VHF advice

i’ve seen last junes thread but i thought i’d toss it out again. i’m looking for high quality, durably waterproof (i won’t use a bag) and reasonable price… good luck on the last one, right? what should i expect to pay for a good VHF radio?


Uniden Voyager
I just bought one of these. I have yet to get out on the water with it, so I can’t comment on performance yet. I bought it for its size - 2-1/2" x 4"H x 3/4"D and 14 oz. - and it’s submersible. I’ve seen it selling for $160-200, but I found it for $130. There are also a few on eBay.

Uniden President
about 115.00 with shore and car chargers Even though waterproof, as with all electronics on the water, highly recommend using a dry bag for that “sure feeling.”


Curious About Range

– Last Updated: Feb-20-05 7:01 PM EST –

What range are the folks that are using a handheld in a kayak experiencing? ...best case scenario

My experience…
in the Everglades this past Oct. was that with the uniden model we could go 3 maybe 4 miles and still get coverage with others in our paddle group. This was not clear line of sight, but with the islands/mangroves in the way. Big improvement over the FRS handhelds I’ve used before. Could still get NOAA weather reports out of Miami no problem. I get the same coverage while along the open Gulf beaches. I can receive calls from my brother in his powerboat with a 25W, 6’ antenna 15-20 minutes before he picks up my 5W call. Of course, as you know, with our 6" antennas sitting 1.5’ off the water we don’t have a very strong signal. But, what are ya going do? Kind of hard to put a SSB radio on a yak.

Icom or Standard Horizon
Check out the Icom or Standard Horizon radios. These are two of the best brands out there. I have an Icom radio which is built like a tank and keeps on working . Got it at West Marine for 160. FishHawk

I’d rethink the “I won’t use a bag”.
Electronics and saltwater don’t mix very well. It’s of absolutely no benefit to have a manufacturer willing to replace your non-functioning submersible radio if you can’t get hold of the Coast Guard in an emergency situation.

Everybody I know who didn’t use a bag, has had a radio fail. Notice I said didn’t as in past tense!

So far, the group I paddle with has had the best luck with Standard radios. They seem to have the best range.

I have communicated with a power boat at 10 NM and with other kayakers to a maximum of about 3 miles. Antenna height is the limiting factor.

I Vouch For The Icom MV1
it’s strapped to my PFD shoulder straps. It always gets immersed whenever I go out. It hasn’t failed in over two years. I rinse it out though each time afterwards. The only “failure” is that my first one got stolen from my car and I had to go out replace it with another.

I have an Aquabag for the radio but find it’s such a pain to operate the radio in the bag, especially in the winter when I already have gloves on. The Icom doesn’t need it. Anyway want to buy a brand new Aquabag? :slight_smile:


We’ve had a submersible one, I think the 200 but I’m not sure, for a couple of years and have found it to be very robust. Can’t comment on range because we’ve never needed it for an emergency transmission out (yet), but it’s had slat water splashed on it regularly and haven’t had any problems. We turn it on at least a few times a day in Maine to get the weather report - it has much better clarity than our older hand-held weather radio.

Make sure you get one with the Weather Alert feature. It’s useful, and it leaves you able to carry the VHF rather than that and a separate weather radio. You also want two channels, but at the price range to get the weather alert it’ll have that anyway. Figure about $160 and up, depending on what kind of sale you can get.



– Last Updated: Feb-21-05 9:40 AM EST –

i used a cheap ($99) uniden atlantis vhf on my cross country paddle... i myself didnt need a totally waterproof radio and kept mine in a freezer ziploc inside my emergency (valuables) drybag kept in my daypack.

what i liked about this radio was that it had full NOAA weather w great reception, weather alerts, 3way scanning, 1 button instant on emergency channel, came w full nicads, charger, 12volt charger, battery pack case for 6 AA batteries for when i drain the nicads, a stationary mount, pocket clip, 1 or 5 watt transmit button, water resistant, lighted screen and backlit buttons, and did i say cheap?

Both of the other long distance paddlers i met on the river that used radios had this same model.

transmitting at 5 watts will drain nicads in no-time, and if they are not freshly charged...that much faster... this radio allows for backup replaceable batteries for when there are no means of charging. - IMHO this is prolly the biggest advantage of this radio.... I didnt see any others that had this feature, and or, were only $99

second that icom M1V
Has “no-memory” battery, lithium ion i believe. Much better than ni-cad. I dropped mine off my sailboat, replaced it with an icom m32, and the battery on this one stinks. Check www.boatersworld.com; free shipping, no tax, wide variety. Matt McCay

thanks all, most helpful

Jbv, thanks and all
yep helped me too!


Bags are no guarantee either
Not only are they leak prone, but pressure buildup inside a bag can actually force moisture into a radio if there’s any in the bag.

Bags make a radio unweildy and harder to carry. You have to keep it in a pocket or on deck, which makes it less accessible when you need it. My experience has been that a radio that can’t be operated with one hand is essentially useless at the times you’re most likely to need it. That’s why I mount mine on the shoulder strap of my PFD. Bags also make it harder to access the controls on most radios and they mute the volume, both of the speaker and the microphone.

Yes, unprotected radios can fail, but the best ones don’t as long as you take care of them.