Best Binoculars for Hunting
Any avid hunter will tell you that binoculars are a must-have accessory when out in the field. Let’s face it, your odds of success are pretty low if you can’t even locate your prey. However, finding the best hunting binoculars for your situation isn’t a simple task.
There are a lot of factors to consider and a handful of features to scrutinize when selecting your hunting binoculars. Fortunately, we have done the hard work and research for you. Below, we have compiled a list of the top six hunting binoculars to help you in your quest – regardless of whether you step into the woods occasionally or if you’re out there every day.
Comparison Chart of The Top 6 Best Binoculars for Hunting
No worries if you are on a budget right now. Here’s our list of the Top 10 Best Budget Binoculars for Hunting, of course with review!
|Hunting Binoculars||Brand||Title||Weight||FOV||Eye Relief||Buy|
|Vortex||Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars 10x42||24.6 oz||319 ft||16.5 mm||Amazon Price|
|Carson||Carson 3D Series High Definition Binoculars with ED Glass, Mossy Oak, 10x 42mm||22.4 oz||314 ft||16.0 mm||Amazon Price|
|Top||Leupold||Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10x42mm Binocular **BEST OVERALL**||24.0 oz||326 ft||16.0 mm||Amazon Price|
|Vortex Optics||Vortex Optics Diamondback 10x42 Roof Prism Binocular||24.4 oz||345 ft||16.0 mm||Amazon Price|
|Nikon||Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 10x42 Binocular (Black) **BEST FOR GLASSES**||21.6 oz||288 ft||18.4 mm||Amazon Price|
|Steiner||Steiner Predator 10x42 Binoculars||26.5 oz||326 ft||16.0 mm||Amazon Price|
The 6 Best Hunting Binoculars in 2020
The list below details the best binoculars you can buy for hunting.
Best Compact Hunting Binoculars
It should come as no surprise that a Vortex Optics product leads the pack in the niche considering the brand’s solid portfolio over the years. The Viper HD is a superbly built model packing a host of innovative features that any seasoned hunter would require when out gaming. This optical beast comes fully packed with an O-ring to seal moisture and dirt out, multi-coated optics and outstanding image quality just to mention a few. To put this into perspective, here is an in-depth look at the Viper HD by Vortex Optics.
- Vortex Optics incorporates an O-ring to seal in the Viper HD. The O-ring locks out debris, moisture and dust. In a nutshell, it is a fogproof and waterproof model that works effectively regardless of environment or climatic condition. To enhance the waterproof capabilities, the hunting binocular also entails argon gas that doubles up as a fog proof feature.
- For precision enhancement while hunting, Vortex Optics adopts the latest HD technology in the extra-low dispersion glass. This results in high quality resolution, impeccable color fidelity and ultimately, accurate high definition images.
- To eliminate glares, the Viper HD hunting binocular packs fully multi-coated air-to-glass surfaces. This combined with the dielectric prism coatings make up for clear, bright and color accurate image visuals in all weather conditions.
- Just in case you are worried about its durability, it’s worth noting that the manufacturer offers an unconditional lifetime warranty. This speaks tons about the quality.
Things we like
- Superior light transmission enhanced by dielectric prisms.
- Waterproof features to deliver on high image quality regardless of weather.
- Adjustable twist-up eye cups for better eye relief.
- The right-eye diopter combinates the focal differences in eyes.
- Lifetime warranty that guarantees repair of the Viper HD at no extra cost.
- Comfortable to carry around thanks to the strong straps.
Things that could be better
- The detachable eyepiece caps can easily be misplaced or lost.
In a nutshell, the Viper HD is easily the best hunting binocular and it’s not that hard to see why. It delivers on superior optical abilities regardless of climatic condition, alongside guaranteeing lifelong service just in case you question its durability. If you are looking for the best hunting binoculars to elevate your game then this is the pair.
Best Hunting Binoculars for The Money
A small and compact design is what you get with the Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars. Thanks to the availability of multiple colors and designs, the binoculars can be customized to your needs. Here are some of the specs:
- HD quality imaging thanks to the ED glass that has been added. The phase-corrected prisms also provide better image fidelity and clear crisp pictures of the target you are looking at. This makes it easier to see sizes at range.
- The binoculars offer a massive 314-feet field of view, making it possible to keep targets in sight at all times. The maximum distance for these smaller binoculars is also around the 1000-yard range.
- The objective diameter is around 42mm with a close focus of 9.8-feet, this makes having clear imaging on distant targets rather easy. Additionally, you can adjust the binoculars with ease if you need for more comfort.
- The dielectric coating makes the color contrast that much better and will enable you to have a clear image any time of the day. The BAK-4 glasses are also glare-resistant, adding to the functionality it offers.
Things we like
- Durable construction being fog and waterproof.
- Available with camouflaged coating.
- All extra accessories included.
- Massive 314-feet field of view.
Things that could be better
- The provided carrying case is not that good. You might need to spend few more bucks to buy another case to protect it.
In short, the Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars are a great value with optics that are better than most choices in the category. The extra accessories and the No-Fault, No-Hassle Warranty make this a steal for the price.
Best Hunting Binoculars Overall
Small and compact is what everyone wants in binoculars and the Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10x42mm Binoculars certainly do not disappoint.
These binoculars are light and easy to handle, but they are not a light weight when it comes to performance.
The Bak 4 Prisms and Twilight Max HD light management system allows the Leupold BX-4 to compete with binoculars that cost 3X as much. Let’s check out the specifications.
- Predawn and after dusk usage is great with these binoculars. Leupold’s Twilight Max HD Light Management System optimizes light transmission and minimizes glare to provide amazing low light performance. With such great light transmission, spotting and tracking during those premium low light periods is easy.
- You have a 326 field of view (FOV) at 1000 yards, which allows you to scan large areas quickly. The eye-relief is a solid 16 mm, which takes the strain off your eyes from continuous use.
- With a weight of only 24 ounces, you can use these binoculars all day without getting tired. At 5.6″ in length, you can easily store these binoculars in a pack or easy access binocular case. The size to performance ratio is great on the Leupold BX-4.
- Most people are amazed at the image quality of the BX-4. It’s comparable to ultra premium binoculars. The BAK 4 prisms provide an extremely clear image with virtually zero distortion along the edges.
Things we like
- Light weight, compact and easy to carry.
- Up to 30 minutes of extra time to glass with premium low light performance.
- 100% waterproof, fog proof and shockproof.
- Twist-up eye cups and 16 mm of eye relief for longer glassing times without straining.
- Lightweight aluminum housing for durability and rubber coating for gripping.
Things that could be better
- Lens cap might fall off while in the field.
The Leupold BX-4 hunting binoculars from premium performance at a mid-tier price. Low light visibility and image clarity rival some of the best binoculars in any category. You will be happy with the performance of these binoculars.
Best Binoculars for Deer & Elk Hunting
Vortex Optics is one of the top brands when it comes to optic technology and the Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42 Roof Prism Binocular offers some impressive features to hunters. These binoculars are made from top quality rubber and not only are the shock and waterproof, but fog proof as well. Let’s look a little deeper at some of the specs:
- With a magnification of 10X, watching your favorite bird of animal from afar is really easy and brings you up close and personal. The objective lens has a large diameter of 42mm, great for zooming in and seeing every detail.
- The field of view is a staggering 345-feet wide and with a range of 1000-yards, keeping targets in sight is easy to do.
- With oxygen purged from the barrels of the binoculars and replaced with argon gas, fogging is something that does not pose a problem anymore. Argon does not fog up as much as oxygen and makes them perfect for cold weather conditions.
- Many people have better vision in different eyes so independent eye adjustments is important. Vortex includes a feature for you to easily adjust each eye to meet your needs. This means that you will have the perfect vision through the binoculars.
Things we like
- Fog proof, waterproof and shock-resistant design.
- Large objective lens of 42 mm.
- Multi-position twist-up eye cups for adjustable eye relief.
- Locking right-eye diopter is located on the right eyepiece for adjusting differences in eyes.
- Unconditional lifetime warranty with no questions asked by Vortex.
- Custom molded carry case is included for each pair of binoculars.
- Anti-reflective lens that eliminates all glare.
Things that could be better
- Little bit heavy when compared to other hunting binoculars.
With Vortex Optics Diamondback, quality is assured and the inclusion of a VIP warranty means this is a good investment for life. Value is the word that comes to mind when thinking about these binoculars.
Best Hunting Binoculars for Glasses Wearers
Nikon MONARCH 5 10×42 Binoculars is the new name for the previous Nikon ATB binoculars. They are available in 2 sizes: 8X42 and 10X42. Choosing between these 2 will depend on your specific needs and uses. While these are perfect for hunting, here are a couple of specs that you might not have known about:
- The binoculars have a massive 18.4 mm eye relief which is great for keeping you from focusing too much and giving your eyes a break. This is also a great addition for users with glasses as it gives them the perfect relief.
- Multi-coated lenses and dielectric reflective technology keep glare out of the way. This enables use of these binoculars when the sun is at its peak and even shining directly in your face from certain angles.
- These binoculars are fog proof and waterproof. The dimensions make them small enough to carry around with ease and the 21.6-ounce weight is light enough for longer walking hunts and hikes.
Things we like
- The turn-and-slide rubber eye cups allow to adjust eye-relief for best fit and clarity.
- Fog and waterproof.
- Portable design.
- Multi-coated lenses for great imaging.
Things that could be better
- The field of view is only 288 feet at 1000 yards, which is the lowest on the list.
In a nutshell, the Nikon MONARCH 5 10×42 Binoculars have all the features you will find in the top hunting binoculars without making you break the bank. Compared to high-end binoculars, they are very affordable but still good performers.
Best Binoculars for Bowhunting
The Steiner Predator is indeed a beast as the name implies. In fact, the unit’s bold, raw and rugged look speaks volumes about its overall abilities. To put this into perspective, you get a Makrolon housing that can withstand up to 11 Gs of impact. The Predator’s are further enhanced by a rugged chassis with durable, long life rubber armoring. Here are some features you can expect with the Steiner Predator binoculars.
- The Predator packs the latest Optimized Light Transmission technology from Steiner that boosts performance up by 4% in low lighting. This improves the binocular’s performance in those early late hours.
- The predator is indeed quick to identify its prey thanks to a fast-close-focus central knob that requires minimal rotation for instant sharpness.
- It comes packed with the exclusive Color Adjusted Transmission (CAT) technology designed to amplify the contrast of images within the sensitivity range.
Things we like
- Locate game easier with enhanced contrast in the peak human vision range.
- Lightweight roof prism design makes them easy to carry.
- Makrolon housing makes it virtually impervious.
- Heritage lifetime warranty that doesn’t require proof of purchase.
- Nitrogen injected fog proof optics.
Things that could be better
- Protective eye covers tend to fall off.
Overall, the Predator is designed to be one of the best hunting binoculars on the market. It is tough, rugged and immensely powerful even in low lighting. The fact that it is a lightweight doesn’t hurt its case either.
Factors to Consider when Searching for the Best Hunting Binoculars
As is the case with most products, a lot of factors come into play when shopping around for your ideal pair of binoculars. Go through this list of factors to consider when you are looking for your next pair of hunting binoculars.
In most cases, bigger is always better right? Wrong.
This adage doesn’t apply when it comes to hunting binoculars. Here, it’s all about precision and accuracy meaning the higher the magnification, the lower the steadiness.
Higher magnification binoculars are not the best for scanning fields and woods because you will tire out faster trying to keep them steady.
The best hunting binoculars will typically have an 8x or 10x magnification.
Field of View
For those in the dark, field of view (popularly known as FOV) refers to the area of feet you visualize at a 1000 yards using a specific pair of hunting binoculars.
To keep it simple, a small FOV amount translates to a narrow area and conversely, a higher FOV number translates to a wider area.
There is no particular rule of thumb when it comes to choosing the ideal field of view. However, it’s worth noting that a higher FOV will serve you well if you often hunt in wide open locations.
Eye relief is a fixed distance between the ocular lenses and the eyes.
If your eyes are not at the correct distance from binoculars’ ocular lenses, you cannot see the entire field of view your binoculars offer. You’ll be getting shadows shifting around the view when your eyes are too close to the ocular lenses.
This happens most often when the non-eyeglass wearers forget to twist the eye cups out. After twisting the eye cups all the way out, if you are still seeing shadows in crescent shapes, then your eyes are still close to the binocular. It means the binoculars you’re using do not offer enough eye relief for your eyes.
On the other hand, if your eyes are too far away from the ocular lenses, vignetting may occur in the field of view. This is a common issue for the eyeglass wearers, especially when they use the binoculars with the eye cups out. If you don’t adjust it, you will not get the full benefit of your binoculars.
We suggest the eyeglass wearers to use binoculars with eye relief of 15 or more.
As a result, we recommend binoculars that have adjustable eye cups. The above image explains a lot why eye relief is so important. We suggest the eyeglass wearers to use binoculars with eye relief of 15 or more. And never spend money on binoculars with below 10 mm of eye relief!
The objective size of a model basically refers to the second number following the magnification specs. For instance, a 10×42 model has an objective size of 42 – the second number. The larger the objective size the larger the lens. Larger lens typically means better low light performance because the optics can pull in more light.
Generally speaking, an objective range of 40 to 42 mm is often preferred by most hunters. Unless you plan on hunting at night, going for higher objectives isn’t really necessary. Models with 50 mm objective lenses for instance are significantly more expensive, but will work some magic for the avid night hunters.
Long story short, the best hunting binoculars typically have 42 mm objective lenses.
While at it, it’s also worth noting that binoculars with larger lenses are significantly heavier than those with smaller objectives. This means that a 32 mm would be lighter and more portable if that ranks high on your list of priorities.
In regards to hunting, the best hunting binoculars typically use roof prisms mainly because of their capability to deliver slimmer designs. Additionally, roof prisms are more lightweight compared porro prism models.
Roof prisms are actually more expensive to manufacture so you will find porro prisms in higher performing budget binoculars. Porro prisms are more efficient with light, but roof prisms are preferred if you can spend a little more on quality hunting binoculars.
Hunting binoculars come with a center focus (CF) wheel or an individual focus (IF) eyepiece. For hunting binoculars, I prefer a center focus wheel. You are constantly glass the woods or field, which means you need to tweak the focus for the best clarity. The center focus wheel allows you to quickly make these changes, where the individual focus takes longer.
Don’t assume that a single center focus wheel binocular won’t work if you have different vision in each eye. Most binoculars have a diopter adjustment on one of the lenses, which allows you to compensate for those differences.
Optical coatings are an essential part of the best hunting binoculars. They are basically incorporated on the objective lens to reduce or even get rid of light reflection altogether.
In a nutshell, quality optical lens coatings reduce glare and reduce light reflection.
Fully coated optics are found on most high quality hunting binoculars. The bottom line here is sharp and brighter images are ultimately defined by the quality of coating. This means the better the coating, the higher the amount of light you get, period.
Of course, all hunters want a high quality image that is sharp and bright. However, that image quality comes at a price. The improved image quality and performance you get from a high quality pair of binoculars is worth the investment. These binoculars are a true asset to you in the field and will lead to more successful hunts.
Weight and Size
As stated earlier, the amount of glass or type of lens rather, will determine the total weight of your binoculars. Regardless of capability, you don’t want to carry a full-sized and heavy pair of binoculars all day on your hunting expedition.
What you need, however, is a properly sized unit that won’t hurt your neck or tire your arms as you scan and search for game.
That said, be mindful that the smaller lens binoculars won’t perform as well in low light. Make sure you choose the right balance of size, weight and performance.
Waterproof and Rubber Coating
Rubber coated hunting binoculars have become increasingly popular unlike the past when they were only reserved for the military.
Besides being extremely durable, the coating makes it easier to hold the unit even during wet conditions. Most rubber coated models are also waterproof and this is a paramount aspect that’s usually overlooked when shopping.
What most hunters fail to realize is, waterproof hunting binoculars are not only resistant to moisture, but also dust, grime and dirt. The feature also means your unit is fog proof and hence, ideal for misty conditions which can possibly make your hunting expedition a pain.
I recommend lightweight, rubber coated models with waterproof features any day.
As with any other product, the price of your prospective pair of hunting binoculars should play a lead role in determining whether or not it’s worth it.
Of course, your needs and expectations should come first; however, the aforementioned factors must complement the cost and reflect great bang for the buck. In regards to hunting binoculars, the more expensive a unit is, the more likely it is to be of premium quality.
In other words, high quality glass and exemplary optical coatings come at a cost. Some brands offer premium models costing north of a thousand dollars. However, such units will not only prevent eye strain, but also offer up to a decade of service – a worthwhile investment in the long run.
Most hunters invest in a worthy pair of quality hunting binoculars only to find some essential accessories missing in the overall package – it has happened to me.
Accessories such as straps, body harnesses and cases are often not included in the package, meaning you’ll have to buy them separately. This isn’t an issue because there are plenty of binocular harnesses and accessories on the market.
However, you should consider what accessories are included with your binoculars because it will impact the total amount you need to spend.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Which is the best objective lens size for hunting?
A. Generally speaking, any model with a 40 mm to 50 mm objective size serves as ideal for virtually any hunting application. However, your budget will ultimately determine the model and objective you settle for as the large size can be a tad too expensive for those on a budget.
Q. What is the ideal weight for binoculars?
A. This will vary from person to person, but having lightweight binoculars under 28-ounces is ideal for longer viewing and they will not tire you out as much. Unfortunately, they might lack some of the top features of the larger binoculars. You will need to decide why you will use them.
Wrapping It Up
In a nutshell, the list of products above are currently the best hunting binoculars on the market (outside of ultra premium brands). These binoculars certainly offer the best performance for the money.
If you are looking for an effective pair of hunting binoculars to elevate your gaming expeditions, then you can’t go wrong with one of the choice above. Check out our top choice below:
Good luck fellow hunters.