Endorsed by the American Red Cross, the Eton FRX5 is the ideal Christmas gift for the emergency preparedness buff on your list. With multiple charging options and a highly efficient hand crank, this crank radio always has power. Not only does it alert you to severe weather specific to your county via SMART alert, but it can also charge your phone if the power goes out, ensuring that you can contact help if needed. In addition, the rugged, splash-resistant casing makes it a great companion for camping.
All crank radios feature a dynamo generator that charges an internal battery when you revolve the hand crank. However, none of crank radios we've tested can match Eton FRX5's efficiency. Starting with a completely dead battery, we cranked the generator for two minutes and got 13 minutes of radio time with the volume at its highest setting. To give you an idea of how efficient this is, the average battery life in our tests on 10 crank radios was 4.7 minutes. The FRX5 is almost three times more efficient than the average crank radio, which ultimately means that you don't have to exert as much energy to make sure you have enough charge to receive severe weather alerts.
Of course, the hand crank isn't the only power option. The Eton FRX5 has three additional power options – solar, direct and disposable batteries. On the handle is a solar panel, which is ideal for camping because you can clip it to your backpack while you hike, or leave it in the middle of the camp and the sun will ensure that there is enough charge in the battery to receive severe weather alerts. You can also charge the battery through a direct power source via a USB port on a computer or a wall plug. This is the fastest way of charging the battery, as plugging it in for 5.5 hours provides 15.5 hours of battery life. As a last resort, if the dynamo generator fails and the power is out, you can use three AAA batteries to power the radio.
The Eton FRX5 is one of the few crank radios with SMART alert technology. Every emergency weather radio receives NOAA weather alerts, but these alerts often aren't specific enough to your area – you could be in the mountains east of San Diego and receive weather alerts for Alaska. However, with SMART alert technology, you can receive weather alerts specific to your county. You can also program it for multiple counties. For example, if you're hiking in Utah's Zion National Park, you can program Iron, Kane and Washington counties so that you'll receive alerts for potential flash floods, allowing you to escape any slot canyons.
The Eton FRX5 isn't just an emergency radio. The large speaker has excellent audio quality, receiving a 100 percent quality score in our tests. You can plug your phone or music player into it with an aux cord and play music around the campground, or you can receive AM and FM radio. The backcountry reception received an impressive 95 percent score in our tests, making it ideal for backcountry camping. In addition, the FRX5 is IPX4 rated for water resistance. This means that it can handle splashes of water or heavy downpours of up to 10 liters of water a minute.
The Eton FRX5 comes with the most efficient hand crank on the market and has the most power options, including a solar panel. It can even output power to charge your phone in a power outage or while you're camping. With the SAME alert technology, you can program it so that you only receive severe weather alerts for your county. In case you're caught in an emergency, the FRX5 emergency radio has a flashing beacon, a flashlight, a siren and water-resistant casing, making it an excellent Christmas gift for anyone on your list with an emergency preparedness kit and camping gear.