Choosing the best marine binoculars can be more difficult than you might originally anticipate. Based on your own particular needs, wants, and specifications, different binoculars will appeal to different people. Following a simple guide, however, will help your process.
Though there are a number of good features to look for in general, much of your decision will come down to your anticipated use. For instance, not everyone needs the most possible magnification. If you do not need it, why bother paying for it?
Simply by following a few basic tips and hints, choosing the best possible marine binoculars will be smooth sailing. There are many great options available on the market, but choosing between them does not need to be headache inducing.
How to choose the best marine binoculars:
The first thing to consider when choosing the best marine binoculars is your intended use. If you plan on being out in totally open water, choosing a pair with stronger magnification is a better choice. Otherwise, you may be able to save money by going with less powerful ones.
Durability is also a vital component of the best marine binoculars. Likely the best way to assess the durability of a given pair is to read reviews. Other boaters will provide the most valuable input for your search since they have direct and hands-on experience with the products.
It is also vitally important to find marine binoculars that are comfortable for your use. This likely means that they are adjustable. It will not help you see things if the eye pieces are too wide or narrow in comparison to your own eyes. Again, reviews will be of service here.
What to look for in good marine binoculars:
As you might imagine, one thing to definitely look for in good marine binoculars is waterproof and fog proof construction. Good binoculars are usually not cheap. If they are going to spend their life in humid, foggy, wet environments, make sure they can withstand it.
For marine binoculars of 7x or more magnification, image stabilization is another good feature to look for. The more magnified something is, the less stable the image will be. The added image stabilization will take away some headaches and motion sickness from your day.
A built-in compass, though not necessary for other types of binoculars, is a definite must for a good pair of marine binoculars. If you are out on the open water, a built-in compass can help you get your bearing more easily than you would without one.
Image brightness is another thing to look for in good marine binoculars. If the lenses are constructed poorly or cheaply, then they will not let in adequate light and the image you see will not be as clear. If you do not try a given pair of binoculars yourself, make sure to read reviews.
The Bushnell PowerView Super High-Powered Surveillance Binoculars are a great affordable option, especially for beginning boaters. They have a powerful magnification level (20x). Also, these binoculars have an instant focus function, similar to an image stabilizer.
Despite the relatively low price point, the Bushnell PowerView binoculars have a very crisp and clear image quality. For someone looking for that extra magnification without paying a higher price tag, these are a great option. They do not sacrifice image quality for price.
Another nice feature is the rubber armor covering around the binoculars as a whole. This coating helps to protect the binoculars if you accidentally drop them on the deck of the boat during some choppy water times.
One of the biggest cons of these binoculars for a boating setting is that they are not waterproof or fog proof. This means you have to be more careful when using these binoculars on-board. They may also lose functionality the longer they are exposed to damp conditions.
The focusing mechanism also does cause some problems. Even though it should function nearly like an image stabilizer, it is actually quite touchy and sensitive to movements. For choppy boating conditions, this could be a major problem. You cannot control the weather.
Overall, even though the Bushnell PowerView Super High-Powered Surveillance Binoculars do have some significant drawbacks, they are a great starter pair. Because they are relatively inexpensive, these binoculars offer an entry point into marine binoculars in general.
The Bushnell Marine 7×50 Waterproof Binoculars are a great step up from the previous option. Though they run a bit more expensive, they do correct a couple of the drawbacks of the previous pair. For instance, these are totally waterproof and fog proof for boating ease.
In addition to being fully waterproof and fog proof, these binoculars also float if you do drop them in the water. Since marine binoculars are not cheap, their ability to float is a great asset. Whether you are clumsy or just in choppy conditions, you will be glad these float.
These binoculars are also extremely durable. Bushnell is known for making well-made and durable products; these are no different. Their durability does make them a bit of the heavy side, but adding a nylon strap will keep it comfortable. The rubber grip is also non-slip in rain.
The independent focusing of the Bushnell Marine 7×50 Waterproof Binoculars is also a valuable feature. Because each eye piece focuses independently, they have a wide range of focus options. It makes the focusing capabilities more customizable for different users.
Though they have many great features, there are a couple drawbacks. First of all, the lens caps do not fit snuggly, which could lead to lens scratches. Secondly, there is not an image stabilizing function. This will likely mean you will need to focus manually more frequently.
Despite the couple setbacks, the Bushnell Marine 7×50 Waterproof Binoculars are a great option for your next boating outing. They are reasonably priced and from a reliable brand. They may not have all the bells and whistles of other pairs, but they will serve you well.
The Hooway 7×50 Waterproof Fogproof Marine Binoculars with Internal Rangefinder and Compass come in around the same price point as the previous pair, but offer slightly different features. For instance, the built-in compass sets these binoculars apart from others.
The image on these binoculars also sets them apart. It is crystal clear, sharp, and color correct. The compass and rangefinder also compliment the clear image quality for great directional information too. You will be able to see where you are very clearly.
Though they are not advertised as floating, they actually will float for a few minutes if or when they fall into the water. Additionally, the bright yellow color palette will help you locate your dropped binoculars quickly, even in rainy weather or dark conditions with poor visibility.
Included with the Hooway 7×50 Waterproof Fogproof Marine Binoculars is a heavy duty canvas bag. The bag is well made as well and should hold up to bad weather and some abuse while out on the water.
Though overall these binoculars are a good buy, there are some significant cons. First of all, the lens caps do not fit properly and deteriorate over time. It would likely be best to purchase lens caps separately to ensure your lenses stay scratch-free even in marine conditions.
The other drawback of these binoculars is that the rubber eye pieces deteriorate relatively quickly. While other, more well-known, brands may have replacements available, these binoculars do not have readily available replacement parts out there.
If you are looking for higher quality marine binoculars, the Fujunon Mariner 7×50 WPC-XL Porro Prism Binoculars are a great choice. They are about twice as expensive as the last option, but they may be worth it for more serious boaters looking for more professional gear.
These binoculars also have a built-in compass, which is a definite plus. Similar to some of the previous options, the Fujunon Mariner Binoculars also come with a floatation strap. If they do go overboard, that provided strap will save you from needing to purchase a new pair.
The prism optics on these binoculars provide a very clear and bright image quality. Also, they have a nighttime setting which lets you read the compass after dark. Overall, these will provide you with one of the best options for all day (and evening) visibility and direction.
Unlike many other options on the market, these binoculars are relatively lightweight. While that may not be the most important feature, it is a nice addition, especially if you plan on using them frequently. Despite the lightweight, they are also very durable.
Though there are many great features to these binoculars, one of the biggest drawbacks is that, according to the manufacturer, the compass may be as much as five degrees off. While this would not be the biggest deal for land-users, marine navigation requires greater precision.
Despite the obvious setback, these binoculars are still a great choice for marine binoculars. If you do not need to have binoculars for navigation purposes specifically, these wills serve you well and for a good long time.
For people looking for a good, budget conscious option, the BARSKA Deep Sea 7×50 Waterproof Floating Binoculars with Internal Rangefinder Compass are a great option. For even more water protection, these also have a complete O-ring seal that prevents fogging as well.
Like some other options, these marine binoculars also have an illuminated compass for nighttime use. Since it is much more difficult to find your way around during the night than it is in the daytime, having a lighted compass is a great asset and helpful in sticky situations.
The lens caps are also attached to the binoculars themselves, which is very helpful. Even if they do pop off while in use, you will not lose them since they are attached to the binoculars themselves. That added security is a great feature to have for rough conditions.
These binoculars are also pretty durable, especially given the lower price point. They have a rubber casing that is shock proof. It would be hugely disappointing to drop your binoculars on the deck and find the optics messed up.
Though they have many great features, the BARSKA Deep Sea Waterproof Floating Binoculars do have some drawbacks. Overall, these work well, but they do not have the longevity of more expensive pairs. Specifically, the rubber eye cups deteriorate rather quickly.
Another issue is the lack or, or poor quality of, the instruction manual. Because you have to manually calculate the size of objects with the rangefinder, a manual would be a much appreciated resource. The manual that comes with these, however, leaves a lot to be desired.
If you are willing to pay a bit more for your marine binoculars, the Nikon 16026 7×50 Oceanpro Binoculars with Global Compass are a great choice. Though they do not have a strict image stabilizer, because of their large exit pupil these binoculars have stability on rough water.
The compass is also illuminated and incorporates bearing indicator at the bottom of the field of view. This helps even further with the stability producing effect. Also, the Nikon 16026 Binoculars also have distance and size estimation markers, taking away the need for calculation.
Like some of the previous options, these binoculars also use a Porro prism for crystal clear optics. Many of the higher end marine binoculars incorporate this type of optics. As far as color and clarity go, it really cannot be beat.
One of the main issues with the Nikon 16026 Oceanpro Binoculars with Global Compass is the price tag. While they offer many excellent features, a clear and bright image, and good stability, the price point is steep for newer boaters or simply those not wishing to spend much.
The other potential issue is that the compass and height grid cannot be used in a vertical alignment, only a horizontal alignment. While it is not a huge problem, some users may find it inconvenient and limiting for their purposes.
The Celestron Oceana 7×50 WP CF & RF Binoculars are another solid, mid-price range option for your marine outings. They are entirely waterproof and fog proof, so they will hold up to any conditions you encounter while out on the water.
These binoculars also have a built-in compass and rangefinder which are illuminated as well. One nice benefit to this particular model as well is that the rangefinder can be used horizontally or vertically.
Although the presence of the compass and rangefinder are great in and of themselves, the compass really stands out amongst the crowd because of the liquid-damping. This feature makes the compass settle to north much faster, which is an invaluable feature when out on the water.
The eye piece adjustments on these binoculars are also very precise and customizable. Since everyone’s eyes and faces are shaped differently, this adjustability is a great feature to have. Additionally, it makes them much easier to focus properly for what you are trying to see.
One significant problem for some users is that the Celestron Oceana Porro WP CF & RC Binoculars’ compass is not easily readable for people who wear glasses. You can see it, but it requires that you tip the binoculars at a certain angle. Otherwise, the compass is fairly useless.
The eye cups also have some quality issues. While the rest of the binoculars will hold up to wet environments, the glue holding the eye cups on does not do well with humidity. They can be reattached, but it is still an inconvenience.
The Mentch 7×50 HD Waterproof Military Marine Binoculars with Internal Rangefinder and Compass are comparable to the Nikon pair above in price point. They also offer a great option for boaters planning to be out on the water frequently.
One nice feature of these binoculars is that they can be mounted to a tripod for greater stability. While not every user will want to use this feature, some will find it invaluable. It can help with the stability and security of your binoculars while you are tossed by waves.
These binoculars are made to be military grade, so the durability level is quite high. They are totally waterproof and fog proof, with nitrogen-purged glass for long term use. Also, they do float in the water, so you will not lose them immediately upon dropping them in the water.
The image quality of the Mentch 7×50 HD Waterproof Military Marine Binoculars with Internal Rangefinder and Compass also set them apart from the competition. Since they have a Porro prism system as well as multi-coated optics for anti-glare, clear, bright images.
The main drawback for some boaters is that these are likely the most expensive option on this list. While they are not overpriced, some may want to go with a less expensive option for their boating ventures. It depends on your preferences and where you want to spend your money.
If you are looking for a good, standard pair of binoculars, the Orion 09332 Scenix Wide 7.1 Degree Field 100 Yard Linear View Binoculars are a great choice. Complete with Porro prism optics, these binoculars offer great image quality without a painful price tag.
One especially nice feature of these binoculars is that the casing is metal rather than plastic. This feature makes them extremely durable. Plastic can crack with repeated dropping, whereas metal will keep your binoculars intact for many impacts and clumsy moments.
Another valuable trait of these binoculars is that they are relatively lightweight. While many marine binoculars weigh slightly over two pounds, these come in under the two pound mark. While the different is not huge, it is noticeable. If you use them often, lightweight it nice.
The main disadvantage to the Orion 09332 Scenix Wide 7.1 Degree Field 100 Yard Linear View Binoculars for marine users is that they are not water or fog proof. While the image quality is great, they likely cannot hold up to the humidity and wetness of a boating life.
Another potential shortcoming is that they do not have a built-in compass or rangefinder. For casual boaters, or passengers, this may not be the biggest deal. If you do plan on more extensive outings this will be a big setback. You will need to bring a compass along separately.
For those looking for a stripped down, bare-bones set, the Marathon BI030034R Waterproof Binoculars with Reticle 7×50 are an excellent choice. They are very inexpensive while not sacrificing many of the features that really matter for avid boaters.
The waterproofing and fog proofing of these binoculars really sets them apart from the other binoculars of similar price points. The waterproofing is to military grade, so you will not need to worry about losing your binocular function to humidity and wet weather.
The all rubber casing is another good quality of these binoculars. Even though they are lower priced than other options, the still offer the shock absorbing protection. While other types of binoculars do not necessarily need this feature, it is a must for marine binoculars.
Though they have many good qualities, one of the main setbacks of the Marathon BI030034R Waterproof Binoculars with Reticle 7×50 is that they can be difficult to adjust. If you intend on using them frequently, the lack of adjustability can be a pain and cause discomfort.
The other downfall of these binoculars is that the diopter adjustment ring – a key piece for adjusting the focus – is placed in a way that makes adjustment difficult. Even though the optics are technically very clear, the inability to adjust the diopter hinders some of the clarity.
Ultimately, there are many great options for marine binoculars out there on the market. When you first start looking, it is a good idea to assess your budget and then the features you cannot live without. You should be able to find a pair with overlap in the two categories.
Whether you are a frequent boater or a casual one also has an impact on which marine binoculars are best for you. Waterproofing is always a good feature to look for. Also, clarity and brightness of image are also crucial for the best marine binoculars.
Though the possibilities may seem vast, by reading a few marine binocular reviews and weighing your options, you should be able to find something you love. At the end of the day, there are many great options for marine binoculars; you just need to know where to look.