where to stash marine radio

I paddle an open canoe in New York Harbor and keep a marine radio with me. The best way I’ve found to keep the radio accessible but secure (it’s waterproof but doesn’t float) is to tie it to a thwart. That means I risk being separated from it in a true emergency, so I would rather have it on my person.

Anybody know of PFDs or other garments that are convenient for storing a handheld VHF? It’s an ICOM M72 radio.

– Mark

Lotus Rio Grande
I don’t know if it’s still made but mine has 2 pockets on the front. The M72 fits nicely into one, snacks in the other.


try an arm band waterproof pouch as a second thought…the radio will be on your upper arm…and they come in various sizes…


Shoulder strap
I clip mine to the shoulder strap of my PFD, with a lanyard around the strap as backup. See Brian Nystrom’s setup at http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1065647203044194919xcQHEO

Some PFD shoulder straps are easier to mount the radio on than others. Mounting a radio on the shoulder strap keeps it always ready for use. Most paddlers seem to have very good experience with the waterproofness of the ICOMs. Just be sure to give it a gentle dunking in fresh water after each outing and gently pat the radio dry, especially the speaker area.

One problem I’ve noticed with keeping a VHF radio in a pocket is that some pockets can retain water against the speaker and that will prevent you from hearing anything from your radio. Or transmitting over the radio after taking it out of the pocket. Even mounted on the shoulder I have to remember to shake excess water out of the speaker after any rolling practice.

Good luck.

Extrasport PFD
I use an Extrasport Retroglide Sabre PFD, which has a long pocket on the front of the vest. I keep my marine radio in that front pocket. This has worked well for me. The pocket has a drain hole at the bottom if you’re rolling. It’s a very comfortable PFD as well.


if you’re worried
about becoming separated from the radio/boat, then secure it with line to the d ring on the pfd pocket and then stuff the radio into/between the pfd and you. the tension between the pfd and your chest will keep it in there, it’s secured to you so even if you become separated from the boat, you have the radio.

i wear mine this way and don’t really notice it too much.

I added a 'biner with keyring to mine
Following Brian’s great idea, I purchased one of those key ring 'biners. NRS has one. I found that I had to slip the key ring into another smaller keyring that fit the hole for the radio strap (M88). The 'biner clips on the PFD should strap near the belt clip (now shoulder clip) and acts as a tether. Oh, and I sewed an elastic loop on my PFD shoulder strap to slip over the radio, which keeps it from flopping around while sitting in the clip. When out of the clip, the radio can hang on the 'biner tether so you can hold it to your mouth to talk, and just let go of it when you want. It stays in the clip when not in use (which is most of the time for me).


radio and gps
I don’t like having a bunch of stuff hanging off my pfd, so I wear a tiny waist pack with my tow belt, gps, mini first aid kit, flares, and radio in it (around my waist). The bag’s weight rests on the deck of the boat behind me, not on my shoulders, but if I get separated from the boat, it’s attached to me.


Several on this page have radio pockets. The unit should still be tethered with a small line to the PFD. These have a little D-ring for that. My personal opinion is that if you don’t have the radio on your PFD, you don’t have it. There’s way too many near deaths (and probably a few deaths) attributed directly to this very situation. It’s not worth it…spend the money on a PFD that will hold your radio comfortably and never leave shore without it.

I have an Astral Tempo 300 but I guess it isn’t made anymore (too bad, it’s great!) and the pocket just barely fits an Icom M88. I see the M72 is a fair amount taller. I use the radio’s wrist strap to attach it to the loop inside the PFD’s pocket with one of those little carabiners. Works very well, and the antenna is low enough that it hopefully won’t poke an eye out…

The problem with pockets and bags…
…is that it takes two hands to access and stow the radio. In real-world situations where you NEED a radio, you’re not likely to have both hands free. That’s the big advantage of shoulder-mounted radios.

shoulder-mounted how?
I hear you, but I don’t know how to shoulder-mount my M72. Do you have a PFD or garment to recommend?

– Mark