After 17 hours of research evaluating 42 products, we picked Sangean MMR-88 Emergency Radio as our top choice.
Whether you live in the middle of hurricane or tornado country or you want a bit of extra security while camping, you want a weather emergency radio.
More, you want the best emergency radio for your needs, which doesn’t mean the same thing for every person.
Some want NOAA weather radio alerts. Others want backup power in a pinch. And there are those who really want the option to send distress signals while making the most of the standard features.
No matter what you’re after, we’ve got the best of the best. And, yes, many of them have gotten their owners through hurricanes, so you know you can count on these.
Not only do you get SAME programming, but you can also choose which alerts you want to hear. Set up is easy and the price is reasonable.
Take some time to read through the instructions before setting this up; many users are dissatisfied until they go back and check the manual.
This emergency radio is different from the others on the list; it’s really designed for home use. More specifically, for people who live in homes where there’s always some sort of weather issue brewing (tornadoes, hurricanes and the like).
It’s very good at warning folks of those issues but the power functions are low. It runs off an AC cable, but you can use 3 AA batteries as a backup. You’ll want to make sure you have more than one set if you’re very worried about the power going out during an emergency.
You get alerts loud and clear and most users report excellent reception. You also have a choice of alerts with display, voice or tonal. There’s also some level of volume control for voice alerts. But, as this doesn’t function as a standard radio or a streaming music player, the audio functions are simply less important – as long as you can hear the alerts (which are super loud).
This is (obviously) where this emergency radio shines: it’s brilliant at weather reporting because that’s all it does. (Okay, it also has an alarm clock function, but that’s neither here nor there.) It really is the best weather radio you’re going to find without paying a small fortune.
It gets 7 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) channels plus Environment Canada and works with SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) programming.
You’ll be notified of any floods, tornados, hurricanes and more – but only if you want to. Not only can you choose which counties you monitor (and are alerted for), but you can also choose what you want to be alerted for (with the exception of a few that can’t be switched off) and the level of warning that’s important to you.
You can’t signal for assistance with this radio, nor does it become a flashlight when you need it most. But, it deserves a decent score since it’s not trying to do those things; you get this because you want to know when there’s an emergency so you can get your other gear into place.
The price is obviously right and for that you get a fair amount of features, though you shouldn’t expect this to compete with more expensive emergency radios. That said, it does get good reception and it charges cell phones in a pinch.
Some users experience issues with this holding its charge. Don’t wait to test yours; if it’s not fit for emergencies, it’s better to know beforehand and you can return/exchange it within a certain window only.
Although some of the older units seem to have a problem holding their charge, most (newer) units do not.
You can charge through the mini USB cable, plus through solar or hand cranking. Hand cranking results vary; some users get just a few minutes while others report hours of power. The important thing, however, is that you have the option if needed.
Additionally, newer models do a much better job of giving you a bit of cell phone charge when you need it most.
This little unit with AM/FM/NOAA bands gets good reception, even where you think it wouldn’t be possible (back country, basements).
And, although you shouldn’t expect super awesome sound, the little speaker does better than you’d expect.
All you get is AM/FM radio plus NOAA weather radio; there aren’t any alerts. But, given that this is a budget unit and it picks up the bands it does get well, we’re prepared to give this the score it deserves.
This really is a budget emergency radio. You should think of it as just that. If you want bells and whistles, you’ll need to pay more.
Considering what you pay for and what you get, this is more than fair. You can charge it using solar or hand-crank methods, not to mention through the rechargeable battery (which isn’t likely going to help in an emergency, however).
There’s also a 3 LED flashlight which offers minimal light, but can help in a pinch. And, you can also charge your phone which is a little more than we expected for the price.
The power use on this is way better than average and you can get power from any which way – including the useful hand crank radio option. The lighting options are surprisingly good and there’s even a hook if you need to hang it to flood the room with light or just go hands and table-free.
A few users report construction concerns - though RunningSnail is receptive and deals with these (as long as you reach out).
This little gadget really can handle it all and we love it for that. When you charge the lithium ion battery (which takes about 4 hours to full), you can expect around 12 hours of usage, depending, of course, on the features you’re using (more with light only, less with radio).
Users report getting 10 minutes of power from 1 minute of hand cranking and the expected power use from solar charging.
If you have them on hand, you can use 3 AAA batteries to power this up. You can also partially charge your phone when you need. Plus, wonderfully, the unit arrives fully charged, just in case.
The audio quality is good (and you can expect a max of 83.2 dB, which you should be able to hear over a fair amount of weather).
Radio reception is above average, and users find the sound quality better than expected. But, you can’t do anything fancy like Bluetooth your iPod through this emergency radio… it’s for emergencies. And, some people have a difficult time with the manual dials (though that’s there to ensure nothing is draining the battery that doesn’t need to be).
So, you will get AM/FM radio with this and 7 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) channels. In principle, that’s enough for most people.
However, you need to keep the weather band on to receive alerts. If you know something is on the way, that’s fine, but this won’t be your first choice if out of the blue alerts are critical for you.
You get a lot of emergency extras with this radio. In addition to the flashlights and the hand crank power situation, there’s also a Morse code beacon and a serious SOS siren.
You can also charge your phone and expect this emergency radio to deal with some splashing (it has IPX3 water resistance). If you’re wondering how it’ll hold up under a hurricane, you’ll find plenty of positive reviews from those who say it got them through at least one.
The battery life on this is quite exceptional – making it perfect as a camping radio to keep you entertained through the evening. The addition of the dog whistle, as well as the SOS beacon, flashlight and hand crank radio features, make it exceptionally useful if there is an emergency.
You can’t turn into hyper-localized alerts via SAME codes (though you get generalized weather alerts for the area). Additionally, you can’t pre-program stations, but it does remember the last station on every channel.
You can charge this emergency radio just about any way you like. It takes roughly 6 hours to charge via solar – which is the same as it takes via USB. Sadly, there isn’t an alternative power cord, though those are becoming increasingly obsolete.
Expect up to 32 hours of just radio operation from a single charge, though it’s much closer to 10 if you’re using other features at the same time.
And, if you end up needing the hand crank, you should know it’s both sturdy and 1 minute of cranking creates around 9 minutes of power.
TIP: pay attention to the sticker with information about the lithium ion battery rather than the user manual when getting set up. And, be sure to connect the lithium battery; it comes disconnected.
The reception of the AM/FM/NOAA weather radio stations is excellent, though users often report that the FM stations come in clearer than the others. The sound quality is also more than respectable given the size and multi-functions available. As far as volume, you can reach a more than respectable 87.6 dB.
While you get an earphone jack, you can’t stream off your iPod via Bluetooth. More of a concern is the inability to save multiple stations; the unit maintains that last station per band only. But, at least there are buttons rather than manual tuning.
You do get NOAA weather radio stations and weather alerts, but you can’t program SAME weather codes for localized reports. If you’re travelling and don’t know them, that shouldn’t be a concern.
You’ll get the major area alerts and the alarm is super loud; you won’t sleep through them.
The flashlight has low and high settings and you can get a bright 130 lumens from it. There’s also a Morse code beacon (SOS strobe).
There’s also an ultrasonic dog whistle, which can be useful if there’s a search after inclement weather or you’ve managed to get yourself very lost.
Back country reception is very good and you can charge your phone, even using the hand crank in a pinch.
We would have loved a loud siren to go with all these goodies, but most people will find these emergency features are more than enough.
This emergency radio has good reception and even better sound quality. The battery life is good and you have the option of replacing the rechargeable battery which many other units don’t offer. The emergency features are all useful.
It doesn’t offer a lot of charge to cell phones, but that’s about it.
Not only can you replace the rechargeable battery it comes with (something most brands don’t offer), but the battery lasts longer than most people expect. Users report up to 10 hours from a 2 hour charging time (USB, not cranking or solar).
There’s a battery indication level which is also useful.
Both the solar and hand crank charging methods are above adequate, and you’ll get 5-7 minutes of charge per 1 minute of steady cranking.
The only (slight) negative, is that it doesn’t do a great job of charging cell phones; it does a minimum and then works to conserve the internal battery.
There’s a headphone output which is a nice touch, but the speak quality goes beyond expectations on this emergency radio. The max volume is 82 dB (which is just enough) and the volume control is adequate.
Reception is also good, even when you’re significantly far from broadcasting stations, plus you can preset up to 19 stations (though that’s mixed between AM and FM bands).
This is a Public Alert-certified emergency radio which means you can definitely get the warnings you need, though you don’t get to input SAME specifications for localized warnings. That said you get AM/FM and the 7 NOAA weather radio reporting stations, so you’ll be in good hands for most events.
There’s a clock - and a backlit LCD display – and those are just the beginning.
The high setting on the flashlight outputs about 15 lumens of light and there’s also a low setting. In addition, there’s the SOS Morse code light so you can signal for assistance. You also get a signaling siren.
The unit itself is quite sturdy and it’s IPX3 water resistant.
On top of all that, you can get a minimal phone charge – and repower your device in any number of ways.
Just a quick tip before you get your emergency pack sorted: like all of your emergency gear, you should always check your emergency radio when it arrives.
It makes no sense to wait for an emergency to find out you aren’t getting the reception you want or the battery power you need. More than that, most of these products have short return and warranty periods and you’ll want to make the most of those.