Best Binoculars for Hunting, Birding and Astronomy:
How to Choose Binoculars in 2017

Binoculars at a glance

When getting closer to the object is not an option, a good pair of binoculars comes in handy. From hunting and fishing to bird watching and even stargazing, a pair of binos will help you get much closer to the action. This guide will show you how to choose the best binoculars for whatever use you might have in mind.

Friendly warning!
This is a really long article (10,000+ words on the last count!). To make it easier to navigate, you will find a handy Table of Contents below.

In a hurry? Here are the models we discuss below:
(Click to see the current price on Amazon)

BUSHNELL LEGEND L-SERIES 8X42 – our top pick among general use binoculars
VORTEX DIAMONDBACK 8×42 – great choice for birding
CELESTRON SKYMASTER DX 8X56 – great for handheld astronomy/stargazing
CELESTRON SKYMASTER 25X100 – another awesome astronomy glass. Tripod is a must with these ones!
VANGUARD ENDEAVOR ED 10X42 – our top choice for hunting
POLARIS OPTICS FIELDVIEW 8X32 – perfect for kids. And these are real binos, not a plastic toy!
ATN BINOX 4-16X BINOX-HD SMART BINOCULAR – great beginner night-vision device
BUSHNELL LEGEND ULTRA HD 10X25 – our top pick among compact models
BARSKA 7X50 WP DEEPSEA – great waterproof glass for boating and general marine use

What is it?

Binoculars are basically two small telescopes mounted side by side. They are aligned to point in the same direction and, unlike traditional telescopes, are designed to be viewed with both eyes

Who is it for?

Nikon binocularsTheater and concert goers, hunters and fishermen, hikers and nature lovers alike will all benefit from a pair of good binoculars. If you’re into stargazing, there are great astronomy binos that will allow you to explore the starry sky from the comfort of your chair. Finally, for bird watchers this is an almost pre-requisite piece of equipment – without it, it would be very hard to notice all the subtle details and enjoy the experience fully

How much does it cost?

Super-simple general use binos can be had for around $30-50. Going higher adds more features, better materials and higher magnification and picture quality. Most people would be really happy with a $100-300 pair of binoculars, though some models can easily cost $500, $700 or even $1,000 or more. Swarovski models are presumably some of the best binoculars money can buy but be prepared to shell out anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 and possibly even more

What are the best binoculars out there?

It depends on your needs and budget. We have compiled a list of best binoculars for every use in our Top Picks section

HOW DO THEY COMPARE TO EACH OTHER?

To make it easier to compare different models to each other, we have compiled a huge Ultimate Binocular Comparison Table just for this purpose

7X42, 8X50, 10X50? WHAT DO THESE NUMBERS MEAN?

We have explained all the technical terms in our Binoculars Buying Guide

Binoculars Buying Guide

Choosing binoculars is quite easy once you know what to look for. But you need to learn a few things before you can pick the best one. For example you might see something like this on a pair of binoculars:

binoculars numbers

Right now it probably means nothing to you. And that’s fine – if you don’t really want to dive into all the technical specs, you can find a great pair of binos in our Top Picks list. Whether you’re a hunter, a bird watcher or a sports fan – we have picked the best binocular for every occasion.

But if you don’t mind learning a few technical details, then you’re in the right place – we’ll go through each spec you might find when choosing binos below. Very soon the picture above will make perfect sense and you’ll be able to make an educated decision as to which model works best for you.

This will be a long read, so we have prepared a handy table of contents above – feel free to click around!

How will you use it?

girl with binocularsThis is by far the most important question. We’ll go through each of the most popular use cases and explain which pair of binos will work best in each and why.

Hunting:
  • light-weight (less important if you spend a lot of time in one place waiting for the prey)
  • 7x-8x magnification for general hunting (12x to 16x for distant game/varmints)
  • medium exit pupil
  • weather-resistant

For hunting, you will want to use light-weight medium-range binoculars. Since you might spend quite a few hours just waiting for the game show up, weight is very important to make sure you still have enough strength in your arms when it’s time to act. The magnification can be different, with 7x and 8x being enough for general hunting, and 10x, 12x or even 16x preferable for hunting distant game/varmints. Since most glassing is done during the day, you don’t need a very large exit pupil. Finally, you might want to consider getting a waterproof or at least weather-proof binoculars if your hunting area is known to get wet.

Concerts, theaters and stadiums:
  • around 5x magnification
  • light-weight and compact
  • large field of view

To get closer to your idol or see more of the action on the field you don’t need too much magnification – a decent field of view is more important, especially in sports, where the objects will be moving quite a lot. Magnification anywhere around 5x should do the trick. What is important though is the weight – you probably won’t want to lug around a heavy pair of binos while you’re having fun, so it’s best to look for a lightweight and compact model. These are usually the cheapest and the lightest binos of all.

Boating, fishing and other marine uses:
  • 7x to 10x magnification (can go larger if image stabilization is used)
  • corrosion-resistant material
  • waterproof colorful design
  • buoyant
  • image stabilization
  • rangefinder & compass

If you spend a lot of time in and around the water, you should consider getting a specially-designed device. Marine binos are usually built from a corrosion-resistant material, feature a waterproof colorful design and are often buoyant, so you can easily spot them and retrieve them if they are ever dropped overboard. Many models will come with either a compass or a rangefinder to measure distance to the object. You might even look into getting binos with image stabilization – very helpful when you’re on board.

Birding/bird-watching:
  • light-weight
  • 7x to 8x magnification
  • close focusing ability

While a rifle is pretty much essential for hunting, so is a pair of good binoculars for a bird watcher. Without them, it would be hard to see all the details and identify a bird without getting too close to it. For birding look into lightweight binos – you don’t want to be lugging around a heavy glass all day. As with sports, field of view is more important than magnification here – something with a 7x or 8x strength should allow you not only to spot the bird, but also to track it in flight. Since you might find yourself quite close to the bird (e.g. when your feeders are set up close), a good Close Focusing ability is a must. Again, since you will be using them a lot, it makes sense to purchase the best binoculars your budget allows. You won’t regret it.

General use: vacation, hiking, etc.
  • light-weight (unless you intend to keep it in the car most of the time)
  • wide-angle (7x to 10x is enough for general use)
  • medium-to-large exit pupil (4-7 mm)

General use binoculars should be easy to carry around – compact size and light weight is key here. An exception would be binos mostly used during a road trip – if you plan to mostly keep them in the car, you might get a sturdier heavier pair. Wide-angle is more important than the magnification power here – you want to have a larger field of view to be able to easily see what you want to see. Since it’s likely you’ll be using them in the darker hours of the day, look for a larger exit pupil. Finally, if you are looking for hiking binos and will be hiking in wet area – make sure your binos are waterproof or, at the very least, weatherproof. Getting a fog proof model would also be a wise idea, since fogged glass can easily spoil an otherwise beautiful view.

Astronomy/stargazing:
  • strong magnification (15x, 20x, 25x and more) for looking deep into star clusters, smaller (7x, 8x, 10x) for having a wider field of view and better luck at catching moving objects like meteor showers
  • a tripod adapter
  • larger exit pupil (5-7 mm)

Binoculars have one distinct advantage to a telescope when it comes to viewing the starry sky – you get to see the space with both eyes. To truly experience all the magnificence of the night sky, make sure you choose the right magnification (7x or 8x will give a great field of view – perfect for spotting out those meteor showers and taking “a walk” around the space, while 15x, 20x and higher are great for really looking close into those star constellations; 10x is probably the sweet spot between the two extremes here). If you opt for the stronger magnification, it might be a good idea to put the binos on the tripod – this will make sure you get to see the stars as clear as possible without them turning into the lightning bolts. Finally, make sure the exit pupil is large enough for your eyes – at night our eyes open the pupil larger and a smaller exit pupil will easily destroy the whole experience.

Night use:
  • medium magnification (7x or 8x)
  • larger exit pupil (5-7 mm)
  • optional: night vision

If you’re looking for a pair of binos to be used at night (or dusk/dawn) it’s wise to stick with a medium magnification of 7x or 8x to minimize the effects of shaking hands. Similar to astronomy binos, the exit pupil should be large enough for your dilated pupils. If you really want to see in the dark, take a look at the night vision equipped binos. Though be prepared to spend quite a bit of money if you go this route – the newer models have vastly improved the picture quality compared to the first generation ones, but that comes with a hefty price tag.

But what do these magnification, exit pupil and field of view specifications really mean? Let’s go through each step by step:

Step 1

Size and prism choice

There are two types of prisms used in most binoculars: a Porro prism and a roof prism. Both serve a single purpose – to turn the image right way up. But they do it in a different way.

Without getting into the technical nitty-gritty, let’s just say that binoculars using Porro prisms are generally larger (because the objectives are spread further apart), while roof type binoculars are usually more streamlined and compact. Roof type binos are also a bit easier to hold.

So, roof type binos are an obvious choice, right? Not necessarily.

The technology used in producing roof type prisms is more complex and costly than the one used with Porro models. That means that in many cases a Porro model will have better picture quality than a same-priced roof type model. This is becoming less and less obvious as technology progresses, but still if you’re on a budget and don’t mind some added bulkiness, you might want to look into Porro models.

  • Porro binocular:
    porro binoculars

  • Roof type binocular:
    roof binoculars

Step 2

Magnification and Objective Diameter

When choosing binoculars, you will often see a set of numbers, like 7×42, 8×40, 10×50 and so on. These are the most important characteristics of the binos.

magnificationThe first number if magnification, meaning how many times closer the image will be in the binoculars, when compared with looking at it with the naked eye. So, 10x binoculars will make the object appear 10 times closer than it really is.

Keep in mind, that the stronger the magnification, the harder it will be to hand hold the binos. 10x or 12x is widely considered to be the maximum you can hand hold steadily, with 8x being the most popular option.

binoculars pictureThe second number is the diameter of the objective lens (the fat end of the tubes) in mm. The larger the diameter, the more light gets into the system and the brighter and sharper the picture is. But that comes at the price of increased weight and size, so it’s really always a compromise.

Step 3

Exit pupil

If you divide the objective diameter by the magnification power, you arrive at the exit pupil. This number indicates how big is the beam of light that leaves the eyepieces.

If you hold your binoculars slightly away from your face and towards the source of light, you can see a bright circle in each eyepiece. This is the light coming through the binoculars to the eye and the diameter of this column of light is the exit pupil:

This number is in mm. So, for a 10×50 binos the exit pupil would be 5mm, while for 7×42 it would be 6mm, and so on.

Generally, the exit pupil must be at least the same size as the fully dilated pupil of the person looking through the binoculars. During daytime the average human’s pupil is around 2-3mm, while at dusk or dawn, when it gets darker, the pupil dilates to around 4-5mm or even more at night (5-7mm).

Therefore, it’s best to look for the exit pupil of around 5mm for general use and higher if the binos will be used a lot in low-light conditions.

This video shows how exit pupil works (Ron also does a great job explaining the magnification):

Another benefit of having a larger exit pupil is that it makes it easier to put the eye where it can see the picture – the bigger the cone of light, the easier it is to pick up the binos and quickly position your eyes where they can see the full picture.

Keep in mind that with age people’s pupils dilate less: while for a 25-old individual a typical pupil size is 5-9 mm, for a 50-old the range is closer to 3.5-5 mm, so the exit pupil metric becomes less important.

Step 4

Eye relief

Eye relief is the optimal distance between the eyepiece and the eye. It’s the maximum distance your eyes can be away from the eyepiece and still get the full field of view.

Most binoculars will have eyecups installed to make viewing more comfortable. If you wear glasses, your eyes will be too far away from the eyecups. To fix this, manufacturers install adjustable eyecups – you simply roll them down or twist them in to achieve the desired distance to the eyepiece.

If you’re wearing glasses, we suggest you look for binoculars with eye relief of 11mm or more.

Step 5

Field of View

person with binocularsField of view (sometimes called angle of view) is how much of the area is visible through the binoculars. Imagine taking a piece of paper, rolling it in a tube and looking through it. The resulting field of view will be quite small. Now, cut off half of the paper tube and look again – the field of view will be much larger. It will now be much easier to locate your object, keep it in sight or track it when it starts moving.

Naturally, the larger the magnification, the smaller the field of view will be. It’s always a compromise. You need to decide what is more important for you – getting closer to the object or being able to view a larger area easier.

So, while 15x, 20x and 25x magnification binoculars might sound like a great idea, they will probably come with a very small field of view and will make it hard to locate the object. Not to mention it would be almost impossible to handhold steadily.

Field of view (angle of view) is usually expressed in one of two ways:

  • feet – the width of a visible area at a distance of 1000 yards (typical number would be 330 feet at 1000 yards. Sometimes meters are used instead of feet)
  • degrees – the angle you can see through the binoculars. Multiply it by 52.5 to convert to field of view

Most decent binos will have a field of view between 300 and 380 feet at 1000 yards.

Step 6

Close Focus Distance

Yes, we know, it’s weird to talk about how close the binoculars can focus, but for many users it is a valid concern.

Birders, for example, never know where they will spot the next bird. Even if it’s only 6 or 7 feet away, they might still want to watch it closer to see some details of the feathers or the beak. That’s where a close focus distance of 6′ or less will come in handy.

Step 7

Materials

There are three most common materials most binoculars’ housings are made from: Aluminum, Magnesium and Polycarbonate. Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages. Often manufacturers add special coatings to the housing to improve the water resistance and make the grip less slippery.

Aluminum alloy is by far the most popular material used in production of binoculars. It’s cheap, light and strong enough to withhold daily use (and, to a certain point, abuse).

Magnesium is even lighter than aluminum and shares a lot of similar characteristics, such as corrosion-resistance. Some of the best binoculars (including many Swarovski models) are made of lightweight and durable magnesium

Polycarbonate (sometimes enforced with glass fiber) is usually the lightest of the three, plus it is temperature resistant, which means you can use it in extreme temperatures. So, if you routinely find yourself surrounded by the snow or in the desert, consider the polycarbonate or polyamide binos.

Step 8

Waterproof/Weatherproof

Water can be deadly for binoculars, so if you spend time near the sea, rivers or lakes, or find yourself under the rain, consider buying waterproof binoculars.

waterproof binoculars by barska

waterproof/floating binoculars by Barska


You will find that manufacturers use two terms commonly – weatherproof and waterproof. While both usually use some kind of gasket or an O-ring to seal the optical tubes, most of the time, waterproof binoculars will be better protected from the moisture than the weatherproof ones. Both, though, should protect your binoculars from most typical weather conditions. 

However, if there’s even the slightest chance your binos might end up in the water (e.g. while sailing), consider getting a model that is submersible (and buoyant). These models will sometimes also come in bright colors to make it easy to spot them if they’re dropped overboard.

Step 9

Fogproof

As every glass wearer and photographer will know, when you move a lens from one temperature to another (like when coming inside from the cold conditions outdoors) moisture starts to condense and the lenses get fogged on the inside. This can be extremely frustrating and can even lead to the permanent damage to the optics within the binoculars.

To fight that, manufacturers have started to fill the interior of the binoculars with the inert gases (usually argon or nitrogen). With no air inside, there’s no moisture content and therefore there’s nothing to condense – problem solved!

Step 10

Putting it all together

Now that you know what to look for when choosing your next pair of binoculars, let’s go through a couple of popular models and discuss what each one is good for.

For this test we took 2 random models from Amazon’s Top 10 list – Bushnell 133450 Falcon 10×50 and Nikon 7576 Monarch 5 8×42. Nikon is a much more expensive model, but since we’re not comparing the two here, it doesn’t really matter.

Let’s start with Bushnell 133450 Falcon 10×50:

bushnell falcon 10x50 binoculars

  • Right away we can tell by the non-streamlined shape that this is a Porro prism model. Considering the low price, this is probably a good sign – Porro prism models are usually more cost-efficient than roof prism
  • Now let’s take a look at the numbers: 10×50. This model has a 10x magnification and 50mm objective diameter. The magnification is above average (7-8x), so should work great for viewing distant objects but will probably be quite prone to handshake and might come with a narrow field of view (which we’ll get to next). The 50mm objective diameter if big enough to let in a lot of light so should provide a bright and sharp picture in most conditions
  • When looking at binoculars with large objective diameter it’s a good idea to check the weight – some of them run a bit heavy and might be difficult to hold for prolonged periods of time. This particular model weighs 27 oz (765 g) – slightly on the heavier side
  • If we divide the objective diameter by the magnification, we arrive at the exit pupil. 50 divided by 10 is 5mm – a very reasonable figure, which should be enough for comfortable viewing during the day and even at dusk or dawn
  • The field of view is 300ft at 1000 yards. This is on the lower end of things but should still work for most applications, except for when you try to track a fast moving object
  • If you’re into birding or any other activity where you might find yourself trying to focus on an object quite close to you, the close focusing distance is important. In this case, it’s 25 feet (7.6 meters). Probably too much for birding – for that we recommend binos that can focus at 6-7 feet or even less
  • The central focusing system is Bushnell’s InstaFocus lever. While it’s easy to use and allows for very quick adjustments, it’s also too easy to accidentally touch the lever and lose the adjustments. A standard focus wheel would have probably worked better in this case
  • The eye relief is 9mm which is lower than what we recommend for glass wearers (11mm and above). However, the eyecups fold down to bring your eyes closer to the lens, so this might work, though we’d still prefer larger eye relief
  • It’s not easy to find the glass specification (which is usually not a good sign), but after some googling we found it’s BK7, which, frankly, is to be expected, considering the low price of these. Usually, we recommend going for BAK4 when possible, but in this price range it might be difficult to find
  • These are not waterproof and not fogproof, so might be a good idea to leave them at home if you go boating or hiking through the snow mountains
  • OVERALL: for the price, these are pretty decent binos, which won’t blow your mind, but will provide acceptable quality and won’t break the bank. The 10x magnification, 300 feet field of view and 25 foot close focusing distance mean we probably wouldn’t pick them for bird-watching or take them to a stadium to watch the game. They are also probably too bulky and heavy for hiking long distance. But as a basic pair of binoculars for general use or as a first step into the binoculars world, they are great
Now the second pair – Nikon 7576 Monarch 5 8×42:

nikon monarch 5 binoculars

  • The streamlined design clearly tells us this is a roof prism model. As we said before, it usually costs more to produce a high-quality roof prism model, than a similar Porro model, so you should be prepared to spend more on roof type binos. These, however, cost several hundred dollars and at this price point you can get a great roof type model
  • It’s a 8×42 model, meaning the magnification is 8x and the objective diameter is 42mm. 8x magnification is probably the sweet spot for most people, providing just enough power without being to sensitive to the hand shaking. The objective diameter of 42mm is also quite good, which, combined with Nikon’s legendary glass quality, should bring in enough light to see pretty much anything
  • Roof prism binos are usually smaller and lighter than their Porro prism counterpars. This one is not an exception – it’s only 20.8 oz (589 g) and much more compact than the previous one
  • The exit pupil here is respectable 5.25mm – enough for most conditions, with probably the exception of very late evening or early morning, when our eyes can dilate up to 5 or 7mm, which will make it a bit harder to see the picture
  • The field of view is 330 feet at 1000 yards. Great all-rounder number – not too narrow, not too wide. Should work perfectly for almost every applicaton
  • While we’re on the topic of birding – these come with a 7.8 feet close focusing distance. A much better choice for watching the birds or insects, though if that’s your primary use for binos, there are some models that will focus at 5 feet or even closer
  • The focusing system is a familiar central focus knob. Can’t really go wrong with this one. It’s close to the eyepieces and should be within easy reach of your fingers
  • Eye relief is generous here – at 19.5mm you won’t have any problems using it with glasses and suglasses. Eyecups feature the turn-and-slide system allowing you to adjust the eye relief for custom fit
  • The glass used is Nikon’s legendary ED glass, previously reserved for top-of-the-line models, as well as their camera lenses (yes, we know it sounds like a commercial, but if there’s one thing Nikon is known for, it’s the quality of the glass they use in their products)
  • These binos are waterproof and fogproof, meaning they are O-ring sealed and the air inside them has been replaced with nitrogen. What that means to you is that you can drop them in the water of up to 1 meter deep and it won’t get inside. They also won’t fog from the inside when there’s a sudden change of temperature
  • OVERALL: these are perfect mid-range binos for general use. Yes, they’re not cheap, but as you can see, they tick all of the boxes above and offer a lot for the money.  They will work just fine for a bird watcher, a sports fan or a sailor on a boat. They are light and compact and will make a great hiking companion. If you’re ready to invest in a great pair of binos that will last you many years, you can’t really go wrong with these ones.

That’s it. Hope it’s now a bit clearer what you should be looking for when choosing your next pair of binoculars.

In the next section we’ll go through our Top Picks for each application. Whether you’re looking for binoculars for hunting, boating, bird watching, or maybe need to find a good pair of binos for your kid – head there to see our recommendations.

Frequently Asked Questions about Binoculars

If you wear glasses, look for binoculars with larger eye relief – anywhere around 12mm or more.
Most binoculars will have a dioptric adjustment dial on one of the eye pieces that will allow you to adjust the focus independently.
Some manufacturers publish information on IPD (interpupillary distance) of their products – this is the easiest way to see if the binos will work for you. The lower the number, the closer the tubes. Look for IPD of 55m or even less. If you can’t find this information for your particular model, your best bet would be to read reviews for your chosen pair of glasses hoping someone has answered this question.

Our Top Picks

Now that you know what to look for when choosing binoculars, here are our top picks for each application, be it hunting, sports, fishing or anything else.

Ultimate Buying Guides’ Top Picks:

Best binoculars for general use

General use binoculars should work for a variety of purposes and should be as versatile as possible. You might throw them into your car or take them with you to the next hike, or maybe you’ll use them when playing golf or just put them somewhere next to the window in your house.

If the all-in-one binoculars is what you’re after, look for the following:

  • average magnification/large objective diameter. We feel the 8×42 models hit the sweet spot – they bring you close enough to the target, let in plenty of light and are not as prone to shaky hands as their 10x counterparts
  • large field of view. This is very important if you want to be able to quickly locate the object and track it if it starts moving. Look for something around 350ft or more
  • compact and light-weight. You’re likely to be bringing these binos along on your adventures, so you’ll thank yourself later if you choose a lighter and smaller package. Look for roof prism design and a weight around 23oz/650g or less
  • close focusing distance probably doesn’t matter much in a pair of general binos, unless you’re into bird/insect watching
  • large exit pupil. There will be times when you need to use the binos when the light conditions are far from ideal (dusk and dawn, for example). Having the exit pupil of at least 5mm or more will make using the binoculars at low light much easier. The 8×42 model we suggest has a 5.25mm exit pupil – perfect for most conditions
The best binoculars for general use

Bushnell Legend L-series 8X42

a picture of the best binoculars for general use - bushnell legend L

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With the incredible field of view of 426 feet at 1000 yards, comfortable 19mm eye relief, ED prime glass and 6.5ft close focusing distance, Bushnell’s Legend 8×42 L-series is a great all-rounder that will work great for birding, hunting and even light astronomy use

Why did we choose Bushnell Legend L-series 8×42?

As many competitors in this price range, Bushnell offers fully multi-coated lenses, BAK-4 prisms and is water- and fogproof. What swayed us to Bushnell is the use of ED prime glass, the incredible field of view and great close focusing distance of only 6.5 feet.

PROS:

  • 426′ ultra wide field of view
  • ED prime glass
  • close focusing distance only 6.5′

CONS:

  • we wish they were a bit lighter, though 23.5oz is still very reasonable compared to the peers

OVERALL:

Bushnell offers amazing value for money with the Legend L-series 8×42 model. You get all the features you would expect from a pair of great binos at this price range, coupled with the top quality ED glass and the ultra wide field of view, which makes spotting the object and tracking a moving object so much easier. The 8×42 combo is probably the best for everyday use

OTHER GOOD OPTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Vanguard Endeavour ED 8×42 (slightly heavier and with a smaller field of view, Vanguards are comparable in all other areas. Some might prefer their open-bridge design to a more traditional close-bridge one),

Vortex Diamondback 8×42 (Vortex’s more affordable Diamondback line has got a complete redesign in 2016 and the new 8×42 model offers great bang for the buck. It’s also one of the lightest binos in this price range at only 21.8oz, and comes with the one of the shortest close focusing distance we’ve seen – just 5′)

BUDGET-FRIENDLY OPTION:

Celestron Nature DX 8×42 (this fully rubbor armored model from Celestron is also waterproof and comes with respectable 388′ field of view)

SPLURGE OPTION:

Celestron Granite ED 8×42 (with impressive 426′ field of view, 6′ close focus distance and rugged magnesium housing, you can’t go wrong with Granite ED)

Best binoculars for birding/bird-watching

If you’re into bird watching, you’re definitely not alone – the Audubon birding society alone has been around for more than 100 years and has almost 500 local chapters across the US.

Birders are some of the most demanding binocular users out there. And it’s easy to see why – you sometimes get only one chance to see the rare specimen in the wild and you don’t want to miss it because your binos are not up to the task. Birders also spend a lot of time looking into the binos and carrying them around, so binoculars’ weight is of utmost importance for them.

Whether you’re a veteran birder or just making your first steps into the fascinating world of bird watching, these are the features you should be looking for in your next pair of binoculars:
  • average magnification/large objective diameter. Magnification of 7x to 10x and objective diameter of 42 to 50 is what we’re looking for here (10x models only if you have really steady hands and really need this extra magnification. Otherwise, stick to 7x and 8x). Again, the 8×42 option is probably best here
  • large field of view. Birds move fast. If you want to be able to easily locate a bird and follow the flock in it’s flight, look for glasses with field of view of somewhere around 360ft or more
  • light-weight. Bird watching trips can be long and tough. And you probably will have other gear with you that you need to carry. Look for binos that weigh around 23oz/650g or less
  • close focusing distance is very important here. Sometimes the bird could be sitting just a few feet away and if your binos are capable of focusing at such close distance, you’ve got much better chances to see all the intricate details. Close focusing distance also comes in handy when you see an interesting insect or a butterfly nearby. At the minimum, you should look for 5-6ft close focus distance
  • large exit pupil. This is a general recommendation. Having the exit pupil of at least 5mm or more will make using the binoculars in low light much easier. Larger exit pupil also makes it much easier to hold the object in sight when your hands move or shake
  • ruggedness and weather proofing is only necessary if you spend a lot of time in harsh conditions
The best binoculars for birding/bird-watching

Vortex Diamondback 8×42

a picture of the best binoculars for birding - vortex diamondback

 

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This 2016 updated model has wide field of view, 5′ close focus distance and weighs less than 22oz

Why did we choose Vortex Diamondback 8×42?

Birders value wide field of view, low weight and ruggedness above all, and these binoculars deliver on all these aspects.

PROS:

  • super-wide 393′ field of view
  • 5′ minimum focus distance
  • 21.8oz weight

CONS:

  • for the price, there’s really nothing wrong with these. If we had to pick something, we would probably say the case is a bit too large for the binos, but that’s a very minor issue

OVERALL:

If you’re looking for great birding binos, you can’t go wrong with the Vortex Diamondbacks. They are light, product great image and the large FOV will allow you to easily spot the bird and track it in flight.

Best binoculars for astronomy/stargazing

What can be better than observing a starry night sky with a great telescope? Being able to bring in the stars, constellations, galaxies and comets so much closer?

Only doing the same thing with two telescopes simultaneously – one for each eye! This is essentially what stargazing with binoculars is.

Astronomy binoculars are different from all other binos – if you’re serious about using them for stargazing, you’ll be better off getting a specialized pair of glasses just for this purpose.

Astronomy binoculars usually have these characteristics:

  • magnification. Now, you have 2 options here:
    • Low magnification and wider field of view: go for 7x or 8x magnification if you want to have a wider view of the sky, if you’d like to view the meteor showers. And, most importantly, if you are not planning to use the tripod. Popular models here are 7×35, 7×42 and 8×42
    • Higher magnification and narrower field of view: you can go as high as 20x, 25x and even higher. This will allow you to get really close to the stars and see a lot of detail. But you will need to mount the binoculars on a tripod, as it’s almost impossible to handhold a 20x glass steadily. A popular model is 20×80
  • field of view. Similar to magnification – you can either go for lower magnification/wider field of view or for higher magnification/narrower field of view. Unless you plan to mount the binos on a tripod and only use them for stargazing, we suggest going for less powerful models
  • size and weight usually do not matter that much here, since most of the time stargazing is done using a tripod. If you’re looking for one-size-fits-all pair of binos, then of course you will need to consider both size and weight
  • close focusing distance is not important for stargazing, since your binos will be focused on infinity most of the time anyway
  • large exit pupil. At night the pupils dilate and the exit pupil of the binoculars becomes even more important. Look for something around 4mm and higher
The best binoculars for handheld astronomy/stargazing

Celestron SkyMaster DX 8X56

a picture of the best binoculars for astronomy and stargazing - skymaster dx

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These binos have been specifically designed and manufactured for astronomy purposes. They are slightly bigger than the standard 7×50 astronomy binos, but they bring the stars a bit closer and can still be used handheld.

Why did we choose Celestron SkyMaster DX 8×56?

These handheld astronomy binos get rave reviews for the image quality and ease of use. The large objective brings in a lot of light, allowing you to see more, while the 7mm exit pupil makes viewing comfortable. The porro prism is known for great depth of field and the rugged design.

PROS:

  • 7mm exit pupil  and 56mm lens
  • waterproof/fogproof

CONS:

  • though expected for the porro prism and 56mm objective, we still wish it was a tad bit lighter

OVERALL:

This is a great model for handheld stargazing. If you’re into “scanning” the sky and would like to be able to see meteor showers more easily, you can’t go wrong with SkyMaster DX 8×56

The best binoculars for tripod-mount astronomy/stargazing

Celestron SkyMaster 25X100

a picture of the best binoculars for tripod astronomy and stargazing - skymaster 25x100

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Don’t expect to hand hold these – at almost 9 lbs (4 kgs) they should be mounted on a tripod. The 25x magnification allows you to see what cannot be seen with the smaller binoculars

Why did we choose Celestron SkyMaster 25×100?

Celestron 25×100 come with the giant 100mm objective diameter that lets in as much light as possible at night or in low-light conditions. These are heavy binoculars and are intended to be used with a tripod – they even come with an integrated tripod adapter.

PROS:

  • great magnification for both astronomy and terrestrial observing (users report using these to see the moons of Jupiter)
  • 100mm objective ensures a bright and sharp picture, 4mm exit pupil is enough for night-time viewing

CONS:

  • not really a con, but make sure your tripod is sturdy enough to hold these babies, they are close to 9lbs

OVERALL:

Great model for long-range terrestrial and astronomy observations that won’t break the bank.

Best binoculars for hunting

Hunters need bright binos that will make it easy to locate the game anywhere, be it the field, the forest or a mountain range.

  • magnification and objective diameter. Depending on the type of game you might go with:
    • 7-8x power for general hunting (7×42 and 8×42 models are best)
    • 10-12x for long-range shooting, e.g. varmint hunting or hunting in the mountains (10×50 would be a good choice, as anything more powerful will likely require stabilization)
  • field of view: as wide as possible for general hunting and narrower for long-range shooting
  • size and weight – hunters already lug around a lot of heavy gear. When looking for binos for hunting, try to choose something made of lighter alloy or magnesium. Anything at or below 23oz should work
  • close focusing distance – this is obviously not important for hunting
  • ruggedness and weatherproof – hunting gear must be built solid and able to withstand any weather conditions you might face. It’s a good idea to make sure your chosen binos are fogproof (they will also be waterproof in that case) and have rubberized housing to avoid any metal clicking sounds that might give you away
The best hunting binoculars

Vanguard Endeavor ED 10X42

a picture of the best binoculars for hunting - vanguard ED

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Powerful, yet lightweight, Vanguard Endeavour ED deliver incredible value at an affordable price point

Why did we choose Vanguard Endeavor ED 10×42?

The 10x magnification (the max we would use handheld) coupled with the ED glass and full multi-coating make these binos really bright and perfectly usable even in dim light. The fact they are waterproof and fogproof means you have one less thing to worry about when you’re on a hunt.

PROS:

  • ED glass for accurate color rendition and exceptional detail
  • 100% waterproof and fogproof
  • open-bridge design for easy one hand operation

CONS:

  • focus wheel can be a bit touchy

OVERALL:

Endeavour ED offers top-level image quality in a mid-priced package. If you’re looking for lightweight weatherresistant hunting binoculars, this 10×42 is a great choice.

OTHER GOOD OPTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Bushnell 10×42 Legend L-Series (if you prefer your binoculars in camo, Bushnell’s 10×42 Legend L-series is very similar to Endeavour ED. It’s also water- and fog proof and features rubber armoring for extra protection)

Vortex Viper HD 10×42 (premium binoculars in a rugged and compact housing)

Best binoculars for kids

If you have little ones who are into nature and like to spend time with you outdoors, then it’s a great idea to get them their own pair of binos. Sure, they might enjoy playing with your expensive gear, but you probably won’t enjoy it so much if they drop it or somehow break it.

Binoculars for kids have certain requirements:

  • magnification: anywhere between 6x and 8x. Any more and it will be hard for a kid to hold the binos steady. Any less and it just won’t provide enough power to keep it interesting
  • interpupillary distance (IPD): kids faces are smaller than adults and the binos should accommodate that. Most manufacturers advertise the smallest IPD their products are capable of somewhere on the website
  • objective diameter: try to stay below 42, as this ensures the IPD is smaller and the exit pupil is larger
  • field of view: the larger the better, as it will make it easier for kids to find and focus on the object
  • size and weight: obviously the smaller the better for both. Kids won’t be able to hold a heavy pair of binos for long and will quickly become frustrated or lose interest altogether.
  • exit pupil: children generally have larger pupils than adults and the binoculars should accommodate this. Look for something with 4mm at least
  • design: this is highly subjective but depending on the age, your kid might prefer something brighter or more colorful than most adult binocular models
  • ruggedness: now this one is crucial. Kids are much more likely to accidentally drop or bump their binos, so make sure the model you choose can handle this
The best binoculars for kids

Polaris Optics FieldView 8X32

a picture of the best binoculars for kids - polaris fieldview

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Let’s be clear: these are not $20 toy binoculars with plastic lenses, these are real binos that will last a long time

Why did we choose Polaris Optics FieldView 8X32?

These are some of the lightest and smallest binoculars on the market that still provide amazing image quality and a decent 8x magnification.

PROS:

  • only 15.2 oz weight
  • small size suitable for kids’ hands
  • non-slip grip
  • waterproof & fogproof
  • generous eye relief of 17.8mm allows you to use these with glasses
  • phase coated BAK-4 prism and fully multi-coated lenses for clear picture
  • wide 393′ field of view

CONS:

  • younger kids might find it hard to hand hold these for longer periods of time

OVERALL:

If your kid is into nature, they will love these bright and lightweight binos. Sure, they are still almost a pound, so probably won’t work for 3-4 year olds (that’s where those toy binoculars come into play), but slightly older kids will get lots of joy out of using these to get closer to nature. The picture quality is superb for the price and we liked that they are waterproof/fogproof. The exit pupil of 4mm is more than enough for daytime viewing.

OTHER OPTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Polaris Optics Raven 8×25 (a cheaper ultra-lightweight model that might work better for younger kids. At only 12 oz it offers 426′ field of view and 8x magnification)

Best night vision binoculars

A relatively new addition to consumer binocular world are night vision binos. If you ever wanted to feel like a Special Forces agent, being able to see in the dark, now you can do it, though the experience might be not as great as you imagined or as the Hollywood movies make it out to be.

There are 3 main types of night vision devices:
1. image intensifiers
2. digital night vision
3. thermal imaging

The first two categories use the available infrared light and convert it into visible light, giving you the familiar green and black picture.
The third category detects the heat radiated by an object. The warmer the object is, the brighter it will be on the image.

Most binoculars available for consumers (and not costing thousands of dollars) will be from the first 2 categories. Digital night vision is the newer technology of the two and we expect it to introduce quite a few new features to the market soon.

When choosing the night vision binoculars, keep in mind several things:

  • be prepared to pay extra. Decent models start at around $400, while the newest generation products can easily cost many thousands
  • don’t expect to get powerful magnification – 2x or 4x is usually the max (digital night vision binoculars often go higher)
  • if you’re trying to see anything in a completely blacked out building or on a particularly cloudy night, you will need either thermal imaging or a source of infrared light. Some binos come with a built-in infrared illuminator that helps when there’s not enough natural infrared light around
The best night vision binocular

ATN BinoX 4-16x BinoX-HD Smart Binocular

a picture of the best night-vision binoculars atn binox

 

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Great buy if you know what you’re getting!

Why did we choose ATN 4-16x BinoXS-HD?

Let’s be clear here: this is a digital night vision consumer device, which means it’s basically a digital camera in the form of binoculars. As such you should not expect it to deliver the same image quality as a comparatively-priced (or even slightly cheaper) classic binoculars. What the BinoX do, however, is offer the plethora of features, including night-vision, picture and video recording, GPS tagging and WiFi connectivity among others. It does not excel at all of those, but as a package, it’s still an attractive offer.

These binos are probably the cheapest way to get into night vision, whether it’s for hunting or wildlife viewing. A decent quality Gen2 or Gen3 night vision device could easily cost several thousand dollars or more, but with these, you can get a taste of what it’s like for several hundred.

PROS:

  • decent quality night vision
  • ability to take a picture or record a video of the what you see

CONS:

  • daytime image quality can be hit or miss
  • battery life could use improvement (users suggest using an external rechargeable USB battery pack with these)

OVERALL:

This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get into night vision. Daytime image quality might be not ideal, but the night-vision image quality is probably the best you can get without spending at least several thousand bucks.

Best compact binoculars

One of the most popular categories of binoculars nowadays is the compact binoculars. These are the trimmed-down version of their bigger full-sized siblings. Because they are much smaller and lighter, it’s much more likely they’ll be picked up whenever you’re heading out.

When we say “compact” binoculars, we usually mean binos that fit in a large pocket or a purse. Most of the time, they will have the objective diameter of 26 or less. Popular models are 8×20, 8×25 and 10×25.

To make them smaller, manufacturers minimize the objective, which results in less light entering the lens, which, in turn, usually means dimmer picture with fewer details. To avoid that, they need to pay special attention to the glass quality, lens coatings and other parts of the manufacturing process. That’s why high-quality compact binos can’t really be found in the lower budget range.

Compact binoculars also usually have smaller field of view and a smaller exit pupil compared to the full-size models. This makes it a bit harder to use them during the darker hours of the day, and may cause some eye fatigue during longer viewing sessions.

It’s not all bad of course, if you go for a reliable brand that knows what they are doing. A good model of compact binoculars can be just as good as a full-size one. And the fact they are so small and light will allow you to take them with you much more often and have way less the “I-wish-I-had-my-binos-with-me” moments.

The best compact binoculars

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10X25

a picture of the best compact binoculars - bushnell legend

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Weighing just 8.1oz, these binos provide great image quality at very affordable price point and easily fit in the jacket pockethttp

Why did we choose Bushnell Legend Ultra HD?

ED glass, phase coated prisms and 10x magnification in fully waterproof and fogproof housing – all weighing just 8.1 oz? What’s not to like here?

PROS:

  • high-quality ED glass optics
  • amazingly light at just 8.1 oz
  • fit in a jacket pocket
  • eye relief 15.5mm

CONS:

  • although expected with such a small size, the field of view is  somewhat smaller at 285′

OVERALL:

Choosing between these and Nikon Trailblazer 8×25 we went with Bushnell for the larger eye relief, that would allow glass wearers to use these binos. Bushnells’ are also a bit smaller and lighter and feature the ED prime glass, usually found on more expensive models.

OTHER OPTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Nikon Trailblazer 8×25 (if you don’t mind slightly larger weight and reduced eye relief – won’t work for glass wearers),

Zeiss 8×25 Terra ED (if you don’t mind spending a bit more, this is a great pair of compact binos from the legendary German manufacturer)

Best marine binoculars

Marine binoculars deserve a separate mention as they truly stand out among “the sea” of generic binoculars. If the primary use of your binos is boating, fishing or any other kind of marine activity, then it makes sense to get the specialized model.

Marine binoculars are different from most other models:

  • magnification and objective diameter: most people try to stick to magnification of 7x and the objective diameter of 50mm. More powerful magnification will make it too difficult to hand hold the binos when on a boat. 50mm objective gathers a lot of light and makes it easy to see even in low light conditions
  • exit pupil: must be large here to make it easier to position the beam of light when on board the vessel
  • material: the housing material should be corrosion-resistant and may feature a colorful design to make it easier to spot your binos should you drop them overboard
  • waterproof, fogproof and buoyant: when there’s water all around, you need to protect your gear. Look for waterproof and fogproof binoculars to stay safe. A good idea is to either buy buoyant binos that will float for at least a few minutes, or get a floating strap afterwards. This way even if you drop your binos in the water, you can easily fish them out, rinse with fresh water and keep using as usual
  • marine specific features: rangefinder and compass. Many marine binoculars will come with compass and a rangefinder (some even come with a laser rangefinder for even more accuracy)
  • image stabilization: if you want to go over the 8x magnification, you might want to look into the image-stabilized models. These battery-powered binos will cost quite a bit more but will allow you to bring your objects much closer
The best marine binoculars

Barska 7X50 WP DeepSea

a picture of the best marine binoculars - barska deepsea

 

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Classic 7×50 configuration in a waterproof/fogproof buoyant housing, designed specifically for nautical and boating enhusiasts

Why did we choose Barska DeepSea?

We loved the huge 7.1 exit pupil the 7×50 configuration provides, coupled with the bright housing that you can easily spot if you accidentally drop it in the water. The field of view is super wide at 395′ and the 23mm eye relief ensures comfortable viewing.

PROS:

  • buoyant
  • bright housing
  • built-in compass and rangefinder

CONS:

  • at almost 2.5 lbs it’s not the lightest pair of binos out there

OVERALL:

Barska DeepSea WP 7×50 offers great field of view and a bright picture in a waterproof and buoyant housing – definitely recommended buy at the price

OTHER OPTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Bushnell 7×50 Marine Binocular (another great option with slightly smaller field of view)

Ultimate Binoculars Comparison Tables

Best 8×42 binoculars

  • Magnification & Objective Diameter
    Magnification tells you how much closer does the object in the binoculars appear. Objective diameter is the size of the fat end of the tube. The bigger the number, the more light gets and the better the picture quality is (but also the bigger and heavier the binoculars are)
  • Prism Type
    Porro or roof design
  • Prism Glass
    Type of glass used for the prism and whether it's been phase corrected
  • Field of View
    Field of view in feet at 1000 yards
  • Exit Pupil
    Exit pupil in mm
  • Eye relief
    Eye relief in mm. Eyeglass wearers should look for 11mm or larger
  • Close Focusing Distance
    Minimum distance where the binoculars can focus
  • IPD
    (interpupillary distance)
    IPD (measured in mm) simply shows the minimum amd maximum distance between the two eyepieces. If you have close set eyes and have run into problems finding binos that fit you in the past, look for IPD of 55-56mm or even lower, if possible
  • Waterproof/fogproof
    Waterproof binoculars have their optical tubes sealed. Fogproof binos have their interior filled with an inert gas - usually argon or nitrogen - this way the lenses won't get fogged from the inside
  • Lenses
    The lens material. For best quality, look for fully-coated lenses. ED glass (Extra Low Dispersion ) is usually found on more expensive models and is considered to provide even clearer picture by removing or lessening effects of chromatic aberration
  • Tripod adaptable
    Can it be mounted on a tripod?
  • Chassis
    What is the housing made of
  • Weight
    Weight in ounces and grams
  • Bushnell Legend L-series 8x42
  • bushnelllegendl_150x150
  • 8x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 426
  • 5.3
  • 19
  • 6.5
  • 56-72
  • ED, fully multi-coated
  • Magnesium alloy
  • 23.5 oz
    666 grams
  • Celestron Trailseeker 8x42
  • celestron71400_150x150
  • 8x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 426
  • 5.3
  • 17
  • 6.5
  • 55-73
  • fully multi-coated
  • Magnesium alloy
  • 23.1 oz
    655 grams
  • Vanguard Endeavour ED 8x42
  • vanguard8x42_150x150
  • 8x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 367
  • 5.3
  • 19
  • 8.2
  • 55-75
  • ED, fully multi-coated
  • Magnesium alloy
  • 25.8 oz
    730 grams
  • Vortex Diamondback 8x42
  • vortexdiamondback2_150x150
  • 8x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 393
  • 5.3
  • 17
  • 5
  • 55-75
  • fully multi-coated
  • aluminum
  • 21.8 oz
    618 grams
  • Celestron Nature DX 8x42
  • celestronnaturedx2_150x150
  • 8x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 388
  • 5.3
  • 17.5
  • 6.5
  • 56-74
  • fully multi-coated
  • polycarbonate
  • 22.2 oz
    629 grams
  • Bushnell NatureView 8x42
  • bushnellnature_150x150
  • 8x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4
  • 393
  • 5.3
  • 17.5
  • 5
  • fully multi-coated
  • 23.1 oz
    654 grams
  • Celestron Granite ED 8x42
  • celestrongraniteed_150x150
  • 8x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 426
  • 5.3
  • 17
  • 6
  • 56-73
  • ED, fully multi-coated
  • Magnesium alloy
  • 23.9 oz
    678 grams
  • Zeiss 8x42 Terra ED
  • zeissterraed_150x150
  • 8x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 375
  • 5.3
  • 18
  • 5.3
  • 56-74
  • ED, fully multi-coated
  • Polyamide
  • 25.4 oz
    720 grams

Best 10×42 binoculars

  • Price
  • Magnification & Objective Diameter
    Magnification tells you how much closer does the object in the binoculars appear. Objective diameter is the size of the fat end of the tube. The bigger the number, the more light gets and the better the picture quality is (but also the bigger and heavier the binoculars are)
  • Prism Type
    Porro or roof design
  • Prism Glass
    Type of glass used for the prism and whether it's been phase corrected
  • Field of View
    Field of view in feet at 1000 yards
  • Exit Pupil
    Exit pupil in mm
  • Eye relief
    Eye relief in mm. Eyeglass wearers should look for 11mm or larger
  • Close Focusing Distance
    Minimum distance where the binoculars can focus
  • IPD
    (interpupillary distance)
    IPD (measured in mm) simply shows the minimum amd maximum distance between the two eyepieces. If you have close set eyes and have run into problems finding binos that fit you in the past, look for IPD of 55-56mm or even lower, if possible
  • Waterproof/fogproof
    Waterproof binoculars have their optical tubes sealed. Fogproof binos have their interior filled with an inert gas - usually argon or nitrogen - this way the lenses won't get fogged from the inside
  • Lenses
    The lens material. For best quality, look for fully-coated lenses. ED glass (Extra Low Dispersion ) is usually found on more expensive models and is considered to provide even clearer picture by removing or lessening effects of chromatic aberration
  • Tripod adaptable
    Can it be mounted on a tripod?
  • Chassis
    What is the housing made of
  • Weight
    Weight in ounces and grams
  • Vanguard Endeavor ED 10x42
  • vanguardendeavour_230x230
  • 10x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 343
  • 4.2
  • 16.5
  • 8.2
  • 58-74
  • ED, fully multi-coated
  • Magnesium alloy
  • 25.8 oz
    730 grams
  • Zeiss 10x42 Terra ED
  • zeiss10x42_230x230
  • 10x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 330
  • 4.2
  • 15
  • 5.3
  • 58-76
  • ED, fully multi-coated
  • Polyamide
  • 25.6 oz
    726 grams
  • Vortex 10x42 Diamondback
  • vortexdia10_230x230
  • 10x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 330
  • 4.2
  • 15
  • 6.7
  • 55-75
  • fully multi-coated
  • Aluminum
  • 21.4 oz
    607 grams
  • Redfield 10x42 Rebel
  • redfieldrebel10x42_230x230
  • 10x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 341
  • 4.2
  • 16.3
  • 4.3
  • 58-73
  • fully multi-coated
  • Aluminum
  • 26.4 oz
    748 grams
  • Celestron 10x42 Nature DX
  • celestron10_230x230
  • 10x42
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 304
  • 4.2
  • 14
  • 6.5
  • 56-74
  • fully multi-coated
  • polycarbonate
  • 22.2 oz
    629 grams

Best 10×50 binoculars

  • Price
  • Magnification & Objective Diameter
    Magnification tells you how much closer does the object in the binoculars appear. Objective diameter is the size of the fat end of the tube. The bigger the number, the more light gets and the better the picture quality is (but also the bigger and heavier the binoculars are)
  • Prism Type
    Porro or roof design
  • Prism Glass
    Type of glass used for the prism and whether it's been phase corrected
  • Field of View
    Field of view in feet at 1000 yards
  • Exit Pupil
    Exit pupil in mm
  • Eye relief
    Eye relief in mm. Eyeglass wearers should look for 11mm or larger
  • Close Focusing Distance
    Minimum distance where the binoculars can focus
  • IPD
    (interpupillary distance)
    IPD (measured in mm) simply shows the minimum amd maximum distance between the two eyepieces. If you have close set eyes and have run into problems finding binos that fit you in the past, look for IPD of 55-56mm or even lower, if possible
  • Waterproof/fogproof
    Waterproof binoculars have their optical tubes sealed. Fogproof binos have their interior filled with an inert gas - usually argon or nitrogen - this way the lenses won't get fogged from the inside
  • Lenses
    The lens material. For best quality, look for fully-coated lenses. ED glass (Extra Low Dispersion ) is usually found on more expensive models and is considered to provide even clearer picture by removing or lessening effects of chromatic aberration
  • Tripod adaptable
    Can it be mounted on a tripod?
  • Chassis
    What is the housing made of
  • Weight
    Weight in ounces and grams
  • Nikon 10x50 Action Extreme ATB
  • nikon7245_230x230
  • 10x50
  • Porro
  • BAK-4
  • 342
  • 5
  • 17
  • 23
  • 56-72
  • fully multi-coated
  • all-metal in polycarbonate shell
  • 36 oz
    1021 grams
  • Bushnell 10x50 Legacy WP
  • bushnelllegacywp_230x230
  • 10x50
  • Porro
  • BAK-4
  • 341
  • 5
  • 18
  • 18
  • fully multi-coated
  • 30.5 oz
    865 grams
  • Nikon 10x50 Aculon A211
  • nikonaculon_230x230
  • 10x50
  • Porro
  • BAK-4
  • 341
  • 5
  • 11.8
  • 23
  • 56-72
  • multi-coated
  • 31.7 oz
    899 grams
  • Redfield 10x50 Renegade
  • redfield10x50_230x230
  • 10x50
  • Porro
  • BAK-4
  • 347
  • 5
  • 18
  • 17.3
  • 60-73
  • fully multi-coated
  • Aluminum
  • 31.3 oz
    887 grams
  • Vortex 10x50 Viper HD
  • vortexviperhd_230x230
  • 10x50
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 278
  • 5
  • 19.5
  • 8.2
  • 59-75
  • ED, fully multi-coated
  • polycarbonate
  • 28.4 oz
    805 grams

Best Compact binoculars

  • Price
  • Magnification & Objective Diameter
    Magnification tells you how much closer does the object in the binoculars appear. Objective diameter is the size of the fat end of the tube. The bigger the number, the more light gets and the better the picture quality is (but also the bigger and heavier the binoculars are)
  • Prism Type
    Porro or roof design
  • Prism Glass
    Type of glass used for the prism and whether it's been phase corrected
  • Field of View
    Field of view in feet at 1000 yards
  • Exit Pupil
    Exit pupil in mm
  • Eye relief
    Eye relief in mm. Eyeglass wearers should look for 11mm or larger
  • Close Focusing Distance
    Minimum distance where the binoculars can focus
  • IPD
    (interpupillary distance)
    IPD (measured in mm) simply shows the minimum amd maximum distance between the two eyepieces. If you have close set eyes and have run into problems finding binos that fit you in the past, look for IPD of 55-56mm or even lower, if possible
  • Waterproof/fogproof
    Waterproof binoculars have their optical tubes sealed. Fogproof binos have their interior filled with an inert gas - usually argon or nitrogen - this way the lenses won't get fogged from the inside
  • Lenses
    The lens material. For best quality, look for fully-coated lenses. ED glass (Extra Low Dispersion ) is usually found on more expensive models and is considered to provide even clearer picture by removing or lessening effects of chromatic aberration
  • Tripod adaptable
    Can it be mounted on a tripod?
  • Chassis
    What is the housing made of
  • Weight
    Weight in ounces and grams
  • Nikon 8x25 Trailblazer ATB
  • nikontrailblazer_230x230
  • 8x25
  • Roof
  • BAK-4
  • 429
  • 3.1
  • 10
  • 8.2
  • 56-72
  • multi-coated
  • 9.9 oz
    280 grams
  • Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x25
  • bushnelllegend8x25_230x230
  • 10x25
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 285
  • 2.5
  • 15.5
  • 6
  • ED, fully multi-coated
  • Magnesium alloy
  • 8.1 oz
    230 grams
  • Minox BV 8x25 BRW
  • minox_230x230
  • 8x25
  • Roof
  • BAK-4
  • 389
  • 3.1
  • 15.5
  • 4.9
  • fully multi-coated
  • Aluminum
  • 9.1 oz
    257 grams
  • Kowa 8x25 BD25-8 Roof
  • kowa_230x230
  • 8x25
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 331
  • 3.1
  • 15.8
  • 6
  • 56-74
  • fully multi-coated
  • 10.6 oz
    300 grams
  • Zeiss 8x32 Terra ED
  • zeiss8x32_230x230
  • 8x32
  • Roof
  • BAK-4, phase corrected
  • 405
  • 4
  • 16.5
  • 4.9
  • 56-74
  • ED, fully multi-coated
  • polyamide
  • 18 oz
    510 grams