CAMPING & HIKING

Best Solar Radio: Staying in the Know, All the Time

best solar radio featured
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

If you’re going to be out in the wilderness then one of the most important things to have with you is going to be a solar radio. You never want to be lost out in the middle of nowhere or stuck outside in a storm without knowing everything that’s going on.

If you have the best solar radio you can find you’re going to be a whole lot safer because you’re always going to know what’s going on and you’ll be able to protect yourself and anyone else with you with that knowledge. Make sure you never leave home without one of these, and that you know what you’re looking for before you even head to the store.

What You Need to Be Watching For

When you’re looking at a radio to take with you into the wilderness there are a number of things that you want to watch out for. That’s because this radio isn’t going to be just for you to listen to your favorite songs and enjoy music or even talk shows.

This radio is primarily going to be for you to get news and to know when bad weather or anything else might be coming your way. You should always be prepared, and when you have a radio that does what you need it to do, that’s exactly what you’re going to be.

Features

The first thing you want to look at is what kind of features does the radio come with. The more things that radio can do the fewer tools you’re going to need to carry around with you. Some solar radios come with things like a cell phone charger or a clock or flashlight.

The more you get out of one thing the better it’s going to be for you so look for a radio that has more than one. Then make sure that you’re getting something decent quality while you’re at it. If you get a whole lot on your radio but none of it is very good you’re definitely not saving any money.

Usability

How easy to use is the radio going to be? Is it really going to help you get the information you need or are you going to spend most of your time figuring out how to turn it on and what it needs to tune into the right station? How easy is it to charge the radio when you need it?

using a solar radio

All of these things are going to be crucial because if you can’t use the radio it won’t matter what it’s able to do for you. You’re going to be lost. So make sure you can understand the instructions and that you’re able to remember them without having to refer back again.

Durability

How strong is that radio going to be when you’re out in the middle of nowhere and it gets dropped or hit against some rocks? The last thing you need is to be counting on a radio that stops working the first time to toss your backpack on the ground. You need something that is intended for shock absorption and that is capable of taking on the weather.

Sure you’re not going to soak it in the river, but if your backpack falls in or you get caught in a storm you want to know that you can count on your radio to still be working at the end.

Charging Options

How does the radio you have is charging? We’ve already talked about solar power and that’s an important feature for this type of weather radio since you’re not going to have electricity easily available, but being able to charge it in more than one way can be convenient.

For example, being able to use batteries or a hand crank to charge your radio in case you need power right now or in case the weather isn’t as sunny as you expected is definitely going to be a crucial aspect. Know what you can do in cases of extreme need.

Size

You don’t want a huge radio that’s going to be heavy and bulky for you to carry around. Rather, you want something that you can easily stuff in your pocket or your backpack while you’re hiking and pull back out when you need it.

Small size solar radio

You want something that will not add too much weight to your bag when you’re already going to be at the most you really want. So make sure you check out the weight of the unit you’re looking at and think about it in terms of carrying that extra weight on your back all day.

Stations

What stations is the radio you have going to get? You need it to have access to everything because you never know where you’re going to be. If you’re in really rural areas you might not get a lot of FM stations.

If you’re looking for weather reports you may want emergency stations over those traditional music ones. Look for a radio with plenty of different features and stations to choose from so you can always connect to something, no matter where you are.

Radios You Need to See

MECO Emergency Radio

radio medo solar

Specific features: Radio, charger and flashlight, hand-crank power, quick charge

Best use: No certainty on solar or electric power, all-in-one device

The MECO Emergency Radio is designed to give you a whole lot of features in one small little package. It is actually a whole lot of things in one including an AM/FM/WB radio, a flashlight, a cell phone charger, a power bank and a whole lot more. You can charge the radio (and the rest of the unit) in three different ways, including a hand crank, a USB port, and a solar panel.

That means you can have it ready to go at any time, whether there’s sun, electricity or none of the above. With just 1 minute of cranking by hand you’ll get up to 20 minutes of play time on the radio, which is definitely a benefit if you aren’t sure what’s going to happen with the weather.

With a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a 40 day money back guarantee you can trust that this little unit is going to provide you with just what you’re looking for, a whole lot easier and definitely inexpensively. With just the right amount of power consumption, this unit is also waterproof IPX-3.

Check the price on Amazon

CHAMP Bluetooth Skybox Radio

champ solar radio

Dimensions: 5 x 9.9 x 10.5”

Weight: 3.6 lbs.

Specific features: Electric, solar or hand powered, flashlight, distress light, alarm clock

Best use: No certainty on solar or electric power, all-in-one unit

The CHAMP Bluetooth Skybox is a great radio for any situation. Moderately priced, this radio is able to play music through your Bluetooth smartphone, which is definitely going to be a bonus when you’re hiking through the woods and aren’t really sure about being completely silent (hey, not everyone likes just listening to nature).

With this unit, you also get a digital clock, alarm, temperature gauge, calendar, LED flashlight and a distress light. That means no matter what’s going on you’ll be able to stay aware and get some attention as well. You can connect your mobile devices directly to this unit to get more charging power and you can recharge the internal battery with a plug, hand crank or solar power.

That means you’re going to be ready to go no matter what’s going on. If you want to listen to music on your own you can do it through the headphone jacks that are inbuilt into this radio. Though it’s a little larger than some other radios, this one is still portable and easy to use.

Check the price on Amazon

Semlos Solar Emergency Radio

Semlos Solar Dynamo Emergency Radio

Dimensions: 5.9 x 2.6 x 8.3”

Weight: 1.2 lbs.

Specific features: Hand crank, electric, battery or solar power, emergency light and siren, easy to use

Best use: No certainty on any type of power, all-in-one unit

The Semlos Solar Emergency Radio is small and lightweight with a moderate price tag that’s going to really make you love it. You can use this unit for a whole lot more than just listening to the weather station and once you’ve given it a try you’ll definitely see that. There is a super-bright light built right in with two different modes and you can charge the unit in four different ways including by electricity, battery, hand crank or solar power.

That means you’re always going to have a way of getting your lights back on and your radio back on as well. Able to listen to just about any station, you’re going to have music and an alert system in case something goes wrong, which is definitely a crucial step for anyone out in the wilderness.

When fully charged, the unit can play the radio for up to 8 hours and the emergency lamp will last up to 6. It can even charge your electric items in case you need a little extra juice and it’s fully charged in just 6-7 hours of USB power or 15 hours of sunlight.

Check the price on Amazon

Etn American Red Cross Radio

Etn American Red CrossDimensions: 7.75 x 8.5 x 2.5”

Weight: 1.69 lbs.

Specific features: Water resistant, shatterproof, solar, hand crank and electric powered

Best use: No certainty of electricity or solar, all-in-one unit

Recommended and endorsed by the Red Cross, the Etn Weather Radio has all of the emergency stations you’ll need plus a whole lot more. It’s a slightly larger unit, but it features a digital display with LED backlight and a digital clock that lets you keep track of the time.

It also has an alarm and snooze function so you can use this radio to make sure you get up in time every morning. When you need it charged you can use the USB adapter, hand crank or solar power to get it going in no time at all.

If your other mobile devices aren’t working you can connect a USB cell phone charger directly to the unit to get a little extra boost. There’s a light built right in so you can always see where you’re going and the durable style of the radio means that it can be dropped and still be perfectly safe for your use. Even more, it’s water resistant and shatterproof.

Check the price on Amazon

RunningSnail Solar Radio

running snail solar crank

Dimensions: 2.1 x 6.2 x 2.9”

Weight: 0.68 lbs.

Specific features: Hand crank, solar, battery and electricity powered, up to 6 hours radio time on one charge, flashlight, emergency alert light, charger

Best use: No guarantee of any type of power, all-in-one device

This RunningSnail Solar Radio is definitely unique with its lime green color, but it’s also super qualified to be in the running for this list. It features a weather radio but also a whole lot of other features like a flashlight and reading lamp. It’s designed to sit up straight and easy with a solar panel on the top to gather light and it will let you know what’s going on in your area at any time.

If you don’t have solar power available where you are you can always use the hand crank to get everything powered up and get the same 4-6 hours of radio time.

If you have an emergency you’ll be able to let everyone know with the alarm and flashing light that’s built right into the system and if you don’t like the idea of a hand crank there’s also the ability to plug this unit into a wall or put some new batteries in to get your power. Need power for another device? That’s possible too through the USB charging port.

Check the price on Amazon

Kaito KA888 Radio

Kaito KA888 Radio

Dimensions: 7.7 x 3.9 x 2.4”

Weight: 1.5 lbs.

Specific features: Moderate weight, hand crank, battery or electric power, compass and thermometer

Best use: No electricity or solar power, all-in-one unit

The Kaito KA888 Radio has a range of different gadgets that you’re going to need any time you step out into the wilderness. That’s because it’s not just about the flashlight and alarm clock that you get with most emergency radios, it’s also about the compass and thermometer that you’re going to want in order to stay prepared.

The dial for the needle will illuminate when it gets dark outside so you’re always able to see what you’re doing and the entire unit can be solar charged or charged up with the hand crank in case of not enough light. If you do have electricity this system will charge a whole lot faster, and if you have batteries that’s always an option as well.

The system comes with headphones so you can listen to your favorite music while you’re walking and always set it up for the weather you need to know. Lightweight and moderate size, this is something you won’t have any problem storing when you need it.

Check the price on Amazon

Eton NFR160WXR Microlink Radio

Eton microlink self-powered

Dimensions: 1.8 x 5.2 x 2.5”

Weight: 8.5 oz.

Specific features: Super lightweight, solar and hand crank powered, flashlight included

Best use: No solar power available, no electricity available, one use needed

Choose from two different colors with the Eton NFR160WXR Microlink Radio and you’ll be glad that you did. This unit has all 7 weather emergency channels as well as a LED light that will make sure you can always see where you’re going. It can be powered by the sun or by hand in case you don’t get enough sun during the day.

It’s also able to charge up your phone or other USB connected device so you’re always going to have the power that you need for anything you might be doing during the day.

Small in size, this unit may not have a whole lot of features, but it’s still going to get you what you need and it’s going to make sure that you’re ready for anything that might come up when it comes to the weather. Plus, it’s water-resistant, shatterproof and more.

Check the price on Amazon

Eton SCORPION Radio

eton scorpion multifunction

Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.8 x 2.5”

Weight: 8.5 oz.

Specific features: Solar or hand crank powered, flashlight included, small size

Best use: Not a lot of carrying space, no solar or electric power

If you’re looking for something super small you’re going to love the Eton SCORPION Radio. This unit comes in two different colors and is small enough that you can slip it right in your pocket while you’re hiking or backpacking. It is extremely rugged and has a range of different features including being able to power your smartphone and light up the darkness with a built-in flashlight.

This radio has all the weather alert stations as well as AM and FM radio stations so you can enjoy your music and know what’s going on. If you need to charge it you can use the hand crank or solar power to get going in no time at all. Small in size, this unit still has what you’re looking for and won’t take up a whole lot of weight or space in your bag while you’re hiking.

Check the price on Amazon

Finishing it Out

Each of these radios is going to make it a whole lot easier for you to prepare for whatever may be out there, even if you didn’t know it when you first set off on your hike. The most important thing is to always be alert and to always keep your radio tuned in.

Red solar radio

When you find yourself in a situation you’re unsure of, that radio could mean the difference between life … and a whole lot of danger. But we want to know more about you.

What type of radio do you trust most when you’re out in the wilderness? Is there a specific feature you think is most important? We want to know all about it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

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