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WEST MARINE VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio

Model # 11954328Mfg # VHF85

$139.99

Customer Reviews
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Product Description

Small, rugged, 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. It also is built tough, with a super strong aluminum alloy chassis, so it can take all the abuse a day on the water can dish out.

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 Lithium-ion
Dimensions 2 1/2" Width x 4 9/16" Height x 1 1/2" Depth
Display Type Segmented LCD
Features Waterproof
Weather Alert
Material Aluminum
Scanning Modes Dual-Watch
Tri-Watch
Transmit Power 1/2.5/5 Watt
Warranty Details Three Years Waterproof
Flat Rate
Weight 10.2 Ounces

West Advisor

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REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
West Marine VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio
 
3.4

(based on 25 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (9)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (5)

60%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Easy to use (19)
  • Lightweight (18)
  • Good audio (16)
  • Rugged (15)
  • Clear signal (14)

Cons

  • Drains battery (3)
  • Short range (3)

Best Uses

  • Boating / sailing (20)
  • Emergencies (7)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Casual/ recreational (19), Avid adventurer (5)
    • Primary use:
    • Personal (24)

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 25 customers

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Displaying reviews 1-10

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1.0

Terrible charging system

By Mitch

from Providence, RI

About Me Casual/ Recreational

Verified Reviewer

Pros

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

Cons

  • Bad Charging

Best Uses

    Comments about West Marine VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

    I have three of these. I don't need a DC charger and the DC charger to AC charger adapter does not work well.

    It is important to consider the battery and charging system when buying these radios. I have a dozen of the previous version which I use for managing boat races. When the batteries in these fail there is no way to obtain replacements.

    I mention this because you should consider whether replacement batteries for the radio you are buying now are available or whether you are willing to throw the radio way when the battery stops working.

    • Primary use:
    • Personal
     
    4.0

    Nice little radio

    By John

    from Fleming Island, FL

    About Me Casual/ Recreational

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

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

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Backup Radio
      • Boating
      • Dinghy Communication

      Comments about West Marine VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

      I took my mast down for repairs and needed a VHF for the trip back to my home marina. It worked perfectly to communicate with the bridges and to monitor channel 16.

      • Primary use:
      • Personal

      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      IT REALLY IS WATER PROOF!

      By TBB

      from East Tawas, MI & St Simons Island, GA

      About Me Avid Adventurer

      Pros

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Boating

          Comments about West Marine VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

          I have had this radio knocking around for several years without incident. I recently got in a real mess on Lake Huron. took on a bunch of water but made it back and had her hauled out for the winter, Ten days latter I am winterizing the engine and see the little radio has been under nasty water for ten days. It still works! Smells a bit but works!

          • Primary use:
          • Personal

          (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          1.0

          Charging System Poor

          By Tanny

          from Guatemala

          About Me Avid Adventurer

          Verified Reviewer

          Pros

          • Lightweight

          Cons

          • Short Range

          Best Uses

          • Boating

          Comments about West Marine VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

          The charging equipment that comes with this radio does not make good contact with either a 110 plug or a 12v boat plug. The 12v 'cigarette lighter' plug must be fiddled with and rotated constantly before the contact is made.
          In addition, after one year of light use, the little plastic clip that holds the batter pack on to the radio broke.
          I have contacted West Marine with a request for help - we'll see what happens and I will write an update when I hear back from them.

          • Primary use:
          • Personal
           
          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 West Marine 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

          (10 of 10 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 West Marine 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 West Marine 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 West Marine 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 West Marine 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 West Marine VHF85 Handheld VHF Radio:

                    As per advertised. So far so good!

                    • Primary use:
                    • Personal

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