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April 27, 2012
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Vail Daily gear review: Eton American Red Cross Rover

Since I drive over snowy mountain passes at least a few times a month eight months out of the year, this little gadget, the Eton American Red Cross Rover, seemed like a good thing to keep in the back of my car, along with the other hodge podge of items piled in the trunk year round - a hat, mittens, extra windshield wiper solution, snow boots and a pair of snowshoes. I justify the clutter to myself (and my brother, whose trunk is SPOTLESS) by saying it's my "emergency supply stash."

The first time I removed the radio from the box, I turned the crank for about a minute, curious about how long the radio would play. The radio picked up a handful of AM and FM stations without problem, but it didn't pick up any of the seven weather channels. I tuned into KZYR and listened for hours with the volume pretty loud. I even left the house to get dinner with my boyfriend and when we got back, hours later, the radio was still on.

I got a chance to try out the three-LED flashlight function when my house-cat, Sam, escaped out my front door, something he does at least once a week. It was nice to not have to scramble to find batteries in the junk drawer for my other flashlight. While the light isn't the brightest thing in the world, it worked, and I found my fat gray cat crouched under a car, his eyes glowing in the lights reflection. While I wouldn't buy this product solely as an emergency flashlight for my car, it is a nice additional feature and does seem to work fairly well.

Perhaps my favorite feature of this product, and what drew me to it initially, is its ability to charge a cell phone, and a smart phone at that. I cranked the unit for one minute and used my cell phone charger cord to plug my iPhone 4 directly into the radio. The phone was at 5 percent battery power to start and 30 minutes later the phone was at 16 percent battery power, which I consider to be a success.

I'll definitely be throwing this radio into my backpack for camping trips this summer. It's very small - about three quarters of a pound - and won't take up much room for what it offers. If you plan on making it to the plains (where the weather stations would likely work much better than here in the mountains) during times of bad weather, the emergency weather radio would be a welcome companion. Expect to spend about $50 for this multi-function tool.


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The VailDaily Updated Apr 27, 2012 05:03PM Published Apr 27, 2012 05:00PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.