Best Survival Radios You Should Check Out in 2018

Stay in Touch without the Grid

A good survival radio is a key part of any emergency preparedness kit, so it’s important that you pick up the best survival radio you can afford. Recent weather events have shown that it is crucial to be prepared for an emergency, but even if you don’t live in a hurricane or tornado zone, a power failure can leave you out of touch with the world.

The best survival radios go beyond picking up emergency news and weather broadcasts—they also provide light, signaling capabilities, and power to charge your phone.

Next to food and water, a survival radio will be the most valuable thing to have when disaster strikes.

The Best Survival Radios for the Money 

There are a lot of companies making good radios now, and with so many features available it can be difficult to narrow down the field. We tried out radios from some of the top brands, and created a list that will help you choose the best survival radio for your budget. 

Best Survival Radios Comparisons 

8 Best Survival Radios - Reviews

1. Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 Weather Radio

Kaito Voyager Pro KA600 Weather Radio

The Voyager Pro is the high-end radio in our review—designed for daily household as well as emergency use, the KA600 offers digital operation and a wide range of features.

The receiver pulls in AM/FM bands plus Longwave and Shortwave, Radio Data Sytem broadcasts, and NOAA weather radio and hazard alerts. The backlit digital display supports manual tuning along with digital entry, scan function, and 335 presets.

The radio also has a built-in flashlight, a calendar, an alarm, and temperature and humidity displays. An auxiliary input jack lets you play audio from external devices. The unit’s power supply options include hand crank, solar panel, an included AC/DC adapter, or 3 AA batteries.

A couple of downsides include the fact that the antenna does not swivel and adjust—it only extends straight up, which is not a problem in urban areas close to stations, but it will shorten reception capability in rural areas. This unit is also delicate and is not likely to handle being banged around, so it is not recommended for outdoor use.

If you have the budget for it, the Kaito KA600 is the top household-style radio in our test—it offers the most capabilities and still presents a reasonably compact form factor.

Reception and sound quality are good, and we liked that we could play music from a phone through the radio speaker.

What we liked

  • Many functions and capabilities
  • Scan and preset functions
  • Multiple power options

What we didn't like

  • Delicate build
  • Antenna is not adjustable

2. Kaito Voyager KA500 Emergency Weather Radio

The Kaito KA500 has a sturdy build and all the features needed in a good survival radio. At 11.1 x 5.8 x 3.3 inches and 1.6 pounds, this is not the smallest unit in our test, but it has a solid feel and is easy to handle while cranking.

This radio has 6 power options including a hand crank and fold-out solar panel for the built-in NiMH rechargeable replaceable battery pack; 5V USB input; 5V AC/DC wall outlet adapter input; and a compartment for 3 AA batteries. Its features include an LED flashlight, a red LED SOS beacon light, a 5-LED reading lamp, and a DC 5V USB mobile device charging port. 

The Kaito KA500 is our favorite mid-price large radio for durability and range capabilities—if you purchase the separate AC/DC outlet adapter, it can even be used as a good household radio. Other strong points include an easy-to-read tuner display, knob and dial controls that can you can operate while wearing gloves, and a long antenna that gives good reception.

The charging crank is positioned well for easy use, but as with all of the radios we tested, it is made of plastic and is of questionable durability for extended use. That said, the KA500 still offers a lot of value for the money.

What we liked

  • Solid build
  • Many power options
  • AC/DC power input support
  • Quick battery charging

What we didn't like

  • Charges phones slowly
  • Solar panel is vulnerable
  • Crank feels flimsy

3. Sangean MMR-88 Emergency Weather Radio

The Sangean MMR-88 is a certified weather alert radio that comes with a lot of features at a mid-range price point.

The unit’s charging modes include hand crank, USB port, and solar, a replaceable Nmhi rechargeable battery is included in the purchase. The digital tuning display has a bright backlight, and the DSP Digital AM/FM/WX tuner supports 19 pre-set stations. The radio also features a siren, flashlight, and smartphone charger.

We liked this radio for its compact 2.71 x 5.98 x 3.3 inch form and rugged housing. The solar panel is inset in the radio case so there is nothing to break off. The hand crank charges the battery quickly, and a full charge will power the radio for several hours. Reception quality is standard, and the sound is clear as long as volume is not pushed to the maximum. The LED flashlight offers Low, Hi, Blinking, and SOS Morse Code settings. 

We didn’t like having only a DC 5V/0.5A Micro USB B port for input power as it limits the radio’s potential for everyday household use—however, if the radio is set up on a sunny window sill, the solar panel will keep it running for daily operations.

What we liked

  • Many features for the price
  • Certified weather radio
  • Charges fast

What we didn't like

  • Batteries get weak quickly
  • No AC power adapter

4. The American Red Cross FRX3+ Weather Radio

The American Red Cross radio is made by Eaton, manufacturer of some of the better survival radios. 

This radio has a unique ergonomic design that makes it easy to hold and crank. The backlit digital tuner is easy to operate and pulls in AM/FM and all 7 NOAA/Environment Canada weather band radio broadcasts—it also has an Alert Function that automatically broadcasts emergency weather alerts.

Its features include an alarm, an LED flashlight, a flashing red LED beacon light, and a smartphone charger. The rechargeable lithium-ion 3.7V battery powers up fast on either crank or solar input and provides good playback time on a full charge. The crank is effective, but we found it to be too small and short for large hands. The radio does not offer AC/DC power input capability.

The FRX3+ is not one of the most feature-packed models we tested, but we like the Eaton quality and durability—reception and sound performance are good, and the slim, regular form factor makes this radio easy to pack. We also like the way the antenna tucks away safe from damage.

This is a sturdy radio, and it is small enough to carry in a backpack.

What we liked

  • Slim, regular form factor
  • Simple operation
  • Good battery life

What we didn't like

  • Tiny crank
  • No AC/DC power input support

5. Midland ER310 Emergency Weather Radio

The Midland ER310 is a compact radio produced by a company that is well-known for building solid radio communication equipment.

This is a well-built unit with an ergonomic design that makes for easy cranking. The ER310 has 4 power options: crank, solar panel, USB, or 6 AA batteries—the rechargeable battery supply consists of high-capacity 2600mAh Lithium-Ion batteries that will power the radio for up to 32 hours on a full charge.

Other features of the unit include digital tuning with a clock function, a 130-lumen Cree LED flashlight, an SOS Morse Code flashlight beacon, an ultrasonic dog whistle, portable device charging, and an earphone jack.

The Midland radio impressed us with its rugged design and tight form factor along with detailing that shows the company’s long experience at producing all grades of communication and audio electronics. Midland’s presence in the USA also makes ordering replacement batteries easy.

Reception is good, but the antenna does not swivel, so you have to turn the unit instead. The radio picks up a charge quickly from the crank, and a USB adapter in a car cigarette lighter also works well—but charging the unit by USB from a computer is much slower and takes several hours for a full charge. The ability to time or completely turn off the backlight on this radio is a nice power-saving touch.

Overall, we liked this radio, and it is our top choice for a compact backpacking unit.

What we liked

  • Rugged and compact
  • Long playback time
  • Well-known manufacturer

What we didn't like

  • No antenna adjustment
  • No AC/DC power input support

6. SONY ICF-B99 Hand-Cranked Emergency Radio

The Sony ICF B99 is an original Japanese product that offers useful emergency features in a high-quality portable radio.

The B99 is a very compact radio at only 2.3 x 5.2 x 3.1 inches and 13.6 ounces, and you can charge it by hand crank, solar, or USB input, but it also runs on 2 AA batteries. And while the Sony is not a dedicated weather radio, it does offer strong AM/FM reception and exceptional sound quality. 

This unit has a built-in flashlight and a lighted dial, and it is water-resistant to light splashes and rain. The radio comes with an accessory kit that includes a carrying bag, a USB cable and adapter, and a whistle—it can also charge a smartphone and has audio-in support.

While this Sony is not a specialized survival radio, we wanted to look at an example of the quality and detailing that Japanese electronics are known for, and this radio did not let us down—although it comes in at a high price point, it is a very fine product with simple but well-designed details. The crank system works well and charges the batteries quickly to give hours of playback time.

The B99 is not a particularly rugged radio, but it will work for household use or in the car—if you like Japanese quality and the Sony brand, you will enjoy this radio.

What we liked

  • High-quality build
  • Good reception
  • Very compact

What we didn't like

  • No specialized weather radio function
  • High price point

7. Eton Scorpion ll Emergency Weather Radio

The Eton Scorpion II is a dedicated backpacking radio that offers a wide set of emergency weather radio features in a compact 2.5 x 6.5 x 1.9 inch, 10.6-ounce package.

The housing on the Scorpion is fully ruggedized, water-resistant to IPX4, and has a built-in aluminum carabiner that makes it easy to hang the radio anywhere. The Scorpion II receives AM/FM bands and NOAA weather channels, and the 800 mAh batteries can be recharged via hand crank or solar power. The radio’s features include a digital tuner, LED flashlight, battery level indicator, and USB smartphone charger. 

The Eton Scorpion wins our award for cool looks. This radio is a great backpacking unit and its super-compact form makes it ideal to toss in a car glove box or day pack—for a lot more features at the expense of a few ounces, we would still choose the Midland for longer backpacking trips, but this Eton definitely clinches second place in the outdoor category. 

We liked the battery charge indicator and the carabiner clip. The crank is long enough on this radio, but we found it difficult to grip the radio firmly while cranking. To us, the crank looks vulnerable to breakage, and we would like to see it made from metal. Reception is good, but the tuner window is tiny, and you can forget about using the buttons while wearing gloves.

Despite the few downsides, this radio is in a class by itself, and is the best choice for a hardcore outdoors radio.

What we liked

  • Ultra-compact
  • Rugged and water-resistant
  • Battery charge indicator

What we didn't like

  • Crank will break easily
  • Tiny operating controls

8. iRonsnow IS-088+ Emergency Weather Radio

The iRonsnow crank radio fits in the bargain price slot and offers a good set of features for the money.

This is a compact radio, only 5 x 2.4 x 1.6 inches, and weighs only half a pound. Despite its tiny size, the crank handle is long and easy to operate, and charges the 1000 mAh/3.6V Ni-MH battery quickly. 

The radio picks up AM/FM and the NOAA weather bands, and the swiveling antenna helps pull in distant stations—sound quality is OK, somewhat like an old transistor radio. The phone charging function works well, and the USB cable is included.

Features include a 5000 lumen flashlight, smartphone charger, and 3 input power options: solar, crank, or wall plugin adapter. The IS-088+ even has some features like wall outlet charging capability and the adjustable antenna that are not found on more expensive radios.

The iRonsnow radio is a typical Chinese electronics product, so its durability is in question—but we did not question the bargain price at all—if you’re looking to buy multiple units that you can scatter around your house and cars, or would like to give them as gifts, the iRonsnow is your best choice.

What we liked

  • ow price
  • Very light weight
  • Wall-charging capable

What we didn't like

  • Light-duty construction
  • Analog tuning

Tune In to the Best Weather Radio 

We looked at radios across the spectrum and found that, once you start digging, there are not all that many quality options out there—many units are simple rebranded copies of the same item. Still, we were able to come up with a selection of radios that covers a range of price points while offering the function and durability that is necessary for an emergency safety item. We hope our review helps you pick out a great survival radio.

David Valle
 

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!

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