10 Best Hunting Binoculars: Reviews & Buying Guide
Also known as field glasses, binoculars are objects where two telescopic glasses are mounted side by side in perfect alignment so that a person can use them to see distant objects. There are various technical aspects to this and the distance that you can see will differ depending on the level of magnification and the optical clarity. Read on for the rest of the Best Hunting Binoculars article.
Types of hunting binoculars
Roof Prism and Porro Prism Binoculars are the two types commonly available in the market today. Both have specific purposes, and you need to choose the right one based on your requirement. Roof prism binoculars are very compact and can be held easily in one’s hand.
They are also expensive. Porro prism binoculars are quite bulky, and they are used mainly when one wants to get the high optical quality of images.
Pros And Cons Of Roof Prism Binoculars
- Compact and lightweight, so they can be carried easily for outdoor activities and are ideal when portability is a concern
- They are dustproof and waterproof
- Less complicated, so operating them is easier than other binocular types
- Best suited for activities like hiking, bird-watching, and wildlife-viewing
- The overall quality of the final image is not as sharp or bright or accurate as the Porro prism binoculars
Pros And Cons Of Porro Prism Binoculars
- Due to the wide spacing of the objective lens, you will get better image quality while using Porro prism binoculars than roof prism binoculars
- Porro prisms have a very low manufacturing cost; therefore, these binoculars are quite affordable when compared to the other type
- They are bulky, so are best suited to activities where portability and maneuverability are not a concern
- Technically stronger than the roof prism types; however, the inner works are complicated and if treated poorly are more likely to fail
Check out the video below for an excellent video discussing the differences between Porro and Roof Prism binoculars:
This video has been included for its clarification of the topic matter. Credit goes to OpticsPlanet
How To Choose The Best Hunting Binoculars
When you step out to buy binoculars, you will be taken aback by the sheer variety and models that are available to you. It’s important to go equipped with some basic knowledge and what to look for, maximizing your chances of making an informed and correct decision. Here are some tips that will help you in choosing the right pair of binoculars:
1. What’s your Budget?
Some basic models are available for just under $150, and there are professional models that cost upwards of $2500. With such a huge price window, how do you choose? Set a budget and stick to it. Within your price range narrow your choices down to the best so that you can more easily make your decision.
2. How do they feel in your hands?
This is a very important point to check because binoculars are tactile objects made of a variety of materials and in a range of sizes. If buying online make sure you’re aware of the returns policy, ideally, you’ll want to have a couple of days to try out the binoculars before committing to keeping them.
3. What is the Image quality
This is the next important question that you should ask yourself before selecting a binocular. How clear or sharp or crisp or bright the images are when you test them under low-light conditions? Remember that the stores are well-lit usually; therefore, you should never choose by testing the binoculars under these lights.
To know if they perform well or not, you should test them in low-light situations. You might find yourself hunting or birdwatching at dusk or in the very early morning when naturally occurring light is minimal.
4. Choose the right dimensions
Give careful consideration to the magnifying factor and the diameter of the objective lens. When you choose a binocular that magnifies ten times, the final images that you may see may be bigger, but they may appear to be out of focus because as your magnifying factor increases, your field view comes down. To get maximum magnification and a wider field view, you may have to invest in a tripod and mount your binocular on that.
Are you ready for the extra expense that this would involve? A wide field view is of paramount importance to assess the performance quality of the binocular.
5. What is the eye relief
Do you wear eyeglasses? If yes, you have to be more specific about the eye relief factor of the binoculars than the ones that don’t. All binoculars come with eyecups, but you need to choose the ones that can be automatically adjusted. These eyecups should retract when you wear glasses and should extend when you don’t.
This will ensure that the resultant images that you see on your binoculars are clean and sharp. When you choose binoculars that have rigid eyecups, be wary of seeing distorted images.
6. How big my objective lens should be?
There is no hard and fast rule for choosing the size of your lens. It depends on the purpose that you buy your binoculars for. For example, if you are a professional bird-watcher or want to hunt during dusk or low-light conditions, you need binoculars that will collect as much light as possible.
In this case, the diameter of your lens should be around 50mm. The other point to remember here is as your lens keeps getting bigger, so does the size of your binoculars! So be prepared to travel with bulky binoculars if you are particular about using them in low-light conditions.
Most of the models in the market have around 30 to 50mm in diameter. This should suffice for most of you. Nevertheless, some professionals use binoculars that have a lens diameter of more than 50mm also.
7. What coating should I consider?
Ideally, a lens that has been coated fully with multiple coatings is the best choice, but they come at a cost. We all have to pay extra for some quality, isn’t it? There is low-priced single-coated lens as well, but they aren’t durable, and we wouldn’t recommend you invest in them.
You may have to spend a lot on their frequent repairs, which defeats the whole purpose of you choosing a low-priced model.
8. Prism Quality
As we saw earlier, Porro prism binoculars are known for their excellent image quality and sharpness, but they are bulky. If you want the compactness of roof prism binoculars and the image quality of Porro prism types, you should be ready to pay more. These binoculars use the high-quality BaK-4 lens, which helps you get a sharper focus on the images.
9. Waterproof, weatherproof, and shockproof
Obviously, binoculars that can submerge to a certain extent in water, be used in all seasons, and are resistant to shocks and scratches do cost a lot. Invest in them only if you plan to use your binoculars extensively. If you plan to use them only on special occasions, you don’t need waterproof or weatherproof models.
10. After-sales service of the manufacturer
Read various reviews to understand how courteous the makers are after you have bought their model of binoculars. If you have a problem, do they respond to you patiently? Are they available on call or by mail?
Do they replace or repair the product without any cost? Do they make life tough for you when you ask for refunds? These are the questions that will help you understand the quality of after-sales service a company offers. Choose a model where the makers offer extended warranties, free-of-cost services for manufacturing defects, and repairs at nominal costs.
With this broad idea in mind, we hope you are better equipped than before when you set out to buy binoculars. Listed below are ten binoculars (some old and some new) that have managed to get a lot of positive reviews from their users. Yes, every binocular has its set of flaws as well, but you will be able to make a qualified decision when you weigh these flaws against the benefits.
We have attempted to list the features, pros, cons, cost, and our thoughts on each of these ten binoculars so that it can guide you when you make your purchase decision.
Nikon Monarch HG Review
If you are looking for a lighter and smaller binocular with a great field view, the Nikon Monarch HG 10 X 42 is the right choice for you. Here is a brief review of this product:
- Wide Field View along with field flattener system, thereby enabling a clear view of the periphery of the lens
- Extra Low Dispersion Glass engineered optical system, Schmidt – Pechan prisms that are phase correction coated, anti-reflection multilayer coatings on all air to glass surfaces and dielectric coatings, thereby enabling the maximum transmission to reach 92%
- Flexibility to change your personal settings as and when you want it, thanks to the locking diopter control system
- Nitrogen-filled binoculars that are waterproof up to a depth of 5m for 10min
- Magnesium alloy housed, hydrophobic coatings powered outer lenses
- Comes with a ten-year warranty
- Comes with a huge central wheel with rubber armor, thereby enabling smooth movement while user wants to focus on something
- High-class barrel interiors with a matt finish
- Great durability and stylish looks
- Excellent field-of-view
- High-quality lenses, prisms, and images
- No optical aberrations
- Very smooth eyecups
- Objective caps can be easily removed and replaced with tube caps, to suit the preference of the user
- A slight reduction in eye relief
- Slight chromatic aberration was experienced at the edge of the view
With its extraordinary field-view features and high-quality optics, we can confidently say that the Nikon Monarch HG is one of the best in the industry today. It focuses on the comfort of the end users, which is why it has come up with an ergonomic design and compact size. It would be right to say that this binocular is the best that you will get in this price range.
Also, the fact that it comes with a 10-year manufacturer warranty from Nikon speaks volumes about the durability of this product. Place your money on this one, and you will never feel bad about it. Nikon doesn’t disappoint at all, with its Monarch HG model of binoculars.
Celestron Trailseeker Review
Looking for an affordable yet very decent-quality of binoculars? The Celestron 71404 Trailseeker 8 x 42 is the one that might satisfy your requirements. Read on to know more about this product:
- Comes with a Nitrogen-filled waterproof frame coated with magnesium alloy
- BaK-4 Roof Prisms that come with phase-coating and dielectric coatings
- Comes with a very wide field view – 426feet at 100 yards
- Lightweight; weighs just about 655grams, which makes it one of the most-loved binoculars in the budget category
- Comes with optics that are covered with multiple coatings
- Provides a Close Focus of about 6.5feet, enabling you to have a detailed close view of the subject
- Almost all exteriors are rubber-armored to provide a good grip
- Comes with an Inter-Pupillary Distance Adjustment of 5.5 to 7.3cm
- Comes with an objective lens cap, cloth for cleaning the lens, eyepiece, straps for the neck and for harnessing, pouch for carrying and detailed instruction manual
- Easily adjustable for tripods
- Twisted-up eyecups provide extreme comfort and flexibility to users to position in whichever way they feel comfortable
- Considered to be one of the best in this price range for bird-spotting, thanks to its close focus distance and wide field view
- Comes with multi-coated optics, thereby ensuring that it has enough anti-reflection properties in it
- Glasses are not of the extra-low dispersion type, so you should expect some optical aberrations
- The Focus wheel made of plastic isn’t up to the expected quality, but that’s not a big deal considering the price range
The Celestron 71404 TrailSeeker is a must-buy because the product is nearly perfect for its affordable price range. If you cannot spend thousands of dollars for a high-end version, you can try this by spending just a few hundred. The quality and performance of this binocular is no match for its low cost.
With excellent image quality, they can be used day and night, making them one of the best-functioning binoculars in this price range.
Leica Noctivid Review
If you are looking for a high-end binocular that specializes in night vision, bird-watching, wildlife viewing, and other outdoor activities, the Leica Noctivid 10 x 42 Binoculars are the right choice for you. Here are some points about this product:
- Very wide field view – 404feet at 1000 yards, making it one of the best in this price range
- Close Focus of 6.2feet – thereby enabling you to absorb the fine details of the bird or animals that you are spotting
- High-quality Schott HT Glass with 12 different lens elements that can be magnified up to 10 times to get maximum resolution
- Phase correction coated P40 prisms and optics that are entirely covered with multi-coatings, HighLux coatings, and AquaDura coatings
- Perfect hinge friction, eyecups enabled with three lock positions, high-quality matt finishing of interiors, and smooth diopter adjustments
- Outstanding eye relief of 19mm
- Good stray light suppression quality
- Waterproof up to a depth of 16.5ft for 5 minutes
- Weatherproof, as it withstands all kinds of seasonal changes
- Any person can easily find his ideal position for viewing with this binocular, thanks to its large oculars and long eye-relief
- The optical system is set right in the middle of the internal tubes to ensure that your image is not distorted because of false light
- The huge central wheel with a strong rubber grip is ergonomically designed to ensure that you capture all the details of the subject even from a long distance
- Great contrast quality of image and color reproduction feature
- Slightly larger than other models
Yes, the Leica Noctivid Binoculars are one of the best for night-vision bird-watching or other outdoor activities. The sophisticated technology and quality of the final images justify the huge price, but the fact that concerns us, is its bulky size. Since it is heavier than most of the other models in the industry today, we are sure that users might find it uncomfortable to carry for long periods.
Athlon Optics Midas ED Review
Athlon Optics ED Binocular is very affordably priced, and it is considered to be the best performance-oriented one in this price range. This rugged and durable binocular has managed to rake in positive reviews from all quarters. Read on to know more:
- Comes with Extra-Low Dispersion Glass, thereby making your images as clear and sharp as possible
- Prism is entirely covered with ESP Dielectric Coating, thereby assisting in brighter images with better color reproduction features
- Roof prisms come with phase-corrected coatings, thus helping you in getting images with more resolution and contrast than before
- Comes with an extra protective layer coating, thereby helping you keep it free from dust and scratches
- High-quality BaK-4 Prisms
- Made from lightweight magnesium chassis, helping you to carry it wherever you go
- Comes with Twist Up Eyecups so that you can choose the position that you require
- Long eye relief of 17.22 and incredible close focus of 6.5 feet, which enable you to improve your quality of viewing the tiny specifications
- Wide Field View of 426 feet at 1000 yards, which is quite impressive
- Argon purging feature improves the waterproofing quality and thermal stability of the binocular
- Great value for money as it comes with incredible features at an attractive price
- Excellent performance under low-light conditions
- Comes with a tripod mount
- Bright, clear, and sharp images with great contrast, resolution, and color reproduction quality
- Rubber eyepiece lens covers sometimes slip over the eyepiece housings, making it slightly uncomfortable to operate at times
- Doesn’t come with a handle
- Takes some time to adjust the settings and focus on the image
As we saw in the above section, the Athlon Optics Midas Binoculars do come with a few demerits. However, for its price range (lesser than $300), these flaws are negligible. While most of the other models in this price range have compromised on some of their qualities, Athlon has come up with real beauty in Midas, with all high-quality specs intact. This binocular is worth every single penny and much more besides.
Steiner Shadow Quest Review
Are you looking for binoculars that make use of the highest light-gathering optic technology at a price that doesn’t eat into your pockets? If yes, the Steiner Shadow Quest 8 x 56 is the right model for you. Read through to know some of the major features of this product:
- Light transmission capacity (of over 96%) is one of the best in the binocular industry today
- Uses a diamond nighttime lens coating formula, in which rare earth materials are used to give a unique coating to the lens, thereby improving performance under low light and providing you with all light that is available to get the maximum quality of your images
- No need to run after your images anymore as this binocular comes with a sports auto-focus feature; here, you can focus the eyepiece to the vision once and choose the sharpness of the image from 20 yards to infinity. Thus you just have to rely on your eye’s natural focusing ability
- Comes with an attractive Lumiclip, which glows in the night, enabling you to locate your binoculars easily
Known for its rugged nature, precision, and durability, due to which it has been used for more than fifty years in the most testing conditions
- Comes with a field view of 441 feet at 1000 yards
- The model comes with a neck strap, pouch, rain guard, and covers for the objective lens
- Best performing binoculars under low-light and night-time conditions
- Best suited for hunting
- Coming from a reputed brand, it lives up to the brand name of Steiner by providing high-quality optics
- Known for giving the precise sharpness of images
- Weatherproof and fog-proof
- Comes with NBR rubber armor that is resistant to shocks and scratches
- Comes with a lifetime repair and replacement services warranty period
- Slightly bulky at about 1088 grams
If you are looking for a night vision binocular that gives you extremely incredible light transmission quality, the Shadow Quest from Steiner is the right choice for you.
Carson VP Review
How about affordably priced binoculars that prove to be your trusted aid when you set out for safaris, bird-watching, hiking, trekking, camping, sporting, adventure activities, and other outdoor sports? The Carson VP series of binoculars is the model that will help you with this. Here, we are going to speak about the eight x42 dimensional binocular:
- All VP series of binoculars come with multi-coated optic lenses and phase-correction coated BAK-4 prism glass
- Comes with waterproof and fog proof features, thanks to the nitrogen-filled body and O-Ringed Seal
Eye Relief of 17mm, Close Focus of 6.6Feet and a wide field view of 393 feet at 1000 yards, thereby making sure that the images you capture are of high quality
- Twist-down eyecups make this binocular safe for those who wear glasses
- Compatible with tripods
- Comes with a carrying pouch, neck strap, covers for the lens, and cloth for wiping the lens
- The No-Fault, No-Hassle Warranty Principle of Carson ensure that all manufacturing defect or workmanship mistakes are corrected free of charge. Repairs or replacements of your binocular are done at a minimal cost of $15, for the two-way shipping and handling charges.
- Quite lightweight as it weighs just about 700grams
- Great value for money as it provides a very wide field view and incredible power at less than $200
- Unbelievable clarity and quality are provided, especially when you use them while hiking or biking
- Military-grade ruggedness and power, but not the least bit bulky
- Chromatic aberrations are higher in this, and sometimes users get distracted because of this problem
Irrespective of the kind of outdoor activity that you are interested in, we would recommend you get your hands on the Carson 8×42 VP series of binoculars right away because of three main reasons. Firstly, it is priced just a tad lesser than $150, which is quite a steal, indeed! Secondly, the customer service of Carson is super-efficient, and they agree to replace or repair your product at a very minimal cost.
Thirdly, the image quality and sharpness that these binoculars produce are top-class.
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Review
Bushnell urges outdoor enthusiasts to buy its Legend series of Binoculars and try it out once. If you don’t like it, Bushnell agrees to buy it back! That’s how confident they are about their product. Let us look at some of the interesting features here:
- Comes with extra-low dispersion fluorite prime glass, thereby reducing all instances of chromatic aberrations and color distortions; the resultant image quality is as sharp and natural color reproductive as you want.
- The lens comes with a permanent, water-resistant rain guard coating to give you a clear and undisrupted view of the subject even amidst severe climatic conditions
- Comes with Ultra Wide Band Coating technology, which assures 100% anti-reflection, optimum brightness, and natural color reproduction on the final images
- Comes with a soft neck strap, carrying pouch, and microfiber carry bag
- High-quality BaK-4 Prism glass, with eye Relief of 15.2mm, Close Focus of 6.5 Feet, and Field View of 340 feet at 1000 yards
- Lightweight and compact as it weighs just about 700 grams
- Waterproof and fog-proof features to ensure that you can use it in all kinds of seasons, without any inhibitions
- If you have purchased this after 1st January 2016, you qualify for a lifetime warranty where Bushnell replaces the product for you without asking any questions
- Works great in rainy and low-light conditions
- Great value for money as you get high-quality of lens and coating for just a little over $200
- Warranty policy creates a certain degree of ambiguity among users
- Some pieces had misaligned sides and were difficult to use for focusing well
- Not many people were happy with the customer care of Bushnell
These binoculars are a great deal for $200. Just be wary of the returns policy and make sure you know your consumer rights.
Alpen Wings ED Review
When you set out on a long journey of bird-watching or wildlife-viewing or any other outdoor activity, it is very important for you to carry a binocular that doesn’t give you any stress on your hands or neck. The binocular shouldn’t be just lightweight, but should also give you sophisticated specs so that you can capture a clear view of the subject. The Alpen Wings ED Compact Binocular, 8 x 25 is the right choice for you. It is an ideal mix of performance and comfort.
Here is an overview of this product:
- Comes with high-quality, extra-low dispersion glass, thereby helping you maintain color quality and contrast in all scenarios
- Very effective BaK-4 prism glass that is entirely covered with multi-coating, to give you a clear view of the subject and provide a natural color reproduction quality on the image
- Nitrogen-purged body of the binocular helps its waterproof and fog-proof features
- The highly powerful central wheel comes with a robust rubber armor that gives you a good grip and prevents the binocular from falling
- Smooth eyecups that can be adjusted very easily at your convenience
- Field view of 285feet, eye relief of 16mm, and minimum focus of 4 feet ensure that you get a sharp, clear, and bright view of the subject
- Comes with a luxurious travel case and soft neck strap
- Compact and lightweight; it weighs only about 240 grams
- Helps to produce brighter images that have more vivid colors than other binoculars in this price range
- Excellent optics quality at this price, thereby giving you full value for money
- Not as popular as other models
- Eyecups can be uncomfortable with prolonged use
If you wish to travel light and are looking for an affordable binocular that is as light as a feather, this one from Alpen Optics fits the bill perfectly for you. Yes, you still have to shell out close to $400 for this, but it is worth every penny because it is compact and doesn’t compromise a bit on the quality of optics.
GPO Passion HD Review
From the stables of German Passion Optics, the Passion ED binocular is a new entry into this industry. The ED series of binoculars was launched only last year. Not many outdoor enthusiasts have used this model, yet. However, here is a brief overview of this model so that you can know the basic features, highlights, and shortcomings if any.
- Comes with extremely high-quality roof Schmidt-Pechan prism glass that is entirely covered with multi-coatings to enable anti-reflection properties
- ED binoculars come in five dimensions – 8×42, 10×42, 8.5×50, 10×50 and 12.5×50
- The price range is between $1200 and $1600(approximately)
- Built with Extra-low dispersion glass technology to give you high clarity and quality of images
- The lightweight nature is because of the magnesium chassis
- Eyecups tubes are strong and durable as they are made of tough aluminum
- Waterproof and fog proof features are enabled, thanks to the nitrogen-purged bodies
- Comes with a light transmission capacity of 91%, eye relief of 17mm
- Comes with a hard case that has been custom-made
- The magnesium body comes with black rubber armor that is rugged on the outside and soft on the inside
- Comes with flexible rubber eyecups that can be adjusted at your convenience and an impressive inter-pupillary distance of 74.5mm
- Very stylish appearance and is designed elegantly for ergonomic purposes
- The excellent grip of rubber clings
- Smooth movement of the central wheel
- Can be easily mounted on tripods and monopods
- High intensity of coatings
- The cleanliness of the internal tubes and superior matte-finish is top-class
- Wide Field View could be better
- Chromatic aberration correction has room for improvement at this price range
When you are spending over $1500 for a binocular, you should be sure that it doesn’t have any features that you would regret later. Thankfully the GPO Passion HD delivers in almost every aspect and is worth every cent if you’re budget stretches to it.
Burris Signature HD Review
The Signature HD series is a new model launched in 2017 by the famous company, Burris. If you are looking for a binocular with excellent color resolution and sharpness of images, this one is the right model for you. Here are some features of this product:
- High-quality BaK-4 prism glass covered with phase-corrected coatings to give you excellent optical quality images even from a distance
- Designed in an open-bridge pattern which makes it compact, feather-light, and ergonomic to hold
- Weatherproof, shock-proof features, which ensure 100% durability of the binoculars so that they can be used in all kinds of seasons
- Chassis is made from durable aluminum, which is further wrapped in a rubber armor that is resistant to slips and shocks
- Maximum eye relief at 15.5mm and twist-down eyecups, which enables this binocular can be worn by people who wear glasses as well
- Thanks to the aluminum chassis, this binocular is lightweight yet strong
- Comes with manufacturer’s warranty
- Very compact and comfortable to use
- Very user-friendly and gives sharp and high-quality of images
- Recently launched with highly sophisticated features to suit the needs of the modern outdoor enthusiast
- Slightly steeply-priced
Burris Signature HD is one of the best new-age binoculars on the market today. It ranks quite highly regarding performance and specs at a reasonable price range, giving you full value for money.
Choose from one of the above or explore other models with the rough guide given in this article, so that you will never make a wrong decision. Enjoy your outdoor activities to the fullest and make unforgettable memories from your trip, thanks to the super-effective binoculars that you have chosen for the company.