Top 7 Best VHF Marine Radio Handheld in 2021 – Experts Pick

VHF marine radios are absolutely live-savers when you are in the middle of nowhere. With no cellphone signal available, a VHF radio is the only technology that you can use to pick up signals and send your messages from the middle of an ocean.

As it can become a matter of life and death, you must ensure that you are using the best VHF marine radio. Otherwise, there’s no doubt that you are putting your life on the line. Wondering which one is the best overall in the market? Allow us for your service!

We have done extensive research on a number of handheld VHF marine radios in the market and picked up only a handful of them for your consideration. Interest? Let’s find out what we’ve found out!

Quick Review

Editor’s Choice: Uniden MHS75 Waterproof Handheld 2-Way VHF Marine radio

“This compact yet powerful device is waterproof and allows you a long battery life for a day – definitely a total package.”

Best For Smooth Sound: Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio

“Enjoy soothing and crystal-clear sound with the optimum noise cancellation feature.”

Best For Loudness: Standard Horizon HX890 Handheld VHF Radio

“Its 700mW sound output makes it really easy to understand what you are receiving.”

Best For Lively Display: Uniden Atlantis 155 Handheld Two-Way VHF Marine Radio

“A vivid and large display allows you to interact precisely with the device.”

Best Waterproofing System: Standard Horizon HX210 6W Compact Floating Marine Handheld Vhf

“Its IPX8 waterproofing system comes with an emergency light that blinks if drowned.”

What is A Handheld VHF Radio?

A handheld VHF radio is a compact, mobile, and handheld version of Very High-Frequency Radio. This radio works exactly like the Fixed-mount ones and provides all the support you need. It feels quite similar to an analog cell phone.

Type of Marine VHF Radios

There are two types of VHF Radios. Fixed-mount and Handheld.

  • Fixed-Mount
  • Handheld

Fixed-Mount: The Fixed-Mount VHF radio is placed on the top of the boat if you are going on a marine trip. It’s fixed there and can’t be moved.

Handheld: Opposite to fixed-mount, this one is like a cellphone and movable. You can carry it in your hand, thus the name handheld.

Is a License Needed for a Handheld VHF Radio?

You need to have a special ship portable radio license for every handheld VHF radio. Every single handheld device is given a separate identity. Depending on your condition and preference, you can get any license from Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RR) to Marine Radio Operator Permit (MP).

Top 7 Best VHF Marine Radio in 2021 – Experts Pick (Exclusive Handheld VHF Marine Radios)

So, we did a bit of research to unearth the most useful handheld VHF radios available. The following 7 devices are what we have found to be the best gadgets to bet on. Let’s dig in!

Uniden MHS75 Waterproof Handheld 2-Way VHF Marine radio

While most people think of a journey by boat as calm and peaceful sailing, a sudden water splash can ruin that daydream. It’s okay if you get wet yourself, but how about a drenched radio? Well, if that’s something you are worried about, you can pick the MHS75 from Uniden.

It’s a completely waterproof device with a sturdy build quality. You can easily go down up to five feet underwater with this in your pocket; it won’t do any harm. Moreover, the device comes with a large display to interact with, with a bright orange LED light set. Even the keypads are backlit, as well.

Why We Like It

(+) Compact Device

The key reason we've placed it on top of all other devices is its compact design. It fits in your hand pretty comfortably and is very easy to hold on to. Its 6.4 x 6.2 x 3.4 inches dimension makes it a handy radio device to carry while you are out there in the ocean.

(+) Waterproof

As we have mentioned earlier, the device comes with an IPX8 level waterproofing system. You can easily dip it in the ocean up to 5 feet for 30 minutes at a stretch. This will still support you as usual. That’s why it’s a brilliant device to go out on a marine journey.

(+) Long Battery Life

The radio runs on a lithium-ion battery that supports up to 12 hours of operation; that’s enough to support you for a single whole-day trip!It has three different options for battery wattage, and you can use any of these depending on your needs. Depending on the range you need to communicate, you can switch among 1-, 2.5-, and 5-Watt output powers.

(+) Variety of Channels

What’s quite impressive about this handheld VHF radio is it catches different channels from Canada and other international signals. Not to mention, it covers all the channels within the USA.

Keep in Mind

(-) Battery Drain Issue

A few users complained that the battery tends to run out even if you are not using the radio.

Cobra MR HH350 FLT Handheld Floating VHF Radio

Another great choice you can make is to pick the Cobra MR HH350 radio. This one is also quite up to the mark when it comes to sending signals and reaching out to necessary channels. With just a few clicks on the buttons, you can instantly connect to channel 16 and 9 for emergency contact. This is one of the ways it can save your life.

Built with a perfectly floating design, this gadget is simply an ideal handheld VHF radio. You can easily carry it around, hold it in your hand, and even keep it in your pocket if you are moving around. If you suddenly drop it in the water, there’s nothing to worry about at all. Its IPX7 waterproofing support is there to save its back!

Why We Like It

(+) Versatile Output Option

Using different outputs in the device is pretty easy and quite helpful in terms of saving some battery power. When you need longer-range support to send and receive signals, using up to 6-Watt output sounds like a perfect plan. That’s why you can use 1, 3, or even 6-wattoutput powers with the device as per your requirement.

(+) Waterproof Design

The device comes with an IPX7 waterproof rating, which basically means that you can drown it in water. However, that’s only for half an hour, and if you don’t sink it beyond a meter of depth. However, for a marine radio device, it’s kind of pretty much what you need.

(+) Burp Feature

One interesting yet quite useful feature of this device is its burp option. If you somehow fail to keep it from soaking water inside, the device can use its burp feature to vibrate and splash out the water from inside. It’s definitely a feature to bet on!

(+) Noise Cancellation

There’s nothing more you can ask for other than a clear and noise-free voice message sent to a helpline when you are in trouble. That’s what Cobra MR HH350 takes into consideration. It comes with a noise-cancellation option that limits the background noise for better clarity in voice transmission.

Keep in Mind

(-) Low Battery Backup

The battery quickly dies after the 4-bar shows up. However, it does recharge fast if you have a DC output nearby.

Standard Horizon HX890 Handheld VHF Radio

Holding a handheld VHF radio for a long time can sometimes be really discomforting. Most radio device makers don’t put much emphasis on ergonomics while designing the product, and it literally hurts to hold tight to the device. That’s why Standard Horizon came up with a round case design so that you don’t feel any kind of discomfort while keeping it in your palm for a while.

Its eye-soothing light-blue background of the display makes it quite convenient to read the data without putting any pressure on your eyes. Apart from the emergency channels, you will also get to listen to FM broadcasting and weather-alert service on this device. Overall, this waterproof VHF radio should be a short-listed choice for you.

Why We Like It 

(+)Loud Sound

Radios are loud, but they may not express their full potential when you are out there in the middle of the ocean. That’s where HX980 makes a promising move. This device makes up to 700mW loud sound that can easily penetrate through humid air so that you can hear every word the sender is speaking.

(+) Submersible and Floating

There is no need to worry about getting the device wet, as it can be easily submerged under 1.5-meter water for 30 minutes. Yes, it comes with a powerful IPX8 waterproof rating so that you can leave that worry aside. However, if you drop it in the water, it will float and won’t get drowned.

(+) Excellent Display

The display on the device is pretty impressive. Its 1.7 by 1.7-inch Full-dot matrix display is quite eye-soothing. Its light-blue backlight makes it really easy to read and interact with. On top of that, you can pick Day or Night mode from the settings to keep the display as vivid as possible regardless of the light around you.

(+) Round Case Design

As we’ve discussed, the design of the device is quite handy. It comes with a round-case shape that fits perfectly into the hand when you try to hold it inside your fist. However, it’s not slippery and won’t slip off your hand.

Keep in Mind

(-)Noise-Cancellation Has Issues

A few users opined that the noise-cancellation option simply doesn’t serve up to the standard.

Uniden Atlantis 155 Handheld Two-Way VHF Marine Radio

With a pretty simple and easy-to-interact display, the Uniden Atlantis comes with a promising handheld VHF radio device – the 155. It weighs no more than a pound and suits pretty easily in your hand. It’s slightly curved on both sides that allows you to hold it with proper grip.

Its IPX8 waterproofing label tells you the story that the device can even be dropped in the water and still come out with no issues. However, you don’t want to keep it inside water for more than half an hour. That being said, it will float on the water when you drop it accidentally, so there’s nothing to worry about it getting wet.

Why We Like It

(+)Dual-Backlight

To add to your comfort, the display on this device is equipped with two different backlights. White light for the day and Orange one for the night. This makes complete sense when you struggle to get a clear view of the device at night without hurting your eyes.

(+) Water Draining System

Although the device is waterproof with an IPX8 rating, it’s still possible that water entering the device may cause issues while transmitting the signals clearly through the speaker. That’s why it has a vibrating option that can splash out the water from inside the device.

(+) Works With Different Channels

The radio device can easily catch signals from different channels in the USA, Canada, and other international marine channels. This includes the all-new 4-digit channels and some of the B-channels from Canada. The best part is, it also receives weather updates to keep you updated about the weather in the middle of the ocean.

(+) Large Display

Although not huge, the device has a fairly large display. This 25 by 40 mm display is pretty vivid and large enough to read anything on it. As mentioned before, the white and orange backlight offer aids in better visibility, as well.

Keep in Mind

(-) Battey Replacement Issues

The default batteries here are not that powerful, and you may need to buy some pairs of new batteries after some time.

Standard Horizon HX210 6W Compact Floating Marine Handheld Vhf

Another time-proof handheld VHF radio device is the Standard Horizon HX210. This super-compact device is pretty well-known for its comfortable grip and handy features. Although the device is overall pretty compact, the display is kind of oversized for it, which serves pretty great for a display.

You can connect to all USA and Canada channels using the device. Even some international channels are also accessible for the radio depending on the output power you are using. You get to choose from 1W to 6W output powerbased on the range you need to use.

Why We Like It 

(+)High-Capacity Battery

One of the key perks of owning this handheld VHF radio device is its high-capacity 1850 mAh lithium-ion battery. The powerful battery helps the device stay alive for almost more than 12 hours.

(+) Large Display

Even if the device itself is a handy one, the display is not. The HX210 offers a full-dot matrix oversized display that allows you to interact with the device more conveniently and comfortably. As for the operating system, it’s easy as pie; anyone can get started within minutes of holding it.

(+) FM Broadcast Receipt

The radio is quite powerful when it comes to capturing signals from FM broadcasting from around. It has a capacity to receive FM broadcast bands from 76 to 108 MHz that will make it really easy for you to get any emergency signals and messages.

(+) Emergency Drowning Light

Although the device is fully waterproof, it’s not an exciting story to tell that your device is drowned in water. To prevent it from getting damaged while being submerged for a while, the device will blink an emergency strobe light that will automatically be activated as soon as it drowns.

Keep in Mind

(-)Vague Instruction

The instruction doc that comes with the package is poorly written and doesn’t provide enough information.

ICOM IC-M73 01 Icom IC-M73 01 Handheld VHF Marine Radio

Although it looks pretty basic, the ICOM IC-M73 is actually a powerful competitor to most high-profile VHF marine radio devices in the market. With its rugged and durable build quality and heavyweight profile, the radio is something that you would want to spend more bucks on it beyond your budget.

It comes with a very powerful battery inside that offers you a long battery backup. This enables you to stay focused on your trip and get things done that actually matter. The LCD of the device offers excellent brightness for you to be able to read everything on it pretty effortlessly.

Why We Like It

(+) Durable Build Quality

Every VHF handheld radio should be durable, that’s for sure. This is the reason why ICOM took extra care when it came to the build quality of the device. It’s super rugged and quite sturdy. You can expect it to be well and good even if you frequently drop it on the floor.

(+) Loud Sound

Loud sound is all we need in case of an emergency, right? ICOM heard your needs, and it comes with a BTL amplifier in this device that literally doubles the loudness of the audio output. The internal speaker can offer up to 700mW sound with absolute clarity.

(+) Long Battery Life

No doubt, the IC-M73 is, hands down, houses one of the most powerful batteries in the market. The heavy-duty lithium-ion battery can support the machine to run for about 18 hours at a stretch. This is kind of pretty awesome when it comes to the fact that most devices out there don’t last half a day!

(+)Water Draining Function

Another top-notch feature that you will definitely love is its Aqua-Quake water drainage function. It works pretty effectively when you can sense that some water drops are inside the device. This function will vibrate the device and get all the water splashed out from the inside when activated.

Keep in Mind

(-) Heavy Device

With all those perks, the device weighs more than 2 pounds. So, it’s not going to be a sweet memory to hold it in your hand for a long time.

Radioddity Voyage RV6 VHF Marine Radio

Finally, we wrap up our reviews for the best VHF marine Radio with the Radioddity Voyage RB6. It features a Tri-watch option that can easily monitor three different channels simultaneously to secure the highest safety for you. Moreover, you can easily get a coast guard in touch by just clicking a single button.

The device comes with an IPX7 waterproof rating that makes it easier to deal with in the marine environment. However, even if it is a floating device, it can still get dropped in the water. In that case, it will beam a red light from its back so that you can easily trace it. When picked up, simply use the vibration option to shed the water from the inside.

Why We Like It

(+) Tri-Watch Feature

No need to explore the signals as you’ve done for a long time. The RV6 comes with a Tri-watch channels monitoring system that can keep in touch with three different channels at the same time (the channels 9, 16, and the existing channel you are connected to). This makes it super easy to send emergency signals when necessary.

(+) Auto Backlight

The display of the RV6 is quite intelligent. When there’s not enough light around, the display will automatically light up for you to easily read the digits on it. You can call this night mode if you like, but it works in the shades even in the daytime.

(+) Picking Up Weather Channel

The RV6 is pretty well-optimized to receive 10 NOAA weather channels without any interruption. That means you can continuously keep in touch with the weather update. It may save your life if there’s stormy weather ahead.

(+) Wide Coverage

Not to mention, the device coves all the signals of the USA, Canada, and other international marine channels. This way, you can keep in touch with all the necessary channels wherever you go.

Keep in Mind

(-) Weird Display Placement

The device's display is weirdly placed in the middle, which may prove to be a bit discomforting for the eyes.

Final Words

Picking up a cheap and average VHF radio for your marine trip would translate to putting your life in danger. Getting no proper signal and struggling with the battery power is a scenario you seriously don’t want to be in, even in your nightmares.

That’s why we made sure that you get the best VHF marine radio for your trip that will never let you down in the time when you need it the most. Pick up from any of the above-listed devices and set sail with all your confidence!

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