|Eton Microlink FR160 Radio|
When I am backpacking, my wife likes me to check in periodically by text-message, if I'm somewhere that I have cell coverage. With turning off GPS, bluetooth, wifi, and mobile networking on my smartphone, I typically run out of power after two days of occasional use - between taking photos and texting updates. So, the reason that my wife bought the radio was the USB recharging feature.
|Top-mounted solar cell and light switch|
I'm usually pretty picky when it comes to carrying non-essential gear when backpacking; but, I thought that I would pacify my wife by bringing it along on a trip to the Catskills that I was planning with my son. The radio is fairly compact - only 1.75" x 2.5" x 5.25", and it weighs 8.5 oz. It has a rugged construction, with a rubberized coating over the plastic body (it is splash-proof), and can be shoved into any number of pockets in your pack. What has really surprised me about this radio is not how much that I've ended up using it, but the amazing battery life.
|Rear-mounted dynamo crank arm|
|A little music while sitting out a storm|
At home, I store the radio on a shelf where it is exposed to household light and ambient daylight through the basement windows. I'll sometimes lay it out on the kitchen counter the day before a trip just to make sure the battery gets charged by the solar cell. The manual says that the solar cell will fully charge the battery in 8-10 hours, and then provide 3-5 hours of radio play. That is pretty efficient, and I think they manufacturer is being conservative in their estimate. On two-night backpacking trips, I have gotten more than 6 hours of radio use out of this unit, when only pulling it out after dark and packing it away at dawn...however, I also typically hand-crank the radio for 60 seconds before use - just for good measure. The manual also states that 90 seconds of hand cranking will allow for 30-40 minutes of radio play. So, between a little sunlight and the occasional hand-cranking, this radio is always ready to provide a little evening entertainment.
|Straight forward controls|