Fail-Safe Frequency: 10 Best Emergency Radios

Photo: Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Radio

We never hope that anyone will ever be caught in the middle of a natural disaster, survival situation, or otherwise. But we also understand that life (and nature) often takes some unforeseen twists and turns. As such, we are firm believers that it is always a good idea to expect the best but prepare for the worst. And a major part of that starts with the gear you keep handy.

One of the absolute most important devices you can have at your disposal — whether you’re in the safety of your own home, at work, or out in the wilderness when disaster strikes — is an emergency radio. There’s a pretty good likelihood that, in the case of an emergency, cell phone towers will be down or flooded with traffic to the point that they’re useless. Rather than taking your chances, an emergency radio will give you access to information regarding the status of the emergency, when and where to expect help, and so much more. The following 10 are the best emergency radios available for purchase right now.

Esky Portable Emergency Radio

If you want to be prepared for the worst disasters, but you’re on an extreme budget, then the Esky Portable Emergency Radio is the best bang-for-your-buck option. Not only does it feature AM, FM, and Weather Band frequencies, but it also comes equipped with a 140-lumen LED flashlight, and has three different methods to charge it up: a hand crank, a solar panel, and a USB port. Best of all, it houses a 1,000mAh battery that gives you plenty of time between charges.

Purchase: $20

Eton Hand Turbine Weather Radio

Small, simple, and straightforward, the Eton Hand Turbine Weather Radio might just be the best option for anyone looking for big functionality in a pocketable compact format. Boasting AM, FM, and Weather Band frequencies, this device gives the user a full spectrum of connectivity. But it also features a hand turbine for manual power, an LED flashlight on the end for visibility even in low light or night, a headphone jack, and a glow-in-the-dark locator so you can find it even in pitch black darkness.

Purchase: $27

Kozo NOAA Weather Radio

Measuring up at about the same size as a large modern smartphone, Kozo’s NOAA Weather Radio is the perfect addition to your bug-out bag or a great stash in your survival shelter. It also picks up multiple frequency bands, including both FM and Weather Band, and has a flashlight on the end to help illuminate the dark. It also features multiple modes of acquiring power, including three AAA battery functionality, a solar panel, and a hand crank. In fact, Kozo is so confident in this emergency radio that they offer a complete 100% money back guarantee.

Purchase: $28

iRonsnow IS-388 Emergency Radio

The iRonsnow IS-388 Emergency Radio can pick up one of the widest ranges of frequencies of any of the emergency radios on this list — including AM, FM, NOAA, and SW. And that would be plenty impressive on its own, but it also boasts a built-in flashlight, a trio of power options (solar panel, AA batteries, and hand crank), and has a massive 2,300mAh battery that can keep you connected longer than most other options out there. It even has a micro SD slot, so you can use it to play MP3s, if that strikes your fancy in an emergency survival situation.

Purchase: $37

Sangean MMR-88 Emergency Radio

As you’d be right to expect from an emergency radio, the Sangean MMR-88 offers up a wide range of frequency bands, including AM, FM, and a weather alert tuner. And it has a hand crank to keep it powered. But it also boasts a few other features you might not expect but will find extremely handy. For instance, this one comes with 19 digital presets — so you can find working stations and bounce back and forth without having to search for them again. What’s especially enticing about this one is that it also functions as a portable battery pack, so you can use it to charge your smartphone.

Purchase: $49

Kaito KA500GRN 5-Way Emergency Radio

Most of the emergency radios on our list offer at least two different ways to charge. The Kaito you see before you, however, offers up five: hand crank, solar, USB, AC, and battery. And that kind of versatility can make all the difference in an emergency or survival situation. It also helps that the solar panel can rotate a full 180 degrees, so you can get the ideal angle for charging regardless of which way the speaker faces. It also offers up seven preset channels across AM, FM, and a full suite of NOAA weather band frequencies.

Purchase: $50

The American Red Cross FRX3 Emergency Radio

The first name in emergency response here in the U.S., The American Red Cross is as trustworthy an organization as there is. So you can trust that, if they’re willing to put their good name on an emergency radio, it’s probably worth your consideration. But, don’t take our word for it; look at the specs. This thing receives AM, FM, and weather band frequencies, doubles as a USB battery pack (so you can charge your smartphone), and it can be powered three different ways — batteries, hand crank, and solar. It even has an auxiliary input and an LED flashlight with an emergency beacon functionality.

Purchase: $67

Midland XT511 GMRS Two-Way Emergency Radio

If you were to be caught in an extreme emergency that knocked out cell towers, it might be a good idea to have another means of communicating with the outside world. And the Midland XT511 GMRS emergency radio offers that in the form of two-way GMRS functionality. That means — while it still can pick up AM, FM, and NOAA frequencies — it can also give you the ability to talk to other operators using GMRS-frequency two-way radios. It also boasts a bunch of different power options: batteries (both disposable and rechargeable), a hand crank, and both AC and DC adapters.

Purchase: $90

Hammacher Schlemmer The Best Emergency Radio

Hammacher Schlemmer has been in business for long enough to know that calling something the “best” comes with a lot of expectations and risk. Still, they were so satisfied with the quality of this particular emergency radio that they ran with the claim anyway. And there’s definitely some weight to it, as this radio has a long list of excellent features, ranging from a full spectrum of frequency reception, smartphone charging, and multiple power options. In fact, they’re so sure of this device that they slapped it with a lifetime guarantee.

Purchase: $100

CHAMP Survival Skybox Emergency Radio

As you’ve probably gathered reading through this list, most emergency radios come with pretty similar functionality. And that makes a lot of sense, considering the seriousness of the circumstances. But this is the only one that has all you’d expect — full band frequency reception, an onboard LED flashlight, multiple power options, and double functionality as a charging battery pack — but it also offers something the others don’t: Bluetooth connectivity. It might seem unnecessary to be able to stream from your phone to an emergency radio, but it’s a handy feature that can be great for morale — an important thing to keep up in an emergency.

Purchase: $180

20 Best Survival Essentials

A radio is hardly the only thing you need to make it through a natural disaster, survival situation, or other emergencies. Find the rest of the gear you should have on our list of the 20 best survival essentials.