best bang for your buck IMHO is the standard horizon HX280S Submersible Handheld VHF Radio. $119 with a rebate now. if you need all those fancy features the icom m24 is a pretty slick little radio but $50 more.
Do either of these have the option to use regular akline batteries? The primary reason for getting one is to use as a backup in the emergency bag and I don't want to have to check that it is recharged every trip. I want to be able to have extra batteries to just slip in.
I went offshore about three weeks ago and when I turned my console mounted VHF on nothing happened. I was already about three miles out. I really didn't feel safe without a working radio. After I got back in I found that it was a pulled connection behind the instrument panel. I went looking for the cheapest functional handheld radio that would also use double A's. I found the Midland Naticus 3, at Bass Pro shop for $75. It included rechageable battery, AC and DC adapter, dash mount and headset. I tried it out on the water and reached out five miles with no problems. I keep it in a waterproof ditch bag and don't plan to use it unless my primary gives out. It also can use double A's. There was an issue getting it out of emergency mode after hitting the channel 16 button, but after researching it I found that the way to restore normal function is to hold the menu button down until it goes into weather mode, then holding it down again to return to normal mode. Actually the best thing to do is just change channels using the channel selector and leave the channel 16, override alone. I've since seen this radio package on-line for as little as $59. I think its a good solution and its certainly priced right.
Thanks for the reply FLCoyote. I went with the HX290 because it floats since it is going in a ditch bag. Wish I would have seen this a month ago and got the $20 off but oh well. I am curious how the midland product will hold up since I may get one for myself on a smaller inshore boat. This one is going to Dad for Father's Day.