Waterproof VHF

Are there any VHF radios that will not be ruined if they are dropped in the water?

I have a Midland, & had it in what i thought was a watertight bag that came with the radio but it went in the water & now it is ruined.

Robert G

ICOM seems to be the fav here… nm

It is good for a swim or two but mine did not like repeated exposure to salt water. I am now in the market for one too.

My next one will be cheap with AA batteries and a pack of condoms to keep it dry, even if it is submersible.

The AA battery experience is an important one.

Subjected this radio to 2 full months of exposure to ocean environment, with out a waterproof bag. In fact it stayed on my deck bag for 98% of my trip. So far so good. I thought it had some good features, like the AA battery cover option vs. the rechargeable pack


Standard Horizon HX270S
We got one this summer, and it’s been wet a few times - claimed to be submersible to 3 feet for 30 minutes. We usually keep it in a West Marine drybag - for us, it’s an emergency communication device, not an item we use regularly on the water. It has its own rechargeable NiMH battery pack, but comes with a tray that also allows it to be used with 6 AA alkaline batteries (but can’t use rechargeables). Nice size - fits in a PFD pocket…

One beef with it - and several other models we looked at from various manufacturers - there is no point on most handheld VHF radios to which you can anchor a lanyard, AND MOST DON’T FLOAT!!! For a radio that’s touted as the perfect paddler’s rig, that ain’t what I’d call intelligent design…we have jury-rigged a lanyard, but molding in an anchor point would seem to be a no-brainer…

get ones with a submersible rating, not water proof.

I have a Uniden Atlantis 250
That is completely waterproof.

I usually keep it tethered to one of my front deck bungees.

Just don’t drop it in the water, without it being tethered. They don’t float.



I tie mine off
Put the belt clip thingy on the back of the radio. I use that to tie mine to a D-ring in my PFD pocket. You just have to tie the cord tight. Never been a problem.

Anchor - on my list of things to do
I have a SH, too, not sure the model, but it’s a cheaper one. Had it wet (salt and fresh water) many times, no problem so far.

I’d be interested in learning how you jury rigged. I had a string through the belt clip but learned with dismay that if you rotate the belt clip far enough it unlocks and disengages.

I see some kind of anchor loop replacing the screw-in attachment point for the belt clip. What’s your fix?


If your radio doesn’t come with a decent place to attach a lanyard (whose dumb idea was THAT?), you can sometimes fashion one yourself. Remove the belt clip to expose the small round nub on the radio body to which the clip is supposed to engage. These are sometimes held on with a small screw and can be removed to attach a strong cord like fishing line, etc…

I’ve even fabricated my own attachment loop by drilling a small hole in a dime-sized fender washer. Mount the washer to the radio using the original nub screw (or a longer one, if needed) through the center hole, then tie a line or tether through the second small hole you drilled.

BTW, it’s only a theory, but I suspect that many leaks and the resulting damage of electronics are CAUSED by their protective bags. Get a drop or two of water, or even some humid air, inside such a plastic pouch, then seal it up tight and paddle around with it on your deck with the hot sun beating down on it, and the Greenhouse Effect can drive moisture INTO the electronic device. I’ve seen more GPS units, MP3 players, and marine radios damaged by moisture while in such protective cases than while riding in a PFD pocket.

For best results, buy a truly submersible unit, and carry it without a bag, someplace up and out of the spray zone.

Good Luck!



ICOM, si – Std Horizon, no
Unless things have changed in the last couple years, the ICOM models are pretty much to submersible, and the Standard Horizon units are not.

I wear an ICOM M81 on the PFD, without a bag, and it occasionally leaks a tiny bit into the battery compartment (when spending a lot of time in the water). I can easily dry that out, and it does not seem to affect operation (unless you let it go awhile, and then the salt water corrodes the contacts).

I had a Standard Horizon for a few years, and it was constantly sustaining water damage from submersion and needing factory work, despite sealing up all the superfluous ports. Others I know had similar experiences. A friend disassembled a Std Horizon unit and found the waterproofing seriously under-engineered.

How do you store it?
When not in use, do you keep the antenna and battery covers off? I would think that keeping them off would let the seals expand/retain their “memory” and seal better the next time the covers are attached… Similar to how we tend to remove rubber hatch covers for the same reason while in storage.

Have a West Marine Submersible
and have dropped it into 3’ of water off the dock with no problems. A submersible with a lanyard may be best.

Get Over It
"Unless things have changed in the last couple years, the ICOM models are pretty much to submersible, and the Standard Horizon units are not."

They made great submersible radios back then so things did not need to “change” other than to shape up a lemon model.


I believe your club, based upon someone’s supposed excellent advice, went for a group purchase of a model that turned out to be a lemon instead of the other Standard radios then that were and remain excellent or one of the excellent Icom radios. Ever since, members have badmouthed Standard Horizon radios generally and praised Icoms. Even though some members have had to have their Icom radio de jour repaired or replaced.

If someone says after that experience I will always put my money on Icom from now on, fine. Legit view. To keep harping years later that all Standard radios are junk or at least not submersible is essentially the same as asserting all GM cars ever made are bad because the Corvair you bought was a lemon.

Rant Mode OFF

I’ve used all types of Icom and Standard radios for over twenty years. They both make great radios overall and they both make lemon models from time to time. I agree its not a good thing to have a radio fail when it should not…could spoil your whole day. So I understand the personal feelings and prejudices.

My Fix
I made a little loop of cord and screwed the belt clip fitting right down onto it. (not the belt clip itself). Nice, simple fix.

Another vote for ICOM or WM submersible
Have a submersible ICOM that has gotten dropped plenty and has never been kept in a dry bag, though it does usually live in the day hatch, and a West Marine submersible that lives on my husband’s PFD rolls and all. Both have been great, including daily or so immersion in salt water for up to a few weeks at a clip.

There is a scale of submersible ratings - places that sell VHF’s like West Marine usually have a key explaining them.

I keep mine sloshing in the bilge water of my canoe and it’s fine. I’ve never submerged it, though.

Be aware that “waterproof” isn’t the same as “floats.” I keep mine tethered to the boat.

– Mark

lanyard attachment
I got a washer, drilled a hole on one edge, bent it a bit to stand out, and used the provided screw to attach the washer through the drilled hole. Attached the lanyard to the washer.


Standard Horizon hx850s
FWIW - I haven’t had it long but it has been in the pocket of my PFD (not in bag or box) for a few practice rolls and a wet exit when I missed my roll. Still going strong, and it floats.

West Marine
be careful on that one, they do have good prices sometimes but the last sale I saw at WM was for a $89 West Marine VHF radio that was marked “submersible” on the radio and box,but it’s not, it’s “waterproof” and that’s why they were disounting them with stickers on the box.