2-Way Radios

My son’s boy scout troop will be taking an overnight canoe/kayak trip in two months. The troop wants to purchase some 2-way radios so that the adult chaperones can keep in contact while on the river. We will also use the radios for other outings (e.g. backpacking).

Can anyone recommend some suitable radios? I have been researching GMRS radios but there don’t appear to be many waterproof models out there.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

get a waterproof pouch
then you can buy whichever have the price/features you like.

+1 the water proof bag

2-way radio
just bought 2 new one, we lead groups sometime and like to have 1 person at front with one and one at the rear, tht way we can keep up with who’s where and so on, i have dropped a couple, they don’t float either, so i just got 2 new uniden GMR2872-2CK ones, i think i got them off amazon for around 65 to 70 dollars with free shipping, they are suppose to be waterproof and they float, says good up to 28 miles reception, used them 1 time and they work, i didn’t test out the floating or anything, but sure sooner or later i’ll drop one again and hope it floats, good luck

Midland GXT800

– Last Updated: Apr-26-10 1:04 PM EST –

JIS4 waterproof standards. Good radios..

Update: The new model is the Midland GXT-900VP4


not worried about floating

– Last Updated: Apr-26-10 1:04 PM EST –

I've learned not to worry if any gear floats (except for boat and PFD ;)) because I need to keep it on a lanyard anyway. This then gives me more options on what to buy.


– Last Updated: Apr-26-10 1:33 PM EST –

I find having NOAA weather channels very helpful when canoe camping. And you can pick up NOAA channels in surprisingly remote areas. So even if there isn't another radio in the group, I still throw mine in the pack because of current weather reports and forecasts.

JIS standards

– Last Updated: Apr-26-10 2:28 PM EST –

Just a heads up that the JIS 4 rating is not fully waterproof. I believe the submersible rating that most marine VHFs now have is JIS 8 (fully submersible), or JIS 7 (immersion resistant). Whereas JIS 4 just means splash proof, or something like that. I think I'd put something like that in a waterproof bag for any use around water.


If you want a fully waterproof GMRS radio, some of the Marine VHF radios also have the GMRS channels available to licensed users. They're pretty expensive though. Maybe worth it if you also need a VHF for other trips.


Or the Standard Horizon HX471S is a marine VHF with FRS channels. If you don't need as much range. Wouldn't need a license for that one.

Why not consider VHF radios ?


marine may be okay, but maybe not ideal
Few if any monitor for emergencies away from larger lakes and ocean so less utility. Other two way ‘family radios’ may more likely find others in a group having compatible radios.

Are they technically legal? I know along the coast they say for water use only (or water to shore) so I’m not sure where smaller inland rivers stand on this.

I didn’t mean for emergency monitoring
I meant for keeping in contact with each other.

And of course they are legal any where you want to use them.

The ski patrollers use them as many guides do.

You should stay off channel 16, since that is the one being monitored by authorities.

But they also come with weather channels which would make them a good all around tool for what the Op wants.



just not a marine VHF

There are other VHF frequencies such as the 2 meter band and on UHF GMRS/FRS that may be used by ski patrol, etc. some requiring special licenses and some like FRS that don’t.

Using marine VHFs on land is illegal

– Last Updated: Apr-26-10 7:48 PM EST –

Marine VHF frequencies are for use on the water only and you will be fined if you get caught using them on land. Technically, you can't even call from land to a boat without a special license, though we have occasionally called paddlers out on the water after landing on a beach or island.

There are some VHFs that also have GMRS or FRS built in and you can use those frequencies on land.

2-Way Radios
Thanks for all the advice. For our purposes (weekend Boy Scout outings), GMRS seems to be the way to go.

I’ve been looking at the Uniden GMR2872 (JIS7 rated) which seems perfect for our kayak trip. But they seem a bit large for our other troop activities like backpacking.

The JIS4-rated Midland models are a possibility but we would probably want to purchase small dry bags for them.

Does anyone know if these 2-way radios can be used inside those small, clear accessory dry bags or must the radios be taken out for use?

While on the river
no matter what radio option you take, a simple rule will go a long way toward keeping the group together:

Never lose sight of the boat behind you.

If you do, immediately pull over and wait. This causes a chain reaction and condenses the group.


waterproof ratings…

– Last Updated: Apr-27-10 12:32 PM EST –

....as applied to electronics , thought this link may be helpful..........
PS: although rarely seen , don't be fooled by "MilSpec" waterproof rating label, there are different tests for that. FYI: 1 meter = 3.2 ft.

I have been using
Water-resistant Midlands for about 2 years, I forget which model. Because I am cheap and lazy, I keep mine in a ziplock bag in the pocket of my sprayskirt. The other lives in a drybag sized for a VHF radio. No problem using them while in their bags and they work very well to stay in touch on the water.

I am trying to kill mine by accident so I can upgrade to a real VHF but so far, no luck.