Best Binoculars for Hunting
Binoculars are a great tool to have when you are in need of seeing far distances with clear vision. When it comes to hunting optics, binoculars are often the go to choice because they allow you to see far distances using both eyes and are often more accurate than your rifle scope, especially when it comes to spotting game. Most often, hunters will use binoculars to survey an area and (hopefully) spy game or signs of game. If the hunter is on the move, a quality pair of binoculars will help him decide the best direction; if a hunter is stationary, binoculars can help him better see his distant surroundings. Binoculars are one of the things every hunter must have.Binoculars offer a more comfortable distance viewing option than a rifle scope, especially if you have yet to locate your target. But choosing the right hunting binoculars is just as important as having them to begin with. After all, there are so many different types, brands, styles, etc., on the market today that choosing the best pair of binoculars can be just as difficult as tracking down a particularly elusive buck.No matter the type of hunting that you enjoy, having the right pair of binoculars can mean the difference between targeting and bagging your game and being forced to shuffle home in defeat. This buying guide will help you better understand what you should be looking for when it comes to choosing your hunting binoculars and offer a look at some of the top hunting binoculars on the market today. We hope this buyers guide will help you find the best binocular for the money, no matter what price ranges your looking at.
Below is a quick comparison chart with different binocular models with weight and field of view specs.
Nikon 8218 Trailblazer 10 x 25 Hunting Binoculars
These sleek, streamlined binoculars from Nikon are compact, so they can fit easily in a medium to large pocket of a shirt or in a bag, and durable so they can survive a high degree of rough handling. The binoculars overall are waterproof, and the internal lenses are fog proof, providing the upmost in visual acuity and performance.With a 10 x 25 magnifications and field of view, these binoculars will allow you to see far distances with high clarity. They also have a 6.3 mm eye relief so will work well for individuals with glasses or those that enjoy a more comfortable distance between their eyes and the lenses themselves. The lenses are lead and arsenic free Eco-glass and prisms with.The Nikon 8218 Trailblazer 10 x 25 Hunting Binoculars are lightweight (2.4 ounces) so that they will not add to your hunting tack, nor get in the way during your hunting trip. Furthermore, the manufacturer offers a full lifetime warranty so that if you are unsatisfied with the binoculars, you can replace them.The one major drawback to these binoculars is that their objective lens size is rather small and the exit pupil size is also small, which means that less light will be able to get into the lenses. Less light means a duller, less clear image. However, these binoculars are still of a high quality, and can work for hunters who are hunting in relatively high light environments.Product Specifications:Magnification: 10xObjective Lens Size: 25 mmField of View: 342 ft per 1000 ydsClose Focus Distance: 11.5 ftExit Pupil Size: 2.5 mmRBI: 6.3Eye Relief Distance: 10 mmPrism Type: BaK4 High Index roof prismLens Coating: MulticoatedSize: 4.1 x 4.5 inWeight: 9.9 oz
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binocular
These heavy duty bushnell legend binoculars come in either a forest camo or black, and are crafted to be highly durable and long lasting. Looking through these binoculars, you can see details clearly with 10x magnification and a 42 mm objective lens field of view. Furthermore, the internal lenses are fog proof, so you will not have to worry about them misting up while you are out on the hunt.The lenses of these binoculars are made with ED Prime Extra-Low Dispersion fluorite glass, which means you will see sharper images, colors, and details even in low light. The RainGuard HD coating makes these lenses water proof and particularly resistant to rain, snow, sleet, and condensation that you are likely to run into on your hunting trip. The lens coating prevents moisture from beading on the lenses themselves which scatters light and makes vision blurry. These binoculars also feature an anti-reflection coating that allows as much light as possible to enter the lenses and increase your range and clarity of vision.Bushnell offers a comprehensive lifetime warranty with these binoculars and guarantees to replace them if they suffer any kind of damage at no cost to you. These binoculars are a bit heavier and larger than other more compact binoculars, but make up for that with their high quality.Product Specifications:Magnification: 10xObjective Lens Size: 42 mmField of View: 330 ft per 1000 ydsClose Focus Distance: 6.5 ftExit Pupil Size: 4.2 mmRBI: 17.6Eye Relief Distance: 15.2 mm Prism Type: Phase coated Bak-4/ED glass roof prismLens Coating: Fully multicoatedSize: 5.3 x 4 inchesWeight: 1.54 lbs
Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8 x 42 Binocular
The MONARCH 5 binoculars are Nikon’s flagship heavy duty hunting tool that are made with a hard rubber armor coating to protect against accidental damage as well as a no slip grip that makes these binoculars less prone to slipping out of your hands (even in wet conditions) and comfortable to hold. The eye cups on the binoculars are adjustable so that you can find the right eye relief to fit your needs, even if you wear glasses.Nikon implemented a high quality Extra-Low Dispersion glass technology with the lenses of the MONARCH 5, which help the lenses compensate for low light areas and color aberrations that can impact your view. These binoculars also have a fully multicoated Eco-glass lens coating and dielectric high-reflective multilayer prism coating which allow for maximum light transference into the binoculars as well as accurate and clear color reproduction. These key technologies put together make the MONARCH 5 hard to beat in terms of visual clarity. The lenses are also highly water and fog proof.Despite the MONARCH 5’s larger frame (5.7 x 5.1 x 2.4 inches), Nikon has managed to keep these binoculars relatively light (1.3 pounds) so that they will not add unnecessary size and weight to your hunting gear. The binoculars also come in a hd 10 x 42 mm binocular variation for those interested in more magnification in their zoom binocular.Product Specifications:Magnification: 8xObjective Lens Size: 42 mmField of View: 330 ft per 1000 ydsClose Focus Distance: 7.8 ftExit Pupil Size: 5.25 mmRBI: 27.56Eye Relief Distance: 19.5 mmPrism Type: Roof prism with ED glass, phase coating, and dielectric coatingLens Coating: Fully multicoatedSize: 5.7 x 5.1 inchesWeight: 20.8 ounces
Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars with ED Glass
With a variety of color and magnification options, there is likely a Carson 3D Series of hunting binoculars that will fit your aesthetic and hunting needs. The outer rubber armor shell of the binoculars is highly durable and waterproof. The structure of the binoculars’ shell also includes textured thumb grooves that make gripping this tool easy and comfortable.Carson has crafted these binoculars with a high grade ED glass lens construction, that reduces color aberration, as well as phase corrected prisms that help to enhance the overall clarity of your view when using these binoculars. The field of view sits at around 314 feet per 1,000 yards and the lenses are fully water and fog proof for maximum clarity. These binoculars also have an extra long eye relief so that they can be used by individuals with glasses in comfort.If needed, these binoculars can be easily fitted to a tripod and they come with Carson’s guarantee that if the binoculars incur any damage, the manufacturer will replace them at no charge to you. Each pair of binoculars comes with a BinoArmor carrying case, neck strap, shoulder harness, lens cloth, and lens covers. Overall this is great set of waterproof binoculars with 10x magnification.Product Specifications:Magnification: 10xObjective Lens Size: 42 mmField of View: 314 ft per 1000 ydsClose Focus Distance: 9.8 ftExit Pupil Size: 4.2 mmRBI: 17.64Eye Relief Distance: 16 mmPrism Type: BaK-4 Roof prism with ED glassLens Coating: Fully multicoatedSize: 4.9 x 2.1 x 5.7 inchesWeight: 1.38 lbs
Vortex Optics Diamondback 8 x 42 Roof Prism Binocular
8x magnification and a 42 mm objective lens diameter with a fully multi-coated lens coating make these a durable and effective pair of binoculars. The binoculars are constructed with high quality O-rings that help keep moisture and debris out of the internal structure of the tool. Further, the internal lenses are made with argon gas purging which makes them water and fog proof for the best, clear view.One of the key features of these binoculars is the high field of view that they offer: 420 feet per 1,00 yards. This means that, while looking through the binoculars, you will be able to see up to 420 feet of the distant target area you are looking at. This is an extremely wide angle for a pair of binoculars, which can either be a great asset for seeing a wide field of view at a distance, or can hinder your hunt by showing too much of that distant area.The eye cups are adjustable so that you can determine the best eye relief setting for you, with or without glasses. The dark green outer shell of the binoculars is durable and waterproof as well and comes with attached lens covers and a custom molded carrying case. These binoculars are the latest installation from Vortex Optics’s line of hunting and bird watching gear.Product Specifications:Magnification: 8xObjective Lens Size: 42 mmField of View: 420 ft per 1000 ydsClose Focus Distance: 7.8 ftExit Pupil Size: 5.3 mmRBI: 28.09Eye Relief Distance: 18 mmPrism Type: Roof prism with phase coatingLens Coating: Fully multicoatedSize: 5.9 x 5.6 inchesWeight: 25.2 ounces
Vortex Optics HD Roof Prism Binoculars
These high grade binoculars come in the following magnification and objective lens diameter variations:
- 8 x 42
- 10 x 42
- 10 x 50
- 12 x 50
- 15 x 50
No matter what field of view you are looking for, Vortex Optics’s Viper HD hunting binoculars have an option that will fit your needs. The rubber armor exterior features an armortek coating makes these binoculars very durable. As an added bonus, they are also highly compact and lightweight, so you can carry them with you without adding extra weight or bulkiness to your kit.The lenses are made with a high density anti-reflective coating that increases overall light transmission which, in turn, increases the quality of your vision while looking through these binoculars. The dielectric multi-layer prism coatings makes images clearer and more accurate in terms of detail and color , and the roof prism coating provides a greater degree of resolution and light contrast. The image quality is great due to the optical coating as note by field tests.These binoculars have adjustable eye cups that allow you to fit them to your specific face shape and comfort desire, with or without glasses. The eye cups also have a locking right eye diopter, or an adjustment feature that lets you change the focal intensity between your eyes to help make up for vision differences between eyes. The argon purged interior construction with high quality O-ring seals make these binoculars water and fog proof no matter what weather or other outdoor conditions you might encounter on your hunting trip.Product Specifications:Magnification: 10xObjective Lens Size: 42 mmField of View: 341 ft per 1000 ydsClose Focus Distance: 6.5 ftExit Pupil Size: 4.2 mmRBI: 17.64Eye Relief Distance: 17 mmPrism Type: Roof prism with phase coating and dielectric coatingLens Coating: XR Fully multicoated (HD and ED glass)Size: 5.6 x 4.9 inchesWeight: 24.9 ounces
Vortex Optics Fury HD 10 x 42 Laser Rangefinding Binocular
The key, unique aspect of these binoculars is that they feature a Horizontal Component Distance (HCD) angle compensated ranging technology with a red line reticle that offers you the most accurate view and distance estimation. For hunting, this kind of accuracy can seriously increase your ability to successfully mark and hunt game. The HCD technology makes these binoculars capable of spotting targets up to 1600 yards with accurate view and targeting response. The HCD display also has a line of sight (LOS) mode that can help you more accurately determine the line of sight range that you are seeing.This angle compensated rangefinder can be used via a set of controls on the right hand side of the binoculars, and can be easily used with one hand while you look down the range. The binoculars are also compact and lightweight enough that they can be held one handed or comfortably stowed nearby. Furthermore, the rangefinder has a scan feature that offers continuous range readings across a field of view that works in a variety of different lighting conditions. The binoculars do require a battery, but have an easy to read battery life indicator visible on the HCD display.The lenses themselves are fully multi-coated HD lenses with dielectric phase corrected prisms so that your view is clear, crisp, and full of detail in all types of light situations. Inside the binoculars, nitrogen purging creates water and fog proof lenses; outside the binoculars, the heavy duty rubber armor shell will ensure that this tool will last for years to come.Product Specifications:Magnification: 10xObjective Lens Size: 42 mmField of View: 314 ft per 1000 ydsClose Focus Distance: 20 ftExit Pupil Size: 4.2 mmRBI: 17.64Eye Relief Distance: 16 mmPrism Type: Roof prism with phase correction coatingLens Coating: XR Fully multicoatedSize: 5.75 x 5.9 inchesWeight: 31.8 ounces
Zeiss 10 x 42 Conquest HD Binocular with LotuTex Protective Coating
These German made binoculars include an extremely durable rubber armor shell that fits comfortably in your hands and yet is still lightweight and compact in design. The binoculars have an easy to use focusing wheel so that you can easily adjust your view while searching for the perfect game. The outer shell is also completely waterproof, which makes it highly useful in a variety of outdoor conditions.The eye cups are adjustable for ultimate eye relief comfort, glasses or not. Inside the binoculars, a nitrogen filling ensures that the lenses are both water and fog proof so that you do not need to worry about weather, location, or other situations that could create undue condensation that will inhibit your field of view. The LotuTec coating provides external water repellent technology for your lenses that is also resistant to dirt and debris. The lenses are made with HD multilayer glass coating which allows for maximum light transmission and creates crisp, super clear images in both high and low light conditions. The 18 mm eye relief is also perfect for individuals with glasses, as they are far enough to allow for you to see a clear image through the lenses while not interfering with your glasses. The comfortable, adjustable eye cups also make these a great choice for individuals without glasses because the binoculars can be adjusted to fit any face for optimal viewing pleasure.Product Specifications:Magnification: 10xObjective Lens Size: 42 mmField of View: 115 m per 1000 mClose Focus Distance: 2 mExit Pupil Size: 4.2 mmRBI: 17.64Eye Relief Distance: 18 mmPrism Type: Roof prismLens Coating: HDSize: 4.7 x 4.7 x 6.5 inchesWeight: 1.75 lbs
Tips on Choosing the Best Binoculars
What is a lens coating?
“Lens coatings” refer to the materials that a binocular’s lenses are crafted from, which, depending on the type of coating, provide different visual benefits. This is a newer innovation in the lens market, and is particularly useful for binoculars. There are five major types of coating that exist:
- Coated – This is an anti-reflective coating which is on at least one lens surface. This is a basic form of coating.
- Fully Coated – This anti-reflective coating is on both sides of the objective lens system, both sides of the ocular lens system, and on the long side of the internal prism.
- Multi-coated – This anti-reflective coating is on one or more of the lens surfaces.
- Fully Multi-coated – This style involves multiple anti-reflective coatings on all lens surfaces. This is the highest quality of coating, though it does not guarantee a higher quality product if the materials used are inferior.
- Phase Coating – This is a dielectric material that delays light waves so that distracting and view altering peaks of light do not impact your view. This type of coating is usually used in combination with one of the others.
Lens coatings for optical tools were developed to help prevent light scatter which can impact vision while looking through the lens. Binoculars, in particular, have a particular issue with light scattering because of their internal prisms, which is why, when searching for the best hunting binocular for your time and money, choosing a pair with a high quality coating is so important.
What is eye relief?
Put simply, eye relief is the distance between your eye and the eye piece. Attaining the ideal eye relief is key to being able to see the full field of view that your binoculars offer, especially if you wear glasses. For glasses wearing individuals, a longer eye relief is the best choice with a minimum of 16 mm. Longer than that is better, but on average, 16 mm is usually enough to provide adequate eye relief. For individuals who do not wear glasses, 10 mm eye relief is recommended for comfort, though you can certainly go shorter if needed.Eye relief is determined by measuring the space from the last surface of the eye lens (or that lens in the binocular that is closest to your eye when you are using the binoculars) to your eye. Higher quality binoculars will either have a longer eye relief built in or an adjustable eye cup that can be used to achieve optimal eye relief. This short video from Eagle Optics goes into greater detail on what eye relief is and shows examples of what your view will look like if you do not have enough eye relief or if you have too much.
How much magnification do I need?
Bigger is not always better when it comes to magnification, especially for a pair of hunting binoculars. The larger the magnification of your binoculars, the more steadying they require to achieve a clear image. Imagine that you have been hiking all day trying to find the perfect spot to set up a watch during your hunt. The last thing you might want to do is try and steady a pair of stubborn binoculars which are showing a blurry, disturbed field of view.For hunting binocular purposes, a magnification between 7x and 10x is usually more than sufficient to provide adequate field and view and clarity of vision. The greater the magnification, the lower the overall field of view, or the width of space that you can see at a distance. Greater magnification can also sacrifice overall light transmission and brightness, which will also reduce overall optical clarity.
What is objective size?
When you are searching for a pair of binoculars, you will generally see the magnification and a second number displayed on the packaging or ad for the binoculars (e.g., 10 x 42). This second number is known as the “objective size” and determines the size of the binocular’s objective lens. This lens is what focuses light into the internal prism of the tool; the larger the objective size, the more light that can pass through the binoculars and provide a clearer, brighter field of view.Again, while bigger may seem better, this is not always true, because the larger the objective size, the larger (and more expensive) the binoculars. If you are looking for a compact and lightweight pair of binoculars that you can easily carry with you, then you want to look for a smaller objective size. 40 or 42 mm is usually a good, average size for an objective lens for hunting binoculars. Anything bigger and you will find yourself looking at a bulkier pair of binoculars; anything smaller and you risk sacrificing overall optical clarity.
What is the field of view?
Field of view is an exceptionally important aspect of your binoculars because this measurement determines how much you can see, per 1,000 yards, through your binoculars. In other words, the field of view is the overall image that you can see through your lenses. Field of view is directly and conversely connected to magnification, as the greater magnification you have means that your field of view is more limited. After all, the closer you are looking at something, the less you can see what is around that focused image.The type of hunting that you are planning on doing will determine how large of a field of view you need for optimal results. If you are bird hunting or watching, for instance, a wider field of view is more helpful to better see these birds (especially when they are in flgiht). However, if you are looking for binoculars for deer or elk hunting, a smaller field of view might work just as well because you are more in need of a greater degree of magnification to see long distances. For most hunting binocular purposes, a standard field of view (between 300 and 375 feet per 1,000 yards) will usually work just fine.
What are prisms in binoculars?
Binocular prisms are a crucial component of the tool because they are what create a right side up image of what you are looking at through the binoculars. There are two primary types of prism that can be found in modern binoculars:
- Roof Prism – The roof prism is generally the favored style of prism for binoculars because it is more lightweight and slim, and sits directly in line with the eyepiece of the binoculars. A roof prism reflects light five times, which means more direct light and a crisper image overall. But roof prisms tend to be more expensive on average.
- Porro Prism – Porro prisms resemble a “Z” shape, which means the prism does not line up with the eyepiece of the binocular. To make up for this more awkward positioning, binoculars with a porro prism require a larger frame (or a boxier build) to hold the prism, which makes for a heavier tool. However, porro prisms do tend to be more accurate in terms of image display and cheaper than roof prisms overall.
While porro prisms are superior to roof prisms overall in terms of clarity of vision and price, roof prisms are favored for their direct line of sight and compact size. Especially when you are on the move or hiking during a hunting trip, having a bulkier pair of binoculars may not be the best or most highly desired choice. But the decision is up to you, in the end. If you are looking for a compact hunting binocular these are a great pair of hunting binoculars.
What does “exit pupil” mean?
The exit pupil refers to the determination of the amount of light that can reach your eye through the objective lens of your binoculars. This is important for your binoculars because the amount of light that your eye can receive will determine how well you can see through your objective lens and, in turn, how clear the image will be.The iris of the human eye surrounds the pupil and is responsible for contracting or relaxing to contorl the amount of light that can enter the eye. Therefore, the amount of light that the exit pupil of your binoculars can provide will determine how much your irises will allow the pupils to see. The average diameter of the human iris sits at around 10 mm to 13 mm, so finding a pair of binoculars that provide a greater exit pupil will provide a clearer image.The measurement of the exit pupil is determined by dividing the objective lens diameter of your binoculars by the magnification. Thus, an 8 x 42 mm pair of binoculars has an exit pupil of 5.25 mm; a 10 x 42 mm has an exit pupil of 4.2 mm. This means that the 8 x 42 mm has a brighter image, because your eyes are receiving more light through the binoculars than the 10 x 42 mm.For hunting purposes, consider what types of terrain and times of day that you plan on hunting. If you are going to be in a heavily wooded area with a thick canopy or otherwise low light conditions, a lower magnification and objective lens diameter with a greater exit pupil measurement will be more beneficial. If you are plains hunting or are in otherwise well lit areas, then more brightness in your exit pupil view will not matter as much.
What is the Relative Brightness Index and how do you determine it?
The Relative Brightness Index (RBI) is directly associated with the exit pupil measurement. Essentially, the RBI is the measurement that determines how bright the image you can see through your binoculars is. The greater the magnification of the binoculars, the lower the overall RBI and vice versa.RBI can be determined by multiplying the exit pupil size by itself, or “squaring” the number. Thus, an 8 x 42 mm pair of binoculars with an exit pupil of 5.25 would have an overall RBI of 27.56. On average, an RBI of 25 or higher is considered the best choice for low light conditions or twilight hunting.
How important are water and fog proof lenses?
While water proof lenses might seem like an obvious aspect of a quality pair of binoculars, what exactly does “fog proof” mean? Fog proof is not the binoculars’ ability to see through a dense mist or fog that you might encounter while hunting; rather, the term refers to the ability of your binoculars to avoid building up condensation or other internal fogging that could occur on the binocular lenses.Depending on the outdoor conditions that you plan on hunting in, water and fog proof lenses can be highly useful if not critical in ensuring that you can see clearly through your binoculars at all times. Furthermore, water and fogging (which can occur in humid or damp environments regardless of precipitation) can damage more cheaply crafted binoculars. Higher quality materials will ensure that your investment in your hunting binoculars will go as far as possible.
How much should I plan on spending on a high quality pair of binoculars?
Today, there are so many different types of binoculars on the market that a lower price does not always mean a more inferior pair of binoculars. On average, you should plan on spending more on your binoculars if you want to make a good investment, but price should not be the primary concern when choosing your hunting optics.The aspects and components listed above are the first consideration that you should keep in mind when choosing a pair of binoculars. Go in to your purchase with a clear idea of what kind of hunting you will be doing and which aspects of optic clarity are most important for your needs. If you find a pair of binoculars that are relatively inexpensive but are made of quality materials and have the right balance of magnification, field of view, objective lens size, exit pupil, and RBI, then you have found a good pair of binoculars.That being said, the more expensive that a pair of binoculars is, the more likely they are to be made of higher quality materials with overall better components that make them superior optics. The key is to do your research thoroughly to make sure that you are making the best choice and the best investment for your hunting binoculars. Also keep in mind the size and weight when looking at different binocular models. A good alternative to lighten your load is to use a monocular when hunting.
What is close focus and is it important?
Close focus is just like it sounds: this measurement allows for an individual to focus on close up objects. Whether or not this is important to have in your binoculars depends on what you are using the binoculars for. In this case for hunting binoculars, close focus will not do you much good. After all, you are looking to find game at a distance, and being able to see the detail of a deer’s coat up close may not be all that important. Keep these binocular tips in mind next time you hunt deer or on your next bow huntClose focus is generally something that bird watchers or entomologists might look for in order to see small details up close. The smaller the number, the more accurate and clear the details of what you are looking at. For bird watchers and entomologists (or insect enthusiasts in general), a close focus of 10 feet or less is optimal. For hunting purposes, the close focus will not matter quite as much. Focus binoculars are great for medium to far distance type situations. Center focus binoculars are excellent for your prey is closer than 30 yards or so. Paying attention to different focus types are an important decision when looking at this type of hunting gear.
Once again here is our comparison chart with different price ranges of top hunting binoculars