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Best 10×42 Binoculars: Add Clarity to Your Outdoor Adventures

These top 10x42 binoculars offer excellent magnification

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BY Nikola Petrovski , Suvajit Banerjee / LAST UPDATED ON November 27, 2019

Both outdoor and wildlife lovers find 10x42 binoculars to be an excellent choice when viewing distant objects. While the 10x zoom provides the right amount of magnification, the 42-millimeter diameter of the objective lens ensures brighter images. Most units with this specification are compact and lightweight, which makes them portable and easy to handle. In this buying guide, we discuss the three best options from a wide variety of products.

Best Overall
Nikon MONARCH 7 10x42 Binocular
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Summary
Summary
The Monarch 7 delivers a crisp and bright image even during twilight hours. It offers a wide field of view at 6.7 degrees. The good ergonomics ensures ease of use.
Pros
Pros
The high-quality prism coatings deliver great images free from distortion. The effective 17.1-millimeter eye relief is sufficient for eyeglass wearers. It also has a waterproof and fogproof construction.
Cons
Cons
The weight is on the higher side, making it a heavier option for backpackers. The diopter does not have a locking mechanism.
Best Overall
Nikon MONARCH 7 10x42 Binocular
Best Value
Gosky 10x42 Roof Prism Binoculars
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Summary
Summary
This compact binocular is an ideal choice for any excursion. The lens is coated with multiple green film layers for better image clarity. The design is weatherproof with effective O-ring sealing.
Pros
Pros
The dielectric coated BAK4 prism offers good image clarity. A rubber armor provides additional durability. There is also a smartphone adapter to use the phone screen for viewing through the binoculars.
Cons
Cons
The smartphone adapter may not be compatible with all phones. The viewing angle is not wide enough. The unit is not ideal for people with smaller faces.
Best Value
Gosky 10x42 Roof Prism Binoculars
Honorable Mention
Maven C1 10X42mm Binoculars
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Summary
Summary
The extra-low dispersion glass allows these binoculars to deliver a crystal-clear image. The color rendition and contrast are also impressive through a Schmidt-Pechan prism system.
Pros
Pros
The multi-coated lenses offer great light transmission and are also scratch-resistant. The polymer frame is lightweight but durable. The unit comes with an absolute lifetime warranty.
Cons
Cons
The rubber caps on the eyepieces can come off. The polymer chassis may not be durable in all conditions. The diopter locking feature is absent.
Honorable Mention
Maven C1 10X42mm Binoculars

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Benefits of 10x42 Binoculars

  • Higher magnification. The higher magnification allows you to see more details and even view things that are far away. It’s a great feature for birders, hunters, and anyone else who needs the extra detail offered by higher magnification.
  • Better than telescopes for stargazing. Another major advantage of 10x42 binoculars is that you can use them for stargazing. People are more comfortable using powerful binoculars when looking up into the skies than having to squint through a telescope. 10x42 binoculars are better for longer bouts of stargazing.
  • Usable in low light conditions. 10x42 binoculars show clear, detailed images even in low light conditions. They are the perfect choice for those who love hunting during the nighttime. They can be really helpful when you’re hunting and you can’t afford to take any risk. When on a hunt, you should be well prepared for any type of condition.
  • Enhance your safety. Spotting a lion or a polar bear in the wild can be a thrilling experience, but if you're too close to the animals or get spotted first, the experience can be deadly. When you have a pair of binoculars with a wide field of view, you can get close-up views of wildlife without putting yourself in danger. 10X42 binoculars are a great option for safaris. 

Types of 10x42 Binoculars 

Porro Prism Binoculars

Porro prism binoculars are actually the original binoculars. They were created in the 19th century by Ignazio Porro and are still in use today. They send light from the objective lenses through a pair of triangular light-catchers in a quick horizontal jag. This motion amplifies and inverts the light to produce a sharp, magnified image.

However, the zigzag design makes them more cumbersome than roof prism binoculars. however, it does have its benefits. Porro binoculars often produce clearer, three-dimensional images than roof prisms. They also provide a greater field of view. Also, because they have a simpler design, they are cheaper to produce.

Roof Prism Binoculars

Roof prism binoculars are more modern than Porro prism binoculars. They are straight-tubed, lightweight, and more compact than Porro prism binoculars. They have a simple design on the outside and a complex machination inside. When light enters their objective lenses, it bounces around convoluted pathways before reaching your eyes. Due to this sequence, they actually have a much higher magnification power and brighter imagery. But because of their complex internals, these binoculars are a bit more expensive than others. They are costly to make, and manufacturers pass the cost of production to the end user.

Top Brands

Nikon

Nikon is a Japanese multinational corporation based in Tokyo, Japan, that specializes in precision optics, digital imaging, and photo imaging technology. It was founded on July 25, 1917 by Koyata Iwasaki. The company is internationally recognized for setting new standards in product design. It is passionate about technology, innovation, quality, and performance. Nikon produces products, technologies, and solutions that exceed customer expectations, like the Nikon Prostaff 3S 10x42 Binoculars.

SkyGenius

SkyGenius was founded in 2013 in the U.S. The company focuses on the design and marketing of outdoor gadgets and home supplies. Its products provide comfort and convenience to outdoor lovers. It also provides speedy customer service to enhance customer satisfaction. If you’re looking for affordable 10x42 binoculars, get the SkyGenius 10x42 Binoculars for Bird Watching.

Vortex Optics

This company was founded in 1986 by Daniel Hamilton and his wife, Margie. They opened one of the first Wild Birds Unlimited stores in the country in Madison, Wis. They also started a company called Eagle Optics at the same time which sold different types of binoculars and optic products for birdwatchers. Vortex Optics is a leading manufacturer of sports optics and produces a complete line of meticulously designed binoculars, prism scopes, rifle scopes, range finders, spotting scopes, and other optical accessories. Get the Vortex Optics Crossfire HD Binoculars and you’ll understand why this company has stood the test of time.

10x42 Binoculars Pricing

  • $30-$100: Many of the binoculars here are ideal for bird watching, hunting, and outdoor sports. However, image quality may be an issue with the lower-priced models.
  • $100-$400: Some of the binoculars you’ll find in this category are waterproof and fogproof. They can be used in rainy environments or in areas with poor lighting. They also have night vision capability and range finders.
  • $400 and up: Most of the binoculars in this category have a roof prism design. They provide ultra-high definition optical quality and precision for unparalleled image resolution.

Key Features

Size

Binoculars are usually categorized into three groups: compact, mid-size, and full-size. Their size is usually based on the size of their objective lenses. However, it is worth mentioning that binoculars with objective lenses of similar size may differ in size and weight because of variations in design, optics, and construction.

Compact models are portable and easier to use because they are small. Mid-size models give you brighter images and can be held for long periods. Larger, full-size binoculars are too heavy to hold for long periods of time. It’s important to consider the weight of binoculars before buying them. If you get a pair that’s heavy, you won’t be able to use it for an extended time because your hands will get tired. 

Magnification

The magnification is the number written before the “x,” like 10x42. If the binocular says 10x, it magnifies the subject 10 times. For example, a bird that’s 1,000 meters away will appear as if it’s 100 meters away. The best magnifications for frequent use are between 7x and 12x. If you go beyond that, you’ll find it hard to manage without a tripod.

However, higher magnification isn’t always better. Since magnification also increases the movement of your hands, magnification powers greater than 10 make steady viewing difficult. Therefore, don’t get high-powered binoculars to use on a boat or another moving platform.

Field of View

Magnification power has a direct effect on the field of view (higher magnification narrows it, lower magnification expands it). Binoculars with a narrower field of view make it hard to locate small or moving objects (like birds) from far away. A smaller field of view also means lower light transmission, so images will be slightly darker.

Other factors, like the design of the eyepiece, also affect the field of view. To get the true picture of the field of view, check the specification. It tells you the width of the area you can view 1,000 yards from where you stand. However, it should be noted that binoculars with identical specifications may have different fields of view (like a difference of 90 feet at 1,000 yards). So, if you’re torn between two pairs of binoculars, always check the field of view specifications.

Objective Lens Diameter

The objective lenses of binoculars collect light, allowing for the high-resolution viewing of distant objects. In high-quality binoculars, each objective lens features two separate glass elements, called crown and flint elements.

The size of the objective lens is critical because it determines the amount of light that gets inside the binoculars. If you have objective lenses with a bigger diameter, you get better images in areas with poor lighting. For example, between 8x25 and 8x40 lenses, the latter produces  brighter and better images because of its bigger diameter. The lens size is usually indicated in mm after the x (like 10x42). 

Exit Pupil

The exit pupil is the bright circle at the center of each eyepiece. You can see it when you hold the binoculars away from your eyes (about 30cm) with the objective lenses directed toward a bright light.

To get the exit pupil size, divide the objective lens diameter by the magnification number. For example, if you have 10x42 binoculars, divide 42 by 8 and you’ll get an exit pupil diameter of 5.25mm. This is the size of the light shaft that reaches your eyes, whose pupils vary between 2mm (in bright light) and 7mm (in total darkness).

An exit pupil of 5mm or more is ideal for low light conditions like dawn or dusk. The high exit pupil number can make viewing easier. For daylight viewing, the exit pupil size isn’t very important because nearly all binoculars have exit pupils that exceed 2mm.

Other Considerations

  • Waterproofing. Because binoculars are outdoor products, they should have some degree of waterproofing. The words "WP" are used to indicate that binoculars are waterproofed. If a pair of binoculars isn’t waterproofed, it can only stay in water for a few minutes.  Waterproofed models can be submerged in water for many hours.
  • Eye Relief. Most binoculars come with adjustable eyepieces that allow you to choose the maximum eye relief value. You simply roll down the rubber eyecups or twist a collar to shorten the eyepieces. Most high-end binoculars don’t cause eye strain and can be used for many hours if necessary. However, some low-quality ones can’t be used for more than a few minutes at a time. If you wear glasses, get binoculars with an eye relief value of 11mm or more.

Best 10x42 Binoculars Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Nikon MONARCH 7 10x42 Binocular

If you’re looking for binoculars that will make it easy for you to spot subjects, get these. They have a wide field of view (351 feet at 1000 yards) and take in a wider section of the landscape. You’ll be able to observe many things without adjusting their position. Nikon applies dielectric prism coatings to all lenses and prism coatings to ensure the binoculars provide accurate color reproduction and  high-contrast images.


The most outstanding thing about these binoculars is their optical system. They utilize Nikon’s extra-low dispersion glass and special lenses. They push brightness and resolution to extreme levels, enhancing your viewing experience with close-focus capability and comfortable eye relief.


The lenses used in these binoculars make for even, higher light transmittance. The coated lenses are highly resistant to dirt, making the binoculars easy to maintain. However, they are quite expensive and their eye cups don’t fit the eyes perfectly. Also, images that are far away are not very stable and wobble a bit.

Best Value
Gosky 10x42 Roof Prism Binoculars

The low-cost Gosky Roof Prism Binoculars are portable and ideal for a variety of activities. They offer a large field of view and are specially designed for climbing, hiking, driving, concerts, sports, and bird watching. They are lightweight and trail-tough, and easily stand up to rugged terrain. Their easy-grip surfaces allow you to grab and lift them quickly to your eyes. Perfectly fitting eyecups and a smooth focus make viewing comfortable.


Designed to survive almost any environment, the Gosky Roof Prism binoculars are our top choice for the best binoculars for bird watching. However, they are not just good for birders—they’re a solid all-round option because they offer excellent image resolution. They are also rugged and will withstand whatever the outdoors throw at you. Their steady grip and ergonomic design allow for precise focusing, ensuring they deliver razor-sharp close-ups and long-distance clarity. 


You can buy these binoculars with confidence because they come with a lifetime warranty and lifetime technical support. Their performance stays consistent, whether you’re viewing subjects at dusk or at first light. The binoculars provide good contrast and color fidelity, two things bird watchers prioritize. However, they lack an autofocus or permafocus feature and at times don’t focus as they should. Also, you may have difficulty getting the phone attachment to work right.

Honorable Mention
Maven C1 10X42mm Binoculars

While the 10x magnification factor of these binoculars is certainly impressive, what you’ll love is their awesome design. They have a lightweight polymer frame, extra low-dispersion (ED) glass, and multi-coated lenses, and deliver exceptionally bright, clear, high-contrast images with excellent color reproduction.


You’ll find it easy to handle the binoculars, thanks to their ergonomic grip and intelligently laid-out controls. Their optical quality is great as they are made with high-contrast optics that deliver exceptionally clear images. They have waterproof, fogproof, and scratch-resistant lens coatings, and can be used outdoors no matter the weather. Maven also provides lens caps, a microfiber storage bag, and a neoprene neck strap.


Maven sells its products directly to consumers, so you won’t pay a higher price because of intermediaries. But the binoculars do have a few downsides. The rubber caps on the eyepieces easily come off and their polymer exterior is not very durable. In addition, they lack a diopter locking feature.

Honorable Mention
Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars

Vortex designed the 10×42 Diamondback binoculars to be extremely durable. They have excellent optical quality and will serve you for years. They feature unique glass elements and deliver exceptional resolution and minimize chromatic aberration. They also have brilliant color fidelity and light transmission. Dielectric coating on the lenses makes for bright, clear, and color-accurate images. The exterior lenses are protected from scratches, oil, and dirt thanks to the Armortek coating.


What sets these binoculars apart from others is their field of view. You’ll be able to observe your surroundings from long distances and identify targets like a pro. We love the short and sleek hinge design, the thumb indents, and the rubber armor. The rubber makes for a secure, non-slip grip and offers durable external protection. 


You can use these binoculars on a tripod or a car window mount. They are waterproof and fogproof, and can be used in different environments. Vortex provides a case, an objective lens cover, and a neck strap. However, there have been a few complaints about their design. The center hinge that holds them in place easily comes undone, making them unusable outdoors. They also don’t last very long.

Honorable Mention
Celestron Outland X 10x42 Binoculars

If you love the outdoors, you need binoculars with a high magnification factor and excellent light-gathering abilities. The Celestron Outland has both features and provides increased light transmission and high contrast images with lots of detail. Multi-coated optics make for high resolution and high contrast views. The prisms are made of BaK-4 glass for enhanced color fidelity. These binoculars are ideal for those who want crisp, detailed views and dependable performance.


Weighing only 1.40 pounds, these binoculars won’t give you aching wrists. They provide bright and clear images, allowing for comfortable viewing. Their protective rubber covering makes them highly durable and ensures they are protected from all outdoor elements. It also provides an anti-slip gripping surface. 


The Celestron Outland binoculars are versatile and deliver plenty of bang for your buck. You can use them on the trail, at the ballpark, or in a concert hall. Waterproof and fogproof, they can be used anywhere outdoors. However, there have been complaints that you need to keep adjusting them to get a clear image. This means they aren’t good for quick viewing. They are also not ideal for people who wear glasses.

Tips

  • Binoculars with a 10x level of magnification magnify the subject by a factor of 10. Higher levels of magnification are available, but anything above 12x will need the help of a tripod or image stabilization to produce a clear image.
  • Make sure that the binoculars have a sufficient amount of eye relief so that you can use them comfortably. If you use eyeglasses, retract the binocular eye caps to their minimum position and check for adequate eye relief.
  • The lens coating on the glasses is very important as it prevents the reflection of light and produces a sharper image. The multi-coated and fully multi-coated lenses are the best options for better image clarity and contrast.

FAQs

Q. What is the best prism type to choose when buying binoculars?

The two basic prism types that are used in binoculars are roof prisms and Porro prisms. The roof prisms offer better light transmission, but they are relatively expensive. For budget-conscious buyers, binoculars with Porro prisms are a better option.

Q. Are binoculars with a large field of view a better choice?

Binoculars with the largest field of view are always a better choice as they open up a larger area in your field of vision. A large objective lens provides a bigger field of view, whereas higher magnifications reduce it. For the same magnification levels, binoculars with a bigger lens will offer a larger field of view.

Q. How do I keep the binoculars clean after a trip?

A binocular’s casing can be cleaned with a piece of cloth. The lenses need careful handling as the coating may get damaged by the rough edges. Wiping with a microfiber cloth in gentle, circular motions is a good way of cleaning the lenses. In some cases, you may need to use a special cleaning fluid recommended by the manufacturer.

Final Thoughts

With its superior image quality and spot-on ergonomics, the Nikon MONARCH 7 10x42 Binocular is our top pick. The wider depth of view and a good close focus distance makes it a good choice from all aspects. With a compact design and solid construction, the Gosky 10x42 Roof Prism Binocular is a good choice at a low price.