Best Vhf Marine Radio Reviews

10 Best VHF Marine Radios (Reviews Updated 2020)

Installing a marine radio on your boat is essential for communication. When you’re out on the water and you need to acquire important information or make emergency calls, a good marine radio ensures that your requests are heard clearly.

Choosing a good marine radio means being mindful of certain key features. You have to consider the power and range of the radio. To make it last longer, you also have to think about the resistance, durability, and battery life.

To help you select your marine radio, we’ve prepared a list of top marine radios that you’ll want to keep an eye on. We’ll also discuss the important features of radios, so you’ll know what to look for.

Best VHF Marine Radios

Here are the 10 best Marine VHF Radios.

1. Cobra MRHH350FLT Floating VHF Marine Radio

Best Overall

Cobra Mrhh350flt Floating Vhf Marine Radio

Review

Cobra’s radio is ready for anything the seas can throw at it, offering complete waterproof construction and even water-floating. You’ll be able to communicate wherever you are since it has international coverage for short and long ranges, and 10 NOAA emergency channels. For superior build and functionality, this radio is top-notch.

Notable Features You Need To Know About:

  • International communication coverage
  • Floats on water
  • Waterproof construction
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2. Uniden MHS75 Waterproof Handheld 2-Way VHF Marine Radio

Editor’s Choice

Uniden Mhs75 Waterproof Handheld 2 Way Vhf Marine Radio

Review

Uniden’s radio is a very user-friendly radio that you can get in two styles. It’s waterproof and submersible with 12 hour battery life that you can easily recharge. The radio will support all NOAA channels and each access can accommodate 100 locations. This radio can handle all kinds of emergency situations with ease.

Notable Features You Need To Know About:

  • Two style options
  • Battery life lasts 12 hours
  • Can float and be submerged
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3. Uniden Handheld Floating Waterproof VHF Marine Radio

Best Value

Uniden Handheld Floating Waterproof Vhf Marine Radio

Review

This Uniden radio offers you a good bang for your back. This radio is also submersible and will float on water. It’s lightweight with a battery life of 10 hours. You can even choose between multiple color options. If you want a more affordable Uniden option without having to sacrifice much functionality, this will be a great deal.

Notable Features You Need To Know About:

  • Can float and be submerged
  • Various color choices
  • Lightweight
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4. COBRA MRF45D VHF Marine Radio

Cobra Mrf45d Vhf Marine Radio

Review

This COBRA radio is reliable for long and short-range communication with international coverage and the entire weather channels for any emergency situation. There’s an included fixed mount that you can install for easy access. The waterproofing construction makes it even more durable.

Notable Features You Need To Know About:

  • International coverage
  • Waterproof construction
  • Fixed mount
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5. Standard Horizon GX1700W Standard Explorer VHF Marine Radio

Standard Horizon Gx1700w Standard Explorer Vhf Marine Radio

Review

Standard Horizon’s radio comes in white and has a nifty LCD screen that conveniently displays all the important information. You can program its channels and use its scanning functions with ease. There’s even a dual watch as well. This radio is one of Standard Horizon’s best radios.

Notable Features You Need To Know About:

  • Convenient LCD screen
  • Dual watch
  • Comes in white
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6. Cobra HH350W FLT MR HH350 6 Watt Handheld VHF Marine Radio

Cobra Hh350w Flt Mr Hh350 6 Watt Handheld Vhf Marine Radio

Review

This radio will provide you short and long-range communication with a microphone that has  noise-canceling. Your calls will be as crystal clear as possible without outside noise interference. You can use three channel maps to get constant weather updates.

Notable Features You Need To Know About:

  • Short and long-range communication
  • Three channels
  • Noise-canceling feature
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7. Uniden UM380 25 Watt Fixed Mount VHF Marine Radio

Uniden Um380 25 Watt Fixed Mount Vhf Marine Radio

Review

Uniden’s weatherproofed fixed mount radio offers different color and model options with all the essential communication features. You have access to all channels along with a send/request capability. It’s a solid choice with a variety of options for customizability.

Notable Features You Need To Know About:

  • Different options
  • DSC-capable
  • Weatherproof
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8. Cobra MRHH125 3 Watt Waterproof VHF Marine Radio

Cobra Mrhh125 3 Watt Waterproof Vhf Marine Radio

Review

This Cobra radio has an LCD screen that shows the most important information and you can easily switch the radio between watt output ranges. The kit includes an additional belt clip so it’s always within convenient access.

Notable Features You Need To Know About:

  • LCD screen
  • Belt clip is included
  • Choose watt output
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9. Standard Horizon HX870 Floating 6W Handheld VHF Marine Radio

Standard Horizon Hx870 Floating 6w Handheld Vhf Marine Radio

Review

This handy Standard Horizon radio has 66 channels and can float. It comes with noise-canceling to make the audio received and transmitted very clear. There’s even a built-in GPS that allows you to track your position easily.

Notable Features You Need To Know About:

  • GPS tracking
  • Noise-canceling feature
  • Floats on water
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10. Standard Horizon HX300 Handheld VHF Marine Radio

Standard Horizon Hx300 Handheld Vhf Marine Radio

Review

Standard Horizon’s simple radio delivers all the essential functions. You can switch the transmitting power between one and five watts, and it offers a lot of scanning utility. It uses a small LCD display shows you important information.

Notable Features You Need To Know About:

  • User-friendly
  • Great scanning utility
  • LCD screen
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Buyer’s Guide — Choosing Your Own Marine Radio

Now that you know our top picks, there are a lot of aspects to consider when choosing a marine radio. Here’s our buyer’s guide to help you determine what features to look out for.

Best Vhf Marine Radio ReviewsHandheld vs. Mounted

VHF radios can either be mounted or handheld. Handheld radios are less powerful than mounted ones. While mounted ones can reach a broadcast range of around 25 miles, handheld ones only go up to around 5 miles.

If a large broadcast range is not necessary for you, go with a handheld one. But if you’re on a large boat and prefer a mounted radio, then make sure you have a reliable power source for it, since it will constantly need one.

Mounted radios also have more features than handheld ones. These would be wailers, AIS, and such. So consider your needs, boat size, and power source when deciding this.

Battery

If you buy a mounted radio, make sure you have the appropriate boat battery to support it. But even if you’re using a handheld radio, it’s still useful to hook it up to your boat battery. Consider how long your trips usually are and find a battery that can support all your devices simultaneously for that duration of time.

Water Resistance

Since it’s a radio for a boat, it has to be water-resistant. While it does not need to be totally waterproof, your radio should be at least resistant to splashes and moisture. Otherwise, your radio will not last long.

Top-quality handheld radios will not just be resistant to water, but more or less waterproof as well. Because handheld radios may fall and end up getting submerged, its waterproofing is very important. Mounted radios will not be as exposed as its counterpart, but it should be able to resist encounters with water.

Noise Canceling Ability

Ambient noise can interfere with the signal of your VHF radio. In an emergency, you need to get your coordinates across clearly. The noises that could interfere might be from people, environment, machinery, or anything else that could be happening on or around the boat.

It’s more important for handheld radios to have noise-canceling ability since they are less likely to be operating in a soundproof room. Handheld radios can be used above deck and near the water, and so it should be able to cancel out that interfering sound.

Range and Power

The range and power of VHF radios vary, but mounted radios are generally more powerful and have greater range than handheld radios. The more power a radio uses, the farther it can broadcast a signal. This range can still be amplified by an antenna, but mostly it’s based on the radio itself.

Mounted radios can reach 25 watts of power. Handheld radios only go up to around 6 watts. This difference is already telling of how far their range goes. Just remember that the more power the radio uses, the more reliable a power source it will also need. Therefore fixed mount radios that use 25 watts should be attached to a strong boat battery. This way, you can ensure that it will broadcast its signals reliably and powerfully.

Channel 16

Channel 16 will be of utmost importance. It’s the frequency on which you can send international distress signals. If you ever have to send such distress signals, do it through this channel, and coast guards should be able to pick it up.

Use it to also listen to coast guards. Since it’s their duty to warn about bad weather or boating conditions, they will have that information. Any other safety-related boating concerns and warnings will also be sent over channel 16.

NOAA Weather Channel

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is also there to provide you with weather reports. Tune into this channel to listen for any weather warnings before setting out, and while you are on the sea. Channels are great ways to get immediate information.

Be sure to test that you can access the channel before you set out. This is great for being reassured in knowing that the channel is at your fingertips while you sail.

GPS

A GPS system works best alongside a Digital Selective Calling or DSC. A DSC is very convenient for sending out an emergency distress signal in just a single button. This will send both your GPS location and signal.

Having your GPS installed will make your location immediately visible to anyone who will answer the distress call. You will be found and rescued much faster and much more easily. A GPS is also useful in mapping your route, checking your position, finding waypoints, and several other location-related needs.

AIS or Automatic Identification System

The AIS is in operation to benefit boat users by helping them identify other boat users automatically. They are registered through a string of letters and numbers. These labels can indicate information such as cargo, origin, destination, and position.

Watch Operation

A watch operation feature on radios will allow you to monitor several channels simultaneously. This way, you can monitor information incoming from several different channels. This may also help you with safety since important information regarding the weather can be coming from different places at once.

Some radios can do dual watch systems, while others can go up to quad systems. Quad watch systems can accommodate a weather channel, two distress channels, and a memory scan channel. If one of these channels sends an alert, then other alerts will be muted momentarily for you to hear the alert clearly.

Antenna

A fixed mounted radio is best used with the assistance of a Marine VHF antenna. Having one will lengthen your reach, signal, and clarity. Although the range of a mounted radio is already significantly large, the antenna will still help it along and maximize this range.

Up next are a couple of frequently asked questions by consumers that we’ve answered for you already.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are questions frequently asked about the best boat VHF radios.

How Do Marine Radios Work?

Marine VHF radios are communication lines that can both transmit and receive signals. Using these lines, you can either send a distress call if there is an emergency, or you can receive weather information that you will need when going out sailing.

How Is A VHF Radio Better Than A Phone?

VHF signals are more reliable than mobile phone signals. Radio signals reach farther than your mobile phone, especially when you are off the coast and away from cellphone towers. You’re much less likely to have phone signal than radio signals when you’re at sea.

How is a Handheld Radio Better Than Fixed Mount Radios?

A handheld radio is only better if you have a small boat and your priority is portability. Fixed mount radios are really essential if you go quite far out to sea on a large boat. Mounted radios have a much larger range and more power than handheld radios, and have several other functions other than sending and transmitting signals. Just ensure that you have a reliable power source for your radio

Now that you’re an expert consumer, we have some last pointers before you make your marine radio purchase.

Marine VHF Radio Review Conclusion

We hope you can use this guide to choose the best marine radio for your needs. Your biggest consideration would be choosing between a fixed mount and a handheld type radio, but keep in mind to consider your needs and the needs of your boat. Also, do not scrimp on investing in a good radio; they can save your life, especially if you are far out at sea. And even if that is not your usual boating activity, it’s still useful for receiving weather reports. This will be the most secure way to enjoy safe travels.