Reviews

Best Emergency Radios: Get News When You Need It

Be ready for unforeseen circumstances with these reliable and durable emergency radios.

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BY Lisa Conant / LAST UPDATED ON June 25, 2021

Being prepared for an emergency means you need to have the right items on hand ready to be grabbed and used in a moment’s notice. While first-aid supplies, water, and food are critical in any emergency, so is a way to learn about what’s happening in the world. And that’s why every survival kit or emergency kit should have an 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 on land or at sea, having access to a working emergency radio can mean the difference between life and death for either yourself or a friend or family member. Don’t be caught without one.

Best Overall
Midland NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio
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Summary
Summary

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 over 60 emergency alerts.

Pros
Pros
  • 25-country memory system
  • 90 dB siren
  • Flashing LED warning system
  • Voice alert for added functionality
Cons
Cons
  • Reviewers express concern over the radio’s ability to receive emergency warning stations reliably
Best Overall
Midland NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio
Best Value
WeatherX Weatherband AM/FM Radio and Flashlight
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Summary
Summary

This is an ultra portable and lightweight addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s gear, or a great little radio to stow in your basement or garage to hear up-to-the-minute weather updates.

Pros
Pros
  • Highly affordable
  • Equipped with a bright LED flashlight and cell phone charger
  • Battery or hand-crank powered
Cons
Cons
  • Hand crank does not produce long-lasting power
  • FM antenna is not as receptive as some other models
Best Value
WeatherX Weatherband AM/FM Radio and Flashlight
Honorable Mention
Kaito Voyager 5-Way Powered Emergency Radio
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Summary
Summary

This unit offers an impressive six-way charging capability and is equipped with AM/FM, two bands of shortwave, and seven bands of pre-programmed NOAA emergency weather stations, making it one of the most comprehensive radios available.

Pros
Pros
  • 14.5-foot telescoping antenna allows you to get the best reception in emergencies
  • Can be used as a mobile battery charger
  • Comes equipped with a reading light and SOS beacon
Cons
Cons
  • Pricier than some other models
  • Crank option for recharging could be more sensitive and conductive
Honorable Mention
Kaito Voyager 5-Way Powered Emergency Radio
The Best Emergency Radios
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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.

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Benefits of Emergency Radio

  • Access to information. A good quality emergency radio gives you continual access to the most up to date weather and emergency alert information. Many are equipped with the ability to monitor seven different NOAA emergency radio stations, as well as local AM/FM channels so that you can have access to several different sources to get the most complete view of what’s going on.
  • Emergency alerts. Emergency radios will loudly and frequently send you notifications about not only critical weather events but also public and civil crises. These alerts are crucial when determining what course of action will be best for you and your family. Even if your local radio stations stop broadcasting, emergency radios will continue to send you up-to-date information.
  • S.O.S. alerts. Emergency radios aren’t just helpful for you to get up-to-the-minute information, many of them can also be used to send S.O.S. signals and bright light beacons to alert authorities and help when you are caught in an emergency situation and can’t get yourself to safety. 
  • Portable. Emergency radios are very lightweight and highly portable, allowing you to take them anywhere you need to go. If you decide that a place you are located is no longer safe and you need to move, it’s easy to bring your emergency radio with you in a bag, backpack, or even your pocket. That way, you never have to be without access to critical information. 
  • Rechargeable. Good emergency radios don’t rely on electricity to power them. Many use batteries, solar power, USB cords, hand cranks, or a combination of all in order to get enough power to work when you need them 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 Radios

These radios are a step up from weather alert radios. 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. 

Top Brands

Midland

Headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., Midland has been pioneering two-way radio and emergency radio technology for over 50 years. Midland has actually been credited with bringing CB radio and 14-channel FRS radio technology to the consumer market. It’s known for producing reliable and durable products like the X-TALKER T71VP3 Two-Way Radio and the WR400 Deluxe NOAA Weather Radio

Explore more of the best CB radio options here

Kaito Electronics

California-based company, Kaito Electronics, was the first company to integrate a solar panel into a portable radio as a charging method. The company creates such versatile products as the Kaito KA650 Emergency Radio, which integrates AM/FM/SW and NOAA weather radio with Bluetooth, real-time alerts, an MP3 Player, a voice recorder, and phone charger all in one compact unit. 

FosPower

FosPower, Inc. was founded in 2014 and has its headquarters in Minnesota. It’s a company that prides itself on making high-tech gadgets that are intuitive and easy to use by the average person. Some of its more popular products include the Fospower Emergency Survival Sleeping Bag and the 7 Day Digital Outlet Timer

Learn more about the best two-way radio choices here.

Emergency Radio Pricing

  • Under $20: This price range will get you a compact emergency radio that may or may not have AM/FM capabilities. They will occasionally have added features, such as flashlights, and solar charging capabilities, but their reception capability isn’t usually as strong as some higher-end models. 
  • $20 to $50: You will be able to find a wide selection of reliable emergency radios in this price range. This is one of the most commonly purchased from price ranges since it offers a good mix of affordability and reliability.
  • $50 and up: This is where you will find the top-of-the-line emergency radios. They will often be equipped with AM/FM and shortwave radio capabilities, as well as NOAA weather, emergency lighting, SOS, phone chargers, and will offer multiple ways to recharge the batteries.

Key Features

Compact Size

Some emergency radios are particularly large and bulky and can be tough to take along with you in case of a rushed exit or forced evacuation. Consider getting a smaller tabletop model or even one that will easily fit inside a purse or backpack. That way, you’ll have the luxury of being able to have access to the most up-to-date information when it really counts.

Multiple Recharging Capabilities

In a true emergency situation, in which access to reliable power might be prohibited for days or weeks, having multiple ways to recharge your radio is of the utmost importance. Many models will offer the standard hand-crank, but newer and more technologically advanced radios will have the ability to be charged by solar power, USB cable, batteries, or AC outlet.

Emergency Alert Options

A good quality emergency radio will have customizable alerts that produce a loud sound, bright light, or both during specified situations, from floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, avalanches, and thunderstorms, to weather watches and warnings. You can pick and choose which events to receive alerts for, and which ones to mute. 

Station Variety

Look for an emergency radio that also offers the luxury of AM/FM station reception. This way, you can get the most comprehensive picture of what is going on around you, when to expect help, where to go to evacuate, and much more. Shortwave capabilities are also an added benefit in a case where radio towers may be damaged.

Waterproof Rating

The most durable and dependable emergency radios will come with some kind of waterproof capabilities. At the very least, be sure to get an emergency radio that is water-resistant, so that it can withstand heavy rain and thunderstorms, or won’t completely malfunction should you accidentally drop it in a puddle on your way out the door.

Headset Jack

It’s nice to be able to plug in a set of earbuds or headphones in order to hear pertinent information without worrying about disturbing others around you who may be trying to sleep or just get a break from frequent radio broadcasts. Of course, this isn’t a necessity, but just personal preference. 

Other Considerations

  • Digital or Analog Tuner. This is usually a choice of personal preference. Selecting a digitally tuned station ensures you get the best signal possible. However, often with digital stations, they will cut out altogether if static is too great, whereas, with analog stations, you can still hear them through some static, which may be of more benefit in a true emergency.
  • Power Bank. Some newer emergency radios allow you to charge your cell phone via a built-in USB outlet on the radio. This is a great feature for prolonged power outages in which you would otherwise be cut off from communicating with friends and family. 
  • Accessory Options. Is it important to you to have an emergency radio that comes equipped with a super bright flashlight or reading light to illuminate dark spaces, or do you want S.O.S. capabilities? Maybe you want to get an emergency radio that has an extra-long, telescoping antenna for maximum reception. All these are great accessory options that are available on many emergency radios.

Check out our favorite police scanners here.

Best Emergency Radios Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall
Midland NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio

The Midland NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio is versatile, helpful, and perfectly suited for any kind of emergency. This radio is public-alert certified and receives seven NOAA channels, providing warnings for issues like floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, and more. You 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 critical announcements. It runs on three AA batteries, features a built-in clock, and measures 6 x 1.5 x 5 inches. 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.

Best Value
WeatherX Weatherband AM/FM Radio and Flashlight

If you’re looking to add a dependable and rugged emergency radio to your kit without spending a ton of cash, check out the WeatherX Weatherband AM/FM Radio and Flashlight. It’s an ultra portable and lightweight addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s gear, or a great little radio to stow in your basement or garage to hear up-to-the-minute weather updates.


This model is a bright red color that’s easy to spot in low light conditions. It 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, making it a versatile choice.


This is a straightforward emergency radio without a lot of unnecessary accessories. Some users complain that 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 in a true emergency. The telescoping FM antenna is not the most receptive on the market.

Best Premium
Kaito Voyager 5-Way Powered Emergency Radio

The Kaito Voyager 5-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 — by hand crank generator, solar panels, AA batteries, 5V USB input, 5V 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 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 perform other non-essential activities.

Most Versatile
FosPower Emergency Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio

The FosPower Emergency Solar Hand Crank Portable Radio offers just about everything you could need in one compact package. This single device is also an emergency flashlight, an emergency charger for smartphones and other critical tech gadgets, and an emergency SOS alert. It can operate on hand cranking, solar power, or a set of AAA batteries. It delivers both AM/FM radio stations and NOAA weather alerts, giving you access to the latest updates and critical warnings. A four-LED reading light and one-watt flashlight built into this emergency radio provide light just in case you need it.


Just about 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.

Most Durable
Esky Emergency Radio

The Esky Emergency Radio is a great pick for a durable, tough radio that can withstand both emergency situations as well as weather elements. It’s a capable little radio — you get AM/FM and NOAA weather radio stations to keep you in the loop about emergency updates and critical weather reports. It’s easy to carry thanks to an included lanyard and perfectly compact sizing, so it’ll fit inside your pocket. In addition, this emergency radio is 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 taller antenna. It would allow the radio to more reliably access all the NOAA stations from a further distance.

Honorable Mention
Supersonic 5-Way Emergency Solar/Hand Crank Radio

The Supersonic SC-1095ER 5-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, 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. 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 5-volt DC input jack. This radio can also charge your smartphone, giving you communication and navigation options in case you get lost or separated from your party.


The base of the radio is a little narrow, and it does tend to tip over more easily than some lower profile models. The AM/FM tuner is also slightly less incrementally accurate than some other models and is lacking a telescoping antenna for improved reception.

Honorable Mention
TSV Emergency Solar Hand Crank Radio

If you like options, the TSV Emergency Solar Hand Crank Radio has plenty of them. This dependable and cleverly designed emergency radio offers four separate charging methods to keep you powered up and in the know. Charge it using 3 AAA batteries, the sturdy hand crank, plugged into your AC outlet with the included USB charging cable, or use the handy built-in solar panel.


This model also features two separate light sources: a convenient reading lamp and a powerful LED flashlight. The 2,000mAh solar panel also gives you a source of power to keep your smartphone charged and ready for any emergency. This radio is also equipped with an AM/FM incremental tuning dial and a long telescoping FM antenna. 


It’s got an emergency SOS alarm and weather band NOAA alerts to give you the most up-to-date information available. One thing we don’t love about this model is that it’s not fully waterproof and it doesn’t come backed by any warranty that we could find.

Honorable Mention
Raynic Solar Hand Crank Emergency Radio

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 or obnoxious. It also comes with a three-watt integrated flashlight if 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 that you will have access to it during the most critical times. 


One thing to note is that the power will drain down quickly on this unit depending on how long you leave the flashlight or reading light on, so it’s best to use it for short periods only if you want the radio to last through the night.

Honorable Mention
Midland ER210 E+Ready Compact Emergency Crank Weather Radio

The Midland ER210 E+Ready Compact Emergency Crank Weather Radio is not just ideal for emergencies, it functions as a great everyday use radio as well. It’s compact enough to store and take almost anywhere, making it a great option for use in the home, at the beach, campground, hiking, survival outings, and much more.


It features a rugged and water-resistant bright red housing that’s easy to find in low light conditions. It’s also very versatile when it comes to powering it up, running off the hand crank, a rechargeable battery, or a built-in solar panel, providing up to 25 hours of normal use on a single charge. The built-in flashlight is one of the brightest on the market, incorporating Cree LED bulbs that put out an impressive 1,400 lux.


It’s equipped with a digital AM/FM/WX tuner for quick and accurate station selection. It’s also got a telescoping antenna for improved FM reception. There are some complaints that the hand crank feels flimsy and is slow to create an adequate charge.

Honorable Mention
Sangean MMR-88 AM/FM Emergency Alert Solar Weather Alert Radio

We like the Sangean MMR-88 AM/FM Emergency Alert Solar Weather Alert Radio for its reliability and ease of use. This emergency radio features a fully digital AM/FM/WX tuner that gives you up to 19 preset stations so there’s no need to search up and down the dial trying to tune into your most trusted weather source or favorite radio station. It’s water resistant and reinforced with shock-resistant rubber on all four corners.


It features a smart LED flashlight that offers a Morse Code setting for emergencies and a bright backlit LCD display. You can charge your smartphone with it using the built-in USB port. It also has a headphone jack for private listening that won’t interrupt people sleeping or conversing. For the times when you need to make noise, there’s an emergency buzzer and a loud speaker.  


While this model is powered by a sizable solar panel, battery, or a hand crank, the manufacturer doesn’t include an AC adapter for plugging the unit into a wall outlet, which would be a nice added feature. This unit is also quite a bit pricier than several others on the market. It’s a great option for frequent outdoor enthusiasts and survivalists who will get plenty of use out of it.

Tips

  • Always keep spare batteries on hand to power up your emergency radio.
  • If you aren’t planning to use your emergency radio for an extended period, store the batteries outside of the radio to prevent any acid from leaking out and damaging the radio’s functionality.
  • Be sure to store your emergency radio in an easily accessible area of your home. You don’t want to be running around looking for it when time is of the essence.
  • Also, make sure to store the radio in an air- and water-tight container to prevent accidental damage and malfunction when not in use.
  • Be sure to read online user reviews to see where your emergency radio may need to be improved, or what kinds of experiences other users have had prior to committing to your purchase.
  • Check out what kind of warranty is offered with your emergency radio. A reliable and trustworthy company will stand behind its product and replace any manufacturer’s defects or malfunctions without a lot of hassle.

FAQs

Q: What is the best emergency radio?

The best emergency radio is one that has multiple methods of recharging, and 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?

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. Choose something that’s highly portable that you can take with you in the event of evacuation is also a good feature to look for.

Q: How can I use the emergency radio?

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.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line emergency radio that won’t let you down when it matters the most, our top pick is the Midland NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio. This radio is public-alert certified and receives seven NOAA channels, providing warnings for issues like floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados, and more.

For a more budget-friendly but still dependable and durable option, check out the WeatherX Weatherband AM/FM Radio and Flashlight. It’s an ultra-portable and lightweight addition to any outdoor enthusiast’s gear or a great little radio to stow in your basement or garage to hear up-to-the-minute weather updates.