Emergency Weather Radio: Champ Survival Skybox

Once upon a time I had purchased an Eton Emergency Weather Radio and I wasn’t very impressed for the $50 I spent. Sure it had all the bells and whistles but there was something about it that I didn’t like… perhaps the hand crank, I don’t know. Seems I got rid of it –probably gave it to somebody–and so I haven’t had a true emergency radio in my possession until now.

Let’s talk about the Champ Survival Skybox Emergency Weather Radio today. Last week I reviewed the Champ Survival Sidekick and, to be honest, I wasn’t very pleased. This Skybox, however, is a different story…

According the Amazon description: “…With the Champ Survival Bluetooth Weather Radio with Flashlight, you’re a little more prep’d and ready for the unexpected. Whether you’re camping or caught in a power outage, the Survival Skybox has everything you need to you safe. Includes, AM / FM / NOAA weather radio, flashlight, bluetooth wireless technology, USB charging for mobile devices, distress light, NOAA alerts, digital clock, calendar function, temperature function, hand crank and solar panel charging, headphone jack, hideaway antenna, convenient carry handle, radio, AC power adapter, user guide, and 1-year limited warranty.”

The Emergency Weather Radio: Function (AM/FM/Weather)

As you can see, this is more than just a radio. Of course, that’s a great place to start. It’s does AM/FM but, more importantly, NOAA weather bands too. This, in my humble opinion, is very useful to emergency preparedness and something I feel every home should have.

Note that the display is all digital and allows you to change the stations using button OR a dial, though, I’m not sure why they integrated both options. One thing I liked, in particular, is the ability to turn the weather alter functioning on/off which means that if there is an alert issued (via NOAA weather services) then the radio will automatically turn on and start playing. That can be useful.

As for the sound, it’s plenty loud enough and just turning the volume up to about halfway was plenty to listen to weather alerts as well as music. Note: there is a hideaway antenna, which is nice, but I would have preferred it to be a bit longer so as to improve reception. Where we are we don’t get the best of reception but I was able to get the channels I generally expected to get.

The Emergency Weather Radio: Lights

There’s a light on one end of the Skybox. The light isn’t super bright by any means but it is a bit brighter than the Champ Sidekick I reviewed previously. I’d say it’s enough to keep from tripping over things around the house. The light also tilts up and down (let’s say 25 degrees or so) which could prove useful in some situations.

There’s also a red distress lighting included that, sadly, blinks as well. For the life of me I have no idea why manufacturers think this is a good idea. If I were truly stranded in a ditch somewhere then perhaps the idea makes sense but it’s hardly bright enough to be of any actual use. I would have much rather they skipped that idea and either made the red light NOT blink (so as to preserve night vision) OR made a low setting for the actual light.

Emergency Phone Charging

One very good addition is the ability to charge a cell phone. Like the Sidekick, this isn’t going to fully recharge a typical cell phone but should provide plenty of juice to get a phone call or two out. Moreover, the battery in the Skybox is about three times the size of the Sidekick so you will be able to charge a cell phone battery.

Solar Powered, Hand Crank, etc

I like things that are solar powered. According to the manual, however, it would take about 45 hours of direct sunlight to fully charge the battery. That may sound bad but anything that has a built-in solar panel like this isn’t going to charge very fast. If you’re going to rely on solar to charge the unit during an emergency then you should limit radio play and lighting as much as possible.

As for the hand crank, it’s very similar (if not exactly the same) as the Sidekick. IMO, it’s a last-ditch effort. Granted, it’s nice to have the option. According to the manual it should take roughly four hours to fully charge the battery of continuous hand-cranking. Sounds like a great job for the kids. 😉

I should note that it does NOT take batteries which would have been a nice option in an emergency radio. There is an included AC adapter which would be great if you have an alternative power setup but otherwise useless in an emergency. Beyond that, I would have at least preferred there be a compartment to place the adapter inside for storage but there isn’t.

Other Mentionables

Like I mentioned above the display is all digital. That’s nice but it gets a bit crowded. Anyway, no big deal. I did notice that the Skybox includes a built-in temperature monitor on the display which is nice. Now you can gripe about the precise temperature you’re either sweating at or freezing from! All kidding aside, it is a good feature and one I hadn’t thought about.

If you’re so inclined, the Skybox has bluetooth capability, meaning you can sync something like a iPhone or iPad to it and play your favorite music. I can’t say this is an especially useful feature during an emergency but, hey, at least you won’t have to wait for the radio station to play your favorite songs. 🙂

The Skybox also has an alarm and sleep timer feature.

Overall, there’s a lot packed into the Champ Survival Skybox emergency weather radio. The price is a bit steep at nearly $100 but you’re not buying a cheapo emergency radio here. I feel like it’s a quality radio that will suit your needs during an emergency. And with the added features of a light, solar powered, hand-crank, USB phone charger, and more… it works as advertised.

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Author: Damian Brindle

Blogging about all things survival and emergency preparedness, including experiences with DIY projects and ideas, gear reviews, living frugally, cooking in unconventional ways, and more! Take a tour to better understand the many tools and resources you can find here as well as what to expect in the future. Learn from my experiences and share your own in the comments below. Have a blessed day. :)

12 thoughts on “Emergency Weather Radio: Champ Survival Skybox”

  1. I just got done writing a review on Amazon about this radio. I like the radio more then most, and I own a dozen, Emergency radios are a great grab and use, I am a retired Air Force radio tech and a HAM (KC5ENC). I agree that a CCrane radio would be nice to have but this gets the job done for most of us. If you really want to be able to operate well in a emergency a trunking scanner and a couple of FRS/GMRS transceiver should be in your kit.

    1. Glad you feel it’s useful. Personally, I liked the radio but now I understand it really isn’t a great emergency radio. Honestly, I would prefer a cheaper battery powered radio most of the time but keep this around for if/when I’m down to nothing but solar and my arm. 🙂

  2. I bought a Kaito Voyager radio from Emergency Essentials for myself back in 2011. We took it camping with us that summer. I was so impressed with it, I purchased 3 more, one for each of our Bug Out Bags. I still find it hard to believe that a little bit of cranking generated enough power to listen to the radio for hours. We charged our cell phones on it too! Great deal for under 50 bucks!

  3. Damian, no shame was meant… We all have our ~specialties~ Yes????

    However, we can ALL use that sort of wake up call!!! How many times do you see advertised … ” ~Survial Product~ ” only to read it and Know from Practical Experiance that the item is aimed at the uniformed Prepper.

    That is why I read your blog: you ser and post GREAT ITEMS that interest me, and I was prepping before “prepping was cool”.

    Me being old enough to have ridden T-Rex to my Cave School, I recall my mom’s Pantry…. With nearly 200 Quart Jars, of home preserved, “whatevers” then the couple hundred wide Mouth Pints, of Jams and Jellies, all the apricot products came from our own Tree, larger, taller than our house, I could see Five Caves over!!!!

    And when we had Cherry Trees… I was just a wee little cave boy, the Trees were touching the Bottoms of clouds!!! I would see the Birds eating the top cherries, me and my brother would climb up, with our small buckets… Pick, Eat, bucket. Pick, eat, bucket.

    Mom would wonder why we so quiet, come out of the Farm Cave, and say “You get out of that TREE, Right now, andbring a Filled Bucket”…. That were 19 & 54, I got a memory like an elephant!!!

    Now what was I writing about????

    philip, of the BoonDocks….

    1. Spelled airs… You see and post…

      Maybe I should Finish my first cuppa cowboy coffee before posting

      BoonDocks

  4. PS, forgive the Spel’N airs of above, I am plumb tuckered out, having been on my Electronics Bench much longer than usual. But I got “New Stuff” in the mail today, and a man’s gotta Play!!!!

    philip

  5. Damian, as a person who hasbeen “into” radio’s for over 57 years, including both building radios #1 was in 1957, give or take an inch…

    To an US ARMY radio Repairman… SW listener.. Etc. Etc. Etc., I would rate this radio, Sole by picture and your article, as a 2 on a 1:10 scale!!!!

    Why? If indeed it is supposed to be an Emergency Radio, I will state, that no Emergency “Qualified” Radio Ttechnician was consulted!!!

    First, and formost, it does not need those TWO Huge speaker! By the very size of them, in the photo, I can tell you they are Power Hungry speakers, you need to Conserve your power in times of Emergency NOT consume it like a baby ghetto blaster, boom box, or other names for big speaker radios!

    The US Military provided great little radios to those in the Sand Box, and other places, complete with a (single) LED light for (minimal) needs. Name a veteran who did not have at least Two flashlights while in the field… A single LED is all that is needed, to get around in whatever shelter you have, during a bonified Emergency. I personally carry Three, with Two more in my BOV, two more in my bedroom, etc. Its a Radio, not a main stay flashlight!!!!

    TheSolor panel must be left over stock, from the worlds first solar panel experiments, OR the battery is of poor technology, because I have had several Solor Panel / USB Powerout setups, and None of them would take 45 HOURS of Light, to recharge them. In fact, I venture out upon a limb here: I bet they have some sort of Capacitance Storage system, instead of a True battery. I would be interested in splitting the case on such a unit, just to see what makes it tick!!!

    The Dynamo hand crank Must be faulty as well, if your manual states Four Hours of Continuos cranking, sorry, I have been cranking generators by hand, since early 60’s, when our family vacations actually involved a location with a Crank Powered Phone system, and the Phone System was a private one, for Pacific Gas & Electricity, in Way Northern California (written thata way, for all your readers who think “San Jose” is Northern California: it is Central CA!!!

    I agree with the blinking Red LED. pitiful concept: and agree as well, for multiple power consumption levels, but, on BOTH the Red, and the LED Flashlight… Conservation of Energy ALL Energy is Vital in an Emergency situation. We do not need a Fog cutting Search Light, inside a shelter, or even a Tent, just enough light to find whatever is missing. If I am doing First Aid, etc. Then I would be wearing a head mounted LED light system, AA powered… Just thinking outloud there.

    For a buck, you can buy an LED “candle” powered by a lithium “coin battery” and that has an off switch, to conserve light!!!! In fact that type battery, is what my “Red Dot” uses, that is mounted on my 10-22 Ruger, so it provides me a spare battery for half the cost of just the battery!

    Granted the thermometer is good, I am Cold, but how close to FrostBite levels is a good thing.

    Now, I’ll close this, with saying the best Radio Sales I know of, and where I bought my last Radio, is from CCrane Co.

    My current radio, is their Radio, Built for long distance Reception. They Design RADIOS!!!!

    It has, AM, FM, All National Weather Channels (Pre Programed), a 12/24 hour clock, with wake up Alarm. It has Timer shut off, PLUS it has 2 meter band!!!! This is the “un-official” CERT band for emergencies!!!!

    Because the local 2 Meter HAM’s usually have repeater transceivers, and these are typically Self Contained, via Solar array & Deep Cycle batteries… The 2 Meter Band is used FREQUENTLY, by our local CERT. I consider 2 Meter Reception a minimum requirement in my radio preps….

    It is NOT a typical “Radio” that would be consider for “Emergency Use”, in that it has the Big Speaker, is powered by 4 D cell batteries, or AC… it has no extras for ~survival~ I BOUGHT it, due to living far from AM & FM radio towers. With AM, I get reception at night to about 500/600 miles, regularly. My daytime AM reception is good to 60/70 miles!!! I come up with 1,000 mile stations, with static, but would only listen to them for OUTSIDE of local area NEWS! They also make AM specific “antenna tuners”, which are an interesting concept, if you do Distance Radio Listening!

    However, It is the Radio I would use in our typical Summer Thunderstorms, that knock out “store bought” power. ( That term, was what we Mountain Folk, called the ~power company~, in Ferry County, WA, where I built a two story “Log house” )…. We all used 12 Volt batteries, and an old car radio, if’n we wanted radio!!!!!

    yours,

    philip, in the Boondocks of Oregon

    1. Wow! I’m almost ashamed to have posted (and recommended) this radio now, Phillip… especially for the price. Personally, I was looking at it strictly from the ability to use it if SHTF. Like I said in the article I didn’t like the fact that it can’t run on alkaline batteries as I’d much prefer that option in most cases over hand-crank or even solar.

      You’re quite right the radio doesn’t need those two huge speakers if it is to be considered a true emergency radio. My trusty pocket radio with one small speaker has served me quite well for years. As for the solar and hand-crank charging times, I really didn’t know whether the times were typical or not… I just know I despise most things that are hand-crank and wasn’t expecting much from a small solar panel whatsoever.

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