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Good Kayaking/Canoeing HTs


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I’m looking for a good Kayaking HT. We’ll be doing an annual kayaking/canoeing trip in the boundary waters. It’ll be ~10 people in 3-4 kayaks and canoes. Mainly looking for line-of-site comms across the water. There’s no cell service, no emergency comms would be of great benefit.


There are no motorized boats in the vicinity. I’m not sure if serious kayakers/canoers typically run GMRS or Marine VHF (so there’s someone to hear a distress call) or if our lodge monitors one or the other, so that might impact our decision.


I’m leaning towards finding cheap IP67 GMRS HTs that way the kids can use it too, even just to goof around on low output on FRS channels on land.


I’m GMRS and Ham General licensed.


Any good GMRS (or Marine VHF) HTs that anyone has experience with?

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I picked up a Baofeng UV-9G with the idea that it's rated IP67 and might be handy for things such as kayaking or just getting it wet while out hiking. I have yet to get it wet but I am really happy with it's performance so far. NOTARUBICON known as OffRoaderX here has a YouTube where he gives it a water test 


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3 hours ago, Lscott said:

VHF marine HT’s might be the way to go as long as they are used on the water

As you mention marine HT’s only for use on the water and op mentioned giving some to the kids (ages unknown). As marine HT’s can be expensive and kids likely will want to use also when not on the water this may be something to consider. They do make floating cheep FRS radios though. All that said I think you have a good idea there. I like the thought of having a marine HT out on the water for safety purposes. My father commercial fished and this was required equipment. I don’t know anything about the boundary waters but it seems that would be in use there. Perhaps at least one for the op? Just some thoughts…

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In reading up on this, I’ve learned that a small minority of backcountry BWCA folks carry FRS/GMRS - mostly those like me with larger or multiple groups.

Beyond that, people carry either nothing or a Personal Location Beacon like an InReach or ResQLink.

We’ll just be doing day trips, I’ll go the IP67 5W GMRS route (UV9G, RB23, S88G, etc). Apparently, there aren’t really people up there using Marine VHF. So nobody will hear you.

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One consideration for Marine radio is that the channels have fairly specific assignments (and yes, chit chat by kids would probably be in violation of any channel).

One listing:

  • 16: Distress calls, ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore -- except for emergencies, MUST change to a working channel after initial contact; must be monitored when not using radio for other purposes
  • 09: New FCC recommended recreational vessel calling channel, to free 16 for distress (this probably means one needs a dual-receive radio to monitor 16, while also monitoring 09)
  • 06: ship-to-ship safety; SAR; Coast Guard
  • 13 (& 67): "bridge to bridge" navigation in tight waterways; 1W max; 13 is all vessels, 67 is commercial vessels only
  • 22: Coast Guard after making initial contact on 16
  • 68, 69, 71, 72: solely ship-to-ship
  • 01, 07-11, 18, 19, 63, 67, 79, 80: COMMERCIAL vessels only
  • 24-28, 84-88: ship-to-shore Marine Operator phone-patches
  • 70: "Digital Selective Calling", ships with DSC radios use this for distress&calling rather than 16

Heh -- that listing also has a warning: do not let children play with the radio!

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