Choose from our list of 2023’s best binoculars for hunting, below, and you’re sure to get a good look at elk, deer, turkey, or other game long before they can slip out of range. But choose carefully — the best binos for one hunter might not be a top choice for another.
For example, hunters looking for elk and big game in the West’s wide open spaces need more magnification than those hunting in the heavily-wooded sections back East. It just doesn’t make sense to bring high-magnification glass to your whitetail deer stand in a dense forest.
Then there’s always the question of size. If you’re an ultralight bowhunter, you’ll want compact binos that won’t weigh you down. Heavy binos can get in the way of your bow and mess up your shot. Who wants that?
Aside from these size and range factors, your budget may also dictate which product is best for you. We’ve included the best binos for the money in this list — mid-range, high-end, and budget-friendly options — so every hunter can find something that fits their hunting style and wallet.
So, let’s twist that center dial and focus on the best binoculars for hunting, as offered by major manufacturers like Nikon, Vortex, Leupold, and Athlon offer in 2023.
What factors do we consider when compiling a list of ‘the best binoculars for hunting’? So much depends on where you’ll be hunting and the type of magnification you’ll need. But the binos on this list offer the must-have qualities all hunters want:
- Waterproof housings for fog-free viewing
- Magnifications that match most hunting scenarios
- Rugged build quality and slip resistance
- Multi-coated lenses for bright and detailed images
- Eye relief features for glasses wearers
- Good-to-great warranties
Every product listed here meets those criteria, so dive in and consider what works best for you.
The first five binos on this list are the best value buys out there. In no way are these products “cheap,” but they are relatively inexpensive for their top-notch performance. Pick a pair that fits your budget, and you’ll be rewarded in the field.
Style: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 17 mm
Weight: 1.36 lb
Pros: Harness included, incredible warranty, great bang for your buck
Cons: White color correction slightly off, image not as bright as some competitors
If you’ve spent time researching hunting optics, you likely know that Vortex has a reputation for quality optics and an incredible no-questions-asked warranty. Pair those two and you’ll get a set of very good binoculars for the price.
The Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 8×42 model checks every box a hunter could want. This set offers a wide 393′ field of view, and images within that FOV look clear and sharp due to their fully multi-coated and anti-reflective lenses.
At 8x magnification, you shouldn’t have difficulty seeing targets like deer or elk after a strenuous hike. Also, their weight makes them a great pair of entry-level compact hunting binoculars.
When it comes to durability, this set features a non-slip rubberized body and nitrogen purging and o-ring seals for waterproofing.
New to hunting or need a lot of bang for your buck? Very few binos even come close to matching the Vortex Diamondback HDs, some of the best glass for the money, hands down.
Style: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 19.5 mm
Weight: 1.5 lb
Pros: Outstanding warranty, great performance for the price, excellent low-light performance, direct-to-consumer model saves you money
Cons: Non-rubberized, can be slippery, no harness included
Maven is one of the most intriguing companies on this list. They’re based in Wyoming and aim to provide hunters with quality optics at fair prices via their direct-to-consumer pricing model. When you buy from Maven, there are no middle-man markups or retail shenanigans — just quality optics at mouth-watering prices.
The C.1 Maven 8×42 binoculars utilize the same dielectric-coated Schmidt-Pechan prism system found in their higher-end B-series binos. As a result, users say this is glass that punches well above its price tag and delivers clear images when the light fades. That’s especially important for low-light big game hunting.
You’ll also get waterproof and fog-proof features. And should they ever succumb to water damage, Maven stands behind its products with an outstanding unconditional lifetime warranty. That makes these Mavens stand out as some of the best 8×42 hunting binoculars for hunting. And if you’d prefer a higher magnification, consider their 10×42 version.
Style: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 19 mm
Weight: 1.46 lb
Pros: Made in Japan, lifetime warranty, edge-to-edge image clarity, outstanding low light performance, few (if zero) chromatic aberrations
Cons: Ocular caps aren’t the best
The Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide 8×42 is frequently praised in hunting blogs, product reviews, and general word of mouth. This set provides outstanding optical quality, exceptional build quality, and are relatively lightweight, making them excellent as compact hunting binoculars.
Optically, the Leupold BX-4 Pros feature HD calcium fluoride lenses that are fully multi-coated with Leupold’s DiamondCoat system that increases light transmission while providing Leupold’s strongest-ever scratch resistance. A coat of their Guard-Ion also keeps water from lingering on the lenses, so you get a clear picture at all times.
You’ll also be able to use these in dim light — Leupold’s Twilight Max HD system gives you an extra 30 minutes of glassing at dawn and dusk. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that extra hour?
Aside from the lenses, the roof prisms are phase-coated for excellent image quality and edge-to-edge clarity. As you enjoy the crystal-clear image quality, you’ll also sense the quality craftsmanship you’re holding in your hands. The Leupold BX-4 uses a lightweight aluminum frame that Leupold has wrapped in protective rubber armor for a sure grip in wet conditions.
Finally, they’re made in Japan, so you know you’re getting a well-made product.
Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 17 mm
Weight: 1.56 lb
Pros: Harness included, excellent warranty, superb performance in low light, great image and edge-to-edge clarity
Cons: Might be a bit heavy for some
The Vortex Viper 10×42 stands as one of the best binoculars for hunting because of its quality optics, rugged design, and exceptional no-questions-asked warranty. They’re on our short list of the best 10x42s out there.
The Vipers feature Vortex’s XR anti-reflection, fully multi-coated lenses that provide excellent light transmission while blocking distracting reflections. With its high-density optics, you’ll get ideal resolution and edge-to-edge clarity. Finally, the 10x magnification works well for long-range glassing situations with a FOV that rivals some 8×42 binos. (If you need less magnification, Vortex also makes a more compact 8×42 version.)
Build quality is outstanding, with many reviewers sharing how solid these binoculars feel. The Viper HD features rubber-coated armor and well-placed thumb indents to keep them firmly in place. That’s especially good for bowhunting because they won’t slip out of your hand. Plus, they come with a harness for extra peace of mind.
Inside, they’re argon purged and o-ring sealed to provide water- and fog-proofing. If you need a quality pair of hunting binos, look carefully at these.
Style: 10×28 mm
Eye Relief: 16 mm
Weight: 12.4 oz
Pros: Extremely compact and lightweight, great for hunting in dense woods, very approachable price
Cons: Not as powerful as 8×42s or 10×42s
Sometimes you don’t need the long reach of 8×42 or 10×42 binos. If that’s the case for you, give the ultra-compact and lightweight Maven C.2s a look. They’re great for hunters on the go who tend to stick to heavily wooded areas.
I took these along on a 2022 bowhunting trip in southwest Colorado and was blown away by how well they performed relative to their small size. Because these are so portable, my buddies and I often just tossed them in our jacket pockets and left our bino harnesses back at camp. We really enjoyed using these in the thick, dark timbers we’d get tangled up in daily.
Since these are 10×28 binos, they’re less powerful than most other options on this list. But like their bigger brothers, these also deliver crystal clear image quality and edge-to-edge sharpness. They’re perfect for spot-and-stalk hunters who can close the gap quickly and don’t want to fuss with bulky glass. In September, we spotted a few elk with these, but the stalking part didn’t go well.
These are so portable and packable that travelers and birdwatchers would also find these useful. We love the price tag, too, and recommend them to anyone wanting low-cost, high-value glass in a lighter-weight package.
Here’s the sweet spot on our list. Many of these options stand as the best hunting binoculars under $500, with the Maven staying closer to the $300 range. All the options you’ll find here are solid glass from well-known brands.
Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 19.3 mm
Weight: 1.4 lb
Pros: Great optics for the price, edge-to-edge image bright and clear, center-locking diopter is a cool feature, excellent for glasses wearers due to long eye relief, unconditional warranty
Cons: Some don’t like the wheel feel, a tad heavy
The Athlon Cronus is another ‘best bang for the buck’ contender. While not yet well-known, Athlon is working hard to change that with its fairly-priced and extremely clear glass. Enter the Athlon Cronus.
Standing firmly in the higher reaches of the mid-level price point, you might not find a better image than the one you get here. We might even claim that they’re the best binoculars you can find for around $500. So, why are we so confident in saying that?
First, you’re getting Athlon’s Edge-2-Edge-Sharpness (E2ES) system with the Cronus. This field-flattening system prevents the globing effect that mires so many pairs of cheaper glass in mediocrity.
Essentially, the E2ES system delivers sharp, clear images from one glass edge to the other. Hunters get a sharp, clear image from one lens edge to the next.
Another noteworthy feature is the locking diopter. This design locks in your personal focus setting so you can spend more time chasing your next meat treat.
Give the Cronus a close look. Athlon is a brand you’ll hear about a lot more in the future.
Style: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 17.1 mm
Weight: 1.3 lb
Pros: Excellent optics for the money, now feature Nikon ED glass, great dawn and dusk performance
Cons: Lens caps fit loosely, no included harness
Nikon may be more famous for its line of DSLR cameras, but they also happen to make one heck of a good binocular set. The Monarch M7 8×42 series is a fantastic mid-range option. Depending on your needs, they might even qualify as the best binoculars in this price range.
While they’re a bit more expensive than the Diamondback HDs, the Nikon Monarchs checks all the same boxes save for the warranty, but that tradeoff comes with arguably better optics. These Monarch M7s now feature Nikon’s Extra low-Dispersion (ED) glass, reducing chromatic aberrations and color fringing.
Users report that these excel in dawn or dusk low-light conditions, making them ideal for elk hunting. They’re also o-ring sealed and filled with nitrogen to make them waterproof. (I just wish the lens caps fit more snugly.) A rubberized coating completes their sturdy build and makes the Monarch easy to hold in the rain. And at only 1.3 pounds, they’re easy to grab-and-go.
Hunters of all stripes should consider these binoculars. If you need more magnification, the Monarch M7 also makes for one of the best 10×42 binoculars.
Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 16.8 mm
Weight: 1.76 lb
Pros: Made in Germany, excellent overall optics, very ergonomic, CAT coatings help spot game, glass sources from Germany or Japan
Cons: Some might consider these heavy, adjusting autofocus takes time
Every binocular we’ve featured so far uses a roof prism to channel light into your eye. However, the Steiner company decided to use Porro prisms for the 10×42 Predator series — which also comes in an 8×30 autofocus (AF) version. We think these are some of 2023’s best binoculars for hunting in wooded areas.
You’ll find excellent optics in each barrel. That’s because they start with quality lens components sourced from Germany or Japan. Then, Steiner coats their lenses with their unique Color Adjusted Transmission coating, or CAT, to help an animal’s red or brown fur stand out against foliage, grasses, or shade. Because of that coating and the autofocus feature, Steiner is widely seen as one of the top binocular brands.
When you spot an animal, you won’t need to adjust your focus more than once. The Predator 10×42’s auto-focus system keeps the image clear from 20 yards out to infinity. Hunters who have fiddle-focused roof prisms for years will need to adapt to this much simpler method.
The Steiners are water- and fog-proof, and feature a rugged housing to protect against drops, plus the Steiner Heritage Warranty covers accidental damage. If you need some of the best binos for hunting in any price range, the Steiner Predator 10×42 makes a great choice.
Style: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 17 mm
Weight: 1.45 lb
Pros: Great value, advanced features at an approachable price, comes with lots of extras
Cons: Relatively short two-year warranty
What’s a list about optics without a solid Celestron option? Hunters and bird watchers far and wide have relied on this renowned brand for years, and now we know why.
First, these Trail Seeker 8×42 binos feature fairly advanced optics for their modest price tag. They sport BaK-4 Prisms with phase and dielectric coatings, which is a long-winded way of saying that they have excellent light transmission, a critical factor at dawn and dusk. The lenses are also fully multi-coated, so reflections should remain minimal even if you’re looking at a sun-drenched prairie.
And you’ll see that prairie with a very wide field of view, measuring an impressive 426 feet. These Trail Seekers also feel great in hand since they’re built with a lightweight magnesium frame. Finally, they’re fog-proof, waterproof, and durable enough to withstand minor bumps and drops.
Their clear and bright images are partially offset by a warranty that isn’t as good as most of the products on this list. Celestron only covers the binoculars for two years, so treat them with a bit more caution once your warranty has expired. If you’re not rough on your gear, these will provide an excellent value.
We’ve reached the very best-of-the-best binoculars for hunting in 2023. These binos are for the hunter who doesn’t want to compromise in any way, shape, or form. They want a clear picture in any light, whether it’s glaring or shallow — and they’re willing to pay for it.
Style: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 18.1 mm
Weight: 1.68 lb
Pros: Crystal-clear, excellent in low-light conditions, metal knob is solid and responsive
Cons: If there are any downsides, I haven’t found them yet
Maven is at it again, and this time, they really mean business. The C1.2 8×42 binoculars are as advertised and can stand up to glass thrice the price. I was fortunate enough to give these puppies a test drive this fall during my archery hunt, and as a guide during rifle season.
When it comes to high-end glass, the term ‘crystal clear’ gets thrown around a lot. What I find intriguing is that most of the people who describe binos in this fashion are simply… wrong. But not with these Mavens. The image quality and FOV are among the best I’ve ever seen.
I particularly like how lightweight the C1.2s are compared to others in this price range. Also, the metal focus knob makes glassing objects quick and effortless. That may sound arbitrary, but when you glass for hours and days on end, the ability to quickly focus over and over is a blessing.
My favorite feature of this pair of Mavens is the ability to pick up objects in low-light conditions. As a guide, I must be able to reliably pick out objects in the twilight hours while walking with my hunter into the stand or blind. To that end, these binoculars freaking killed it. 5 stars!
Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 16.7 mm
Weight: 2.02 lb
Pros: Made in Japan, harness included, great edge-to-edge clarity, world-class optic performance, outstanding in low light, warranty protects your product no matter what
Cons: Might be a bit heavy for some
This section features yet another pair of the best Vortex binoculars. However, these are the best set of pure binos (no rangefinder) that Vortex offers. They still come with the same no-questions-asked warranty, but the Japanese-made optics set them apart.
The Razor UHD binos offer outstanding light transmission and color correctness via their index-matched lenses and Vortex’s ultimate anti-reflective coatings — as a result, they excel in low light. Furthermore, it uses an Abbe Koenig roof prism that provides exceptional image resolution and edge-to-edge clarity; your eyes should never strain when using them.
They’re so good that people who’ve used both these and the Swarovski ELs have a hard time telling the difference, with some even opining that Swarovski should be worried. That’s a telling comment, but let your own eyes guide you.
Like other Vortex products on this list, the Razor UHDs come draped in a protective rubber coating, though these do sport a magnesium frame for lightweight durability. The inside of that frame remains water and fog-proof thanks to argon purging and o-ring seals. Ultimately, if you’re looking for world-class optics at a fair price (compared to other high-end glass), these should rank near the top of your list.
This might sound crazy, but these could be the best hunting binoculars for the money, considering their optics and price relative to Swarovski and Leica.
Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 20 mm
Weight: 1.71 lb
Pros: Lightweight, made in Austria, world-class optics, incredibly flat imaging, excellent edge-to-edge clarity, exceptional low-light performance, no or very few chromatic aberrations
Cons: Warranty may bother some
The Swarovski EL 10x42s are perhaps the highest-quality binoculars on the market today. For many out there, Swarovski is the standard by which all other glass is measured. That’s because they produce the most incredible images in all light, thanks to Swarovski’s legendary optics.
Swarovision, Swarovski’s name for its lens system, is the model of premium light transmission, producing distortion-free images, edge-to-edge. These binos let users see colors as if using their eyes alone; the images they produce are exceptionally bright and flat. Finally, many have tried to produce chromatic aberrations with these binoculars but couldn’t. If you want the best-of-the-best glass in terms of optical performance, these probably fit the bill.
But it isn’t just optical performance that makes Swarovski shine. The build quality of the ELs is fantastic, as they feature a single-handed wraparound grip that makes them easy to hold. In addition, Swarovski coats their magnesium body in a light green rubber housing submersible to 13 feet. Finally, they’re manufactured in Austria to the highest standards possible, and Swarovski expects these to last long enough to pass down to your children.
That’s a bold statement. Swarovski believes their craftsmanship is so good that these should last a lifetime, and this sentiment is reflected in their warranty. As such, Swarovski doesn’t offer a no-questions-asked warranty — instead, they cover manufacturing defects for up to 10 years. While this will sound scanty to some, we think it’s a supreme vote of confidence for their manufacturing prowess.
Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 19 mm
Weight: 2.2 lb
Pros: Flat imaging, made in Portugal, world-class optics, exceptional brightness, superb low-light performance
Cons: A tad too heavy for some, lacking ergonomic features, eyecups don’t have stop points
Not to be outdone, Leica boasts some of the best binoculars for hunting in the world with their Noctivid. You may know the Leica name from their line of high-quality cameras, and you can expect the same performance from their binos.
Leica’s lens system features world-class light transmission and stray-light suppression to help hunters see their targets in the most adverse conditions. Even in heavy reflective light, hunters will still see vivid images. Many reviewers report being stunned at just how clear and bright the images are, and some say they’re even brighter than the Swarovskis.
However, optical quality doesn’t mean squat if the bino body falls short. Leica made the housing of magnesium, which they then wrapped in a protective rubber casing. Their nitrogen-filled interior eliminates fog, and they’re submersible to 15 feet.
Finally, Leica’s warranty stands up pretty well to some other manufacturers on this list. Leica provides a 10-year no-questions-asked guarantee, meaning they’ll repair your binoculars should anything happen to them, at no cost to you. After ten years, they’re covered for an additional 30 years, should any optical defects emerge.
For some, 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars don’t pack enough punch for their hunting style. When you need glass that will significantly extend your horizon, get your hands on one of the powerful pairs below.
Style: 15×56 mm
Eye Relief: 18 mm
Weight: 2.85 lb
Pros: Focuses quickly, Made in Germany, crisp/bright images, excellent eye relief, work very well in low-light situations, comfortable to hold, depth of field is exceptional
Cons: 5-year no-fault warranty not best in the business, heavy but 56mm glass is
Some people need major magnification. For example, Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming hunters scan massive expanses of land in search of their next trophy.
Also, not everyone is a hunter — birders need quality glass, too, and can always use more magnification.
If any of this sounds like you, investigate the Zeiss Conquest HD 15×56, an excellent set of high-magnification binos.
With an impressive 15x magnification, you’ll need a steady hand, or better yet, a tripod. But never fear, Zeiss has one of the best tripod mounting brackets in the business. And after you’ve steadied these, you’ll be rewarded with incredibly bright and crisp images.
That’s because Zeiss is regarded as one of the best optical manufacturers in the world. They’ve been doing it a long time, and that experience shows in the Conquest HD.
If you want top-notch long-range glassing experience, the Zeiss Conquests give all others a run for the money. For us, they’re our favorite 15x pair, and you might just agree.
Style: 18×56 mm
Eye Relief: 18 mm
Weight: 2.65 lb
Pros: Exceptional color fidelity, low chromatic aberration, minimize eye strain compared to the spotter, not overly heavy considering magnification and objective lens size, exceptional clarity, birders love them too, lifetime warranty, great price for what you get
Cons: It might be difficult for some to get used to the focus, but once you do, it’s easy
Okay, okay, we get it. We already wrote about a pair of Vortex Razor UHD binos. But if you need an extreme amount of magnification, this 18×56 pair offers the best value on the market.
Like all high magnification binos, the Razors need to be stable, or spotting can be frustrating. Use your pack as a stable viewing platform to get unwavering images, or bring a tripod.
Once the image is steady, you’ll be amazed at how far you can see with the Vortex Razor UHDs. Hunters regularly mention glassing wild prey a few miles distant. And the image quality is, as the name implies, razor-sharp.
Don’t be surprised if you feel the UHDs are an extension of your own eyes, thanks to Vortex’s best anti-reflective coating and index-matched lenses. Plus, these have a natural feel due to their excellent ergonomics. Yes, they’re slightly heavy, but that’s the name of the game with this size of objective lens.
If you need high magnification, this 18x is the best on the market.
Though we prefer hunting with high-end glass, we understand that budgets can get tight. That’s why this list includes two sets we consider as the best binoculars under $200.
Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 18 mm
Weight: 1.47 lb
Pros: Great Reviews, can be found on sale often, great image quality for the price
Cons: Loose caps, doesn’t come with a harness
Bushnell is a well-known brand in the hunting world. Someone you know may own a pair of Bushnell binoculars, or perhaps you have a pair yourself. That’s because Bushnell aims to create quality products that everybody can afford to use, and their Legend L-Series is a shining example of why.
So what do we say about the Bushnells? The Legend L-Series 8×42 stands firmly in the mid-range and features a slew of components that make these some of the best hunting binoculars for elk and other big game in their price range. With Extra-low Dispersion (ED) prime fluorite glass and fully multi-coated lenses, these provide good image quality without breaking the bank. And, of course, they’re water- and fog-proof.
There is a drawback, though; the caps at both ends like to wiggle free, so keep track of them.
Style: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 13.7 mm
Weight: 1.78 lb
Pros: Incredible warranty, great bang for your buck, inexpensive
Cons: Chromatic aberrations, unimpressive FOV and eye relief, a little heavy for a compact set
We love Leupold. When it comes to outstanding and affordable glass, you’re bound to find a quality, well-built pair of binos from this reputable optics maker. Case in point, the Mackenzie HD 8x42s.
This entry-level set of binos shares several things found in more expensive models: waterproofing, a rubber-encased frame, and an unconditional lifetime guarantee. While they’re more prone to chromatic aberrations than a higher-end pair like the BX-4 Pro Guide HD, these Leupolds will still clearly show you anything that moves.
In terms of hands-on features, the compact set of binoculars comes with twist-up eyecups, a right-eye diopter, and a center-mount focus wheel. If you’re looking for an excellent gift, or perhaps a set of entry-level binos for the less experienced hunter, these might be perfect.
The BX-1 McKenzie HDs are not without their faults, however, as they don’t offer high-end field of view or eye relief. They do feature Leupold’s Twilight Light management systems, so you’ll still get to glass for an extra 10 minutes at dawn and dusk. We think they’re a solid value as long as you don’t wear glasses.
For less field of view but more magnification, check out the BX-1 McKenzie HD 10x42s.
You might ask, “what binocular magnification is best for hunting?” Most hunters will be fine with 10×42 or 8×42 for general-purpose glassing, but a ‘one size fits most’ approach may not be right for everyone. Let us explain.
You probably don’t need the highest level of magnification. As you hike and tire, your hands can become unsteady. Through higher magnification binoculars, shaky hands will make images jumpy and hard to see.
We generally think 8x is fine for most hunting, but if you truly need higher magnification, 10x and beyond might be for you. On the other hand, if you hunt primarily in densely wooded areas, consider an 8x magnification, or lower.
Now that you’ve looked at our list of the best binoculars for hunting, let’s explore some of the technical terms here in greater detail.
Magnification & Objective Lens
When you see numbers like 10×42, 8×32, and 10×50, these measurements contain two essential pieces of information. The first number in 10x42 indicates the amount of magnification the binoculars offer. In this case, the 10 shows a 10-times magnification compared to what your naked eyeball can see.
The second number in 10x42 tells the hunter how large the objective lens is measured in millimeters. Different size lenses let in different amounts of light. For instance, larger lenses collect more light than smaller ones, which is helpful for hunting when the light is shallow. However, don’t pick a set of binos based solely on objective lens size; there’s more to the story than that. For example, larger objective lens sizes weigh more than smaller ones, so be careful not to weigh yourself down.
Field of View or FOV
There’s a reason we wanted to talk about field of view immediately after magnification and objective lenses. FOV measures the horizontal space you can see edge to edge from 1000 yards away. Typically, the magnification and objective lens directly correlates to the FOV.
With a set of 10×42 binoculars, you’ll have a smaller FOV than if you were to use an 8×42 set. More magnification means a lower FOV, especially when the objective lens remains the same size.
If you wear glasses, this number is important to you. Eye relief, measured in millimeters, is the length your eye can rest away from the eyecup and still see a clear image. If you can’t see through them, are they really the best binoculars for hunting? Typically, if you wear glasses, you’ll want binos that offer at least 15mm of eye relief, but more is better. One thing to remember is this: The lower the magnification and objective lens, the more eye relief users typically get.
You can think of the exit pupil as the light that shines through the ocular lens of the binocular. You divide the objective lens size by the magnification to find a value in millimeters. In the case of a 10×50 pair of binos, you’ll get 50/10=5mm.
That means the exit pupil is 5 mm in diameter. This number is important because of the human pupil. The pupil expands and contracts depending on how much light there is. In low-light situations, the pupil can expand to around 7 mm. So, in low-light conditions, you’ll want to find a pair of binos that have an exit pupil that’s bigger because that’ll make the image brighter.
But remember, the quality of glass and lens coatings also have a massive role here. For example, just because you buy good binoculars with a large exit pupil doesn’t mean the image will automatically be better than alpha-level glass like Swarovski ELs.
So much of binoculars (and optics in general) has to do with light transmission. For example, lens coatings let light pass through the lens and into your eye; without coatings, the light would simply bounce off the glass, creating reflections that make it hard to see.
Manufacturers use several terms to describe their coatings, including single-coated, fully multi-coated, and a hodge-podge of marketing terms. These terms generally relate to light transmission itself, but manufacturers also layer their lenses with anti-scratch coatings. Ultimately, the quality of the glass, coupled with the number of coatings it receives, gives a good indicator of the cost and quality of the optics.
Roof & Porro Prisms
Inside binoculars, you’ll find prisms that help bounce the light from outside the glass and into your eyes. Where those prisms are located dictates what they’re called; you have roof and Porro prisms. Roof prisms are at the top of the binocular barrel. This placement makes for some of the best compact products since manufacturers can streamline their size and shape.
On the other hand, you’ll read about Porro prisms that place prisms on the outside of the barrels. These are the broader binoculars you’ve likely already seen, making them bulkier and heavier than roof prism models. The majority of binoculars on this list are of the roof prism variety.
The process of manufacturing prisms can result in various quality levels. For example, dielectric phase correcting, a type of coating, improves image quality. Ultimately, improved image quality makes it possible to avoid eye strain so that you can use your binoculars all day without discomfort.
With lower-quality binos, you’ll have problems making out some finer details due to chromatic aberrations. The best way to describe this phenomenon is that images appear purple or bluish due to how light moves across the lenses at different speeds. As a result, the viewer will see a fringe of purple-colored light, making it difficult to see the details in some images.
Human beings aren’t as symmetrical as we think we are. For example, there are differences in the length of our legs or arms; some of us have better vision in one eye than the other. That’s where the adjustable diopter comes in. This little dial lets hunters correct their binoculars to their own eyes to get the best possible stereoscopic view.
Waterproofing & Rugged Construction
Hunters, you’ll want a pair of binoculars that can handle abuse. Some of the best products on this list feature waterproof construction by purging all oxygen from the glass with nitrogen or argon. These gasses keep them fog-free as well. Many of the best hunting binoculars also feature o-rings to keep out dirt and water that might otherwise find its way into your glass.
Related to waterproofing, you’ll find that many of the best binos feature rubberized construction to keep them from falling out of your hand when it gets wet outside.
Finally, look for a solid warranty and return program. Manufacturers of the best hunting binoculars often offer “no questions asked” return policies that give you peace of mind when things go south.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the 15 best binoculars for hunting in 2023. We’ve shown you excellent binoculars at all points along the price spectrum. So whether you’ve got a couple hundred dollars or a couple thousand, you’ll find quality optics everywhere on this list.
Hunters have never had a better selection of binoculars. The quality of glass, coupled with excellent warranties and rugged performance, makes for a quality glassing experience no matter your budget. So have fun shopping and grab a set of binos you’ll love and use for years to come.
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Last Updated on August 15, 2023