Packing Lists for Travel

The 13 Best Binoculars for Your Alaska Cruise in 2021

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As you begin packing for your Alaska cruise, there’s a lot to remember. Layers ✔️ Camera ✔️ Day pack ✔️ But there’s one more item you might forget that will come in super handy for getting up close and personal with the massive sweeping majesty of Alaska: binoculars for your Alaska cruise!

I spent 15 years living in Alaska, but it wasn’t until I moved away that I went on my first Alaska cruise. And despite not bringing my own binoculars, I used the ones provided in my cabin. Now as I’m planning my second (and actually third!) Alaska cruise, I decided to invest in binoculars for myself.

Best Binoculars for Alaska Cruise Hero

If you’re not familiar with how binoculars work, there are two numbers provided for each product. The first is the magnification offered by the binoculars; the second refers to the size of the objective lens in millimeters. So for 10×42 binoculars – for example – they offer 10x magnification, and the objective lens is 42mm in diameter. The larger the objective lens, the more light is let into the lens – creating brighter and potentially clearer views. However, larger lenses weigh more – that’s something to keep in mind as you pack for your Alaska cruise.

After reading this post, you’ll know of 13 different options of binoculars for an Alaska cruise; I also included a shortlist of what I consider the 5 best binoculars for your Alaska cruises.

While I personally do not support the mega-ship cruise industry due to its negative impact on local economies, damage caused to the environment, and evasive tax practices, I created this resource to allow you to make your own choice. Please consider booking a small-ship cruise instead, carbon offsetting, and buying local souvenirs to help reduce the negative impact of your Alaska cruise.

5 Best Binoculars for Alaska Cruise [Table]

While I share 13 different binoculars I recommend in this post, I know it’s helpful to have a short list to help you narrow it down. Below you’ll find a table of the five binoculars I most recommend; you can scroll down to read about each one, as well as the others I thought were worth considering if you don’t find one on this list you want to invest in.

RankBinocularsNotesLink
1Celestron Outland X 8×42 Binoculars
Versatile and midrangeLink
2occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars
Lightweight and low costLink
3Coleman 7×50 Signature All Terrain
Waterproof Binoculars
Standard and powerfulLink
4Wingspan Optics FieldView 8×32
Compact Binoculars
Good for wildlife and compactLink
5Steiner 10×42 Predator Binoculars
High cost and also high performanceLink

Now let’s dive into each of these binoculars for Alaska cruise plus others you might want to consider.

Bushnell H20 Roof Prism Binoculars

The Bushnell H2O Roof Prism binoculars are a good option for your Alaska cruise because this particular style comes with different options you can choose from. In particular, I recommend the 10×42 option, as you get greater magnification for not much more in cost (about $10 more).

No matter which magnification you go with, these are great compact binoculars that are lightweight and easy to pack – but will give you good views for the cost and power.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof & Fog Proof

Cons

  • Poor for Eyeglasses/Sunglasses
  • Over $100

Bushnell H2O 10×42 Binoculars

For another Bushnell option, they also offer another style of 10×42 binoculars with basically the same features but different materials and hand grips.

To be honest, I’m not totally sure what the difference is between this style and the ones above, but it’s a second option if you find one or the other is sold out.

Pros

  • Waterproof & Fog Proof
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Over $100
  • Not great for eyeglasses/sunglasses

Celestron Nature DX 10×42 Binoculars

Celestron is known for creating great optical equipment; I personally know the brand more from their telescopes. Either way, their binoculars are also a great option for your Alaska cruise packing list.

These particular binoculars – the 10×42 option – are actually cheaper than the 8×42 option (not sure why) so opt for the greater magnification to get even better views of those glaciers and Alaska’s Big Five. However, you do end up with a bit more weight than some others on this list.

Pros

  • Waterproof & Fog Proof

Cons

  • Over $100
  • Over 1.5 lbs
  • Not great for eyeglasses/sunglasses

Celestron Outland X 8×42 Binoculars

For another Celestron option, check out the Outland X 8×42 binoculars for your Alaska Cruise. They come in at 22oz (1.375 pounds) so a bit lighter than the Celestron Nature binoculars above; they’re also significantly lower in cost (about half) making them a great option for people who want binoculars for an Alaska cruise but won’t use them much afterward.

These are the 8×42 binoculars I’ve recommended; they also have a 10×42 model that’s only a bit more if you want additional magnification (and additional weight).

Pros

  • Under $100
  • Waterproof & Fog Proof
  • Under 1.5lbs

Cons

  • Not great for eyeglasses/sunglasses

Coleman 7×50 Signature All Terrain Waterproof Binoculars

While all that extra light from the Midnight Sun certainly makes it easier to spot things in Alaska during your cruise, it never hurts to have binoculars with a bigger objective lens to capture as much light as possible (and thus provide a brighter image to your eyes). This makes them great for those with less acute vision, such as older Alaska cruisers.

The Coleman 7×50 Signature All Terrain Waterproof Binoculars will look really familiar – they’re the standard binoculars usually provided if you don’t bring your own. They are Porro Prism (rather than Roof Prism like others on this list so far) but come in nice and low weight with good power for the price.

Pros

  • Under $100
  • Under 1.0lbs
  • Waterproof & Fog Proof

Cons

  • Not great for eyeglasses/sunglasses

Hooway 7×50 Military Marine Binoculars

If you want heavy-duty binoculars that can handle anything your Alaskan adventure throws at you, the Hooway 7×50 Military Marine Binoculars are a great choice. These binoculars are military-standard, meaning they can handle getting dropped – whether that’s on the cruise ship deck or when climbing on/off the Tundra Wilderness Tour in Denali.

They’ve got decent magnification to make whales and glaciers seem closer, but make up for it with brighter, crisp views. As a result, they’re among the heaviest binoculars on this list at 2.2lbs; it’s worth buying a neck strap so you don’t test their durability.

Pros

  • Good for eyeglasses/sunglasses
  • Waterproof & Fog Proof

Cons

  • Over $100
  • Over 2.0lbs

Nikon Aculon 10×50 Binoculars

Nikon is better to know for their cameras; it should be no surprise that they’re also great at applying their excellent lens technology to binoculars. I’ve included a couple of different Nikon options on this list with different specs, including the Aculon 10×50 binocular.

These Porro Prism binoculars are a bit bigger and bulkier (and weigh more, at roughly 2lbs) and are also not waterproof. But, they are a good option if you prefer this style of binocular and want a larger pair to hang onto (such as if you have grip issues), and have better eyecups for those wearing eyeglasses or sunglasses.

Pros

  • Good for eyeglasses/sunglasses

Cons

  • Over $100
  • Weighs 2.0lb
  • Not waterproof or fog proof

Nikon Monarch 8×42 Binoculars

For a Roof Prism style pair of Nikon binoculars for your Alaska cruise, consider the Monarch 8×42 Binocular. These are some of the highest-end binoculars on my list, and they correspondingly cost more. However, they are also some of the best-quality lenses if you want truly top-notch clarity for spotting eagles, seabirds, and whales while cruising.

These binoculars are pretty mid-range for both magnification and objective lens size, but are a great investment if you are planning to cruise a lot – or use your binoculars for other adventures.

Pros

  • Under 1.5lbs
  • Waterproof & Fog Proof

Cons

  • Over $200
  • Not good for eyeglasses/sunglasses

Nikon Prostaff 7S 8×42 Binoculars

When it comes to binoculars lens quality obviously varies – but so do handgrips, which are obviously important if you’re going to spend a week using them to try and see everything you can on your Alaska cruise. These Roof Prism-style Nikon Prostaff 7S binoculars are compact and futuristic, but also pack all the features you need.

While these binoculars come with other specs (8×30 and 10×30), the 8×42 binoculars are the most versatile and worth the price. That means they’ll do well when watching a glacier calving up close or seeing a bald eagle preening.

Pros

  • Under 1.5lbs
  • Waterproof & Fog Proof

Cons

  • Over $100
  • Not great for eyeglasses/sunglasses

Nikon Prostaff 3S 10×42 Binocular

The Nikon Prostaff 3S binoculars are almost identical to the 7S; they’re an earlier generation of the same product family. As such, they cost less for comparable products in the later, 7S generation. So I’m recommending the 10×42 of the 3S as you can get more power for the cost.

These binoculars are also nicely lightweight, coming in around 1.25lbs. That means they’re an easy sell to put in your suitcase when packing for your Alaska cruise.

Pros

  • Under 1.5lbs
  • Waterproof & Fog Proof

Cons

  • Over $100
  • Not great for eyeglasses/sunglasses

occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars

If you’ve been reading and wondering about the most super-compact, low-cost option, here it is! The occer 12×25 binoculars are not as powerful as other binoculars on this list – they make up for it with more magnification, which can come at the expense of quality/clarity in your view.

However, at this price, plus being so lightweight and waterproof, make these a fabulous choice for those who just want something and aren’t willing to give up space and weight in your suitcase.

Pros

  • Under $50
  • Less than 0.5lbs
  • Waterproof & Fog Proof

Cons

  • Not great for eyeglasses/sunglasses

Steiner 10×42 Predator Binoculars

Alaska is home to many species of apex predators – wolves, orcas, bears, and more. If you want to feel like a predator only insofar as you’re the most eagle-eyed person on your Alaska cruise, the Steiner 10×42 Predator binoculars are the way to go.

These binoculars have a different look – they’re clearly more tactically designed for hunters. But you can just be a visual hunter, rather than, you know, a hunting hunter. However, being designed for more intense activities than spotting wildlife, these binoculars also have a higher price point.

Pros

  • Less than 1.5lbs
  • Waterproof & Fog Proof
  • Great for eyeglasses/sunglasses

Cons

  • Over $300

Wingspan Optics FieldView 8×32 Compact Binoculars

Finally, if you love birding and want to spot puffin, eagles, terns, and more, you’ll probably recognize the Wingspan Optics brand for binoculars. These Wingspan Optics FieldView binoculars are originally designed for bird watching, though obviously, they’ll help you see all kinds of incredible Alaskan wildlife during your cruise.

These binoculars make the list as a good lightweight, low-cost option. They don’t pack the power of others on this list but work well if you don’t want to invest a ton but still consider binocs necessary for your Alaska cruise packing list.

Pros

  • Under $100
  • Under 1.0lbs
  • Waterproof & Fog Proof

Cons

  • Not good for eyeglasses/sunglasses

Have any questions about these binoculars or what else to pack for your Alaska cruise? Let me know in the comments!

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