The Esky ES-CR01 is a super compact radio with a selection of ways to charge the battery including crank and solar. This made it onto our list of the best emergency radios (opens in new tab) despite it having the worst charge time in our test group. It is, however, the most affordable radio we reviewed, so if you are looking to add a crank radio to your emergency preparedness kit and want to spend less than $20, this is your best option.
Esky ES-CR01: Design and build
The Esky Crank Radio has a USB port you can use to charge your mobile devices. That, along with its IPX3 water-resistance rating and compact design, makes it a good fit if you plan to take your crank radio on hikes or camping trips.
In addition, its solar charger comes in handy on long trips because the radio doesn’t take disposable batteries as a power source in case the built-in rechargeable one stops working. There is an analog tuner which means you need to manually twist the knobs to find a clear signal from each of the three band options this radio delivers.
Esky ES-CR01: Features
The crank charging isn't the only way to get the battery full, this also offers solar, and AC wall plug and a car charger as options. It won't run disposable batteries though so it's a well needed selection of options.
Radio bands include AM, FM and WB, the latter being the NOAA weather band to get local crisis or camping specific transmissions when needed. The Esky ES-CR01 also features a 140 lumen LED light at the front which allows this to be easily held and used as a torch.
On the rear is a power out and power in jack allowing you to charge another device like a smartphone using this radio's 1,000mAh battery pack. Esky includes a one-year warranty, which is average for emergency radios. If you have a question about your radio, you can only contact the manufacturer by email. When we reached out with questions, it took four business days to receive an unhelpful response.
Esky ES-CR01: Performance
In our tests, the Esky Crank Radio’s hand crank generated an average of four and a half minutes of battery life during the two minutes we turned it at a rate of 120 revolutions per minute. That is average for the radios we tested but better than every other model under $40. This is one of the smaller radios we tested, and its size had an adverse effect – we had to grip it awkwardly to turn the crank.
The Esky’s nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery lasted eight hours and 15 minutes when we played the radio at its maximum volume. That is above average for our test group, and it could potentially last longer if you get a radio that can reach a full charge. We left ours plugged into a wall socket for more than 14 hours, and it never reached a full battery.
This radio received the worst scores in our reception tests, but it projected this poor-quality sound at one of the loudest volumes in our test group. Its analog tuner dial made it hard to find good reception for specific radio stations compared to crank radios with digital tuners. We received the same NOAA weather alerts with this Esky as we did with all the other models we tested, but they lacked clarity compared to the top-rated radios like the Eton Ultimate Camping (opens in new tab).
Should you buy the Esky ES-CR01?
If you want a super affordable hand crank radio that also has more charging options, can charge other devices features an LED light and several radio bands, this is ideal for you. However if you want a faster charging battery that really lasts and decent quality radio signal and sound then you may need to spend a little more.