VHF radio suggestions

Im looking for any advice on waterproof VHF radios i could carry on my vest when needed. Thanks

I’ve got an ICOM M-72 that I’m very happy with. Waterproof to IPX-8 standard (1 1/2 meters for 1/2 hour). 6 watts of power (most other handhelds have 5 watts). Great battery life. It’s not too large and it’s got some really nice programmable features.




Here’s a link to VHF that also includdes NOAA weather and alerts. http://www.rutabaga.com/product.asp?pid=1021428

Second the ICOM M-72

– Last Updated: Dec-22-07 1:09 PM EST –

I currently own ICOM's M-88, which I have been happy with. If I ever need a replacement it will be the M-72, which was not available three years ago.


The M-72 had better ergonomics, is more powerful and has a better waterproof rating.
Best of all it is cheaper than the M-88 and can be purchased for around $180 and ICOM is currently offering $20 rebate on the M-72 (until 12/31/07).

Safe paddling,


Lots of choices
I will look further at ICOM models. I was leaning towards Standard Horizon HX270S. Was hoping for something in the range of $100.00 or so.

I haven’t seen one yet that didn’t do…
…that. For $150 spend $30 more and get an Icom M-72. My guess is it’s more robust than that model.

Had mine for two seasons and haven’t had a problem.

Keep the radio in my PFD pocket; verry easy to use.

I have both
Get the M72. It’s a much better radio.

I have a Uniden Atlantis 250.
that I am quite happy with.

I paid $100 for it two years ago at West Marine or Boaters World, (don’t remember which one.

I has all the specs that I was looking for:

-Water proof

  • Rechargeable and also with a battery holder for the regular little AA batteries.

    I get great reception even at eight miles off shore.

    If you get the speaker wet, (dunked) it will sound garbled until you shake all the water out, and that is the only drawback to it that I can see.



I wanted the ICOM-M72, but didn’t have that much to drop at the time, so I got one of the Uniden Atlantis models that was on sale for $99. So far it’s been great. I wanted it mainly just to have a radio with me, I can get weather reports if I need to, and could call in help (hopefully) if something awful happened. Hopefully judgment will spare me from times I might need a radio right on my PFD–this one is in my day hatch, too big for PFD. If I paddled a very busy area, and needed to make radio calls routinely I would have found the extra cash for the more convenient radio I think.

I picked up an M-34
for $100. Haven’t had a chance to use it yet because I had to wrap it up so I would get a nice Xmas present :slight_smile:

Anybody have any thoughts about this model? I was originally looking for a used M-32, but the M-34 was about the same price new. It’s only 5 watts, has the Li-Ion battery and it floats, but is only IPX7 waterproof.


forgot about it for a week
I’ve got a mesh bag under the deck of my plastic Chatham16 where I keep odds and ends. One time I had the Icom72 in the mesh bag while my nephew was using it in the surf. I forgot about it until the next week and found it in there covered in grit and sand. I rinsed it off in fresh water and it’s fine.

On a related topic I was learning about Li-ion batteries for computers and the directions for ensuring a long life battery is to not store it in hot temps while fully charged. If the battery is going to be transported/stored in high temps it should be at half charge or avoid high temps to begin with.

If you are into gadet kind of things
I recently purchased a West Marine 250 VHF radio. Submersible, fits in a PFD pocket, has 5 band widths including VHF, FRS, AM, FM, Air Traffic and of course the weather bands. I was paddling the other day and listening to some classical music on an FM station… kind of strange. Obviously the reception for things like AM and Air Traffic are very limited. But the VHF and weather frequencies function as good as other marine radios I have owned over the years.

HX 270S is a fine radio
Without getting into a debate, the 270S is a fine radio. It is tough, performs well, does what is needed. The M-72 is a fine radio too and has some features lacking in the 270S. The difference between 5 and 6 watts is insignificant, but if I could buy either; I would buy the M-72. If I wanted a solid radio at a bargain price I would get the 270S. In terms or radio performance nearly all of these radios are indistinguishable on the WX and marine bands.

That’s good to hear
I recently bought an HX270S after my ancient HX150S sold the Buick. Actually, just the antenna broke, but a new HX270S was cheaper than a new antenna, plus it was submersible (Which the old one was not), and had more features.

The Icoms were definitely tempting, but I couldn’t beat the deal I got on the Standard ($84), and I had great service and longevity from the old Standard, so I had no qualms about buying another one.

Problems with the icom m88
The icom M88 has given me problems and I wouldn’t recommend it. I sent it back for repairs about a year ago and I now need to send it back again. The battery is charged but when I turn the unit on–nothing. I’ve had the unit about 4 years and have never transmitted with it. I just carry it for emergencies.


Just to be contrary…
I have an M88 and love it. No problems at all in two years and I use it weekly. The battery life is amazing. I used it daily for my trip around Iceland (transmitting position location to the CG) and the battery never needed a recharge.

Contrary to popular opinion, I like the form factor of the M88 over the M72, but if faced with having to buy another radio now, I would get the M72, as an extra watt of transmitting power is significant and hopefully the battery compartment is less prone to water penetration (see below).

Caveot: Freya used an M88 as well in Iceland but didn’t bag or rinse hers. I do recommend rinsing daily and inspecting the battery compartment from time to time. She did neither and one of the spring-loaded contact pins inside the battery compartment corroded (but the radio still worked). One of the external battery charging contacts completed corroded. Rinsing and placing silicon grease on the external contact would have prevented this damage.

One disadvantage of the M88 is that the charger is big and bulky (I pack the charger with a cigarette lighter adapter on very long trips). I don’t know if this is also the case with the M72. Fortunately the battery life is so good that unless you are out for many weeks, the charger is not necessary.

Greg Stamer

battery contacts.
your comments about rinsing off in fresh water are worth heeding. Mine still had a bit of corrosion on the contacts. I wonder why the 88 has a longer battery life even though it’s a smaller battery. Seems to be more than a function of 20% more transmit power.

Numbers Game

– Last Updated: Dec-25-07 5:17 PM EST –

I guess I feel about the numbers game with radios the way people who really know about kayaks feel about the numbers game with kayaks. So excuse my being a bit picky, but marketing hype with radio numbers bugs me.

The battery life quoted by manufacturers is based on the assumption the radio is on, but no signal breaking squelch 90%,receiving a signal at high volume 5% and transmitting at the highest level for 5% of the time. Consequently, with a LiIon battery, if you only turn the radio on for a few minutes a day, a single charge will last a very long time since the self discharge rate for those batteries is very low and the total battery drain for operation will be small. Specifically, the M88 has an idle current 10mA less than a M72, its receive current at max audio is 200mA less since it has a lower audio output, and its transmit drain at 5 watts is 100mA less than the M72 at 6 watts. So the battery life times are equal despite larger battery in the M72 due to lower overall current drain with the M88 and especially due to the difference is receive current drain at high audio levels. In fact, the M88 draws more current at 5W than the M72 does at 5W. BTW, the amount of current drain at lower powers is higher than you might think so you don't gain a great deal by turning down the power in terms of battery life since transmit time is relative short compared to idle and receive time in actual operation. Current drain at 2.5W is typically about 70% of the current drain at 5W This especially true if using lower power causes lower readability requiring more transmit time for repeats. As to the significance of 6W v. 5W, it takes a 3db increase in power to make a signal just perceptibly stronger and that means you need to double the power. In other words to make a 5W signal just a little stronger to the ear, you would need to go up to 10W. Thus the difference between 5W and 6W is unimportant; particularly where you are going to have to be strong enough to break the squelch to be heard anyway. Further, with regard to power ratings they are talking power out of the RF circuit and what really matters is the effective radiated power which is greatly affected by the antenna. So a radio at 3W with a good antenna will have a stronger signal that a 6W radio with a lousy antenna. I say that having actually tested the effective radiated power of a VHF handheld with different antennas. Which in turn means not all 5W radios are equal in terms of signal stregnth. Since these radios are never, apparently, subjected to good lab test reviews, we are all buying them in ignorance to some extent.

Sorry for the mini-rant.