24th Oct 2019
Which Marine Radio? Recommended VHF Two-Way Radios
Released On 4th Jun 2020
Our range of marine radio equipment is suitable for use on most seagoing craft, from small pleasure craft to super-yachts and ferries. In this guide, we've carefully selected radios that include useful features for maritime communication between vessels and ship-to-shore, as well as private internal communication between teams of staff on board.
We supply marine radio equipment to yacht fitters, ferries and boatyards but we are equally happy to advise owners of private vessels about their radio requirements. If this is your first purchase of a marine radio, our experienced team can help you find the right one for your needs.
Useful features for VHF marine radios
A VHF marine radio is an essential and potentially life-saving item of equipment at sea and on inland waterways such as rivers and lakes, both on safety grounds and for general communication. Some features you'll find particularly useful when choosing a VHF two-way radio are:
Unsurprisingly, maritime radios get wet! Ensure yours isn’t just splash-proof, but meets or exceeds the basic IPX7 rating, which offers complete protection for submersion up to 1 metre deep for at least 30 minutes.
Take a look at the compact and lightweight Motorola DP3441e hand portable, with an impressive IP68 rating, integrated Bluetooth and integrated GNSS for accurate satellite positioning. The VHF model of the DP3441e is ideal for pocket-sized, basic radio communication on board. We recommend this unit to users in the engine room / wheelhouse.
Various scenarios could lead to a radio being dropped into the sea, lake or river. Some marine radios are now designed to float in the water – simply pick it up and carry on using the radio as normal.
The Icom IC-M25 is a great example. The unique feature of this handheld VHF marine radio is its clever Float ‘n’ Flash feature – if dropped in water the Icom IC-M25 will become buoyant and emit a flashing red LED to help you find it again. Aside from this feature, the IC-M25 is IPX7 submersible, just like the Motorola DP3441e above, typically has an 11-hour battery life and it's priced at a very affordable entry-level price-point.
Marine radios with a built-in GPS receiver show your current position and can be used for distress calls. Take a look at Motorola’s DP4401 Ex Atex radio from their Mototrbo range. As well as integrated GPS, this top-of-the-range VHF radio is built to IP67 and ATEX specifications for use in the harshest of conditions, with many built-in safety features.
The DP4401 Ex ATEX also gives you excellent battery life - expect up to 19 hours in digital mode or up to 16 hours in analogue mode.
For added peace of mind, some radios incorporate a distress alert. Known as DSC radios, they function just like other VHF marine radios with a couple of other features, enabling you to send an emergency distress signal to the coastguard, as well as other vessels equipped with DSC radios.
Look at the handheld Icom IC-M93D DSC, one of the slimmest VHF DSC radios on the market, with a body depth of just 38.5mm achieved with a flat sheet keypad design. The IC-M93D DSC also has the Float 'n' Flash feature mentioned earlier and integrated GPS.
If you're looking for a mounted radio with similar safety features, try the Icom IC-M330GE VHF/DCS Marine Radio with built-in GPS receiver and external GPS antenna. The IC-330GE is one of the smallest DSC mounted marine radios available, with a front display so small it matches the size of modern smart-phones. Ideal small vessels with minimal space.
Other uses for marine radios
Although safety is foremost in everyone’s mind, marine radios aren’t just for emergency situations.
- Let larger vessels know where you are
- Listen to routine weather forecasts
- Check navigational warnings broadcast on VHF and MF at 4-hourly intervals around the UK coastline
- Communicate with harbours, locks, bridges and marinas
- Talk to other people at sea on one of your radio’s many channels
More radios we recommend for use at sea
Motorola DP3661e Hand Portable
The DP3661e radio checks pretty much all the boxes for marine use. As with many others on this list, it's IP68 rated, with integrated Bluetooth, integrated GNSS and a range of user safety functions, plus a large, 5-line full colour display in a small, lightweight and compact body. We would recommend this radio for the captain / command team because of its ability to individually call radios and easily identify who is transmitting. View this product.
We recommend the Motorola SL4010e VHF radio for the interior team / steward staff. It's not submersible, but the radio is discreet, lightweight, supplied with a swivel clip or lanyard and not as bulky as other radios. View this product.
Hytera X1P Hand Portables
These are submersible options which are IP67 rated and very lightweight. The Hytera X1P includes safety features such as Man Down and Emergency Mode, and features an LCD screen and keypad for further functionality, an example being private calls. View this product.
Hytera PD685 Hand Portable
The lightweight Hytera PD685 is a more cost-effective option compared to the X1P, but it's also IP67 rated to withstand submersion in up to 1 metre of water for up to 30 minutes. It also features an LCD screen. View this product.
If you’re serious about investing in your safety at sea, browse our full range of VHF marine radio equipment and take advantage of our other services to purchase compatible radio accessories, help with programming and licencing your two way radios.
You can also read an interesting marine radio case study from a longstanding RadioTrader customer, which outlines the usefulness of two way radios on their luxury yacht.
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