Best Marine Radio Reviews 2017 – 2018

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Among the most essential equipment you must have on a boat is a marine radio because such device is a vital communication method during emergency situations. Going through a disaster on the waters is much scarier than having a blown out car engine on the road, hence, this gear provides a level of security as you sail near or far.

In fact, a VHF marine radio is considered by many people as their lifeline, before casting off their anchors. Leaving the shore with such equipment means that you will have the vehicle to reach and receive assistance in cases of emergencies and disasters.

Fortunately, finding the best VHF marine radio has become very easy through this comprehensive review, providing you with no less than the most reliable apparatuses on the market. Included in the article is a very useful buying guide to help you further throughout your decision-making later on.

PictureModelEditor RatingsOur Review
Uniden MHS75 VHF Marine Radio (4.1 / 5)
544+ Reviews
Coming Soon
Standard Horizon HX870 Handheld VHF (4.3 / 5)
95+ Reviews
Coming Soon
Uniden Atlantis 270 VHF Marine Radio (4.1 / 5)
544+ Reviews
Coming Soon
Cobra Electronics MR F45-D VHF Radio (4.3 / 5)
171+ Reviews
Coming Soon
Standard Horizon GX1700W VHF Marine Radio (4.5 / 5)
54+ Reviews
Coming Soon

Best Marine Radio Reviews

Uniden MHS75 Submersible 2-Way Marine Radio

As you shop for the best marine VHF radio devices, you might want to consider the Uniden MHS75 Submersible 2-Way Marine Radio with an average rating of 4.1-Stars from its customers on Amazon. This is a handheld and submersible marine radio that comes in an elegant black color that will surely match and complement any existing devices you may ever have on board.

This 2-way gadget could be the best marine handheld radio, considering its well-built, rugged, and compact design. It has a JIS8/IPX8 submersible rating with added accessories like the lithium-ion rechargeable battery and a quick clip-on DC charger. The Uniden MHS75 is highly capable of covering all international, Canadian, and USA marine channels to keep you updated with the latest marine activities.

This radio has been preprogrammed, covering all NOAA weather channels. Weather and emergency alerts are also possible with this equipment, working as an extreme weather warning radio so as to warn the user to local and national emergencies. Instant channel 9/16/Triple Watch is likewise possible, allowing you to monitor the activities in these channels every two seconds.

The Uniden MHS75 also allows for dual, triple as well as quad watch operation, letting you monitor up to 2 coast guard distress or hailing channels, plus 1 weather channel and a regular marine channel. This handheld marine radio features a memory channel scan function that scans your programmed channels automatically. The searching begins at the lowest channel towards the highest, while stopping once it finds an active one. Overall, this marine radio boasts an SMA flexible and rubber antenna with a strong belt clip and lanyard for optimum mobility.

Standard Horizon HX870 Handheld VHF with Internal GPS

Another item to watch out for is the 4.3-Star-rated Standard Horizon HX870 Handheld VHF with Internal GPSS. This is also a handheld model with a built-in GPS capability that detects your specific location while transmitting it to a rescue team automatically, whenever you are in trouble.

This floating, 6-watt marine radio has an overall, interesting design, allowing you to find it effortlessly if it drops in the water accidentally at night. It has a strobe light that turns on automatically as well; thereby, making it very easy to retrieve.

The HX870 could be the best handheld VHF device because it is popular on Amazon, making it to the top of the bestseller marine radios. Besides its popularity and GPS capability, this gizmo also features a huge 2.3-inch display, while the intuitive menus and user-friendly interface is very logical without having to read the manual.

This radio is JIS8 certified, but is 100% waterproof. It simply means that it is submersible and completely waterproof, not just a water-resistant device. The HX870 boasts a Noise-Cancellation function that tends to eliminate annoying static automatically. It also meets the ITU-R M493-13 Class D Digital Selective Calling (DSC) standard.

All in all, the Standard Horizon HX870 features a built-in 66-channel WAAS GPS receiver, while letting you navigate, enter, and save to a waypoint through the Compass Page. The water-activated and emergency strobe light is much-loved by many users, making it one of the best VHF marine radio devices to date.

Uniden Atlantis 270 VHF Marine Radio

Meanwhile, the Uniden Atlantis 270 VHF Marine Radio receives a 4.1-Star average rating from its clients on Amazon. This handheld, floating is a 2-way, 6-watt radio that also comes in a sophisticated black color. Similar to the previous products, this one too, covers all USA, Canadian, international marine channels and NOAA emergency weather channels.

Meeting the IPX7 submersible waterproof standard, the Uniden Atlantis 270 could be the best handheld marine radio, featuring a brilliant backlit LCD display, making it very convenient, whether day or night use with power that is able to go anywhere.

This floating device flaunts a Power Boost key function, ensuring a long battery life, plus an extended range when necessary. Referring to its waterproof specifications, this is considered as submersible, while complying with the JIS7/IPX7 water-resistant standard. It simply means that you can submerge this equipment within one meter of water for 30 minutes, yet without causing any damage.

This model of marine radio is perfect for hiking, camping, rafting, and many other applications that involve water, or otherwise. During salt water exposure, this radio is easy to clean, drying it off, before turning it on again. However, the charger that comes in the package is not waterproof at all; hence, giving extra care to such accessory is strongly advised.

To sum up, the Uniden Atlantis 270 VHF Marine Radio continually generates pleasant VHF radio reviews due to the equipment’s impressive and useful features, ranging from the new floating design to the IPX7 submersible waterproof rating, the 10-hour battery life, huge display size, PowerBoost key, selectable 1-watt/2/5-watt/6-watt transmit power, dual watch and triple watch operation, and the included AC and DC adapters.

Cobra Electronics MR F45-D VHF Radio

On the other hand, Cobra Electronics introduces the MR F45-D VHF Radio, which is a Class D and fixed-mount device. Garnering an average rating of 4.3-Stars, this equipment is a full function DSC-capable. It highlights selectable 1-watt/25-watt output, making it ideal for both short-range and long-range communications.

It is considered as the best VHF radio by many actual users because it has the powerful features that are reserved for the more expensive units. However, this one also provides such features, yet comes in an affordable price tag. This radio boasts dual watch operation, including function keys on the microphone, and an adjustable backlight.

The core features that continually impress consumers also include the noise canceling mic, weather alert, NOAA weather radio capability, instant channel 9/16, DSC call log, scan feature, external speaker jack, signal strength meter, illuminated LCD display, and GPS input capability.

This marine radio is JIS7 submersible, while complying with the latest specifications of FCC for Class-D VHF equipment. While this 25-watt mountable radio has no built-in GPS, it is still reasonably priced with user-friendly interface and powerful features. In fact, it is among the best handheld VHF marine radio devices that offer an external speaker jack.

The mounting bracket ensures you that it will never go overboard, allowing you to attach the equipment your boat’s frame in a secure manner. This long-range communication device allows you to transmit the message to as far as a 20 nautical mile distance. Hence, the Cobra Electronics MR F45-D VHF Radio is an epitome of uncomplicated interface with noise-free transmissions, adjustable backlight, MMSI ID for memory storage, and so much more!

Standard Horizon GX1700W VHF Marine Radio

Finally, the Standard Horizon GX1700W VHF Marine Radio receives a 4.5-Star average rating on Amazon. Similar to the Cobra, this model also comes in an elegant white color with easy-to-identify buttons. The GX1700W Standard Explorer costs as much as twice as other marine radios on the market, but it is simply due to the loaded features it has in store for every consumer.

It also has twice as much feature as ordinary models, including a built-in DSC and GPS capability. This is the best handheld marine VHF radio for many consumers with JIS8 certified waterproof rating. It also creates a lot of happy consumers and pleasant reviews, mainly because of the loaded features it can offer.

For one, you do not need to purchase a separate GPS device because this radio already offers a built-in GPS functionality, allowing you to save more money, instead of making a separate purchase. Furthermore, you will find an advanced DSC calling that lets you monitor many other communication frequencies as well. Through the DSC calling functionality, you can send, receive, and navigate position information or GPS waypoint.

What is more? The GX1700W is very easy to install, eliminating the complex wiring and setups. Its slim and compact design also let you enjoy portability and flexibility at the same time. This marine radio is also RAM3+ remote microphone technology compatible, allowing you to walk around while communicating simultaneously.

The Standard Horizon GX1700W VHF Marine Radio will never break when submerged underwater, withstanding water exposure up to 30 minutes. It is indeed more expensive than ordinary models and brands, but the features of the GX1700W are powerful and useful enough to give you back its value, ranging from the huge 3-inch LCD display to the all-scanning function, dual watch operation, priority scan feature, and 1-watt/25-watt transmit power, and more.

Marine Radio Buying Guide

Marine radio reviews are undoubtedly useful if you are a potential buyer of such item. Aside from the product reviews, you can also gather more information to better equip yourself with necessary knowledge about it. Fortunately, this VHF marine radio buying guide will do just that, giving you most essential details, surrounding the marine radio and some factors that could affect your buying decision.

Fixed-mount Versus Handheld

When shopping for marine radios, you can choose between two types, including the fixed-mount and the handheld model. Through a fixed-mount system, you can maximize the range because the power can also be drawn from the boat’s electricity. To simplify, a fixed-mount radio may not need batteries at all. However, the handheld type comes in handy once the boat’s electrical system goes down, especially during emergency situations. Enthusiasts strongly advise buyers to get one of each as long as you can afford.

Mobile Phone Versus VHF Radio

Many discerning customers will question the essence of purchasing a VHF radio when a cellular or mobile phone is already available. Well, there are many reasons for such purchase and use. For one, most mobile networks have spotty and/or limited coverage once you are on the open waters. In fact, there is no existing coverage in many locations.

Marine vhf radio reviews will also tell you that these technologies offer the DSC feature and weather notifications, unlike regular mobile phones. Also, the majority of cell phone models are not waterproof at all, while a few of those come as water-resistant only. Marine radios are highly capable of facilitating rescue more effectively than mobile phones, considering the wider range, compared to a mobile phone that can only reach one person at a time.

About Fixed-Mount Radio

After learning about the basics, it is now time to go more in-depth with the fixed-mount radios. Primarily, this type is mounted to the boat permanently, which is also wired into the electrical system of the boat. Among its benefits include a dictated power, higher power and range, as well as ease of use during choppy sea conditions, while the availability of fixed-mount marine radios range from straight mount to swivel mount, rail mount, ratchet mount, and more.

A fixed-mount device also allows you to set up dual operations and navigation through GPS. It can transmit between one to 25 watts, allowing you to communicate to nearby boats with no disruptions on other transmissions. The 25-watt maximizes the range such as a 30-mile distance.

In order to get the best range of a fixed mount VHF marine radio, you can make use of an antenna as mentioned above. Attaching it to a powerboat may require a 6-dB or 9dB-gain antenna. But, for sailboats, a 3-dB antenna will do very well.

Among the most famous features of fixed-mount systems include the dual station, allowing you to attach a microphone, while functioning similar to an intercom. Meanwhile, the Hailer feature is found in higher-end models, which lets you broadcast to other marine vessels within the area or line handlers. An additional purchase of hardware through an external speaker is necessary in order to use this feature of the fixed-mount radio.

About Handheld Marine Radio

Obviously, the handheld is the best portable marine radio type because it does not need to be mounted onto a permanent position or location. Hence, you can carry this device virtually anywhere and everywhere. Today, there are many models that offer the most advanced features similar to what a fixed-mount radio can offer. While there are the most basic units, you can likewise purchase the most sophisticated version, but with additional cost, of course.

Handheld marine radio reviews indicate that this type has satisfactory features, including a built-in GPS, DSC capability, waterproofing, noise cancelling, a distress button, and more. However, the range is lower than that of its counterpart. Nonetheless, a handheld marine radio offers a backup and support in case the electrical system of the boat crashes. So, it will not go down with your ship if that’s the case.

When it comes to the power and range of handheld units, getting up to 25 watts is impossible because it is usually limited to 6 watts. The range can be improved by using an antenna, and allowing it to stand as high as the vessel so as to obtain great results. By using an antenna, you can get between 3 and 8 miles in range.

Meanwhile, the battery life is a main concern when it comes to handheld units. Keep in mind that a unit, which can hold a bigger battery can have a longer battery life. Lightweight and buoyant models usually hold smaller batteries with between 7 and 20 hours of battery life.

Indeed, choosing the best one comes hand in hand with other features like its buoyancy. Nowadays, and referring to the previously featured products, the radios have been designed to float, but the tradeoff could be the shorter battery life. Nevertheless, with floating marine radios, you have less chances of losing them and waste additional money for replacements. A floating radio can surely save your life once the vessel sinks as it will never sink with the boat, bringing it with you to transmit rescue calls.

Another thing to take note of about the best VHF handheld is the LCD or dot matrix display, which is highly capable of generating images, looking a lot like the screens of Smartphones or televisions. It may not be a very crucial feature for some buyers, but offers a more pleasant experience for others.

Other Worth-considering Features

There are many other features you may want to consider when looking for marine radios on the market. Among the vital variables to watch out for include the weather channel capability, channel scanning feature, Hailer, remote control, waterproof rating, DSC, active noise canceling, and others.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, having the best VHF handheld radio comes with unmatched benefits, giving you the edge and advantage, especially during emergency situations on the water. It is important to identify the type of marine radio that you, including the additional features and bonuses in order to maximize its function. For high-performing radios, and the most reliable units, it is also important to rely on trusted brands names that are known to be the best marine radio manufacturers and providers in the world.

See our list of the best radio: