Binoculars are one of the basic tools you should have with you when going out onto the water. In the very least, it’s a convenience, and many times a necessity – depending on what sort of boat you are in and where you are going.
Unlike on land, where you typically can’t see very far because of obstacles, out on the water things tend to be far away – this includes the shore, buoys and other vessels. In order to be able to see various markers, as well as the movements and signals from other boats and ships, the naked eye is often not enough and you will need some magnification, which is why you should get yourself a good pair of binoculars.
When choosing the best marine optics you should consider a few things:
- They should provide adequate magnification without going overboard (pun intended) – too much and you’ll find it too hard to hold them steady while bobbing up and down on the waves.
- They should have sufficiently large objective lenses, otherwise you’ll find it hard to use them in twilight conditions.
- They should be fog and water proof (obviously) and perhaps even be a floating type so you can recover them in case you drop them in water.
Armed with this list, here are some of the best products on the market. Choose based on your requirements and your budget.
These binoculars are a great combination of features: they are not only waterproof, but they float, they have 7x magnification, which is probably the most common magnification for marine binoculars. They also feature a compass, which is always useful on the water, and a simple rangefinder. Don’t let the rangefinder feature fool you though – you will need to know the size of the distant object you’re looking at and do some math – it will not magically measure the distance with a laser. Also, customers have occasionally complained about material degradation and fogging up. So perhaps these are not your first choice if you want to cross the Pacific solo, but they’re great value for the money if you are doing something simpler like kayaking or such.
This here is a much loved model that is unlikely to let you down. It has good light-gathering capabilities and provides a sharp bright image. The tubes can be focused individually – don’t let this scare you, you are likely to have to do it only once for each eye. The build is sturdy with excellent grip and is made of water and corrosion-resistant materials – something you will appreciate, especially if you go out to sea often. These will make great item to take on a cruise or for boating on your own.
Now here’s a pricier product, but which is nonetheless probably one of the best options for boating on the market. Steiner is well known for making superb optics and this one is no exception – you can expect the image quality to be stunning. Due to their large objectives and coated optics, you will get brighter images at dusk than you will get with the naked eye. These are no opera glasses – they are big, durable, built for harsh environments. Take them out to sea, or to Yellowstone, or wherever. They are perfect if you want to catch a glimpse of the marine wildlife such as whales and dolphins, but will be up to any task really. Not the cheapest purchase you will ever make, but it will definitely be money well spent.