VHF Marine Radio

I searched the archieves on radios. It seems the Horizons are not as waterproof as the ICOM IC-M88 or Uniden Voyager. The ICOM looks like a much better unit.


neo from SC

I have an Icom
and like it, but I keep it in a waterproof bag. An awful lot of people have succeeded in drowning waterproof radios. You can get the drowned radio replaced under warranty, but that won’t do you much good if you’re in trouble and really need to be able to use the thing.

Jacks and plugs
I believe that any radio loses it’s WP-ness when a rubber plug pops out of a charging jack. Better to have a WP container for insurance.


I have an Icom M32 and am very happy with it. I keep it in a pocket on my paddle jacket and have had not problems with the water proofness.


standard horizon /wet bag it

Lots of folks I paddle with
have switched to Icom, and do not bag.

I will end up bagging in something like an aquapac, and like my friends, mounting that to my pfd.

Jacks, knobs, non drop-in chargers. who needs them.

I’ve been bagging my Standard 460 hx for two and one half years now, and other than the pattery contacts corroding (taken care of under warrantee) no worries. I go over a lot!

My Standard HX350S is 2 years old
and has never given me a problem. I usually bag it, but it has gone swimming with me both with and without a bag.

It fits in my PFD pocket and I biner the cord on the bag or the radio to the ring inside the pocket.

I’d get another one in a heartbeat. It works extremely well.

VHF Radios
Ditto the Aquapac Dry Bag, My Horizon HX470 goes into a dry bag every time. It doesn take much to make an o’ring leak, a hair laying across it can do the job. Instead of gettin PO’d when it leaks, a little preventative action may save you a lot of grief down the road. My suggestion would be to go for the features you really want and bag it.

That’s why the most waterproof radios…

– Last Updated: Jun-02-04 1:21 PM EST –

...don't have external charger plugs.

Look for radios that use a drop-in charger that elmininates the need for an external charging port and plug, such as the Icom M88, Icom M1v and the Uniden Voyager .

The other common leak point is the plug for the aux. antenna or speaker/mic. This is a common problem with the Horizon HX460/470/471. The Uniden Voyager has a rather loose fitting plug on that port, too. Unless you actually intend to use an auxilliary antenna or a speaker/mic, I suggest you either buy a radio without the ports or glue the plugs in place.

The Icoms have th aux. port issue covered too. The M1V uses a plug that's a very tight fit and is hard to dislodge accidently. The M88 takes a "belt and suspenders" approach and uses a screwed-on cover over a waterproof connector that won't leak even if the cover is removed.

There are even radios such as the West Marine VHF50 that elminate external knobs and ports in an effort be be more waterproof.

Drop-n chargers are good…
…if they eliminate the need for an external charging jack.

The downside of bags
1) They reduce the speaker volume of the radio.

2) They muffle your voice when speaking into the radio.

3) They make the radio more difficult to operate.

4) They make the radio much bulkier and more difficult to mount on a PFD shoulder strap, hence it often ends up in a pocket, which compounds all these issues.

These become real problems when you get into a situation where you actually NEED to use your radio. When conditions are rough with lots of wind, waves and noise, you need to be able to hear your radio clearly and operate it while keeping one hand on the paddle. Bags tend to make the radio less useful when you need it the most. I’ve experienced serious communication breakdowns in groups paddling in rough conditions, due to people not being able to access their radios.

Another issue that I haven’t personally experienced, but have on good authority is that bags can actually kill radios. If there is any moisture (such as condensation) in the bag, it can actually be forced into the radio by the pressure buildup that occurs as the air inside the bag warms up. This won’t occur under all conditions, but it’s a real hazard. If you’re going to use a bag, you have to keep is scrupulously dry inside.

There are good submersible radios that work reliably under adverse conditions and don’t require bagging. I find them to be advantageous.

I bought a used Horizon HX350S
on Ebay and I’m really pleased with it…of course, I have a Folbot folding kayak and my odds of rolling over are pretty slim…still, a nut came loose and the kayak did flood…radio unaffected…I check the o-ring before I close er up…

Oddly enough
my Aquapac bag just developed a leak where te top of the thumb glove starts.

It gave about 30 trips and 5 acutal uses of service. If I decide to bag again it’s ewa marine for me. Thumbscrews offer way more leverage and feedback than cams anyway.

I’m definitely mounting my radio on the pfd. Most of my buddies do and it unarguably works much better. I may well bag as well though and see how that works. I’ll just glue a small piece of finished wood to the bag. Screw the clip button into it to it and use velcrowrap and a 4mm bungie to secure the radio’s orientation and to tether, respectively.

Standard Horizon
I second the Standard Horizon 350s. I got hooked on their products while in the Navy. Very well built. I was on the coast this past weekend and took an un-anticipated roll/swim. The radio was secured in the front pocket of my life vest. Just so happens I got a call about 3 mins after the event from someone needing assistance. Very handy to have a radio you can rely on and have it readily available (not in a day hatch or in a bag)

I agree with other posters, the drop-in chargers that eliminate the jack are a plus.

I do make it a practice to inspect and clean my radio after use, especially after being exposed to saltwater.

Icom M88

– Last Updated: Jun-09-04 10:24 AM EST –

Take the battery off a Standard Horizon, and an Icom M88, and look at how they sealed the battery. That's why I picked the M88. They only seal the tiny connector, not the whole battery. Standard Horizon seals the whole battery. The smaller M88 seal would likely not leak as easy as the one on the S/H. I clean the salt water off my M88 the way Icom recommends, by washing it in a bucket of water. Never a problem with it! I also like the one knob control. Li-ion battery also a plus. Great little compact radio!

I’ve got the Standard Horizons 470
Picked it up over a year ago, and have been using it in a saltwater environment. No leaks, and I wash it after every trip to prevent corrosion. (still no leaks). I’ve soaked it dozens of times. A great full-featured radio.

West Marine
Any experience/comments on the West Marine branded radios? They look interesting on paper, but I haven’t had a chance to handle one.

we have two m88 and like them
I can’t compare to other brands but my wife and I both use Icom IC-M88 radios and we’re happy with them.

The first I bought at a great price (floor model) and the second (6 months later) we bought from mall24-7 (http://www.mall24-7.com). We bought the same model just so we would both know how to use the units.


Although the back is not watertight…
…it actually creates a very effective labyrinth seal. Even after swimming extensively, I typically only find one or two drops of water between the battery pack and the radio. This system insures that the seal at the connector is not going to have to deal with much water.

Just got the Uniden Voyager today
Our local Waypoint marine chandler gave the club a fantastic deal, so we got one to take on all outings. I’ll review it in the Fall after it’s been through the wringer.