Best weather radio

Reviews

A weather radio that can charge by solar cells or a hand crank ensures you’ll never be stuck with a dead battery.

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Which weather radio is best?

A weather radio gives you immediate alerts about potentially severe weather situations in your current area. This is beneficial when you’re hiking in a remote area, when traveling, or when sleeping.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) generates weather-alert signals for the weather radio on a special frequency band. This band is different from FM and AM radio frequencies. The weather alert band is only used for weather bulletins.

Weather radios often have quite a few add-on features, making them useful in many situations. To learn more, keep reading our buying guide. Our top pick is the compact Kaito Emergency Weather Alert Radio, which features a number of ways to keep it charged, so it’s always ready to use.

What to know before you buy a weather radio

Weather alert vs. weather band

When shopping for a weather radio, you can select from two types:

  • Weather alert: A weather alert radio gives you immediate warnings about weather situations based on your location. They often automatically sound an alert when NOAA issues a weather warning. These alerts sound loud even if the radio is turned off or the volume is at a low setting.
  • Weather band: This type of weather radio gives you updates on weather forecasts rather than specific alerts. You must tune the radio into a particular frequency to listen to the forecast, much like an AM or FM signal. A weather band-only radio does not give you loud alarms in emergency situations.

Some weather radios only offer one type of function, while others can perform both functions.

What to look for in a quality weather radio

Beyond receiving weather alerts and forecasts, some weather radios have quite a few additional features. These features can greatly enhance your enjoyment of the device.

Alarm

A weather radio with an alarm sounds a noise when a weather warning occurs in your area. This alarm will wake you up if the severe weather arrives overnight. It also can alert you when you’re working or hiking outdoors away from the radio.

Alert precision

Certain models of weather radios allow you to sort the types of weather alerts you receive, so you can ignore things like flood watches. Other models offer SAME technology, which allows you to set a precise location for the radio. You then receive alerts only for that location rather than for the general region. The SAME feature is not available on portable, battery-powered radios.

Display screen

With a display, you can see the battery level and current tuning frequency. However, some models don’t have screens.

Flashlight

Some weather radios include a built-in light. This is handy for hiking, as you won’t have to carry a separate flashlight. However, using the flashlight may drain the battery quickly.

Power source

A weather radio can run from AC power or a battery (or both). A battery-powered weather radio is able to charge from multiple sources including a USB cable, an electrical outlet, a solar panel, or a hand crank. Some weather radios can charge the battery from multiple sources, while others are limited to one source.

Power charging

If your weather radio has a USB port, you may be able to use its battery to charge other items, like a smartphone.

Radio turning

Some weather radios can receive signals from traditional AM and FM radio stations in addition to receiving weather alerts.

How much you can expect to spend on a weather radio

Weather radios can range from $20-$200 in price. Inexpensive models are made only for emergency notification, while pricier radios have multiple features and excellent durability.

Weather radio FAQ

Q. Can’t I just use push notifications on my smartphone to receive weather alerts? Why do I need a weather radio?

A. Smartphones work well for weather alerts. However, in a severe weather event, the cellular towers may be inoperable. Weather broadcasts from NOAA function even in the harshest weather.

Q. Can I carry the weather radio with me while backpacking and camping?

A. Quite a few weather radio models are small enough to carry easily. A lightweight, battery-powered radio is perfect for backpacking, hiking, biking, or camping.

What are the best weather radios to buy?

Top weather radio

Kaito Emergency Weather Alert Radio

Kaito Emergency Weather Alert Radio

What you should know: Offers multiple power-charging options, which means you always have operational power available.

What you’ll love: Small enough to carry with you anywhere. Also can charge a smartphone from the built-in battery.

What you should consider: For some reason, it doesn’t have an AC adapter charging option.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top weather radio for money

Midland NOAA Weather Public Alert Radio

Midland NOAA Weather Public Alert Radio

What you should know: Even for sound sleepers, the alert noise is loud enough to wake them in an emergency.

What you’ll love: Easily finds the local broadcasting source so you always have the most relevant weather information.

What you should consider: Doesn’t pull in AM or FM signals, so you’re only receiving weather alerts.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

RunningSnail Emergency Self Powered Weather Radio

RunningSnail Emergency Self Powered Weather Radio

What you should know: Small weather radio that’s perfect to take with you on long hikes or bicycle rides.

What you’ll love: Has plenty of extra features, including AM/FM radio and an LED flashlight. Multiple charging options.

What you should consider: Hand crank works to charge the radio, but it takes a long time to power up.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Kyle Schurman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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