VHF Radio - M72 or M34?

I have to make a choice on VHF radio soon. Any opinions between these two models? The M34 floats and has an AA battery pack available. The M72 is more powerful.

I’ve also had the Standard Horizon HX471S recommended to me.

Any help deciding would be appreciated.


I have used both brands. I now use a Standard Horizion and have had no problems with it. Just make sure you get one that is water resistant. Vaughn Fulton

Those two are the #1 and #2 for paddlers
Obviously you’ve done your homework.

Which one is #1 and which is #2 depends on your priorities. Do you need it to have a little more punch and highest submersion rating - or can you go a little lighter duty there for the added security of a second chance if you forget to tether and drop it?

I have M72 - but that was a no-brainer as the M34 wasn’t out yet. A little more difficult to pick now. Again - no one can really make this call for you - and you can’t go wrong either way. Icom is first rate. Others will suggest other brands, but I wouldn’t bother looking beyond these two models (maybe Icom M88 too - but I think the new ones have better in hand form factor for paddlers).

I’ve got the M72
I looked at both the M34 and the M72 and selected the M72 because of it’s smaller size.

There are a few significant differences between the two models:

  • the M34 floats (a first for a handheld VHF).
  • the M34 has an optional battery tray (it takes 5 AAA batteries)
  • the M34 costs less than the M72

  • the M72 is smaller (much smaller)
  • the M72 is six watts (the highest wattage on any commercially produced handheld VHF)
  • the M72 is waterproof to IPX8 standards (better than any other handheld VHF radio on the market)
  • the M72 does not have an optional battery tray but the proprietary lithium ion battery that comes with it has amazing life (about 18 hours of continous use)

    As has been mentioned, either radio is a good choice – ICOM makes excellent radios.



Floating good
I’ve watched a buddy miss his PFD pocket with an M72. Splunk! into about 120 feet of water.

I tether Mine
Slip a small key ring through the strap opening, and attach this to an NRS key ring carabiner that clips to my PFD shoulder strap. I’m sure there are many other ways to do it. I’ve hung upside down with this solution numerous times with no loss of radio.


Tether good!
I carry my ICOM M88 mounted to the left pfd shoulder strap using the provided belt clip. I then tether it to the pfd using a minibiner like Lou’s setup.

I followed Brian Nystrom’s instructions for mounting the radio, with minor modifications. I have had no usage problems for the last three years.

If I was to to purchase a radio today I would probably go with the M72. It’s about $60-75 less expensive than the M88, but has more broadcast power and according to specs a bit more battery life.


I just got an M34
because it floats, that’s a feature that may save me $150 over and over.

I thought it was important for me to get a VHS with the alkaline battery pack option, but there are some downsides to that feature, as I’ve learned:

The radio is weak on alkalines, much shorter life span and 2w max broadcast strength, versus 5w for the supplied battery pack.

The manual has a warning stating that the radio may not float using the AAA battery pack, depending on the weight of the alkalines versus the lithium ion pack.

Lastly, a friend who is a captain advised me that swapping out the alkalines constantly is an invitation to mess up the o-rings that help make the radio submersable.

I still like the M34 a lot, but I won’t be using the alkaline battery pack, for the price, I may as well just get a spare lithium ion pack.

Use a tether
My M72 is tethered to the key loop in the front pocket on my PFD. Never had a concern with losing it.