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Reviewed by our gears Geeks:

BEST MARINE BINOCULARS IN 2020

Z

Our experts at work

We gave our Gear lovers one job:

Test 21 different Marine Binoculars and write reviews of the best.

The result is 9 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 DIVEIN.com
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 2020 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.

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.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Steiner Marine Commander Series Binoculars:
Where to buy:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
Specs & Features:
  • Auto-focus BAK42.3 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

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 inherent.

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

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Steiner Navigator Pro 7×50:
Where to buy:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
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 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014WJ6U9E/

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 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.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Nikon Ocean Pro CF WP Marine Binoculars:
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

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.

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.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Bushnell 7×50 Marine Binoculars:
Where to buy:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
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

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.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Hooway 7×50 Waterproof Fogproof Military Marine Binoculars:
Where to buy:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
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

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.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Fujinon Mariner WPC-XL Binoculars:
Where to buy:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
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.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Bushnell H2O 7×50 Marine Binoculars:
Where to buy:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
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

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the Barska Deep Sea 7×50 Waterproof Marine Binoculars:
Where to buy:
  • Amazon with worldwide shipping
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.

We’ve done all the research for you and found the best place to buy the NOCOEX 10X50 Marine Binoculars:
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

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.

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