Marine Radio


I am fairly new to kayaking having just purchased a WS Tsunami over the winter. I have been getting out a lot lately, mainly on the upper branches of the Housatonic above the tidal portions. I would like to be able to venture to the tidal river and even out into the sound, however, I am really concerned for safety. I am working on all of my techniques and skills and am feeling more confident every time out.

I was told by a good friend who has one that a Marine Radio is a good investment if you’re heading out to the ocean. I was wondering what your thoughts were, as well as what some recommendations might be? His is many years old, and he is not sure of the newer models.

I am not looking to spend a lot of money, (in fact, I have a b-day coming up!!).

Thanks for any advice. I came across this and it looked fairly competent for my needs.

marine radio
It’s great life insurance.

Buy one that is submersible. This generally means submersible to 6 feet for about 5 minutes.

West Marine has them for about $165. They are small enough to fit easily into a pocket on your PFD.

lessons & a drysuit
are a great investment too

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"Marine Radio" for the last year and you’ll get differing opinions about different radios and whether or not to put them in a waterproof case.

Me: I have FS-11 I bought for VFD work but had Channels 16, 19, 22, 23, and 73 installed over and above the Fire and Rescue channels. When on the water I use a waterproof pouch which you can communicate through.

Any day on the water is a great day.


You can find the Uniden Voyager for the same or lower price with a little searching on the web.

West Marine has an internet price-match policy, and if you get on their mailing list first, you will probably get a decent coupon too.

It’s smaller, and has a JIS-7 waterproof rating, as good or better than any other handheld.

There are several here, including me, who have and are happy with theirs.

Many others highly recommend the ICOM line.

Best price for the what I think…
…is about the best VHF portable marine radio out there for kayakers, the ICOM M72:

IPX8 submersible rating (best on the market), 6 watt tx, small, comfortable to grip, aquaquake funtions spits water out of speaker so you can hear, very loud speaker which is critical if you ever been in conditions and trying to use one of these. Does not have AA battery tray option, however, a second Lithium Ion batt as a backup is going to give you enourmous life. When I bought mine, to my knowledge, it was the most powerful battery for any VHF marine radio on the market. Just my .02…

Must be careful–when battery is separated from radio, neither is watertight…

I have my eye on that radio…
but a spare battery for a trip or simple failure to recharge is mandatory for me.

Bohemia is right: lessons and a drysuit may keep that potential rescue call from happening in the first place. Lots of great coaches out there.

Bear this in mind on submersibility, I’ve replaced a couple “submersible’s” that lost their submersibility, find a bag you can live with.


I haven’t found a bag I could live with.
So, I made one that is way more compact than anything on the market and actually fits in my PFD radio pocket:

Garmin 725 pictured.

Problem with bags is it much harder to hear and transmit through them and operate the radio (believe me, I’ve tried for several years) and many claim the moisture inside the bag may do more harm to the electronics than the exposure you’re trying to keep from happening. That’s all over Store bought bags won’t fit in PFD pocket with that big plastic clip at the bottom. Worst case sceneario dictates that as your boat if floating away, you have your radio on your person, or it does you no good at all and that’s after lessons and while wearing my dry suit, etc.

I have the…
Uniden Voyager. It’s been great. It’s small, water resistant and can take a licking. Mine has and has stayed wet too. It works flawlessly. I carry mine in my PFD. Uniden is great to deal with too. I dropped mine and broke the latch. It was my fault. I called them and told them what I did to the radio. They said “so sweat, send it it back and we’ll fix it”. That’s exactly what I did and that’s exactly what they did, they fixed it. They even paid for the shipping back to me.

I feel much more prepared on our open water paddles with the radio with me.

Don’t forget all your other safety gear as well though.

Good luck.


I will second the put it in a bag.
I know a couple of radios that were supposed to be good for the old 3m for 30 min. that had to be replaced due to corrosion.

The ‘new’ rating to beat is…
…IPX8–1.5 meters for 30 mins as ICOM sets it for the M72, as opposed to the ‘old’ IPX7/JIS7 rating at 1 meter for 30 min–hopefully just a bit more insurance with the higher rating.

IPX8 is a different ball game:

“IPX7 and IPX8 use static tests, conducted by immersion in water.

Temporary immersion is the IPX7 test. This is a pre-set depth of 1m and a pre-set time of 30 minutes. During the test there should be no ingress of water to cause harmful effects.

The continuous immersion IPX8 test, is set against a pressure and a time agreed between manufacturer and user. Again, during the agreed period, there should be no ingress of water in quantities sufficient to cause harmful effects. The test has to be more severe than the IPX7 test.

For IPX8 the test states - ‘protected against long periods of immersion under pressure’. Hence the result of the test should be specific and clearly quantified i.e. IPX8 15 bar, illustrating that the product has been tested at a depth of 150 metres of water for a specified time.

The test against IPX8 the pressure rating must be stated to clearly indicate the depth of water at which the test was carried out.”

Not sure what other folks do, but…
…when I get home after a saltwater trip, the radio goes in the sink in several inches of warm water for up to an hour or more. ICOM says to put the radio in fresh water after use to get the salt crystals dissolved and away from the unit.

It’s a bit of a test as well, in that if it doesn’t survive this dunking everytime, I don’t want to be forced to rely on that radio next time I go out.

Kinda anal, but I put a bit of silicone grease (only on rubber/plastic, not on threads) of antenna connection and make sure this is snug as this is another common area of water ingress. Same thing for battery seal–just a bit of silicone grease. Any metal screws that are visisble get a bit of grease around them as well. I want to make sure this thing works when/if I need it.