Handheld VHF Recommendations

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  • #18962
    David Ray


    New to the group. Hi all. Finally getting around to getting a handheld VHF radio (doing the course this month, too), and was looking for recommendations. I did search this forum, and the last post on this matter (here) was from 2016 so thought I’d seek updated feedback. I can see value in the newer GPS features, so would wish a unit with that functionality + ability to load it with AA or AAA batteries for longer trips. Thanks all.


Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Author
  • #18987
    Kapila Jayaweera

    Hi David,
    My recommendation is Standard Horizon HX890. Very good radio that I own two of them now.
    Few highlights are.
    Floating radio. Built-in GPS. Program your MMSI number. DSC (Digital Selective Calling)
    Support AAA battery cartridge. 3 year manufacture warranty.

    Also I’ve seen several club members using newer HX890 model as well as previous HX870 series.
    I bought mine from Steveston Marine. Current price is $289.99


    Good luck,

    David Ray

    Thanks Jonathan and Martin!


    Jonathan Stewart

    Amen to floats!  Learned that the hard way, when we dropped a VHF into the waters of the Broken Group.  A tether works as an alternative.
    I’m still using an older ICOM IC-M34 model, which has been very durable.  I’m going to look into a battery replacement for this year.
    The InReach or similar is a good idea; portable VHF’s operating at 5 watts don’t have much range; much more useful for receiving than sending.

    Martin Feuchtwanger

    Make sure your unit FLOATS. There are waterproof units that don’t float.

    David Ray

    Thanks for the informative reply, Daniel. I learned a few things. And yes, I already have an InReach GPS but was thinking redundancy may not be a bad thing, but your point of the poorer effectiveness of DSC is good to know and I’ll reflect on that.

    And thanks for your particular model recommendation; I agree that the ability to charge via USB would be a real plus as I usually take a small GoalZero Lithium battery pack + small solar panel to keep my phone/headlamp/InReach charged, so would be great to charge the radio similarly. Regarding your last point: Use of AA batteries reduces the effectiveness (range/quality of signal) of the unit. Am I understanding your right there? Also great info. Thanks again!

    Daniel Del Vecchio

    Good luck on your course 😀 . I choose not to go with the GPS functions ( i presume your talking about DSC) cause  already have one + compare to boat it’s efficiency on radio is more limited.  Most larger boat have a 25 W radio with taller and less compromised antenna. Making it better to propagate. As kayaker because we are closer to the water and only use 5w radio your  DSC wouldn’t propagate as well. Like they say “jack of all trade master of none” 😀. My recommendation would be to buy a cheaper VHF + add a device like ZOLEO,mini garnin or SPOT. Those are true GPS, make sure your signal is send. My choice of  radio was : https://www.amazon.ca/Standard-Horizon-HX300-Handheld-Marine/dp/B00AJVXA5W. It’s been working well, it has nice scanning functions, dual watch. But the big seller for me is it’s ability to  be charge by USB. Most kayak group have  a charger somewhere and i even leave a cheap bank in my ditch bag in case i would need to recharge in an emergency. Also radio that use AA “ as emergency “ back up have a tendency to propagate less W when you use it with. Less W less far your signal, less bot can hear you 😀

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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