-- Last Updated: Apr-14-10 10:10 PM EST --

Anyone have any input on a small waterproof vhf that they've had good luck with?? Thanks.

Standard Horizon
Lot’s of choices and everyone has their favorites.

I have a Standard Horizon HX500 that seems to work well… a good quality unit for the price.

Standard Horizon 500S

There are several good makers out there besides Standard Horizon: Uniden, Humminbird (yup, spelled like that) & IComm. There are many good handheld marine VHFs at all different price points.

Comes down to which bundle of features matter most to you like size, weight, battery life, type of battery,output watts, floatation,pre-set keys to weather channels & distress, dual or tri-watch mode, memory scan, etc. For some it is the grip in the hand, the size of the buttons, or how in fits in their PFD pocket or clipped over their shoulder.

The Standard Horizon 500S also has a one-touch an emergency strobe option (continuously flashing white light)and is a white radio, which makes it easier to find in the pre-dawn gloom or in the jumbled gear in a vehicle '-)

West Marine
Great return policy that I’ve yet to use on their vhf radios. Stores all over the place and I really like my radio better that the Unidens or the Cobra I owned in the past.


– Last Updated: Apr-15-10 6:11 AM EST –

I've had good luck with my M-72 purchased from West Marine.

As a previous poster reported, West Marine has stores in many locations - even up here in Northern New York on the Canadian border.


Search the archives, I’m sure you will find much information.

One thing I like about the ICOMM M-72 is their ‘aquaquake’ feature which clears the speaker grill of water. I had a different brand unit before that would sometimes sound severely muffled (could barely hear the other person) due to water in the speaker grill area.

Definitely Icom’s.

The M72 fits pretty easily in PFD. May want to take a look at the M88 as well. We have both and although the M88 is a tad thicker and shorter, it fits shorter pocketed pfd’s.

We’ve sent ours through the ringer and haven’t had any problems…yet.


Icom M88
Compact, rugged, reliable.

Sea Kayaker VHF review
Sea Kayaker magazine has a free online article reviewing common VHF handhelds.




– Last Updated: Apr-18-10 11:19 AM EST –

These seem to be some of the more obscure models on the market and none of the most popular ones are even mentioned. Very odd.

west marine 250
EMy current favorite is west marine 250. Decently small, good battery life. It also has am/fm band. Great for those mornings when paddling solo.

I wish the antenna was a few inches shorter.

Icom 72
is hard to beat. Dependable and has never let me down.

hand-held and small West Marine
I picked up a West Marine 150 on sale last year and have been quite pleased. It’s got a great battery life (1-3 months between charges, depending on how much I use it); it’s waterproof and (if you buy it) comes with a great for-the-life-of-the-product guarantee (!); comes with Li-ion and AA battery trays. My only complaint is the “West Marine” message that scrolls across the screen when you switch it on–in an emergency scenario I don’t want to watch it “boot up”. Also, it doesn’t float.


Standard Horizon
I have a cheapo Standard Horizon model, which has been discontinued. It is rated JIS7 for waterproofness, which is good. The transmission distance is not huge, which is typical for hand-helds. I have broken off one antena, which I have replaced. I like this radio. I do have to take off my gloves sometimes to operate the little buttons.

For on-the-PFD kayak use, radios will break or get lost, so I don’t like to spend too much. If you get a couple of years out of one, you are doing well. Failure of waterproofness is the most common source of failure.

Another satisfied ICOM M-72
customer here.

I have heard good things about Standard Horizon too. Their HX851 floating model with GPS and DSC calling looks dynamite!

A good radio will last a lot longer…

– Last Updated: Apr-24-10 9:46 AM EST –

...than a couple seasons. I've only had one radio fail and that was a Standard Horizon HX460S, a model which has become notorious for sealing failures. None of my Icom radios has ever failed and they're all much more than a couple of seasons old. I carry my radio on my PFD, shoulder mounted. I often have a spare in my day hatch, in case someone else needs one. None have suffered any damage beyond a few scratches and dings, despite being used in a lot of rescue training and rough water.

ICOM M-88 or M-72

– Last Updated: Apr-26-10 10:56 AM EST –

I initially used an ICOM M-88 (purchase in 2003), but 'upgraded' to a M-72 two years ago. Like Brian above I wear mine unbagged, attached and tether to my pdf shoulder strap. (See Brian's Webshots for shoulder strap attachment details)
Neither radio has ever failed me. I do perform route maintenance: rinsing after every saltwater use and checking the battery contact seal once a season. I apply a little silicone grease to the seal if I think it needs it. BTW, I do roll so I am not babying these things.

I’ve been using mine for years. During the guiding season, it gets used daily.