Hand Crank Radios: Why Do You Need One?
If the power goes out in the middle of the storm of the century, are you prepared?
Being able to listen to weather reports and emergency broadcasts during a dangerous situation can mean the difference between life and death.
Our lives are so reliant these days on our devices. A manually charged hand crank radio could be the only thing bringing you life-saving information in an emergency. I’d definitely recommend throwing one in your glove box, a kitchen drawer, your bug out bag, or INCH bag.
Like all survival gear, there are a million options out there when it comes to hand cranked rechargeable radios. From premium hand crank & solar radios with killer specs and quality builds to cheap no-frills emergency radios to toss in the truck, there’s definitely a hand crank radio out there that’s suitable for your needs.
Some hand crank radios are designed specifically for hiking and camping and are lightweight and smaller in size. Other radios are designed to be sturdier and heavier duty and are bigger with larger batteries and crank handles. These are typically more suitable for keeping in homes, bunkers, and cars.
Whichever radio you go for, all the radios I’ve included have AM/FM/NOAA radios, so you’ll be able to hear the seven weather broadcasts on all of them. Most of them have lights, SOS alarms, USB chargers, and headphone jacks, but make sure to take a close look at the specs as each radio’s different.
I’ll outline a few key factors to keep in mind when you’re comparing the different hand crank radios, plus a list of the top 8 hand crank radios on the market today. I’ll give a quick outline of each hand crank radio’s specific features as well as the pros and cons of each.
Key Features of a Hand Crank Emergency Radio
To find the right hand crank radio, take a look at the following key features. Whether it’s battery capacity, charging methods, extra features, size, or weight, hand crank radios vary between models. Keep an eye on each radio’s specs to guarantee you get the right one for you.
The emergency radios on this list all have access to AM, FM, and NOAA frequencies. Along with the standard AM and FM frequencies, emergency radios access the NOAA weather radio, which broadcasts on seven frequencies in the VHF.
Most normal pocket radios only access AM/FM, so always check to make sure your emergency hand crank radio can access NOAA frequencies for weather alerts.
You’ll see the power capacity of each hand crank radio expressed in mAh, which stands for milliamp Hour. This is a unit that measures the electric power over time and is essentially the energy capacity of a battery.
To keep it simple, the higher the number, the longer the battery life. A higher number means the rechargeable lithium-ion battery can store more energy, so it has a higher capacity.
You’ll see a range of capacities between 1000 – 4000mAh. The more capacity, the more expensive, although the larger the capacity often comes in a larger sized radio.
Most of the radios you’ll see have 3-way charging – a hand crank or turbine, a solar panel, and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. A couple of them have AC adapters for charging as well.
When it comes to hand cranks, the larger, the more effective they are at charging the battery. However, the larger the crank, the larger the radio, and if you’re going for lightweight, you might have to sacrifice efficiency.
Some hand crank radios come with lights. Often, there will be an LED flashlight. Some of the better models have 2 or 3 lights, including low-level reading lamps, as well as super-bright flashlights and red SOS emergency beacons.
Some of the extra features you’ll see on a few of the radios include things like digital displays, which show battery life, time, and frequency. Some even have alarm clocks.
Most of them have USB ports for charging phones and tablets. These are especially key features as most people depend on their phones in emergencies and, if there’s no power, the hand crank radio may be the last port of call for power.
Some radios have headphone jacks so you can listen without disturbing other people. Others even come with ultrasonic dog whistles to alert rescue operations of your location.
Last but not least, keep an eye out for warranties as a few of the radios come with limited warranties, which is a nice extra bonus when it comes to emergency gear.
The 8 Best Hand Crank Radios on the Market
Out of all the hand crank radios out there today (there are hundreds), these eight are the best of the bunch. Some of them are premium hand crank radios full of features with elegant, more portable designs, while others are bigger, bulkier, and less expensive. They’re all hand crank operated, and many of them can also run on solar. Any one of them could end up saving your life in an emergency situation.
You’ll see a decent variety of prices, sizes, and features, and I’m sure one of them is the right hand crank radio for you.
Best Hand Crank Radio for Emergencies: A Buyer’s Guide
Take a look at these key points to keep in mind when you’re buying a hand-crank radio. Whether it’s for hiking and camping, or safety at home, traveling, or at work, answering these questions will guide you towards finding the right hand-crank radio for you.
What’s your hand-crank radio for?
Are you getting this for a hiking and camping trip or is it to throw in your car in case of emergencies. If you think about how you’re actually going to use your emergency hand-crank radio, then it will be easier to decide on the right one.
How much capacity do you need?
If you know you’re going to depend on your hand-crank radio for light, contact, and charging your phone, you might want to get one with more capacity. If it’s just to listen to the radio while you’re out on a fishing trip, then you might not need such a large battery.
Do you want lightweight or heavy-duty?
If you’re going to be carrying an emergency radio up a mountain, then I’d suggest investing in a small, lightweight hand-crank radio. If it’s going to be kept in your garage or your basement in case of power outages at home, then you can sacrifice a little on size and get a larger radio with more capacity.
What extra features do you want?
Think about if you want or need any of the specific extra features some of the radios have. For example, do you want/need a digital display, USB charging port, headphone jack, ultrasonic dog whistle, or warranty? If so, make sure your hand-crank radio comes with that particular feature.