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Best VHF marine radio?


Jan 13, 2008
Washington State
The Icom M72 I've had for 11 years has moisture inside it and is clearly messed up. Was fine a couple of weeks ago. Tried another charged battery--it's dead.

What's the best radio for kayaking now?

Need to order ASAP, so don't be bashful!


11 years - that is a great lifespan for a radio.

I've had mixed results with radios. I must be hard on them- if I get a few years out of them, I would be happy.

I've had decent luck with Icom and the M34/M36 models. One of the terminals on the battery would corrode after a year or two, so the battery would need to be replaced. But the radio worked fine for what seemed like 5 years each. Last one I bought I got through a place (West Marine, a US based boating supply store) and paid for the 5 year replacement plan, so if the terminal corrodes or otherwise have issues, I can walk in and supposedly they give me a brand new radio to replace it. Haven't needed to do that yet.

One I would definitely NOT recommend is Uniden. Got an MHS76 through Amazon that has been sent in for repairs at elast 6 times. The 5 year warranty it came with made me feel good, but in the end I would send it in and they wpould say they fixed it but it would have the same issue immediately upon return. Got to the point I found it not worth paying the $10 shipping to send it back for warranty. If anyone needs this for spare parts (supposedly new battery on it), they are welcome to it.
Thanks for the input. Yes, I should be happy to get nearly 11 years out of this thing. Lots of fresh and saltwater use and half the time forget to let it soak afterwards... Happened to pull it out just after launch today (had a pretty good rolling session last week with it, but that's standard for years) and, uh-oh, moisture under screen and won't turn on...ugh.

Looking hard at the Icom M73 as it seems to be the successor to the M72 with some upgrades. Has what I think is longest lasting batt pack for a handheld at 2000 mAh, 6 watts max transmit, IPX8 rating (continuous submersible...not just 1 meter for 30 mins--this is the only feature difference of real consequence I see that potentially makes the M73 better than the M72) and I like the Aquaquake function to get water out of the speakers and the very loud speaker. Besides that, I have realized that the M73 uses the same battery as the M72 and I have two good battery packs that are still going strong after nearly 11 years and nearly 9 years old so I think I'll go with the M73 as I like have extra charged battery packs on a trip and as expensive as those are it's a financial boost to get the M73.
The Standard Horizon flagship models are complicated. My Hx 851 has more features than i can remember how to use. Fortunately I do recall the basic functions when i need them. I do like it, overall.

Just to finish this up...I picked up a new m73, charged it, then let it sit in a bowl of water for awhile. Next day it had moisture in it. So, took it back to West Marine and they exchanged it. New on is doing fine so far. I decided to take the old M72 apart and see what was what. I had a fair amount of moisture in it. Took it apart as far as I dared and let is dry out. No noticeable corrosion internally, etc. Put it all back together, attached a charged batt and dropped it in a bowl of water for an hour or so. It did not leak and has been working fine since with no sign of water intrusion. :roll: Who knew.
I've also had bad luck with West Marine - which is rebranded Uniden - radios. The one I had 1.5 problems. First, if the squelch was on, even if only a little bit, it wouldn't hear Weather stations - no matter how strong. I had to make sure the squelch was completely off. the .5 problem was - apparently there is no standard for the weather channels. That is, channel 16 is channel 16 on all radios. But the frequency of weather channel 2 on the WestMarine/Uniden radio could be different than the weather frequency of channel 2 on a Horizon.

So someone is listening to the weather channel 2 on their horizon radio and I'd turn to weather channel 2 on my WestMarine and not hear it - because channel 2 on the WestMarine was a different weather station (frequency) than that on the Horizon.

I'm using channel 2 as an example - it might have been other channels. The point is, they were different.

So if you are going to get more than one radio - it might be best if they were from the same manufacture.

I now have two Horizon radios and am happy with them.

PS: You might asked this question in the Gear sub-forum
The frequency issue for WX channels may be due to an inadvertent use of CAN or INT channel selections. Viz, WX 2 US may not be the same as WX 2 CAN, etc. Best to check the actual frequency for your radio's WX stations against those for the region in which you plan to use it. On the BC coast, I always had the best reception monitoring 21B, on the CAN setting for channels. YMMV ... well, maybe that should be Your Frequency May Vary! :roll: :wink: