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"Packs a lot of functionality into its tiny frame, including solid reception on AM and FM bands."
"It’s light enough to pack and forget, with a price point that’s equally approachable."
Best for Your Desktop: Midland WR120 NOAA Weather Alert Radio at Walmart
"In many ways the Midland WR120 is the Cadillac of weather radios."
Best for Campers, Hikers, and Backpackers: iRonsnow IS-088+ Solar Hand-Crank Radio at Amazon
"It will accommodate any other eventuality you may encounter in the wild."
Best for Traveling: C Crane CC Skywave Portable Travel Radio at REI
"The perfect way to keep abreast all things threatening."
Best for Portability: Midland HH50 Pocket Weather Radio at Amazon
"A quick way to check the weather conditions while exploring the backcountry by foot, bike, horse, or boat."
Best for Boating (or Showering): Sangean H201 Portable Radio at Amazon
"Ideal for boaters looking to have a backup should their on-board system and radio go down."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Midland ER210 E+Ready Compact Emergency Crank WX Radio
The compact Midland ER210 packs a lot of functionality into its tiny frame, including solid reception on AM and FM bands as well as full support of NOAA weather radio with alerts, which scans ten available bands to lock in on the strongest signal, and sounds whenever a local warning is issued. It runs for up to 25 hours on a single charge of its 2,000 Lithium-Ion battery (powered via USB) with supplemental recharging by a hand crank and a solar panel.
With a max output of 130 lumens, an integrated flashlight is plenty bright if the electric grid goes down, and you can drop the brightness setting to low to conserve power or trigger an SOS beacon that activated Morse code flashing for emergency assistance. Easy-to-read back-lit digital displays and simple controls make it a snap to use, and the USB port can also charge your smart device without over-depleting the radio.
It is not, however, certified as waterproof; it can likely withstand a bit of moisture, but for boaters and outdoor adventurers, you want something that can handle the elements.
Best Buy: RunningSnail Solar Crank NOAA Weather Radio
Ideal for emergencies, the RunningSnail Solar Crank utilizes NOAA broadcasts as well as AM and FM bands to keep you informed of severe weather, with multiple loudspeakers to broadcast alerts partnered an eye-catching flashing red light, ideal for those who might be hearing-impaired or easily distracted. It also comes with a host of powering, including AAA battery ports, a hand crank, solar panel, and internal rechargeable battery that can broadcast for four to six hours, or provide up to 12 hours of light from its flashlight and table lamp.
Toggling through power options happens with the flip of a switch, and the band and volume controls are equally simple and analog, as is the traditional tuning band. It also includes an adapter to let you charge your smartphone directly off the radio. And, at only 8.8 ounces, it’s light enough to pack and forget, with a price point that’s equally approachable.
Best for Your Desktop: Midland WR120 NOAA Weather Alert Radio
In many ways, the Midland WR120 is the Cadillac of weather radios—big enough to turn heads and stacked with features that’ll satisfy even the most weather-obsessed. This desktop-friendly device utilities SAME localized programming as well as NOAA broadcasts to help target foul weather to your specific location and automatically alerts you whenever the National Weather Services issues a warning.
The easy-to-read back-lit digital display spells out the particulars of the more than 60 alerts monitored by the device (like “TORNADO”), with color-coded alert indicators and the ability to customize warnings by voice, display, or tone. You can also program to monitor up to 25 other counties as well as the seven pre-set weather channels.
Given it’s designed for in-home use, it runs on a direct line into your wall socket, but the device also accepts three AA batteries for reliable back-up, and it also doubles as an alarm clock, complete with a ready-to-abuse snooze button.
Best for Campers, Hikers, and Backpackers: iRonsnow IS-088+ Solar Hand-Crank Radio
Severe weather warnings are typically accompanied by lots of rain. And when you’re out in the wild, seeking dry shelter can be impossible, which is why you need a weather radio that can stand up the elements. But the iRonsnow IS-088+ offers more than reliable weather-proofness. It also will accommodate any other eventuality you may encounter in the wild, including backup sources from a solar panel or a hand-crank, the latter of which generates five minutes of radio time after one minute of cranking.
The device can pick up AM and FM bands as well as NOAA broadcasts—but understand that this is a passive device; it doesn’t sound alerts. The radio also comes with a 1-LED flashlight (one minute of cranking gives you 30 minutes of light) and it can also recharge your smart devices; a family of adaptors is included.
Best for Traveling: C Crane CC Skywave Portable Travel Radio
The profusion of weather-related travel disaster movies likely qualifies the subject as its own genre. But this is no Michael Bay-esque summer tentpole money grab. With climate change in full effect, travel-friendly locales are now witnessing record rains, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, winds, and wildfires. And the C Crane CC Skywave is the perfect way to keep abreast all things threatening.
It broadcasts on both AM and FM bands as well as Weather Plus Alert, Short Wave, and Air Band—the latter being the aviation band used by pilots, air traffic control, and ground crews (this one is arguably more for entertainment purposes). It runs on two AA batteries (or with an optional add-on NiMH batteries), with 400 memory presets, a lighted LED display, direct digital frequency input, and scanning functionality.
The retractable antenna captures all area signals, and you can also manipulate them on the device to reduce interference. It also comes with a travel-friendly 12/24-hour alarm clock, CC Buds Earphones, and a carrying case; at only 10.6 ounces and small overall dimensions, it’s easy to stash in your pocket or carry-on. However, it won’t stand up to serious abuse and doesn’t include backup powering options like a crank or solar panels.
Best for Portability: Midland HH50 Pocket Weather Radio
Designed much like a walkie-talkie, the Midland HH50 Pocket Weather Radio receives NOAA broadcasts for around-the-clock severe weather updates, with an automatic alert system that triggers in the event of dangerous weather or civil emergencies even when the device is in standby mode. It comes pre-set to the seven NOAA frequencies, with an auto-scan function that activates when you power up the device, so you can easily tap into your local weather feed.
A six-inch telescoping antenna helps crystalize the reception, and the three AAA batteries offer reliable power. As you’d expect with a device this streamlined, it doesn’t carry any backup power options, but it does include a weather alert test button to confirm that the alert function on the radio is operating.
It’s also water-resistant and durable, ideal for those who want a quick way to check the weather conditions while exploring the backcountry by foot, bike, horse, or boat. Just remember to pack in some back-up batteries.
Best for Boating (or Showering): Sangean H201 Portable Radio
Boaters know that the salt water eventually destroys…everything. But that element of ocean-faring may have met its match in the Sangean H201 Portable Radio. The fully waterproof device receives both AM and FM bands as well as all seven NOAA weather channels and reports, with 20 memory pre-sets (ten on FM, five on AM, and five on Weather), a large LED black-lit screen that’s easy to read from a distance, and a timer function that ranges that will shut off the device after one to 120 minutes of playback.
It emits loud warnings when alerts are issued, but since it runs on D batteries, don’t expect back-up power sources such as cranks or solar panels. It does boast an LED flashlight and a convenient handle that can be used to mount the device near the helm or below decks. And while it is marketed as shower-friendly, those who use it for solely that purpose report that’s a bit larger than some of its competitors. That said, the fact that it floats makes it ideal for boaters looking to have a backup should their onboard system and radio be on the fritz.