Written by 4:46 pmCommunication

Best Emergency Radios Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

Photo of a firefighter using radio inside of a vehicle

No matter who you are or where you live, natural catastrophes hit us without any warning whatsoever. Even if you’re lucky enough to get pre-warnings of an upcoming tragedy, it still is a baffling position to be in both physically and mentally.

Although we sincerely hope and wish that you’ll never get to use an emergency radio, when everything else goes south that is quite possibly the only thing you can rely on. Even if you think that modern technology has advanced by miles for you to disregard what looks to be a device made a couple of decades ago, you’ll be surprised to know how practical it is and how valuable the information it provides might be.

After hours and hours upon research and considering dozens of radios, we have gathered some of the best emergency radios in the current market for our list which are guaranteed to get the job done when it needs to be.

If you’re already concerned about the number of dollars you have to reserve for a decent device, this list consists of radios from popular brands like Esky which have products under $20 while companies like C. Crane cater to that premium culture of clients.

The Top 10 Best Emergency Radios

1) Kaito Voyager Pro KA6003

MSRP: $79.99 | Weight: 1lbs | Dimensions: 9.5 x 2.2 x 5.5 inches

Being the pro version of arguably one of the best emergency radios, this Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 is its successor and could be the one you were looking for all along. With a reputation of high functionality and long reliability, Voyager Pro was and still is a versatile gadget that has helped countless people throughout the years to brace themselves for any emergencies, during, and even after.

In case you’re trying to prepare for a worst-case scenario, which we sincerely hope it wouldn’t come to that, and you’re concerned whether your radio will last till everything is back to normal, its’ 6-way power/charge modes will get you through any situation without trouble. Even if you’re out of AA batteries, don’t have access to a USB input or a power outlet, or you just simply don’t want to manually charge it using its hand crank generator, it can still be charged through solar power as well. Either way, you got power for days so no need to worry.

If this is your first time facing a crisis situation, it is crucial to know that you have to get accurate information from reliable sources especially if it’s an emergency caused by a severe weather condition like a hurricane or a tornado so that you know whether it’s safe to go outside, or to rationalize your food portions or to just clearly know what the current conditions are. This is exactly why this emergency radio is pre-programmed with 7 NOAA weather channels with a real-time weather forecast that also includes various other content for entertainment.

This Voyager Pro is sure to be a worthy consideration when it comes to emergency radios and is guaranteed to never let you down.

Features We Like:
  • 6-way powered charging options
  • Reliable Solar Panel
  • Equipped with a powerful LED flashlight
  • Pre-programmed channels with entertainment programs

2) Kaito KA500

MSRP: $49.99 | Weight: 1.6lbs | Dimensions: 8.25 x 5 x 2.25 inches

Speaking of Kaito, coming in at second on our list is the younger brother of Voyager Pro KA600 which in our opinion is the best budget-friendly emergency radio you could ever hope to find. Having essentially a majority of the features from its successor, this Kaito KA500 performs exceptionally well for that price range.

Although the similarities between these two are relatively indistinguishable, one of the main differences is that the KA500 does not comprise a digital tuner which in practicality and everyday sense, would not be a deal-breaker as it still has a manual tuner with a wide range of band reception.

One of the most impressive and handy features in this emergency radio is that it could further act as an emergency power bank for your phone or any other USB powered device by connecting to its inbuilt DC 5V USB output port. Having all those perks while being extremely compact and comfortably portable is why this device is on our list and could potentially be in your backpack as well.

Features We Like:
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Could function as an Emergency Power Bank
  • Made out of premium impact and water-resistant ABS material

3) Sangean MMR-88

MSRP: $48.02 | Weight: 0.86lbs | Dimensions: 5.98 x 2.71 x 3.30 inches

Among all emergency radios on this list, this Sangean MMR-88 could easily be one of the best hand crank radio of all time. If you’re looking for a compact yet sturdy survival radio without breaking the bank, well look no further as this is it.

Having established in 1974, it is safe to assume that Sangean knows what they are doing when it comes to manufacturing remarkable radios while providing exceptional customer satisfaction. Even if you’re unsure about the brand, which you shouldn’t be; this emergency radio speaks volumes for itself.

Reinforcing all four corners with shock-resistant rubber and having an IPX3 rating which makes it water-resistant from water sprayings up to 60 degrees from the top of that device are some of the most highlighting features of an MMR-88 which are sure to be more than useful in any dire situation. Not only is it built like a tank, but it also comes with a heap of extra features that are sure to change your mind if you were on the fence about this radio.

While most emergency radios come with decent speakers, this device has an outstanding 38mm speaker unit for its size that is capable of producing a balanced sound with ample bass and treble. But even if you’re on the go, or among other people and just want to use it for yourself, its in-built headphone jack helps you do just that at ease.

Features We Like:
  • 4 Lighting Patterns for any kind of situation
  • Reinforced corners with shock-proof rubber
  • IPX3 Certification

4) FosPower Solar Hand Crank Radio

MSRP: $39.99 | Weight: 0.68lbs | Dimensions: 6.20 x 2.90 x 2.10 inches

If you were on the look for a decent emergency hand-crank radio, this is literally that like it says on the title. One of the most impressive things that FosPower managed to bring to this device is its own twist of ergonomic and compact design which earned them the highest rated product on Amazon from our list and rightfully so.

Having three whole power sources to use whenever you need them, these options are as reliable as they can ever be. The hand crank lever is designed remarkably well and runs ever so smoothly and could probably be one of the best lever designs in any radio. Not only that, its solar panel design gives it much more of a modern aesthetic and almost a futuristic style if we dare to say so ourselves.

Just like all other emergency radios, this comes up with FM NOAA weather channels which regularly sends real-time weather alerts whenever there’s a potential risk or danger which easily makes this a genuine weather alert radio. If you’re still skeptical about this product, our full blessings are with you and so are the blessings of over 7000 satisfied customers on the internet.

Features We Like:
  • Ergonomic and compact solar panel design
  • Premium quality hand-crank lever
  • Extremely lightweight and portable

5) Midland-ER310

MSRP: $59.99 | Weight: 1lbs | Dimensions: 8 x 2.4 x 3.4 inches

Among all hand-crank radios in this list, this Midland-ER310 is definitely a worthy consideration for people on the look for a decent emergency radio. Catering to a more mid-range market while offering a handful of premium features makes it truly one of the best budget emergency radios on this list and is sure to never let you down when it counts the most.

Having arguably the brightest and the most powerful LED flashlight of all radios with a lumen count of 130, not only is it capable of lighting up a whole pathway, but it can also flash in Morse code due to its Cree LED technology if you’re ever in a critical situation. It even includes low and high brightness settings in case you need to conserve its battery life.

If you still aren’t captivated by this hand-crank radios impressive portfolio of additional features, we guarantee this next feature will undoubtedly change your mind. Its inclusion of an Ultrasonic Dog whistle is what sets it apart from all other emergency radios where it can be used to assist search and rescue parties in locating individuals during an emergency and could potentially be among the best extra features a radio could have.

Features We Like:
  • Bright and Powerful LED flashlight
  • An impressive 2600mAh Rechargeable Battery
  • Ultrasonic Dog Whistle

6) American Red Cross Emergency Weather Radio

MSRP: $48.48 | Weight: 0.93lbs | Dimensions: 6.90 x 5.80 x 2.60 inches

When it comes to emergency weather radios, you can never go wrong with a compact yet stylish crank radio brought to you by Eton which is built specifically for that purpose and that only. With its iconic red color which represents the Red Cross in America and its ergonomic design, it is built precisely to assist you in any desperate situation and is safe to say that it’s one of the best crank radios of all time.

One of the main reasons you’d get a weather radio over any other is so that you can get reliable and accurate emergency information related to any severe weather condition in your area which is what this device is fully capable of doing and even better. Furthermore, it can tap into NOAA weather bands where you’ll receive live weather alerts if there’s any imminent threat near you so you’ll have enough time to be ready before it becomes worse.

Although this survival radio does not come with multiple charging options, it does have a very reliable 2600mAh battery which can easily be charged with its hand crank lever within a matter of minutes. But whenever you feel tired or just trying to take a quick rest, you can let it stand outside for a couple of minutes as it has an equally dependable solar panel.

Features We Like:
  • Capable of receiving alerts from all NOAA weather band frequencies
  • Ability to charge your phones via USB port
  • Glows in the dark which makes it easier to locate

7) RunningSnail Crank NOAA Weather Radio

MSRP: $35.90 | Weight: 0.68lbs | Dimensions: 6.20 x 2.10 x 2.90 inches

Being the underdog among the best emergency radios of all time, this RunningSnail Hand Crank Radio is the one to look out for. With its ergonomic modern design and its perfect application of an SOS alert system, RunningSnail has managed to rack up quite the crowd for this nifty little device.

Even though having a much smaller solar panel compared to others may portray it as incapable of working and functioning to the same standard, this particular solar panel is no slouch and gets the job done. But at times receiving solar power is impractical or impossible, you can always rely on some good old AAA batteries as well.

If you’re the type of person that likes a few varieties of color choices in a product before buying, you definitely won’t be disappointed when browsing through this device as it got four gorgeous color variations namely Blue, Green, Yellow, and Red.

Features We Like:
  • Multiple color options to choose from
  • Premium quality Solar Panel capable of receiving solar power efficiently
  • Lower weight and size
  • Includes a USB port

8) Sangean CL-100

MSRP: $63.57 | Weight: 1.1lbs | Dimensions: 7.16 x 5.19 x 2.5 inches

Our second Sangean pick of the day goes to this Public Alert Certified CL-100 which is in a league of its own. Despite it not being a typical hand-crank radio like all other emergency radios so far, its uniqueness shines when it comes to storing multiple alert messages and with the ability to backup FM and AM preset stations from its EEPROM which can come in handy in any emergency situation.

Having been tested and certified by NOAA as an all Hazards Weather Radio, this CL-100 can store up to 25 S.A.M.E county codes which can be used to receive alerts from your surrounding counties in case you’re having trouble connecting to your own so even if your worst nightmare has come to life, this survival radio still got your back.

One of the biggest factors that differentiate this from all other emergency radios is that it has adopted a Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chip, which simply means that you get to save any 5 channels from each AM/FM weather band so you don’t have to keep searching every time you need them. It even has an auto-station-search button which literally does what it says without any hassle whatsoever.

Features We Like:
  • Ability to store 25 S.A.M.E county codes to get alerts from other counties
  • Can save up to 5 preset channels
  • Capable of acting as a bedside alarm clock

9) Esky ES-CR02

MSRP: $17.99 | Weight: 0.55lbs | Dimensions: 5.90 x 3.10 x 2.50 inches

Being the cheapest emergency radio on our list, this Esky CR02 shows us that it can hold on its own remarkably well when compared with all other radios mentioned here. It is as basic as it can get having a usual6 hand crank lever but with a slightly less powerful battery however, it still performs like a beast and will not let you down no matter the situation.

Regardless of its size and price, this multi-purpose emergency radio is perfectly capable of providing you with accurate and reliable emergency information by tuning to its “Alert” mode so even if you’re on the go, you won’t miss any important news or warnings given out by NOAA and other weather channels.

If you’re a bit skeptical of spending over $20 for an emergency radio especially at a crucial time like this and you’ve never used a survival radio before, we highly recommend this device as it is just as reliable and accurate as every other radio but with slightly fewer features.

Features We Like:
  • Dedicated “Alert” mode to get instant weather alerts
  • Available in 2 color variants
  • Water-resistant and splash-proof
  • High-quality solar panel

10) C. Crane CCRadio CC2BE

MSRP: $169.99 | Weight: 4lbs | Dimensions: 11 x 4 x 6.5 inches

At last, but definitely not least, the crème de la crème of best emergency radios that money can offer is this extravagantly designed CCRadio by C.Crane which reigns superior in both design and functionality when compared to any other radio on our list.

It’s built with an extremely powerful Twin-coil Ferrite Antenna which ultimately makes it have the best AM reception with added 2-Meter HAM Band capabilities to get those lifesaving information from disasters like hurricanes as well.

When talking about power, it has a total run time of 250 hours for every fresh set of D-sized batteries which is over 10 days’ worth of power and is quite impressive for a radio of this caliber. But not only does it act as an emergency survival radio, but it can also function as a clock, Alarm and even a Sleep Timer which we all know could be very convenient practical features to have in any dire situation.

Features We Like:
  • Exceptional levels of reception quality
  • Reliable and long battery life
  • Ability to store 5 stations presets on one touch

Buyer’s Guide to Emergency Radios

Reception

Among many of the reasons for you to buy an emergency radio instead of any other device, the main reason must surely be the fact that it can pick up signals from afar and that it hopefully has good reception wherever you are. Although it can get a bit technical when trying to find its network capacity, most of it is simplified and laid down in layman’s terms on each and every product so there’s not a single thing for you to worry about.

However, if you’re still puzzled by the sheer volume of information out there, let us give you a minor direction on what to expect. All FM stations, radio broadcasts, and several other types of transmitted information are already embedded within your radio and are regulated by a Radio Data System, or an RDS for short. Therefore, most of the channels you’ll be needing are already pre-programmed.

Your ultimate task would be to find an emergency radio typically with a wide frequency range in cases where you’ll have to move to a distant area, or if it’s a situation where you have to isolate yourself within your house, a radio that has better functionality for shortwave FM and NOAA channels would do you extremely great over any other. At the end of the day, nobody wants to be stuck with a radio that doesn’t do its job.

Durability

When you’re in the middle of a crisis, the last thing you want is for your main method of getting information about the situation you’re in, to breakdown, because it got a little wet when you’re getting into your car, or you accidentally dropped it and all there’s left is a huge mess and even bigger disappointment. Therefore, it is extremely vital to choose an emergency radio based on how durable it is and what kind of materials they are made out of.

Speaking of the durability of materials, it is imperative to know whether your radio is made out of high-quality components which are built specifically with impact and shockproof protection in mind while being water-resistant as well. However, it is worth mentioning that the sturdiness of the radio will most definitely impact its overall weight and size with the inclusion of these elements and could probably be a factor to consider if you are facing a situation where you have to move to a different location or you simply do not have enough space.

Although it could be a concerning factor to a majority of the people, most if not all of these emergency radios are manufactured precisely with premium lightweight materials which are carefully chosen and designed to provide that added rigidity to its body and that too whilst being comparably affordable.

Leaving the cost aside, if you’re planning on buying a radio for any kind of emergency, you should undoubtedly pay more attention to its durability than any other factor as it could literally be your savior and you do not want to lose it due to its unreliability and instability.

Power Source

Just like durability, the power source of your emergency radio is an equally important factor to consider when you’re facing a crisis situation. However, the power source should not be limited to just one singular method as there could be a multitude of reasons where that could not be used any further especially if it’s powered by AAA batteries as you could easily drain their power with a couple of days’ worth of use.

If you’re concerned about any of the emergency radios mentioned here, there’s no need to worry. We ensured that they have at least 2 power sources with one being always manual like radios with hand cranking generators or having a solar panel in case worse comes to worst which is why we recommend as a general rule of thumb; the bare minimum of charging options in an emergency radio you’re planning to buy should have is two.

Even if a radio has multiple power sources, it is essential to choose a device that uses its power efficiently to maintain its battery life without having to charge it throughout the whole day as it should be the least of your worries. Therefore; make a thousand percent sure that you’re not stuck with a useless radio which can only work with a couple of AA batteries.

Extra Features

One of the most diversifying factors of having extra or additional features in a radio is how different they make the end product looks and functions when compared with each other. Although the most likely response to having more features on a product you were going to buy regardless is a big yes, it can still be a tricky situation as they’d have their own specific advantages over others. But not everyone has the luxury nor money to get a top of the line emergency radio with all the features a brand can offer so here’s our mini-guide of those said features so you can have a clear idea before going ahead and buying any of these emergency radios.

Built-in Flashlight

Even though a flashlight might not be the most “flashiest” extra feature of a device, you’d be surprised to know how many times it could come in handy if you were ever in an emergency situation. While some include sizeable LED lights where they can be used to light up a whole pathway, others include reading lights that are smaller and less power-hungry as well. It is also important to keep in mind that these flashlights have very specific lighting patterns that are ranging from High and Low modes to Blinking and even SOS functionalities.

Headphone Jack

If you’re the type of person that spends most of your time outdoors whether it’s for a casual walk through the park or running errands, you know just how important this feature can be. Even though most of these emergency radios are equipped with decent built-in speakers, in case that you’re around other people and you don’t want to disturb them, or you want a few minutes of radio to yourself, or you just plainly want better sound quality, you can always use your favorite headphones or earphones through this nifty little feature.

Different Alert Tones

If you had to pick one extra feature out of countless others, this would be the most ideal detail you should go for as it is by far the most informative of them all. Not only do most emergency radios come with different alert tones, but what they reveal every time they do so is what’s necessary. NOAA weather alert is easily the most common weather alert you’ll hope to receive as they are pretty much hardwired in every emergency radio. But depending on the situation or your area, getting weather alerts from the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or National Weather Service could be even more useful.

Budget

Although it may sound a bit obvious, before planning on buying and browsing ahead on all emergency radios you could find, you should set yourself a convenient budget you’d like to stick to just like any other product so that you have some sort of an idea on what you’re allowing yourself to pay rather than just plainly looking for the cheapest or the best radio out of all.

One of the most peculiar things that have ever happened with the diversification of the current market is that competitors are always trying to one-up everyone else with the hope of being the next big thing. However, the beautiful by-product of that from a customer’s standpoint is that we get to enjoy their products at much more affordable prices. So even if you have a low-end budget, we assure there’s still plenty of options available for your needs.

But let’s say for argument’s sake, you got more cash and want to get the absolute best you can out of it. Well now’s the time to bring out all the specific and unique features you were craving for your emergency radio to include. If you want a device with a bigger rechargeable battery or a radio with a bigger built-in flashlight or even a radio with different weather alert tones, and you do not mind spending a bit more, you should always go for it as you know never when it could be useful.

FAQs

1. What is the best radio for emergencies?

When you’re talking about the absolute best of radios for emergencies, the answer would be completely different from person to person as there is a multitude of factors that would make anything the best. Therefore, any item on this carefully handpicked list could potentially be the best emergency radio but we don’t want to leave you with a vague comment just like that.

Being more specific to this, a few of the most common aspects that people often think about before buying is their allocated budget and overall size as it could be a concerning factor when it comes to portability. If your priority is to get the cheapest and the most compact emergency radio that could hold for a couple of days, a FosPower Emergency Portable Radio will fit you just fine. On the other hand, an all-rounder like Kaito Pro Voyager would be the perfect choice for anything unpredictable.

When all is said and done, what matters the most is how it will serve your purpose than being another radio with a bunch of extravagant features. In my opinion, what makes an emergency radio the best is how useful and convenient it can be in an actual emergency situation. So if any item in this list looks particularly unique to you, you have our blessing to choose it as each and every one of these emergency radios performs and functions exceptionally well.

2. How do I choose an emergency radio?

Choosing an unfamiliar item to purchase for the very first time could already be a difficult task, but choosing a crucial high tech device you’re most likely to depend on in a dire situation could be even more daunting. But you don’t have to worry about anything because we have done the research for you to make it much easier.

Before you plan on allocating a budget and browse through all the results that came out in google search today, it’s important to access the severity of the situation you’re in or going to face in the future with a realistic point of view. If you are uncertain about the whole situation and want to prepare for the worst, a well-built study radio with an ability to charge through multiple ways will get you through no matter what the situation is whereas getting a compact hand-crank radio would make much more sense if you’re in a position where you have to be always on the go.

Whatever radio you decide to go ahead with in the end, keep in mind that you won’t be able to change your mind after purchase. If you’re on the fence about spending a bit more to get a radio with better sound quality to keep you and your family company or to buy a radio that is compatible with micro USB devices, by all means, go for it. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be stuck in a place thinking to yourself that you really should have gone for that, and instead, you chose not to because it was two dollars cheaper.

3. What is the best weather radio to buy?

This would entirely depend on how much you like everything else or how cost-effective you think the emergency radio is as every radio in our list is meticulously picked by us to include National Oceanic and Atmospheric weather channels. If you’re unsure or confused about how they work, what your radio does is that it will automatically scan through seven of their dedicated channels and then lock into the most stable one to warn you of any severe weather update.

Considering the fact that all emergency radios above are fully equipped with features that can get you through any severe weather condition, it all boils down to what distinct characteristics you’re looking for. Whether you’re looking for a radio that specifically provides emergency broadcasts, or a device with an intricate SOS alarm system, or just a wide-ranging versatile radio that can physically withstand a hard beating, a proper weather radio will always be able to function precisely for all-weather emergencies.

4. Are weather radios worth it?

In a nutshell, yes they are definitely worth it. No matter what the exact situation you are in, it is always reassuring to know that you have a device capable of getting accurate information or weather alerts within your reach at all times. Even if it’s named and sold as an emergency weather radio, it still includes a lot, if not all, other features that come with any emergency radio depending on the model you get.

But however, if you’re trying to single out the uniqueness of a weather radio and whether it’s worth buying over any other regular emergency radio, it is relevant to mention that although you can get nearly all weather radios for a few bucks cheaper as they are built with lesser features, almost all emergency radios are equipped with such technology in the same way so it might not be the obvious option to choose all the time.

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