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Hand Held VHF Radio Recommendations

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Bill Sampson

Escalante-Class Member
I am getting ready to replace my old hand held radio, and will probably go to West Marine this weekend. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
Thanks,

Bill
 

Pegasus

Well-Known Member
You can't beat the ICOM IC-M25 for around $130. It's small but not too small, and very sturdy with a quality build. Or, if you want to have GPS in the handheld, the Standard Horizon HX870 is awesome for around $180 - it's a little bulky and has a white backlit screen which is annoying at night, but otherwise is fantastic and is my goto handheld because of the sound quality. Both float, are waterproof, are highest handheld power available, and have strobe lights in them that auto-light if dropped in the water. The batteries on both of these units last all day easily, but if the GPS is turned on the HX870 batteries only last about 10 hours.

A friend of mine bought a package set of two Cobra VHF handhelds for $90 each last year and I've used them several times and can recommend them also for a good bang for the buck - light, good speaker, and easy to use. (Cobra MR HH350W).

My opinion, the best overall value is the ICOM IC-M25.
 
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AzTacoma

Active Member
I think I'm going to buy the Cobra MR HH600 handheld today. Seems to be decent for the price. I guess my question is more about radio usage at Powell. Since they are line of sight are they really that effective? If I'm halfway into Mountain Sheep and I'm trying to communicate with the houseboat in Dungeon, will it work?
 

Pegasus

Well-Known Member
Answering your specific question, with a 5w handheld (or two handhelds trying to communicate), I would not count on being able to communicate from one canyon to the other. Handheld's work great in close quarters (around a mile or two line of sight), but on the lake, they are not worth much beyond that. (and I do use mine all the time in close quarters and love them) If you can place a fixed mount VHF on your boat, you will be much safer anywhere on the lake with the ability to hail other boats or NPS.

Even an inexpensive fixed mount (with 25 watts) with a shorter than optimal antenna would be my recommendation over a handheld and would work from Dungeon to Mountain Sheep if that is possible for you. Add a good antenna and your gold!

If you search WW, there are some good posts on VHF fixed mounts and handhelds, and specific examples of their use on the lake and how far they have been useful between canyons.

Lastly, having a handheld VHF is FAR better than having no VHF! I would not venture uplake without some sort of VHF and if it can only be a handheld, so be it! -Doug
 

Grant Stevens - USBR

Well-Known Member
I think I'm going to buy the Cobra MR HH600 handheld today. Seems to be decent for the price. I guess my question is more about radio usage at Powell. Since they are line of sight are they really that effective? If I'm halfway into Mountain Sheep and I'm trying to communicate with the houseboat in Dungeon, will it work?

I quite certain with either a handheld or fixed VHF radio, you will not be able to communicate between Mountain Sheep and Dungeon. Overall, VHF performance is poor at Lake Powell, and I'd expect you will be disappointed with the results. VHF is line of sight, and of course won't penetrate the miles of rock between those points (or most point to point locations on the lake.)

Know these limitations, and position yourself in the channel with best views to Navaho or the Marina/location your are trying to call. That's your best bet...
 

AzTacoma

Active Member
I'm struggling with buying one now :( It almost sounds like I should just get a basic $100 handheld in case something happens I can at least call for help within that immediate canyon/bay I'm in, because beyond that there's little hope. I'm not a radio hobbyist and I'm not overly interested in installing a fixed mount with separate antenna for something I will use once a year, and still only have limited capabilities because of the canyon nature of Powell. I have limited fishing/boat funds and need to put them where they'll be of best use. The rebate for the Cobra MR HH600 ends today... but I think I'll ponder, wait a couple months and go from there.
 

Dworwood

Escalante-Class Member
I'm struggling with buying one now :( It almost sounds like I should just get a basic $100 handheld in case something happens I can at least call for help within that immediate canyon/bay I'm in, because beyond that there's little hope. I'm not a radio hobbyist and I'm not overly interested in installing a fixed mount with separate antenna for something I will use once a year, and still only have limited capabilities because of the canyon nature of Powell. I have limited fishing/boat funds and need to put them where they'll be of best use. The rebate for the Cobra MR HH600 ends today... but I think I'll ponder, wait a couple months and go from there.
One advantage to a hand held is you can climb on top of a mountain and talk for a long ways. I have several for business and have talked probably 30 miles line of sight to our base from the top of a mountain. It is line of sight but you can take it up where you may get someone to hear you. Just a thought.
 

bubba

Well-Known Member
the older icoms will out throw anything, but for value and rich feature set absolutely nothing beats SH right now, portable or mounted.
 
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