Best Handheld VHF Marine Radio for Any Location!

best handheld vhf marine radio vhf-handhold-vhf-horn-boa

Whether you're an experienced sailor or you're just starting out on the water, it's imperative that you invest in the best handheld VHF marine radio.

Having a VHF marine radio is a lifeline when you're out on the water, it's perhaps the most essential component of keeping yourself and any other mariners safe.

It's important that you learn about different VHF radios and what they have to offer to find the best handheld VHF marine radio for you.

Comparison Table

How We Reviewed

When it comes to the best handheld VHF marine radio, there are plenty of great contenders from which to choose. Plus, the features you need in a VHF radio will depend on where you plan on sailing. 

To help you make an informed decision about which would be the best handheld VHF marine radio for your adventures, we've gathered some of the best radios on the market and compared them on key factors. In no time, you'll be ready to set sail.

Overall Price Range of the Best Handheld VHF Marine Radio

Depending on several factors, you can expect to spend anywhere from $50 to $200 on the best handheld VHF marine radio.

10 Best Handheld VHF Marine Radio

Standard Horizon HX300

Standard Horizon HX300 Standard HX300 Handheld VHF Marine Radio
  • Large 1.75" LCD
  • 5 or 1 Watts of transmit power
  • All scanning functions including Programmable, Priority Scan and Dual/Tri Watch

Features

This is one of the best handheld VHF marine radio options on the market. The HX300 floats, just in case you drop it in the water, and the drop will activate a flashing recovery strobe light to help you locate it.

It's made using polycarbonate housing and meets the industry standards for waterproofing. The HX300 also includes programmable scan functions, a 600mW internal audio speaker, and a 10-channel preset key selection.

It also includes a new E2O (Easy to Operate) menu for a more intuitive radio. The high-powered Lithium-ion non-memory rechargeable battery has a high capacity of 1650mAh 3.7V.

It also comes with a rugged belt clip and a 110-240V AC USB charger. The battery life should last more than 13 hours and weighs 9 ounces.

Warranty

The manufacturer of this radio offers a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • If dropped, the radio will float and activate a flashing recovery strobe light
  • 1650mAh 3.7V high-powered Lithium-ion non-memory rechargeable battery
  • 600mW internal audio speaker
  • 10 channel preset key selection
  • New E2O menu

Cons

  • Some Customers have complained about the range
  • Customers have said that the radio isn't effectively waterproofed

Rating

Quality

Uniden MHS75 Waterproof Handheld 2-Way VHF Marine Radio

Uniden MHS75 Waterproof Handheld 2-Way VHF Marine Radio, Submersible, Selectable 1/2.5/5 Watt Transmit Power. All USA/International and Canadian Marine Channels - Color Black
  • JIS8 Waterproof Level - Uniden MHS75 VHF Hand Held Radio won't give up no matter how wet it gets. Whitecap splash, gusty spray, tidal wave, whatever, this radio can take it. The Uniden MHS75 2-way Marine Radio is built rugged to take the rigors of being out on the water, day in and day out with a full JIS8 Submersible waterproof rating. Submersible for up to 30 minutes at five feet.
  • 1 /2.5/5 Watt Switchable - Select between 1, 2.5, and 5 Watts for short- and long-range communication--this is also a convenient way to save a little battery life. In most situations, the 1 Watt transmission power is all you need. If you find yourself far away from other stations and have trouble getting a response, you may need to boost the transmission power from 1 Watt to 2.5 Watts or 5 Watts
  • All USA, International, and Canada Channels - The MHS75 covers all USA, International, and Canadian marine channels, keeping you up-to-date with all the latest marine activity
  • Instant Channel 16/9/Triple Watch - Triple Watch mode monitors channels 16 and 9 for a signal while you listen to the currently selected channel. The marine radio checks channel 16 and 9 for activity every 2 seconds

Features

This MHS75 Uniden radio is a phenomenal choice for the best handheld VHF marine radio for you. It meets the rigid JIS8 submersible standards of 5 feet for 30 minutes.

It has a selectable 1Watt/2.5/5 transmit power and covers all USA, International, and Canadian marine channels so you're always covered, wherever you go. The rechargeable battery will give you up to 12 hours of battery life.

It has a large, easy-to-read LCD screen and reaches all N.O.A.A. Weather Channels with Weather Alert. The compact size of the radio will make it a convenient addition to any marine craft.

Warranty

The manufacturer offers a limited one-year warranty.

Pros

  • This radio meets JIS8 submersible standards of 5 feet for 30 minutes
  • Selectable 1Watt/2.5/5 transmit power
  • Covers all USA, International, and Canadian marine channels
  • The rechargeable battery has a 12-hour life
  • Reaches all N.O.A.A. Weather Channels with Weather Alert

Cons

  • Some customers have complained about a short battery life
  • Some customers have reported that the radio is not as waterproof as advertised

Rating

Quality

Standard Horizon HX870 Floating 6W Handheld VHF

STANDARD HORIZON HX870 Floating 6W Handheld VHF with Internal GPS, Black
  • Floating 6W Handheld VHF with Internal GPS; Supplied with a 1800 mAh Li-Ion Battery, 110VAC and 12VDC 3-hour quick chargersAlkaline Battery Tray
  • Meets ITU-R M493-13 Class D DSC (Digital Selective Calling)
  • Separate Receiver for CH70 (Receiving DSC Calls)
  • Integrated 66 Channel WAAS GPS receiver.Submersible IPX8 waterproof rating (1.5M or 4.92 feet for 30 minutes)
  • Noise-canceling Function for both transmit and receive audio

Features

This is quite possibly the best handheld VHF marine radio available. It comes with a noise-canceling function for both transmit and receive audio, giving a clearer transmission than ever before.

Has floating capabilities and has an internal GPS. It comes with a 110VAC and 12VDC 3-hour quick charge Alkaline Battery Tray and an 1800 mAh Lithium battery.

This radio has a separate receiver for CH70 and integrated 66 channel WAAS GPS receiver. It is submersible with the IPX8 rating of 4.92 feet for 30 minutes.

Warranty

The manufacturer of this radio offers a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Meets IPX8 standards of submersion of 4.92 feet for 30 minutes
  • Separate receiver for CH70
  • Integrated 66 channel WAAS GPS receiver
  • 1800 mAh Lithium battery
  • 110VAC and 12VDC 3-hour quick charge Alkaline Battery Tray
  • Noise-canceling function for both transmit and receive audio

Cons

  • Some customers have experienced issues with programming the radio
  • Some customers have reported issues with the GPS
  • Some individuals have reported that it is not as waterproof as advertised.

Rating

Quality

Standard Horizon HX150

Standard Horizon HX150 Standard HX150 Handheld VHF Marine Radio
  • Large 1.8" LCD
  • 5 or 1 Watts of transmit power
  • All scanning functions including Programmable, Priority Scan and Dual Watch

Features

This is perhaps the best handheld VHF marine radio because of its large 1.8" LCD screen. This radio will float if you accidentally drop it in the water, and it's submersible per the IPX7 standards.

It has selectable 5 and 1 Watt transmit power output and can reach all USA, international, and Canadian marine channels. It also gets all the N.O.A.A. weather channels and has a programmable scan, priority scan, and dual watch capabilities.

It comes with a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery pack, an AC adapter, and a belt clip.

Warranty

The manufacturer offers a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Has a large 1.8" LCD screen
  • Floats in the water
  • Submersible per IPX7 standards
  • Selectable 5 and 1 Watt transmit power output
  • Reaches all USA, international, and Canadian marine channels and N.O.A.A. weather channels
  • Has programmable scan, priority scan, and dual watch capabilities

Cons

  • Some customers have reported that their radio was broken when it arrived
  • Some individuals have said there is a design flaw with the charging base

Rating

Quality

Icom M36 01 Floating Handheld 6W Marine Radio

Icom M36 01 Floating Handheld 6W Marine Radio with Clear Voice Audio
  • 1.5" diagonal LCD
  • 6 Watts output power
  • 8 hour lithium-ion battery
  • Optional Speaker/Mic
  • Dual Watch, scan functions

Features

This is perhaps the best handheld VHF marine radio because of its trademarked AquaQuake water draining function. It is powered by 6 watts for a further communication range.

The 980mAh Lithium-ion battery lasts up to 8 hours. The radio floats and is waterproofed to meet the compliance of IPX7 standards.

This radio comes with an ambient noise adjuster that automatically adjusts the audio to compensate for the ambient noise level. The noise-canceling microphone inverts phase and cancels out ambient noise.

The radio has Dual/Tri-Watch function and instant access to Channel 16 or 9. The 4 level battery indicator will help you keep track of your radio's battery life. It also comes with an auto power save function and an LCD and key backlighting for operating after dark.

Warranty

The manufacturer offers a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • LCD and key backlighting for night time operation
  • Auto power safe function
  • Dual/Tri-Watch function
  • 4 level battery indicator
  • Noise-canceling microphone
  • Ambient noise adjuster
  • Meets IPX7 waterproofing standards
  • Floats
  • Powered by 6 Watts for a larger communication range
  • Trademarked AquaQuake water draining function

Cons

  • Some customers have reported that the squelch control feature isn't effective
  • Some customers have reported that the battery dies quickly

Rating

Quality

Cobra Electronics Corporation MRHH125 Handheld Vhf Radio

Cobra Electronics Corporation MRHH125 Handheld Vhf Radio Hh125,Black
  • 1 or 3 Watts
  • Large, Bright LCD Display
  • 5 NiMH Rechargeable Batteries
  • 12 Volt Accessory Charger
  • Compact Waterproof Design

Features

This radio by Cobra is perhaps the best handheld VHF marine radio available because it's so affordable.

You can choose to run it on 1 or 3 Watts and has a large, bright LCD display with an LED backlight so you can use it just as easily after dark as you can during the day. It runs on 5 NiMH Rechargeable Batteries.

It comes with a 12-volt accessory charger. This affordable option is waterproof and comes in a compact design that will easily fit in the palm of your hand.

It comes with audible and visual weather alerts and a selectable roger beep tone to give you a confirmation. It reaches all 10 N.O.A.A. channels and has a noise-canceling microphone.

The signal strength meter will show you a visual of the strength of the outgoing and incoming signals and the memory scan will allow you to program your channels.

Warranty

This radio comes with a limited one-year warranty.

Pros

  • Dual output for short and long communication on 1 or 3 watts
  • A bright LCD display with LED backlight
  • Waterproof
  • Audible and visual weather alerts
  • Selectable roger beep tone
  • Reaches all 10 N.O.A.A. channels
  • Noise-canceling microphone
  • Signal strength meter
  • Programmable memory scan

Cons

  • Several customers have noted that the radio is not waterproof
  • Customers have reported issues enacting the warranty
  • Several customers have reported various mechanical issues with this product

Rating

Quality

Cobra MRHH600

Features

This is hands-down the best handheld VHF marine radio for many mariners. It has a build in GPS that will show your coordinates on screen and include them in any distress call you make.

The manufacturer says this is the first radio of its kind with these capabilities. It has Bluetooth capabilities that allow you to use the radio to make and receive phone calls.

If dropped in the water, this radio floats and its bright orange color will help you locate it. You can also record your calls with this radio. You can choose between 1, 3, or 6 Watt output for short or long-range communication. This radio has a signal of 15 miles.

Warranty

The manufacturer of this radio offers a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Built-in GPS that shows your coordinates and includes them in a distress call
  • Bluetooth capabilities that allow you to make and receive phone calls
  • Floats if dropped in water
  • Orange color is high visibility and will help you locate it
  • Selectable roger beep tone
  • Calls can be recorded
  • Choose between 1, 3, or 6 Watt output for short or long-range communication
  • Radio signal of 15 miles

Cons

  • Some customers have complained about the battery not lasting as long as advertised

Rating

Quality

Uniden Atlantis 150

Features

This is radio by Uniden is maybe the best handheld VHF marine radio because it's very affordable. If dropped in water, the radio floats, and it's waterproof complying with IPX8/JIS8 standards.

Its lightweight design will make it easy to carry with you. The radio can function on 1 or 2.5 watts and has a 10-hour battery life when fully charged. It also comes with a battery save mode that allows the radio to conserve energy when the battery life is low.

The radio gets all US, Canada, and International marine channels as well as N.O.A.A. Weather alerts.

Warranty

This radio comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • A very affordable option for the best handheld VHF marine radio
  • Floats
  • Waterproof and complies with IPX8/JIS8 standards
  • Can run on 1 or 2.5 watts
  • 10-hour battery life when fully charged
  • Battery save mode
  • Reaches all US, Canadian and international marine channels
  • Receives N.O.A.A. weather alerts

Cons

  • Several customers have reported that the radio is not waterproof
  • Several customers have reported mechanical failure
  • Customers have reported that the radio battery does not last as long as advertised

Rating

Quality

Standard Horizon HX890BK

Standard Horizon HX890BK Marine Two Way Radios
  • The new HX890 shares all the same capabilities of the extremely popular HX870, with the addition of some great new features.
  • New features include two scrambler systems built in, both a 4 code CVS2500A and a 32 code FVP-42 scrambler system ensure secure communications out on the water.
  • Includes a built in FM Broadcast band receiver, during times when radio communication is not necessary, relax with some music on the FM Radio broadcast bands.
  • Rugged case construction conforms to Military Standard (MIL-STD-810F)
  • Built-in Integrated 66 channel WAAS GPS Receiver

Features

This radio is perhaps most likely to be the best handheld VHF radio on the market. This radio comes with all the features that were loved about the popular HX870, plus more.

Newly added is two scrambler systems built in, a 4 code CVS2500A and a 32 code FVP-42 scrambler. The built-in FM broadcast band receiver lets you relax and listen to some radio when you don't need to radio in.

The case construction conforms to military standard, and it has a built-in integrated 66 channel WAAS GPS receiver.

Warranty

This radio comes with a limited one-year warranty.

Pros

  • Built-in integrated 66 channel WAAS GPS receiver
  • Two built-in scrambler systems
  • Built-in FM broadcast band receiver
  • Military standard case construction

Cons

  • Some customers have reported that the radio battery doesn't last long

Rating

Quality

Cobra MR HH350 FLT

Cobra MRHH350FLT Floating VHF Long Range Marine Radio, Tri-Watch, Burp Feature
  • IT FLOATS - Never worry about losing your radio overboard! The floating design and orange core makes it easy to retrieve from the water. COAST GUARD WATERPROOF
  • STANDARD JIS7 means it is submersible for 30 minutes in up to 3ft/1M deep water
  • SHORT OR LONG RANGE - Clearly communicate with 1,3 or 6 Watt output options so that you're never alone on the water. With Tri-Watch you can monitor 3 channels simultaneously
  • INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE - with 3 channel maps, you can confidently navigate around the USA, Canada and International waters with coverage you can count on and convenient unlimited memory to make channel recall simple w/ easy-to-read signal meter
  • 10 NOAA WEATHER CHANNELS - Be the first to know of incoming hazards or changing weather w/ instant access to NOAA weather channels 24 hours a day and audible tone if an emergency or threatening weather is nearby while monitoring up to 3 channels at once

Features

One of the best features of this radio is its floating capabilities and orange color, so even if it does go overboard, you'll be able to find it quickly and easily. And if you do drop it, it has waterproof capabilities that are Coast Guard standards.

You can communicate with 1, 3, or 6 Watt output for short or long range. With Tri-watch capabilities, you can monitor 3 channels simultaneously. This radio makes it easy to confidently navigate with 3 channel maps and unlimited memory.

This radio gives you instant access to N.O.A.A. weather channels and an audible tone that will let you know if an emergency or threatening weather event begins.

Warranty

The manufacturer offers a limited one-year warranty.

Pros

  • Compact and ergonomic design
  • Reaches all N.O.A.A. weather channels
  • Audible weather alert
  • Tri-watch capabilities
  • Coast Guard standard waterproof capabilities
  • Can use 1, 3, or 6 Watt output for short or long range use
  • 3 channels maps
  • BURP design that vibrates water to clear the speaker when wet

Cons

  • Some customers have reported that the speakers are lower quality
  • Some customers have said that the radio broke within several uses

Rating

Quality

Product FAQ

best handheld vhf marine radio monaco-cars-formula-one-race-speed

Image via Pixabay

What Is a Handheld VHF Marine Radio?

This kind of radio makes it possible for you to contact help, specifically from the Coast Guard or other marine vessels, while you're at sea. 

And, it might be the only way you can signal for help, once you get outside of the perimeter of the nearest cell towers. That's why having the best handheld VHF marine radio isn't just important, it's life and death.

What Does VHF Stand For?

VHF stands for "very high frequency." That's because the radios function exclusively between the frequency range of 156 and 174 MH

The Verdict

If you plan to go out on the water, it's imperative that you have the best handheld VHF marine radio in case you need to contact surrounding boats or the Coast Guard for help. 

You never know when a crisis will occur, and this is one of the most basic and important steps to ensuring your own safety and the safety of anyone on your watercraft. Even if you feel certain that no harm will befall you, pride comes before the fall.

You need to prepare yourself with a high-quality marine radio so that no matter what happens, you are always prepared. When it comes to VHF marine radios, there are many great options to choose from.

Determine what kind of battery and range you need in a handheld radio, and how much money you are looking to spend. Finding the best radio for you will be simple after that.

Order or pick up your new VHF scanner as soon as possible. For more product reviews, FAQs, and information on everything ocean, visit our website today!

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