The RunningSnail MD-090 has many of the same features as the best emergency radios (opens in new tab) we tested including a solar charger, USB charging port and disposable battery backup. Yet this is a super affordable option that does it all for less.
This also does all that while standing out with a selection of punchy color options which should help you find this quickly if it's been in storage or is packed into a camping trip bag. But is this the best emergency radio for you and your needs? Read on to find out everything you need to know in this RunningSnail MD-090 review.
RunningSnail MD-090: Design and build
The useful features mentioned above, along with its efficient hand crank, make the RunningSnail MD-090 an invaluable tool in an emergency preparedness kit. But, equally, it's a great option for camping or even taking for a cook-out in the wild.
The analog tuning knob is a bit harder to dial in than a digital tuner, but radios with digital tuners can cost almost twice as much.The hand crank is easily accessible and allows for a clean action without the worry of moving knobs or pressing buttons as you charge.
Everything is compact and folds away, from the crank and aerial to the solar panel. That means this is very portable and fits into a bag easily without the worry of damage.
RunningSnail MD-090: Features
The RunningSnail MD-090 has one of the best feature sets in our test group. Not only can it transmit important information in remote locations, but it’s also a valuable emergency preparedness tool.
This radio can charge your phone, transmit an SOS Morse Code beacon, and illuminate dark areas with an LED flashlight or LED reading light. It’s also one of the few radios we tested with a siren setting that plays a high-pitch noise through its speaker to alert people to your location if you are unable to move.
RunningSnail covers this radio against defects in materials and workmanship for one year, which is an average warranty term for crank radios. If you have questions about the product, you can contact the company by email.
RunningSnail MD-090: Performance
To test the efficiency of the radio’s dynamo hand crank, we drained the lithium-ion battery, covered the solar charger and spun the crank for two minutes at 120 beats per minutes, which is the manufacturer-recommended crank speed. We then played the radio at maximum volume and timed how long it took for the battery to die.
The RunningSnail radio played music at full volume for an average of five and a half minutes before its battery died, which is above average for most crank radios.
We tested AM and FM radio reception in three different locations in Ogden, Utah. This RunningSnail model picked up all the major AM and FM stations available in our radio market, although some of them were a bit fuzzy compared to the best radios we tested. The backcountry reception tests were conducted at two different locations in the Wasatch National Forest that don’t have cellular service. We tuned the RunningSnail to receive weather alerts in these two remote locations.
It took a bit longer to find the weather alerts because of the analog tuner, but once we found them, the reception quality was above average. It didn’t transmit as loud or clear as the best radios, but it was still easy to hear the information being broadcast.
Should you buy the RunningSnail MD-090?
If you want an emergency crank radio that does it all while remaining compact and affordable then this is a superb option. From solar charging backup to a USB port to charge your phone, this has lots of features. The emergency skills are also a big draw here. The downside is that the analog tuner isn't the easiest to work and the sound quality in some locations could be better. At this price you get a lot of radio for your money, and only the Esky CRS-01 (opens in new tab) - which isn't a great model - is cheaper.