A challenge is half the fun of hunting, but it’s never fun to lose game to poor vision.
Binoculars were made for us to see clearly over long distances, so we wanted to review the 10 best ones to ensure that we never lose sight of what we’re hunting again.
A while back, we tested the best base layers for hunting.
Well, guess what?
We shot two birds with one stone, used my dad’s hunting group while we had access to them, and took the binoculars in this review out into the field.
In this review, you’ll find:
- In-depth descriptions of each binocular’s performance;
- Budget binoculars;
- Mid-range and higher-end binoculars;
- What to consider when looking for binoculars;
- Some education on binoculars;
- And lots more!
Our testing was not without drama!
Continue reading to find out if a pair of binos survived a fighting match with a car…
Best Binoculars For Hunting
Vortex Optics Crossfire HD Binocular
Best Light Transmission Binocular for Hunting – Editor’s Choice Award
- Great field of view
- The interpupillary adjustment was a breeze to set up
- The manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty
- Clear view
- Easy to put in focus
- Low light performance is spectacular
- The harness is cumbersome to use
- The edges are a bit blurry sometimes
When it comes to binoculars for hunting, you want the best of the best. That’s why we’re kicking it with Vortex Optics Crossfire HD Binoculars, our Editor’s Choice for this review.
We haven’t even gotten to our Best Value yet, but the value for money is already showing up!
These binoculars are mid-range, but they perform on par with high-end hunting binoculars.
We took the 10×42 version of this bino out into the field. The magnification is in the sweet spot, and anything higher would be too shaky – it took a steady hand even with the 10x magnification.
The objective lens is 42mm, the second biggest offered for this model of binoculars. It provides low-light vision that is heaps better than your eyesight.
These binos have a pretty wide field of view. You can track birds from tree to tree without them going out of frame every time they move.
As a glasses wearer, I loved that I could adjust these binoculars for my eyes and be free of my specs for some time.
Best Budget Binocular for Hunting – Best Value Award
USCAMEL 12×42 HD Binoculars for Adults
- Includes cell phone adaptor
- The binoculars are small and easy to hold
- Excellent clarity and magnification
- The lens caps are prone to falling off
- Not fog/waterproof
Get a massive bang for your buck with our Best Value, USCAMEL 12×42 HD Binoculars. These lightweight, compact binoculars are just what you need as your first bino.
It’s rare to see budget binoculars with high-quality specs, so we couldn’t leave it out of our review.
Good on the eyes, good on the joints…
- The manufacturer’s lightweight claim holds. One of our team members with arthritis had no problem using these.
The objective lens is 42mm, which is great for this price range. The 12x magnification had us counting the feathers of birds we saw!
These binoculars come with a nifty cell phone attachment. You put your phone into the device, which has a portion that you screw onto the viewing lens. The idea is that you can take magnified pictures. We tried this and think it’s more of a novelty.
Do you get what you pay for?
The binoculars are advertised as fog and waterproof – a bold claim for cheap hunting binoculars. One we were too eager to take advantage of. We took them for a spin on a rainy day and had our fingers crossed.
Let’s just say the binos were out of commission for about two days afterward. So no, not waterproof.
We like that they eventually dried out and became usable again. If you get these, be careful with them.
Best Ultra Wide Binocular for Hunting – Top Pick Award
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binocular
- Quality optics
- Two eye relief settings
- Diopter for eye adjustment
- Comes with a carrying case, a neck strap, a cloth for cleaning, a microfibre storage bag, and a harness
- Work great in low light
- Not affected by rain
- Lens caps are a bit loose
- The focus knob has some play
- The neck strap is a challenge to attach
The sheer amount of positives on these binoculars makes them our Top Pick for this review. Everything from the optics to the accessories was a pleasure to play with.
The 10x magnification provides an up-close view of any wildlife you want to get your eyes – and rifle – on. The 42mm objective lens diameter ensures you can still see them even when the sun is dipping below the horizon for the day.
Is it Christmas yet? Because it sure feels like it!
Opening this package made me feel like a kid on Christmas morning. It just has so much stuff to explore! These binos come with a carrying case, a neck strap, a cloth for cleaning, a microfibre storage bag, and a harness.
The neck strap is very comfortable, but we found the harness better for long trips. The cleaning cloth and microfiber storage bag ensure that your tool stays in the tip-top shape you receive it in. The durable carrying case has compartments for all these accessories, so you never have to leave them behind.
Every coin has two sides…
The accessories and optics are impressive, but the hardware leaves something to be desired.
The lens caps are loose, and it’s best to take them off at the beginning of your outing to avoid losing them.
The focus knob has some play, and you need time to get used to it. That’s not ideal in a hunting scenario where you have seconds to lock in on your prey.
This shouldn’t be an issue if you get familiar with your binoculars before your hunt. We think they’re worth the extra time spent getting used to them.
Best 10x Magnification Binocular for Hunting
Vortex Optics Diamondback Roof Prism Binoculars
- Comfortable to hold
- High-quality optics
- Great in low light
- Don’t fog up
- Slight fishbowl effect in lenses
- Lens protectors don’t stay on
It looks like nighttime glassing is the new in thing with this review’s binos…
Yet another 42mm binoculars impressed us in low light conditions. Deer over 600 yards away were clear as day just after sunset!
The 10x magnification provided a clear zoom without shakiness, which is always a plus.
Speaking of clarity…
The sharpness and clarity of these binoculars are amazing for this price range and beyond. There is some chromatic aberration – this should only bother you if you’re bird-watching. They absolutely serve a hunter’s purpose beautifully.
Glasses wearers need not worry – a right eye adjusting diopter and 1.5cm eye relief ensure that you can use these lenses with or without your lenses.
The only hang-up we had with these was a slight blur around the edges of the visual field and a fishbowl effect. It got tiresome to look past after several hours out in the field.
Best Features Binoculars for Hunting
Bushnell 334211 Trophy Binocular
- Excellent visuals
- Light gathering ability is great in low light
- Easy to focus
- Good quality construction
- A bit heavy
- Fogs up in humid conditions
Out from dusk till dawn? These are for you!
The 42mm objective lens size lets in enough light that you don’t even notice the daylight disappearing. It’s great to have your hunt time extended past the regular window.
The focus wheel was easy to use, and the view through these binos was clear as day.
The rubber exterior was comfortable to hold and felt well-made.
You won’t believe this durability…
These survived being driven over by a car! If your hunts tend to get a bit rowdy, jump for these.
We would recommend these for all-over use since they’re so durable. However, they do fog up in the cold and where it’s humid.
Best Large View Binocular for Hunting
10×42 Ultra HD Binoculars with Phone Adapter and Harness – 24mm
- The optical quality is impressive
- Provides a bright image
- Great in low light conditions
- Feels great in the hands
- Not durable
- Poor customer service
These binos are kind of mysterious…
They’re made by ScoopX Optics, a brand that was completely new to us until this review. There isn’t much, if any, information about it online, so we were pretty skeptical.
Until we got our hands on them.
With image quality comparable to top binoculars and a high-quality build, these immediately became a fan favorite.
They have 10x magnification, which was perfect for glassing over long distances. The 42mm objective lenses made regular and low light performance outstanding.
These hunting binoculars have the widest field of view in this review. At 347’/1000y, we had no trouble tracking game on the move.
The rubber exterior with texture for better grip feels of quality, and the mechanics feel great too. These are a great candidate for Editor’s Choice, right?!
Hunting is a sport that requires durability, and that’s unfortunately where the ScoopX’s fell short – literally fell.
These took a tumble from about a foot and a half high – they were resting on a backpack, our bad. After their short trip to the ground, the lenses were not positioned where they used to be, and the viewing was misaligned.
We weren’t phased because binoculars usually have a great warranty. After about 7 days of trying to contact the manufacturer with no response, we gave up on that belief.
So that’s why these are not Editor’s Choice. We believe in recommending well-rounded products, and that includes customer service.
If you’re extra careful with these, though, they’re a great addition to your optical system.
Best Compact Binocular for Hunting
Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars
- Edge to edge clarity
- The focus wheel operates smoothly
- Adjustable to eye strength
- Work great in low light conditions
- High-quality build
- The colors don’t show well
These are the best in their price range…honestly.
When you get these in your hands, you can’t believe they’re a mid-range pair of binos. They fit perfectly in your hands, and adjustments take no effort.
The focus wheel is smooth and adjusts quickly. Perfect for spur-of-the-moment sightings. The eye relief adjusts smoothly as well, and the interpupillary distance is easy to adjust too.
Vortex binos tend to lose some clarity around the edges of the glass, but the Vipers don’t fall victim to that. With ed glass, the sharpness and clarity that extends long distances is a definite plus for these Vipers.
They have a lifetime warranty, so you don’t have to worry about losing the bucks you dropped on them.
The only slight negative to these is that they don’t show color in its true glory. If you want to know the exact shade of the animal you’re glassing for, these won’t give you that. However, hunting optics don’t require that, so this shouldn’t bother most people.
Best High-Definition Binocular for Hunting
Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10x42mm Binoculars
- High image quality
- A small field of view
- Low light performance is a tad disappointing
Let’s shake things up a bit…
…and start with what we didn’t like about these Leupolds.
For the price range, the field of view and performance in low light conditions isn’t what it could be. There are cheap binoculars that perform better in this regard.
That said, these are excellent hunting binoculars in all other aspects.
They provide high-definition magnified vision and are easy to focus.
Clarity was the standard whether we had these in hand or on a tripod. Shakiness is always a concern with 10x magnification, but these performed superbly.
When you purchase higher-priced binoculars, you’re paying for small features that improve your experience. These can be adjusted to your vision and fit various face sizes.
Best Waterproof Binoculars for Hunting
NIKON Monarch M5 8×42
- Compact and lightweight
- Provides a clear, sharp view
- Four eyepiece positions
- The focus wheel is easy to use
- Ergonomic design
- Waterproof and fog proof
- Slight chromatic aberration
- Eyepiece covers are low quality
- A small field of view
Is 8x magnification the way to go?
Hunting binoculars don’t require insane magnification. The best binoculars for hunting provide a clear, steady image. Sometimes 10x magnification is too shaky to be useful in these conditions. That’s where this 8x bino comes in.
This piece is lightweight and compact and was a pleasure to use for hours. The ed glass makes for a crisp image. It was great to enjoy the good image quality without needing to rest my wrists every 20 minutes.
The tapered design and rubber material make for a comfortable, natural grip on these hunting binoculars.
Hunters who have glasses will be pleased to know that these are compatible. We didn’t experience any tunnel vision at all.
They’re great, but can they handle water?
These binoculars are nitrogen filled and have o-ring seals to ensure a fog-free and waterproof experience.
Best Outdoor Binocular for Hunting
Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 Binoculars
- quality construction
- High image quality
- Diopter adjustment stays in place
- Hard to focus them and they are not as sharp view
Our final hunting binocular is an extra-low dispersion glass, 10×42 dream machine. These three characteristics contribute majorly to the outstanding optical quality that these compact hunting binoculars provide. Edge to edge clarity is the standard with these.
The fully multi coated lenses prioritize anti-glare and water resistance. The multi coated optics were great to use in all weather conditions.
The hunting binoculars have high-quality mechanics. The focus wheel is easy to use. We appreciated that the diopter didn’t slide from the setting we chose as the day went by.
The only downside here is that you can’t keep your precious tool safe while in use. The case does not work well with the strap, so it hangs around your neck and jostles as you go about your activities.
Why Trust Us?
As the daughter of a hunter, and a fledgling hunter herself, our author knows what makes the best binoculars for hunting.
She’s been on many hunts with her father’s group – whose help we enlisted for this review – and has hundreds of hours of glassing on her roster.We have the experience and knowledge of seasoned hunters backing our review of these hunting binoculars.
2023 Buyers Guide: How To Choose The Best Binoculars for Hunting
What are the different types of binoculars?
There are several different types of binoculars. Among them are Porro prism binoculars, roof prism binoculars, Galilean binoculars, and astronomy binoculars. For the context of this review, we’ll focus on Porro and roof prism binoculars.
Porro Prism Binoculars
Porro prism binoculars follow the z-shape prism arrangement designed by their namesake, Ignazio Porro, in the mid-17th century.
This type of binocular works by transmitting light from the objective lenses to triangular prisms inside the binoculars. The light is amplified and inverted to give you a magnified view through the binoculars.
Advantages of Porro prism binoculars
- Better performance in low light
- Good depth of view perception
- The field of view is wider
- More affordable than roof prism binoculars
Disadvantages of Porro prism binoculars
- Bulkier design
- They don’t have as high magnification as roof prisms
- Rare to find waterproof ones
Roof Prism Binoculars
Roof prism binoculars have prisms on top of each other and aligned in a straight line. This results in the tubes of the binoculars being straight and sleeker than Porro prisms. Roof prism binoculars are identifiable by the eyepieces and objective lenses being aligned.
All the binoculars in this review have been roof prism models, which seem more popular these days.
Advantages of roof prism binoculars
- More compact
- Higher magnification
- Most are waterproof
Disadvantages of roof prism binoculars
- A smaller field of view
Features to look out for
Hunting binoculars need to help you see across large distances. Your instinct might be to go for the highest magnification possible.
When magnification increases, so does the risk of a shaky view when you use your hunting binoculars in hand. Moving back and forth to a tripod can slow you down, which isn’t very desirable.
So what magnification should you get?
8x to 10x magnification is the sweet spot for hunting binoculars. They provide ample magnification without compromising your view.
Hunting binoculars need to fit with your hunting gear. Lots of people prefer putting their binos in their vests or something similar.
When looking at different size binoculars for hunting, here are a few things to consider:
- How big your hands are
- Whether you’ll wear the binos on a neck strap or a harness
- How much space you have in your hunting pack
Field of view
The field of view determines how wide your view is. A high field of view gives you a great wide angle. You then don’t have to move your neck as much. A good field of view starts at about 300’@1000 yards.
Water and weather resistance
The best hunting binoculars are made for every climate you might find yourself in. Hunting often occurs in cold weather and rain. You don’t want your binos fogging up on your or getting water inside the lenses, so having a waterproof pair is essential.
Binoculars are not cheap either, so losing them to water or sand damage is not ideal.
- O-ring seals
- Hydrophobic lens coatings
- Rubber exteriors
- Product and specifications explained
Prism type: This is the type of prism configuration that was used in the binoculars. The two most popular ones are Porro prisms and roof prisms.
Lens coating: Manufacturers often coat lenses to improve the viewing experience. Anti-reflective coatings combat light reflecting from the lenses to increase the light transmitted through the lenses.
Hydrophobic coatings are used to ensure that water doesn’t stick to your lenses and ruin your vision. Protective coatings ensure that dust, debris, and life don’t bang up the lenses.
These are things to consider
How to choose the best binoculars for hunting
First, think about your characteristics as a person. Do you have steady hands? Do you wear glasses? Which environments do you like to hunt in? All of these factors will point you in the general direction of certain types of binoculars for hunting.
Things to think about include the magnification power, eye relief, diopter presence, objective lens diameter, and waterproof rating.
How do all these things tie together?
Increased magnification makes your binoculars more sensitive to movement. So, if you don’t have steady hands, it’s best to keep it in the 8x to 10x range.
The field of view of your binoculars also decreases as the magnification increases. That is something to consider if you like a wide-angle view.
People who wear glasses need a bit more eye relief from a pair of binoculars. The best binoculars for hunting have at least three eye relief settings or adjustable eyecups.
What’s even better is when they have a diopter that adjusts the lenses to your vision – then you don’t have to wear your glasses at all.
The objective lens size of the binoculars you purchase affects the light conditions you can glass in. A larger objective lens lets more light into the binoculars, meaning you can see better in darker conditions.
Come rain or shine…
…you want your binos to be fine. It’s important to have binoculars that are waterproof and weatherproof. Look out for special coating and sealants that guarantee this.
If you’re hunting in a dry, sunny environment, waterproofing isn’t that big of a deal, though.
All this talk of prisms, and we’re not even in math class!
Roof prisms are the go-to for binoculars these days, but Porro prisms are an option too. If you prefer a wider field of view and lower magnification – and have a bit of a tight budget – Porro prism binoculars might be for you.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Q – What does 12×50 mean in binoculars?
A – The number 12 represents how much the view through the binoculars is magnified from normal vision. So 12x means that the binoculars magnify the world 12 times. The number 50 is the diameter of the objective lens in mm. Binoculars with a high objective lens diameter let in more light than their lower counterparts.
Q – Which Is Better 8×42 Or 10×42 Binoculars?
A – These two binoculars are very similar except for the magnification power of the lenses. The objective lens diameter is 42mm on both, letting in plenty of light in low light hunting conditions. Whether 8×42 or 10×42 is better depends on a few factors. You will see more detail with a 10x binocular, but the image shake will be unbearable if you don’t have steady hands. In that case, 8×42 would be better. Binoculars with a higher magnification power have a lower field of view, which could impact the quality of your glassing. Our final verdict is that 8×42 hunting binoculars are better.
Q – Are Compact Binoculars Right for the Job?
A – Compact binoculars typically fit into a pocket or a handbag. If the magnification and objective lens size are right, they can absolutely perform well for hunting. Getting a full-sized pair of binos is recommended, but you won’t be at a disadvantage with GOOD compact binoculars.
Our Analysis, Comparisons & Test Results
Value for money
When spending your money on hunting gear, you want to make sure that you get bang for your buck. This review’s lineup has a range of prices, but do the prices line up with the quality?
The point of binoculars is to improve your vision. No one wants to buy a pair of binos only to find that they aren’t clear or don’t provide a sharp magnified image.
Hunting binoculars should last you for seasons to come. They should handle the humps, bumps, and scrapes life has in store with ease.
Here we’ve ranked the durability of the binoculars in this review. Luckily, they’re all great in this department, so you’re spoiled for choice.
No one wants to worry about lugging their hunting binoculars around. A good case, strap, or harness goes a long way in making your binoculars a breeze to carry.
These binoculars all have excellent magnification. But who is the best of the best? Find the ranking below.
Conclusion: Best Binoculars For Hunting
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned hunter, everyone benefits from a good pair of binoculars. We looked at some of the best hunting binoculars and hope that you’ve found your next pair here.
If you haven’t decided yet…
We always suggest looking at the Editor’s Choice, Best Value, and Top Pick binoculars.
The Editor’s Choice, Vortex Optics Crossfire HD Binoculars, is great for anyone who loves a host of pros with almost no cons. These are the perfect blind buy.
The Best Value is always recommended because the price is just right. If you want to get a feel for binoculars without breaking the bank, this is the way to go.
Our top pick stole our hearts with all its positives and features. Give it a try for size and see if it steals yours too.
We hope you enjoyed this review and found it useful and that our accidental rigorous testing of one of the binoculars was entertaining!