The purpose of using a VHF antenna is to increase the efficiency of electric energy into radio waves.
You could have the best marine VHF radio on the market but if it is hooked to an incorrect antenna, it will not achieve its full potential.
The best VHF antenna is the Shakespeare 5225XT Galaxy, which is 8 feet long and has a gain of 6 decibels that is suitable for medium to large boats.
In order to achieve better efficiency, the VHF antenna needs to radiate the radio waves in a specific direction and not just upwards. For this reason alone, its important that you stick to a reputable brand for optimum results from your radio.
Table of Contents
Best VHF Marine Antenna
|VHF Antenna||Length||dB Gain|
|Shakespeare 5225XT Galaxy||8 Feet||6|
|Shakespeare 5215 Low Profile||3 Feet||3|
|Shakespeare 5216 Classic||1.25 Feet||4.5|
|Tram VHF||3.1 Feet||3|
|Pacific Aerials LongReach||8 Feet||9|
The range is an important metric when it comes to a VHF radio and when it comes to the antenna, the higher it is above the water, the further distance you will achieve.
Of course, if there are obstacles in the way, the signal will still be interrupted but with an antenna that is high up on the boat, you could potentially reach up to 50 miles.
Another important metric is the gain, which refers to the increase in signal strength.
When it comes to achieving optimum gain from your VHF antenna, the length of the antenna will result in a higher gain and thus better signal strength.
If you have invested heavily in your marine radio, you should also do the same with your antenna for optimum results.
Below is a list of the best VHF antennas for marine use that will improve the efficiency of the radio waves transmitted.
Shakespeare 5225XT Galaxy VHF Antenna
The Shakespeare Galaxy VHF Antenna is the best VHF antenna if you are looking for superior performance.
It is one of the most affordable antennas on the market and will suit boats that are mid to large-sized due to the length.
It also has a long-range, particularly when compared to other antennas of the same size, which results in a clear transmission.
The Shakespeare Galaxy antenna also has a threaded base that you can use with a stainless steel mount, which will keep it stable when you are out on the water.
Some of the most notable features of the Shakespeare Galaxy Antenna include:
- 8-foot length
- 6 dB gain
- Brass and copper elements for a good range
- Collinear-phased ⅝ inch wave elements
- 1 inch, 14 threaded mounts that can be used with stainless steel
- 20 feet low loss cable and connector
The Shakespeare Galaxy is a great antenna and is made using quality construction.
With this antenna, you can feel comfortable heading out on the water knowing that you’ll have excellent efficiency for your VHF marine radio.
Shakespeare 5215 Low Profile Antenna
The Shakespeare 5215 is a much smaller antenna than the Shakespeare Galaxy above at only 3 feet in length.
It is suitable for smaller boats that don’t need a particularly long-range, but still want good quality transmission.
Here are some of the notable features of the Shakespeare 5215
- 3-foot length
- 3 dB gain
- Mast mount design
- Comes with stainless steel L bracket for mounting
- SO-239 connector on the bottom
- 2 year limited warranty
The Shakespeare 5215 is one of the best antennas for smaller boats that don’t need a particularly far range but want good quality transmission.
As an added bonus, it comes with a very durable, solid mount as well and is relatively easy to set up.
Shakespeare 5216 Classic VHF Antenna
Another option from the reliable Shakespeare brand, the 5216 Classic VHF Antenna is a great starter antenna if you’ve never used one before.
It is lightweight, easy to install and provides a quality signal transmission.
While it isn’t the most powerful antenna on the market, it is the best option if you are a beginner boater looking for a VHF antenna.
Here are some of the most notable features of this product.
- 15-inch length
- Durable stainless steel whip
- Comes with L-bracket for mounting
- Gold plated connector
- The light weight of just 5.6 ounces
Although it is small, the gold plating on this VHF antenna ensures the transmission of radio waves is clear and reliable.
If you are looking for a cheap alternative but still wish to keep with the Shakespeare brand, the 5216 Classic is the best option.
Tram VHF Marine Antenna
The Tram VHF Marine Antenna is an alternative brand to Shakespeare.
It is made with heavy-duty materials that can withstand the elements you will encounter out on the water and will be long-lasting compared to other alternatives of a similar price.
It also has great reception and works with many different frequency channels.
Additionally, it’s very affordable, so you don’t have to break the bank to invest in this one.
The Tram VHF Marine Antenna is a very solid, reliable option for any boater.
Here are some of the specs to note on this product.
- Comes with stainless steel mounting bracket and hardware
- Covers all marine band frequencies
- 3.1 feet in height
- 3 dB gain
The Tram VHF Marine Antenna is excellent for any marine use and is one of the cheapest available.
It also looks great on your boat and has a durable design that will prevent any damage when out on the water.
Pacific Aerials Long Reach VHF Antenna
If you are looking for a VHF antenna that is going to have a very long reach and get you a clear transmission at long distances, the Pacific Aerials long reach antenna is a good choice for you.
It is long and uses quality materials to pick up signals even when you are very far offshore.
Here are some of the notable features of the Pacific Aerials antenna:
- 8 feet in length
- Made with ferrule type stainless steel
- 9 dB gain
- Hardwired with 5m of cable and FastFit plugs
- 156 – 162 MHz frequency channels
Overall, the Pacific Aerials Long Reach Antenna is a very durable and long-reaching antenna.
It will last you for years to come and keep you in reliable communication with anyone back onshore.
While it is on the expensive side, it is a worthwhile investment for those that are serious about boating.
VHF Antenna Buying Guide
While you are out on your boat, it’s always helpful to have a marine radio for safety.
One of the most important components of a marine radio is a good antenna that is going to provide great signal and reliable performance no matter where you are on the water.
You need to find an antenna that is going to provide the range and performance you need for the specific type of boating you are doing.
Not all VHF antennas are created equal, so it is very important to compare them to find the best option for your needs before making a purchase.
Here’s what you should look for when shopping for a VHF antenna for your vehicle.
The gain of the antenna indicates how it can boost transmission power by focusing on energy.
The amount of gain you need will depend on what type of boating you are doing – you don’t just necessarily want to pick the antenna with the highest gain.
For example, sailboats are typically recommended to use a 3 dB gain antenna, because it has a broader energy radiation power, which actually makes the signal sound clearer in rolling waves.
Powerboats can get better results with a higher dB gain, like 6 or 9.
Pay attention to the way the antenna is built, because this is a good indication of the quality of the signal.
Essentially, an antenna consists of metal conductors inside a tube. Good antennas will usually use either a stainless steel ferrule (tube) or fiberglass ferrule.
The interior components of a high-quality antenna are usually quality metals like brass or copper.
The combination of copper and brass or silver and brass typically produces better results.
When you pay a lower price for an antenna, you’re usually compromising on quality and may get a plastic ferrule, which is much more likely to break over time.
You should also pay attention to the way the components are put together because higher quality antennas will have soldered internal components.
The look of the antenna may also be something to consider, as you may not want a huge, bulky antenna to interfere with the line of your boat.
You should always pay attention to how the antenna needs to be installed on your boat because the cables you use can actually affect the sound quality of the antenna.
The more cable you use, the lower your signal strength will be, regardless of the actual gain of the antenna.
In some cases, it may be better to use an antenna with a lower signal strength where you won’t require a long cable instead of a high strength antenna with lots of cables.
Height and Range
The height of the antenna you purchase is going to correspond to the range of sound it will be able to pick up.
This is because a higher antenna will be able to receive the signal from the original transmission without as many obstacles in the way.
Note that your antenna should always be mounted at the highest point possible to get the best signal.
The longer the antenna is and the higher you mount it, the better range you will get.
If you have a very tall boat, like a sailboat, you may not need a particularly long antenna to get a good range.
However, if your boat is short and compact, it may be worth investing in a longer antenna to get the quality you are looking for.
Many antennas come with mounting equipment that makes it easier to get your antenna set up.
For example, you may find that your antenna comes with a bracket and hardware that you can use to easily set your antenna up on the side or roof of your boat.
Note that when you are mounting your antenna, you should keep it as far away as possible from other antennas or hardware to get the best range and performance.
This antenna is going to be out on the ocean, so it needs to be durable enough to last even through the toughest of outdoor conditions.
It needs to be resistant to corrosion and tough enough to resist impact and water. For the best performance, you should gently clean the exterior of your boat regularly.
Not all VHF antennas are created equal, and it’s always best to invest your money in a quality antenna that is going to provide great performance while you are out on the water.
Different antennas serve different types of boats, so you should also make sure you purchase an antenna that suits the type of boat you are going to be working on.
Use the criteria listed here in this guide to determine which antenna you should purchase for your boat.