Reviews

Best Handheld VHF Marine Radio with GPS – Life Saver Device!

The portability of electronic devices is becoming much more accessible, making it easy for users to communicate with each other. Previously and even now, many boat users have wired radios to communicate, which is not bad. The only drawback is it locks a presence of a person nearby to receive it, as an emergency doesn’t inform in advance.

A handheld radio lets you roam freely on your boat, and you will always stay updated about weather conditions or emergencies and take proper action immediately. The world now has handheld marine radios with features like VHF (Very High Frequency) and GPS.

We have found some of the best handheld VHF marine radios with GPS and options you can consider buying. Also, you can buy them online, but make sure to check if your country asks for a license to operate a VHF radio. For UK and USA, a permit is compulsory, and we recommend checking online if your territory requires one or not.

Top 3 Best Handheld VHF Marine Radio with GPS

1. Standard Horizon HX890 Handheld VHF Radio with GPS

Standard Horizon HX890 Handheld VHF Radio with GPS

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The Standard Horizon HX890 Handheld is an absolute portable marine radio that is value for money. It includes a rechargeable Li-Ion battery, Alkaline battery tray, 110V wall charger, 220V adapter, charging cradle, 12V charger, PC programming cable, and belt clip with lanyard.

The product has military standard-grade durability, ensuring the radio is sturdy and reliable in harsh marine environments. It also has an IPX8 waterproof rating and floats on the water.

Speaking of its user experience, you get a 1.7″ x 1.7″ full-dot matrix display and an easy-to-navigate menu, and the visual representation is identifiable. The transmission power output is 6W, so you expect to work this radio well in the 3-4 miles range (around a 6.5-kilometer radius from the shoreline).

To use it, you must have your MMSI number (Maritime Mobile Service Identity); if you live in the US, head over to the BoatUS website and register yourself, from which you will get your MMSI number, enter it into the device, and you’re ready to go.

The best thing about this marine radio is its integrated GPS. It is helpful to people who are not good at understanding coordinates. If you often go off-shore fishing in the sea, Standard Horizon HX890 is a must-have device.

Pros

  • Integrated GPS
  • Waterproof and floats on water
  • Rugged build quality
  • Can communicate up to 6.5 Kilometers
  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • MMSI is compulsory

2. Uniden MHS335BT Class D Handheld VHF Marine Radio

Uniden MHS335BT

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Uniden MHS335BT is expensive yet has an attractive feature that one can hardly overlook.

You might have one apparent thought from the product image and price: it looks cheap, which is understandable. However, the money you bet is on features and benefits. Also, the build quality is rugged so you can rest assured.

It will float on water, and there is no need to panic even if you accidentally drop it in water. It will work as fresh as new even after submerging into the water as it has an IPX8 rating.

The box content is similar to Standard Horizon HX890, and it comes with 6W power output, and the range of connection will be under 7 kilometers. You can use DSC (Digital Selective Calling) and always know your location, thanks to the integrated GPS.

The integrated flashlight might come into use when it’s pitch dark, or you have found something from under the bed or similar. Moreover, the NOAA weather channel will provide you with the weather report of your local area so you can make a decision beforehand while out in the sea.

With a smartphone app, you can configure the radio and text message other VHF text messaging-capable radios.

Pros

  • Bluetooth and GPS features
  • IPX8 waterproof rating
  • Built-in weather channel
  • Big screen
  • Loudspeaker

Cons

  • Very expensive

3. ICOM M94D VHF Marine Radio

ICOM M94D VHF Marine Radio

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ICOM M94D is a premium ICOM VHF handheld marine radio loaded with crucial functionalities like AIS and DSC, which makes it one of a kind in its competition.

The sensitive sensor inside the marine radio automatically detects the water, and the screen will light up and start flashing.

ICOM radio is undoubtedly good, but its feature can be overwhelming for technophobes, and there is nothing to worry about; you will get hold of every function as you spend more time using it. Accessing the AIS feature was simple, and transitioning between different panels was rapid and seamless.

The M94D has a 16-hour standby battery life and an IPX7 waterproof rating (1 meter for 30 minutes). It’s also important to remember that even with more information displayed, the large screen makes it easier to read than other smaller options.

This solid operating unit is well suited for use as the primary unit on an open sports boat or by people who frequently find themselves in commercial boats’ high-traffic areas.

ICOM M94D is also a balanced option between Standard Horizon HX890 and Uniden MHS335BT. It has a big screen, more function, and is straightforward to use, which makes it a viable choice for purchase.

Pros

  • Bright and large display
  • AIS and DSC support
  • Massive battery backup

Cons

  • Heavier

Verdict

Handheld VFM improved significantly over time, and having a portable radio receiver like VHF is helpful as you always stay updated on the status while on the boat. Standard Horizon HX890 is the best option if you’re looking for features and value for money.

FAQs

Q. Do handheld VHF radios have GPS?

Not all. However, the VHF you find in our article has, and there are plenty of VHF radios with GPS. We hope more brands will release VHF with GPS soon.

Q. What is the range of a handheld VHF marine radio?

Most VHF comes with 6W power output, and you can expect the highest range of up to 4 miles from a handheld VHF marine radio, and if the weather is clear, you might get a range of up to 20 miles.

Q. Do you need a license for a handheld VHF?

You must have a license to operate VHF in countries like the UK and USA. For the rest of the territory, you might want to ask an existing marine expert or need to research if a license is compulsory or not to operate handheld VHF.

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