VHF Radios?

I am going to be looking at buying a couple VHF radios very soon.

Before I buy, I like to know what Im buying and what to look for when buying.

Can anyone give me some buying tips?

Suggested Brand Names?

As a Kayaker, will I be wanting one that has particular options on it?

Obviously, I know nothing about this topic. And need some pointers. Any help is appreciated!


Icom M1V’s and M88’s are pretty much the standard for kayakers. You can get cheaper units, but you’re gambling. Consider a VHF life support equipment, and don’t skimp.

Thanks for the advice!
Silly me, I should have researched the archives better! This topic has been covered well. Sorry to bring it up again!

Thanks again!

Weather Alert Feature

Search archives too
There has been a lot of disucssion about VHF’s. Every few months another thread gets started. A ton of info.

I looked for my last responce on radios but couldnt find to copy n paSTE SO HERE GOES

i like my uniden atlantis 250 for under $100 it is water resistant, has three way scanning, has weather info and alerts, back lighted, 1watt and 5 watt transmit switch, has add-on belt clip, has add-on stationary mount, has three main channel sections- USA-Canada-international. comes with full nicads with wall charger and a 12v auto charger, has a battery case-pack that holds 6 AA batteries for when u kill the nicads

i used mine on my 6 month cross country paddle, kept it in a freezer ziploc inside my emergency drybag… never had a problem with it

i met two other riverrats who just happened to have the same radio… only complaint i heard was one guys radio stopped making lil beeps when a button is pressed … otherwise his radio worked fine…

one of my favorite features of the radio is that it comes with a battery case-pack for AA batteries… i always carried backup… transmitting at 5 watts will suck the life out of 6 batteries or nicads real quick… this option is a potential life saver

Icom lasts!
Icom VHF’s take a beating. father has them for his Hydrosport, and it’s been around for a long long time. Takes falls and spills, and very water resistant.

submersible, etc.
I think the most important thing(s) for a kayaker to look at in a VHF marine radio (in order of importance):

  1. Make sure the radio has a submersible rating. This is typically a more stringent test that that of “waterproof” or “water-resistant”. A kayaking radio will often get very wet. Some radios say submersible, but in “small” print mention that the this does not include the battery compartment. If water leaks into the battery compartment and renders the radio useless when you most need it, a “submersible” rating doesn’t do you much good. So try to find one where the submersible rating includes the battery compartment.

  2. Make sure your new VHF marine radio comes with a battery pack that lets you use AA’s so that you can take a mess of AA’s with you on an extended trip. Your NiMH or NiCd rechargeable battery that comes with the unit will die at some point on a multiday trip if you use the radio much. I have found alkaline AA’s to be nearly useless. Even in summer on the north pacific it’s cold enough that alkalines don’t seem to have the “juice” to transmit on high power very long. I’ve realized that if I was really in trouble, even brand new Duracell alkalines (advanced performance version or not) would provide me precious little transmit time. Alkalines are just not designed to give big chunks of electrical energy at a time as lithium, NiCd or NiMH can. Transmitting at 5 watts on hi-power really seems to test a battery pack with my radio at least. I’m using the Energinzer Lithium AA’s exclusively now. They have a 15 year shelf life, work tremendously better in cold conditions than alkalines, have tremendously more power (for those hi-power transmissions) and are much lighter, not that that matters when kayaking. But they are not cheap.

  3. After all that, put the radio in a dry bag from which you can still use it. And, get a radio that can be operated completely by pushbutton. Dials don’t work to well from a dry bag. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a form-fitting drybag on the market. All the dry bags for radios seem to have the “rigid bar” closure at the bottom which precludes the radio being put in PFD pocket generally. I finally made my own drybag out of heat sealable nylon with a clear window to view the controls and the typical rolled dry bag closure. It works very well–wish I could post a picture. Is there a way to do that?

  4. Wear the radio on/in your PFD so that if you get separated from your boat you still have a means of contacting help.

    Good luck.

Icom comparison?
How about the Icom M2A?

Do the Icom’s have this feature for battery packs…ie, ability to use regular AA’s?

The m2A s do
but I bet you lose waterproofness. Most AA packs seem not to be made to the same standard as the lithium packs in terms of waterproofness. I would do with two Li battery packs and the small radio, but my life does not allow me to do multi-day trips at this time, so you preferances may vary. I’m still using the standard horison 460 HX? and it is doing OK by me, though sometimes when the speaker is full of water it is not loud enough.

Icom Batteries
Ours has two backs, a rechargeable back and a back where you insert regular batteries. Obviously we try to rely on the rechargeable back as a primary since we are constantly replacing batteries in the GPS, lights etc. And the rechargeable back seems to last longer than when running with the regiular battery back. But it’s two years old - things may have changed.

NOAA is never right
Check out the icom m-32li. It’s the standard m-32 with lithiun ion batteries, real long life. The m-32 has very convenient buttons too. As far as weather alert, NOAA is nearly always wrong for their maritime forecasts on long island sound and rhode island, so to have my radios on standby for their misinformation is of no value to me.

While on the subject…
Anyone have working knowledge of the Standard H. HX471 ??

Looks like it has quite a few gadgets…

It’s a good thing…
…that you didn’t actually need to USE it, as you never would have been able to access it in an emergency. A radio that’s not within arm’s reach and easy to operate is essentially useless. In the type of conditions that are most likely to require you to summon help, you’ll be lucky to have one hand free.

That’s one reason why “submersible” radios are vastly preferable to “water resistant” units. You don’t have to keep them bundled up and protected.