“Emergencies Happen. Be Prepared” That’s the statement splashed across the Champ E-Prep Gear landing page. Prior to Hurricane Sandy coming through the East Coast I might have scoffed at that as a marketing ploy. Post Sandy I now know it is important to be prepared. The $49.99 Champ Survival Sidekick Weather Radio is one part of such preparation.This emergency tool is not going to win any beauty contests. In fact, it might best be described as the Frankenstein of emergency devices. I can see the initial design meeting now. “Hey, what emergency gear do you really want or need to have when you are on the road? No, let me ask that differently. What emergency gear would you want a loved one to have if he or she were on the road?” And then, after the long initial list was jotted down the process of figuring out just how many of those items could be crammed into one device began. The end result, of course, is the Champ Survival Sidekick Weather Radio and its ten different functions. They are:
- AM / FM / NOAA Weather Radio
- Glass breaker
- Distress light
- 3 LED flashlight
- USB charging for mobile devices
- Rechargeable internal battery charges via USB or hand-crank dynamo
- Seatbelt cutter
- Magnetic base secures to vehicle when signaling for help
All that cramming is not a bad thing and I’ll happily trade aesthetics for function if it means getting out of a potential emergency.
The result, however, is something that looks a bit like a misformed flashlight. From the product page.
Not everyone’s a trained survivalist. And that’s okay. But everyone should be prepared for those life emergencies that just happen. In your car, at home… anywhere. With the Champ Survival Sidekick, you’re a little more prep’d and ready for the unexpected. The ultimate tool for emergencies: Flashlight, radio, siren, and portable power supply all rolled into one.
The Champ Survival Sidekick Weather Radio is mostly white but has some red highlights that call attention to various functions. Inside the package you’ll find the emergency tool, a USB to Micro USB cable and a user guide. Speaking of functions let’s run down all ten.
AM / FM / NOAA Weather Radio
3 LED flashlight
USB charging for mobile devices
Rechargeable internal battery charges via USB or hand-crank dynamo
Magnetic base secures to vehicle when signaling for help
Each of the functions- or at least the functions I could try since I wasn’t going to sacrifice my seatbelt or window to test our the seatbelt cutter or window breaker- worked as you would expect. The flashlight gives off plenty of light. The emergency light flashes brightly. The magnets around the flashlight hold securely so the emergency light can sit on your hood or trunk. The siren gets plenty loud. (Having been through a series of Red Alerts at the beginning of July I have to admit I jumped from my seat.) And the radio, while not something I would CHOOSE to listen to, is good enough to use if need be.
You can, for example, get a combination glass breaker and seatbelt cutter for under $15. That means you just might be able to get all ten devices for about the same price but that would also mean multiple devices. With the Champ Survival Sidekick Weather Radio you get all ten functions in one, not-so-sleek package. The only downside I can think of is the need to keep the device near you when driving. After all, if it is in the trunk it won’t be very helpful if you need to cut your seatbelt or break the window.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the Champ Survival Sidekick Weather Radio
What I Like: All ten functions do their job and it is a single package; Would have been handy to have in the aftermath of Sandy
What Needs Improvement: Not aesthetically pleasing; You’ll need it in the car to be useful for some functions