Successful boating and fishing adventures start with bringing the right tools. So before setting sail and heading out on the water, it’s an absolute must to pack emergency essentials. Unlike on land where you can get help from anyone with a simple mobile call, being out on the water in an emergency situation has very limited options for reaching people.
Fixed mount VHF marine radios are safety tools specially designed for sailors, mariners, and all boaters to help ensure their safety. Handheld marine radios are also used however they are mainly for backup radios and for use on very small boats where space is at a premium. You can read about our top handheld marine radios here. These devices are primarily used for ship to ship; ship to shore communications, and rescue operations. While they are not required for recreational craft less than 66 ft. long all boaters should have a radio on board especially considering how inexpensive they can be bought today.
After reviewing many fixed mount radios, we think these are the 3 best fixed mount vhf radios available today.
One of the first VHF radio with AIS and GPS receivers built, the Standard Horizon GX2200 Matrix is a 25 Watt Fixed Mount Marine radio highly recommended for its performance. Ready-to-use after unboxing, the Standard Horizon GX2200 efficiently enables position sharing, DSC calling, waypoint navigation, and acquires AIS and AIS SART targets conveniently with no need for wiring the radio to external receivers. The GX2200 also includes a functional 3-inch navigation display that shows AIS target information including bearing, ship name, distance, and call sign.This allows users to enter and save up to 100 waypoints which may be navigated using its own compass. The GX2200 Matrix helps keep you safe and sound while out on the water with its programmable collision avoidance alarm. It has a durable 30 Watt PA Hailer with preprogrammed fog signals, remote access microphone, and an intercom between radio and second station mic. Read full review.
Uniden’s UM380 is a full-featured fixed mount VHF radio with a class D rating and full DSC capability. It’s a powerful and compact marine radio that can transmit on Canada, US, and international marine channels. Packed with essential features, like DSC positioning and NOAA emergency weather alerts, Uniden’s fixed mount radio topples the competition. One of it’s best features is its accurate weather and emergency alerts as well as its resistance to physical and water damage. It can tell you what weather you’ll be experiencing hours before your planned fishing trip. The Uniden UM380 also includes a rugged microphone with triple watch select keys and text display that shows GPS data, channel names, radio menu and essential DSC features. Read full review.
The Icom IC-M324G is a sleek fixed mount VHF marine radio that boasts top-notch performance and essential features needed for marine rescue operations. With its class D DSC and built-in GPS system, you can see current ship location including distress calls, position request/reports, and poll requests. There are currently two versions 1) Model M324G (with built-in GPS receiver) and 2) Model M324. The radio comes in two color options (black and white). With its HD dot-matrix display you can see all information clearly. It weighs 2.7 lbs and has a measurement of 7.1″W x 3.2″H x 4.7″D. You don’t have to worry about the interruption, as it is capable of receiving another channel transmission while still monitoring activity. This is very important when you’re under an emergency situation and waiting to contact other vessels on the AIS screen. Included with purchase are its power cord, mounting bracket, installation hardware, and users manuals. Read our review.
What Makes Fixed Mount Radios Different Than Handheld Marine Radios?
Fixed mount marine radios share many of the same characteristics of the handheld marine radios, however, there are a couple major differences:
Almost all boaters (aside from Kayakers) will have a fixed mount marine radio in their boat and depending on the size of the boat they will have additional fixed mount radios or handheld marine radios in case of an emergency.
An alternative for boaters to save money is to have a “Second Station” which is a fully functioning microphone that includes a display and allows you full access to all the radios functions. The Second Station will have a long cord connecting it back to the radio or will connect directly to the audio panel at the designated flybridge or other area of the boat.. These are ideally suited to the flybridge or other areas of the boat instead of purchasing additional fixed or handheld radios.
Should I Get A Fixed Mount Or Handheld Marine Radio?
Unless you are a kayaker or have a very small boat that you only take out a few times a year it is a good idea to have both a fixed mount and handheld marine radio as prices have come down drastically on them and for a couple hundred dollars or less you have can have peace of mind knowing that if an emergency on the water occurs you will be able to contact seatow or the coast guard quickly.
So what are the best selling VHF fixed mount radios this year? If our three picks above still didn't have the features you were looking for you can find the rest of our fixed mount marine radio reviews below.