Marine VHF Radio - Where to Carry?

I am thinking about getting a VHF radio. I’d like to be able to carry it on my person, ideally in a PFD pocket.

Based on what I’ve read here, I think I would like to go with an Icom, but even their smallest handheld radio has a huge antenna that I can’t imagine would fit in a PFD.

Am I missing something?

antenna just sticks out of pocket
mine is in my PFD pocket and the antenna sticks out a few inches. No big deal. VHF should be on person since if you have a really bad situation that separates you from your boat then that is when you need to call help them most.

Clip it to the outside of the PFD
I clip mine to the outside of my PFD, on a lash tab sewn to it for that purpose…Last thing I want to do if I’m in need of rescue is sort critical gear from my PFD pockets while treading water… most VHF’s with a minimum of 5 Watts of transmitting power will be large to begin with; to large for stowage in a PFD pocket.

Mine fits in the larger of the two pockets on the front of my Kokatat PFD. Yes, the antenna does stick out the top, but not so far as to be in the way.

I do – sometimes – notice the extra weight of the radio. Moreso when I’m on land and bending over with the PFD on.

And I can still slip an energy bar down into the same pocket. (Horizon HX-270S radio)


Great Minds…
Same radio. Same PFD. (MSFit). Works great.

two places
under foredeck and in pfd pocket.

Astral PFD pocket
with the antenna tucked into a carabiner on the shoulder strap so the antenna doesn’t poke at my arm pit… it’s the larger M34 Icom but I don’t notice its there… At least the Astral has two nice big pockets…

I think Kokatat had one with a pocket that was sideways so maybe the antenna would be across your chest instead of poking up at your arm?

I keep mine tethered under a bungee
on my front deck, or if it is a perfectly good day weather wise, in my front compartment.



Icom M72 fits nicely

– Last Updated: Jul-06-09 4:24 PM EST –

in the VHF radio/GPS pocket of my Extrasport Retroglide Sabre. I beleive that Nigel Foster had a hand in this PFD's design.

Check out this link to an older version of Extrasport's website:

However, it appears that Extrasport may no longer be making this PFD, as it is does not appear on Extrasport's current website.


My Icom M72 lives in the skinny radio pocket on my Kokatat Outfit Tour. The hand strap loops onto the D-ring in the pocket so the radio will not escape. The only problem is needing to un-clip the pocket closure and take the radio out to use it.


I have the same Retroglide PFD
and I carry my VHF in the large pocket with the antenna sticking out. Works perfectly well there.

Clipped to PFD Belt
That’s how we carry our Horizon HX-270S. I also attach it it to the PDF strap witha lanyard - it may be waterproof, but sure doesn’t float!!!

Small Icom M88
If fits in my pfd pocket with the antenna out. It has never gotten in the way with countless rescues and re-entries. The wrist strap is binered to the D-ring inside the pocket with plenty of room to operate it tethered. Always tether it as, when needed, your hands will be cold and the likelyhood of dropping it increases beyond likely.

Likelihood of dropping it…
… can also aggravated by the short and fat shape of M88! L

Agree that tethered use is wise for kayak use for any of these (I wear a MsFit and pocket is perfect for most handhelds and has internal D-ring to simplify tethering).

Have you held and M72? Not all that much longer (just enough to add some hand control) and thinner shape fits hand and most pockets better. More like a compact tool, less like a rock.

M88 is no doubt a great VHF, but shape is not optimal. I’d keep one over anything else if that’s what I already had, but if shopping I’d go M72 (or M36 - or whatever the cheapest Horizon/West Marine submersible unit was with decent battery life if budget was tight).

Mount in on the shoulder of your PFD
When you REALLY need a radio, you may not have the luxury of screwing around with retrieving from a pocket or trying to re-stow it in one (or worse, retrieving it from the cockpit or a hatch). You also need to be able to use it with one hand, as you may need to keep the other one on your paddle for stability. You need to have the radio close to your ear so you can easily hear it above the noise of wind and waves. Shoulder mounting meets all of these criteria and it keeps the radio out of your way.

There are pics of shoulder mounting in my “Kayak Gear” album on Webshots at:

shoulder is great
Bnystrom is onto something here. The best mentoring I have had were coaches who instead of telling me where and how I should do things led by example and had me try using equipment to see how it would or would not work for me.

And when you go to teach others you really have to learn what works for you before giving advice or even better having them experience it.

So try what Bnystrom is saying it just might be what you need. At least this way you will KNOW in conditions that you will be able to call out.

Question about mic for VHF
Some makes have a remote mic option that allows for handsfree operation and voice control. Do any of you have experience with this. I have wondered if this is a viable option or just clutter.

Borrowed Brian’s idea over
six years years ago. I have been wearing my ICOM M88, on my shoulder ever since. I have the M88’s ICOM belt clip zip-tied (2) to my left Lotus PFD should strap. This set-up also works on my new Astral pfd. The belt clip is further backed-up by having the radio’s wrist strap tethered to a small carabiner above the clip. I recently replaced the M88 with ICOM’s M72 and it attaches just fine to the original belt clip.

My Cobra submersible has a jack for one, but without the ability to see first hand how that connection is waterproofed, I hesitate to order one…what good is a submersible VHF if you crack the barrier with a leaky plug in?

over-thinking it
Retrievable with one hand. Pocket on PFD works just fine.

I need that part of my shoulder free for full range of movement with head.