Best Emergency Radios (Review & Buying Guide) in 2023
Stay informed and up to date at all times with these reliable and portable emergency radios.
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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 one of the best emergency radios can make a huge difference when it counts.
Midland NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio
- 25 country memory system
- 90-dB siren, flashing LED warning systems, and voice alert
- S.A.M.E. programming
- Concern over ability to receive emergency warning stations
- Battery operated only
WeatherX Weatherband AM/FM Radio and Flashlight
- Highly affordable
- Bright LED flashlight and cell phone charger
- Battery or hand-crank powered
- Hand crank does not produce long-lasting power
- FM antenna not so receptive
Kaito Voyager Five-Way Powered Emergency Radio
- A 14.5-foot telescoping antenna
- Can be used as battery charger
- Reading light and S.O.S. beacon
- Pricier than some other models
- Hand crank could be more sensitive
- Best Overall: Midland NOAA Emergency Weather Alert Radio
- Best Value: WeatherX Weatherband AM/FM Radio and Flashlight
- Best Premium: Kaito Voyager Five-Way Powered Emergency Radio
- Most Versatile: FosPower Emergency Solar Hand-Crank Portable Radio
- Most Durable: Esky Emergency Radio
- Most Ergonomic: Supersonic Five-Way Emergency Solar/Hand-Crank Radio
- Best Hand-Crank Radio: Raynic Solar Hand-Crank Emergency Radio
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.
Best Emergency Radios: Reviews & Recommendations
- Brand: Midland
- Model: WR120B/WR120EZ
- Weight: 1 pound
25 country memory system
90-dB siren More than
60 emergency alerts
Concern over station strength
Battery operated only
- Brand: WeatherX
- Model: WR182R
- Weight: 0.66 pounds
LED flashlight and cell phone charger
Battery or hand-crank powered
Weak signal strength
Battery operated only
- Brand: Kaito
- Model: KA500YL
- Weight: 1.48 pounds
14.5-foot telescoping antenna
Mobile battery charger
Reading light and S.O.S. beacon
Hand crank could be more sensitive
Most VersatileSEE IT
- Brand: FosPower
- Model: FOSPWB-2376
- Weight: 14.8 ounces
Multiple power sources
Flashlight and a reading light
Lacks shortwave capability
Solar panel could be more efficient
- Brand: Esky
- Model: ES-CR02
- Weight: 8.8 ounces
Compact enough to fit in your glove compartment
Needs a stronger built-in receiver
Could use a taller antenna to access NOAA stations from further away
- Brand: Supersonic
- Model: sc-1095er
- Weight: 11.1 ounces
Features a large flashlight
Ergonomic carrying handle
Tips over easily
Lacks telescoping antenna
- Brand: Raynic Electronics
- Model: N/A
- Weight: 1 pound
Strong hand crank
Lights drain power quickly
Tough to get clear reception
Our Verdict on the Best Emergency Radios
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.
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.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
Q. How do I figure out when there is an emergency?
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.
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