There are so many binoculars on the market, it can be tricky to know how to choose the right pair. Most likely you won’t be buying new binoculars every couple of years, so it makes sense to do your research and choose carefully. The first thing you need to take into consideration when choosing binoculars is the activity for which you will be using them. Activities like stargazing require binoculars with much higher magnification than ones for bird watching. In general, a few features make up some of the best binoculars available.
Optics and Viewing
The quality of the viewing experience depends on a few things: the objective lens diameter, magnification, the type and quality of the objective lens glass, and the number/type of lens elements and their coatings. In general, large objective lenses, low magnification, and fully multi-coated lenses are most desirable for nature watchers. For hunting binoculars, you typically want a higher magnification. And for star gazing, you want the highest magnification possible.
Build and Design
The build and design of binoculars vary greatly from one pair to another. This includes the body of the binoculars, the casing that comes with the binoculars to protect them, and some accessories. Are they waterproof? Are they adjustable to be eyeglass friendly? Do they have armor coatings for protection and comfort? Are there lens caps for the eyepieces as well as the objective lenses? Does it come with a case to hold the binoculars? Can the binoculars be attached to a tripod for hands-free operation? These are all things you should consider when choose a new pair.
The portability of a pair of binoculars is important to consider. You’ll want to take into account the size and weight of the binoculars as well as whether or not they come with a neck strap that makes carrying them around hands-free an option.
Best Binocular Brands
• Bushnell: Bushnell’s binoculars have won multiple awards for quality. Bushnell is a leader in imaging products in the U. S. They make everything from high quality rifle scopes and telescopes to microscopes and binoculars.
• Zeiss: Zeiss is one of the oldest, most-reputable optics and imaging companies in the world and its binoculars are very high quality. Not only does it create sporting optics, but it also makes optic devices for the medical field and telescopes for the space industry.
• Nikon: Known for its digital cameras, Nikon also makes great binoculars. Nikon specializes in lenses, binoculars, and other advanced-imaging technology.
• Zhumell: While not a large company, Zhumell prides itself on offering high-quality optics at a reasonable price. It produces binoculars, telescopes, spotting scopes, and monoculars.
• Steiner: Steiner has a rich history in the optics industry, and it has arguably one of the most advanced optics laboratories in the world. Every lens and pair of binoculars that Steiner produces is field tested extensively to ensure that it is a very high-quality product.
Best Binoculars for Hunting
When hunting big game, binoculars are one of the most important pieces of gear you will need. They will allow you to scan for animals that are thousands of yards away that you wouldn’t be able to see with your naked eye. Here are four pairs that are highly rated and worth checking out:
• Nikon Monarch: Nikon Monarch binoculars come in three sizes: 8X42, 10X42, and 12X42. These binoculars are waterproof, fog proof, and have coated lenses. They weigh around 21.9 ounces.
• Bushnell Legend Ultra HD: These are Bushnell’s most critically acclaimed binoculars, and it is no surprise that they are some of the best binoculars available for hunting. They come in four sizes: 8X36, 8X42, 10X36, and 10X42. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD binoculars are waterproof, fog proof, and have coated lenses. They weigh in at 24.7 ounces.
• Vortex Diamondback: Vortex Diamondback binoculars are of very high quality, and although the company is not as big as its competitors, it can deliver a great product. Diamondbacks come in four sizes: 8X28, 8X42, 10X42, and 12X50. These binoculars are waterproof, fog proof, and have coated lenses. They weigh 24.4 ounces.
• Vanguard Spirit ED: Vanguard’s Spirit ED binoculars come in four sizes: 8X36, 8X42, 10X42, and 10X50. These binoculars are waterproof, fog proof, and have coated lenses. They weigh 29.8 ounces.
Best Binoculars for Birding
If birding is your hobby, here are some binoculars that you should definitely consider purchasing for the best viewing experience:
• Zeiss Victory THT 8X42: These binoculars are considered top-of-the-line! They feel great in the hands and have great clarity and eye relief. They are widely considered some of the best binoculars that money can buy.
• Zeiss Victory TFL 8X32: These are a smaller version of the THT binoculars, but they still have all of the benefits of a top-of-the-line pair of binoculars.
• Nikon Monarch 7: These deliver exceptional quality and image. The Monarch line has been very popular among birders for years, and it continues to deliver.
• Leica Trinovid: The Trinovid line has been around for a long time and offers exceptional quality and a bright, clear image.
Best Compact Binoculars
If you are looking for compact binoculars that you can comfortably take with you everywhere, the following are widely considered some of the best compact binoculars on the market.
• Swarovski CL Pocket 8X25: These are very high quality compact binoculars that fold up easily and can fit in your pocket. They are waterproof and fog proof as well.
• Vanguard Orros 10X25: These binoculars have a very lightweight, rubberized body. The shape is very compact and they can fold down to store anywhere.
• Pentax Papilio 8.5X21: These compact binoculars have a very unique design and a great minimum focusing distance. This means that you can view insects and flowers with great detail out in the field. They are great hiking and general-purpose binoculars.
• Nikon 8-24X25 Eagleview Zoom CF: These binoculars are unique in that they have a zoom button that lets you go from 8X to 24X at the push of a button.
• Pentax 9X28 DCF LV: These binoculars offer a 9X magnification without sacrificing too much field of view. They are waterproof and fog proof.
Best Astronomy and Stargazing Binoculars
Many stargazers and astronomers prefer to use binoculars instead of telescopes to look at the stars. If you want to get into stargazing, or are already an avid stargazer and are looking for binoculars, the following are a few binoculars that are definitely worth your consideration:
• Celestron Echelon 20X70: These are very high quality binoculars that are tripod adaptable in order to allow for long stargazing periods.
• Celestron 15X70 Skymaster: These offer exceptional performance and the lenses are multi-coated for a clearer image. Aside from stargazing, these are great for bird watching as well.
• Zhumell Tachyon 25X100: These binoculars were specifically designed for stargazing, so it is no surprise that they are at the top of the list. They have sturdy metal construction and the magnification is optimal for looking at the stars. These binoculars are waterproof and fog proof.
Best Binoculars for Safaris
If you enjoy viewing wildlife, specifically wildlife on safaris, there are a few binoculars that you should research and test before looking at any others. Consider these as you embark on your safari trip:
• Celestron Granite 9X33: These binoculars have a wide field of view, which is excellent for safaris. Since they are 9X, you get a little more detail of the object you are looking at.
• Swarovski EL W B Traveler: These are top-of-the-line, mid-sized binoculars that offer great optical quality. They are optimal for taking on safaris, and the open-bridge design makes them comfortable to hold with one hand. Furthermore, they offer a digital camera adapter so that you can take high quality photos through them.
Best Binoculars on the Market
If you want the best-of-the-best, then here are our recommendations for the best binoculars that money can buy:
• Banner Optics Perception HD 10×42: $250
• Zeiss 10X42 Victory HT: $2150
Best Binoculars for the Money
The following binoculars are widely thought to give buyers the best bang for the buck:
• Swarovski CL Pocket 8X25, $720: Although they may seem pricey, these binoculars are cheap compared to the other $1200+ priced binoculars that Swarovski offers. Furthermore, they are better than almost anything else on the market.
• Hawke Sapphire ED 8X42, $450: These binoculars have amazing specs, they are waterproof and fog proof, and they have a lightweight body made of magnesium. Add to this the unparalleled optical quality that they offer and you will realize that the price is a great bargain.
• Banner Optics Perception HD 10×42, $250: These are some of the best binoculars out there at any price, and they are under $300. They offer exceptional optics, a water repellent lens coating, a lightweight chassis, and unparalleled image quality.
• Celestron Nature DX 8X42, $140: These will appeal to those on a tight budget, but also to those looking for a great value and optical quality. These are fully sealed waterproof and fog proof binoculars that deliver a great image, and the price will make you very happy.
Best Binoculars for Under $200
If you have a little more to spend, these are some binoculars you should consider that are under $200:
• Vanguard 10X42 Spirit XF, $140: These binoculars offer a wide field of view, multi-coated lenses, and high-quality images.
• Hawk Nature-Trek 8X42, $120: If you want high-quality, low-weight binoculars, then you’ve found them. These are fully waterproof and fog proof, and they provide a relatively good field of view and close focus.
Best Binoculars for Under $100
If you are on a tight budget and can only spend $100 or less, check out these finds:
• Nikon 7216 Action, $100: These binoculars provide a quick central focus system and a 420-foot field of view. One downside to these is that they are not waterproof.
• Celestron 20×80 Skymaster, $80: These are great for stargazing and many other uses, and they have a water-resistant (not waterproof) body.