VHF Attached To PFD

Where do kayakers attach their VHF to their PFD, assuming they do? The 2 PFDs I have don’t have pockets or attachment points that would accomodate a VHF. I’ve tried both shoulder and belt straps but it’s really klutzy. However, I do it because the idea of me in the water and the kayak drifting away with the VHF is even less appealing.

Any suggestions for a more comfortable way of dealing with this? Thanks.

which PFD??

– Last Updated: Feb-08-12 12:43 PM EST –

you may get better ideas if folks knew which PFD so they know the opportunities. I agree VHF on PFD is very good idea. Also which VHF? Does your VHF come with a separate part that the radio can snap onto such as for on a belt or such? If so then zip ties can work well sometimes to attach that part to some part of the PFD.

depending on your funds best answer may be a new PFD. Many have a pocket of perfect size for VHF.

alternate option
I use a Seals sprayskirt with their gear pocket (a mesh bag that attaches to the top of the spray deck). The VHF generally goes in the bag, or sometimes is out of the gear bag and just on the spray skirt (when I am using it often, and conditions are mellow). I do keep my VHFs in an Aquapac dry bag, as I have found that even waterproof ones really aren’t. And the dry bag has a leash on it, which is tied to the spray skirt, so I won’t lose it.

Benefit is that it is attached to me, as it would be on a PFD, but out of the way. Gear right on a the spray deck is much more out of the way than a deck bag would be - not getting in the way of low angle strokes like sweep strokes.

Thanks for the quick responses. The VHF is an icom M72, and the PFD I like most is an Astral V8 as it has ventilation for hot weather. However, it really doesn’t have any/many attachment points or pockets. But, the idea of a zip tie (thanks jc) just might work. The Astral does have a patch with 2 slits that I could pass the tie through and attach the VHF. And thanks also Peter. I’ll check out that Seals spray skirt with the gear pocket.

Some people use a firefighter harness
I saw a few links to companies that supply firefighters with radio harnesses. No personal experience, but the info came from some pretty gung-ho paddlers.



Mine has a clip that can be clipped to
the shoulder strap or wherever, but my wifes PFD is like yours, and right now she is making a pocket for it with a velcro closure.

You could make the same and customize it for your VHF.

Keep in mind that in most of the older models, if you get the speaker wet, the sound will be garbled until you can dry it out.

Jack L

Add-on backpack “pocket”?
I’ve seen auxiliary pack pockets that can be attached to a backpack. Sort of like a belt pouch. Maybe you could put the radio in one of these and strap the pocket to a PFD strap. I’d be leery of it catching on stuff but you could experiment to see what works best.

Two of my sprayskirts came with straps across the deck. (I cut them off.) If you have one like that you could attach the radio to the strap.

One thing to watch in zipties is that they degrade quickly. I had ziptied the license plate bracket to my trailer and one of the ties broke in only a few months. The trailer is stored in a shed so the amount of UV hitting the ties was due solely to the time actually being used.

I switched them to stainless-steel zipties. For your VHF-to-PFD use, their sharp edges would not be good. If I were going to tie it for marine use, I’d cut and seal some good reflective cord (REI sells 2mm and 3mm cord by the foot) and tie with knots instead. This is what I did to secure my binocular harness strap to the binoc body; the kit came with zipties and I didn’t want to risk dropping binocs because a cheap ziptie broke.

Learning all those knots has been paying off more and more!

Aqua-Pac bag houses my VHF, which is also an M72 (controls are useable through the plastic). I don’t trust claims of electronic devices’ waterproofness.

Shoulder mount it
It’s easy to do and it allows you to use the radio with one hand, which can be critical in the kind of conditions where you actually need to call for help.

You can see how I do it in my “Kayak Gear” album at:


Thanks To All
Lots of practical suggestions. I’ll experiment.

Nice and simple
The bungie cord serves as a backup tether.

The only catch is that a radio sealed in Aqua-Pac bag would also have the clip inside. Guess I’ll be doing some experimenting, too.

I never gave a second thought to keeping the radio in the day hatch, but immediate access wasn’t critical for the few times and places I carried it. That’s going to change after we move to WA…shipping channels, strong tidal streams, longer fetch, perennially cold water, and all the rest of the stuff that amps up the risk level. Geez, the kit just for day-paddling is going to bigger and heavier.

discard the bag
It’ll do you no good when you’re trying to use the radio with cold hands.

I’ve had no prolems
I’ve had no problems with the AquaPac bags in cold or any other time. Everything is press buttons now, so easy to do through the bag. Twisting nobs would be harder, but only one of my VHFs has a nob, and that is on/off/volume, which once you set you don’t change until you shut the radio off.

But, I have had trouble with supposedly waterproof VHFs not being waterproof. The Icom I have is waterproof, except the battery. So I was replacing a battery a year after the charging tabs would corrode off. Cost of a battery is about the same as an AquaPac bag. Did get Icom to replace 1 under warranty (battery warranty is just 1 year, and this one corroded before the year), but not the second time.

Since then, I needed to buy a second VHF, so skipped the floating waterproof one and went for a non-waterproof non-floating $50 Cobra and a AquaPac bag. Out the door for under $100. In the bag, it floats and is waterproof. Works just fine.

icom and battery
I found my M72 is VERY waterproof, BUT you must detach the battery after rinsing post-paddle or you may get corrosion. In fact the very way they designed it such that you have this risk is much of why it is so waterproof – there is no real battery compartment to leak.

One of the beauties of ICOM radios…
…is that they are waterproof without the battery in place. It’s a very intelligent design approach that’s much more effective than trying to seal a large battery compartment.

Which tabs?
What was corroding so fast, the exterior contacts on the battery pack used to charge the battery or the interior contacts on the battery which make contact with the springs on the radio inside the little gasket protected area?

Neither should cause problems in a year. Unfortunately, I do not believe the exterior contacts are easily replaceable nor gold plated and the latter should not corrode from saltwater intrusion as it it inside the “waterproof” area although I have seen that problem arise.

The outer contacts - the ones which are used to recharge the unit. They start corroding quickly, leaving a white powder in the area. And after a while one of them will fall out all together.


– Last Updated: Feb-12-12 7:37 PM EST –

Assuming it was well rinsed after each use (not something that happens on multi-day trips) it is unacceptable to have those fail and/or not replaceable in a year or two. Even my "cheap" $100 Wouxun ham radio handheld from China has gold plated charging contact tabs.

I think they are solid units overall, but they all have a weak point or two.

for me the outside contacts have been great though I do rinse and dry quickly after a paddle. I only had the inside contacts corrode if I failed to pop off the battery pack. If I forget then maybe in few/several weeks the contacts could corrode (salt water in my case).

The inside contacts…

– Last Updated: Feb-13-12 6:50 AM EST –

...should never corrode. That problem is generally caused by failure to grease the o-ring and the contacts periodically - once or twice a season is usually enough. Use silicone grease.

Why ICOM doesn't gold plate the outer contacts for the battery remains a mystery. It's the one weak spot in otherwise outstanding radios.