Reviews

Best Monoculars: Crystal Clear Optics for Long-Distance Sighting

Get a better view of objects at a distance with these monoculars.

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BY Lisa Conant / LAST UPDATED ON October 23, 2019

Monoculars are gaining popularity in a number of areas due to their lightweight and compact sizing. Easier to store and more portable than their clunkier binocular counterparts, today’s monoculars can offer the same clear and accurate sighting capabilities in a more streamlined package. In fact, many folks find monoculars easier to handle and focus than a pair of binoculars, since you’ve got only one lens to worry about.

Whether you’re a hunter, bird watcher, hiker, weekend warrior, or just a nosy neighbor, investing in a high-quality monocular can help you see farther, clearer, and more accurately. There are plenty of options on the market when it comes to choosing the monocular that’s best for you. They run the gamut of prices, optical capabilities, and construction materials. Here, we’ve taken some of the guesswork out by coming up with our top picks that are currently available.

Best Overall
Gosky Titan 12x50 High Power Prism Monocular
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Summary
Summary

A 12 x 50 high-power prism monocular that is waterproof, fog-proof, and shock-proof and is made for wildlife enthusiasts who are also into wildlife photography. 

Pros
Pros
  • Has a 12x50 magnification
  • Comes with a 50-mm objective lens
  • Smartphone adapters are compatible with almost all smartphones in the market
  • Multi-coated lens provides superior light transmission and brightness
Cons
Cons
  • Zooming in affects the color quality of the photo
  • Requires a tripod to lessen vibrations
  • Can be a bit heavy for some users
Best Overall
Gosky Titan 12x50 High Power Prism Monocular
Best Value
Authentic ROXANT Grip Scope High Definition Wide View Monocular
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Summary
Summary

An affordable, high-definition monocular with a retractable lens and multi-coated optical lens that offers a wide view and is great for travels.

Pros
Pros
  • Has a compact and comfortable non-slip grip design. 
  • Protected from moisture, dust, and debris.
  • User-friendly
  • Has great light transmission and brightness
  • Comes with a cleaning cloth, neck strap, and carrying case
Cons
Cons
  • Has only average magnification power
  • Clarity can be distorted when range is increased
  • Tends to fog up in humid conditions
Best Value
Authentic ROXANT Grip Scope High Definition Wide View Monocular
Honorable Mention
Burris Thermal Handheld Monocular
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Summary
Summary

For the serious outdoorsman who wants the most high-tech, top-of-the-line monocular, this sleek and ultra lightweight monocular does just about anything you can imagine.

Pros
Pros
  • Lightweight and fully shockproof
  • Offers superior magnification and zoom
  • Hot Track thermal imaging and five color palettes provide nighttime clarity unlike any other model
  • Available in 35 or 50mm options
Cons
Cons
  • Price point is overly prohibitive for many consumers
  • Housing is only water-resistant, not waterproof
Honorable Mention
Burris Thermal Handheld Monocular

Why Trust Us


All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Benefits of Monoculars

  • Provides portability. With the compact size and lightweight quality of a monocular, you won't feel burdened as you run around capturing rare scenery and wildlife action. They are also easy to store when not in use and will not take too much space in your backpack. You also won't worry about it getting scratched or hitting surfaces while walking around dense forests or rocky roads.
  • Frees up your other hand for more productivity. A monocular requires only one of your hands to operate, so you can carry other essential stuff with you, such as maps or tumblers, while bird watching. You can also do other things, such as make calls or hold onto something to protect yourself from falling or slipping without interrupting your rare moments with nature. 
  • Cost savings. In many cases, a monocular is cheaper than binoculars, so if you are on a budget but still want to invest in an optical device that you can bring along on your adventures, then getting one is highly recommended. Just make sure that despite the cheap price, you can still get a better quality monocular with a decent magnification.

Types of Monocular

Night Vision Monoculars

As the name implies, this type of monocular is primarily used at night, mostly for night hunting or surveillance activities. It is great for locating targets in the dark. You can choose the technology on which it can operate. You have two technology options to choose from: infrared and thermal-imaging. Both subtypes of a night vision monocular can also be used during the day. You simply have to turn off the infrared or  thermal imaging mode.

Infrared Monoculars

An infrared monocular is a subtype of a night vision monocular. It does not use light to illuminate things in the dark. Rather, it uses a different wavelength. The best thing about infrared monoculars is their inexpensive price tag. For a relatively cheap price, you can get a decent monocular that is invisible, so you won't distract animals you are hunting or observing. However, there are infrared monoculars that have a visible red light, so choose carefully before purchasing one.

Thermal Imaging Monoculars

Thermal imaging monoculars are another subtype of night vision monoculars. They are very useful at night because they can detect animals that are good at hiding or camouflaging. By detecting heat, they use it to form an image of objects in the dark. What's great about this night vision monocular is that it does not have a visible red light that some infrared monoculars have. That means you do not have to worry about scaring animals away with it.

Compact Monoculars

It is a given that monoculars are already compact, except for spotting scopes that fall under the category of monocular telescopes. However, there are monoculars that are smaller than average. They are about a couple of inches smaller than regular monoculars and are enough to fit in your pocket or purse. The disadvantage of these monoculars, however, is that they have smaller magnifications as well. They also have a smaller lens diameter. Despite their less powerful specs, they are quite cheap and good enough for simple viewing activities. 

Top Brands

Gosky Optics

Gosky is a China-based company with an American hub located in Atlanta, Ga. It’s a newer company that offers high-quality optical equipment at a reasonable price point. The company specializes in monoculars, binoculars like the Gosky 10x42 Binoculars, and spotting scopes like the Gosky 20-60X 80 Porro Prism Spotting Scope

Vortex Optics

Vortex Optics is an American manufacturer of optical equipment for various purposes. It produces riflescopes, binoculars, monoculars, and red dots. Vortex Optics products can be a bit pricey but their looks alone are enough to tell you that they are durable and made of high-quality materials. The Vortex Optics Solo Monocular, for instance, is a good-looking monocular that provides crisp and clear images.

Bushnell

Bushnell has been an industry leader in high-performance sports optics for more than 65 years. The company prides itself on providing outstanding customer service and strong retailer partnerships. It leads the pack with innovative and affordable products such as the CelluCore 30 No Glow Cellular Trail Camera and the Match Pro 6-24x50 Riflescope.

Monocular Pricing

  • Under $60: Monoculars under $60 are decent optical equipment that are enough to let you appreciate animals and nature even with their less powerful specs. They are for people who enjoy intense outdoor activities without worrying about scratching or breaking their monoculars in the process. 
  • $60 to $170: Monoculars within this price range are already high-powered and have optimal brightness and clarity. They are even waterproof and quite durable. However, they lack the look that matches these qualities. They are for people who just enjoy nature viewing and bird watching in silence without anyone chatting them up about their equipment.
  • $170 and up: These are premium monoculars that are ultra HD and deliver super clear images. This price range also includes monoculars that have power specs in terms of magnification, prism, and make. These expensive monoculars are for nature and wildlife enthusiasts who are quite invested in their hobby.

Key Features

Magnification

There is no point to a monocular if you cannot see anything through it. That is why magnification is one of its essential features. Keep in mind that a 12x magnification is not always the best one. It may be great for a pair of binoculars, but not for monoculars. Monoculars are already at their best with a 6x or 8x magnification.

Lens

Lens coating and diameter should also be considered when buying a monocular. Purchasing coated lenses are highly recommended for use during cloudy weather because they enhance image clarity and brightness. In terms of diameter, a bigger lens diameter does not guarantee a brighter image.

Ease of Use

Using monoculars over your eyeglasses can be tiring, so try to find a monocular that is comfortable to use even with your eyeglasses on. Find out if a monocular has an eye relief feature. 

Other Considerations

  • Special Features. Night vision mode, waterproof, fog-proof, and shock-proof features are just a few special features a monocular can have. Choose a monocular that has special features that match your needs and preferences. Many of today’s monoculars are also equipped with Wi-Fi capability and can record and upload video and photographic footage to your smartphone. 
  • Prism. A monocular that has poor prism quality generates images that are dim and blurry. It can also cause vertigo. Therefore, you can choose a monocular that has either a roof prism or Porro prism. Both offer good-quality images.
  • Field of View. A narrow field of view can help you focus on smaller areas but in great detail. A wide field of view, on the other hand, lets you see the whole picture. For most people, a monocular that offers the middle ground of these two types of field of view is the best choice.

Best Monoculars Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Gosky Titan 12x50 High Power Prism Monocular

This Gosky monocular is a 12 x 50 high power prism monocular that comes with a smartphone holder that is a good idea for wildlife photographers who are giving their professional cameras a break.


Aside from providing excellent light transmission and brightness for a high-quality image, it is also quite durable. Its waterproof, fog-proof, and shock-proof qualities make this monocular ideal for intense action-packed outdoor activities and can survive harsh weather conditions.


However, using your smartphone with this monocular can be a bit tricky. The additional weight from your smartphone makes this monocular a tad heavier. It is also prone to vibrations, so taking photos can be difficult and might result in blurry or out-of-focus photos.

Best Value
Authentic ROXANT Grip Scope High Definition Wide View Monocular

This high-definition, wide-view monocular has a retractable eyepiece and multi-coated optical glass lens that promote bright, clear, and crisp images.


This monocular is easy to hold as it is installed with a no-slip comfort molded grip. This special grip is lightweight and reduces vibrations for comfort and functionality. Speaking of functionality, this monocular is great for any outdoor activity that requires viewing such as concerts, bird watching, hunting, archery, hiking, camping, boating, target-shooting, and mountain climbing.


Its magnification power, however, can be underwhelming at only 6x30. It is not a long-range monocular, so clarity then is distorted as range increases. Do not expect clear images of objects from far distances.

Premium Pick
Burris Thermal Handheld Monocular

For the serious outdoorsman who wants a high-tech, top-of-the-line monocular, the Burris Thermal Handheld Monocular is a good option. This sleek and ultra lightweight monocular does just about anything you can imagine. It offers five user-selectable thermal color palettes that let you quickly and accurately spot and track game in almost any conditions. 


Ten adjustable brightness and contrast settings ensure a fully customized performance. The special Hot Track mode seeks heat like no other monocular on the market. This monocular is available in either a 35mm or a 50mm option. It has real-time Wi-Fi-to-mobile connectivity that keeps you locked in to whatever you’re targeting while being able to zoom and record video on your smartphone. It’s also completely shockproof. 


Two drawbacks: this unit isn’t fully waterproof, only water-resistant, and it’s far and away the most expensive option on our list. It’s definitely not the choice for the budget-conscious consumer.

Best Grip
Roxant High Definition Ultra-Light Mini Monocular Pocket Scope

Roxant returns to our list with its High Definition Ultra-Light Mini Monocular Pocket Scope. It’s a compact and easy-to-carry monocular that measures 7 x 18 inches, so it’s small enough to fit in a purse or pocket. The lens is developed out of a high-grade optical glass with multi-coated optics that increase light filtration and overall viewing.


One of the benefits of this monocular is its grip. It is constructed with rigid rubber pads that make holding it much easier. This also reduces vibrations and makes it much more steady in your hand. It’s a great monocular for bird watching, hiking, hunting, and really any outdoor activity. It comes with a lanyard and carrying case as well.


One minor flaw is it can be too small for people with larger hands. This may make it more difficult to hold and may also make it bothersome to control the zoom. Another thing is the field of vision isn’t the widest. Plus, it may not be the most durable little monocular, as it feels a bit cheap.

Honorable Mention
Vortex Solo Monocular

This is a high-tech-looking monocular with a 12 x 50 power magnification. It features a 50mm lens diameter that provides a clear and bright view. It may be small, but it is quite powerful and is an excellent choice of monocular for birdwatching. It has a field of view of 360 feet, so you can spot a bird from quite a distance away.


As far as its construction goes, it is built with a BAK-4 Prism and FMS multi-layer green film. Yet, the premium glass doesn’t add to its weight, as it weighs only 8 ounces. It even comes with a flexible tripod, so you can mount it on the ground, and a cloth bag for safe storage. You can even attach your smartphone to it so you get a larger field of view without having to hold it to your eye.


However, it may be difficult to properly attach your phone to the monocular, as lining up the camera with the lens can also be annoying. Another downside is it isn't the most stable monocular. Locking in the shot you desire can be difficult with just one hand. Also, its magnification may be less than what is written.

Honorable Mention
Solomark Night Vision Monocular

This is perhaps one of the most futuristic-looking monoculars to make our list. If they seem familiar to you, they are a near perfect match for ones seen in “Star Wars” films, yet they aren’t from a galaxy far, far away. The Solomark’s feature multi-coated glass, a high sensitivity sensor, an integrated color LCD screen, and an IR LED illuminator.

 

All that fancy jargon means they are a great all-purpose monocular. Along with being able to use them during the day for sporting events or what have you, their best feature is doubling as a night vision monocular. The dark vision allows you to see up to 330 feet at night and even take pictures and videos as well. It has a working battery life of five hours and supports a 1GB to 32GB SD card.


One of the biggest downsides is the amount of grain you get through the viewfinder. It’s worse at night and can make viewing images more difficult. It also isn’t the most user-friendly and may take a while to get used to. The controls can be confusing and can be a pain if you’re just starting out using it.

Honorable Mention
Gosky High Definition Monocular Telescope

The Gosky High Definition Monocular Telescope comes with a 12 x 55 high power magnification that allows you to see images up to 12x closer. It’s a great monocular for going on a hike, watching birds, or just looking at the scenery. They include a BAK-4 Prism for improved sight, a multi-coated green objective lens coating, and they filter in light for a brighter image.


It is built out of a durable rubber armor that increases its resistance to drops and weather. The rubber also makes it easier and more comfortable to grip. The monocular is waterproof, fogproof, dustproof, and shockproof. It is capable of seeing up to 325 feet and has a field angle of 6.5 degrees.


However, the eyepiece isn’t the most durable and may not be the most comfortable. The focus knob moves quite quickly so you will need a soft touch in order to focus an image. Plus, the phone mount can be difficult to connect and use.

Honorable Mention
Firefield Night Vision Monocular

If you’re looking for a lightweight, easy-to-use night vision option, the Firefield Night Vision Monocular deserves your consideration. This monocular is IPX4-rated for water resistance, making it a decent option for search and rescue, hiking, security surveillance, and some types of night hunting. 


The Firefield is easy and intuitive to operate, with a diopter that’s sensitive and easy to adjust. Powered by two AA batteries, it’s easy to power and requires zero recharging time. It’s also equipped with a 1/4-inch tripod socket to help ensure steady sighting. 


With a 5x magnification, this definitely isn’t the most powerful on the market, and depending on your intended purpose, you may need something bigger. It’s also not as comfortable or easy to hold as some other options, since it has the PULSE IR illuminator protruding out the side of the unit. 

Honorable Mention
Bushnell Equinox X650 Night Vision Monocular

The Bushnell Equinox X650 Night Vision Monocular features an impressive 650 feet of maximum night vision range, making it one of the best options for night hunting and surveillance on our list. Considering its reasonable price point, this monocular is surprisingly equipped with video recording capabilities with a user-friendly zoom and reliable image capture. 


It’s equipped with an integrated tripod mount and a standard 1913 Picatinny rail on the side. The built-in IR illuminator is well-placed at the bottom of the scope. A large diameter lens allows for maximum optical clarity and light gathering. 


This monocular would be improved with the addition of a rechargeable battery. Instead, it requires four AA batteries to operate. It does feature an automatic shut-off that helps preserve battery life, though. It’s also not as compact as some other models on our list.

Best Overall
Pursuit Monocular

Another great option in the budget-friendly category is the Pursuit Monocular. This unit offers a lot of great features that you find in a monocular that’s offered at twice the price. It’s great for occasional use and daytime activities. It’s equipped with 10x42 optics, which is considerably higher than most other bargain priced models. 


This is a super lightweight and compact option thanks to its rugged polymer body. The rubber exterior makes it easy to grasp in all types of weather. The twist-up eyecup is perfect for people who wear eyeglasses.  The fully coated glass is also nitrogen-purged to make it fog- and waterproof. 


Even though this is a lower budget option that doesn’t come equipped with night vision capability or super magnification, it does come with a protective pouch, a handy neck strap, and a microfiber cleaning cloth as added accessories. 

Tips

  • Protect your monocular, and always store it in a case when it’s not in use. It will protect the unit from dirt, moisture, and collision damage. 
  • Use the cloth provided by the manufacturer or any other lint-free cloth to clean the lens. You can dab it with an alcohol-based solution for the best results. 
  • Avoid handling the monocular with dirty or greasy hands. Use wet wipes to clean dirt off your hands to avoid contaminating the lens. 
  • Most monoculars advertise to be waterproof, but not all gadgets live up to the hype. Try to keep the unit in dry conditions, and wipe it dry before storing it in the case. 

FAQs

Q: Is a monocular better than a binocular?

A monocular is only half the weight of a binocular and easier to carry and handle. However, it can get uncomfortable to hold if you plan on using it for a long period of time. You should opt for binoculars for lengthy observations since they are more comfortable on the eyes. 

Q: Which monocular has the best zoom?

The Gosky Titan 12x50 High Power Prism Monocular and the Gosky High Definition Monocular Telescope both offer a magnification of 12x, which is the highest on our list. This magnification is also one of the highest on the current market. Anything above 10x is considered to be an impressive amount of magnification.

Q: Do all monoculars have night-vision capabilities?

Most monoculars on the market can only be used in the daytime, and some special models have great vision in low-light conditions. It is possible to find a monocular with sophisticated night-vision technology. Such models use infrared technology to light up images in the dark. They are, however, more expensive. 

Q: Can I use a monocular with my glasses?

If you wear glasses, you have to leave a space of at least 0.5 inches between your eye and the eyepiece for a better view. That space is referred to as eye relief. You have to either adjust or remove the eye cap to get a better view. The same case applies to sunglasses. People who don’t wear glasses don’t have to worry about eye relief. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the ideal combination of performance, durability, and price, the Gosky Titan 12x50 High Power Prism Monocular is hands down our top pick. It offers an impressive 12x magnification as well as an impressive zoom and smartphone compatibility, all for under $100.

For an even more budget-friendly option, the Authentic ROXANT Grip Scope High Definition Wide View Monocular is . It’s a high-definition wide-view monocular that features a retractable eyepiece and multi-coated optical glass lens, and a super low price tag.