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WEST MARINE VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio

Model # 11954328Mfg # VHF85

$139.99

Customer Reviews
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Product Description

Small, inexpensive, and with all the features most boaters will ever want or need. Our VHF85 handheld radio offers an incredible 11-hour battery life on a single charge for all-day use and easily slips into your pocket until you need it.

The ultra compact radio that’s BIG on features

Our littlest VHF radio, the VHF85 more than measures up to other offerings. Despite its small size, it transmits with plenty of power (five watts), so you’ll be heard loud and clear when needed. Its backlit, 7-segment LCD display is easy to read with large, highly legible characters you won't have to squint to see, even in bright sunlight. Illuminated eight-button control make operation a breeze.

This little workhorse also features convenient Dual and Triple-Watch modes, letting you monitor other channels. It meets rigid IPX8 submersibility standards and is backed by a comprehensive waterproof warranty so, while it doesn’t float, it’ll more than handle most onboard chores.

“Plug and play” use preserves battery life

Despite a highly respectable 11-hour battery life, the VHF85 also comes with a clip-on DC charger with AC adapter. Plug it in to the bottom of your radio and you can use it while it’s charging—without running the battery down.

  • Material: Die-cast aluminum chassis
  • Controls: On/Volume/Squelch knobs, eight buttons
  • Scanning Modes: Dual- and Triple-Watch Plus
  • Weather Alert: Yes
  • Transmit Power: 1/2.5/5 Watt
  • Receiver Performance: Sensitivity: 0.20µV; Rejection: 75dB
  • Battery Type: Lithium-ion
  • Battery Life: 11 hours
  • Waterproof: Mfr. rated IPX8
  • Dimensions: 2 1/2“W x 4 9/16“H x 1 1/2“D
  • Display Type: Segmented LCD
  • Weight: 10.2oz.
  • Included Equipment: Rapid clip-on DC charger, AC adapter, belt clip, wrist strap
  • Warranty: Three-year waterproof; $49.99 flat rate

Specs

VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio

Battery Life 11 Hours
Battery Type Li-Ion
Dimensions 2.5"W x 4.56"H x 1.5"D
Display Type Backlit Segmented LCD
GPS/DSC Not GPS Enabled
Floating Non-Floating
Material Die-Cast Aluminum
Multiband Not Multiband
Scanning Modes Dual-Watch
Tri-Watch
Transmit Power 1/2.5/5W
Warranty 3 Years Waterproof
Waterproof Mfgr. Rated IPX-8
Weather Alert Yes - Weather alert

West Advisor

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REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
West MarineVHF85 Handheld VHF Radio
 
3.5

(based on 21 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (8)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (5)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (3)

62%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Easy to use (17)
  • Lightweight (15)
  • Good audio (14)
  • Rugged (13)
  • Clear signal (12)

Cons

  • Drains battery (3)

Best Uses

  • Boating / sailing (17)
  • Emergencies (7)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Casual/ recreational (17), Avid adventurer (3)
    • Primary use:
    • Personal (20)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Good Little Radio - Excellent Price

Bought this radio for use on my Laser sailboat. Range was an important factor for me, unfortunately, most reviews never mention range.Note to others - if you're 'reviewing' a radio, please include...Read complete review

Bought this radio for use on my Laser sailboat. Range was an important factor for me, unfortunately, most reviews never mention range.Note to others - if you're 'reviewing' a radio, please include actual usage/range figures!Yesterday I got out on the water and communicated back to shore (my neighbor) at a true distance of 7 nautical miles.I started out on 5 watts, the report from shore was crystal clear. I then dropped to 2.5 watts - same report. I then dropped to 1 watt and it was reported that there was no difference. I thought that was excellent performance, keep in mind, my radio is about 3 feet off the water (max) so doing 7 nautical miles on the lowest power setting (1 watt) was very good.The radio is small, inexpensive and carries a 3 year warranty from West Marine - that's excellent. It will run for a FULL day on a single charge. It's also quite waterproof. Short antenna means it's not in the way and yet, the range was still excellent. Having actual volume and squelch knobs means it's easy to use on a moment's notice. When it comes right down to it, it's as simple as volume/squelch and the talk button. That's important for me as both of my hands are usually busy and I don't have time to safely play with buttons etc when someone calls in or I call out. I need to be able to simply and quickly get a message through - not spend time trying to figure out buttons/features.If there's one thing wrong with it it's only that it won't float. It comes with a car charger and A/C charger so you're covered there. There were reports that the tabs break off in the charger adapter - I can't really see it happening. They look pretty solid to me (perhaps re-designed?).I had a great experience with West Marine, I was thinking of getting a more expensive iCom radio, and while they are reported to be the best I'm sure happy with this little unit. It's also almost entirely die-cast metal so I doubt you can break it. Having said that, I don't find it to be heavy at all. The inlcuded belt clip works well on my life jacket - I'm not worried about loosing it (I also attached the lanyard).Highly recommended - it's great, it's small, it's powerful and it's inexpensive. I'll update my review if/when I get out further then 7 nautical miles :-)I did cover all exposed screws with silicon though as I know most manufacturers haven't realized that stainless screws are important when they are exposed to salt water. Having said that, I don't think there are any water-proof issues here. The contacts on the exposed battery terminals appear to be stainless, so I doubt that the battery will need to be replaced due to rusted out terminals as with other radios.A great buy - if only it floted and was bright yellow it would be perfect! On the other and, at [$] it's probably the best value out there. And I like the fact that it's branded West Marine. I had a great experience with them and am sure that will continue. I don't mind advertising for them at all. Way to go guys - you got a winner here!

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

Don't waste your money on this radio

Could not receive weather stations where you could understand the transmission. When talking boat to boat seperated by 100 yards or so it was fine. I needed to communicate the the USCG station that...Read complete review

Could not receive weather stations where you could understand the transmission. When talking boat to boat seperated by 100 yards or so it was fine. I needed to communicate the the USCG station that was 2.4 miles away in clear view over salt marsh flats and they could not understand my transmission. I tried another radio and all was good. When I arrive home I charged the radio, let is discharge , charged again and same results.
If you use you plan to use this radio as a emergency transmitter, DON'T.
Your better off buying something better.

Why did I purchaes this radio. I called my local West Marine and they said they had the Icom radio I wanted and would put it on the side for me. When I arrived there 30 minutes after they said they didn't have it but had this one and it was equally as good. Needing an extra radio for the next morning I took it.

I am now on my way back to return this radio for credit back to my Port Supply account. I tried it for a week and it is a real piece of garbage compared to other radios I have on hand.

I am not new to VHF radios and have several. I am a licensed captain and guide. This is by far the worst radio I have ever had.

Save your money and buy something else. I will not trust my life or my clients lives to this radio.

Reviewed by 21 customers

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2.0

Battery shelf life too short

By Jim

from Jupiter, Fl

About Me Casual/ Recreational

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Clear Signal
  • Easy To Use
  • Good Audio
  • Lightweight
  • Rugged

Cons

  • Drains Battery

Best Uses

  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Emergencies

Comments about VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

I used the radio and it worked just fine, I put the radio away for a few months and the battery would not take a recharge, local store was no help.

  • Primary use:
  • Personal

(9 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

 
2.0

Don't waste your money on this radio

By Capt. John

from Long Island, NY

About Me Professional/Guide

Pros

  • Easy To Use
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Poor Reception
  • Short Range

Best Uses

    Comments about VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

    Could not receive weather stations where you could understand the transmission. When talking boat to boat seperated by 100 yards or so it was fine. I needed to communicate the the USCG station that was 2.4 miles away in clear view over salt marsh flats and they could not understand my transmission. I tried another radio and all was good. When I arrive home I charged the radio, let is discharge , charged again and same results.
    If you use you plan to use this radio as a emergency transmitter, DON'T.
    Your better off buying something better.

    Why did I purchaes this radio. I called my local West Marine and they said they had the Icom radio I wanted and would put it on the side for me. When I arrived there 30 minutes after they said they didn't have it but had this one and it was equally as good. Needing an extra radio for the next morning I took it.

    I am now on my way back to return this radio for credit back to my Port Supply account. I tried it for a week and it is a real piece of garbage compared to other radios I have on hand.

    I am not new to VHF radios and have several. I am a licensed captain and guide. This is by far the worst radio I have ever had.

    Save your money and buy something else. I will not trust my life or my clients lives to this radio.

    • Primary use:
    • Business

    (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

     
    4.0

    Good Radio

    By Gary

    from SF Bay Area

    About Me Casual/ Recreational

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Clear Signal
    • Easy To Use
    • Good Audio
    • Rugged

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Boating

      Comments about VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

      Long battery life, light and compact. I wear it clipped & tethered to my PFD. ("I wear mine.")

      The radio is rugged but be careful with the charger. There are four spring contacts. If one or more of them get depressed into their recessed space, they may not make contact with the battery. If that happens, no charging will take place/no LED light. Plus there is a printed circuit board inside the charger. So reconsider just having it just banging around in your seabag.

      Fair Winds.

      • Primary use:
      • Personal
       
      5.0

      Great little handheld VHF

      By Don

      from Discovery Bay

      About Me Avid Adventurer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Clear Signal
      • Easy To Use
      • Good Audio
      • Lightweight
      • Rugged

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Boating

        Comments about VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

        Priced right and has all of the features that I need.

        • Primary use:
        • Personal

        (7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

         
        2.0

        Battery Failed after a year and a half

        By Tony

        from Palo Alto

        About Me Casual/ Recreational

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Clear Signal
        • Easy To Use
        • Good Audio
        • Lightweight
        • Rugged

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Boating

          Comments about VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

          Had the unit for about a year and half, though barely used it. Battery failed to recharge. I took it to West Marine, and they said I needed a new unit.

          • Primary use:
          • Personal
           
          5.0

          Nice & Handy

          By m1

          from Alaska

          About Me Avid Adventurer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Clear Signal
          • Easy To Use
          • Good Audio
          • Lightweight
          • Rugged

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Boating
            • Emergencies
            • Hunting

            Comments about VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

            As per advertised. So far so good!

            • Primary use:
            • Personal

            (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

             
            3.0

            First one did not work

            By Kevin

            from Homestead, fl

            About Me Casual/ Recreational

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Good Audio
            • Lightweight

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Boating

              Comments about VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

              First one that was received from the website did not work - had no problems exchanging it at the local west marine. Second one is currently working ok.

              • Primary use:
              • Personal

              (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Nice Lil Radio. Good Price

              By BigBen

              from La Puente, CA

              About Me Casual/ Recreational

              Verified Reviewer

              Pros

              • Clear Signal
              • Easy To Use
              • Good Audio

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Boating

                Comments about VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

                Nice little radio, leave it on while out fishing battery stays fully charged for 6-7 hrs. Speakers nice and loud. Like using at the house to listen to weather forecast's. Had it 4 month's, no issues with the battery like some of the other's.

                • Primary use:
                • Personal

                (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                5.0

                Prefect for my use

                By Sailboat Brad

                from Jersey Shore

                About Me Casual/ Recreational

                Verified Reviewer

                Pros

                • Clear Signal
                • Easy To Use
                • Good Audio
                • Lightweight
                • Rugged

                Cons

                • Short Range

                Best Uses

                • Boating
                • Dingylaunchgoing Ashore
                • Emergencies

                Comments about VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

                Great little radio. Use it on my main boat, my dingy when going ashore, and i'll keep it under my vest when sailing my sunfish in the bay. Great when anchored out. Have dropped it on the deck, in the water, on the street, on the rocks in the parking lot, on the dock and accidentially kicked it once (long story). Still works perfectly.

                • Primary use:
                • Personal

                (8 of 9 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                1.0

                weak battery

                By Aníbal Guarnaccio

                from Argentina

                About Me Casual/ Recreational

                Pros

                • Lightweight

                Cons

                • Drains Battery

                Best Uses

                • Boating

                Comments about VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

                The battery lasted only 9 months, and it cost almost the half of the handy.
                My order is from August 2011.

                • Primary use:
                • Personal

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