- Mon Jun 24, 2019 11:13 pm
Many people try to buy the Cobra VHF radios and many times, not always, it's because of the low price. The Cobra brand is commonly sold at Academy. That is how I find that many find out about these radios. There are other cheap brands out there, not just Cobra. The problem is that you get what you pay for many times with these brands. Because of the lower price, you sacrifice something for the cheaper brands out there. I have explained in the past the five things to look for in a quality VHF radio but I have now found a sixth thing. Here are the six things you should look for in purchasing a quality VHF radio:
2) water proof
3) it should have NOAA weather radio
4) at least a 5-mile radius
5) good battery life (if you are going to be on the water all day, make sure your battery will last)
6) Make sure your radio has a channel 16 emergency button so that you can reach coast guard immediately
The sixth item is the newest I have added to the list. The reason for this is that a common station that many are allowed to be on are the upper channels. Us kayakers choose channel 69 many times. Even though we use the radio for fishing talk, it's important to remember that this radio's primary purpose is for emergencies. What happens if you are on channel 69 and there is an emergency. On a cheaper radio, you will have to push through all the stations to get from channel 69 to channel 16 (channel 16 is the coast guard station). That is a lot of channels to thumb through. My radio has a button that has "9/16" on it (this is a common feature on some radios). Once I hit this button, it immediately takes me where I need to be without going through other less important channels.
Another thing that is not necessarily needed but is a nice feature, is a channel lock feature. I'm almost definite this lock feature I am about to talk about will be the seventh thing on the list before long. On my radio, there is a button that has a key pic on the top of the button. Once I hold this down for a few seconds, it locks all of my keys. To reverse the process, repeat the same thing and it will disengage this feature. If the feature is active, a small pic of a key will present itself on the electronic screen. Once disabled, the key pic goes away. This feature is useful because as kayakers, we are limited in space. Constantly you will find that your radio buttons will get pressed somehow during the day taking you off of the channel you are trying to be on. If you are fishing with friends and you don't hear them the entire time, you will think their radio is off or has gone down. In reality, your radio channel is on the wrong station. Also, when you are talking to the coast guard, you will want to make sure you stay on the designated channel and not accidentally get switched.
Some of the brands that many use on the water that are considered reliable are (in no particular order):
1) Standard Horizon
I personally roll with the Standard Horizon HX300. For the value of this radio, it's hard to beat the quality and price. All of these radios are good that I just listed. If you search on the internet, sometimes you will find that there are mail-in rebates. My radio had at one time a $20.00 mail-in rebate. The average going price on the Standard Horizon HX300 is $100.00. That is a great price for a quality VHF radio. I have heard people talk about the HX290. It has everything the HX300 has except one thing. The HX300 has a longer battery life. For a few bucks more, I am more than happy to buy the HX300 to have a longer battery life. If you find that you are the kind of person that is only going to be on the water for about half a day, then I could see buying the HX290.
One last thing I would like to mention. Sometimes I like to use TV's in relation to VHF radios. I consider buying a Cobra in relation to a RCA. Buying one of the better brands is like buying a Toshiba. By buying a RCA, is that what your life is worth? We take a VHF radio for granted because we hit the water never suspecting anything will ever happen to us. If that time ever comes when you need a radio and you bought a RCA, I can only pray that it works for you. I know my Cadillac will as it has on a few occasions that I have needed it.
I hope this helps. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to post on here, PM me, or even give me a call. I'm always happy to chat with people on kayaking. 832-588-7091