Pros / The hand crank performed well in our two-minute crank test.
Cons / The analog tuner makes it hard to find specific radio stations.
Verdict / The RunningSnail MD-090 isn’t the best-sounding emergency radio we tested, but if you want to spend less than $30, it’s the best option.
The RunningSnail MD-090 has many of the same features as the best crank radios we tested like a solar charger, USB charging port and disposable battery backup. Those useful features, along with its efficient hand crank, make it an invaluable tool in an emergency preparedness kit. 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.
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 our test group.
We tested AM and FM radio reception in three different locations near our office 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 Forrest 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.
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 and 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. There isn’t a phone contact listed on the website or on the warranty card that is supplied in the packaging.
- Two-Minute Crank Test (Battery Life)
- Charge Time
- Battery Life
- Maximum Volume