When the Stuff does hit the rotating cooling device it is helpful to have some means to actually hear information from those nominally in charge. Today I will review 3 radios that I have used and own.
Realistic crystal controlled weather radio
This is an old model not currently in production but you can find it on ebay.
I have had this one for more than 20 years. It takes 3 AA batteries and will run on them for quite a long time. Its pretty easy to operate, turn it on by the side rotating volume nob. Then from the slide switch on top, choose, alert, weather, or lock. Then check the three channels you have to choose from(listed as a, b, and c) . Usually I can hear 2 of the stations sometimes 3. It has a retracting antenna as well. The one cool feature is the alert feature. If you set it on this mode and leave it on, if there is imminent severe weather for your area it will sound a high pitched siren which has never failed to wake me up. I have taken it camping often in those 20 plus years, and even helped me be aware of some nasty weather in the area a few times. Its also nice to be able to check it just for the weather report for the day. This has even survived my toddler playing with it. Grab one of these if you can find it, its great for staying up to date with the weather.
Eton Microlink FR160B
This radio is very nice as well. I got this one at REI and you can get it several other places as well. It overs 7 channels for weather band as opposed to the just 3 of the previous radio, plus it has AM&FM capabilities. Additionally it has two power sources, either the hand crank dynamo, or the solar panel on top. It also has the capability to charge your sell phone via the dynamo, Just hook in the usb connection and crank away. From practical standpoint it took very little cranks to get enough juice into the battery to be able to listen to the radio. While listening to the radio I was able to turn on the light and both continued to work great. I would say either crank the dynamo or listen to the radio, as the energy produced by the dynamo tends to make the radio signal quite fuzzy. This is a great intuitive radio, and would be great to grab and throw in your pack.
Eton Solarlink ARC FR-500
I have had this for a radio for a few years, and it reportedly does damn near everything. I will say that my impressions have been less than stellar of this model. I bought it because of the moon the sky and the stars it stated it can deliver. But in the end the controls felt mushy and inaccurate, it was not intuitive on a lot of the buttons and things never seemed to work the way they should. Additionally I think a lot is left out that would be good to have. It will take a variety of power inputs, you can charge from solar, hand crank, usb connection, dc connection, or you can use batteries. I was disappointed that it does not come with its own usb cord, or dc power cord. It is also nice you can charge your cell like the others, and it includes an ordering form for a free cord for your phone.
For me I have never been able to totally figure out this radio. Turning the power selector to off does not turn off the weather band radio. If I tune to SW then the radio just shuts off, same for AM&FM. All the tuning knobs feel horrible when tuning like they are not quite grabbing the internal selector. To get the Weather Radio to work at times I have to turn the selector switch to right between alert and off(technically nothing is there).
It does have a nice working clock with alarm(even sleep and snooze), and has a good 7 channel weather band radio. It can work off of multiple sources, and is quite rugged, This has lived in my various vehicles for close to 4 years now. Notice in the picture above I have cracked the cover over the LCD and no problems that were not there before. It always works and every time I take it out just letting it sit in the sun or a few cranks and its ready to go.
For myself I would go with the first two, they are easy to use and lightweight to carry. The second weighs nearly 2 lbs. I have carried all 3, and by the end of the hike with the big one, I could not wait to get it out of my back, the others I hardly noticed the difference. Whatever you get try to remember the old saying, Keep It Simple Stupid. If you want to do shortwave, get a real shortwave radio. But something will be better than nothing.