PROS / It's loaded with emergency preparedness features like an ultrasonic dog whistle.
CONS / The hand crank efficiency is below average.
VERDICT / The Midland ER310 is a great survival tool, as it has some unique features to attract search and rescue if you're lost or stranded, though its hand crank is inefficient.
The Midland ER310 is a good crank radio for everyday use at the beach, park or campsite, while the survival features make it an excellent addition to your emergency preparedness kit. It doesn't have the most efficient hand crank or longest battery life, but it's a great radio to have if you're lost or stranded. Not only does it alert you to severe weather, but it can also help others find you if you’re lost in the backcountry.
Many emergency radios have survival features to attract the attention of search and rescue if you're lost, but the ER310 has the unique feature of an ultrasonic dog whistle. Since canines have excellent hearing and smelling, they are the best trackers for search and rescue. When you activate the dog whistle, you won't be able to hear it because the frequency is too high for human hearing, but the dogs can, and they'll be able to lead people to your location. There's also an SOS beacon that flashes, which can get the attention of anyone from a great distance.
The biggest downside to the ER310 is the inefficient hand crank. In our tests, it produced just 3.5 minutes of battery life after two minutes of cranking. While this doesn't make it the worst hand crank available, it's more than a minute under the average. For comparison, the best crank radio produced an average battery life of 13 minutes in the same test. When plugged into an outlet, it took five hours to charge and provided 9.75 hours of battery life. You can also charge the battery with the solar panel, AC wall outlet or USB connection. You can use regular AA batteries if you don't want to wait for the battery to charge.
The radio reception quality is generally good. While the AM reception earned a B in our tests, which is average, the FM reception received an A. In addition, the backcountry reception received a B+, which makes it one of the better radios for hiking. So while the reception isn't perfect, the overall quality is good. You'll be able to hear the necessary information.
The maximum volume, measured at 1 meter, was 87.6 dB, which makes it the second-loudest emergency radio in our review. This adds to the value of the survival features, because it's more likely that people will hear the radio if they're searching for you.
You can plug your mobile devices into the USB port and use the hand crank to charge the batteries. This is an excellent way of keeping your electronics charged while you're camping or when there's a power outage. This isn't just a convenience feature that allows you to keep playing your games when there's a power outage; it also keeps you in contact with others who can help you if you need it.
The casing is well built for a weather radio, using a combination of hard plastic and rubber. It can handle the bumps and drops involved with camping and everyday usage. However, it lacks a water-resistant design. So if you're hiking and you receive a severe weather warning from one of the NOAA weather alert stations, you'll need to store it in a dry place.
The Midland ER310 is a great addition to an emergency preparedness kit. Survival features like a dog whistle and an SOS beacon make it a smart companion to have whenever you go hiking. The hand crank isn't very efficient at charging the battery, but you can also use a wall plug, USB connection or sunlight to charge it.