Stay in Contact With These 5 Handheld VHF Marine Radios | 2021

When it comes to spending time on the water, it’s important to have the best handheld VHF marine radio, so that you can get a hold of someone in case of an emergency.

With so many options on the market, it can be hard to decide which one would be the best, especially because so many of them have similar features.

Luckily for you, we’ve put together a list of 5 of the best handheld VHF marine radios on the market to help make the choice easier for you.

No matter what features you are looking for, we’ve included a little bit of everything on our list so there’s something for everyone.

In a Hurry? Here Are Our Top 3 Picks

Top Pick
STANDARD HORIZON HX870 Floating 6W Handheld VHF...
Runner Up
Uniden MHS75 Waterproof Handheld 2-Way VHF Marine...
Best Budget Pick
Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio –...
STANDARD HORIZON HX870 Floating 6W Handheld VHF...
Uniden MHS75 Waterproof Handheld 2-Way VHF Marine...
Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio –...
$319.99
$90.53
$114.95
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Top Pick
STANDARD HORIZON HX870 Floating 6W Handheld VHF...
STANDARD HORIZON HX870 Floating 6W Handheld VHF...
$319.99
-
Runner Up
Uniden MHS75 Waterproof Handheld 2-Way VHF Marine...
Uniden MHS75 Waterproof Handheld 2-Way VHF Marine...
$90.53
-
Best Budget Pick
Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio –...
Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio –...
$114.95
-

Last update on 2021-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Reviews of the 5 Best Handheld VHF Marine Radios

Let’s dive in and take a closer look at some of the best handheld VHF marine radios that are available on the market.

1. STANDARD HORIZON HX870

STANDARD HORIZON HX870 Floating 6W Handheld VHF...
  • Floating 6W Handheld VHF with Internal GPS; Supplied with a 1800 mAh Li-Ion Battery, 110VAC and...
  • Meets ITU-R M493-13 Class D DSC (Digital Selective Calling)

Last update on 2021-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you are looking for a reliable and durable 2-way radio you can use next time you’re out on your boat, the STANDARD HORIZON HX870 would be an excellent choice. Featuring a distress channel, group monitoring, and other helpful features, this radio would be a great choice to keep on your boat. As our top pick for the best handheld VHF marine radio, there are a ton of perks that come with using this great radio.

The first benefit you will be able to enjoy when you try out the STANDARD HORIZON HX870 is that it has integrated 66 channel WAAS GPS. This portable radio having GPS is great because friends or family will be able to track you if you get lost. It’s also beneficial because if you lose your radio, you will be able to easily find it by tracking the GPS.

The 70-Channel DSC has plenty of channels for you to communicate with your crew. It has a noise-cancelling function for receiving and transmitting audio, reducing background noise and making it easier for you to hear and be heard. It even has NOAA Weather Channel with Weather Alert. This comes in handy so you are always prepared if a storm is coming in. Knowing that a storm is coming can let you either prep to ride out a storm or allow you to head to shore before the storm hits.

One of the best things about this radio is that it has IPX8 waterproof rating, meaning it can be submerged in water up to 4.92 feet deep for up to 30 minutes before any damage happens. In addition to being safe in water, it has a water-activated emergency strobe light. This feature is great because if you go overboard with your radio, you will be easy to locate because of the bright flashing light. The man overboard function is a great way to help prevent accidents and allow you to act quickly in case of an emergency.

The final perk we are going to cover is the screen. While this screen is not compatible with night vision, it is nice and large, making it easy to read. The menu system is very user-friendly and straightforward, making this a fantastic choice for people that are less tech savvy, as well as for people that are new to using VHF marine radios. Programming the radio is easy as well and doesn’t take a long time to do.

Pros:

  • Lightweight radio floats
  • Has water-activated strobe light to make it easy to find if it falls in the water
  • Has NOAA Weather Channel with Weather Alert

Cons:

  • Not compatible with night vision
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

2. Uniden MHS75

Sale
Uniden MHS75 Waterproof Handheld 2-Way VHF Marine...
  • JIS8 Waterproof Level - Uniden MHS75 VHF Hand Held Radio won't give up no matter how wet it gets....
  • 1 /2.5/5 Watt Switchable - Select between 1, 2.5, and 5 Watts for short- and long-range...

Last update on 2021-05-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you are in the market for a new VHF marine radio and haven’t had any luck finding one that is durable enough, check out the Uniden MHS75! This super tough radio is waterproof, submersible, and built to last. This intelligently designed radio is a great addition to any boat, allowing transmission to all USA, international, and Canadian channels. No matter where you are, you’ll be able to get in contact with someone. As our runner up for the best handheld VHF marine radio, there are a ton of great features that you’ll be able to enjoy.

The first thing that makes this radio a fantastic choice for your next big boating adventure is the fact that it is so durable. This radio has a JIS8 waterproof rating, meaning it will survive splashing and submersion. It can survive being in 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes. If you are out on the water in the rain, wind, tidal waves, or any other exceptionally wet situations, you don’t have to worry about your radio not working anymore.

Another great feature is that this radio can pick up all channels from the USA, Canada, and even international channels. This detail makes this radio a wonderful choice for anyone that is planning on taking an extensive sailing trip, whether you’re going to be in a smaller area or you plan on sailing the world. As long as there is a radio within range, you’ll be able to communicate with them. The Uniden MHS75 even has an Instant Channel 16/9/Triple Watch feature. What does that mean? Triple Watch mode allows you to actively listen to your current channel while the radio monitors channels 16 and 9, checking for activity every 2 seconds.

Finally, the Uniden MHS75 has a battery saving feature that many people really enjoy. You can change the settings between 1, 2.5, and 5 watts for long and short-range communication. In most cases, you won’t need higher than 1 watt. If you travel a further distance from other stations, you can bump it up to 2.5 or 5, depending on your needs.

Pros:

  • Can scan channels 16 and 9 while you actively listen to your selected channel
  • Access all Canadian, American, and international radio channels
  • You can switch between 1, 2.5, and 5 Watts for communication

Cons:

  • Belt clip is not very strong
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

3. Cobra MRHH350FLT

Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio –...
  • Maximum Coverage – This VHF marine radio allows operation of channels in the US, Canada, and...
  • Safety First – Scan channels to find conversations in progress and have instant access to Channel...

Last update on 2021-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

When it comes to marine safety, one of the easiest things you can do to keep yourself safe is to have a VHF marine radio. Having one of these handy radios allows you to be reached and to reach others in case of an emergency. The Cobra MRHH350FLT is a high-quality marine radio that is not only easy to use but is fairly affordable as well. If you are in the market for a new radio, this would be an excellent choice for your communication needs.

One of the best features you can get in a VHF radio is floatation. If you find a radio that floats, you don’t have to worry so much about losing your radio if it goes overboard. When you drop a radio that floats in the water, retrieval is easy. In addition to the Cobra MRHH350FLT being able to float, it is waterproof to Coast Guard standards. With an JIS7 waterproof rating, this radio is submersible in 1M deep water for up to 30 minutes.

Another great detail that you will love about this radio is that you can adjust the range depending on how far you are from a station. You can choose between 1, 3, or 6 Watt range. You can even monitor 3 channels at the same time with the Tri-Watch technology. This is especially helpful if you find yourself in an emergency situation and are trying to communicate and get help from someone that is nearby.

In addition to being able to communicate with people that are local, this radio allows you to communicate with channels in the USA, Canada, and international waters. This is awesome for people that like to take spur of the moment sailing trips since you won’t have to worry about getting a special radio for your trip.

If you are concerned about being able to stay up-to-date with the weather, you are in luck! The Cobra MRHH350FLT has 10 NOAA Weather Channels so you can be informed of incoming storms or other weather events that you may come across. Being able to keep up with the weather is great because you will have time to get things secured to deal with a storm or you can have the time to head to shore for safety. Either route you take, having the foresight to make that choice could save lives.

Finally, this radio is super easy to use. The design of the radio is compact, making it easy to keep in your hand for long periods of time without any muscle fatigue. The display has backlighting so you can see in all lighting conditions. It even has a feature that vibrates the speaker if it gets wet, getting water out of it.

Pros:

  • Tri-Watch allows you to keep an eye on 3 stations at once
  • Waterproof and can be submerged for up to 30 minutes
  • 10 NOAA Weather Channels so you can keep track of the weather and be informed if there is an emergency

Cons:

  • Can only be charged with the supplied charging cradle rather than with a USB cord
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

4. Uniden Atlantis 155

Uniden Atlantis 155 Handheld Two-Way VHF Marine...
  • The Atlantis 155’s submersible, Floating Handheld design allows you to stay secure and connected...
  • With the Largest LCD screen in its class 25mm (h) x 40mm (w), and Paper White Backlight display for...

Last update on 2021-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

When it comes to heading out on the open sea, there are a few things you should do to ensure both your safety and the safety of the other people that are with you. A couple of those things are making sure you have appropriate flotation devices for everyone onboard and having a 2-way VHF marine radio. It can be expensive to own a boat but a radio is not something you should pass up. With the Uniden Atlantis 155, you can contact others in case of an emergency without breaking the bank. As our budget pick, there are a ton of benefits that come with using this radio.

The first thing that you will love about the Uniden Atlantis 155 is the affordability. While this isn’t the most advanced model with all of the bells and whistles, this is a budget-friendly option that will make it easy for you to get ahold of someone in case you run into trouble when you’re out sailing the seas. This model is surprisingly jam packed with features for something so affordable.

One of the best things about this radio is that it is able to receive all Marine Radio Channels, including all international channels as well as USA and Canada. It even has the Canadian B channels as well as the new 4-digit channels.

Included with your radio, you get rechargeable batteries as well a DC charging cable. You can prolong the battery life by using 1 Watt transmission rather than 3 Watt. The setting you use, of course, depends on how far from other stations you are.

Pros:

  • Has a 3-year warranty
  • Can get all channels from USA, Canada, and International waters
  • Comes with rechargeable batteries and a charging cable

Cons:

  • Controls are tricky to use
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

5. Uniden SR30C Bearcat

Sale
Uniden Bearcat SR30C, 500-Channel Compact Handheld...
  • LISTEN IN AND STAY INFORMED! The Uniden Bearcat SR30C is a very affordable 500 channel hand-held...
  • LISTEN TO OVER 32,000 FREQUENCIES: Get started listening right away with convenient pre-sets for the...

Last update on 2021-05-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you have ever spent time in your backyard by your pool daydreaming about spending the day out on the open ocean, then you are in the right place. The Uniden SR30C Bearcat will allow you to spend a safe day in your boat without worry that you can’t get ahold of someone in an emergency. If you are in the market for a reliable VHF marine radio, check out the Uniden SR30C Bearcat.

This radio is made to perform! This 500 channel handheld scanner allows you to listen to a wide range of channels with ease. It has NOAA weather reports, marine channels, and even ham radio stations. You can even set priority channels, which allows you to utilise the priority setting which scans those channels specifically.

The LCD display has a dimmable light, which makes it easy to see in the dark. This radio comes with rechargeable batteries and the USB cord that you need to charge everything.

Pros:

  • Has NOAA weather channels, marine channels, and more
  • Dimmable backlit LCD display is easy to see in the dark
  • Can be charged with a USB cord.

Cons:

  • Only analog
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Buying Guide

Before you dive in and pick your best handheld VHF marine radio, there are a few things you should think about before you commit to one.

Where You Will Be Sailing

Where you plan on sailing can make a big difference in which radio to choose. If you plan on staying close to where you live, you don’t have to worry about having access to a lot of channels. If you plan on sailing outside of U.S. waters, you would do better with a radio that has more channels. A lot of the radios on the market, including the ones on this list, allow access to USA, Canada, and international waters.

Charging Options

Since these radios are handheld and wireless, most of them use rechargeable batteries. You should look into how you charge the batteries before committing to one model over another. If the batteries can be swapped out with other charged batteries, that would be a good choice if you don’t have the ability to charge on the boat. Some radios can be charged with a USB cord, others use different types of cables.

Range

The range is how far the radio signal will reach. The distance is measured with Watts. If you only need to communicate with stations that are close by, then a radio with 1-3 Watts would be fine. If you plan on taking longer trips, then you would want a radio that can reach further distances, such a 6+ Watts.

Waterproofing

When it comes to electronics that are used near water, it is important to find ones that aren’t going to be damaged by water if they get dropped or splashed. Luckily most of the handheld VHF marine radios are waterproof and can be submerged up to 30 minutes. It is important to check the waterproof rating for each individual radio so you know exactly what to expect.

GPS

GPS is a great feature to have. Not only does this make it easier to be found if you get lost, but you can also keep track of where you are so you can find your way back in the event that you end up heading in the wrong direction.

Noise Cancellation

One of the most frustrating things that you deal with when using radios or walkie-talkies is static and background noise. Luckily a lot of radios have noise cancellation so you don’t have to worry about not being able to hear or be heard.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about the best handheld VHF marine radio.

Do all VHF radios have weather alerts?

No, all VHF radios do not have weather alerts. Finding a radio that has the NOAA Weather Radio stations is beneficial because you can keep track of the weather easily. You won’t have to worry about an unexpected storm coming and hitting you. Having a warning allows you to get to safety or get your boat ready for a storm.

How many channels can I monitor?

This varies from radio to radio. On average, you can expect most radios to allow you to monitor up to 3 stations at a time. This comes in handy in the event of an emergency because you can contact a few people and wait for a reply from one or all of them. Being able to keep track of 3 stations means you won’t miss out on a reply if any of the people you contacted get back to you while you’re checking a different channel.

Conclusion

When it comes to finding the best handheld VHF marine radio, it can be hard to figure out which one would be the best choice for you. Luckily, we’ve put together a handy list and buying guide to make it easier for you to choose the right one for your needs. No matter what you are looking for, our list has a little bit of everything.

Our top pick is the STANDARD HORIZON HX870. This radio has a ton of channels, a backlit display, and it has a water-activated emergency strobe light which makes it easy to locate a dropped radio in the dark. If that one doesn’t seem right for you, the runner up is the Uniden MHS75. This radio allows you to have access to all international, USA, and Canadian channels as well as having the ability to scan 3 channels at a time. Our budget pick for the best handheld VHF marine radio is the Uniden Atlantis 155. This is a fantastic choice for anyone that wants to set sailing but doesn’t have a ton of money to drop on a radio.

The next step is up to you! Try out the best handheld VHF radio on the market for yourself!