Product Review: Vanguard Binoculars

By: Equipment, Partners, Product Review

A couple of friends went sailing with me recently. They flew in from Texas and had never been to the Pacific Ocean. They had never been sailing. As the story has been told countless times now, I whispered into the wind and whales appeared. 

There, along the port side of my 33-foot sailboat, were a couple of Pacific Grey Whales just as curious about us as we were about them. That day, I scanned the horizon looking for some impressive sight that I could impress my guest with and a couple of whales showed up and made my job easy.

My lasting impression of that sail was this close encounter with a magical resident of the ocean and the way my passengers watched these whales through a pair of Binoculars for a couple of hours after our brief encounter. If there ever was a tool that was required on my sailboat it was the pair of Vanguard Binoculars that were on the boat as part of what I call my “Job.”

You don’t need binoculars when the whales come right to you but they sure do help when they swim away with such efficiency that 8 knots of wind cannot help you overcome.  

The Vanguard VEO ED 8420 8×42 ED Glass Binoculars were on board as we periodically test products to share with members of American Sailing.  From looking into the glare of the afternoon sun to spotting sea lions on the breakwater the official product review work had been completed.  It wasn’t until a week later when the whales made an appearance that I could get a much better sense for the performance of the Vanguard Binoculars.

What I Like About The Vanguard Binoculars:

  • The large 20mm eyepieces may be the best feature of these binoculars. I wear glasses and they seem to be the precise size for my eyes. Of course, when my wife utilized the binoculars she made a similar statement about the eyepiece size.  When you are moving on a sailboat you need a bit more glass to keep your eye focused.
  • The Vanguard VEO ED 8420 8×42 ED Binoculars are waterproof and fog proof meaning that on a cool southern California morning they held up well to resisting fog while on a strenuous kayaking excursion. 
  • The binoculars are light and durable and come with a padded travel bag. The neoprene travel bag took in some water while kayaking but the binoculars themselves did not.  The binoculars got a quick dip into the ocean while Stand Up Paddling and they did not take in any water. I probably would not be submerging them but in a quick test, they survived.
  • At 640 grams ( a little less than a pound and a half) the Binoculars were light enough to wear around my neck for a couple of hours. They boast a comfortable strap and lens covers.  The lens covers are great to prevent scratching but they can be cumbersome.  If I am going to use these all day for spotting wildlife I would just remove the covers.
  • The housing is a comfortable rubber that withstands some light abuse and is made of lightweight carbon. These were dropped a couple of times and still performed great.

Features That Vanguard Are Proud Of:

  • Premium extra-low dispersion (ED) glass and fully multi-coated lenses to effectively reduce chromatic aberration and deliver vivid, accurate colors to your eyes.
  • You can add the optional BA-185 adapter (sold separately) to mount the VEO ED binoculars onto a tripod.
  • Two-stage twist-up eyecups
  • Large secure Focus Wheel
  • Phase-corrected Bak4 roof prisms
  • An oversized center focus wheel
  • Premium Mitsubishi Rubber Armor

My only complaint was that I needed more magnification when the whales moved out of range. That’s not the fault of the Vanguard Binoculars, that is mother natures way of telling me to sail more often to increase my chances of more whale encounters. 

The Vanguard VEO ED 8420 8×42 ED Glass Binoculars are priced at $199. ASA members receive a discount, tap below to go to the member portal to find the code.


Simply apply the secret member-only discount code at checkout. Members can find the secret member-only discount code in the ASA Members Portal. Not a member? Then join ASA today!