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Reviewed by our Gear Geeks:

Best Marine Binoculars In 2021


Our experts at work

We gave our Gear lovers one job:

Test 30 different Marine Binoculars and write reviews of the best.

The result is 14 of the best Marine Binoculars on the market today.

bradley axmith

Bradley Axmith

Waterworld Fanatic
Bradley is our vikingship builder and gear nerd.

torben lonne

Torben Lonne

Editor at
Torben is a dive nut, with a passion for traveling and gear.

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 2021 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.

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.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Auto-focus BAK4
  • 2.3 lbs
What we like:
  • Nitrogen filling prevents fogging
  • Robust, German-made quality with lifetime warranty
  • Clear, bright images
  • Comfortable
  • Auto-focus
What we don’t like:
  • Doesn’t come with the Steiner flotation strap
  • Could seem slight heavy for some
  • Eye cups don't work so well with glasses

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 is the best. Have a little more and the optional integrated compass makes navigation a little easier too. Not too bad for stargazing either.

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.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • 370 ft field of view, auto-focus porro prism, 2 pounds
What we like:
  • Image clarity and contrast exceptional
  • Fogproof viewing in all conditions
  • Sports auto focus is great for different distances and users and actually works well
  • Very rough and tumble, solidly built to withstand a lot
  • Magnesium and aluminum build lighten its weight
What we don’t like:
  • Somewhat bulky (only potentially an issue)
  • Floating strap costs extra

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 inherent.

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

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!

Where to buy:
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’
  • BaK-4 Prism
  • ED Glass
What we like:
  • True color fidelity
  • Surprisingly brightness and clarity
  • Scratch-resistant exterior lenses
  • Wide field of view
  • Lightweight and heavy-duty construction
What we don’t like:
  • Stiff central focus knob
  • Not suitable for use in low-light settings

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!

Where to buy:
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
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 3 mm
  • Eye Relief: 14.5 mm
What we like:
  • Improved IS technology with faster startup time than its predecessor
  • Suitability for all light conditions and various applications
  • Superior edge-to-edge clarity with doublet field-flattener lenses
  • Compact design
  • Anti-reflective exterior coating ideal for direct sunlight exposure
What we don’t like:
  • The battery case has no additional protective layer
  • Eye relief slightly lower than the recommended eye relief for eyeglass wearers
  • Huge eyecups

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.

Where to buy:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Bak4 porro prism, multi-coated anti-reflection lens, 2.49 pounds
What we like:
  • Fogproof and clear in all temperatures
  • Crystal clear with anti-reflective optics
  • Robust build for lifetime potential
  • Good “no-fault” repair and replacement policy from Nikon
  • Integrated global compass
What we don’t like:
  • While view is sharp, compass blurs a little

Clean optics and passable night vision utility 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.

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, these are made in China, but they are both shock absorbent and waterproof: these binos will last decades, notwithstanding an exceptional blow.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • 350ft FOV at a half mile, BAK4 porro prism, individual focus, FMC, Waterproof, 2 lbs
What we like:
  • Good image capture in low light conditions
  • No fogging
  • Pretty robust
  • Impressive flotation
What we don’t like:
  • The analog compass on the model that includes one is not too stable
  • The lens cap is mystically not attached to the unit

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.

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!

Where to buy:
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
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 3 mm
  • Eye Relief: 14.5 mm
What we like:
  • Advanced and intuitive IS function that engages almost instantaneously
  • User-friendly IS button
  • Impressive edge-to-edge clarity with doublet field-flattener lenses
  • Unobtrusive with anti-reflective exterior
  • Energy-efficient
What we don’t like:
  • May not be suitable for eyeglass wearers
  • Not fogproof and waterproof
  • Produces minimal chromatic aberration

Hard to imaging getting more for your buck. I recently used these 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.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Individual focus, reticles rangefinder, illuminated compass, 2.2lbs, Bak4 Porro Prism,
What we like:
  • Multi-coated lens to reduce reflection
  • Waterproof, fogproof, shockproof
  • Very usable compass
  • Rubber coating and form factor both ergonomic and non-slip
What we don’t like:
  • View-finder protective cap falls off easily
  • Focusing may take a little longer, especially when sharing with other mariners

Equipped with an Abbe-Koenig prism, the RAZOR UHD 8×42 has a relatively longer optical path that delivers sharp resolution in these higher-end binoculars. These could be the last binos for birding you’re ever going to need. The apochromatic (APO) index-matched lenses offer reliable color correction, so the images you see are always as precise as they could get.

Moreover, the UHD optics effectively eliminates chromatic aberration and enhances light transmission. For optimal clarity and performance even in low-light conditions, its lenses come with the XR Plus fully multi-coated technology.

Where to buy:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Product Dimensions (Length x Width): 7” x 5.6”
  • Product Weight: 32.2 oz.
  • Eye Relief: 16.7 mm
  • Field of View at 1,000 yds: 420'
  • Field of View (Angular): 8 degrees
  • Close Focus: 4.5'
  • Inclusions: Accessory/Ammo Pouch, Comfort Neck Strap, Harness and Case, Lens Cloth, Objective Lens Covers, Ocular Lens Cover
What we like:
  • 420' field of view at 1,000 yds
  • 8 degrees angular field of view
  • UHD optics
  • XR plus fully multi-coated optics
  • Magnesium chassis
What we don’t like:
  • Relatively pricey
  • Low close focus distance

RAZOR UHD 8×42 has a magnesium body, delivering exceptional ergonomics while significantly reducing weight. With ArmorTek coating, the exterior of the optics is surely scratch-resistant. The rubber armor grip complements this chassis, with the firm grip offering you a worry-free handling experience, especially when the conditions call for it.

Of course, it has fogproof and waterproof capabilities, too. Both the argon gas filling and O-ring sealing guarantee that moisture and dirt would be the least of your concerns.

These Fujinon Marine Binoculars, from the Fujifilm company, are lightweight and comfortable to hold up against the eyes for longer periods of time because of the gummi, peel-down eyecups. The view through these is sharp and bright and seemingly stable in rocky, daylight conditions. The optics are impressive and can compare to the more expensive Nikons on this list. 

A compass is included with a light when viewing in low-light conditions and individual focus knobs work sufficiently well. These are a great value and many mariners merrily use them as secondary binoculars, but most casual seamen will happily have them as their primary viewer.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • 368 feet at 1000 yards, Porro Prism, Waterproof, 2 lbs
What we like:
  • A crystal clear view a functional compass
  • The combination of affordability and functionality
  • Eyepieces are very comfortabl
What we don’t like:
  • Lenses not fully coated
  • Not apparently shock absorbent

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.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • BAK4 porro prism, waterproof, center focus, 2.2 lbs
What we like:
  • Nice rubber grip coating
  • Very decent viewing
  • No fogging
What we don’t like:
  • Doesn’t float without optional floating strap
  • Plastic ring around the eye pieces probably won’t sustain a good drop too-well

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 binoculars are pretty good when they work, which–it must be said–is most of the time

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • 345 feet field of view, Waterproof, BAK4 porro prism, 1 pound
What we like:
  • Variable zoom makes target acquisition easier
  • Single focus knob
  • Reticle rangefinder and digital compass
  • Compact, light-weight design
  • Affordable
What we don’t like:
  • Probably won’t survive as many drops or hits as more expensive binoculars
  • In case of any issues with the product, support might be difficult to get

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 great for trawler boats, bigger motor sailers, pontoon boats or calmer days at sea.

Where to buy:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Individual focus, illuminated compass, optical rangefinder, waterproof, floats, Bak4 porro prism, 2.2 lbs.
What we like:
  • Easy to focus
  • Good value
  • Rangefinder and compass work well
  • Decent construction quality
  • Lightweight with practical accessories included (carrying case and strap)
What we don’t like:
  • Low-light viewing could be a little better
  • Eyepiece cap falls off too easily

Celestron is known for being a product innovation leader in the optics industry, and it has developed a high-performing entry-level pair of binoculars that is sold at an affordable price— the Celestron Nature DX 8×42.

Though an American company with a history in telescopes, this is a pair of Chinese-produced binoculars that have kept up with the market by punching above their weight when they can. The DX 8×42 is an example of Celestron’s attempt to deliver a decent birding/hunting pair of optics at a cheap price.

Anyone looking to build up their outdoor enthusiasm is often intimidated to start because of the expensive price tags. The Celestron Nature DX-8×42 is worth looking at.

Let’s dive in and discover if it truly has the same capabilities as expensive binoculars!


Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3” x 4.9” x 2”
  • Product Weight: 22.2 oz
  • Angular Field of View: 7.4 degrees
  • Linear Field of View at 1,000 yds.: 388’
  • Exit Pupil: 5.25 mm
  • Eye Relief: 17.5 mm
  • Close Focus Distance: 6.5’
What we like:
  • Relatively brighter and higher quality images than most entry-level binoculars
  • Natural and accurate color reproduction
  • Dependable low-light performance
  • Compact and lightweight
  • User-friendly focus knob providing the right amount of resistance
What we don’t like:
  • Polycarbonate chassis may need a little extra care for a long-lasting durability
  • Fairly thin and hard rubber armor coating

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    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.

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    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.


  1. Costas

    What’s the difference between some of the cheaper models and the more expensive ones? The price difference is huge!

  2. Torben Lonne

    In most cases, the quality of the build and material is what makes the difference. In other cases, it’s also the brand that you pay for. That said, you also often get a great pair when choosing the know brands, as they do quality above all else.

  3. Adam Smith

    Fantastic Review Article. Excellent Explained. The way yo have designed this Article is amazing. Among these Binocular which one do you recommend for Navy? Thank you, Author, for sharing such an most informative Article. Hopefully waiting for your more informative article in the nearly future.

  4. Bradley Axmith

    Hello Mr. Adam Smith. Thanks for your question. While not a Navy man myself, if I were on a corvette or coast guard cutter, I’d likely go for the Steiner Commanders or the Nikon CPs with the integrated compass. The former doesn’t have any flotation properties, but I guess that matters very little on a military bridge. The optics on these two are just a little better.

  5. Hannah Bissell

    I’m curious if you ever found reasonably effective hands free binocular glasses? Most of the time it’s not an issue to use standard binoculars, but if your skipper needs both hands on the wheel because of weather and said weather is making spotting that buoy difficult, it can get dicey.

  6. Bradley Axmith

    Hello Hannah. Having just come back from a storm, I wouldn’t recommend the helmsman use these as you can’t see the weather (ie waves & wind) while looking for that buoy. The field of view tends to be too narrow for finding a buoy in the sea. On the other hand a good monocle NV scope might be useful in calm, harbor landings–bear in mind that depth perception when looking out the naked eye is lost when the other is covered.
    But I’ve experienced trying to use the PVS14 at sea, coming into a harbor in mild conditions. It seemed to illuminate POI and markings. Another option, which is cheaper is the Nightfall 4×50 by Firefield. These options have hands free head mounts. There’s not much zoom here though.
    Most buoys have reflector lights which make a good, powerful torch popular for this purpose. If you’re willing to spend on a good pair of NV, I’d recommend a chart plotter that will tell your skipper exactly where the buoy is, without him losing perspective of the surrounding conditions (especially in a storm when solo sailing/boating).

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