On this year’s summer getaway, I spent some time trying out the new BN 7x50 DCM binoculars from the German company MINOX. The binoculars are built for the marine environment and feature watertight optics (good to 1 meter), filled with nitrogen gas to be non-fogging. Though I didn’t try, they also reportedly will float if dropped in water.
As you’d expect with a pair of high-end binoculars, the optics are crystal clear, and even on a moonless or cloudy night, the ambient light they capture is impressive. Late one evening I was easily able to watch ducks splashing about in the mooring field, several boats away.
A built-in digital compass with LED readouts lets you store up to three sightings, which is helpful if you’re trying to grab bearings quickly when coastal piloting. You can also toggle into a second mode where a horizontal graticule appears. If you’re keen on math, you’d use this to determine the size of a distant object, or its distance away. A tilt reading will allow you to measure distance and height. Spin the control dial farther and you can determine altitude and air pressure, temperature, and there’s even a clock and stopwatch function.
One thing I wished MINOX had done is made the “on-off” switch do both. Once the LED displays were turned on, the only way to get rid of them was to wait a minute for them to shut off automatically. If you’re looking for a buoy and need to find it in a hurry, a clear field of vision is a safety issue.
My needs are simple, so to be honest, in day-to-day use I’m not sure that I’d get much past the compass feature. But for skippers who like toys with their tools, the glasses from MINOX pack a lot into a compact, easy-to-use package. (www.minox.com) $700.