, your phone’s battery will die. Unless you charge the battery, you cannot use it. An emergency radio that can work with electricity generated by harnessing solar power or by using a hand crank can help you to stay informed. Also, such radios can help you to recharge your mobile phones so that you can resume communications. That’s the reason why you will need an emergency radio.
When will you need emergency radios?
Almost every time Mother Nature unleashes her wrath upon us! Hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, seasonal floods, high winds, volcanic eruptions can disrupt the natural ways of working. Such situations lead to immense damage and losses to both property and life. No one can say that he or she will remain unaffected by such events. In situations like those, an emergency radio becomes an invaluable asset that can draw the line between life and death. They can provide weather alerts, provide light in dark conditions, and provide power to keep our phones up and to run.
Some of them can have beacon lights or send out high-pitch sounds to alert the emergency rescue teams.
Where can you buy an emergency radio?
Big box stores, home improvement centers, electronic stores, hardware stores – all of them are great places to find an emergency radio. You can also buy them online. There are some benefits and disadvantages of shopping from a brick and mortar store. The same applies to online purchases from e-commerce stores like Amazon, eBay, etc.
If you want to purchase from a physical store, you can physically inspect the radio. You can check its weight, its build quality, the intensity of the light, etc. On the downside, you will be restricted to the knowledge of the seller and his marketing pitch. There won’t be people standing behind you in a queue to tell you about their experience with the model you are selecting.
If you want to purchase from an online e-commerce store, you cannot inspect the product physically, but you will most likely get to read real user reviews. They matter a lot! Also, you can get discounted prices for the products, and you don’t have to go to a physical store (this is particularly beneficial if you are a lazy dough like me).
Is Bluetooth Must for an Emergency Radio?
No, it is not. You are talking of emergencies. When will you have the luxury of streaming music over the Bluetooth? You can always get a Bluetooth-enabled emergency radio if you want to spend more money. Of course, during non-emergency situations, you can use a Bluetooth-enabled radio for streaming multimedia content from your phone. This will be particularly helpful during camping, hiking, pool parties, etc.
Check out the best portable shortwave radios.
Emergency Weather Radio Resources:
- https://www.usa.gov/disasters-and-emergencies – United States Emergency and Disaster Management information
- https://www.noaa.gov/weather – NOAA Free Weather Website of USA
- Best Emergency Radio & NOAA Weather Radios
- #1. Kaito KA500 Voyager
- #2. American Red Cross Weather Radio – Eton FRX3+
- #3. FosPower Emergency Radio
- #4. RunningSnail MD-088s
- #5. Midland ER310 Emergency Radio
- #6. Sangean MMR-88 Weather+Alert
- #7. HOLABABY All Hazards NOAA Weather Alert Radio
- #8. Zurio Emergency Radio
- #9. Dodocool Emergency Radio
- #10. Esky ES-CR02
- #11. RunningSnail MD-090
- #12. Eton Ultimate Emergency Radio with Bluetooth
- #13. Jomst Emergency Radio with NOAA Alerts
- Emergency Radio Buying Guide
- General F.A.Q. On Emergency Radio