Marine Radio Options

Did a bit of searching on the forum and didn’t see any clear thread on this, but I am in the market for a hand-held/water proof marine radio for touring. I am open to recommendations and warnings based on your experience. Let me know what you like and don’t like. Waterproof, floating, and long range (relatively) are key needs. Thanks in advanced. - Carl

I have standard horizons 850 and a 851. They have worked well for last 6 years. Had a 750 I think before that or (751?). New one is the 870 I think. I use them in saltwater and just rinse when done no dry-pac on them. Nice features on them.wish they were smaller but then I guess they would not float. They have many advanced features but I really don’t use.

I use them on my boat also. In the winter I always take two one on deck one on PFD and cell phone in dry-pac. The first o e 750 I had seen some green in battery compartment corrosion. They replaced it for minimal charge. You can also use a mic and battery tray if you like. DSC feature is nice. Wish they were half the size but I can’t build a VHF. No expert but sea kayaker magazine chose it also.

I guess it depends on what your budget is.

I’ve been using a Standard Horizons HX300 for the last few years and while it is fairly basic, it’s a 5w model and I like that it’s waterproof - it flashes a signal if it is dropped in water - it floats, has good battery life at 13hr per charge and recharges from any USB outlet which means I don’t have to bring a specific charging cradle with me on trips. It comes with a car charger (12v DC cigarette lighter type that will also charge a cell phone) and a wall charger. I think it was a good buy in the $100 price range. For my use this has been fine.

If you spend $200 then you’re looking at models which are slightly more powerful at 6W and includes GPS, a digital compass display and DSC (Digital Selective Calling) which can send out a distress call with your unique MMSI number and your exact coordinates.

West Marine’s website is a good place to look at and compare various models although you can probably beat their prices if you shop around…

I started group paddling lately and radios are great for listening to group leader. Boat traffic and communication with boats, weather and of course safety.

I have an Icom and like it.
It is completely waterproof, floats, and if you drop it overboard at night a red light will flash.
it very seldom needs to be charged.
We winter in the Florida Keys, and it gets carried by me almost daily for six months.
I use it primarily for safety and the weather.
Every so often I’ll call for a radio check just to make sure it operating and I normally get an immediate reply.
I think it is good for a few miles on open water, but the Coast.Guard in Key West can pick me up where ever I am
I have had it for about ten years with zero problems.
If I could change one thing about it, I would get one with a shorter antenna
Jack L

@JackL said:
If I could change one thing about it, I would get one with a shorter antenna
Don’t worry. With time, your nostrils will get antenna shape.

@Allan Olesen said:

@JackL said:
If I could change one thing about it, I would get one with a shorter antenna
Don’t worry. With time, your nostrils will get antenna shape.

No worry, I keep it on deck under a bungee.
Not on my PFD

I have 2 Horizon’s and have had very good luck with both. I have an HX370 and an older HX that is going on 12 years old and still works great. They have both survived a lot of hours in coastal New England’s Salt and fresh water.


Thanks for the input. While I am leaning towards the SH 870, a USB chartable radio is appealing for longer trips.

The USB charging feature was a big plus for me too.

The Icom M25 also recharges via USB.

just a follow-up (in case anybody cares): I purchased the Icom M73. Got on sale for $180 out the door. Biggest selling points for me was 6w output, 18-hour battery life, and it’s pretty compact size. Only down side to it is it doesn’t have USB charging (like the Icom M25) and has it has to be charged in the charging base that it comes with (which is a little big and probably designed for bigger power craft). So If I ever do a bigger trip where I may need to recharge, I will probably end up buying a second battery.

thanks for everyone’s input.

Thanks for the update and the info about the charging.