3 Features You Need in a Marine Binocular

A good pair of binoculars meant for open water can do more than just see what’s on the horizon

Man looking through binoculars on boat
A reliable pair of marine binoculars can help you avoid getting lost on the water.Lindsay Lenard/Unsplash

The marine environment is rough on equipment. When it comes to optics, a pair of binoculars that might work great for hunting could get trashed onboard a boat, especially in saltwater. But good optics are as important at sea as in the mountains. From common navigation tasks like locating channel markers to spotting gulls diving over bait balls, you need a binocular that won’t fall apart under the demands of safe boating or run-and-gun fishing. Here are a few traits to look for in a dedicated marine binocular.

Navigation Aids

Hooway Waterproof Fogproof Military Marine Binoculars
Binoculars with an internal compass and range finder can be incredibly helpful on the water when it’s tough to find direction.Hooway

True marine binoculars usually have a compass integrated into the glass, which is helpful for taking a bearing off of critical navigation aids that may go unnoticed to the naked eye. Other marine-binocular features might include a range finder or even stabilization technology, which makes higher-power glass (say above 7x magnification) more functional in the confines of a rocking boat. At the very least, having a compass feature gives you a sense of where you are looking at all times when every direction looks the same.

Floating

USCAMEL Waterproof Marine Binoculars
Attach a floating buoy to your binos or else risk accidentally sinking a pair to the bottom.USCAMEL

If you keep a pair of binoculars on board, there's a decent chance they are going for a swim at some point. Marine binoculars with a built-in flotation feature increases the likelihood that you can retrieve your glass before surrendering it to Davy Jones' locker.

Waterproof and Fog-Proof

Bushnell Waterproof and Fogproof Binoculars
If you can’t afford marine binoculars, a less-expensive pair that is waterproof and fogproof will serve you well in the short term.Bushnell

If you don't want to invest in a pair of true marine binoculars, or maybe you spend limited time on the water, at least make sure you are taking aboard waterproof and fog-proof binoculars. They might not do everything real marine binoculars do, but you have the confidence that two of the most destructive features of the marine environment will be sealed out and kept at bay.