VHF radios

-- Last Updated: Sep-07-14 6:04 PM EST --

Hey all- could use some knowledge/recommendations in this area as well. Hoping to get suggestions for VHF marine radios suitable for our trip. Suitability can be determined via our site @ www.separateboats.com
Thanks in advance!

Whats your budget?

Whats the purpose? ie, Are you depending on this to save your life if you end up in unfortunate situation or will you also have a cell phone?

Dont even take a cell phone
I trust you have a couple of hundred bucks to invest in a PLB

I carry that and a basic Icom M 24. I paddle Lake Superior and the Gulfs of Maine and Mexico.

The 24 has a top power of five watts. Its not intended for an ocean crossing

It looks like you will be on inland rivers. You could also get a DeLorme Inreach.

People assume cell phones always work. They don’t. When you live in Maine you understand your smartphone is often a dumb paperweight.

Many to choose from
Most are 5 watt some 6 watts. The latest thing us the DSC version . DSC explained here http://www.vhf-dsc.info/

The DSC radios are a little larger and cost a little more. I could not find a small enough one to fit into my radio pocket on my pfd so got a regular VHF.


I bought a VHF …because…the Park Service recommends one for west coast Florida. The west coast above Cape Sable has boat traffic and I assume, Fed VHF reception.

Good for areas with boat traffic.

If your group plans tripping as an avocation, buy a PLB/Delorme.

Your cell phone provider will provide an online map. Check there for reception on the trip. If there’s good reception take the phone n learn how to figure horizons and altitudes of distant objects.

Get something with an IPX8 rating. IPX7 is marginal for kayaking.

I have never seen an IPX8 VHF radio, just IPX7. What model has an IPX8 rating???

Some of the ICOMs have the IXP8 rating, but in the case of several handheld VHF radios made by ICOM, they will suffer not from internal water intrusion, but they will fail due to external corrosion.

The on/off/volume control knob will freeze up, despite fresh water rinse, and the battery charging contacts will corrode away.

They’re great radios but despite their IPX8 rating, they’re really not up for regular salt water exposure from sea kayaking.

My experience has been with three failed ICOM M-72 radios.

I’m currently using a WestMarine 160, so far so good…

mine has held up well
I have an Icom handheld VHF that I’ve had for over 20 years. I forget the model number, and it’s out in the car (because I have been using it) and I’m too lazy to go look. But it’s basically the same is the 25. I’ve used it for kayaking and sailing, almost always on salt water, for many years. It lived on three successive sailboats, docked in salt water harbors. I dunno, I don’t doubt your experience, but mine is that they hold up fairly well. Maybe the new ones aren’t as good…

I find the waterproof ratings without value. You have to be sure that any plastic pieces on the radio are tight, factory fresh (not warped by heat, age, or the sun).

More importantly, the ratings do not apply to anything that gets smacked into the water when dropped or you overturn, or dragged in water.

Its wise to get a case or bag if the cost of the radio warrants the extra protection. The radio may even appear to work but not be able to transmit if the battery contacts get corroded. Also, flat repair rates fix your maximum expense if the insides get wet.

The DSC radios with one-button distress eliminate the need for PLB’s if you are in range of another vessel which can automatically relay the emergency message, or a shore station. Plus its good to be able to listen for securite announcements or even shark sightings.

Both marginal

– Last Updated: Sep-11-14 9:21 AM EST –

IPX8 may or may not be meaningfully better than IPX7. There is no standard IPX8 rating as there is for IPX7. It should exceed IPX7 standards, but by how much is left open. So Icom has radios rated IPX8, but those radios are at best marginally better than IPX7 as in to depth of 1.5M as opposed to 1M. Neither IPX7 nor IPX8 relate to conditions in which a radio is used by kayakers. As in subjected to being forcefully hit by waves or subjected to dynamic water. The IPX6 standard addresses that situation, but I do not believe any consumer VHF radio has that rating. Nor have I seen a consumer VHF radio with a suffix M rating indicating it can be operated underwater as in buttons pushed and still be protected against water ingress.

I don’t know what all of that meant
…but I do know my Icom has spent a night sitting in water in my cockpit, sat in the rain, and been dunked more times than I can count. Still ticking.

I have the cute little flashing light
that blinks red when its immersed.

The trouble is it goes off in the fog too!