VHF Radio Suggestions

Any suggestions for a first time VHF radio?

I have an M73 but I think you can get the M25 for under $150 (are they discontinuing it or what?).

I have had good luck and like…
my ICOM IC-M24.

It floats if dropped overboard. Is completely waterproof, and if it is dropped overboard in the dark has a flashing red light.

I got it at West Marine

Jack L

My experience is the same as JackL’s

– Last Updated: Apr-20-16 10:04 PM EST –

It pulls in distant weather stations quite nicely. Older model no doubt.. what is the I comm number up to now.

I've not used it for Mayday. Usual haunts are the Maine coast and Lake Superior

One thing that maddens me about it. The blinking red light that is supposed to help you in case you drop it in the water

It goes off in fog. As I use this radio alot in foggy areas this feature is ..annoying..

Standard Horizon HX851
We have the Standard Horizon HX851 and really like it. It was the Winner of The Sea Kayak Magazine readers choice award for best Handheld VHF Radio.


Standard Horizon HX300
I also looked into the VHF that have the GPS and DSC feature BUT could NOT find one that was small enough to fit into my radio pocket on my NRS C-vest PFD. The Standard Horizon HX851 is just too big to fit the radio pocket so I got the smaller HX300 which just fits.

So I guess you might want to consider were you will keep your VHF before you choose one to make sure it will fit were you want to keep it. BEST place is attached to you some how. Too many stories of paddlers being separated from the boat to keep it tethered to your boat.

If you have a large pocket or rig it to attach to a strap on PFD then I would go for one that has the DSC feature. DSC allows regular power boaters to know your position assuming they also have a DSC radio which near me all power boats now are required to have a DSC radio on power boats. This way you don’t have to figure out a way to give your position.


I have an 850 & 851 which have worked well for about 7-8 years.

your area of operations?
Are VHF used with sufficient quantity by fellow boaters or local CG that someone will hear and respond to your call?

Avoid ICOM!
If your using it for seakayaking, the ICOM’s have a long history of corrosion failures. Despite their waterproof ratings, many of the exterior components will corrode and fail.

If wearing it on ur PFD, it’s usually impractical to be able to use any of the bulky clear plastic VHF specific drybags.

I’ve had 3 or 4 ICOM’s fail due to corroded on/off knob shaft or battery terminal corrosion, despite frequent rinsing.

After the last failure, about 3 years ago, I switched to an all plastic WEST MARINE unit that has no knobs. All the controls are rubber buttons. So far so good.

For lots of discussion on ICOM failures, do a search on the UK forum. They are a great commercial radio, they’re just not that well suited to the amount of environment’ that we subject it to while seakayaking.

Stay away from the DSC feature. Athough a great system, it is not yet practical for use in the handheld unit. The battery life at this time is incapable of powering the system for more than about 6-8 hours.

Save that extra money u’d spend on the DSC feature and put it towards an ARC PLB.

Whatever radio you choose, buy it from West Marine and buy the extended warranty from them. It’s money well spent, for $29 they replace a failed radio at the store for three years. No endless emails or mailing or delay when dealing with the manufacturer. It’s just replaced at the store.

Good luck, be safe!

never had a problem with corrosion
maybe its the not -everyday use with the M 24 It gets rinsed.

Its about five years old. I did have corrosion problems with its predecessor a Uniden.

Forgot to mention

– Last Updated: Apr-21-16 8:54 AM EST –

Forgot to indicate the specific radio in my post above.

I chose the WESTMARINE VHF160


M36 is another good choice. Mine has been in salt water with no corrosion issues.Long battery life to.

never once had a problem
My first ICOM broke when I dropped it from a not insignificant height and speed. But I’ve never had corrosion problems. Although I paddle fresh water I use it often and it gets neglected - it sits in my gear bag until I need it, then it goes back in the bag. When it’s with me it’s been on me in rolls, capsizes, etc.

Yes you will be heard
If you are sea kayaking. Just about every boat has one and the CG monitor them all the time. I keep mine in a water proof bag that allows me to operate it while in the bag. I do not trust waterproof rating when my life could be a risk. I like the double protection.

DSC feature
does not even come close to killing the battery on my Standard Horizon radios in 6-8 hrs. You can also bring an extra battery or a battery tray which takes AA batteries for even longer battery life.

Same here
I just got back from six months of almost daily paddling with it, in salt water

It is my fourth year with it.

I didn’t have to charge it once in the entire six months.

I never have had a problem with corrosion.

I got it at West Marine, and when I got it the salesman talked me into getting it even though it was a tad more expensive then West Marine’s own brand, but he said it was much better.

Someone above is giving out wrong info

Jack L