PROS / It weighs only 7.04 ounces, so it pairs well with the carabiner handle.
CONS / The reception quality is poor.
VERDICT / The Ambient Weather WR-099 has five power options and is small enough to take camping in the backcountry, but the overall reception quality is poor for AM and FM radio.
The Ambient Weather WR-099 is a dependable emergency radio with five power options. When there's a severe storm in your area and the power goes out, it can be your lifeline for both entertainment and critical information about approaching weather systems. It's a great addition to any emergency preparedness kit or camping gear. However, the reception quality is poor compared to the best crank radios we tested.
You can charge the internal battery five ways – by hand crank, solar panel, USB via computer, AC wall plug or car charger. The only missing power option is disposable batteries, which is an important one because it would allow the radio to work even when the rechargeable battery stops holding a charge.
In our hand crank efficiency test, the WR-099 produced an average of 4.5 minutes of battery life after two minutes of us using the crank, which was average. For comparison, the best crank radio produced over 13 minutes. The worse part of the crank is how awkward it is. The radio is so small and the crank is so big, we often struggled to keep a grip while we spun the crank. When plugged into a wall, the battery reached a full charge in 4.25 hours, which was faster than most. In addition, the overall battery life is seven hours, which is average.
The WR-099's reception quality didn't test very well. For the AM test, which we performed during the day and at night, it received a B. The FM reception and backcountry reception were even lower and received a B-minus in comparative reception quality. The reception improved dramatically when we held the radio, which was common with the smaller radios we tested. But without the use of the human antenna, the reception wasn’t great, though it wasn’t terrible either.
However, the reception quality in the weather band, which is the stations for weather alerts, was equal to the best weather radios we tested, whether we held the radio or not. This makes it an excellent radio for receiving important information about weather when you're hiking, but it's not a great radio if you want to listen to your favorite station play the current hits.
The WR-099 is the smallest and lightest crank radio in our review at just 7.04 ounces. The outer casing is made of durable rubber and plastic. It has a carabiner handle, which makes it an easy addition to a backpack for hiking and camping. You can take it in the backcountry without any trouble.
The Ambient Weather WR-099 is a good, dependable crank and solar radio. The five power options mean that you can count on it to have the necessary power so you can access important information about the weather. The small size means that it's easy to travel with in the backcountry where having access to weather information is important, even if the AM and FM reception is below average.