Marine binoculars for boating or fishing can make all the difference on that trip. Not only do you want them waterproofed, you also need a set that are durable and able to stand up to hard knocks. There are binoculars that will float if they accidentally get dropped out of the boat, and several models also offer built-in compasses or rangefinders. We take a look at choosing objective lenses and magnifications that will fit your boating needs without weighing you down.
Whilst choosing marine binoculars you want to consider some very important factors that will maximize the marine experience without sacrificing durability or versatility. There are a wide range of binoculars available, and while there aren’t too many specifically labeled as for marine use, you can easily find the set you need if you look for these critical factors.
Marine binoculars must first and foremost be durable, to survive use whether you are on calm waters or in a raging storm. This means they must stand up to a few knocks without being knocked out of sync, and maintain optimum viewing quality regardless of weather conditions. Take a look for rugged and durable armors, which are often made of rubber, and will offer various grips and textures. You might choose one with good tread grips so they’re easier to hold when your hands are wet, and you’ll definitely want to look for self-contained, sealed binoculars that don’t seem flimsy or delicate.
It may go without saying that you will need waterproof binoculars on your boating adventure. Although some models are labeled weather-resistant or weatherproof, only those that carry the waterproof label will be guaranteed to prevent any leakage or fogging of the lenses whether you’re dealing with fog or spray. Bushnell offers a great all around 7×50 marine model, which is durable and contains good quality mechanisms to optimize your marine viewing experience.
Choosing accessories for your binoculars can make a big difference on the boat as well. Many will offer straps or cases that make it easy to suspend your binoculars from your neck so they’re out of the way when not needed, but easily in reach when you spot that whale off starboard. Look for binoculars such as Steiner’s 7×50 Marine model which has attached lens caps; that way you aren’t fumbling with your lens caps when that once-in-a-lifetime view appears, nor worrying that you’ll drop them in your haste.
There are even floating models of binoculars, so if you do happen to drop them in the water, you can easily pick them up without worrying your investment has sunk. For example, Barska offers their Floatmaster 12×30 binoculars, along with their Deep Sea 7×50 sets as well. These sets are lightweight and compact as well as affordable.
You’ll want binoculars that are versatile and can handle what you need whether you’re looking at distant buoys or surprised by the dolphin that just swum up beside the boat. Look for those with auto-focus features, and if you do choose manual focus, be sure to give those binoculars a try in store to be sure you find the focusing easy and comfortable. Many marine options offer a great depth of field with auto-focus however, so do consider going this route.
Also important to versatility is objective lens size. You can choose wider lenses here to ensure you have excellent image quality whether you’re at dusk or simply under overcast skies. Choose big lenses and you’ll find that your binoculars work even when a storm is blowing in at a moment’s notice. On the boat, you simply can’t afford to lose the ability to see the water just because skies are grey.
Once you’ve handled all these basics, there are many exciting features that go above and beyond what is essential and take you into fun and even more functional binoculars. This is the time to invest in a set with a built-in compass, simply because it saves you the extra step of carrying a separate compass with you.
Bushnell offers a binocular model known as Navigator in 7×50, with a built-in compass and rangefinder too. You can use these to estimate distances to buoys or shore, or keep yourself oriented in open waters. They have the suregrip rubber armoring you’d expect along with a rugged case and neck strap and a lifetime limited warranty, plus the nice 50mm objective lenses are exactly what you need in any kind of weather or time of day.
Leupold offers an extensive line of rangefinders as well, which give you great accuracy over a long distance, and 8x magnification. The Leupold rangefinders often have a built-in compass as well, are fully armored, and are particularly loved by hunters as well.
Image stabilization (IS) can be very handy when you’re on the yacht as well. Although IS may not stand up to bucking and rolling in the open ocean, it can certainly help maintain a great quality image in gentle waves.
You may also consider digital camera binoculars so you can actually get that amazing whale photo and keep a life-long reminder of your vacation. If you’re enjoying a holiday, why not invest in the binoculars that will help you treasure it forever?