Best Marine Binoculars In 2022

Marine Binoculars

Traditional Marine Binoculars have 7×50 specifications. They are to the skipper, navigator, or lookout what google is to the internet. 7×50 specifications mean 50 mm diameter lenses (almost 2 inches) to let enough light in and magnified by a factor of 7 to give the ideal zoom without too much shake on the water.

The exception is maybe for pontoon boats, which are more stable and typically cruise calm waters, where higher magnification specs (10×50 for example) will not be so irksome.

This guide to the best binoculars you can get in 2022 will pilot you through reliable spy-glasses to make your marine experience safer and easier. Start with a list of the best marine binoculars then read a description of some of the important components.

We’ve tested and researched what’s what and found these won’t let you down. Keep reading for an explanation of some of the specifications.

The Quick Top 5 Marine Binoculars in 2022

All the Marine Binoculars We've tested

From Steiner comes a pair that could easily be the best marine binoculars you can get your hands on. You’re paying for this quality, but it’s a price you won’t regret. Both ergonomic and providing a view, with which you don’t have to struggle, you will quickly and clearly find any buoy or harbor marking. They are always in focus and there’s no sign of barrel distortion you may experience with inferior units. With Steiner’s Commander series you get a clear, bright image from a marine binocular that separates itself from the pack.

The body of these guys is so rugged the lifetime warranty is maybe moot. The coating also keeps dust and water out of it. If you have the money to shell out, this pair of Steiner binoculars is the best. Have a little more and the optional integrated compass makes navigation a little easier too. Not too bad for stargazing either.

Specs & Features

  • Auto-focus BAK4
  • 2.3 lbs

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.2

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Nitrogen filling prevents fogging
  • check-mark
    Robust, German-made quality with lifetime warranty
  • check-mark
    Clear, bright images
  • check-mark
    Comfortable
  • check-mark
    Auto-focus

Things we don't like:

  • check-markDoesn’t come with the Steiner flotation strap
  • check-markCould seem slight heavy for some
  • check-markEye cups don't work so well with glasses
Read full review

Where to buy:

steiner-marine-commander-series-binoculars.jpg

Steiner Marine Commander Series

You can still find affordable binoculars with rugged, all-terrain characteristics and performance. One of these products is this mid-range, wide-angle pair from Athlon, the Athlon Midas 8×42 UHD.

These binoculars are equipped with the specs you will find in many high-range optics, but come relatively affordable.

Read the in-depth review to discover what makes these Athlon binoculars a popular choice for amateur glassers looking for high performance and quality at an affordable price!

Specs & Features

  • Product Weight: 25 oz.
  • Eye Relief: 17.2 mm
  • Angular Field of View: 8.1 degrees
  • Linear Field of View: 426’ at 1,000 yds.
  • Close Focus Distance: 6.5’

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.8

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    True color fidelity
  • check-mark
    Surprisingly brightness and clarity
  • check-mark
    Scratch-resistant exterior lenses
  • check-mark
    Wide field of view
  • check-mark
    Lightweight and heavy-duty construction

Things we don't like:

  • check-markStiff central focus knob
  • check-markNot suitable for use in low-light settings
Read full review

Where to buy:

athlon-optics-midas-uhd-binoculars-product-photo.jpg

Athlon Optics Midas 8×42 UHD

Steiner binoculars are manufactured with German quality and supply such customers as the US military. Nuff said. This product has great autofocus for ease of use and quick target acquisition when looking for skittish marine life. Give an extra $60 or thereabouts for an integrated compass, which makes navigation easier.

A solidly built, rubberized housing can seem bulky, but it means they are quite stable and sit well in your hands. Though not specifically made for the military, what is clear with the Navigator Pro, is the view you get in a product that your grand-kids might inherit.

These are great marine binoculars that you won’t regret buying.

Specs & Features

  • 370 ft field of view, auto-focus porro prism, 2 pounds

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.7

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Image clarity and contrast exceptional
  • check-mark
    Fogproof viewing in all conditions
  • check-mark
    Sports auto focus is great for different distances and users and actually works well
  • check-mark
    Very rough and tumble, solidly built to withstand a lot
  • check-mark
    Magnesium and aluminum build lighten its weight

Things we don't like:

  • check-markSomewhat bulky (only potentially an issue)
  • check-markFloating strap costs extra https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014WJ6U9E/
Read full review

Where to buy:

steiner-navigator-pro-7x50-1.jpg

Steiner Navigator Pro 7×50

Compact Image Stabilizer

The Canon 10×30 IS II is the world’s most compact ISB. Image-stabilized binoculars (ISBs), powered by batteries, have a mechanism that will correct shakes and tremors with a single push of a button. If you are a casual user of binoculars or just starting, you will be surprised by what these binoculars can do.

ISBs have significantly changed the way we experience glassing. They are so versatile that they can be used for practically all applications, even stargazing and other astronomical viewings. More importantly, they have eliminated the need for additional paraphernalia like tripods.

Canon has many ISBs with different magnifications and objective lens diameters. However, the Canon 10 x 30 IS II is one of the most famous and most trusted pairs of ISBs today. Let’s dive in to find out how its IS system works and what other features give it its reputation!

Specs & Features

  • Product Dimension: 5” x 5.9” x 2.76”
  • Product Weight: 21.16 oz (excluding batteries)
  • Power Source: 2 AA Alkaline Batteries or 2 AA NiMh Batteries
  • Angular Field of View (Real): 6 degrees
  • Angular Field of View (Apparent): 55.3 degrees

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.7

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Improved IS technology with faster startup time than its predecessor
  • check-mark
    Suitability for all light conditions and various applications
  • check-mark
    Superior edge-to-edge clarity with doublet field-flattener lenses
  • check-mark
    Compact design
  • check-mark
    Anti-reflective exterior coating ideal for direct sunlight exposure

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThe battery case has no additional protective layer
  • check-markEye relief slightly lower than the recommended eye relief for eyeglass wearers
  • check-markHuge eyecups
Read full review

Where to buy:

canon-is-ii-product-photo.jpg

Canon 10×30 IS II

Coastal Cruising

Nikon is one of the most trusted brands in all things optics. Sturdy and reliable, Nikon binoculars are neither ridiculously expensive nor do they promise the moon. The Ocean Pro is a marine unit that might not be the best in terms of bells and whistles, but the feel of these binoculars and ease of use promise a product that delivers what you need while sailing or boating. There is a cheaper Ocean Pro model, a cheaper alternative that doesn’t include a compass, which may be irrelevant for those using chartplotters.

Clean optics and passable night vision utility (although you’ll probably have to invest in a pair of night vision binoculars if you want something specifically for nighttime use) make this something you won’t regret buying. High contrast imaging is great on the water. Just remember the floating strap to keep these Nikon binoculars afloat should they bail into the water.

Specs & Features

  • Bak4 porro prism, multi-coated anti-reflection lens, 2.49 pounds

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.5

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Fogproof and clear in all temperatures
  • check-mark
    Crystal clear with anti-reflective optics
  • check-mark
    Robust build for lifetime potential
  • check-mark
    Good “no-fault” repair and replacement policy from Nikon
  • check-mark
    Integrated global compass

Things we don't like:

  • check-markWhile view is sharp, compass blurs a little
Read full review

Where to buy:

nikon-ocean-pro-cf-wp-marine-binoculars.jpg

Nikon Ocean Pro CF WP

Bushnell is a well-known company with a pretty good reputation that’s well-deserved. These marine binoculars have been put through its paces by many a seaman. Unlike Steiner binoculars, these are made in China, but they are both shock absorbent and waterproof: these binos will last decades, notwithstanding an exceptional blow.

When looking at the horizon from shore the image is clear with a good stable and bright view that speaks to the quality of the lenses. At dusk the optics allow enough light in to see well; at night, these Bushnells are great for looking at the moon, the stars. A good, reliable pair of binoculars for your nautical activities, these are indeed.

Specs & Features

  • 350ft FOV at a half mile, BAK4 porro prism, individual focus, FMC, Waterproof, 2 lbs

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.2

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Good image capture in low light conditions
  • check-mark
    No fogging
  • check-mark
    Pretty robust
  • check-mark
    Impressive flotation

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThe analog compass on the model that includes one is not too stable
  • check-markThe lens cap is mystically not attached to the unit
Read full review

Where to buy:

bushnell-7x50-marine-binoculars.jpg

Bushnell 7×50

Good Zoom, No Shake

The Canon 12×36 IS III will be a game-changer for some people. Image-stabilized binoculars (ISBs) offer a smoother glassing experience by ensuring stability without a tripod’s support.

They come in really handy, especially for birders, hikers, and even sports fans. With 12x magnification, stabilization assistance promises to cut down on shaky viewing.

Canon is recognized for pioneering IS technology in binoculars, changing the game forever. Over the years, it has introduced many ISBs, significantly improving them from time to time.

Let’s dive in and discover how it is an upgraded version of its predecessors!

Specs & Features

  • Product Dimensions: 5” x 6.85” x 2.76”
  • Product Weight: 23.28 oz. (excluding batteries)
  • Power Source: 2 AA Alkaline Batteries or 2 AA NiMh Batteries
  • Angular Field of View (Real): 5 degrees
  • Angular Field of View (Apparent): 55.3 degrees

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.7

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Advanced and intuitive IS function that engages almost instantaneously
  • check-mark
    User-friendly IS button
  • check-mark
    Impressive edge-to-edge clarity with doublet field-flattener lenses
  • check-mark
    Unobtrusive with anti-reflective exterior
  • check-mark
    Energy-efficient

Things we don't like:

  • check-markMay not be suitable for eyeglass wearers
  • check-markNot fogproof and waterproof
  • check-markProduces minimal chromatic aberration
Read full review

Where to buy:

canon-12x36-is-iii-binoculars-product-photo.jpg

Canon 12×36 IS III

Hard to imaging getting more for your buck. I recently used these marine binoculars sailing a vikingship in choppy waters without a GPS, and therefore needing them for navigation. In a bucking and rolling longship these binoculars worked just fine. Contrast is not as sharp as the Nikon or Steiner models and low-light optics less impressive, but identifying buoys and checking out playful convoys of porpoises along the way worked just fine.

These Hooways have a rangefinder and compass and can tolerate a shock and occasional awe in the rough and tumble seas. This matches the yellow æsthetics of the Hooway design. Not everybody’s cup of tea, but it makes them easy to find in the water at dusk.

Specs & Features

  • Individual focus, reticles rangefinder, illuminated compass, 2.2lbs, Bak4 Porro Prism,

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.5

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Multi-coated lens to reduce reflection
  • check-mark
    Waterproof, fogproof, shockproof
  • check-mark
    Very usable compass
  • check-mark
    Rubber coating and form factor both ergonomic and non-slip

Things we don't like:

  • check-markView-finder protective cap falls off easily
  • check-markFocusing may take a little longer, especially when sharing with other mariners
Read full review

Where to buy:

hooway-7x50-waterproof-fogproof-military-marine-binoculars.jpg

Hooway 7×50

Navigation Binos

The Fujinon 7 x 50 WPC-XL may be an entry-level pair of binoculars, but they offer a lot. Powered by an LR43 battery, they are equipped with a high-precision compass. With the internal LED light, you won’t have difficulties using the built-in compass at night.

These marine binoculars are waterproof. They can handle being submerged in up to 1 m of water for five minutes. They come with a flotation strap so they won’t sink.

With a generous eye relief of 18 mm, this pair makes glassing easy and comfortable even for eyeglass wearers. You can see the entire field of view without hassle.

Unlike the Bushnell MARINE 7X50 BINOCULAR, these can’t absorb shocks. You need to be extra careful handling these.

Specs & Features

  • Magnification: 7x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
  • Weight: 32.1 oz (without battery)
  • Dimensions: 7.09" H x 7.91" W x 2.99" D
  • Field of View (Angular): 7

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.6

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Built-in compass is precise
  • check-mark
    Internal LED light makes using the compass at night a breeze
  • check-mark
    Waterproof
  • check-mark
    Floats in water with the flotation strap
  • check-mark
    Generous eye relief

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot shock-absorbent
  • check-markMight be difficult to find batteries for the LED light
Read full review

Where to buy:

fujinon-mariner-wpc-xl-binoculars.jpg

Fujinon Mariner WPC-XL

Simple & Solid

Another Bushnell product with the waterproof and fogproof requirements for marine binoculars, these are a budget pair that do its business more than satisfactorily. The lenses are good enough to provide clear, bright viewing during the day and decent enough viewing in low-light conditions.

As far as casual boating goes, these binoculars will serve the seaman just fine, providing increased awareness and security with a reliability befitting moderate sailing. In cases, in particular onboard a sailboat accustomed to rocky expeditions, a more robust model might be better. But the quality of sight and feel of these in your hands make for a convincing middle-range marine binoculars.

Specs & Features

  • BAK4 porro prism, waterproof, center focus, 2.2 lbs

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.5

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Nice rubber grip coating
  • check-mark
    Very decent viewing
  • check-mark
    No fogging

Things we don't like:

  • check-markDoesn’t float without optional floating strap
  • check-markPlastic ring around the eye pieces probably won’t sustain a good drop too-well
Read full review

Where to buy:

bushnell-h2o-7x50-marine-binoculars.jpg

Bushnell H2O 7×50

Great Budget Binos

This product is something of a quagmire, in that, on the whole, they work pretty well. Their specs and performance at this price make for something rather attractive. When testing out a pair they seemed to give the same kind of viewing experience as the Hooway binoculars, albeit with a center focus knob, which is can be a mark in Barska’s favor.

But the construction feels less robust than other candidates. It doesn’t change the fact that most people will find using these spyglasses a delight, questioning why they’d spring for binoculars 2 or 3 times the price. Apparently service, support, and the Russian roulette factor explains it: there is a higher frequency of customers reporting defects. Still, these Barska Deep Sea marine binoculars are pretty good when they work, which–it must be said–is most of the time

Specs & Features

  • 345 feet field of view, Waterproof, BAK4 porro prism, 1 pound

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.2

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Variable zoom makes target acquisition easier
  • check-mark
    Single focus knob
  • check-mark
    Reticle rangefinder and digital compass
  • check-mark
    Compact, light-weight design
  • check-mark
    Affordable

Things we don't like:

  • check-markProbably won’t survive as many drops or hits as more expensive binoculars
  • check-markIn case of any issues with the product, support might be difficult to get
Read full review

Where to buy:

barska-deep-sea-7x50-waterproof-marine-binoculars.jpg

Barska Deep Sea 7×50

Another pair of binocs that could be a little suspect on account of its no-name brand, the NOCOEX 10x50s are an affordable brand that won’t steer you wrong. On account of the wide field of viewing, the extra magnification factor doesn’t impede holding onto targets in greater distances too much while rocking on a boat.

These binoculars do what they need to with the added benefit of slightly more magnification, making them ideal marine binoculars for trawler boats, bigger motor sailers, pontoon boats or calmer days at sea.

Specs & Features

  • Individual focus, illuminated compass, optical rangefinder, waterproof, floats, Bak4 porro prism, 2.2 lbs.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.5

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Easy to focus
  • check-mark
    Good value
  • check-mark
    Rangefinder and compass work well
  • check-mark
    Decent construction quality
  • check-mark
    Lightweight with practical accessories included (carrying case and strap)

Things we don't like:

  • check-markLow-light viewing could be a little better
  • check-markEyepiece cap falls off too easily
Read full review

Where to buy:

nocoex-10x50-marine-binoculars.jpg

NOCOEX 10X50

Related Reviews

Explaining Marine Binocular Concepts

The sea and waterways are different than say the forest. That’s where the profile of marine binoculars differs from that of hunting scopes for example. On a boat you need a pair with a rubber coating to deal with getting bumped around in a boat that’s also waterproof and fog resistant. The lens also has to have a particular coating to cope with glare from sun and sea.

While 7×50 suits the sailor and boater, bird watchers and Peeping Toms prefer specs with greater magnification. The ideal magnification provided by a good set of binoculars letting in the right amount of light reveals to the seaman markers like buoys that confirm his position, other ships’ course, as well as providing the bird and wildlife watcher the best tool.

Some prefer compact binoculars, while others want distance gauges and integrated compasses. Names like Steiner and Nikon are joined on our list by lesser known but decent companies that make more affordable units. For the serious sailor looking for an item to last a lifetime, don’t be fooled by features. On the other hand, having enjoyed using some of the features on (especially the Hooway) cheaper models, there are no complaints there.

Understand the features and figure out what’s best for you.

Center Focus vs Individual Focus vs auto-focus

A pair of binoculars like the Steiner Navigator Pro has auto-focus that adjusts itself depending on the distance of the object received. Individual focus for each eye piece, adjusting the diopter, is good for people with astigmatisms. It takes a little more time when passing them off for a shipmate’s viewing but it’s minimal inconvenience; whereas a central focus knob sharpens the view for both eye pieces with one back or forth twist, using less time when passing the binoculars around after pointing out something extraordinary.

What is the difference between BAK4 and BAK7 Porro Prism?

Barium Crown glass, or BAK4, is the best type of porro prism optics. It transmits light better with less light being lost due to internal reflection because of a better manufacturing process and the high-density glass materials used. BAK7 is an inferior prism used by cheaper models that does not use high-density glass.

What is a Reticle Rangefinder? 

It is an optical rangefinder, meaning you need to know the size of the object to know its distance. Roughly speaking if you’re looking at a sailboat with a mast roughly 30 feet high, you can figure out how far away it is. Here’s how it works.

What does FMC mean?

FMC stands for fully multi-coated. It refers to the lens and provides the best protection from glare and reflection on the water. This is an important part of marine binocular profiles. While FMC doesn’t guarantee amazing images on its own, only high-end products incorporate them.

If you already have a marine binocular or you just bought one, leave a comment in the comment section below and share your experience with it.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

What are the best binoculars for boating?

Products in the Steiner Commander Series are probably the best pair of binoculars for boating and sailing.  In the end, the ability to see objects under challenging conditions makes the Commander (with or without a built-in compass) the most reliable pair. That said, the price also makes the Steiner Navigator Pro very interesting. Only experts will really notice the difference between these two brethren, while the Navigator pros are half the cost of the Commanders.

Even budget models in our best of list will perform adequately. They tested well. Read the reviews for yourself.

What zoom is best for marine binoculars?

Most marine binoculars will have a zoom factor of 7 times. An 8x magnification works for some people too, but anything more than that and it’s downright unpleasant and ineffective to look at any object. It’s just too shaky. The most common profile of the best marine binoculars is a 7×50. The magnification with relatively large lens allows for good light transmission at the end of the day. It makes spotting buoys and seeing details  for navigation easier.

Related Reviews

On this page

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

6 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Go to Frontpage

close