Best Wind-Up Hand Crank Radios (UK 2019)

A wind-up radio is a handy gadget to have when you’re a long way from a power socket.

These radios are popular with outdoorsy people including hikers, campers, anglers and gardeners. They are also a good way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on batteries.

Wind-up radios feature a hand crank that you turn to charge the radio. Most of these radios can also be charged using other methods such as with a solar panel or via a USB cable.

Many wind-up radios double up as torches and/or alarm clocks, and some can even be used to charge your mobile phone. This makes them very useful in emergency situations or when you’re travelling in a remote location.

There are lots of wind-up radios available, but which is the best?

We’ve looked at all of the options and picked out 6 of the most highly rated wind-up radios in the UK in 2019.

Best Wind-Up Radios (UK 2019)

1. Degen DE13 Crank Solar Radio

The Degen DE13 is an exceptionally versatile radio that would be very useful in emergency situations. In addition to analogue radio it also features a torch, flashlight and alarm siren, and it can even be used to charge a mobile phone.

Features

  • SW/MW/FM radio
  • Torch
  • Alarm siren
  • Multiple powering methods: Hand crank, solar panel, USB, 3 x AAA batteries
  • Mobile phone charging

Dimensions: 13.3 x 6.2 x 4.7 cm
Weight: 256 g

Pros

  • Lots of useful features for emergency situations
  • Feels robust
  • Good amount of volume, especially when using the alarm

Cons

  • Battery cover is flimsy
  • Not very efficient at charging a phone
  • Instructions manual isn’t very clear

Summary

This is a great radio to have on hand in case of emergencies. It’s very versatile and would be useful when camping or hiking.

One of the best things about this radio is that you can use it to resuscitate your phone when the battery dies, though you’d have to wind the hand crank for a very long time to fully charge it.

Read our full review of the Degen DE13 here.

2. Duronic Hybrid Radio

The Duronic Hybrid Radio is a versatile and compact wind-up radio that comes with a built-in flashlight, a solar panel and an alarm clock.

It comes with a USB cable, so you don’t need to rely fully on the hand crank and solar panel. Winding this radio for 1 minute will give about 15 minutes of radio play time.

Features

  • 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Alarm clock
  • Extendable aerial
  • Built-in 300mAh, 2.4V battery
  • Solar charging
  • LED torch

Dimensions: 13 x 7.3 x 4.1 cm
Weight: 203 g

Pros

  • Three charging options: Wind-up, solar, USB cable
  • Easy to tune in compared to most wind-up radios
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Needs winding up frequently
  • Solar panel is ineffective in cloudy weather
  • Not very durable

Summary

This is one of the best-performing wind-up radios available in the UK in 2019 and offers great features for the price.

Like most wind-up radios, it needs winding up frequently and doesn’t feel especially durable, but overall it compares very well against the competition.

Read our full review of the Duronic Hybrid Radio here.

3. iGadgitz Xtra Wind Up Radio

The iGadgitz Xtra is a simple and inexpensive wind-up radio that offers 7 hours of play time on a full charge.

In addition to winding the hand crank, you can also charge it with a USB cable or with the solar panel on the top of the radio. There’s also a headphone socket for private listening.

Features

  • AM/FM radio
  • Can be charged by hand crank, solar or USB
  • Extendable aerial
  • Headphone jack

Dimensions: 13 x 7 x 4 cm
Weight: 203 g

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Feels robust
  • Small and light

Cons

  • Tuning can be fiddly

Summary

The iGadgitz Xtra is very compact and light, so it’s easy to take with you when camping or travelling.

It doesn’t have as many features as some alternatives such as the Degen DE13 reviewed above, but it’s cheap and is a good choice if you just want a basic wind-up radio.

Read our full review of the iGadgitz Xtra here.

4. Esky Portable Solar Powered Radio

This brightly coloured wind-up radio from Esky offers several charging methods as well as a powerful flashlight for camping or power cuts. This is quite a versatile little radio that also lets you charge a phone via a micro USB cable.

Features

  • AM/FM radio
  • Can pick up NOAA weather radio (in the USA)
  • Can be powered by: USB cable, hand crank, solar panel, 3 x AA batteries
  • SOS alarm
  • 3W LED flashlight
  • Can charge phones and other devices using a micro USB cable (included)
  • Headphone jack
  • Built-in rechargeable 2000mAh battery

Pros

  • Lots of ways to charge it
  • Compact design—good or travelling
  • Easy to find thanks to the bright yellow design
  • Bright torch

Cons

  • Sounds quite tinny

Summary

This radio offers pretty much everything you could ask for in a wind-up radio for camping or emergencies. It has a phone charger, torch and alarm, and can be powered by solar as well as the hand crank.

5. Duronic Apex

The Duronic Apex is currently one of the most popular wind-up radios available in the UK. It has a winding arm as well as a solar panel for charging the built-in battery and can also be charged via a USB cable.

Features

  • AM/FM radio
  • 3 charging options: hand crank, solar, USB
  • Headphone/earphone socket
  • Telescopic aerial
  • Digital display
  • Alarm
  • Torch

Dimensions: 15 x 7.5 x 5.5 cm
Weight: 381 g

Pros

  • Compact and light
  • Good amount of volume for the size
  • Bright flashlight

Cons

  • Feels quite flimsy
  • Fiddly to tune in

Summary

This wind-up radio offers great value for money and is a very useful gadget to have when camping, hiking or gardening. It doesn’t feel especially sturdy and can be fiddly to tune in, but these are common issues with portable AM/FM radios in this price range.

Read our full review of the Duronic Apex here.

6. FORNORM Emergency Hand Crank Radio

The FORNORM Emergency Hand Crank Radio offers several powering methods: solar panel, hand crank, USB cable and AAA batteries. It’s available in either red or green. This is one of the newest products on this list, having been first released in 2018.

Features

  • AM/FM radio
  • 2000mAh power bank for charging a phone or other device via a USB cable
  • LED flashlight
  • Reading lamp
  • IPX3 water resistance (splash-proof)

Pros

  • Small, compact design
  • Lots of features
  • Can charge other devices via USB
  • Solar panel works well
  • Useful bright torch

Cons

  • Pricier than some of the alternatives

Summary

The FORNORM Emergency Hand Crank Radio is a useful gadget to have while camping. It can be charged in several ways and lets you charge other devices such as mobile phones via a USB cable.

It’s a bit more expensive than some of the alternatives reviewed here, but could be worth it if you want something with lots of features.

Wind-Up Radio FAQs

Can you get a wind-up DAB radio?

At the time of writing, we couldn’t find any wind-up DAB radios available. Ten years ago you could buy a wind-up DAB radio, the Freeplay Devo, though winding it for a minute only gave 3-5 minutes of radio play time.

The Freeplay Devo has since been discontinued. DAB is more power-hungry than AM and FM radio, so DAB radios are less suited to being powered by a hand crank.

How long does a wind-up radio last?

The amount of time you can listen to a wind-up radio before you need to wind it up again varies depending on the particular radio and how you use it. In general, 1 minute of winding should give about 15 minutes of radio play time when using the radios reviewed above.

Do Roberts make wind-up radios?

Roberts used to make a wind-up radio, the R9957 Wanderer. This radio had AM/FM radio, a hand crank and a built-in lamp.

However, this radio appears to have been discontinued. You may be able to find a second-hand model on eBay.

The R9957 didn’t offer as many features as the radios reviewed here, so it’s probably not the best choice even if you can get hold of one.

Who invented the wind-up radio?

The wind-up radio was invented by English inventor Trevor Baylis. He invented the Baygen clockwork radio in 1991 after seeing a documentary about the spread of AIDs in Africa.

Baylis wanted to help stop the spread of AIDs in Africa by distributing wind-up radios that would allow people to hear educational programmes. He was awarded an OBE for inventing the wind-up radio.

Are wind-up radios any good?

Wind-up radios tend to use small and inexpensive speakers, so the sound quality isn’t usually as good as on regular radios. However, they serve the purpose they are designed for: allowing you to listen to the radio without having to rely on mains power or buying new batteries.

 

What to Look for in a Wind-Up Radio

Here are a few of the most useful features to look out for in a good wind-up radio:

  • Torch: A torch or flashlight is a useful feature to have if you’re taking the radio with you while camping or are keeping it in your car for emergencies.
  • Phone charging: Many wind-up radios allow you to charge your phone, which is a great feature for when you’re out in the countryside and your phone dies. However, bear in mind that smartphones use a lot of power, so it would take a lot of winding to fully charge a phone. It’s best to reserve this feature for emergency situations rather than rely on it to keep your phone charged.
  • Waterproof/water-resistant: This could be an especially useful feature if you’re taking the radio with you while hiking or fishing.
  • Solar charging: A solar panel offers an additional way of charging the radio. While a solar panel is a nice feature to have, you can’t always rely on it to keep the radio charged as solar panels require direct sunlight.
  • Alarm clock: An alarm clock could be a useful feature to have if you can’t use your phone for this purpose.

 

Conclusion

If we had to recommend just one of these radios, it would be the Degen DE13. It’s very verstaile, offers good value for money and has the features most people want in a wind-up radio. For some more recommendations, see these related articles:

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