I am looking to buy a vhf radio and flares for wilderness kayaking. I have borrowed them from a sailing buddy in the past, but now I think I should have my own. What should I be looking for?
For warm water paddlers, the Uniden Voyager is a good radio and quite economical.
For cold weather paddlers I would recommend the Icom M88; much more battery power and controls that are much more glove-friendly.
I’m still up in the air regarding flares (pun intended
Remember that a VHF is only as good as how far you are from the base unit of the Coast Guard, harbor patrol or other boaters. A handheld 5W can be expected to reach 5 miles line-of-sight on average.
Where is your wilderness?
Depending on where you plan to paddle
A good multi network cell phone (even better if yours still gets analog)will be more helpful than a VHF radio unless you are out on a large body of coastal water or a large lake. Cell coverage now reaches most rivers and lakes if you are on Verizon or Cingular and some newer phones have locator chips in them to allow help to find you. Its probably a good idea to have both (VHF and Cell)