When it comes to hiking or camping in nature it is nice to be able to see all the animals around you at a closer view. Binoculars are a great tool to help you bird watch or even help while you are out on the lake fishing to get a better look. There are many things to consider when purchasing a great pair on binoculars including the weight, the clarity, and the distance you can see until. If you are a bird enthusiast and can sit in a spot watching birds all day then the weight is not really an issue for you. Watching fast-paced or moving objects you are going to want a larger and clearer field of view so you can see all that is going on. We have reviewed the top ten best binoculars in the market today below.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 19 hrs of research
Water/ Fog proof
Extra long eye relief
- Carson 3D series
- Sallous Small Compact
- Wingspan Optics NatureScout 8X32
- AUROSPORTS Folding
- Nikon 8245 ACULON A211
- Vanguard ED 1042
- Nikon Monarch 7
- Celestron 71404 TrailSeeker
- Bushnell Legend Ultra HD M-Series
- Vortex Optics Vulture HD
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Carson 3D series
Water/ Fog proof
Extra long eye relief
The Carson company has done a great job in the design for sure. The features on these are almost everything you will ever really need. They have everything from viewing quality to durability and even comfortability not skipping anything in between.Read more
Price for this item is a little tricky. It is properly priced but they don’t have any features drawing someone in making them want to pay this much for this class of binocular. If you are going to spend this much money you can find a lot better pair.
When it comes to the end of the day these are basically a run of the mill and mundane pair. That being said they do stand behind their product 100% by offering what is supposed to be one of the best warranties you can find out there. If you are they everyday guy that wants a little better binocular but do not want to jump to “the pro’s” then this would be a perfect choice for you. An amazing field of view comes along with all the other perks these have to offer. They claim to be able to see 314 feet at 1,000 yards out. This is outstanding! Perfect for watching a large area without having to constantly scan the horizon for what you are looking for because you can nearly see the whole darn thing. the weight for these are neither good nor are they bad. They are not the heaviest set out there by any means but if weight is an issue for you I recommend heading back up this list. If weight is not an issue and run of the mill is okay for you then these are it.
The ED glass lenses that are equipped, provide for a very clear and bright view of your subject allowing these to be used for any activity. Extra long eye relief also gives these an ultimate comfort by not making the user be jammed up against them but with a little more room between. Also, they come with dielectric coated BAK-4 Prisms so they are up there with the best view you can buy for sure.
As far as water and fog proof goes, yes they are decent at that. Although the actual grip on theses is not super graspable. Sure you can hold them just fine but when the weather rolls in you may want to just put these little guys away.
2. Sallous Small Compact
Small and compact
Easy to focus
If you know the brand name Sallous then you know they are renowned for their quality of work that they put out and this pair is no exception to the outstanding craftsmanship with this Sallous small compact pair being no exception. This binocular is known for its clear view and having 10x magnification with a 25 mm objective lens. This feature allows you to see objects ten x’s closer with clarity especially when it comes to nature and for bird watching. It has a wonderful large view field of 378ft/1,000Yds. You are even able to focus on details over 1,000 yards away from you. There is a middle knob that helps with the clarity of your view to help even children focus more on objects they are looking at. These Sallous Small Compact binoculars are known for being great for wildlife watching, concerts, opera, hiking, bird watching, and even theatre shows. They are very small and lightweight and even come with a carrying case making them even easier to take around with you.Read more
They are extremely inexpensive for what they are although the used prices can be very, very affordable so these may start a wild goose chase to find the right price. They are below $20.00 and especially for their longevity and their features, these binoculars are a wonderful deal.
The field of view for these are pretty standard and like not like most on this list where others have exceptionally wide fields of view and shine brightly these do not in this area. They have a 378ft/1,000Yds field of view. That being said, they do have a very close focusing range up to near about 8 feet. They even have a focus knob in the middle of the binoculars to turn to help with better clarity and focus when needed. Coming in at a whopping .49 pounds these bad boys can definitely be considered the tanks of the binocular world and are very lightweight and compact. They are just 4.5*3.9*1.2inches. With this size and weight, you get the aluminum case accompanied by a rubber armored housing to keep them all peachy when they accidentally take a tumble. These binoculars are 10x magnification with a 25 mm objective lens that allows you to see objects 10x’s closer up.
The quality of the view on these is very good especially compared to others out on the market. Not to say they have the best view but they are very great when it comes to clear visibility. They come with a multi-coated lens system that not only allows for a pretty good view but unlike a lot of others, these do it well in low light situations as well which is a hard quality to find. While the design and overall quality are thriving like no other the weight of this item makes it very practical in today’s world. If you have to do much hiking we’d probably recommend these especially if you have children and will be going through all types of weather conditions then yes go for it for sure.
If you have crazy kids or you yourself a bit clumsy of a person then these things are definitely for you! These things are like tanks and very weatherproof with their all-weather gripping and the overall quality of these are just so well built that you really have no worries of drops and dings.
3. Wingspan Optics NatureScout 8X32
Wide field of focus
If you are looking for a good pair that are easy to store anywhere including those filled backpacking backpacks these are a good option. Being extremely affordable anyone from the hardcore backcountry backpacker to the diehard sports fan in the nose bleeds will be able to consider these an option.Read more
The price is another pair that lands in the reach of nearly any type of users. This is great because it allows the compact yet great quality to anyone out there wanting to utilize a tool like this and they can do it no matter their budget.
When it comes down to overall quality, performance, and durability of just about anything you want a company to be confident they thrive in all areas and stand behind their product. One of the many reasons these are often highly recommended is that Wingspan Optics is one of those companies and they show it by offering a lifetime warranty on their products. So overall is a quality option at an affordable price and being guaranteed a solution if something does go wrong, how could you not consider this one of the top options on your buying list?
Wielding a BAK-4 roof prism and a fully multi-coated lens coating these little guys pack a big punch. The quality of view on these is nothing short of being considered HD by any means putting out great clarity and colored views. The field of view was not compromised by size when these were designed not one bit. Having a very nice and wide field of view will allow the user to view nearly everything that is at a distance that they want to.
While offering waterproofing and even claiming to be drop proof, they don’t seem to be fog proof. This could be become a problem in some weather conditions by fogging up the viewing area.
4. AUROSPORTS Folding
Dual focus capability
Not good in low light
If you’re looking for a compact and lightweight option and are on a budget then this is your answer hands down! Cost wise it is extremely affordable yet at the same time does not skimp on features.Read more
While most on our list kind of up there in price these are the complete opposite and are extremely affordable even for the broke nomad trying to cut weight in his pack.
While these may be small the field of view is right behind it in size. The viewing area again is not small by any means but definitely not the widest out on the market for sure. Weighing in at an astonishing 0.34lbs it is compact and even folds to take up less space while you’re hitting the hiking trails or carrying it around anywhere you, please. Highly recommended to anyone especially someone looking to cut weight in a backpack without sacrificing too much quality.
Coated with the BAK-4 prisms the view is extremely clear and colorful. But that’s all they have to offer for image quality. But hey at least it is the BAK-4 prisms. When it comes down to it these may be at the bottom of our list although they do serve a great purpose for those looking for something compact and lightweight. If you are a backpacker, these right here are your best friends.
They are also outfitted with non-slip rubber that also protects from the shock of dropping not to mention they are waterproof.
5. Nikon 8245 ACULON A211
Easy and comfortable to use
A bit bulky
Nikon has made a name for itself especially in the photo and video worlds and their quality has carried straight on over to their manufacturing. Now yes there are some immediate concerns when you first lay eyes on them such as their noticeably bigger stature compared to all of the other options our list here. But not everything is about looks.Read more
This is perhaps one of the most budget-friendly choices on this list allowing nearly anyone to be able to purchase them on any budget.
The field of view on these are actually very large. Expanding almost 100 feet more than most of the other options out there today. These are extremely heavy once again and not to mention very bulky design. If size and weight is not an issue for you then do not hesitate to buy these! They are cheap compared to the market and don’t produce the best image like others but again to the untrained eye you will not notice a difference. If the size isn’t an issue and the budget is, do not hesitate because these are for you!
These are accompanied by the Eco-Glass lenses which produce an okay quality image. Also, it is given the roof prism design which is highly sought after in the binocular design.
Nikon 8245 is very comfortable to use and focus in right on top of your subject while holding onto what Nikon calls “Rubber-Armored Coating” which allows you to keep that firm and steady grip at all times no matter the conditions
6. Vanguard ED 1042
Great performance in low light
Wide field of view
Quite expensive for the quality it offers
The open bridge on this Vanguard pair makes usage a little more comfortable and the qualities below Vanguard backs these with a complete lifetime warranty. So lets put them through the wringer and see how they do.Read more
This particular pair is actually reasonably priced for what they offer. You can get all of the fun stuff and not break the bank when going after these babies.
Although just like most on this list, comprise of outstanding ED glass, all weatherproof/fog proof, BAK-4 prisms making the viewing experience a very pleasant experience. Now what sets these apart from the competition is they do all of this great work producing a clear and colorful image but they also do it in low light conditions and do it well. The view you get while looking down range from these is actually not bad. It offers an exceptionally wide area to view from and to top it off they do well up close and personal as well as distant as you need to be. The quality of this Vanguard pair shows that sometimes to get all the good things you want you have to sacrifice something and that is the weight. If you want to compare to the others and get down to the nitty-gritty (which you have to do since most are very close) then these are a tad on the heavy side. That being said they only weigh about 1.6 pounds.
The Endeavor ED 1042’s are not a bad choice for those that want a good quality pair without hitting the bank too much. Besides being on the heavy side and the grip missing from existence these are very recommendable. Especially with a lifetime warranty, you can not really go wrong here.
For weather conditions rolling in putting them away is a thought that may cross your mind, well not with these. They are fully water and fog proof. Although there does not seem to be much actual grip to hold onto in a wet situation.
7. Nikon Monarch 7
Dielectric High reflective prism coating
Water & Fog proof
Rubber non-slip all weather coating
Quick and easy to operate
A bit on the expensive side
When it comes to Nikon they are no strangers to the optical game by any means and they keep that reputation going strong. Nikon has been making the Monarch series for a few generations now, improving each one tenfold as they move forward. All of the Monarch’s that Nikon has put out have been spectacular but with the latest Monarch 7, they have outdone themselves thus the top spot on our list.Read more
These have all of the features anyone would want or need while doing so at the highest of qualities and it shows in the price. These are expensive and not for you if you are not going to be using them either for something that you only need them every few weeks or months. That being said, you get what you pay for and these have everything.
The Dielectric high reflective prism they have applied to the lenses allows for the ultimate contrast and true color experience. And if that wasn’t enough they went the extra mile to use extra-low dispersion glass that is non-reflective glass that cuts down on glare. While most pairs these days are pretty lightweight these are no exception. Coming in at a weight of merely 1.3 pounds they are near the lowest of weights in their class.
Very large Field of view is sort of an understatement when it comes to this viewing area. Some have said there may be a slight blurring on the complete outer edge but when we are talking about the edge we are literally talking about a very small and minuscule portion that doesn’t seem to be much of an issue if at all. Not to mention it holds one of the widest fields of views out on the market today.
If you were to ask for more out of the weatherproofing on these you would be asking for the impossible. They are completely water and fog proof keeping them in working condition even in the most wicked storms mother nature has to offer. The fear of dropping these are not an issue whatsoever with their non-slip, rubber, all-weather coating.
8. Celestron 71404 TrailSeeker
Very reasonably priced
BAK-4 Prisms with phase and dielectric coatings
Extremely wide field of view
Close and distant viewing options
Does not perform so well in fog
To the naked eye, the Celestron pair looks pretty simple and yet that is what makes it so beautiful. Celestron’s sleek design not only is appealing but they have managed to pack in many great features. These might be a better option for you if you just want a pair for weekend viewing and not all of the time.Read more
The Celestron pair is pretty decently priced. Considering all of the high-quality components that are included it’s a great deal and definitely stays on the lower end of today’s products on the market.
The field of view is more than good it amazing. The extremely wide field of view allows for minimal movement back and forth to look at objects because everything tends to be in view up close and far away. Just when you think it couldn’t get any better, the weight is only 1.45 pounds and is about the size of the average cell phone! It keeps everything compact and at the ready any time you may need to look down range. All and all this product is pretty darn good. Its everything you would want although I would be cautious about the whole not being fog proof ordeal. If you are not going to be in wet conditions then these are highly recommended!
The Celestron pair comes with phase and dielectric coatings on their BAK-4 prisms. The color quality you get from this pair is defiantly above par. Not only were the colors nice and vivid but the clarity was outstanding as well.
This is where this particular pair falls apart. Not only does the body not have much if any grip to hold on in different conditions, but these are not fog proof which is a huge deal. That being said these are waterproof so it didn’t completely fall short.
9. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD M-Series
ED Prime Glass
Locking eyepiece diopter
Dielectric coating allowing up to 92% light transmission
Great value for the money
A bit pricier than competitive models
The Bushnell brand has been around this market for some time and they know what they are doing. This Bushnell pair can be used for everything from bird watching, to hunting, and any other outdoors enthusiast’s desire and does it well across the spectrum.Read more
While looking for the right pair you might find yourself getting up there in the price you will find these near the top of the list for what you are getting. For this price, you may want to keep looking. Although they are one of the more expensive choices for the quality you get they are by no means a bad purchase. These will get you through any type of activity and do it well since they are so versatile. If you will be jumping tasks often then definitely take these into consideration.
The field of view is by no means small yet it is nothing to bat an eye at. It is definitely just mid ranged ranking amongst the other products out there. This is one of the only places where they are not bad but just don’t shine.
This particular pair includes ED Prime Glass allowing for a pretty good view down range. The dielectric coating allows up to about 92% of light transmission making the subject very visible in any condition.
The weatherproofing is a focal point on the Bushnell pair. With what they call their complete rainguard it will stand up to any water or fog you throw its way. That being said the body seems pretty slick and doesn’t have much to hold onto.
10. Vortex Optics Vulture HD
High density/Extra-low dispersion HD images
Anti-reflective lens coating
Enhanced resolution and contrast
Dirt, oil, and scratch-resistant
Heavier than most models
When it comes to quality and reliability Vortex Optics has you covered. Their products are so trusted that in some places even law enforcement relies on Vortex Optics’ HD line of sight and for good reason. Every piece used to make the Vortex Optics Vulture is all high-quality material both in durability and in utilization.Read more
The price of these is absolutely ridiculous. Why their price is so high for such a mediocre product is beyond us but if the law enforcement buys them they must get some business.
For the weight, it is another one that you might want to look away. These bad boys come in at an astonishing 2.5 pounds and are very bulky. Recommending these to a friend or family member would be cruel and unusual punishment maybe save it for that guy at the office that annoys you that you can pawn it off on him as a joke. But all joking aside the quality of the image is decent but there are so many other downsides that do not out weight the good or the product itself.
Outstanding HD images are produced by these along with anti-reflective lens coating to prevent glare. They brag to have enhanced resolution and contrast. Field of view for these are once again nothing special. They are not bad by any means but they do not stand out against the competition.
These have not specifications on being water or fog proof which is a huge concern. But they do very well against dirt, oil, and scratches.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
If you look closely at the prices you will notice that there are the cheap type that may or may not suit your needs, and then there is a little more pricey pair. There isn’t much in between on this market so sit down and think where, when, why you will be using them and decide if you really need to spend a few hundred dollars for just a sporting event every other month versus an avid birdwatcher or hiker that goes out every week or so to use them. You don’t want to spend the money and have them be a paperweight.
We cannot forget about magnification, it is a huge key component. The magnification level is the numbers shown with a little x thrown in the middle of two numbers. For the first number, the number represents how much closer objects will seem to you or commonly known as the magnification of the lens. Now the second number tells you how big (in millimeters) the lens actually is. With a bigger lens, it makes it easier to see in lower light conditions because the lens can let more light into the binocular. Now yes we have talked some about field of view already, but we are going to talk about it a little more because it is important. The FOV tells you how much you are actually going to be able to see while looking down range without having to move side to side. This is important because it is great if you can see thousands of miles away but if you FOV is too small you are going to have to move around a lot just to follow your target. Large FOV has its benefits in any way you are going to use your pair.
To start the first two biggest questions to ask yourself are what will you be using them for most and secondly, along with the same lines, is how serious of a binocular user you plan to be. When it boils down to it we all want to be serious consumers about every purchase we make, although they do not have to be a life decision for someone that will only occasionally use them. Now, by all means, do not skimp because you get what you pay for but if you pay the price and not utilize them you might be upset; we want the ultimate goal to be satisfied for the whole time you own these. Now back to the somewhat more important matter which is what you will be using them for most.
Also, consider a greater magnification level if you know you will be quite distant from your subject you might need a great magnification. And last but not least, if you are going to be around any kind of moisture the waterproof/fog-proofing are a must! When water finds its way in there it is nearly impossible to clear them up anytime soon. All of that will get you started on your journey to finding the perfect pair for you and your lifestyle.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Keep in mind to look out for binoculars on the list that are fog proof which out in the wilderness can easily be necessary during the wet or damp seasons. Having waterproof or fog proof binoculars also means they are protected from the dust and particles which can end up ruining your view. Making sure you get the best quality in binoculars and views.
Consider a greater magnification level if you know you will be quite distant from your subject you might need a great magnification. And last but not least, if you are going to be around any kind of moisture the waterproof/fog-proofing are a must! When water finds its way in there it is nearly impossible to clear them up anytime soon. All of that will get you started on your journey to finding the perfect pair for you and your lifestyle.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What does low dispersion mean?
Dispersion of light means that when the light passes through the lens it is refracted and the light is bent, so to speak, slightly altering colors. With the low dispersion glass used, it cuts the refraction of the light down, in turn, giving you more true and vibrant colors.
q: What is binocular eye relief?
Eye relief refers to the maximum distance your eye can be from the eyepiece and still be able to attain the full angle of view. This helps allow your face to not constantly be jammed up against the device allowing more comfort for the user.
q: What does dielectric coating mean?
Dielectric coatings are the top of the line coatings that are used inside that reflects at or just over 99% reflectivity allowing for the image to be brighter and more clear.
q: What does field of view mean?
Field of view is quite straightforward. This tells you how wide of a view you have while looking down range. The bigger the number means the wider the angle thus allowing you to see more area in front of you.
q: What is bak4 prism?
Not only do you usually find these in most higher-end binoculars they serve an important purpose when it comes to light let into the field of view. The BaK4’s allow more light to enter the outsides of the lenses permitting things towards the edges of the field of view to be further illuminated and therefore making it easier to see things to the sides.