LAST UPDATED: October 23, 2019
Best Binoculars: See Far and Clear on Your Adventure
Enhance your vision on the go with these high-quality binoculars
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PUBLISHED ON October 23, 2019
Binoculars are used by bird watchers, explorers, and hikers to get a better view of what lies ahead. But how can you be sure you have the right pair? There are several options available, and all improve your vision. However, not all binoculars are equal. Many come with enhanced functions, such as variable zoom distance, night vision, and a compass. Check out the best binoculars to consider before heading off on your next adventure.
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Benefits of Binoculars
- Versatile. You can use binoculars for a wide variety of activities, including bird-watching, hiking, sporting events, and concerts. They're the perfect companion if you want a close-up view of faraway objects.
- Affordable. If you are interested in stargazing, you can save a lot of money by purchasing binoculars instead of a telescope. Plus, you can buy several pairs of binoculars so more than one person can view the moon and stars at the same time.
- Easy to use. Compared to telescopes, binoculars are much simpler to operate. Plus, many people feel more comfortable looking at the night sky using both eyes instead of squinting to see through a telescope.
- Portable. If you're planning an outdoor adventure, you want to carry as little gear as possible so you're not weighed down. The best binoculars are small and convenient to carry and pack.
Types of Binoculars
This type of binocular tends to be smaller and more durable than a Porro prism binocular. They are slim, stylish, easier to hold, and are typically more durable than Porro prism binoculars with identical specifications. However, roof prism binoculars are often more expensive because producing and adjusting the prism requires advanced technology.
These binoculars were invented by Italian Ignazio Porro in the mid-19th century. They produce brighter images than roof prism binoculars. They are also more affordable and are generally good quality overall. On the downside, they tend to be a little larger and are not particularly comfortable to hold for long periods of time.
Nikon, based in Tokyo, Japan, was founded in 1917. The company produces optics and imaging gear, including camera lenses, spotting scopes, and binoculars. One popular product is the Nikon Monarch 5 10x42 Binoculars.
The German company Leica Camera was founded in 1869. It designs cameras, lenses, rifle scopes, and binoculars. The company's name is a juxtaposition of the founder's name, Ernst Leitz, and the word camera. One top product is the Leica 8x20 BCA Trinovid, Weather Resistant Roof Prism Binocular.
ZEISS is headquartered in Oberkochen, Germany, and has been around since 1846. The company designed the world’s first roof prism binoculars. One popular product is the ZEISS TERRA ED 8x42 Black Binoculars.
- Under $50: Several brands of small, lightweight, and compact binoculars cost less than $50. However, they don't produce images with high resolution or have as large fields of view compared to more expensive products.
- $100 to $300: You can find several standard, mid-size, and full-size binoculars in this price range. Many are waterproof with rugged designs and suitable for low-light conditions and night vision.
- Over $300: You can spend as much as a couple thousand dollars on binoculars, depending on what your needs are. High-end binoculars have superior quality optics, high magnification levels, larger fields of view, and are better for observing wildlife or hiking at night.
To determine the magnification, look at the number written with the "x." For example, if a product says 10x, it means the subject is magnified 10 times. If you use binoculars with 10x magnification, a bird 100 meters away will appear as though it is just 10 meters away. The best binoculars have a magnification between 7x and 12x. Products with a higher magnification will require a tripod for a clearer image.
Objective Lens Diameter
The size of the objective lens is important because it regulates how much light enters the binoculars. For example, an objective lens with a larger diameter produces better images in low-light conditions. To determine the lens size, look at the "mm" after the x. A ratio of five in connection to the magnification is preferred, i.e., 8x40 is better than 8x25 because it produces brighter and clearer images.
Lens Coating and Quality
The lens coating permits a maximum amount of light to infiltrate the binoculars and reduces the amount of light that is reflected. A higher-quality lens will produce more contrast and less aberration. Better lenses can operate in low-light conditions because they can transmit more light. A good set of lenses also prevents distortion and washed-out colors.
Field of View and Exit Pupil
The field of view is indicated in degrees and is the diameter of the area you see through the binoculars. The bigger the field of view, the more area you can observe. The exit pupil is the lens diameter divided by the magnification. It is the image you see on the eyepiece.
- Weight: Some binoculars are bigger, heavier, and bulkier than others. If you plan on using a pair of binoculars for a prolonged period of time, you should choose a product that is lighter in weight. There are many types of portable binoculars that are easy to carry and pack in a backpack.
- Waterproof: Some binoculars are better suited for the elements than others. Waterproof binoculars are typically rated WP and are essential if you plan on using them outdoors frequently. Some brands can be exposed to minimal moisture, while other brands can last even if they're submerged in water for extended periods of time.
Best Binoculars Reviews & Recommendations 2020
These powerful long-distance binoculars from Gosky feature a large field of view and 10 x 42 ratio. They're perfect for observing wildlife, hiking, watching football games, and other activities.
The binoculars contain durable, long-lasting, and shock-absorbing rubber to withstand various weather conditions. They will also hold up if you accidentally drop them. The binoculars include multi-layer green coated lenses, a smartphone mount to view an image on your screen, a protective case, a cleaning cloth, and a non-slip grip. The product comes with a lifetime warranty, replacement guarantee, and lifetime technical support.
However, these binoculars do have a few issues. They are a bit heavy and slightly larger than some competitor products. Also, the carrying pouch feels flimsy, and the cellphone mount can be a hassle. Taking a photo with an iPhone can be awkward, and some people have complained that they are difficult to learn how to use.
This lightweight pair of binoculars features a clear wide-angle viewing distance of 1,000 yards with a 10 x 25 ratio. They are very compact, making them ideal for bird watching, hunting, and watching outdoor sports, and they're suitable for both day and night but not complete darkness.
They are waterproof, feature multi-coated lenses for improving vision, and have a hyper-durable anti-slip grip. They are foldable and easy to carry. They're simple to use and are ergonomically well designed to fit in your hands in a natural way. Overall, they provide a clear and crisp view.
One problem with these binoculars is that the night vision only works in low light and not absolute darkness. Also, they are small and may not expand far enough to be comfortable for all eyes. While they're fine for first-time binocular users, they don't provide too much detail.
These binoculars are intended for bird watching, hunting, and watching sporting events. They are designed with 10 times magnification with a 10 x 50 ratio that allows you to see up to 1,000 yards away.
The binoculars feature aspherical lenses with a multi-layer coating for a brighter, high-quality view. The binoculars feature a tough non-slip rubber for shock absorption and to provide a firmer grip. They have a diopter system that adjusts the imbalance of your eyes. The smooth and large center focus knob makes them easy to operate and focus. They have adjustable eye cups and can be used by those who wear eyeglasses.
One issue with these binoculars is that they are not waterproof. Also, they do not work in complete darkness, and the neck strap can be a hassle. They are also a bit heavy and bulky.
These high-quality, durable binoculars come in a variety of sizes and are excellent for outdoor activities, concerts, and sporting events. They feature 10x magnification and a 42 millimeter objective lens diameter.
They are both fully multicoated and phase-coated. They weigh 1.5 pounds, making them easy to handle and gaze through for long periods of time. One of the best qualities about these binoculars is that they are both waterproof and fogproof. So, if you are hiking and it begins to rain, you can continue to use your binoculars. If it is a very humid day, the lens will not fog up, allowing you to continue to bird watch without interruption.
These come with a No Fault, No Hassle warranty, where Carson will repair or replace your binoculars for a small fee if they are damaged, regardless of the cause. The cost includes both shipping and handling. If your binoculars are damaged due to a manufacturing issue, they will repair or replace them for free. However, these binoculars aren’t as powerful as other brands on the market. The images aren’t as clear and crisp as other models.
These binoculars are less powerful than others on the market, but they are still good for nature viewing, star gazing, and sports watching. They have 12x magnification with a 50 millimeter objective lens with a porro prism system.
They are made with a non-slip grip for extra safety and a BK-7 top caliber prism glass to enable ease of viewing even in bright daylight.These binoculars are much less expensive than others. This makes them more easily accessible for those curious about seeing nature closer. They are lightweight, weighing only a pound. They are not fitted for a tripod, but since they weigh so little you likely will not need one.
However, they are less powerful than others, and they only come with a limited warranty for manufacturing defects. There are also some durability issues with parts coming loose or getting scraped during the focusing process.
These binoculars feature 15x magnification and 56 millimeter objective lenses. The clarity of the lenses allow you to see details even during exceptionally bright days. They are coated to be especially durable and scratch-resistant, so they will last hike after hike. A center diopter allows for focal variances between your eyes, so you can adjust them as needed.
These binoculars are adjustable for those wearing glasses or not. For a close focus, their limit is 15 feet. They also perform their best in low light, such as dusk or dawn, when animals are most active. They are waterproof and fogproof, so you do not have to worry about the weather as you are out sightseeing.
They weigh over two pounds, so they are a bit heavy in hand for prolonged periods. It is recommended to use a tripod with them, and they would be tiring to wear around your neck for a long time. They also are more expensive than others on the market.
Vortex is not only known for their excellent customer service, but also for their high-quality products. This second set of Vortex binoculars are not as powerful or as expensive as the Vulture model, but they are a dependable set of binoculars. They have 10x magnification and a 42 millimeter objective lens. They possess multi-coated optics and phase corrected prisms. Like the Vulture model, they are both waterproof and fogproof. They can achieve a close focus of five feet.
Vortex insures this pair with a lifetime warranty where they will fix it free of cost no matter the cause of the damage. This is a sharp contrast against competitors’ warranties that only fix manufacturer defects. These binoculars are fantastic in low light, allowing you to see animals during their most active hours. They weigh less than two pounds, making them light and easy to carry.
The main downside to these binoculars is simply that there are more powerful ones on the market, even from Vortex. Some users had issues with the harness breaking and the lens cover not staying on.
These binoculars fall around the middle mark of price compared to others on the market. For this, you get less power but still a durable product. They have up to 22x magnification with a minimum focus distance of 49 feet.
These binoculars are built with ergonomics in mind, having a sturdy and comfortable grip. They come with a tripod adaptor for extensive viewing. They are made to last in a variety of conditions with a hardy exterior, excellent for use in outdoor activities or at event venues.
However, there are some downsides. They are hefty, weighing in at more than 2.5 pounds. Their viewing limits are difficult for detailed bird watching, but perhaps better suited for sporting events and concerts. There are also some clarity issues at long-range zoom.
- Always use a shoulder or neck strap when using binoculars to avoid accidentally dropping them.
- Zooming in all the way may give you a blurry image. To avoid this, you can zoom in all the way and slowly zoom out until the image is no longer blurry.
- To prevent any damage to the lenses while walking with the binoculars you should leave the lens covers on. This will also prevent dust and dirt from building up behind the glass.
- To clean the lenses, use a soft cloth to wipe away any smears or smudges. If they do not come with a microfiber cloth you can use a soft towel.
- For a better image and sturdier vision, consider placing the binoculars on a tripod.
Q: What do the numbers mean on binoculars?
A: Numbers like 10 x 50 register how far and wide the lenses will see. The first number is the power of the lens and dictates how much they will magnify an object. The second number represents the diameter of the lens in millimeters. Together they are used to calculate what is known as the exit ratio. The larger the number, the brighter the image will be.
Q: How do I determine the exit ratio on a pair of binoculars?
A: You take the two numbers and divide them together to get the exit ratio or exit pupil. For instance, using the ratio above, you would take 50 and divide it by 10 to get 5.0.
Q: Can I use binoculars with glasses?
A: Yes, as long as the eyecups are large enough. You should still be able to see through smaller eyecups, but they may not be as comfortable. If you wear glasses, you should get a pair of binoculars with a wider field of view and comfortable rubber eyecups. You may also be able to attach different cups to the binoculars for a better view.
For one of the best pairs of binoculars with a wide field of vision and an excellent exit ratio, check out the Gosky Roof Prism Binoculars.
Check out the Aurosports Folding High Powered Binoculars for a less expensive pair with a comfortable grip and long-distance view.