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Best Emergency Radios (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022

Stay informed and up to date at all times with these reliable and portable emergency radios.

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BYLisa Conant/ LAST UPDATED ON May 18, 2022

You probably have a pretty solid emergency roadside kit somewhere in your car. Packed with essentials that will get you through unplanned events, these kits are affordable and should always be on hand. But one thing most emergency roadside kits don’t come standard with, however, is a compact emergency radio. These special radios are designed to work even when there’s no power, no contact with civilization, and limited radio coverage. Available in many different styles, emergency radios can run on renewable power sources like solar or hand cranking, cover standard AM/FM bands as well as weather radio, and potentially even broadcast important emergency alerts. Whether for your home, car, boat, or RV, having access to a working emergency radio can make a huge difference during an emergency. Don’t be caught without one.


You probably have an emergency roadside kit somewhere in your car. Packed with essentials that will get you through unplanned events, these kits are affordable and should always be on hand. But one thing most emergency roadside kits don’t come standard with is a compact emergency radio. These special radios are designed to work even when there’s no power, no contact with civilization, and limited radio coverage. Available in many styles, emergency radios can run on renewable power sources like solar or hand cranking, cover standard AM/FM bands as well as weather radio, and potentially even broadcast important emergency alerts. Whether for your home, car, boat, or RV, having access to a working emergency radio can make a huge difference during an emergency.

Best Overall

Midland NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio

Summary
This radio is public-alert certified and receives seven NOAA channels, providing warnings for issues like floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados, and more.
Pros
  • 25 country memory system
  • 90-dB siren, flashing LED warning systems, and voice alert
  • S.A.M.E. programming
Cons
  • Concern over ability to receive emergency warning stations
  • Battery operated only
Best Value

WeatherX Weatherband AM/FM Radio and Flashlight

Summary
A portable and lightweight addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s gear, it can also be a great little radio to stow in your car or garage to hear up-to-the-minute weather updates.
Pros
  • Highly affordable
  • Bright LED flashlight and cell phone charger
  • Battery or hand-crank powered
Cons
  • Hand crank does not produce long-lasting power
  • FM antenna not so receptive
Honorable Mention

Kaito Voyager Five-Way Powered Emergency Radio

Summary
Offers an impressive six-way charging capability and is equipped with seven bands of pre-programmed NOAA emergency weather stations, making it one of the most comprehensive radios available.
Pros
  • A 14.5-foot telescoping antenna 
  • Can be used as battery charger
  • Reading light and S.O.S. beacon
Cons
  • Pricier than some other models
  • Hand crank could be more sensitive
Best Emergency Radios (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022

Our Methodology

When it comes to choosing a top-of-the-line, reliable emergency radio that is sure to keep you informed and up to date on all current events, there are quite a few options to weed through. In order to narrow the field, I decided to stick with name brands you’re probably familiar with. These companies have a solid track record of providing reliable, functional, and high-quality products. I wanted to provide a variety of different price options so that there would be a good option to suit any budget. I also selected only those units that have the most up-to-date technology and user-friendly options. For more about our selection criteria and methodology, check out The Drive’s About page.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Best Emergency Radio Reviews & Recommendations

Specs

  • Brand: Midland
  • Model: WR120B/WR120EZ
  • Weight: 1 pound

Pros

  • 25 country memory system
  • 90-dB siren
  • More than 60 emergency alerts

Cons

  • Concern over station strength
  • Battery operated only

The Midland NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio is versatile, helpful, and perfectly suited for any kind of emergency as this radio is public-alert certified and receives seven NOAA channels, providing warnings for issues like floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados, and more. You’ll get S.A.M.E. programming via this radio, with more than 60 emergency alerts as well as alert override functionality that automatically tunes you into any critical announcements. It runs on three AA batteries and features a built-in clock. This emergency radio even includes a voice alert, siren, and flashing LED light to give you emergency notifications. The one drawback to this emergency radio is that it doesn’t have AM/FM radio capability. It would be a nice option to be able to receive information from NOAA and your local radio stations at the same time.

Specs

  • Brand: WeatherX
  • Model: WR182R
  • Weight: 0.66 pounds

Pros

  • Affordable
  • LED flashlight and cell phone charger
  • Battery or hand-crank powered

Cons

  • Weak signal strength
  • Battery operated only

If you’re looking to add a dependable and rugged emergency radio to your kit without spending a lot, check out the WeatherX Weatherband AM/FM Radio and Flashlight. It’s a portable and lightweight addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s gear or a great little radio to stow in your car or truck to hear up-to-the-minute weather updates. This model features a seven-channel AM/FM weather band that lets you access local stations as well as the latest NOAA emergency alerts. It’s also equipped with a dynamo hand crank, DC battery power adapter, cell-phone charger, and a bright LED flashlight. This is a straightforward emergency radio without a lot of unnecessary accessories. It takes a lot of hand cranking to produce enough power to run the radio for even a few minutes, so consider having extra batteries on hand. The telescoping FM antenna is not the most receptive on the market.

Specs

  • Brand: Kaito
  • Model: KA500YL
  • Weight: 1.48 pounds

Pros

  • 14.5-foot telescoping antenna
  • Mobile battery charger
  • Reading light and S.O.S. beacon

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Hand crank could be more sensitive

The Kaito Voyager Five-Way Powered Emergency Radio rolls everything you need and want in an emergency radio into one premium product. This emergency radio can be powered in multiple ways, such as by a hand crank generator, solar panels, AA batteries, USB input, AC/DC input, and a rechargeable battery. It offers comprehensive coverage of AM/FM radio as well as seven pre-programmed NOAA weather channels so you can capture real-time alerts and updates. It takes preparedness a step further with an included LED reading lamp, LED flashlight, and an LED SOS beacon light. This emergency radio will even function as an emergency charger, providing a USB port that allows you to plug in your smartphone, GPS device, and more. Our only complaint with this radio is that we wish the battery life was longer, but it can be greatly conserved by not overusing it to provide light, charge your phone, and do other non-essential activities.

Specs

  • Brand: FosPower
  • Model: FOSPWB-2376
  • Weight: 14.8 ounces

Pros

  • Smartphone charger
  • Multiple power sources
  • Flashlight and a reading light

Cons

  • Lacks shortwave capability
  • Solar panel could be more efficient

The FosPower Emergency Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio offers just about everything you could need in one compact emergency radio. This single device is also an emergency flashlight, an emergency charger for smartphones and other critical tech gadgets, and an emergency SOS alert. It’s perfect for making part of your emergency roadside assistance kit and can operate on hand cranking, solar power, or even a set of AAA batteries. It’ll deliver both AM/FM radio stations and NOAA weather alerts, giving you access to the latest updates and critical warnings, and an LED reading light and one-watt flashlight built into this emergency radio provide light too, just in case you need it. The only thing missing in this emergency radio is shortwave capability. We also would like to see an upgraded solar panel that could provide just a touch more charging capacity to charge the radio more quickly during daylight hours.

Specs

  • Brand: Esky
  • Model: ES-CR02
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces

Pros

  • Compact enough to fit in your glove compartment
  • Ultra-durable housing
  • Water-resistant

Cons

  • Needs a stronger built-in receiver
  • Could use a taller antenna to access NOAA stations from further away

The Esky Emergency Radio is a great pick for a durable, tough radio that can withstand both any emergency situation as well as weather elements. It’s a capable little radio as you’ll get AM/FM and NOAA weather radio stations to keep you in the loop about emergency updates, critical weather reports, and access to various stations. It’s easy to carry with you, thanks to an included lanyard and perfectly compact sizing so it’ll fit inside your pocket or the glove compartment or center console of your vehicle. In addition, this emergency radio is also tough enough to withstand anything that comes its way. It’s water-resistant and able to keep moisture away, and it’s durable enough to survive the unpredictable events of an emergency. One improvement that would make this emergency radio even better would be a stronger built-in receiver and a taller antenna. It would allow the radio to more reliably access all the NOAA stations from a longer distance.

Specs

  • Brand: Supersonic
  • Model: sc-1095er
  • Weight: 11.1 ounces

Pros

  • Features a large flashlight
  • Ergonomic carrying handle
  • Charges smartphones

Cons

  • Tips over easily
  • Lacks telescoping antenna

The Supersonic Five-Way Emergency Solar/Hand-Crank Radio deserves a shout out for being a well-designed, highly functioning radio that features three power sources. It can be powered by batteries, a hand crank, or a handy 5.5-volt built-in solar panel. It’s ideal for hiking, camping, roadside emergency kits, and emergency preparedness supplies. This model radio features an ergonomic upright design with an easy-to-carry handle, and it’s equipped with a large and bright LED light on the front, a lantern on the back, an SOS alarm, a large speaker, and a five-volt DC input jack. This radio can also charge your smartphone, giving you communication and navigation options in case you get lost or stranded on the side of the road. The base of the radio is a little narrow, so it tends to tip over easily. The AM/FM tuner is also slightly less incrementally accurate than some other models and is lacking a telescoping antenna for improved reception.

Specs

  • Brand: Raynic Electronics
  • Model: N/A
  • Weight: 1 pound

Pros

  • Carrying strap
  • Built-in compass
  • Strong hand crank

Cons

  • Lights drain power quickly
  • Tough to get clear reception

The Raynic Solar Hand Crank Emergency Radio will provide you peace of mind in emergency situations by providing reliable access to NOAA weather stations, as well as AM/FM and shortwave radio stations. It’s equipped with a 2.5-watt reading lamp to illuminate dark spaces without being overly bright and also comes with a three-watt integrated flashlight for times when you need a little extra brightness. This model comes equipped with a compass and a handy carrying strap for portability. Five ways to power your radio ensure you will have access to it during the most critical times. The power will drain down quickly, depending on how long you leave the flashlight or reading light on, so it’s best to use it for short periods if you want the radio to last through the night.

Our Verdict

When it comes to the ideal combination of reliability, durability, functionality, and price, the Midland NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio is our top pick overall. For a great budget-friendly pick and good addition to your car or truck emergency roadside kit, check out the WeatherX Weatherband AM/FM Radio and Flashlight

What to Consider When Buying an Emergency Radio

With so many options for emergency radios on the market, it can be difficult to judge the ones that truly deliver reliable and dependable results. You don’t want to get stuck with a piece of junk that fails you at the first sign of a true emergency. The following buying guide will outline exactly what to look for to ensure that you get the biggest bang for your buck and a unit that will provide hours of reliable information and data when you need it most.

Types of Emergency Radios

Weather Alert Radios

Weather radios are the most basic type of emergency radio. They work similarly to smoke detectors by automatically alerting you to weather advisories or other non-weather-related emergencies by emitting loud sounds, flashing bright lights, or both. These radios issue alerts whether they’re turned on or not. The drawback to this type of radio is that many models need a reliable power source to function properly, so it’s not ideal in a climate with frequent and prolonged power outages. Consider buying one with a hand-crank as a back-up power source.

Weather Band Radios

These radios are a step up from weather alert radios and they’re usually equipped with pre-programmed stations that specifically access NOAA emergency alert broadcasts, allowing you to get up-to-date information on weather-related emergencies, mandatory evacuations, power outages, flooding, and civil or public emergencies. These radios will also provide information about weather warnings and watches in non-emergent situations. They usually have multiple methods of recharging, so you don’t need electricity to run them. Their drawback is that they have to be turned on in order to issue you vital information. They don’t offer an automatic emergency alert.

AM/FM Emergency Radios

These emergency radios take the weather radio one step further. They can access local AM/FM radio stations and some are capable of accessing short sideband, or SSB radio channels, making them the most complete source of emergency information. They usually have multiple methods of charging, as well as added features, such as flashlights and S.O.S. lighting. They can be stationary desktop models or more portable handheld designs.

Pricing

For less than $20, you can get a compact and relatively reliable emergency radio that may or may not include AM/FM capabilities. Features such as flashlights, solar charging, and reading lights aren’t usually included in this price point. For $20 to $50, you can get a wide selection of durable and dependable emergency radios that offer a good mix of accessory features, including multiple charging sources, smartphone chargers, built-in compasses, and more. If you spend more than $50, you’ll get the emergency radios that include all the bells and whistles. If you want Morse code capability, digital tuners, shortwave radio capacity, and loudspeakers, this is where to look. 

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q. How do I figure

A: The best emergency radio is one that has multiple methods of recharging as well as multiple sources through which to get your emergency information and alerts. It will also come equipped with sound and light alert modes to make sure you don’t miss anything important.

Q. What should I look for in an emergency radio?

A: Look for a radio that is manufactured by a known and trusted source that’s been in the industry for a while. Make sure it’s durable, water-resistant, and comes with multiple charging options, emergency light, and alerts. Also, choose one that’s portable.

Q. How can I use the emergency radio?

A: If your emergency radio comes equipped with AM/FM capabilities, you can use it to listen to local stations. Otherwise, whenever there is a weather event or public alert, turn your emergency radio on to hear up-to-date information and instruction.

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