Last Updated MAY 2017
Nowadays, with such a vast array of products that exist in the current market, it’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you have been having trouble deciding what the best hunting binoculars are, we’re here to give you a helping hand. One of the first pieces of advice we can give you is to read as much info as your time allows you to. Go through several hunting binocular reviews by customers, pay attention to the product description, and research the manufacturing brand and its reputation.
Be sure to correlate your needs and preferences with the features you’re looking for in your new binoculars. Estimate your budget and analyze your options accordingly. If you want to save some time, have a look at the following buying guide we have created for your consideration.
15 points to look for when selecting the right hunting binoculars
Although one might be tempted to believe that bigger is better, the rule doesn’t always apply when it comes to binoculars destined for hunting. A magnification of 7x to 10x is more than adequate for all types of hunting. The higher the magnification, the lower the image steadiness; no one wants to steady a 10x binocular after a long tiring hike.
It is true that there are several large observation binoculars you may wish to choose from if you’re interested in using them for hunting. However, these units almost always require the use of a tripod, which for most users may prove to be tedious in the long run. Zoom binoculars come with a number of disadvantages that are worth taking into account. The vast majority of the manufacturers out there don’t commit to making their zoom binoculars waterproof, and most of the models in the line aren’t made for hard use.
There’s a myriad of hunters out there who are under the impression that buying a 10x binocular is simply better than choosing a 7x one. Regrettably, this isn’t an upgrade at all, and if you are looking to get more magnification, what you need to purchase and use is a spotting scope.
The magnification of a pair of binoculars has to be associated with the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters.
2. Objective size
The objective size is synonymous with the second number in what you might see as 7×40. Typically, a 40 or 42mm objective can work with virtually any kind of hunting. The larger the objective, the more detail you will be able to see. However, a 50mm lens can be considerably more expensive than a 40mm one, but it does wonders when it comes to hunting at night. If you strictly plan on hunting during legal hours, it wouldn’t hurt to go for an objective size around 40mm.
The larger the lens, the heavier it is. If you are looking for portability, there’s always the option of choosing a 32mm objective, but it might be counterproductive in the end, as you’ll be able to see just a limited amount of detail. Anything under 30mm might be unsatisfactory, particularly if you ever intend on hunting in low light conditions.
Shortly, the main idea behind choosing the right objective size is that the large ones that can be purchased nowadays are bulkier but let in a lot more light than the smaller ones, which are lighter but less precise.
3. Field of view
The field of view of a unit is oftentimes expressed as FOV at 1000 yards. In a nutshell, this will be the area in feet that you’ll be able to visualize using your binoculars at a distance of 1000 yards. A small number means that the area you’ll be seeing is narrow. The higher the number, the wider the area. It goes without saying that, as you use the magnification, the picture will become smaller, as will the field of view.
There isn’t a universal rule when it comes to choosing the right field of view. On this account, people who are interested in utilizing their binoculars in wide-open areas might benefit from a higher FOV. Unless you’re targeting fast-moving game, you don’t require a higher FOV.
Image quality is generally thought of as being far more important than the field of view, especially since a standard FOV can be considered more than adequate for the majority of hunting.
4. Exit pupil and relative brightness index
Both the magnification and the objective size are the two details that determine the size of the exit pupil, of which the role is to allow light through to the eye. The exit pupil is defined by a number that results from dividing the objective size by the magnification factor.
Normally, the higher the exit pupil, the larger the amount of light that you’ll be able to visualize. Since it’s difficult to get the right objective diameter, magnification, field of view, and exit pupil, it might be a good idea to refer to the size of the human pupil. In young people, the eye pupil is capable of dilating up to 7mm, whereas, in the elderly, it can dilate up to 4 mm. In this case, the rule of thumb is to choose hunting binoculars that feature an exit pupil with the same size or larger than the one you have in your eye.
The relative brightness index can be calculated by finding out the square of the pupil. In dim light, an RBI that is higher or equal to 25 is traditionally thought of as the best alternative.
5. Prism type
The prism you may find in hunting binoculars can be split into two main categories: roof prisms and porro prisms. The first design is considered by some somewhat more usable than the second, as it’s more lightweight and has a slimmer dimension since it is in direct line with the eyepiece. It reflects the light five times. Nevertheless, the main drawback of choosing a roof prism is that it is considerably more expensive than its counterpart.
A porro prism needs a larger body in order to reflect the light four times. The main drawback of this type of prism is that it is not in direct line with the eyepiece, and that is why the objective might look like it is a bit above the eyepiece. Even so, if you are looking for a relatively affordable pair of hunting binoculars, you might need to check this type of prism.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to say which type is better than the other, as there are many factors to take into account. For example, the manufacturing tolerances, the glass quality, and even the design all have a say when it comes to how you perceive the prism.
6. Focus type
Depending on the focus type, binoculars can come either with an individual eyepiece focus or with a center focus. From what we’ve seen, individual focus binoculars provide excellent results in regards to medium and long distance work. When the user is visualizing the game beyond 30 to 40 yards, IF binoculars don’t even need any focusing at all, but that’s not the main reason they’re so popular among various types of buyers, including the military. In actuality, they are much easier to waterproof and have no external parts, therefore being a lot more durable.
Center focus is the best when your game is closer than 30 yards, in which case an IF binocular will be very slow.
7. Eye relief
Eye relief is a crucial consideration for people who use eyeglasses or sunglasses. It can be defined as the distance that a user can hold his or her binoculars from his or her eye, while still being able to see the entire image. If you wear glasses, our advice to you is to research models of which the eye relief measures at least fourteen to fifteen mm. Just remember, a poor eye relief or rather, the lack of, will cause you to suffer from a reduced field of view.
8. Optical coatings
Optical coatings are added to the glass surface of the objective in order to reduce or downright eliminate light reflection. Light loss and glare are two things that you might not come across in a binocular with an optical coating, but you’ll definitely stumble upon them if your model doesn’t have any good coating. Brighter and clearer images often come from the quality of the optical coating.
If the model you want to purchase has coated optics, this means that at least one glass surface on at least one lens has been covered with an anti-reflective coating. Other units nowadays are fully coated, multi-coated, and fully multi-coated. FMC might be a tad too expensive for some buyers, but multi-coated alternatives do what they are supposed to do, in that they have received many anti-reflective coatings.
The better the coating, the higher the amount of light you will be getting, so if you are invested in getting the best binoculars for hunting, you might want to consider spending a bit more and getting a pair that is at least multi-coated.
9. Image quality
Excellent image quality is a must only when you plan on using your binoculars for several hours at a time. If, on the other hand, you plan on glassing occasionally to distinguish whether something you have seen is either a rock or a deer, fair image quality will do.
Getting a good, dependable, and optically capable unit nowadays is a bit tricky, particularly if you want both good image quality and waterproofness. Most of the models that meet these criteria cost around one hundred dollars. If you’re looking for excellence, we urge you to consider units over the one hundred and fifty dollar price point.
Some of the brands that manufacture good binoculars in regards to the image quality and the number of years you’ll be able to use them are Zeiss, Leica, Nikon, and others. The neat thing about the models released by these companies is that they will never fatigue your eyes, regardless of how many hours you end up using the unit.
10. Size and weight
Regardless of how capable they may be, full-size binoculars can sometimes weigh up to two pounds and even more. The type and amount of glass used in the product development process have a say when it comes to the final weight of the unit. Whatever the case, if you’re on your way to a hunting expedition and plan to carry a large pair of binoculars around your neck, you might be in for some nasty surprises.
In addition, considering compact binoculars might be the right way to go about things if you’re into hiking. However, you have to keep in mind that going for a 30 or a 30mm objective model might be the right thing to do if you want to protect your neck and back, but it might be the wrong decision if you’re looking for the best performance.
11. Rubber coating and waterproofness
Rubber coating is paramount these days, as it will make the binoculars easy to hold even during wet conditions. Furthermore, this kind of coating can protect your model in the long run.
As for waterproofness, it’s probably one of the crucial details to consider if you want your model to be resistant to dirt, grime, dust, and the elements. Waterproofing is the exact feature that makes it possible for the binocular not to fog up or leak. On this account, fog proof units are some kind of by-product of waterproofing.
12. Binocular accessories
Occasionally, the manufacturer will include a limited set of accessories in the package you’ll have delivered at your address. Straps, cases, and body harnesses can either come with the model you end up choosing or be purchased separately.
The strap can be used for hanging the binoculars around your neck, although this might be uncomfortable with larger and heavier units. The body harness can eliminate the strain felt around the neck by supporting the weight of the binoculars across the upper body and shoulders. A case comes in handy when you want to protect your binoculars from either damage or scratches, particularly when you are not using them. In spite of the rubber coating, drops and shocks can seriously take their toll on the waterproofness of a product, which is why sometimes it’s a good idea to look into purchasing a pair of shock-resistant binoculars.
Since there’s such a broad variety of products that are now available on the market, it’s difficult to say
what price is the absolute best. When it comes to the right value offered for the right cost, we suggest you analyze your expectations and budget and then consider the characteristics we have mentioned above.
The more expensive the model, the higher the chance it has been constructed using high-quality glass and a higher number of coatings. Some models can be as expensive as nine hundred dollars, but they can prevent eye strain altogether, which is why they’re destined for frequent use. Depending on the manufacturer and quality of materials, you have a high chance of using the same pair of binoculars for a decade and more, provided you decide to invest in it.
Good-quality units can be found for three and four hundred dollars, so it’s not mandatory to spend a fortune to get the binoculars you’ve been dreaming of.
So long as you’re invested in performing a thorough research, you might have to check out some of the best hunting binoculars reviews. Other users can let you know just what to expect in terms of dependability, image quality, optical coatings, and eye relief. Some buyers go through the effort of putting together detailed reviews, where they explain just what they’ve liked and disliked about a certain model.
Believe it or not, it might be a better idea to talk to a consultant or seller, ask for the opinion of a friend or acquaintance, and read some online reviews, than to trust the product description. Each individual’s eyesight is different. Some hunters wear glasses and others do not. Some folks are interested in fast-moving game that’s usually found in deep forests, whereas others like to hunt on planes.
15. Country of origin and brand
In spite of it not being the deal-breaking detail to take into account, the country of origin of the product you will be buying actually means a lot. There is no right and wrong when it comes to constructing good-quality products, even though some users say they are under the impression that Asian units might be less reliable. However, it is reassuring to know that the brand you’ve chosen has a subsidiary in your state or country.
Nobody says that you’ll run into issues with the warranty or the customer service, but these two matter a great deal when you’re willing to spend over five hundred dollars on a pair of new binoculars. Well-known companies have a reputation for developing high-quality units for a very long time.
Top 5 Best Hunting Binoculars with Reviews
This Vortex Optics alternative is one of the top rated products in the line, which comes as no surprise considering the number of features it comes with. For one, it has an O-ring that can seal any kind of debris and moisture and can make it impossible for it to penetrate the binocular. Thus, the unit is both fog proof and waterproof.
The is a fully multi-coated model that offers excellent image quality on account of its high-density extra-low dispersion glass.
The Vortex Optics Viper HD 10×42 beats the game when it comes to customer reviews, as there are many buyers who claim that the rubberized body and comfortable grip of this alternative cannot be matched by any other one. Some individuals have mentioned that this model might be a little heavier than expected, and that it has a smaller field of view compared to others.
The package includes an extensive array of accessories, ranging from a rain guard and comfort neck strap to a deluxe padded carry case.
Leica is one of the most popular brands in the world, particularly in regards to constructing lenses that are unparalleled in their high quality. Aside from binoculars, the brand produces some of the best cameras and microscopes that exist in the world.
Compared to the unit we have showcased above, this one is far superior and comes with all the characteristics any hunter might ever be looking for. However, there’s also a drawback to choosing this model, in that it is considerably less affordable than others that exist in the line. Even so, packed with advanced ballistic compensation, an inclinometer, a barometer, and a thermometer, this unit is definitely worth having a look at.
The model is waterproof and fog proof, but that comes as no surprise since it’s nitrogen-filled. This is one of the easiest to use models we’ve come across during our entire research and practically makes hunting as easy as pie. Most of the buyers who reviewed this product have left positive feedback.
This is a somewhat more affordable alternative that we have found to be also among the top rated binoculars of this year. These full-size binoculars offer a 10x magnification using a 42mm objective lens. With multi-coated optics and phase corrected prisms, it’s safe to say that the Vortex Optics Diamondback is worth considering if you are still prospecting the market.
The unit is both fog proof and waterproof, as is the case with the vast majority of full-size binoculars that are available on the market today. In addition, the package contains the same accessories provided with the Vortex Optics model showcased above.
Some of the people who have bought this unit were so satisfied with what they got that they wrote detailed reviews where they called it the best optic purchase they’ve ever made. Both the quality of the image and the clarity are excellent. All in all, the model offers a very good value for the price.
This Eagle Optics model is another one to consider, particularly if you’re looking for binoculars that cost less than two hundred dollars. It’s true that it does not come with the number of features of the formerly described Leica unit, for example, but it will do what is supposed to do and withstand the elements while doing so.
The model has fully multi-coated lens and rubber armoring, as well as adjustable eyecups that can be customized easily and in a timely fashion. Comfortable vision is one of the benefits of getting the Eagle Optics Shrike, as emphasized by many buyers.
Unlike other units we have gone through, this one can work with a tripod so long as you use an adapter. The latter can be purchased separately.
As for reviews, the Eagle Optics seems to offer fantastic value for the price, as most of the buyers claim that the binoculars are well built, have an amazing image clarity and even have the right size and weight.
The Vanguard Endeavor is a waterproof and fog proof pair of binoculars that features a 3-stage twist out eyecup system with a long eye relief. The model has fully multi-coated lenses, a feature that is quite popular among other binoculars in the same line.
The magnification of this alternative is 8x, while the diameter of the objective lens is 42mm. The field of view is measured at 367 feet per 1000 yards. The eye relief measures 19 mm and the unit weighs in at 25.8 ounces.
This model is well-known for its resolution and clarity, since most of the individuals who have purchased it recommend it for the quality of the image. From what we have gathered, the Vanguard Endeavor ED is actually one of the most acclaimed binoculars on the market today, as it has garnered tons of positive reviews. In fact, most of the shoppers claim that the optics of this product are great.
Best Binoculars For Hunting Summary
Purchasing the absolute best binoculars designed for hunting takes time and a little bit of effort. To make sure you get the right product for your needs, you have to do some research and read several customer reviews. In addition, you need to consider details such as the magnification and diameter of the objective lens, the field of view, the prism type and the focus type, and the eye relief.
The entire build of the binoculars matters a great deal, since you’re likely to be looking for a waterproof and fog proof model that protects your acquisition from moisture, dust, and debris.
With the right amount of patience, you’ll get your hunting binoculars in no time. If you’re interested in buying a high-quality item but find that your budget doesn’t allow you to do so yet, you might want to check out a seasonal sale or discount organized by an online marketplace. Amazon is one of the internet retailers that often offer discounted binoculars.