Three 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

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.

They Float!

A pair with an internal compass and range finder can be incredibly helpful 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.

Night Vision

Attach a floating buoy to these or else risk accidentally sinking them. 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.

Built to Last

If you can’t afford a marine-grad pair, these 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.