Hand Held Radio Advise

I’m in the market for a hand held, marine radio to take out in my kayak. It will be used for weather info and emergency use only. I’d like it to be submersable and cost less than $200. Any suggestions?

Uniden Voyager
is submersable and sounds great. It is also very small compared to most, mine fits all the way in my pfd pocket.

Great deal at boatsworld.com $129.99

partial to ICOM
check prior posts and most people recommend ICOM, particularly M1V. West marine carries special M32 wi/li/ion batteries. Very convenient large buttoned face. Try to go with li/ion batteries, they have no memory and last a long time compared to ni-cad.

Icom is the radio of choice by many people who spend time on the water. Great product. There are many replies on several threads on the board. You won’t be sorry if you buy an Icom. I dropped mine in a parking lot, picked it up and it kept on working. The case is bomb proof. FishHawk

second the Uniden Voyager

I take you paddle Puget Sound?
That being the case, I’ll assume that you need to wear gloves at times. While the Uniden Voyager is a nice radio for the price, it’s a bit hard to operate with gloves on. The Icom M1V is often available for well under $200 and is much more glove-friendly. It’s a solid, reliable radio. The M88 dips below $200 if you happen to catch a sale AND one of Icom’s frequent $50 rebates at the same time. It’s arguably the best paddler’s radio on the market.

Big fat radio
Got washed in hard a couple of summers ago on the sandy beaches of Lk MI. Collected myself and dragged the whole mess on shore. Woke up in the middle of the night, dam forgot to turn the radio off. Ah! no radio to shut off. In the morning when the lake was glass there was My Uniden MHS 350 half burried in knee deep water. Picked it out, still on, and listened to the days forcast. Really truly. Bigger than some, but kicks out 5W, Comes with two Mh batteries

Radio power
A handheld VHF should not be used at full power (typically 5 watts), as it’s the equivalent of yelling all the time. Besides, the limitation of communication from a kayak is not usually radio power, but the line of sight. Boosting power doesn’t help much. Use the 1 watt setting.

Icom M1v or M 88
Reliable 5W submersibles with lithium batteries.

After 25 years of experience with VHF three things stand out beyond what you see here in the usual posts:

  1. VHF is possible THE most important device, life and death, weather, keeping a group together in fog and rough wind and water. So get the very very very best unit. ICOM M1V or M88 are markedly superior to most other units. It is the only one that is SUBMERSIBLE. No unit is so rugged as to never fail, but with care it will work for many years. Every other unit works OK if kept in a waterproof bag, but they fail much more often. We have tried them all. They are rated tops by all major boating organizations. Just my experience, others may be right in disagreeing with me here.

  2. Find a way to place the unit on your PFD strap or have a no hands microphone adapter so that in high wind, waves and rough conditions you can HEAR IT and USE IT with no hands. Otherwise it will be of little or no use.

  3. Get a spare battery and place it where you can get to it. That way you can BOTH call for help and have enough juice to help them find you honing in on your signal as they get closer. Also, if you leave you unit on by accident you are still good to go.

  4. Seriously consider getting a GPS unit, even a very small simple one, like the Garmin Foretrex 201 wrist model. By being able to give your fellow paddlers or the Coast Guard your exact location you will save you and them needless risk and time getting to you.

    Summary, even the ICOM can fail eventually repeated dousing in salt water and not cleaning the unit afterwards, so I have listened to other here and gone to using a waterproof bag for it and use the hand held microphone on my PFD so I can use it hands off or with a quick hand motion and leave the unit in the bag.


You’ll not go far wrong with a Raymarine Ray101, waterproof and also takes normal alkaline batteries.

I agree. Do not skimp
When I told my wife I was starting to paddle in winter she said “get the best radio and drysuit in the world.” the reason is obvious. You man never need this, but if you do it might be life-critical. I would not skrimp on this piece of equipment.

Hand Held Device Info
Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to this!!

radios in Canada
Would these radios work in Canada too? Specifically, would they be able to receive Canadian marine weather forecasts? Thanks for your help.

Yes and Yes, but…
…you need a license for them in Canada. From what I’ve heard, a license is pretty easy to get.

Radio licence
Easy to get and good for life…

Delta Alpha November (DAN)

I third the Uniden Voyager
great size, can take a beating and works fine with my gloves on for my hand size.