Written By Teodora Spirovska
Published Aug. 21, 2020

When disaster strikes, there’s nothing worse than being caught unprepared. Storms, earthquakes, and other hazards can all knock out normal modes of communication such as cell towers and internet connections. How do you find out if it’s smarter to stay put where you are or evacuate the area? Whether you’re sheltering at home, at work, or in the wilderness, it’s vital to have the most up-to-date information so you can stay safe no matter what. Luckily, having a good crank radio around means you can always tune in and find out what’s happening.

Different crank radios even have features such as phone-charging ports and flashlights to help you get by in a pinch. Here are some of the top choices for crank radios so you can stay safe in an emergency.

The Best Crank Radio

If you’re looking for a reliable radio to get you through tough times, the Puiuisoul Emergency Radio is an excellent option with all the features you need in a compact product. This crank radio is smaller and lighter than many of its competitors but still manages to offer a standard 2,000 mAh battery that can provide up to 12 hours of light or six hours of radio listening. It can be recharged by hand crank, solar panel, or three AAA batteries (not included). 

The Puiuisoul features a headphone jack, SOS alert function, and a 6-LED flashlight, which shines brighter than the lights installed in weightier models. All of this makes it a good choice for general emergency preparedness in any circumstances.

Key Features
  • Includes flashlight
  • Compact and portable
  • 2,000 mAh power storage
  • Outlets for device charging
Specification
  • Brand Puiuisoul
  • Model red-00
  • Weight 11.2 ounces
PROS

Works as a radio and light

Crank is easy to use

Durable structure for longevity

CONS

Volume knob can get sticky

Too much cranking can cause strain

Battery may run out quickly

The Tiemahun Emergency Radio is an inexpensive and easily portable item that will still serve your needs if you don’t want to spring for a pricier option. Whatever the Tiemahun radio’s features may lack in comparison to the other products on this list, it makes up for it by being much smaller and lighter. It offers solar and crank charging, as well as an included micro-USB charging cable. It contains a 3-LED flashlight and a battery power capacity of 1,000 mAh. 

If you’re not planning to use your crank radio daily, the Tiemahun will definitely come in handy when you need it, so long as you give it a good crank about every 60 days when it sits idle.

Key Features
  • Large hand crank for easy charging
  • Includes solar power capability
  • Power bank for charging devices
  • Offers LED flashlight
Specification
  • Brand Tiemahun
  • Model FS-Radio-Red
  • Weight 7.2 ounces
PROS

Compact and lightweight design

Includes AM, FM, and NOAA radio

Multiple charging methods

CONS

May lose power quickly

Slow to charge other devices

Tuner can be difficult to control

Zurio Emergency Crank Radio sits well above the others on the list in terms of price, but if you’re willing to spend the cash, it’s well worth the cost for the features it brings to the table. Inside its sturdy packaging, which is a little bulkier than its competitors, it contains a strong speaker designed to receive radio signals with much greater audio quality and vocal clarity than other products can offer. 

Though its internal battery isn’t the largest, it has the most charging options of any emergency radio, allowing for charge by crank, solar panel, replaceable batteries, or wall plug. By incorporating a phone charger and emergency alarm, this radio stands apart in terms of survival ability.

Key Features
  • Five power options, including crank
  • Can run on replaceable batteries
  • Flashlight and radio functions
  • Sturdy and compact structure
Specification
  • Brand Zurio
  • Model ZUR-MN-EMR01
  • Weight 1.45 pounds
PROS

Heavy-duty and durable design

Handle for easy carrying

Battery lasts for long periods

CONS

Speaker is subject to impact damage

Light is too weak to function as flashlight

The FosPower Emergency Radio is a popular choice for hiking and camping, and from its functionality, it’s easy to tell why. It’s a little chunkier than its competitors, but it still fits in a hiking bag or emergency kit. The first notable part of this crank radio is its adjustable solar panel, which can be repositioned for the best possible charge at any time of day, in addition to its hand crank and AAA battery options. It has a 4-LED flashlight and an LED reading light that activate separately for your needs. 

What really separates the FosPower radio from other products on this list is that it has IPX-3 waterproof certification, which means you can use it safely in the rain.

Key Features
  • Incorporates three power options
  • Two LED light sources
  • Includes substantial power bank
  • Offers continual weather updates
Specification
  • Brand FosPower
  • Model FOSPWB-2376
  • Weight 14.8 ounces
PROS

Includes USB charging station

Capacity for solar power

Large antenna for clarity

CONS

Solar panel requires lengthy charge time

Lights can be hard to control

Lacks a headphone attachment

The RunningSnail Emergency Radio is one of the heaviest and most powerful options for crank radios in its price range. It has the largest battery capacity of any item on this list, maxing out at 4,000 mAh, which gives you enough juice to charge multiple phones at a time if need be. Its super-bright flashlight outshines other products with 60 feet of range and three brightness options, as well as a motion-sensor-activated reading light. It also carries the SOS alarm feature that less-bulky items tend not to include. 

RunningSnail includes an 18-month warranty with every purchase, as well as 24/7 customer support, so you won’t be hung out to dry if anything goes wrong.

Key Features
  • Includes four charging options
  • Solar and micro-USB abilities
  • Comfortable hand crank 
  • Provides access to weather updates
Specification
  • Brand RunningSnail
  • Model B083TLZN7G
  • Weight 13.9 ounces
PROS

Cranking charge can last a long time

Features bright LED flashlights

Lets you power your devices

CONS

FM radio can be hard to tune

Needs space for antenna expansion

Sound quality can be low

If you’re on the hunt for something that’s user-friendly and reliable, the Esky Emergency Hand-Crank Radio is a solid option. It enables you to access both AM and FM radio. The radio also offers weather updates and emergency news. Since it’s so small, you can easily store it with your survival gear. While it has a power bank of only 1,000 mAh, this is often enough to recharge a device. Given that you can recharge the battery via USB or the attached solar panel, it’s easy to use and control. Even though the solar panel is small, you can get good results if it’s exposed to intense sunlight. 

To ensure your safety at night or in storms, this radio includes an emergency flashlight. You can power this with the hand crank, so draining the battery isn’t a worry. Water-resistant and fairly tough, this selection is suited for on-the-go needs.

Key Features
  • Includes radio and flashlight
  • Highly portable design
  • Multiple powering options
  • Resistant to water
Specification
  • Brand Esky
  • Model ES-CR01
  • Weight 7.6 ounces
PROS

Easy-to-maneuver crank

Includes power bank for charging

Compatible with most devices

CONS

Very small size

AM radio can be tricky to tune

Solar panel doesn’t give much power

When you want something that makes survival easier without weighing you down, consider the Givoust Emergency Flashlight/Radio. It comes with a powerful flashlight that you can adjust over three settings. The same light incorporates a dimmer to let you preserve battery life. The radio effectively receives signals, regardless of the source. You can use this piece of survival equipment for FM and AM radio. It’s also designed to quickly access emergency alerts. The crank offers lasting power, while the solar panel provides an alternate power option. Since all of the controls are distinct, you can always find the proper handles. The bright-green body stands out boldly to help you identify the unit in an emergency. 

While this radio is ideal for emergencies, it can wear down over time. This makes it suitable as a survival tool when planning ahead.

Key Features
  • Emergency radio: FM, AM, NOAA radio
  • Includes a powerful solar panel
  • 4,000 mAh of power storage
  • Bright flashlight for dark settings
Specification
  • Brand Givoust
  • Model B0863T6WHP
  • Weight 13.9 ounces
PROS

Heavy-duty power bank 

Easy to charge devices via USB

Made of tough, lasting materials

CONS

Volume knobs can be sticky

USB charging can be time-consuming

Battery may run out quickly

For those focused on getting quality audio, the Raynic Hand-Crank Weather Radio is a great choice. It’s built to be portable, incorporating a strong textile strap. At the front are five rows of speakers, enhancing the audio overall. The knobs protrude distinctly, though they require upkeep to ensure that they don’t grow sticky. In terms of the crank, it’s easy to turn and faces enough resistance to force a lot of power. As a whole, the system works to keep you secure in an emergency. The radio gives you access to information on all relevant channels. 

Since there are multiple fail-safes for powering the device (replaceable batteries, crank, solar panel, and wall adapter), it’s meant to keep working. Durable by design, this weather radio is built to withstand the elements.

Key Features
  • Can run on five unique power sources
  • Strong, telescoping antenna
  • Distinct speakers for quality audio
  • Compact and durable structure
Specification
  • Brand Raynic Electronics
  • Model B07TXL4XJP
  • Weight 1.19 pounds
PROS

Includes SOS feature for emergencies

Crank is easy to rotate 

Accesses all relevant radio bandwidths

CONS

Battery connections can break easily

Lights can be difficult to control

Can run out of power quickly

Meant to take a beating and keep on working, the RegeMoudal Emergency Solar/Crank Radio is a very durable option. Though it touts less power than others, it’s well suited to camping and the outdoors. The red color stands out against natural surroundings. With dual lighting setups, you can get the best level of brightness. The reading lamp slows battery drain, while the flashlight is best for emergencies. To help in those types of situations, there’s also an SOS feature and phone charger. Since this radio can work on seven frequency bands, you get access to all the necessary stations and alerts. While it’s sturdy and works well in a pinch, it may be too small for long-term needs. Ideal for camping treks, this radio is a popular option.

Key Features
  • Dual lights for improved visibility
  • User-friendly dials on the face
  • Strong radio with quality speakers
  • 2,000-mAh power bank
Specification
  • Brand RegeMoudal
  • Model B07SKMDFV2
  • Weight 12.7 ounces
PROS

Tough against damage

Multiple light settings

Well-suited to camping

CONS

Fairly limited power bank 

Flashlight drains battery quickly

Small hand crank takes longer to use

More than a survival device, the RunningSnail Emergency Flashlight and Radio is enjoyable to have in multiple settings. This option works well for emergencies with an SOS alarm, table lamp, and LED flashlight functions. The backup battery lets you power devices in an emergency. Whether your car breaks down and you need to charge your phone to make a call, or you’re just working in the garage, the FM radio access is handy. Since the tuners are made with precision calibration, it’s fairly easy to get the right frequency. Decent speakers can give you loud results (even if it’s windy or raining). With USB compatibility and replaceable battery options, this crank radio is a handy device. However, it is relatively small. For big groups or multi-day outings, a larger one may be useful.

Key Features
  • Accesses all relevant radio stations
  • Compact and portable
  • 2,000-mAh power bank
  • Strong solar panel
Specification
  • Brand RunningSnail
  • Model MD-090
  • Weight 10.2 ounces
PROS

Easy to store and tow

Includes multiple charging options

Strong enough to power devices

CONS

Weak red light for SOS option

Rechargeable battery loses effectiveness

Flashlight of moderate strength

Best Crank Radio Buying Guide & FAQ

Getting the proper crank radio is a matter of planning ahead. Considering price, reputation of the brand, and features, you can select the best crank radio for your needs. There are, of course, a few things to bear in mind. By identifying your priorities, you can opt for something specifically geared for your situation. 

Where do you plan to use the crank radio? Is it going in your trunk for evening use? In that case, solar panels matter less than cranking ability and amperage output. Perhaps you want to keep this for storm readiness. Prioritize things like loud speakers and waterproof abilities. So long as you understand what you’re looking for, you can get a well-suited option. 

Understanding the benefits you can expect and the general features common to these radios, you can then pick your favorite.

Benefits of Crank Radios

Overall, crank radios have some key benefits. The first is communication. Since they all function as receivers, you can stay apprised of essential information while remaining in a secure place. Most radios nowadays incorporate other survival features. Ultimately, the idea is to have essential functions in a compact place. This enables you to easily control the device, and frees you up to move around. 

Other common features:

  • Tunes into weather and emergency updates.
  • Flashlights offer visibility and SOS signaling.
  • Continual recharging ability prevents missed information.
  • Ability to charge mobile devices.
  • Portable enough to take wherever you go.
  • Solar power gives you an option should another part break.

Popular Types of Crank Radios

Survival

This type of crank radio focuses on long-term capabilities. It has heavier-duty power banks, which means the uptake is quicker and the distribution is more efficient. These crank radios are best geared toward emergency settings. The power supply lasts longer, and usually the cranks are more effective.

The other key that sets this type of crank radio apart is the solar panels. They’re built to supply backup power for many days after charging in the sun. It enables you to use the device over the course of a day without causing wear and tear to the crank. The solar panels tend to be less focused on charging output than on running the radio itself. 

Camping

These crank radios tend to be highly portable and very compact. The ideal situation is to take them on hiking trails and off the beaten path. They offer the ability to keep technological devices working throughout, thus mitigating some of the risks of the outdoors. Generally less focused on solar tech, these devices are designed for camping first and survival second. Each features lighting options, though other crank radios tend to have more lighting settings.

With dim lights for reading and larger flashlights in the same unit, you can change the brightness according to the time of day and setting. While these power banks tend to offer lower power than their survival counterparts, they’re sufficient for an overnighter. Typically, the lightweight and compact design results in some give on the durability end. However, this type is effective at its job at the campsite. 

Casual

Radio is a traditional source of enjoyment through music and entertainment. Accordingly, there are crank radios that are geared toward recreational purposes. Sure, they have SOS features, but the design and construct would be too weak for an urgent situation. The casual options tend to be decorative and very lightweight. 

With minimal power bank storage and fewer attachment options, this type of radio touts powerful speakers for listening to music or radio shows. They’re also meant for tuning into weather alerts, but not necessarily intended as a primary survival tool.

What to Look for When Buying a Crank Radio

  • Power bank: Depending on your use, the bank may need to last for quite a while. With the heftiest batteries ringing in at around 4,000 milliampere hours (mAh), you can get lasting effects. For lighter-duty situations, you can find banks that hold about 1,000 mAh with multiple recharge options. It doubles as a survival tool, especially for vehicles. In conjunction with some jump starters, this can help you in emergencies. 
  • Solar capabilities: The ability to charge through solar power helps you use the radio around the clock. It supplements the crank to reduce physical demand while keeping the same charge. Keep an eye on the conversion rate and overall quality. 
  • Radio strength: Choose something with an effective antenna. Make sure it gives you access to all relevant frequencies, including those in AM, FM, and the weather-alert service. Especially if you’re heading to a shelter or basement, choosing a reliable radio goes a long way.
  • Speakers: Check if the speakers are large enough and properly located. Be sure there won’t be sonic interference from the light or solar panel. Pick something with speakers that are powerful enough to compete with other noises. The speaker quality directly impacts the communication benefits. 
  • Type and purpose: Keep an eye on the radio as it relates to the features you want. Consider whether it was meant as a jobsite radio or an emergency tool. Ensure that it’s sufficient to handle the demands of everyone using it. 

The Most Important Features of Crank Radios

There are some key features to keep your eye out for when you’re picking out your crank radio. Provided the radio can meet all of these requirements, it should be a viable selection. While all these features are useful, everything feeds against the same power bank. This leaves a balance of power when using multiple features. Ensuring a balanced amperage pull for each of the features tends to offer the best odds for lengthy battery life. Features to watch for include:

Crank Ability

Naturally, all crank radios need a crank. However, the amount of resistance it faces when turning directly impacts the power it can generate. By offering a comfortable grip on the handle, coupled with a useful shape, power can be generated more readily. It reduces strain and maximizes your efficiency. The crank needs to be broad enough to move readily, but small enough not to impact the overall structure. 

Backup Power

Whether you’re tired or injured, or the crank simply breaks, it’s important to have an alternate route to powering the device. This feature differs based on the individual radio, though there are some standard sources. Solar power is common, with panels working during the daytime hours and feeding a power bank. Other options are a wall adapter, USB port, and replaceable batteries. Some units include all of these power methods to serve as backups for convenience and emergencies. 

Antenna and Radio

Of course, a crank radio needs a viable radio function. Sure, the speakers won’t be as powerful as those in car stereos, but you can get radios loud enough to compete with the weather. The antenna needs to be sturdy and not easily damaged with rust. You want something with telescoping features to ensure you get a signal easily. By opting for something that’s compatible with all bandwidths you’ll need, you can stay more readily informed. The tuning knobs should also be easy to control and not prone to sticking.

Lighting Capability

Finally, you can expect your crank radio to have a lighting feature. It should play off both the crank and the power bank. Many flashlights incorporate dimmers, or separate lights for smaller areas. By having both, you can prevent premature drain on the battery. The lights often incorporate an SOS function, which is especially important if it’s a survival radio.

Best Crank Radio FAQ:

Q: What is the best hand-crank radio?

Opt for something that balances features with a lasting power source. A favorite is the Puiuisoul Emergency Radio for its sturdiness and high utility. 

Q: How long does a crank radio last?

The durability of a crank radio depends on maintenance and frequency of use. In emergencies, you can use them for weeks. Over the years, however, certain parts will eventually break. 

Q: What’s the best emergency crank radio?

The ideal emergency crank radio is one with reliable function, good lighting, and a strong radio. Consider the Raynic Hand-Crank Weather Radio to help you in a survival setting. 

Our Top Pick

Thanks to the multiple functions and high-grade power bank, the Puiuisoul Emergency Radio earns its place as our top pick. It incorporates two light systems, helping to preserve battery life. The controls are user-friendly, and the strong antenna makes tuning in easy. With a distinct crank that’s simple to use, the power remains full without causing strain. Boasting 2,000 mAh, the bank is reliable and long-lasting. With a good sound system (comparable to the audio quality in vehicles), you can make the most of a small area in an emergency situation.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve got a full picture of crank radios, you can prepare for any emergency. You can save by opting for the value pick, the Tiemahun Emergency Radio, or choose from tons of solid options like our top pick, the Puiuisoul Emergency Radio. These handy devices keep you safe, illuminated, and tuned in, making them a must-have tool for any camper or survivalist.

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