Tech Editor Fox Morgan has many years of experience piloting around tricky estuaries and coastlines. Good binoculars are an essential bit of kit. Here's 15 of the best marine binoculars worth considering.

I absolutely love my Steiners. But they were a gift and heckingtons expensive. I treat them quite carefully as I couldn’t bear to lose them over the side.

I also love the tiny but awesome compact plastimos for pure simplicity and ease of carrying them in your pocket.
Whether for identifying a tricky harbour entrance, taking a closer look at an approaching ship or even looking for the breeze, a decent pair of waterproof binoculars will repay their purchase price many times over in peace of mind and as a useful aid to pilotage.

I can sit gazing through binoculars for hours. From looking at the local baby seals when on anchor or trying to find my way using old fashioned naviguesswork.
If I spot any or my friends or family using a pair of binoculars for something, I can’t help asking for a go with them.

You can buy models with internal compasses, floating bodies and image stabilisation: luckily there are waterproof binoculars for every boat and budget out there, so I rounded up 15 of the best models.

At a glance:
Best tried and tested marine binoculars – Steiner Navigator Pro
Best entry-level marine binoculars – Plastimo 7×50 Autofocus
Best marine binoculars for glasses-wearers – Minox BN 7×50 C

Best waterproof binoculars available right now

Steiner Navigator Pro marine binoculars

Best overall marine binoculars

Specifications: Weight – 1,065 g | Dimensions – 207 x 140 x 73 mm

Reasons to buy:
• Nitrogen filled
• waterproof to 10m
• Great brand reputation
• Nano-coated lenses

Reasons to avoid:
• Premium price

Steiner is one of the oldest names in optics and their Navigator Pro model, available with and without a compass, is designed for sailors.

The Navigator Pro is nitrogen-filled, waterproof up to 10m depth, and has a nano-coating on the lenses to enhance visibility and reduce glare. At 1.05kg they are comparable to the Minox binoculars in weight. A rubberised coating should protect them in case of impact.

Steiner has a good reputation for quality and reviews of these marine binoculars are particularly favourable. These are my own binoculars that have been used for a good number of years now. They’re still going strong and flawlessly. Have a read of my review if you want to know more. Steiner Navigator Pro marine binoculars

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Steiner Commander XP

Best premium marine binoculars

Specifications: Weight – 555g | Dimensions -17cm x 12cm

Reasons to buy:
• Nitrogen filled and waterproof to 10m
• Great brand reputation
• Nano-coated lenses
• captive lens caps

Reasons to avoid:
• Premium price

As previously mentioned, Steiner optics are some of the best binoculars you can get for sailing and boating. These Commander binoculars are 7×30, so not quite as heavy or bulky as the 7×50 model also featured in this buyers guide.

The Commander is sealed with 14-psi pressurized dry nitrogen within the optic, for fog-proof clarity in any temperature range. This particular model has the compass built in, though you can buy them without it. I always recommend a set with a compass built in as it is incredibly useful and if you don’t need it, the marginal weigh addition isn’t worth worrying about.

These 7×30 binoculars are a little lighter and easier to wield in rough conditions and are easier to hold steady. The Commander model is the top of the range in this series of marinised ruggedised binoculars.

The floating strap is a bit of love and loath, it’s brilliant if you’re just wearing a t-shirt, but it also can be a bit annoying on a large foul weather jacket collar.

These are a brilliant bit of kit that you can trust time and time again.

Silva Eterna Marine 7×50 waterproof binoculars

Specifications: Weight – 1,150 g | Dimensions – 208 x 200 x 74 mm

Reasons to buy:
• Robust
• fit for purpose
• great anti-glare properties
• Nitrogen filled

Reasons to avoid: 
• Long barrels can be harder to to hold steady
• A little pricey

These binoculars have been tried and tested for a good few years now.  They’ve stood up well to the general slinging around and rough stowage that most marine binoculars are subjected to.

These were branded as Nexus, but they’re now found in the shops branded as Silva. What they lack in sophistication they make up for in robustness and no nonsense fit for purpose aesthetics. The antiglare coating works well on the water.

The model tested doesn’t include a built in compass,  but newer models offer this option which I would recommend over models without.

Bynolyt Oceanranger marine binoculars

Specifications: Weight – 1,190 g | Dimensions – 190mm long

Reasons to buy:
• Contoured eye cups for better light blocking,
• Easy to use compass,
• Lighter than the searanger model

Reasons to avoid:
• some may find these less easy to balance in the hand

The Oceanranger’s central hinge is very stiff, but it’s unlikely to need adjustment once you’ve set it to your inter-pupillary distance. The eye shells are a unique shape and take a bit of getting used to. They fold back neatly for users wearing eyeglasses.

The individual focus adjusters are armour-plated and the slight military feel is reinforced by the diagrams in the extensive instruction manual that depict warships and tanks as ‘targets’.

The eyepiece protectors aren’t attached to the body of the binoculars, but the lens protectors are neatly tethered. The front end of the hinge conceals the tripod mount, while the aft end houses the two small batteries for the compass light. Note this is the only battery compartment that can be opened by hand, although it’s a bit fiddly at first.

The view of the rangefinding reticle is clear as day with numerals for measurements, although there is no useful sliding scale fitted to the exterior aiding the user to convert measurements into distance or height.

The Oceanrangers are a different shape to the Searanger III marine binoculars and shorter in length, which means they will fit some people’s hands better than others.

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Fujinon Mariner WPC-XL Binoculars

Best boat binoculars: mid-range option

Specifications: Weight – 819g | Dimensions -7.2 x 2.5 x 7, / 18.3 x 6.3 x 17.8 cm

Reasons to buy
• Polycarbonate housing makes them really light
• Brilliant long eye relief
• Great value for money

Reasons to avoid
• Lenses struggle in lower light
• Lack of grip makes them slipper in the wet

A great mid-range set of 7×50 binoculars. The first thing you’ll notice is that the polycarbonate housing keeps them really light, at just 0.8kg. That really makes a difference when you’re scanning the horizon for a period of time. These binoculars also have long eye relief. Put simply, if you wear glasses, long eye relief means you can use your specs and not suffer any reduction in your field of vision.

The lenses are a good quality, although we struggled slightly in lower light. The one surprise is that the body is smooth, and that lack of grip makes them a bit slippery in the wet. It’s a strange omission for marine binoculars, but a minor grumble. The trade off is they will float with the addition of a buoyancy strap, which will one day prove to be a godsend. Serious value for money at this price.

Konus 7x50 Tornado marine binoculars

Konus 7×50 Tornado marine binoculars

Specifications: Weight – 890 g -rubber coated

Reasons to buy:
• floating and waterproof
• nitrogen filled
• built-in illuminated compass

Reasons to avoid:
• the eye cups can be a little unforgiving

The Konus 7×50 Tornado marine binoculars float and are waterproof, they autofocus and come with a two-year warranty. They use BaK4 prisms and special coated optics to allow as much light through to the eye as possible.

The right-hand barrel displays a compass that can be illuminated with a press of a button and a range-finding reticle. The rangefinder is extremely clear with numerals to assist measurements.

The product is shipped in simple cardboard packaging and the carry case comes with a useful front pocket and its own strap. The lens protectors are attached to the binocular frame, so they won’t get lost, and note that the sturdy metal plate that prevents the lens protectors from getting loose is also a tripod socket (something the instructions failed to mention).

The eyepiece protection cap is a one-piece element with a useful eyelet built in for attaching to the provided neck strap. Neck straps are never easy to fit, but it’s a ‘one-and-done’ kind of job!

The rubber eye cups fold back easily for those who wear spectacles all the time and each eyepiece has an adjustable focus ring to help get the sharpest image.

The test pack included two LR43 battery cells (for powering the compass light) and a lens cleaning cloth. The battery container is simple to access, but reassuringly secure against water ingress. The compass is well damped.

Plastimo Rescue 7×50 marine binoculars with compass

It is always good to see companies respecting the environment and packaging their products in simple, lightweight cardboard packaging. Despite the brand name, Plastimo has not over-used plastic when packaging these marine binoculars.

The carry case is a step up from the Konus Tornado, though. There are two sticks of removable extra padding, which is a welcome addition for sure.

Just like the Konus, the Plastimo lens protectors are attached to the binocular frame so won’t get lost, while the eyepiece protection cap has a useful eyelet built in for attaching to the provided neck strap.

The test package included a lens cleaning cloth and batteries pre-installed. This latter point is convenient for someone testing multiple products, like me, but is to be avoided in chandleries if at all possible. If batteries sit for weeks or months inside a device, the results can be quite disastrous.

The rubber eye shells fold back easily for those who wear spectacles all the time. The battery container is simple to access, but reassuringly secure against water ingress. We tested every pair of binoculars for waterproofing and buoyancy – happily, none failed.

The instructions are in good English and provide enough detail to use the reticle for measuring distance and height (including diagrams). But this time instead of forgetting to mention the aperture for attaching a tripod head, the instructions indicate that the box includes a brush for cleaning the binocular lenses, but I couldn’t locate this.

The compass, reticle and compass light are all located in the right-hand barrel and work well – just as the Konus Tornados did. There is a sliding scale on the end of the barrel to calculate distance or height.

There is very little to choose between the two best units on test: the Konus has a better warranty (2yr vs 1yr) and the Plastimo carry case is slightly superior. So it probably comes down to a price battle and whether individual buyers like the Plastimo grip and feel over the Tornados.

Buy it now without compass on

Plastimo Marine 7×50 Autofocus binoculars

Best entry-level marine binoculars

Specifications: Weight – 790 g | Dimensions – ‎180 x 180 x 80 mm

Reasons to buy:
• Great entry-level option;
• Lightweight and autofocus;
• Fully coated lenses

Reasons to avoid:
• Not waterproof;
• No adjustable eyepiece

These entry-level marine binoculars from Plastimo are lightweight and will autofocus.

They are ‘splashproof’, so no nitrogen filling, and won’t appreciate a dip in the sea, but they do boast fully coated lenses for protection against scratches and damage.

They don’t have an adjustable eyepiece but have rubberised cases on the handles for impact resistance.


Minox BN

Minox BN 7×50 C marine binoculars

Best marine binoculars for glasses-wearers

Specifications: Weight – 1,100 g | Dimensions – 223 x 160 x 72 mm

Reasons to buy:
• Nitrogen filled
• Extra-large eye-pieces

Reasons to avoid:
• Premium price
• Heavy

A good rival to the Steiner Navigator Pro, fellow German brand Minox can trace its origins to Cold War spy cameras.

These good quality binoculars have an integrated analogue compass and boast extra large eye-pieces, which will help glasses-wearers, who often struggle to use standard binoculars. They are nitrogen-filled, and have a single eyepiece adjuster to correct for the user’s vision.

Weighing 1.1kg, they aren’t the lightest of those we’ve looked at, but the build quality of Minox marine binoculars is impressive.


Bynolyt Searanger II marine binoculars

Best marine binoculars for compass accuracy

Specifications: Weight – 1,100 g | Dimensions 174mm x 184mm

Reasons to buy:
• Nitrogen filled
• Waterproof and
• shockproof
• A mainstay for the RNLI

Reasons to avoid:
• Heavy

These compass binoculars are waterproof and shockproof and are filled with nitrogen. They’ve also been chosen by the RNLI for use on their lifeboats since 1999.

The compass has a stated accuracy of 1 degree and is illuminated. Weight is comparable with the Minox and Steiner marine binoculars, and these float with the aid of a neck strap.

The Non-slip rubber body will ensure they stay put when you put them down in the cockpit.


Bushnell Marine 7×50 waterproof binoculars

Best multipurpose marine binoculars

Specifications: Weight – 1,020 g | Dimensions – 188 x 177 x 71 mm

Reasons to buy:
• Nitrogen filled
• Waterproof and nonslip
• Coated optics

Reasons to avoid:
• Relatively unknown in the marine market

These well-specified marine binoculars from US outdoors firm Bushnell are waterproof, non-slip, rubber-covered and nitrogen filled.

While relatively unknown in the marine market, they have long been associated with hunting and outdoor sports.

These binoculars have coated optics for increased light transmission and brightness. A single eyepiece is adjustable to suit your eyesight, and the eye caps can fold down to suit glasses-wearers.


Force 4 Floating Waterproof Compass Binoculars

Force 4 Floating Waterproof compass binoculars

Best all-round marine binoculars

Specifications: Weight – 890 g | Dimensions – 200 x 150 x 80 mm

Reasons to buy:
• Nitrogen filled
• waterproof
• Adjustable lenses

Reasons to avoid:
• Lack the premium feel and features of more expensive options

These waterproof, floating binoculars from well-known chandlery Force 4 are a good all-rounder at a decent price: they float, have an internal, illuminated compass, and are nitrogen-filled to keep moisture at bay.

With adjustment on both lenses, they will suit most types of eyesight, and a rubber case should keep damage from knocks to a minimum.

The lenses are coated to reduce glare and increase visibility and brightness.


Plastimo 7×18 Pocket marine binoculars

Specifications: Weight – 160 g | Dimensions –  84mm long

Reasons to buy:
• Nitrogen filled
• waterproof
• incredibly portable/pocketable

Reasons to avoid:
• very very small, so if you have shovels for hands, you’ll struggle.

The smallest binoculars in our tested range of marine binoculars but these are mighty useful pocket optics.

They’re waterproof and filled with Nitrogen and come with a one-year warranty. But beware, they are very small.

They come in a small pouch and a floating strap which is needed to make these float as without it they don’t float. Small enough to fit in a pocket, these can be taken everywhere you go. Not just for on the water but great for the theatre too.

We fell in love with them the moment they were unboxed from their simple environmentally friendly packaging.


Gael Force marine binoculars

Specifications: Weight – 805 g | Dimensions –  180mm long

Reasons to buy:
• budget friendly
• easy to use
• value for money

Reasons to avoid:
• not completely water proof

At the entry level budget range of binoculars these are a decent pair that will see you right out on the water. Just treat them with a little care to avoid them becoming water logged.

The product is described as waterproof, but a rating of IPX3 does not mean these binoculars will survive immersion and they are not buoyant, as the website makes clear.

There are no individual eye adjusters on these marine binoculars, despite what the instructions might say and the only exterior feature is the hidden tripod attachment.

The eye cups are described as ‘long eye relief’ and the eye pieces are quite small diameter. We found them to be well balanced in the hands and easy to use.

The eye cups fold down for users wearing spectacles.


Waveline Binoculars

Waveline Autofocus 7X50 binoculars

Best budget marine binoculars

Specifications: Weight – 780 g | Dimensions – Not disclosed

Reasons to buy:
• Splashproof
• Great for occasional use

Reasons to avoid:
• Basic
• lacking features
• Won’t survive a trip overboard

These 7×50 binoculars are available from a number of marine outlets.

They are about as basic as they come: autofocus, splashproof and impact-resistant, they won’t float and aren’t nitrogen-filled, so aren’t likely to survive a trip overboard either.

However, for occasional use and if stored down below in their supplied carry case they are likely to prove perfectly adequate for boaters on a budget.


What to look for in a good pair of marine binoculars

Binoculars are available in many different guises online, in varying degrees of magnification, weight, size and waterproofing.

At first glance you might assume that the greater the magnification the better, but on a moving boat, it’s long been accepted that 7x is the best compromise between making objects appear larger and keeping them still enough to see.

The trusty pair of 7×50 marine binoculars narrows down the search somewhat, but you’re also looking for light weight (to avoid tired arms), an adjustable eyepiece (to suit any eyesight, glasses and contact lenses), and ideally, they will be filled with nitrogen to keep moisture at bay.

Weight-wise, marine binoculars seem to fall into two camps – the cheaper ones, minus the bells and whistles come in at around 6-700g, and the better quality ones at around 1kg. Read our other article about three premium marine binoculars tested by Bruce Jacobs.

Further reading across our titles…

If you want more binoculars with built-in compasses, you can read more about those in our other dedicated article on sister title Practical Boat Owner

If you want to know how binoculars actually work and what the numbers mean, you can read about that at our sister title, Yachting Monthly

You can read about night pilotage: how to enter unfamiliar harbours at our sister title Yachting Monthly


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