Trying to look at things over water is a challenge within itself. This means that the binoculars used must really be made for this type of exploration. They also need to have plenty of features that will allow them to not only do the job but also do it perfectly. This article explains what you should look for when purchasing a high quality set of marine binoculars. We’ve also listed our Top 3 Marine Binoculars for 2017.
Fog-proof and Waterproof Features
Quite naturally, marine binoculars must be waterproof. Just know that there are various types of available waterproofing. A lot of vendors say that they have waterproof binoculars, but they are only protected against water. Make sure that you get binoculars that contain an O-ring seal and are nitrogen purged.
This signifies that the body has been charged with dry nitrogen gas that stops the fogging, which usually occurs when the temperatures change very quickly. This will make sure that your marine binoculars are protected from all types of water and moisture and will not fog up. This also means that the inside of your binoculars will have protection from corrosion, which will be an added benefit if you like to use them while out on the ocean.
Best Magnification for Marine Binoculars
When out at sea, your goal will be to find subjects that are in a distance, more so than what you would expect if you were on dry land. The larger the magnification, the better your view will be.
However, there is a major problem with this logic. High magnification will cause problems trying to stabilise your image. So, considering the fact that the deck of a boat is not stable anyways, your expensive high-powered binoculars will be almost impossible to use! Your image will never be stable enough to view.
This is why the majority of marine binoculars usually have magnifications of around 7x. This will give you enough power to view your images without causing any stabilisation problems.
Objective Lens Size
This specifies the size of the lens at the tip of your binoculars. Large objective lenses can gather more light, which will result in a brighter image. This is something that should be taken into consideration if you plan on using your binoculars during early morning, dusk or nighttime. Naturally, larger lenses will mean larger and heavier binoculars. Usually, marine binoculars are used on a boat, so this is not a problem. Most marine binoculars have objective lenses of 30mm to 50mm.
FOV or Field of View
Your FOV is the horizontal width of what you can view when looking through your binoculars.
With a wide field of view, it is easier to instantly locate subjects when you are looking through your binoculars. When on the water, it allows you to spot different subjects and see more of them in your view. For example, you could see other boats in the distance.
A lower magnification will mean a wider FOV. A view that is too wide will distort your images along the borders. So, you need to get a wider field of view at the right magnification.
For marine use, 7×50 binoculars are the perfect balance between magnification, lens size and FOV.
Size and Weight
When it comes to the size and weight of your marine binoculars, it really doesn’t matter. They are usually kept on a boat and only utilised when on the water. If you want to use them for other things besides boating adventures, then this might become a problem.
Some marine binoculars are available with an integrated compass. You can pinpoint the bearing of a particular subject. It will depend on your needs, but this is something that is an added bonus. If you find that you do need this particular feature then make sure that you get a compass that illuminates during the night time hours. Quite naturally, these will require the usage of batteries.
Have you ever considered what would happen if your binoculars fell into the water? Some marine binoculars can float; the majority of them do not. So, get a floating strap that you can attach to your binoculars. This will make sure that they stay on top of the water long enough for you to get them out. Certain models such as the Fujinon 7×50 Mariner are available with a floating neck strap. Some marine binoculars are not available with this particular feature, which means that you will have to purchase the floating strap separately.
Our Top 3 Marine Binoculars for 2017
** Note: All 3 binoculars recommended below are suitable for eyeglasses users **
Fujinon 7X50 WPC-XL Mariner
Current Price: £319
It is important that marine binoculars are not only waterproof but also stable when you are out in high seas. The Fujinon Mariner 7×50 WPC-XL binoculars have both of these features covered. They are 100% waterproof and even float in water when used with the included floating neck strap. They are also nitrogen purged, fog-proofed, comfortable to use and highly durable.
The 7x magnification will allow you to look at things in the distance, but also give you the ability to view your subjects without any stabilisation problems. This is especially functional whenever the waves are high. The image quality on these is superb and highly rated by Fuji binocular users.
The very wide (7 degrees) field of view together with the bright images produced by the 50mm lenses is simply remarkable. These features are handy for marine use as you can spot approaching boats easily even in poor light conditions.
These marine binoculars have a digital compass, for day and night use, visible through the eyepiece. If you don’t need the compass you can save around £20 and choose the Fujinon 7×50 WP-XL Mariner. These are exactly the same binoculars excluding the compass on top.
The Fujinon 7×50 WPC-XL Mariner are our top-pick marine binoculars as well as our best-selling waterproof model. They are currently priced at £319, which is a bargain for what you get with them.
Bushnell 7×50 H2O Binoculars
Current Price: £149
If you want good quality marine binoculars without breaking the bank then the Bushnell 7×50 H2O are a good pick. Bushnell are experts in producing excellent optics at low prices and this marine model is no different. The 7x magnification is handy for using the binoculars in and out of the water. As far as waterproofing, fog proofing and wide field of view this model matches any other high quality marine binocular.
Although the Bushnell H2O have perfectly good lenses, you might find the Fujinon binoculars optically better with sharper and brighter images. In conclusion, the Bushnell 7×50 H2O are a steal for their price range (£149) and a solid choice as marine binoculars.
Avalon 8X32 Mini HD Binoculars
Current Price: £119
If you like to travel light but still want to enjoy beautiful, sharp images then we highly recommend the Avalon 8X32 Mini HD Binoculars. They are much smaller than any standard size marine binoculars. They offer a perfect balance between small size (32mm lenses), lightweight (416 grams) and excellent quality optics. They fit in a jacket pocket or a small backpack pocket which makes them ideal for not only for marine use but also for travel and general viewing.
This model combines Avalon’s HD lenses, compact easy to use design and a wide field of view (6.9 degrees) to spot and follow moving subjects. Just to top things up, the Avalon 8X32 Mini HD binoculars are also nitrogen purged, 100% waterproof and fog-proof. They currently sell for only £119 which we believe is a bargain for a product at this level.