Whether sailing or motoring, anyone who goes out yachting should have a good pair of marine binoculars with them, preferably two. Out on the open water, things of interest tend to be far away: the coastline, other boats and ships, markers and buoys etc. To see them clearly, you need binoculars.
Let’s have a look at what features you should consider when choosing the best binoculars for yachting adventures.
- The recommended magnification for marine purposes is 7x. Numbers above that make it difficult to get a steady image when you’re out at sea. The exception here is image stabilized binoculars – you can go much higher on magnification power with these.
- Waterproof, fogproof, corrosion-resistant: the salty humid air will easily fog up and slowly eat away at cheap binoculars.
- Comfortable to focus and hold.
- Extra features like a compass or a reticle rangefinder are always nice.
- Large objective lens for ample light: this is so that you get clear images even at dusk.
- Configuration: mostly, people use 7×50 models with Porro prisms when out on the water. These have an excellent exit pupil for bright images and provide a better depth perception due to the widely spaced barrels.
- Good optics. Look for ones that feature ED glass and fully multi-coated lenses. Together, these features reduce color aberrations around the edges of objects and increase light transmission for brigher and clearer images, especially in low light.
- Eye relief is especially important if you wear glasses – this is the distance you can maintain between your eyes and the eyepieces. If you have eyeglasses, look for binoculars with eye relief of at least 15mm.
- Focus – since typically you’ll be looking at objects that are quite some distance away, it makes sense to go for so-called “autofocus” or fixed focus binoculars. Basically these have their focus set some tens of feet away and everything further than that point will be in focus automatically due to your eyes’ natural focusing abilities. Most marine binoculars have this feature.
So here are some models that you should consider:
These binoculars aren’t just waterproof – they float. Drop them in the water, turn the boat around and pick them up. In addition, they come with an internal compass, which is very practical for finding out if you are on a collision course with another vessel, and a reticle rangefinder. Note that this is not a laser rangefinder. Instead you have a visual scale and you need to know the size of the object you’re looking at and then make a simple calculation in order to find the distance to the object. The optics are pretty good and overall these binoculars are good value for the money.
Here’s another model that yachtsmen will appreciate. These come from one of the biggest brands in the binoculars field, Bushnell. This product is also buoyant, meaning it floats on water. It includes a 3-axis compass and a tilt feature, with an LCD readout. They have a high-quality corrosion resistant build with well-protected optics. These binoculars may be a bit larger than some other models, which is not necessarily a bad thing though, more a matter of preference. You can expect Bushnells to have excellent image quality as well. This is definitely one of the top items to have with you when you’re out boating.
Finally, we have these Steiner binoculars for yachting that make for a serious tool for serious boaties. The optics are absolutely top-notch. Although these binoculars don’t have all the gimmicks of the two models above, they are perfect at what binoculars are supposed to do – providing clear crisp bright images of far-away objects. They are fairly small for their parameters and provide an autofocus feature. This doesn’t mean that they will start auto-focusing every time you look somewhere like a digital camera, but rather that everything starting from a certain distance is already in focus due to your eyes’ ability to maintain focus. They are built to last and will make a great companion out on the waters.