We list down our top 8 best survival radios and the things to look for in purchasing a survival radio.
Top 8 Best Survival Radios Reviewed
- ROCAM Emergency Portable Radio – Best Overall
- Kaito KA500 Voyager Multifunction Survival Radio – Best Value
- Midland ER310 Emergency Radio – Editor’s Choice
- Compass Culture Survival Radio
- RunningSnail 097 Emergency Radio
- Sangean MMR-88 Emergency Radio
- FosPower Solar Hand Crank Emergency Radio
- Eton American Red Cross FXR3+ Survival Radio
#1. ROCAM Emergency Portable Radio – Best Overall
- Band Reception: AM/FM, NOAA weather channels, shortwave radio
- Power: Solar panel, hand crank, 3 AAA batteries, DC power adapter, 2000 mAh rechargeable battery
- Additional functions: 3W flashlight, 6-LED reading lamp, 10.3-inch antenna, SOS alarm with flashing red lights, a built-in compass
Tuning in to its seven pre-programmed NOAA weather channels makes life easier when in the middle of a disaster situation. Including AM/FM and shortwave bands, information is never scarce.
ROCAM’s Emergency Hand Crank Survival Radio is made to cover all your bases in an emergency. Its powerful 3-watt LED flashlight can easily light your path. It also includes a 6-LED lamp if you need light to read, work, or prepare food in the dark.
To attain the LED lights’ power—and to effectively use the radio, of course—you have five options. The radio houses a rechargeable 2000 mAh battery that you can plug into an available wall outlet. If not, and you have spare AAA batteries, you can use three of them to power the radio up. A built-in solar panel and hand crank is always there when you are out of power sources.
Its rechargeable battery also serves as a power bank, which you can use to charge your smartphones for emergency use. You can alert rescuers nearby with its SOS alarm, accompanied by red flashing lights. Users deemed it extra loud, proving it can catch a rescuer’s attention from afar.
If your situation happens to worsen and you get lost, the radio comes with a handy compass to help you navigate your way.
A water-resistant shell protects your radio from rainfall and light splashes, but be careful not to soak it completely.
|Bright LED lights||Not easy to grip to use as a flashlight|
#2. Kaito KA500 Voyager Multifunction Survival Radio – Best Value
- Band Reception: AM/FM, NOAA weather channels, shortwave radio, PEAS (Public Emergency Alert System)
- Power: Solar panel, hand crank, 5V USB input, 5V AC/DC input with a wall adapter (sold separately), rechargeable NiMH battery pack, and 3 AA batteries
- Additional functions: LED flashlight, 5-LED reading lamp, red LED SOS beacon light, 14.5-inch antenna, and headset jack
If you worry about running out of power, the Kaito KA500 Voyager provides you with six possible ways to keep your survival radio alive and running.
The radio comes with a rechargeable and replaceable NiMH battery, powered using the hand crank and solar panel. It also comes with a 5V USB input and an AC/DC wall adapter—however, the latter is sold separately. You can also find a compartment for three AA batteries.
With many power sources, it also acts as a power source for your devices. It includes a USB output port you can use to charge your phones and other chargeable devices.
The survival radio features a built-in 14.5-inch antenna, which is sensitive to several radio frequencies helping you gather more news sources. It comes with seven built-in NOAA weather channels, so you will never run out of access to the information you need. Along with the AM/FM, it also comes with a two-band shortwave capability and access to the Public Emergency Alert System (PEAS) for 24/7 real-time forecasts—however, the latter is only available to the US and Canada.
The Kaito product is well-known for its durability; the unit is made of thick, impact-resistant ABS plastic that is water-resistant and helps absorb shock.
The KA500 Voyager has been known to be one of the most durable and reliable survival radios in the market, with its included functions like the LED lights, reading lamp, and a red SOS beacon light to help rescuers find you.
Some may find the lights a little dim, and the SOS beacon light does not exactly write out the word “SOS” in Morse Code.
|Long antenna; great signal reception||SOS beacon light does not write out "SOS"|
|Multiple band/channel reception||AC/DC adapter sold separately|
|Six different power sources||Flimsy hand crank|
|Shock and water-resistant|
#3. Midland ER310 Emergency Radio – Editor’s Choice
- Band Reception: AM/FM, NOAA weather scan and alert
- Power: Solar panel, hand crank, rechargeable 2600 mAh battery, and 6 AA batteries
- Additional functions: Emergency flashlight with SOS beacon, USB charging port + cable, ultrasonic dog whistle, headphone jack
Compact and easy-to-carry with multiple functions, the Midland ER310 Emergency radio has got you.
Despite its small size, it can tune to AM/FM stations and NOAA stations. The NOAA Weather scan will automatically scan through seven available weather band channels and stays on one with the strongest signal to keep you updated on the weather.
If you are in a place with the wind or loud people drowning out the radio, the survival radio features a headphone jack so you can keep updated more clearly.
You won’t have to worry about running out of battery as it can be powered through three different power sources. Recharge the 2600 mAh battery throughout the day using the solar panel or use the hand crank to power it at night. The rechargeable battery provides up to 32 hours of radio operation. Just in case, it can also accept six AA batteries as a backup power source.
Alert rescuers nearby using the built-in emergency flashlight with an SOS beacon, or use the ultrasonic dog whistle so rescue dogs can easily hear you if you are stuck in a place where rescuers cannot easily see you.
The radio’s performance has mixed receptions from users online. A lot seem to be happy with it as it functions like it is supposed to; however, some have found it difficult to recharge the survival radio using the solar panel and hand crank.
|Comes with a dog whistle and other SOS functions||Takes a while to charge using the solar panel and hand crank|
|Provides up to 32 hours of power|
|Compact; easy to store|
- Band Reception: AM/FM, NOAA weather channels
- Power: Solar panel, hand crank, USB input cable, 3 AAA batteries, 2000 mAh power bank
- Additional functions: LED Zoom flashlight, SOS emergency alarm with flashing light, and paracord bracelet with multiple functions.
When it comes to survival readiness, the Compass Culture Survival Radio also comes with a survival paracord bracelet that gives you more tools on your belt to aid your survival.
Keep yourself updated with the weather forecasts with seven built-in NOAA channels and through the AM/FM channels.
The radio itself is powered using a built-in solar panel and hand crank. You can also use three AAA batteries to power it if you have them on hand. Another charging option is to charge it using the USB input port.
The radio houses a 2000 mAh power bank to charge your smartphones and other devices. On a full charge, you get up to 15 hours of battery life, whether to keep you updated on radio broadcasts or for lighting the way using its built-in LED Zoom flashlight.
What makes the survival radio unique is its built-in compass. If that built-in compass is not enough, you also get a survival paracord bracelet upon purchase that also comes with its built-in compass.
Along with the radio’s built-in SOS emergency alarm, the survival paracord bracelet comes with an emergency whistle should your radio batteries run out. It also comes with a flint and emergency knife, just if you need to spend the night and need to spark a campfire to keep you warm. Since it is a paracord bracelet, you can use the emergency knife to cut open your bracelet and use the paracord.
While it is designed for emergencies and dire situations, you can still use it when you are out camping or on an outdoor vacation, cranking up to an FM station and listen to music while using the LED lights to give you a little bit of light.
It is made as a heavy-duty survival radio with multiple functions; however, some people have had a hard time with some of the radio’s unmarked buttons. Unfortunately, the instruction manual did not help in identifying the mysterious buttons either.
Nevertheless, playing around with the radio can determine all the buttons’ functions. Its simplicity and added survival tools make it a great tool for beginners.
|Included survival paracord bracelet||Unclear instruction manual|
|Multiple power sources||Some unmarked buttons|
- Band Reception: AM/FM, NOAA weather channels
- Power: Solar panel, hand crank, USB input port, 3 AAA batteries, 4000 mAh lithium battery
- Additional functions: 1W LED flashlight, SOS alarm with flashing light, AUX music player
RunningSnail is known for its reliable emergency survival radios, and its 097 Emergency Radio does not disappoint.
Offering up to 10 hours of radio play on a full charge, you can power it up using its built-in solar panel, hand cranks, and USB charger if there’s a socket nearby. You can also power it up using three AA batteries. It comes with a 4000 mAh battery—the strongest one out of all the batteries on the list—which you can effectively use as a power bank to charge your devices.
Its reliability comes with its ability to pick up AM/FM frequencies and NOAA broadcast channels to keep you updated in weather situations. Its LED flashlight and SOS alarm leverage your chances of survival and being rescued.
You can accurately check your battery life through its LCD screen, also helping you find specific stations easier.
This radio is still useful even as a music player. If you are out on a peaceful kayaking or canoe trip and want a speaker to hook your phone up and listen to your tunes, this radio comes with an AUX connection to do just that.
Many users online are overly satisfied with the product, with many taking it to their camping trips and enjoyed using the product.
|Comes with AUX connection||Not that long of a battery life|
|Compact and handy|
- Band Reception: AM/FM, NOAA weather channels
- Power: Solar panel, hand crank, USB input
- Additional functions: 3-LED light, a loudspeaker with emergency buzzer, headphone jack, antenna
Sangean has been providing quality radio products since 1974, and its MMR-88 Emergency Radio is proven and tested to many users to be one of the most reliable radios in the market.
Just like your standard survival radio, it provides AM/FM channels and can also access NOAA broadcasts to keep you updated with weather changes and news. It also features a classic radio antenna to help boost signal. It comes with 19 station presets so you can locate radio stations easily.
You won’t have to worry about having to keep the volume up to hear the broadcasts. It comes with a headphone jack to help you listen to the broadcasts more clearly and privately.
The MMR-88 may be one of the most durable radios on the list, as it is reinforced in shock-resistant rubber on all four corners. It is also IPX3 rated, making it water-resistant.
It comes with a bright 3-LED light with four lighting functions: low, high, blinking, and SOS. When your phone’s battery is almost depleted, you can use it to charge your phone enough to make critical phone calls.
It sounds like the best survival radio in the market; however, some users have noted the problems regarding its rare replaceable battery. While the battery itself is good enough to use, wear and tear can deteriorate the quality of the 18350 battery Sangean provides for the radio. What makes it a problem is that the 18350 battery is not easy to find in your local supermarkets or shops. Unfortunately, the survival radio does not include a compartment that supports AA or AAA batteries as backup power.
|Heavy-duty; shock-resistant, and water-resistant||Uses a rare type of battery|
|Comes with a couple of SOS features||Expensive price|
- Band Reception: AM/FM, NOAA weather channels
- Power: Solar panel, hand crank, 2000 mAh power bank, 3 AAA batteries
- Additional functions: 4-LED reading light, 1W flashlight, USB output port, and SOS alarm
The Solar Hand Crank Emergency Radio is housed in an IPX3 water-resistant plastic, keeping your radio from easily breaking in the rain. With access to the NOAA broadcasts, you are sure to have the necessary updates to save you. You also won’t have to worry about keeping your radio running as it can be powered using three sources.
It includes a solar panel on the top and a hand crank on the side, using the light’s natural power and your natural power to keep your radio alive, respectively. If you have three AAA batteries at hand, you can also use them to power the survival radio.
With all the power it can house, it also acts as a power bank. It houses a 2000 mAh power bank, including a USB output port to charge your gadgets. It can also light up the darkness with its two included LED lights, a 4-LED reading lamp, and a 1W flashlight to light up a path.
One of its good SOS functions is the siren with a flashing red light, helping rescuers easily find where you are.
While it is a good, handy survival radio, some found it hard to operate without an instruction manual. Some have taken a long time to figure out how certain functions work, which may be a problem if the radio was not tested before the disaster strikes.
|Loud SOS siren with red lights||Angling the solar panel automatically activates LED reading light|
|Long battery life||No instruction manual|
- Band Reception: AM/FM, NOAA weather channels, Environment Canada weather bands
- Power: Solar panel, hand crank, rechargeable 2600 mAh battery/power bank
- Additional functions: LED flashlight, LED light beacon, alert function for emergency broadcasts
Keeping it simple and easy-to-use, Eton’s American Red Cross FXR3+ Survival Radio packs in all the essentials when it comes to a quick emergency.
The radio receives AM/FM radio frequencies apart from the NOAA weather channels. The radio comes with an alert function that will automatically broadcast any emergency or civil alerts in your area, keeping you updated with the latest broadcasts without missing any of them.
Easily powered with its built-in solar panel and hand crank, including a charger to plug into the wall socket, you can keep the radio charged no problem. This powers its other essential functions, like its built-in LED flashlight. If a rescuer is nearby, you can use the LED light beacon to signal your spot and get you rescued right away.
The survival radio may be the biggest one on our list. It houses a 2600 mAh power bank that can charge up your smartphones and other devices to help you call for help. It is also easy to find with its glow-in-the-dark function.
With the American Red Cross on its name, users found it to be a trustworthy radio. Some have found issues with the battery, with the battery door easily coming off and the rechargeable battery having a hard time staying charged.
|Reliable alert broadcast function||Antenna is a little stiff out of the box|
|Glow-in-the-dark function||Flimsy battery cover|
Reliable, durable, and multifunctional. Those words best describe the ROCAM Emergency Portable Radio, making it our best survival radio on the list. It’s durable and water-resistant body makes it a good choice as your emergency radio, whether you are in the middle of a calamity without shelter or just out kayaking enjoying the FM radio’s tunes.
It is one of the radios in the list that also offers shortwave reception, giving you more news sources and information. Its built-in compass makes it efficient when you are out camping if you don’t already have your own compass with you.
It has garnered an overwhelmingly positive response to buyers overall. Many are satisfied with the radio’s performance, even giving it away as a gift to their loved ones so they can be ready when disaster strikes.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A SURVIVAL RADIO – BUYER’S GUIDE
You know what a radio is and how to operate it, but what makes it different from a survival radio? As the name suggests, those are the radios that can help you survive whether you are out on vacation with nature or when you are in the middle of a natural disaster.
Here are the important factors to look for when purchasing your survival radio.
Frequency and Reception
Like all radios, they usually come with an AM/FM wave that will allow you to listen to different channels and frequencies. When natural calamities strike—like a typhoon, for example—weather channels like NOAA broadcast alerts and are usually received on AM, since they have a longer range and NOAA broadcasts range approximately 40 miles from the transmitter.
Make sure to test out the radio and check if you can clearly hear the broadcasts before purchasing and using it for an emergency. It is also better if the radio comes with a working headphone jack, so you have the option to hear the broadcasts better. Most survival radios come with pre-programmed NOAA weather channels, so you can use those to test it out.
Variety of Power Sources
One main thing to remember when getting a survival radio: always have backups.
Most survival radios come with a solar panel and hand crank so you can charge your radio without having to plug into a wall outlet. But even if those are very practical solutions, it is still best to find a survival radio that comes with a DC-in adapter to charge. Rechargeable batteries also weaken over time, so it is best to look for radios that can house AA to AAA batteries for backup power.
Survival radios are meant to handle extreme environments. Make sure you find one that is water-resistant, so it can at least handle a little rainfall or a little splash of water on a lake or river.
Since these are not ordinary radios, many survival radios in the market offer more than just giving you radio frequencies.
You might not want something too fancy, so it is recommended that you get one that has LED lights to serve as a flashlight and a beacon to signal rescuers nearby. It is also better to find a radio that has multiple SOS signal options.
Nature is such a powerful and unpredictable thing. One minute you may be enjoying the bright, warm sun, and the next, you are faced with harsh rains with violent winds and floods or struck with a mighty earthquake that crumbles structures around you.
As survivalists or preppers go, you can never be too careful. It is always better to be prepared. You may feel a sense of security when you have survival radios like the ROCAM Emergency Portable Radio to provide you more leverage in surviving a disaster.
There are hundreds of other market choices, so make sure you check all the factors to find the perfect survival radio for you.
FAQs (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS)
How do hand cranks work as a radio charger?
Hand cranks generate energy from our muscle power. Most devices that use hand crank power include a dynamo, which uses rotating coils of wire and magnetic fields to convert cranking movement into a pulsing direct current, powering the radio.
What is shortwave radio?
As the name suggests, it uses shortwave radio frequencies, which can be reflected from the ionosphere and back to Earth at great distances—which is why it is effective for very long-distance communication, unlike AM/FM frequencies.
Shortwave radio is used for broadcasting to listeners all over the country and even outside the country. With frequency’s capability to travel long distances, its uses include military over-the-horizon radar, diplomatic communication, emergency service, long-distance aviation and marine communications, and even radio enthusiasts’ hobby of two-way international communication.
Survival radios that can pick up shortwave frequencies can be very useful when in an emergency.
What is the NOAA radio station?
NOAA Weather Radio is a nationwide network of government-operated radio stations designed to provide the public with a constant source of up-to-date weather information. It usually provides continuous broadcasts of the latest weather information from local National Weather Service offices.
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