Reviews | The Drive

Best Binoculars (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022

See farther and more clearly with a pair of the best binoculars for all outdoor activities.

With decades of combined experience covering the latest news, reviewing the greatest gear, and advising you on your next car purchase, The Drive is the leading authority on all things automotive.

youtubefacebookinstagram

The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

BYHeather Fishel/ LAST UPDATED ON November 12, 2021

If you’ve ever spent a day at the race track squinting in an effort to see from the stands, found yourself struggling to see anything at all on the water while you’re kayaking or paddleboarding, or even headed out on a hike and couldn’t really see the details of the stunning landscape before you, then you know what it’s like to be without binoculars. With binoculars in your outdoor arsenal, you can see over far distances like they’re up close, zoom in on the action, wildlife, or other interesting views, and even pinpoint game while you’re hunting. Versatile and able to enhance your vision no matter where you are or what you’re doing, binoculars are handy whether you’re always outdoors or need eagle-eyed vision for certain adventures. We’re making it easy to pick out a pair of quality binoculars with a list of some of the best options right here.

Best Overall

Gosky Roof Prism Binoculars

Summary

These binoculars are a great all-around option, delivering crisp vision over large fields of view and solid longevity over time and use.

Pros
  • Large, wide field of view
  • Built to last, with durable parts and shock-absorbing rubber
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty and lifetime tech support
Cons
  • Heavy and large
  • Can be difficult to learn how to use
  • Carrying pouch isn’t the best quality
Best Value

Aurosports Folding High Powered Binoculars

Summary

Affordably priced and great for taking on the go, these binoculars offer good value and a wide field of view from 1,000 feet away.

Pros
  • Lightweight and perfectly portable
  • Wide-angle field of view
  • Offer night vision capability that’s great for dusk or low-light settings
Cons
  • May be too small for comfort
  • Not the best for detailed vision
Honorable Mention

Bushnell Powerview Wide Angle Binocular

Summary

A lightweight, affordable pair of binoculars that are good for multipurpose use so you can achieve a clear, easy view even on the brightest days.

Pros
  • Weighs just 1 pound
  • Top caliber prism glass to combat bright light
  • Made with non-slip grips on the exterior for a better hold
Cons
  • Not the most powerful 
  • May experience durability issues
Best Binoculars (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022

Our Methodology

In order to choose our picks for the best binoculars, we took a look at the different types of binoculars–and binoculars made for different kinds of outdoor activities–available online and compared them. We specifically looked for binoculars that offered versatility for everything from water sports to sporting events to bird watching to hunting, comparing them to one another based on their lenses, construction, magnification and zoom, waterproofing, or water-resistance, and their ability to offer clear, crisp vision. We also sought out binoculars that offered extra benefits or features that could be helpful out in the field, from carrying pouches to anti-slip grip to tripods.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Best Binoculars Reviews & Recommendations

The Gosky Roof Prism Binoculars feature a large field of view and 10 x 42 ratio. They're perfect for observing wildlife, racing events, hiking, football games, and other activities. The binoculars contain durable, long-lasting, and shock-absorbing rubber to withstand various weather conditions and drops. Each pair offers multi-layer green coated lenses, a smartphone mount to view images on your screen, a protective case, a cleaning cloth, and a non-slip grip. Best of all, they’re backed by a lifetime warranty, replacement guarantee, and lifetime technical support.


However, these binoculars do have a few issues. They are a bit heavy and large, and the carrying pouch feels flimsy. The cellphone mount can also be a hassle and difficult to learn how to use.


Product Specs

  • Magnification and Field of View: 10 x 42
  • Prism Style: Roof prism, with BAK4 prism
  • Weight: 1.54 pounds

Pros

  • Large, wide field of view
  • Built for durability and enduring shocks
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Heavy and large
  • Flimsy carrying pouch
  • Can be tricky to master

The Aurosports Folding High Powered Binoculars are a lightweight, compact pair with a clear wide-angle viewing distance of 1,000 yards with a 10 x 25 ratio. They’re ideal for bird-watching, hunting, outdoor sports, and more, and suitable for both day and night—though not complete darkness. These binoculars are foldable, waterproof, feature multi-coated lenses for improved vision, and have a hyper-durable anti-slip grip. 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 pitch darkness. Also, they’re small and may not expand far enough to be comfortable for all eyes.


Product Specs

  • Magnification and Field of View: 10 x 25
  • Prism Style: BAK4 fully multi-coated prism
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Wide-angle field of view
  • Fold down for portability
  • Coated in durable anti-slip gripping

Cons

  • Night vision doesn’t work in complete darkness
  • Very small, which can limit comfort

The Bushnell Powerview Wide Angle Binocular might be less powerful than others on the market, but they’re still good for your basic needs. They have 12x magnification with a 50-millimeter objective lens with a porro prism system and are made with a non-slip grip for extra safety plus a BK-7 top caliber prism glass to enable ease of viewing even in bright daylight. These binoculars are affordable, which makes them more easily accessible for any budget. Plus, they’re lightweight, weighing only a pound. They aren’t fitted for a tripod, but since they weigh so little, you likely won’t need one.


However, they are less powerful, 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.


Product Specs

  • Magnification and Field of View: 12 x 50
  • Prism Style: Porro prism, with BK-7 prism
  • Weight: 1 pound

Pros

  • Affordable and budget-friendly
  • Lightweight at just 1 pound
  • Great for bright daylight 

Cons

  • Less powerful than other options
  • May experience durability issues

The Carson VP Series HD Binoculars are high-quality, durable binoculars available in a variety of sizes and excellent for outdoor activities, concerts, and sporting events. They feature 10x magnification and a 42-millimeter objective lens diameter, 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 they’re both waterproof and fog-proof. If it’s a very humid day, the lens won’t fog up, allowing you to see without interruption. These come with a No-Fault, No-Hassle warranty too.


However, these binoculars aren’t as powerful as other brands on the market and the images aren’t as clear or crisp as other models.


Product Specs

  • Magnification and Field of View: 10 x 42
  • Prism Style: Roof prism, with BAK4 prism
  • Weight: 1.64 pounds

Pros

  • Durable enough for outdoor wear and tear
  • Waterproof and fog-proof
  • Backed by a hassle-free warranty

Cons

  • Not the highest-powered
  • Images may not be the crispest or clearest

The Vortex Optics Vulture HD Binoculars feature 15x magnification and 56-millimeter objective lenses. The clarity of the lenses allows 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 too. They perform best in low light, such as dusk or dawn, when animals are most active, and are waterproof and fog-proof, so you don’t have to worry about the weather.


They weigh over two pounds, so they are a bit heavy in hand for prolonged periods. It’s recommended to use a tripod with them. They’re also a bit expensive.


Product Specs

  • Magnification and Field of View: 15 x 56
  • Prism Style: Roof prism
  • Weight: 43.6 ounces

Pros

  • Provide clarity even on very bright days
  • Scratch-resistant lenses
  • Great low-light performance at dusk and dawn

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Expensive

Vortex is not only known for excellent customer service, but also for high-quality products, and the Vortex Optics Diamondback 10x42 Roof Prism Binocular is another great option. This second set of Vortex binoculars aren’t as powerful or as expensive as the Vulture model, but they are dependable. They have 10x magnification and a 42-millimeter objective lens, plus multi-coated optics and phase-corrected prisms. These binoculars are both waterproof and fog-proof and can achieve a close focus of five feet. They’re fantastic in low light, allowing you to see animals during their most active hours and weigh less than two pounds, making them light and easy to carry. Additionally, Vortex insures this pair with a lifetime warranty, a sharp contrast against competitors’ warranties that only fix manufacturer defects.


The main downside to these binoculars is some users had issues with the harness breaking and the lens cover not staying on.


Product Specs

  • Magnification and Field of View: 10 x 42
  • Prism Style: Roof prism
  • Weight: 1.52 pounds

Pros

  • Waterproof and fog-proof
  • Great for low-light settings
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Included harness isn’t very durable
  • Lens cover can be hard to keep in place
Best Binoculars Honorable Mention
Nikon ACULON Binoculars
Check Latest Price

The Nikon Aculon 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 and are built with ergonomics in mind, having a sturdy and comfortable grip. They come with a tripod adaptor for extensive viewing. When it comes to durability, these binoculars 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 3 pounds, and 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.


Product Specs

  • Magnification and Field of View: 10-22 x 50
  • Prism Style: Porro prism, BAK4 prism
  • Weight: 3.06 pounds

Pros

  • Ergonomic and comfortable in hand
  • Durable exterior housing
  • Include tripod adapter

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Can have clarity issues with long-range zoom in use

Our Verdict on Binoculars

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.

What to Consider When Buying Binoculars

Binoculars come in many different forms and can be specialized for particular outdoor adventures and activities. So, where should you start if you’re looking for a new pair? We’ve got all of the advice you need to find a quality pair of binoculars no matter what kind you’re looking for or how you'll use them.

Types of Binoculars

Roof Prism

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.

Porro Prism

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 of 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.

Binoculars Key Features

Magnification

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.

IP or IPX Rating

Binoculars can be water-resistant or waterproof, and there’s an easy way to tell if they’re actually waterproof: the IP or IPX rating. Mentioned in product descriptions and on the packaging, you’ll see ratings like IPX8 or IP7. The higher the number, the more waterproof a product really is. IP0 or IPX0, for example, means a pair of binoculars can’t tolerate any water exposure. IPX7 and IPX8 are the highest rankings, and these mean a product is actually, truly waterproof.

Binoculars Benefits

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.

Binoculars Pricing Considerations

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. You can find several standards, mid-size, and full-size binoculars priced between $100 and $300. Many are waterproof with rugged designs and suitable for low-light conditions and night vision. Or, you can spend as much as a couple of thousand dollars on high-end binoculars with superior quality optics, high magnification levels, and larger fields of view.

Tips and Tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and binoculars. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • 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.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!

Q: How do I determine the exit ratio on a pair of binoculars?

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?

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. If you wear glasses because you have astigmatism, you can also find binoculars that offer an astigmatism adjustment feature built right in, which can be an added perk to help you see clearly and easily.

Q: Is higher magnification always better?

While higher magnification allows you to see over longer, further distances with clarity and ease, it isn’t always a good idea to pick a pair of binoculars with the highest possible magnification. For certain activities, magnification isn’t the sole goal. For example, if you’re watching wildlife or on a safari, high magnification will help you see over great distances. But if you’re out on the water in a kayak or whale watching, you’ll actually want to choose a lower magnification because high magnification can make it difficult to steady your vision.

Q: What’s the difference between multi-coated and fully coated binoculars?

If a pair of binoculars is labeled “fully coated,” then they’re covered in a magnesium fluoride coating on the lenses and internal components or surfaces. Multi-coated binoculars, on the other hand, are covered in multiple thin layers of different coatings beyond just magnesium fluoride. Therefore, choosing multi-coated binoculars can help you get better light transmission and contrast.

stripe
stripe