When power is not an option, a hand crank flashlight is key to safety.

During an emergency, you can't always count on power being there. The same goes for hiking or camping trips. What happens when the lights go out? Sure you've got your normal flashlights handy...or do you? Have you checked the batteries in the past year? Do you have back-ups? What happens when the batteries drain? That's why a hand crank flashlight is so important to have around. It's the back-up you want that needs no source of power other than a little elbow grease from you. 

How do they work? Through kinetic energy you supply via a simple crank attached to the side of the flashlight. Your cranking recharges the batteries inside. It's not often a quick process (you usually get a couple minutes of light per minute you crank), but it does work extremely well. 

Energizer Weatheready 3-LED Carabineer Rechargeable Crank Light, RedThese are emergency tools (like emergency radios) that should be tucked away in any location you spend time in, whether that's your home, your car, your office, or in your bag during your outdoor adventures. You may never use it, and if that's the case consider yourself lucky! But you purchase emergency preparedness tools like these for the peace of mind, not to use on a daily basis. When you do need one, you'll be extremely grateful that you have one. They can make a big difference to your safety. 

So what are the best hand crank flashlights out there? There are quite a few that fit the bill--all known for their quality and dependability, and many featuring more than a few modern bells and whistles to add to their versatility. Check five of the best out below:

The Energizer Weatheready

A popular choice: Quality and budget-friendly

Energizer Weatheready 3-LED Carabineer Rechargeable Crank Light, Red
Amazon Price: $16.99 $10.29 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 11, 2015)

Energizer is known of course for its top-of-the-line batteries, but they also make high quality flashlights too. This hand crank light does the trick during an emergency, with a super-bright 3-LED light and a crank that works in either direction. That's helpful for switching hands as you start to get tired from cranking.

On average about one minute of hand cranking equals three minutes of light with this flashlight. It also comes with a side carabiner clip making it an easy to stow accessory to hiking, camping, and climbing gear.  

Not only a flashlight, but also a USB charger for cell phones

Etón American Red Cross CLIPRAY ARCCR100R_SNG USB Cell Phone Charger with Hand Crank LED Flashlight (Red)Branded with the American Red Cross logo and colors, this is a surprisingly sleek-looking compact flashlight. If you love anything you own to look stylish, then this is a hand crank flashlight that you can take pride in. It's thin with modern curves and beautiful colors. 

But it's definitely not just a looker, there's a lot of function here too. The light itself is extremely bright, and this emergency gadget has the extra function of being a solution to charging cell phones when no power is available. It has a USB charger built right in, so with the right cord, you can hand crank some juice back into that mobile device. Very useful in an emergency situation. 

It also has a carabiner clip for easy storing among your travel gear and on your person (a belt or belt loop works here). 

Energizer Solar Rechargeable With Crank

Looking for a break from hand cranking? This one is powered by the sun

Energizer SOLCKCCBP Carabiner Solar Crank LED Flashlight, Orange
Amazon Price: $21.99 $14.21 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 11, 2015)

Energizer Solar Rechargeable 3-LED Carabiner Crank LightBecause of its dual charging capabilities, this is an excellent light to take with you on outdoor activities. It features advanced solar technology that's very efficient on charging, even in low light and overcast conditions. The short of it--if you can get five hours of daylight charging with this device, you'll have about two hours of flashlight time. 

But of course, this is about hand cranks and the crank is on the ready, just in case this light was packed away or the juice runs out. It gets the normal amount of charge per time cranking, about three to four minutes per minute of activity. It's nice though to have the hybrid charging capabilities to help keep the exertion to a minimum. 

It also has a carabiner clip for quick stowing. 

Kaito Emergency Hand Crank Flashlight

Super bright, very efficient on light, and lots of bells and whistles.

Kaito KA404 Emergency Hand Crank Dynamo 5-LED Flashlight with AM/FM radio
Amazon Price: $25.00 $12.74 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 11, 2015)

Kaito KA404 Emergency Hand Crank Dynamo 5-LED Flashlight with AM/FM radioWhile not the sturdiest of builds of the bunch listed here, the Kaito has by far the most additional features. It's kind of like the Swiss Army Knife of hand crank flashlights. It has five LED lights that are controllable--you can opt for one LED on or go for mega-brightness with all five LED lights blazing. It's also an AM/FM radio that includes a siren, perfect for getting word on community safety during emergency situations or alerting the area to your location. And there's a USB charging port (and it comes with the right cord) for charging cell phones.

The gadget boasts nearly ten minutes of light (or thirty minutes of radio time) for a minute cranked. Though in-the-field reports show slightly less--maybe five minutes of light and fifteen minutes of radio. Still those are very strong numbers for this type of device. Just be careful with the crank. They've been known to break if you over-exert in your cranking. 

Goal Zero Solar Crank Flashlight

Goal Zero 90103 Solar Black Small Crank Flashlight
Amazon Price: $39.99 $35.00 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 11, 2015)

Goal Zero 90103 Solar Black Small Crank FlashlightThis is a very well-crafted, though surprisingly larger-than-expected crank flashlight. It's bigger than the photos make it out to be--think of it as larger than a universal remote control, about a foot in length and two and a half inches wide. It's not compact, but it has some unique features that make it one of the best.

First it's the only one of the bunch here that allows for wall plug charging. So you can prepare this flashlight with a full charge prior to its use. It also has solar charging, and of course the hand crank, so it's the most versatile flashlight here in terms of power. 

It also acts as a regular flashlight or as a flood light. That's a nice feature for alerting drivers to roadside accidents or for getting tons of light into a space. It doesn't have a carabiner hook, but it does have a normal hook that allows for hanging the device above you while working on something. 

Be Prepared With Light

There's no doubt that at some point an emergency will occur in everyone's  life, what's important is being ready. Having the right equipment, like a hand crank flashlight, can make the difference to your safety. Do the right thing, and make sure you have a few around--just in case today's the day when something goes awry.