I use an Icom, and they are pretty nice and not really all that expensive. I also use mine as a backup to the fixed-mount in my boat. They all work reasonably well, I don't think that there is a lot of difference for a casual weekend kayaker. What I would look for are the features you want. When I was shopping I was interested in:
- Power - equates to range and clarity
I'd think you could get something pretty nice for $125 to $150. Try taking a look at West Marine; I found mine on sale at a pretty good price, I just don't remember what that was. And yeah... I keep mine in a drybag too.
Hope that helps?