As part of safety equipment aboard any water vessel, a VHF marine radio is an absolute must. These devices are handy in both business and recreational watercrafts for communicating with ships and shorelines.
Having radios becomes important for saving lives; you can call for help during emergency situations and rough weather conditions.
Also, for communication in waterways and offshore, VHF radios are needed by kayakers, boaters, jet skiers, and those groups indulging in water sports.
Best 5 Kayak VHF Radios
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Uniden UM385 25-Watt Fixed Mount Marine Vhf Radio keeps you protected from the known when you paddle in a faraway land (far from the contact of human civilization). In case, you get into some sort of trouble, Uniden UM385 25-Watt Fixed Mount Marine Vhf Radio will keep you protected by transmitting your locations. You will be notified as soon as it detects a storm on the horizon so that you can dash off to the shore in no time.
Uniden UM385 25-Watt Fixed Mount Marine Vhf Radio has got a nice and colorful display. You will be able to hear international marine channels and DSC capabilities. S. A. M. E Weather Alert is definitely one of its conspicuous features. The handheld mike makes transmission as easy as pie. The backlight can be changed. During the day, you can use white backlights whereas, in the night, you can use the orange backlight.
The icons and channel numbers are easy to read. Its LED screen is large and that means, you don’t have to put too much strain on your eyes while reading the details on the screen.
Clear communication is one of its main hallmarks. During emergencies, you just have to press the Distress Button and it will relay your locations. Uniden UM385 25-Watt Fixed Mount Marine Vhf Radio is fully compliant with IPX4 waterproof standards and that means, saltwater or rainwater can’t damage it.
Standard Horizon HX210 HX210 6W Floating Marine Handheld Vhf features a compact design and has got a big and bright display. Powered by 1850 mAh Lithium-Ion battery, Standard Horizon HX210 HX210 6W Floating Marine Handheld Vhf offers superior performance during the emergencies. This Vhf radio can receive both FM radio and WX radio bands from 76MHz to 108MHz.
The best thing about this Standard Horizon HX210 HX210 6W Floating Marine Handheld Vhf is it floats face up on the water and therefore, the chances of losing it are very slim. The coolest thing about this kayak VHF radio is that its emergency strobe light gets activated automatically (even when it is switched off) if it gets dropped into the water by accident and thereby making it easier for a paddler to spot it.
Strobe can be customized easily to send Flash SOS or to activate the Flash. Standard Horizon HX210 HX210 6W Floating Marine Handheld Vhf has got an amazing and powerful receiver that allows you to tune in to your favorite FM channels in the midst of nowhere. It comes with an impressive 3-year waterproof warranty.
Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio is ideal for long-range communication and allows you to have faster access to all NOAA weather channels in time of needs. Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio allows you to monitor multiple channels at one go and the credit goes to its amazing Tri-Watch feature. It floats on the water and its distinct orange color makes the entire retrieval process simple and straightforward.
Even in case, water manages to sips in, the communication will not be disturbed at all. Try the noise-canceling microphone to cancel out any noise that interferes with the broadcast and make communication easier. LiON battery pack, AC charger, drop-in battery charger, and DC charger, Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio has got it all.
Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio allows you to have instant access to 9 emergency stations and Channel 16. It will help you keep you up-to-date with the changes in the weather and thus will help you stay safe and secured.
Standard Horizon HX300 Standard HX300 Handheld VHF Marine Radio got a compact design and is built specifically for the marine environment. It can survive a drop or two and even if you drop it in the water, it will stay afloat no matter what. Flashing strobe light gets activated whenever someone accidentally drops it on the water. It comes equipped with a 110/220VAC USB charger and a powerful 1650 mAh 3.7V Lithium-ion rechargeable battery.
The menu is easy to operate and this VHF Marine Radio has got a bright display. 1.75″ LCD makes it easy to read text from a distance. It has got a nice ergonomic case and illuminated buttons. Customization is easy and the main set-up functions of the radios are easily accessible to the users.
Overall, Standard Horizon HX300 Standard HX300 Handheld VHF Marine Radio is a standard kayak VHF radio that promises decent performance without costing you an arm or a leg.
Standard Horizon Hx870 Floating 6w Handheld VHF has got 70 built-in channels and 66 channel WAAS GPS. Standard Horizon Hx870 Floating 6w Handheld VHF is extremely easy to operate and there is no steep learning curve involved. Be it sharing your position, preparing route navigation, or DSC calling, you can do it all with this powerful VHF radio.
Full dot-matrix LCD looks cool and simplifies the entire operation process. It has got a remarkable 6 Watts of transmit power and its die-cast chassis will keep it protected from accidental falls. Powered by 1800 mAh Li-Ion battery, Standard Horizon Hx870 Floating 6w Handheld VHF last really long. You can save up to 20 routes and 200 waypoints in it without overwhelming the system. Use the nifty GM (Group Monitoring) feature available in this kayak VHF radio and it will show you up to 9 vessels in proximity. Some of its other cool features are – Weather Alert, Priority Scan, Tri Watch scan functions, SB Data Port, dot matrix display, and more.
What kind of VHF Radio is suitable for you?
In VHF radios, you can avail the options of handheld and mounted ones. Further, you can select between battery-oriented ones, mobile variants, and the larger varieties if looking for fixed installations within the cockpit of your craft.
Besides, the farther you’re planning on going, you should consider the range of power transmission. Moreover, some models come with broader channel selection while others include features like the facility to listen on many channels together.
Additionally, you must consider the display features and opt for the ones that are suited to you – your choices include in-built GPS and noise-reduction mechanisms, among others.
VHF Marine Radios
If you’re a kayaker and looking to buy a VHF radio, then you may want to consider some important aspects when browsing through for the available options. So, here we have compiled a guide to help you in making the right choices in VHF radios which are handy during your kayaking trips.
The transmitting power of VHF marine radios refers to their receiving and sending range. Handheld radios work at 6W while others can go up to 25W, which can cover around 20 miles depending on the antennas used.
Both fixed units and handheld ones contain power-saving modes, as a result of which you can preserve energy by limiting power.
VHF marine radios have a watch function that not only lets you monitor the channel you’re tuned to, but also other channels.
Using the dual watch and triple watch mode, you can monitor two and three channels at the same time respectively. The radio alerts if weather changes are perceived, following which you can tune into the weather channel.
Weather alerts can actually save your life, particularly when you’re gliding in the waters atop a small boat. As such, you can receive emergency messages via the alert function.
In weather channels, you can avail national and regional alerts. Under national alerts, you have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And in regional alerts, you can avail the Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME).
3. Types of VHF Marine Radios
Here we have reviewed handheld and mounted VHF marine radios; both come with their advantages.
For small-sized boats, the handheld versions are preferred because of their portability and versatility features. Now, if you plan on going boating one day and canoeing or kayaking the next day, you can use these radios on both vessels. Also, they serve as ideal backups.
All handheld models contain an antenna, among other essential features. Their power is around 5W to 6W.
Fixed Mount Variants
Such varieties are mounted in the cockpit of boats. And for operating them, you need a power source; usually, they work with 12V. More so, you require an external antenna for mounting atop the roof of your craft.
Furthermore, VHF marine radios have a legal transceiving limit of 25W. And in the case of fixed installation models, they contain add-on features such as Automated Identification System and hailer function. Owing to their high power, fixed radios can cover distances over 20 miles; they are suitable if you’re covering large distances in the waters.
4. Automatic Identification System (AIS)
With AIS, you can locate and identify other watercrafts. More so, you can transmit values like size, cargo, destination, name, numbers, positions, cargo, among others.
Normally, VHF marine radios have a receiver through which you can only receive messages and not send your details.
5. Global Positioning System (GPS)
Having a GPS receiver on your radio helps – for then you do not require additional devices; this applies mainly to handheld models. Using radios coupled with GPS function, you can send automatic distress calls through DSC.
Additionally, VHF marine radios come with navigational functions: these include position tracking, waypoints, and routing. Other applications include finding or plotting your way and fishing.
6. Digital Selective Calling (DSC)
As part of the Digital Selective Calling feature (DSC), you can transmit automatic distress calls.
Upon setting up your radio, you can send alerts to the nearby coats guards and other boats while sharing your coordinates using the GPS function. For identifying your watercraft, you may need to share details of your Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) code too.
More so, the fixed mounted VHF radios come with DSC functionality. Besides, with some models, you can poll position data with other ships in the same vicinity.
7. Waterproof Rating
When venturing out at sea, your devices get splashed with water. Thus, having a water-resistant or waterproof radio becomes important, specifically for handheld varieties. Generally, such radios contain floating or buoyant designs that help prevent the radio from sinking.
Radio developers use varied codes for their ratings: International Protection Code (IPX) and Japan Industrial Standard (JIS). Even so, IPX0 or JIS0 are the lowest ratings and indicate zero protection.
The important ratings are the JIS7, JIS8, IPX7, and IPX8. These ratings indicate the units can be submerged in water for around 30 minutes, in waters running 3 feet or 5 feet deep.
Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.