Marine binoculars can make a big difference when searching for binoculars as a boat owner. Standard binoculars don’t always have the same protections or special features to make them reliable on a boat. Marine binoculars are often more focused on image stabilization, waterproofing, long-term comfort and – of course – the clarity of the image. Some products are better than others and you may need to pay a lot more than you planned to for a high-end marine pair.
Below are 10 of the best marine binoculars around. The majority come from major names, including Bushell, Nikon and Canon. For the most part, the products have a lot of positive points. But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t also some drawbacks. The aim here is to compare the models to highlight these pros and cons.
This compact pair of binoculars offers a 10x 42magnification with a 12ft close focus for a decent field of view. It also uses multi-coated optics for clarity in bad weather. This, and the roof prism shape, should help many buyers. The product comes with a case, lens covers, neck strap and a belt loop.
The main benefits here lie in the weatherproofing. There is protection from the rain with the seal inside the binoculars and they are nitrogen purged to protect against the fog. Another perk is the twist-up eyecups for glasses wearers. However, some users say that the eye relief is a bit tough on the skin around the eyes.
There are also some mixed comments on the value for money. Are these marine binoculars right for trips on your boat? These good be a good option for those that have the money to spend and are more focused on getting something durable for bad weather. The accessories are another big selling point here.
This next pair of marine binoculars are very similar to the pair above in terms of the feature provided and the design. The main difference is the use of the Porro Prism shape, which some will prefer. There is a magnification of 7 x 50mm. It comes with a case and strap, but not the belt loop has seen with the previous model.
There are some great comments from buyers about the ease of use, weatherproofing and overall quality. It offers the same weatherproofing and protection, just in a different shape and design. Users also like the case and the amount of padding on the strap. However, there are some mixed comments on durability after some were dropped and knocked on boats.
There is also the same issue of those stiff eyecups. Are these marine binoculars right for trips on your boat? There is a lot to like about these binoculars, as long as you are careful with them. They aren’t the toughest model out there but they still offer a good view in bad weather.
There are two features in this pair of marine binoculars that make it stand out over the other two Bushnell models above. They are the built-in internal compass and the idea that it can float in water. That compass may help with orientation and it lights up. The 37oz might not be enough to allow it to float that easily. It comes with the strap, lens caps and carrying case.
Other benefits to this model include the easy-grip rubber, waterproof and fog proof elements for added protection. There is no denying that this model is more expensive compared to other Bushnell binoculars in this guide – as well as many of the options below. Users are a little more critical as a result. Some say that it is not as clear as the ones without the compass.
Are these marine binoculars right for trips on your boat? An important question here is whether these binoculars really too much on gimmicks over quality? The compass could prove helpful but it seems to have a negative knock-on effect on the clarity. Still, this is a tough model with some great perks.
Next up, we move onto a different brand. Nikon is well-respected for visual equipment and there are high expectations for their products. This one has a 10 x 50mm magnification with bright multi-coated optics. There are no additional accessories and many buyers end up purchasing the strap separately.
Other benefits here are that this is adaptable for glasses wearers and weatherproof against rain and fog. There is also a non-slip coating and a user-friendly knob for focusing. However, they are quite heavy and there is that issue of the missing strap.
Are these marine binoculars right for trips on your boat? There is a surprising amount of value for money here, even if the strap is sold separately. Users can get a great view from these lenses and not have to worry about the weather. Just be aware that the extra weight could be a hindrance to those used to a lighter model.
Binocular This alternative Nikon model is sold as a light and bright option with lots of great features. There are fingertip controls, comfortable eyecups, multi-coated eco-glass lenses and a non-slip coating. It is a simplistic design that shouldn’t be too intimidating to first-time users.
There are lots of benefits to be found in those features and enough for the novice user to get along with. However, there are areas where the company may have cut corners to lower costs. The accessories aren’t good enough for everyone. The lens covers aren’t tight enough and the strap doesn’t have the padding seen in other models.
Are these marine binoculars right for trips on your boat? The truth here is that some people expected a lot more because of the brand. This pair of marine binoculars ticks most of the right boxes with the weatherproofing, optics and controls. But, it is lacking when it comes to the extra features. It is great for occasional use but not the high-end, all-inclusive model some had expected.
Next up we have the first of our two choices from Canon. Again, this is a well-known brand in visual equipment that will always lead to high expectations. The standout feature here is the use of image stabilization. This is is a great idea for all those out on boats because it should allow for a steadier view of the water.
The binoculars come with a shoulder strap and case. Other benefits in choosing this model include the field flattener for distortion-free images and the long eye relief for glasses wearers. However, there is the potential downside here that this is a battery-powered model. Not only does this create a reliance on batteries in the great outdoors, but the product also doesn’t come with any to start with. Also, the magnification is weaker than other products in this guide.
Are these marine binoculars right for trips on your boat? There are some clear pros and cons here. The focus on the image stabilization and clarity of the image is great for sea-watching. But, there is a lower magnification and the need for batteries. It all depends on personal preferences.
A lot is going on with this pair of Canon marine binoculars – both in terms of the specification and the accessories. There is a wider range on the magnification – 18 x 50 – with a great field of view and the same image stabilization. They come with the case, strap and this time there are batteries included.
Many users will be pleased with the quality of the image and the ease of use. There is the same use of multi-coated lenses for color fidelity and clarity. However, buyers also talk about a lack of comfort and adjustability n the eyecups. It is also a surprise to find that there are no lens covers in the box.
Are these marine binoculars right for trips on your boat? This product has a lot going for it – and it should when there is such a high price tag. It has the optical quality expected of a Canon product. But, there are those small comfort issues to be aware of for long-term use.
This brand may be less well-known but they still have an interesting specification. This pair is meant to be able to handle low-light situations with clear images. It uses FMC multilayer broadband green film, which has impressive quality for the price paid. The product comes with a neck strap but not a case.
Most users seem happy enough with the quality offered and the design for the price paid. This is a more affordable option for those that can’t splash out on a Canon or Nikon. However, there is the fact that the 12x25mm magnification is weaker than other models. A bigger issue is that they are more water-resistant than waterproof so won’t survive nasty weather.
Are these marine binoculars right for trips on your boat? It all depends on when you use them. The lack of waterproofing is a problem in bad weather. But, there are some other details in the optics that mean you shouldn’t rule them out completely.
Again, the brand name here isn’t one that many consumers will be as familiar with. Yet, there are some key selling points that make it stand out. The idea of a military pair with a compass and rangefinder makes it sound more professional and reliable. The use of the 7 x 50 magnification helps.
Buyers haven’t been able to test the promise that these binoculars can float in water. But, they do say that they are comfortable and like the addition of the tripod adapter. However, there are some issues with the quality of the strap and lens caps. Also, some dislike the yellow color, although it would add some visibility in the water if the binoculars did float.
Are these marine binoculars right for trips on your boat? If you can get over the colour and replace the strap, this could be a helpful alternative to bigger brand binoculars. It is not as expensive as you might expect for the price paid and has a lot of great features.
Binoculars The last pair in this guide is another that is classed as a military option. This time, the word military seems to mean a tougher build with a high-quality focusing system. There is 10 x 50mm magnification with a floating prism system for shock protection. An interesting addition is the sports autofocus. There is also weatherproofing for fog and rain, and a rubber coating.
Many users seem to agree that these marine binoculars were made to last. Buyers like the great quality, the ease of use and the images generated. However, these binoculars are not cheap at just shy of $500. This is going to be a deal-breaker for those that are unsure what to get. Not all users are going to get along with the design and other brands have a better reputation. Still, this model does tick a lot of the right boxes. It doesn’t have the compass, but that might not matter.
Are these marine binoculars right for trips on your boat? There is enough quality and features here to take a gamble on this for your next trip if you head out regularly. Otherwise, it might be a little too expensive.
Things to look for when buying the best marine binoculars
Not all pairs of binoculars are created equally. Some cheaper pairs by lesser-known brands may not have the specification and capabilities users needs. There are some features to look for when comparing different models. These include: 1) The magnification 2) The clarity of the image through the lens 3) The weather and waterproofing 4) Security features to keep the binoculars safe 5) The ease of use for people with glasses 6) The weight and balance of the product.
The magnification: This is an important place to start when choosing a good pair of marine binoculars. The magnification should be clear to see on any specification. This shows you how many times the image is magnified from the current distance. The higher the number, the closer the subject will seem. This is vital for surveying and whale-watching from long distances.
The clarity of the image through the lens: However, that distance won’t really mean a lot if the binoculars don’t also have a clear image and field of view. The best marine binoculars will have multi-coated lenses with different colors on them. This helps to improve the brightness of the image – which can also help with low-light situations – as well as true colors.
The weather and waterproofing: You can’t have a pair of top marine binoculars that aren’t protected from bad weather. Waterproofing is essential and these binoculars should be sealed tight to stop moisture condensing in the lenses. Some are also purged of nitrogen to stop any damage from the fog. A non-slip coating is also helpful in bad weather conditions. Finally, you can find brands that claim to have marine binoculars that float. Yet, this isn’t always the case.
Security features to keep the binoculars safe: In addition to this non-slip coating, these binoculars for marine use also need other safety considerations. Some have shock proving within them to prevent any damage if they are dropped or shaken too hard. A snug-fitting lend cap is also important when the binoculars aren’t in use. But, this is one area where companies seem to cut a few corners.
The ease of use for people with glasses: More and more companies now use twist-up eyecups on their binoculars to help users that wear glasses. Some of these are easier to use than others.
The weight and balance of the product: Don’t forget to look at the weight of the product when checking the specifications of potential binoculars. Go too light and they might not feel comfortable in your hands. Go too heavy and they can be difficult to use after a while.
User reviews are important when choosing the best pair of marine binoculars. One way to make sure that these top marine binoculars are user-friendly is to check the user reviews from previous buyers. This is where you can tell if a product is reliable and functional enough in different situations.
The brand may make claims about the performance that aren’t realized in low light or on rainy days. These testimonials also give a better impression of how easy the binoculars are to use and how long they might last.
If you want a product that is built to last with a reliable specification, it might be best to pay out a little more money for one of the top brands. This way you can be sure that the products are comfortable to use, built to last and offer a strong magnification. If your budget is low, you could consider cheaper models with a slightly lower magnification or fewer features. It all depends on your personal needs.
Finding the best marine binoculars for your needs
Consider how expensive and high-end these binoculars really need to be. If you are out on the boat a lot in all weathers then you need one of the tougher models with the weatherproofing and maybe that image stabilization. But, these can get a little heavy after a while.
The alternative is to look into getting something lighter, smaller and more easy to use. But, this can lead to a decrease in quality – especially with magnification and clarity. Figure out what you want most from a pair to find the absolute best marine binoculars for your situation.
I am Adee, a blogger from Canada. I am a certified economist & currently doing MBA in digital marketing.