8 Best Emergency Radio for 2022

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Keelan Balderson

Updated: June 02,2022

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While we’ve become accustomed to modern tech, most computers and smart devices are of little use if there’s no power. In such a scenario using an emergency radio is a more reliable way to access information

Whether it utilizes a long-lasting battery, windup power, or solar, the best emergency radio is one that can function in all situations.

We’ve narrowed down the search to eight leading products, so you can find the best survival radio for your needs.

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Best for: Overall features

Power Source

Solar, Hand Crank

Radio Bands Supported

FM, AM

Frequency

108 MHz

Short Description

One of the best hand crank radio choices on the market, these Midland radios also have a built-in solar panel. This redundancy ensures you have power, no matter what your situation. You can also keep up with weather alerts from the NOAA radio band.

Full Review
Key Features
Best for: Budget buyers

Power Source

Corded-Electric, Replaceable Battery, Solar, Hand Crank

Radio Bands Supported

7-Band

Frequency

108 MHz

Short Description

This compact solar-powered radio lets you efficiently use the AM, FM, and NOAA bands to keep you informed if you find yourself in an emergency. It has a responsive antenna with good reception and an LED flashlight to help you in the dark.

Full Review
Key Features
Best for: Portable shortwave radio

Power Source

Corded Electric, Solar, Battery

Radio Bands Supported

2-Band

Frequency

108 MHz

Short Description

If you’re looking for the best shortwave radio for emergencies, then consider the Kaito KA500. It can pick up most of the shortwave radio spectrum (from 3.2 MHZ to 22MHz). It has good coverage of regular AM and FM as well. It’s also one of the best waterproof portable radios we’ve seen. 

Full Review
Key Features
Best for: SOS alarm and light

Power Source

Solar, Battery, Hand Crank

Radio Bands Supported

7-Band

Frequency

108 MHz

Short Description

This solar panel crank radio from FosPower gives you just what you need in an emergency. You get a 1-watt LED flashlight and reading light and a backup power bank that can also charge mobile devices. You also get access to NOAA emergency weather forecasts. It’s also IPX3 rated, meaning it can withstand rain and other water sprays.

Full Review
Key Features
Best for: Emergency alert system radio

Power Source

Solar, Hand Crank

Radio Bands

7-Band

Frequency

108 MHz

Short Description

The Eton FRX3+ emergency weather radio is a durable and practical choice if you find yourself in a blackout, natural disaster, or are adventuring off the grid. It reaches AM, FM, and weather stations quickly and clearly without much radio noise. Plus, you can provide power to the device via a solar panel at the top or a hand crank at the front.

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Key Features
Best for: Small radio

Power Source

Solar Powered

Radio Bands Supported

FM, AM

Frequency

108 MHz

Short Description

If you need a feature-rich but compact solution, the Midland ER210 may be the best portable AM FM radio for you. It has impressive battery life and can be easily recharged in direct sunlight. The backlit LCD display is also a nice touch.

Full Review
Key Features
Best for: AM FM radio for durability

Power Source

Kinetic

Radio Bands Supported

7-Band

Frequency

108 MHz

Short Description

Known for its durability, the MMR-88 from Sangean is also one of the most efficient hand crank AM/FM radios available. You’ll get five minutes of playback for every minute winding, and this is further supported by solar power. You also get access to all seven weather stations.

Full Review
Key Features
Best for: Rechargeable battery-powered radio

Power Source

Kinetic

Radio Bands Supported

7-Band

Frequency

108 MHz

Short Description

The Solar Observer is an excellently designed and power-efficient AM FM radio, that can give you a staggering 30 minutes of use for just 90 seconds of manual cranking. It can also go for 60 hours with just three AA batteries before you need to switch to the rechargeable.

Full Review
Key Features

What Is Emergency Radio?

It’s a device that’s designed to function in an emergency, such as a power cut, getting stranded in the wilderness, or during a natural disaster. 

Emergency radios use small amounts of power and are commonly designed to run on renewable energy, such as solar.

The hand crank radio is another good option, due to its manually powered electrical generator. It allows you to use physical motion to recharge the battery.

Emergency radios can typically tune in to the AM, FM, and weather broadcasting bands. Some will also include shortwave radio to get international and amateur broadcasts.

In the United States, most emergency radios allow you to receive weather and disaster reports via the NOAA Emergency Alert System (EAS). There are seven stations broadcasting weather updates in different regions of the country. Some radios will even automatically deliver alerts from the most relevant broadcast based on your location.

How To Choose the Best Emergency Radio for You?

Finding the most suitable emergency radio for your needs will depend on several factors. The following is worth keeping in mind:

Price

This type of radio isn’t intended to produce the highest quality sound or the most modern features, so they do not utilize expensive technology. That means even the best emergency radio solutions are affordable. Still, if you are on a tight budget you should expect to spend between $25 and $60.

Weather Alerts

Staying informed about the weather is important if you are out braving the elements or camping. It’s also useful if you’re at home in a power cut or the weather itself has taken out the power grid. 

Look for a device with access to the NOAA radio band. You can tune in to up to seven basic radio stations that broadcast emergency weather reports and other disaster warnings across the United States. Some make things even easier by automatically tapping into the most relevant station and switching on when a broadcast is being made

Power Efficiency

Just because a radio has a rechargeable battery, crank, or solar panel, doesn’t mean it will last a long time or is efficient at charging. Before parting with your cash, you need to check the overall average battery life. Anything over eight hours is considered good.

Likewise, cranks vary greatly in the time it takes to generate meaningful power. At the lower end, it can take two minutes to generate one minute of playback. At the higher end, you can get more than ten times the number of minutes you put in. 

Charge Other Devices

If you want to be reassured that you’ll always have contact with the outside world in an emergency, a radio with the ability to charge mobile devices is a good solution. It works by simply sharing stored power via USB. While it’s not the fastest or most efficient way to get your devices running again, it can be a lifesaver.

Durability

If you’re very active and will be taking your hand radio hiking, rafting, or camping, it needs to be durable enough to withstand the elements. Many of the radios we’ve looked at are shock/drop and water-resistant to varying degrees. This allows you to drop them on different terrain or expose them to downpours without causing any damage.

If you want to be able to take your radio completely underwater, you need to check for an IPX rating of at least 4.  

SOS Features

Some radios can pulsate light in the universal morse code SOS sequence. That way, the emergency services or other members of your group can find you in the distance

This might also be accompanied by a loud alarm or noise that plays out of the radio’s speaker, so people can locate you by sound.

Size

Seasoned adventurers will know that to make the journey easier, it’s best to pack as light as possible. If you don’t want to lug extra weight around or need to conserve space, you’ll need a compact radio. 

The trade-off is that the smaller and lighter the device, the less likely you are to get great sound quality. But it’s not like you need high-fidelity audio to appreciate a weather update.

Wrap Up

Survivalist radios aren’t the flashiest technology. Those of us that own one are hoping that we never find ourselves in a dire enough situation to use it. 

Whether you’re looking for the best portable AM FM radio or the best shortwave radio, however, all the products on our list are perfect for emergencies. They have long-lasting batteries, renewable charging methods, and everything from weather alerts to SOS alarms and lighting. 

If you’re planning to brave the great outdoors or live in an area with extreme weather, now’s the time to get prepared!

FAQ.


What type of radio is best for an emergency?

If you find yourself in an emergency, a functional radio can be a lifesaver. The best emergency radio is one that uses minimal power and does not require the main power grid to charge. 

Common options include solar emergency radios that draw power from the sun. Emergency crank radios are also great. They allow you to wind up the radio to create power.

What is the best wind-up radio?

The best hand-crank radio is the Sangean MMR-88. It produces five minutes of radio playback for every minute of winding. If you’re content without an SOS alarm, automatic weather alerts, or certified drop resistance, the C. Crane CC Solar Observer is even more efficient. This can generate 30 minutes of power from just 90 seconds of winding.

Do hand-crank radios work?

Yes, while not every model will be perfect, crank radios are a trusted technology. They allow you to recharge a battery-operated radio simply by turning a crank. I.e. Winding it up. 

A crank radio will not be as powerful or last as long as other power sources before needing to be recharged, but they are particularly reliable when there is no other access to electric power or solar.

Efficiency varies from two minutes of winding for one minute of power to 90 seconds of winding for 30 minutes of power.

How long do hand-crank radios last?

On average you can expect between 10 and 32 hours of radio playback from the best crank radio options on our list. But if you use additional features like lights or have the volume turned way up, batteries run out quicker. 

Overall, the best emergency radio we’ve reviewed is the Midland ER310. This can make use of AA batteries before moving on to a windable and solar-powered battery that lasts up to 32 hours.

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Keelan Balderson

Keelan Balderson

A qualified journalist and longtime web content writer, Keelan has a passion for exploring information and learning new things. If he's not writing or pushing his own brands, you'll find him watching pro wrestling or trying not to rant about politics online.

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