Thinking of going on an adventure that will take you off the beaten track? Worried about hurricanes or other adverse weather conditions and want to stay in the loop?
The majority of us depend on our smartphones however in a real emergency, they may not have our backs truly covered in the way we might like to think. This is where emergency radio comes in!
With access to NOAA weather bands, the ability to use it as a power bank for other devices, tune into AM/FM stations, and in some cases have it produce an ultrasonic dog whistle to get you out of trouble. Emergency radios should be a firm choice when it comes to choosing your survival gear.
Below are the best of the best emergency radios of 2020, taking into account a whole host of different features from hand-crank radio to solar panel to micro USB charging to flashlights.
The Best Emergency Radios of 2020
1. RunningSnail MD-088s
RunningSnail has relaunched their MD-88s model and with that, it has a smaller design – it feels really good in the hand.
It comes with a 1,000 mAh power bank providing great flexibility and knowing you can charge your smartphone or another device is a nice little feature.
The speaker on the right-hand side produces enough sound for you to be able to hear critical weather alerts at a time when you’ll need it or give you enough music to make an impact.
RunningSnail has built-in 3 ways for this radio to be charged so this means that you should be able to get it recharged whatever situation you find yourself in. There is a manual hand crank. a solar panel and the standard micro USB way.
If you are intending on using this emergency radio when you are out camping or hiking, it should see you through no problem. There is an LED flashlight built-in which will illuminate your surrounding area and will hold up against a lot of things, though not heavy rainfall.
A radio wouldn’t be a radio without access to AM/FM stations, which fortunately this one does have! You also get NOAA weather frequencies so you’ll know what is coming your way.
The MD-88s has some water resistance but it is not waterproof. This is something to keep in mind if you intend to be in places which may make this a problem. The radio can stand up to rainfall but I wouldn’t recommend heavy rain.
Overall a great value for money emergency radio that will be by your side (in most situations) when you need it most. Some handy extras like the power bank make it a super portable radio.
- 1,000 mAh power bank
- 3 ways of charging
- LED flashlight
- Not fully waterproof
2 . Sangean MMR-88 Emergency Radio
A truly compact emergency radio that is jam-packed with features, making it one of the best on the market.
By design, the Sangean is there to help you in an emergency and they haven’t lost focus on this. On the front, there is an alert button which can be accessed quickly at times when you need it most. In addition to this, the survival radio can produce visual alerts. Should there be any emergency broadcasts, you will find the radio flashing to let you know about it.
Sticking with the survivalist theme, the Sangean MMR-88 has quick access to all seven NOAA weather channels so you can be prepared – you also get the usual AM/FM bands you normally get with a radio.
There is an LCD screen on the front, this displays the time and helps use the digital tuner. The MMR-88 is also packing an LED flashlight, one feature that was missing on the RunningSnail but this radio has is the flashlight can be set to flash morse code.
If you, unfortunately, find yourself needing rescuing, this emergency radio has a buzzer which will work as an audio signal.
Power shouldn’t be an issue as there is a solar panel built-in so give the radio some sunlight and it will charge. There is also the ability to recharge the internal battery through the usual USB port method. Finally, a hand crank can be used.
- LCD screen
- 3 power source methods
- Morse code feature
- Built-in headphone jack
- The screen could be brighter
3 . C. Crane Solar Observer Radio
Keeping you ready and prepared for an emergency, the Solar Observer radio comes with NOAA weather channel to keep you up to date with all things weather-related and aware of any potential hazards.
The bar is set high by C. Crane when it comes to audio. The clarity in the AM/FM broadcasts makes listening to talk shows, news, anything a real joy to do so.
A little step up from the previous two radios, this one has 4 ways to be powered and charged. Hand crank, solar and built-in rechargeable battery all come as standard. The fourth way, which will be really suited to those after a quick and easy way to get instant power while out in the wilderness is by simply popping in 3 AA batteries.
This emergency radio also comes with an inbuilt LED flashlight – handy for gloomy nights, storms, or power outages. The fact you can use this radio as power sources for an additional device – such as a mobile phone – offers reassurance that you won’t ever be out of contact with loved ones.
- 4 different charging options
- Can use aa batteries to power
- Receive weather alerts
- The flashlight power is a bit dim
4 . Kaito KA500 Emergency Radio
Beautifully designed, rugged, and packed with all the features you’ll need, the Kaito KA500 is a serious piece of kit.
Coming with an amazing six ways of power, it blows the competition away and gives so many options. Hand crank, solar panel, aa battery, USB input, wall adapter, and replaceable and rechargeable battery all feature. For those concerned about throw away tech once the internal battery has died. Rest easy! This battery is swappable, meaning it has lots of life in it.
The Kaito KA500 comes in five colors, including standard black, blue, green, red, and bright yellow. The radio itself sports AM/FM, shortwave, and seven pre-programmed NOAA weather, plus it broadcasts on the Public Emergency Alert System. The LED flashlight is bright and features a red LED SOS beacon light to call for help. There’s even an LED reading lamp. And yes, there’s a power bank in here. You can charge all your devices via a USB port.
The only thing this emergency radio is lacking is weatherproofing. It is water-resistant but not waterproof. I’ve had the Kaito out in storms and downpours with nary a problem, but be aware that it’s not guaranteed to work in such conditions. This radio is a standout in the sound department. It’s loud, never tinny sounding, and the speakers project bass and treble tones well. The Kaito is an excellent all-around emergency radio that recharges a multitude of ways and has a replaceable battery pack, a feature we love.
- Six different power sources
- The battery pack is replaceable
- Emergency weather radio channels come pre-programmed
- Only water-resistant
5. Midland ER310
The emergency radio that does everything well. One of the best radios for being genuinely useful and reliable in emergencies.
With three different power sources, it doesn’t come with the most flexibility when it comes to charging but it should be enough. The hand crank does the job, if you are turning the handle for around one minute, that should get you 10 minutes of radio power – quite a lot more than the competitors!
There is a solar panel charging option, which in usual Midland fashion, works really well – it doesn’t even need it to be anything more than a cloudy day to get power. As with most emergency radios on the market, you can also charge the ER310 using a USB. To round off the charging features, there is an indicator to let you know where your battery level is at and when you’ll need to think about getting some power.
Fitted into this radio is an emergency flashlight, which does have an SOS mode to flash morse code – hopefully, this will never be needed but it is sure nice to have. To save the concern on battery life, the LED flashlights brightness can be adjusted depending on your situation.
As standard, there is access to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather alert channels, as well as AM/FM radio. To top off this emergency radio comes with an ultrasonic dog whistle – feature-packed!
- Good audio quality
- NOAA Weather radio
- Efficient hand crank
- Water-resistant, not waterproof
6. Rocam Emergency Radio
The Rocam is offering multiple power options – a total of five. A hand crank comes with the territory, as does solar panel charging. There is a rechargeable battery as well as the option to fit AAA batteries for power.
AM/FM radio stations can be connected to if you are nearby to them. in addition to that, you get NOAA weather bands so you can always be ready for what mother nature will throw at you.
There are several options for LED lighting. On the side of the Rocam, there is ultra-bright LED light that will guide you along your path. although sometimes super bright lighting isn’t what you want and the Rocam realize that too. Built into the radio is a popup light that will you give a much softer glow so when you want that more relaxing vibe – you’ve got it!
- SOS alarm
- Flashing red light for emergencies
- A bit cumbersome
7 . American Red Cross Emergency Radio
Being prepared for emergencies is all well and good but with this model, you can look cool too. The Eton has created a nice sharp design with plenty of features to help keep you safe.
With a sleek but ready-to-go handle, you can’t help but want to take this radio whenever you leave the house.
NOAA weather alerts come as standard with this American Red Cross survival tool, as do AM/FM radio channels so you can still get your fix of music, chat, and news on the go.
Keeping things simple Eton has made the receiver so that it is digital, allowing you to flip between stations with ease and speed.
The American Red Cross radio comes with four different ways to power so very much in keeping with the competition. You get a hand cranking option, solar panel charging, a rechargeable battery, and the handy option of using AAA batteries when all else fails
One feature that is really useful and not seen often on emergency radios is automatic alerts. Setting it to alert will make you aware of any weather emergencies in your area, without you needing to keep checking the radio for alerts.
As with most other emergency radios you get an LED flashlight, which is good enough to illuminate the path in front of you. A nice little added bonus is the flashing beacon. If you find yourself in a situation where you need help, this beacon will flash red.
Overall this is a great option for those who are looking for a radio that will alert you automatically about emergencies and weather problems.
- Automatic alerts
- 4-way charging
- Really nice design
- Not robust enough for every situation
8 . Zurio Emergency Radio
A bit of a powerhouse when it comes to battery life. Built-in this emergency radio is a huge 4,000 mAh battery and that should see you through a lot before needing to recharge.
When you do eventually find yourself in the position of needing to charge it again, there are 5 different options. The main ones being plugging it into a wall socket, solar panel technology, or going the manual route and the trusty hand crank.
An obvious drawback about having a bigger battery is that the time taken to recharge fully is longer. However, there are ways to keep using this radio in the meantime. It can be powered using AAA batteries too so best to always keep a few to hand.
Knowing you have a larger battery means that you can use the radio as a power bank, without worrying too much about the implications on the life of the radio.
The flashlight is great. It is in a great location, meaning you can hold the unit comfortably and get full use out of the flashlight – which can hold its own when up against miserable conditions.
- Durable design
- Powerful flashlight
- Huge battery life
- Emergency siren
- Great sound quality
- Quite heavy
9 . FosPower Emergency Hand Crank Radio
Brightly colored in a yellow shell, this device is sturdy and can withstand a few knocks – it’s not short of features either!
A few less than its competitors, the FosPower comes with three different power sources but this should be more than enough for a lot of people. The solar panel can recharge the battery during the day when conditions are right. Having the choice to pop in AAA batteries is always a win and should get you out of difficulty. When times get really tricking, there is always the hand crank to get things moving again.
Where this radio does shine above its competitors is by being truly waterproof! Everything is sealed, meaning FosPower can come with you even in snow or heavy rain and still be running just fine.
You will experience good sound quality as reception is strong so catching the latest news from AM/FM stations shouldn’t pose a problem. Nor should tuning into the NOAA weather band.
The small downside is that there are no emergency weather alerts so you need to keep checking in to ensure you aren’t about to come across anything that could potentially cause you problems.
FosPower have thought of lots of things and made it work when it comes to this model. Lots of models have an LED flashlight, that’s nothing new but with this model, you get different lighting options. This means it will see you through visibility issues but also when you want a bit of downtime and do a spot of reading – you can! With a reading light feature, you really can relax for your next adventure.
You can be safe in the knowledge that the SOS alarm should be heard from a decent distance away as the sound is really quite loud – which is worth having!
- Fully waterproof
- Durable body
- Loud SOS alarm
- Little complicated to get used to initially
10 . Raynic Emergency Radio
Keeping up with the competition there are 5 different power source options, giving you the best choice. The trusty hand crank makes an appearance as you’d expect. As does solar panel technology, internal rechargeable battery, AC power, and the option to pop in some alkaline batteries.
Raynic has made this multiple power device durable and designed to withstand the great outdoors. With a 2000 mAh power bank, you can charge your other devices as needed.
Two choices available when it comes to flashlights. One so that you can see your way and one for when you’re wanting to do some reading.
This radio also comes with a compass, access to NOAA weather channels, and is IPX3 waterproof.
- 5 different power options
- 2 choices of lighting
- Power to charge other devices
- Water-resistant, not proof
Buyers Guide: Things to know when buying an Emergency Radio
You want a survival radio to do just that – survive! So durability is essential. Knowing a radio can stand up to a bit of tough love is good.
If you are hiking, climbing, or generally being adventurous then it is almost inevitable that your radio will experience some accidents.
The best emergency radios will be made from protective shielding and solid plastic or metal to keep things working, even when accidents happen.
To really be able to offer you some reassurance, a survival radio needs to be able to reach NOAA weather channels.
For around-the-clock weather updates covering around 95% of the USA, you are going to want to be able to access these but make sure yours can!
In addition to having access to the emergency weather radio, you can get radios that will be able to issue an NOAA weather alert. Should there be any bothersome weather in your vicinity or civil emergencies then you will be notified in real-time.
There are so many different ways radio can be powered. Some useful, some not much. But which ones are useful?
Most emergency radios come with rechargeable batteries. It is quite rare for these to come as a removable option and as such, they do depend on you having access to a power source to charge. Perfectly fine for those who don’t intend to be out for days at a time.
These batteries can often be charged via a USB battery charger – something a lot of us have easy access to. Carrying a power bank will see that you can recharge on the move.
It is quite common to be able to pop in some AA or AAA alkaline batteries to the emergency radio and this is a great way of getting full power quickly to get you out of a sticky situation.
Solar power technology in theory can keep your radio powered without the need for other power sources. The downside to this charging method is that some devices will not charge in dark, murky conditions or even on a cloudy day. Using a solar panel can charge you device while you are on the move and that’s a real plus.
When all is said and done, there is only one thing left, charging up a survival radio by a hand crank. Extremely reliable and great fallback to have. No matter where you are, you will always have power and that is such a good feeling!
Wherever you live you will more likely than not, encounter some wet weather. Having an emergency radio that can handle that, is pretty important.
Having a radio that is waterproof is even better but some degree of water resistance is great and almost essential.
A few extra features will never go amiss.
You will find flashlights quite commonplace in a survival radio these days. They are very useful and can help guide you on your path – some even in really tough conditions. Some of the best emergency radios go a step further and come with an SOS/emergency mode for the flashlight. This means you will be able to attract attention to get assistance.
A popular addition (and one of the best) is being able to use your emergency radio as a power bank for other devices. This makes relaxing about other power sources more possible.
1 . What is the best radio for emergencies?
The best radio for emergencies is one that will hold its own in times of trouble. Immediate access to weather bands is vital and even better if it comes with NOAA weather alerts.
It is best to choose a radio that has a solid quality body and is waterproof so that you can be safe in the knowledge that it will be there when you truly need it, despite any accidental drops.
An LED flashlight is something worth having on a survival radio, that extra backup if your standalone torch fails. Those that come with morse code or flashing capabilities get extra marks as they can really be used to get you out of trouble. Just what an emergency radio should do.
Overall you ought to consider what features are essential to you. Do you want one that has lots of different power sources? Is listening to hours of radio important to you? Are you intending to charge other devices using your radio as a power bank?
Thinking about what you’ll be using on the radio should help steer you to what is the best choice.
2 . What kind of radio is used for emergencies?
It is easy to forget that our smartphones can do everything, especially if the cell towers go down. Yes, we can get emergency information through our phones but they’re only good if they get reception.
Radios can help! An emergency radio or survival radio will be there when your smartphone isn’t. Not only that, you can get more information through this means than you can on a phone.
For example, in a hurricane situation. a cell tower could go down and that will leave you unable to keep up with what is happening weather-wise. Is the hurricane going to get worse or better? You have no idea.
Put an emergency radio in your hand, you will be able to get those NOAA emergency weather alerts and NOAA weather bands. Not only that, the radio could be your best option for flashlight power, something you may not have otherwise.
3 . Are Kaito Radios any good?
Kaito radios usually offer a lot of features in a durable package. Generally lots of different power sources – they lead the competition for us when it comes to the number of power sources if you look at the Kaito KA500 model.
True survival radio material with SOS alerts, NOAA weather alert radio as standard, and to give true flexibility the battery can be replaced. This is quite uncommon among emergency radios, once the battery stops working, you tend to find yourself shopping for a new emergency radio. Not in this case!