Archive for February, 2014

Product Review: The Midland ER300 Emergency Radio

Saturday, February 15th, 2014

Alright, I have another product review for you guys. This one is about the Midland ER300 emergency radio.

First, some background…

For the last couple of years I’ve been primarily stocking my bug out bag with the Eton Microlink emergency radio.

The Microlink is a pretty good little radio, its very compact, and fits perfectly in a bug out bag.

However, there are a few issues that I have with it. But since I haven’t been able to find a suitable replacement, it has stayed in my bug out bag – up until now…

The Midland has now become my go to emergency radio for my bug out bag.

Find out in this review why I made the switch…

The Midland ER300: First Impressions

After getting this radio in the mail and opening the packaging I thought to myself, “dang, this thing is big”.

In fact, I was a little disappointed with the size.

If you take a look at the comparison of the Eton and the Midland you can see that there is a noticeable size difference:

Since I’m all about minimizing the bulk and size of my bug out bag I was a little bit put back with the size of this and didn’t think it would’ve been a good fit.

It appeared to be of better quality and sturdier then the Eton but for this reason alone I didn’t feel it would’ve been a good replacement for the Eton.

It really came down to the overwhelmingly better features that the Midland offers that sold me on it:

Features of the Midland ER300 Emergency Radio

Besides the obvious fact that it is a NOAA emergency radio that can also receive AM/FM channels, here are the more noteworthy features:

Multiple Sustainable Power Sources

This is one of the huge sellers for me that I feel that Eton is lacking.

Like the Eton, you can charge the battery with the integrated solar panel, or by handcrank.

However, not only is the lithium-ion battery pack replaceable (the Eton also has this feature), but it can also store six AA batteries as an extra power source for backup (what the Eton doesn’t have).

Finally, there is a toggle switch that allows you to switch between these two power sources so you don’t drain them both at the same time.

Extremely Bright Flashlight

This was another big selling point for me.

It’s about time an emergency radio uses some of the Cree LED lights. This one pumps out a whopping 130 lumens on high and also allows you to run it on a lower setting to conserve power.

You really notice a difference when you compare the two emergency radios. Check out the difference between both of these shining on a dark wall:

Ultrasonic Dog Whistle

Midland claims that this may be helpful for search and rescue teams using dogs in locating individuals in distress.

Having been involved in local SAR teams myself, I haven’t heard of something like this being used before, so I originally wrote it off as more gimmicky than practical.

However, after some thought I think that this would actually be a pretty cool thing if you have a dog.

It wouldn’t be difficult to train your dog to come to the sound of this whistle and I could see a lot of applications where you would want to covertly call your dog to you — especially in a precarious bug-out situation where yelling for your dog might attract unwanted attention.

NOAA Weather Alert

This is a fantastic option that the Eton (and even higher-priced radios) don’t have.

Basically, you can switch the radio to “alert mode” where it will monitor actively — in real time — for any weather alerts.

So for example, say you were sleeping and there’s some serious weather that’s coming your way…the radio would alarm and flash — waking you up and automatically turning to the channel to broadcast what the weather issue is.

This real-time alert could make all the difference in getting it to your safe room in time or being able to evacuate from an area before you’re stuck behind with the crowds…or worse.

SOS Morse Code Beacon

Morse code isn’t as popular in the military or even in amateur radio as it used to be.

However, SOS (… –  –  – …) is one of the few signals that even many laymen not trained in Morse code can recognize.

The SOS beacon in the flashlight provides you a hands-off way of broadcasting an SOS transmission – freeing you up to work on other survival tasks.

USB Device Charger

finally, the Midland also has a USB device charger.

Having the ability to charge your devices like a smart phone or even a Kindle or other reading tablet packed in your bug out bag, is a great feature.

*Note: The Midland does not provide enough power to charge an iPad, but is fine for an iPhone, Kindle or other similar device.

Digital Display and Tuning

The digital display of the Midland is another big plus over the Eton. With the Eton’s small knobs, it’s sometimes difficult to tune to the channel you want as well as know exactly which channel you’re on.

With the digital display, there is no confusion or difficulty tuning to the channel yo want.

Finally, it’s nice that it has a clock display.

Head-to-Head Comparison

Just so that there is no confusion, here’s a head-to-head comparison of their features:

Midland ER300 Etón Microlink
Handcrank Yes Yes
Solar Charger Yes Yes
Device Charger (via USB) Yes Yes
LED Flashlight Excellent Fair
Portablity Good Excellent
Ultrasonic Dog Whistle Yes No
Replaceable Lithium Ion Battery Pack Yes Yes
AA Battery Backup Yes No
Reception Excellent Good
SOS Beacon Yes No
Real Time NOAA Weather Alerts Yes No
Price $80 $40

Pricing and Where to Buy

If you caught it in the comparison chart above, you can see that the price for this radio is around $80.

While it is two times the amount of Eton radio, I feel that the larger price is worth those extra features.

The cheapest place that I found you can buy it is (like many things) on Buy the Midland ER300 on Amazon here.

Final Thoughts

When comparing the two radios, I definitely feel that the added features of the Midland are worth the extra cost and bulk.

If you haven’t yet stocked your bug out bag with an emergency radio, I definitely recommend this one.