I received the Eton Raptor Brand New in the Box
It is about the size of a large 20 oz Coke, and weighs in at around 11oz
- AM/FM Weather Band Radio
- Enhanced Monocrystal Solar Panel
- USB Cellphone charger
- audio input (to play your mp3 player if you wish)
- Headphone Jack
- LED light
The Radio is unique and helpful in that you can scan AM (520-1710khz) and FM (87.5-108mhz) if you want to listen to your favorite stations and want some music for your hike or wherever you are. Made a nice compact player to listen to some music during the cooking portion of the camping trip. The Raptor has a collapsible and moveable antenna that folds up along the carabiner at the top to keep it from being in the way or being broke easily.
My favorite feature is the 7 NOAA weather channel, It covers
The feature that is most helpful is the Weather alert function in that you tune into whatever station comes in the clearest (not all stations come in wherever you are) and press the memory button and the raptor stores the station with the “Alert” function activated. This is so that if you are out in the wilderness in the middle of nowhere and a major storm is approaching the radio will turn on automatically and play the alert and weather information! So if you were in a valley 100 miles from the nearest town and a major rainstorm is approaching the radio will just turn on, on it own and let play the weather alert over the radio so you aren’t caught off guard!
The altimeter function is useful for numerous reasons. One being you can use this to plot a more exact area of where you are based on the map data or if you just want to keep a running track of the heights you ascended and descended throughout your trip on the included Altimeter Log.
To be honest i’ve never been a big fan of digital compasses as they aren’t as “accurate” as a handheld compass for use with gaining your exact position through triangulation if you get turned around. Most peoples navigate the back-country on used and marked trails, but many of us still head out and hike wherever the land takes us. For a Bug Out scenario you may need to head into the woods to reach your location and want/need to avoid common areas. For this you will need to use triangulation and dead reckoning using known landmarks (which with the mountains in most Alaskan areas isn’t difficult). For general bearing this compass will be fine, but i still would recommend, no implore! you to have a lensatic compass (i use a military lensatic with Tritium, its spendy but worth it) as the primary and backup regardless. I will say that the nice thing about digital compasses is that they aren’t as susceptible to being interfered with by metal that may be on your body (weapon anyone?), but that is easily overcome with attention to detail.
An excellent tool to have, the Eton Raptor has a function that gives you the current Barometric pressure as well as a simple symbol to let you know whether it is
- rainy(pressure is low or getting low, implies it is raining or going to rain)
- cloudy (low barometric pressure, indicates possibility of rain)
- partial cloudy (Pressure is getting lower or higher, indicates unstable weather)
- sunny (high barometric pressure, indicates good weather)
Can be used for a variety of purposes, one may to assist in land navigation using timed movements to help in your more accurate movement from place to place.
So you don’t sleep through your 5am wake up, or a weather check in the night, or even to wake up the next member of your party who is on watch. Alarm 1 has a slower high pitch beep, while Alarm 2 has the more standard “beep beep” in quick succession also high pitched.
The Solar Panel Located on the back of the Raptor has a 5V, 500mA array about the same size as three oreo cookies placed in a line. Specs say that it takes about 18 hours of direct sunlight to fully charge the raptor’s 1800 mAh rechargeable lithium ion battery. It will work without a full charge, but obviously it does not last as long. Included is a USB chargin cable that you can plug into your computer or wall USB charger that will put it up to full capacity in about 4 hours. I dont have specific drain data, as it all depends on your uses. If its just for listening to radio alerts and the occasional bearing this thing will last awhile, and with smart placement of the solar panel it could charge for your use during the day. if you use it to play your mp3 and charge your phone…well you can guess its just not going to last that long!
USB charger: This is useful for those of you who CANT be without your phones/ipod’s in the field! for myself i don’t see alot of use for it, save for the charging or recharging of your phone for dire need, but this isn’t a product defect, just a personal choice.
LED light: The light is good for camp use to find something lost in a bag, tent or nearby the campsite, not to spotlight game or for anything long range (duh!). It is nice to have and the LED’s make it a low drain light, which is excellent.
Audio/Headphone Jacks: The audio input jacks allow you to have a small speaker to blast your Ipod, if you so wish, but this will drain the power out of the Raptor and could leave you in a lurch if you drain it dead and its cloudy the next day. The headphone jacks are a neat feature, so you can listen to the radio or weather channels without blasting it through the speaker, and/or need to keep a low profile. The Raptor has volume buttons so either way you can control the volume whether its out of the speaker or headphones
Carabiner/Bottle Opener: The Carabiner gives you the ability to clip it onto your gear or pack so its accessible but doesnt get lost, along with a hole in the swivel to attach paracord for extra reliability. The Raptor also has a bottle opener for those of us who may want to enjoy a brew or two on a family camping trip!
Overall i like the the Eton Raptor, Its 99 dollar price tag could scare some customers away, But it is a useful little item if not for anything other than its radio and Weather band capabilities and solar recharging. I wish it had a simple GPS included in it so that it could be more of a all in one basic tool. It would do nicely in a 72 hour kit (paint the colored plastic black for a lower profile though) that you could throw in there and forget it, recharge on occasion, but is always there. It does take about 30 minutes of fiddling with the thing and reading the manual, and a few moments of “Wait…how does this…what the…ohhhhh!” but once you master it, its a neat little tool.
Would i recommend it? Overall Yes, but I would also put the caveat in there that you should have a good compass and proper mastery of land navigation (ie magnetic declinations, dead reckoning, how to read topo maps and have them, etc.). This would be a great thing for the average hiker and day camper, and even the weekend hunter. For Bug out, its nice because of its light weight and solar capability. Eton also sells the “Scorpion” which is smaller has hand crank and solar charging capability, but only has the radio and LED functions, but comes in at around $50, so if price is an issue then that may be a better bet.