15 Best Binoculars for Hunting 2022: Top Glass for the Money

Hunter in camo looking through a set of black binoculars

15 Best Binoculars for Hunting in 2022: Top Glass for the Money


The best binoculars for hunting in 2022 help you get a good, long look at your elk, deer, turkey, or other game before they have a chance to disappear forever. But, what’s good for one hunter might not be the top choice for another.

Western hunters looking for elk and big game in wide-open spaces need more magnification than those hunting heavily wooded eastern parts of the country. Think about it: Bringing high-magnification glass to a heavily wooded whitetail deer stand doesn’t make much sense.

Then, there’s always the question of size. If you’re an ultralight bowhunter, you’ll want compact binoculars 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 two critical factors, your budget often determines which product is best for you. We included the best binoculars for the money, mid-range, high-end, and budget options, so every hunter finds an affordable alternative to maximize their success on the hunt.

Now it’s time to twist that center dial and focus on the best binoculars for hunting that 2022 has to offer. Most major manufacturers are represented here, including Nikon, Vortex, Leupold, and Athlon, so your favorites may make the cut.


Traits We Value When Analyzing Binoculars

You may wonder, “what are the best binoculars for hunting?” Of course, that depends on where you’re hunting and the type of magnification you need. But all our best-rated binoculars include an essential list of qualities. They should:

  • Be waterproof
  • Have the correct magnification for the job
  • Feature rugged builds and slip resistance
  • Contain multi-coated lenses to help you see your targets
  • Utilize functional eye relief for glasses wearers
  • Come with a warranty

Every set of hunting binoculars we review meets these requirements, so do your best to find some glass that works best for you, your budget, and your hunting style.

Best Binoculars for the Money

The following three sets of binos are the best value buys out there. In no way are the following products “cheap,” but they’re relatively inexpensive for their top-notch performance. Pick a pair that fits your budget, and you’ll be rewarded in the field.

Vortex Optics Diamondback HD

Vortex brand Crossfire HD 8 x 42 hunting binocularsStyle: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 17 mm
FOV: 393′
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 any time researching hunting binoculars and optics, you likely know the Vortex brand name. Vortex has a reputation for quality optics and an incredible no-questions-asked warranty. When you pair those two, you get a set of very good binoculars for the price.

The Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 8×42 model checks just about 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 8× 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 rubberized body for non-slip and nitrogen purging and o-ring seals for waterproofing.

If you’re just getting into hunting or need a set of binoculars that won’t break the bank, you can do much worse than the Diamondback HD binos from Vortex Optics. We think they’re some of the best vortex binoculars for the money, hands down.

Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD

Grey Leupold elk hunting binoculars

Style: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 19 mm
FOV: 368′
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 ranks as some of the best binoculars for hunting across blogs, reviews, and word of mouth in the hunting world. They provide outstanding optical quality, are exceptionally well made, and their relatively low weight makes them an excellent pair of 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 building on the lenses, so you get a clear picture at all times.

And you will use these at all times, too; the Twilight Max HD system enables hunters to get an extra 30 minutes of glassing at dawn and dusk. Would an extra hour or so help you?

Aside from the lenses themselves, the roof prisms are phase coated for excellent image quality and edge-to-edge clarity. So while you’re rewarded with crystal-clear image quality, you’ll also feel quality craftsmanship in your hand. The Leupold BX-4s consist of a lightweight aluminum frame that Leupold wrapped in protective rubber armor for easy gripping in wet conditions.

Finally, they’re made in Japan, so you know you’re getting a well-made product.


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Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism

Vortex brand binoculars

Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 17 mm
FOV: 341′
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. In short, they’re some of the best 10×42 binoculars out there. 

The Vipers feature Vortex’s XR anti-reflection fully multi-coated lenses, providing excellent light transmission while blocking out distracting reflections. Because of the Viper’s high-density optics, you’ll get ideal resolution and edge-to-edge clarity. Finally, the 10× 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 tremendous 8×42 version.)

Build quality is outstanding across the Viper range, with many reviewers reveling at how well these binoculars feel in their hands. The Viper HD features rubber-coated armor and well-placed thumb indents to keep them firmly in your hand. That great feel makes them some of the best for bowhunting because they won’t slip out of your hand (though they also come with a harness, just in case).

Inside they’re argon purged and o-ring sealed to provide water and fog proofing. If you need a quality pair of hunting binoculars, these could be them.

Good Binoculars at a Great Price (Mid-Range)

This section of the represents the sweet spot. 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 good binoculars from awesome brands. 

Athlon Optics Cronus UHD

Black set of Athlon brand 10x42 binos for outdoorsmen and backcountry enthusiasts

Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 19.3 mm
FOV: 338′
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 might just offer the best bang for the buck on this list. While not the most well-known name in the sport, Athlon strives to change that with their 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 what you get here. We might even claim that they’re the best binoculars you can find for around $500. So, why would we dare to speak so boldly?

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 binoculars in mediocrity.

Essentially, the E2ES system delivers sharp, clear images from one edge of the glass to the other. From one lens edge to the next, hunters get a sharp, clear image.

Also, a convenient feature on the Cronus’s is the locking diopter. With a locking design, you don’t have to worry about it moving while you hustle through the woods, searching for your next meat treat.

If you’re looking to try out a pair of binos from a company you might not be intimately familiar with, give the Athlon Cronus a look.

Nikon 7576 Monarch M7

Black Nikkon 8x42 hunting binocularsStyle: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 17.1 mm
FOV: 330′
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

Perhaps Nikon is most famous for their line of DSLR cameras, but they happen to make a heck of a binocular, too. The Monarch M7 8×42 series is a fantastic option at the entry-to-mid-range price point. Some might even say they’re the best binoculars for the price, but that depends on what you value. 

While they’re a bit more expensive than the Vortex Optics Diamondback HD, they check 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 compensating against color fringing. 

Users report that these hunting binoculars excel in low-light situations like dawn and dusk, making them great for elk hunting. Further, they’re filled with nitrogen and o-ring sealed to make them waterproof. A rubberized coating completes their sturdy build and makes the Monarch 5 easy to hold in the rain. And their low weight, only 1.3 pounds, makes them a great pair of compact binoculars. One drawback is that the lens caps seem to fit a bit loosely. 

Ultimately, we think these binoculars make a fine companion for hunters of all stripes. If you need more magnification, the Monarch M7 also makes for one of the best 10×42 binoculars. Overall, the Monarch is one of the best Nikon binoculars for hunting. 

Maven C.1 ED

Grey Maven brand 8x42 binoculars for hunting

Style: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 19.5 mm
FOV: 341′
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

We think Maven is probably one of the coolest companies on this list. They’re based out of 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 great prices. 

The C.1 Maven 8 ×42 binoculars utilize the same dielectric coated Schmidt-Pechan prism system found in their higher-end B-series binoculars. As a result, users report glass that punches well above its price tag and provides clear images when the lights turn low. Because they work so well in low light, we think they’re great for big game hunting.

Assuredly, you’ll find waterproof and fog-proof features. And even if these do somehow succumb to water damage, Maven features an outstanding unconditional lifetime warranty. When you wrap it all up, these Mavens stand as some of the best hunting binoculars for hunting — and they come in a 10×42 version if you need the additional magnification.


Steiner Predator Series Auto Focus

Black Steiner brand compact hunting binoculars

Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 16.8 mm
FOV: 316′
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

So far, every binocular we’ve featured on this list of the best binoculars for hunting utilized a roof prism to take light from the outside world into your eye. However, the Steiner company decided to use Porro prisms for the 10×42 Predator series — which also come in an 8×30 autofocus or AF version. We think that set makes are some of the best for hunting in the woods. 

You’ll find excellent optics through each barrel when you’re holding the Predators. That’s because they start with quality lens components sourced from either Germany or Japan. Then, Steiner coats their lenses with their unique Color Adjusted Transmission coating, or CAT, to help animals’ red or brown fur stand out against foliage, grasses, or shade. Because of that coating and the autofocus feature, these make Steiner one of the top binocular brands. 

And once you spot that animal, you won’t need to worry about adjusting your focus. The Predator 10×42 utilizes an auto-focus system. You adjust it once, and the image stays clear from 20 yards to as far as you can see. Ultimately, this change can challenge hunters who previously used roof prisms and traditional focusing mechanisms. But, it becomes second nature after you use the binoculars for a while. 

Like all the binoculars on this list, they’re water and fog-proof and feature a rugged housing to protect against drops. Also, Steiner includes their own Steiner Heritage Warranty that covers damage to the binoculars that could occur at no fault of your own. If you need some of the best binos for hunting at any price range, the Steiner Predator 10×42 makes a great choice.

Celestron Trail Seeker

Black 8x42 Celestron brand binos

Style: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 17 mm
FOV: 426′
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 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 allow for excellent light transmission, which is critical 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. 

While looking at that prairie, you’ll have a very wide field of view, measuring in at 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. 

While they produce clear and bright images, their warranty isn’t quite as good as most of the products on this list. It 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.

Best High-End Binoculars

Here lies the very best of the best binoculars for hunting. 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 and in their face or shallow — and they’re willing to pay for it.

Vortex Optics Razor UHD

Grey Vortex brand binoculars; the best set they offer

Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 16.7 mm
FOV: 346′
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

Another section features yet another pair of the best Vortex binoculars. However, the thing to know about these is that they’re the best set of pure binoculars (no rangefinder) that Vortex offers. They still receive the same no-questions-asked warranty, but the optical components they’re made with and the fact they’re made in Japan sets them apart.

Optically, the Razor UHD binos exhibit outstanding light transmission and color correctness via their index-matched lenses and Vortex’s ultimate anti-reflective coatings — as a result, they shine in low light. Further, the roof prism is of the Abbe Koenig variety and produces 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 going even as far as to claim that Swarovski should be worried. We think the ultimate judge of binoculars should be your own eyes, but we believe it’s worth noting. 

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 via argon purging and o-ring seals. Ultimately, if you’re looking for world-class optics at a fair price (compared to some other high-end binoculars), 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. 

Swarovski EL

Black Swarovski hunting binoculars for clear images

Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 20 mm
FOV: 330′
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 10×42 are perhaps the best binoculars on the market today. For many out there, they’re the standard by which all other binoculars are measured. That’s because they produce the most incredible images in all light, thanks to Swarovski’s world-class optics. 

Swarovision, the name Swarovski gave to its lens system, exemplifies premium light transmission and produces distortion-free images that go edge to edge. These binoculars enable users to see colors as if they were looking at them with their own eyes; plus, 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 sets of glass in terms of optical performance, these binoculars might fit the bill. 

But it isn’t just optical performance that outdoor enthusiasts renown Swarovski for. The build quality of the ELs is fantastic, as they feature a single-handed wraparound grip that makes them easy to hold. 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 defects in manufacturing for up to 10 years following a purchase. While some could perceive this as a knock compared to their competitors, we think it’s a testament to their manufacturing prowess.


Leica Noctivid

Black Leica Noctovid 10x42 binoculars

Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 19 mm
FOV: 337′
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 creates some of the best binoculars for hunting in the world. You may know the Leica name from their line of cameras and other optical instruments. If you know anything about the quality of their cameras, you can expect the same performance from their binoculars. 

Leica’s lens system features world-class light transmission and stray-light suppression to help hunters see their targets in even the most adverse conditions. That means in heavy reflective light, hunters will still see brilliant images. Many reviewers report being stunned at just how clear and bright these binoculars are, and some say they’re even brighter than the Swarovskis.

But, optical quality wouldn’t mean squat if their body fell 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 30 more should any sort of optical defect emerge. 

Best High Magnification Binoculars

For some, a set of 8×42 or 10×42 mm binoculars won’t pack enough punch for their hunting style. When you need glass that’ll significantly expand your visible range, get your hands on one of the powerful pairs we recommend below.

Zeiss Conquest HD

Black high-magnification glass magnifying devices

Style: 15×56 mm
Eye Relief: 18 mm
FOV: 240′
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 significant magnification. For example, western hunters in Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming scan massive expanses of land in search of their next trophy.

Heck, not every guy or gal in the market for an excellent set of binos is a hunter — some birders need quality glass, too, and could use the extra magnification.

If we’re talking to you, the Zeiss Conquest HD 15×56 is an excellent set of high-magnification binos.

With an impressive 15x magnification, you 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 your hunting binoculars, you’ll get 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 comes through with the Conquest HD.

If you want the best long-range glassing experience, you can do a lot worse than the Zeiss Conquests. For us, they’re our favorite 15x pair, and you might just agree.

Vortex Optics Razor UHD

Vortex brand ultimate high definition 18x56 magnification device

Style: 18×56 mm
Eye Relief: 18 mm
FOV: 194′
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, we think this 18×56 pair offers the best value on the market.

Like the Zeiss Conquest above, you need to stabilize this Vortex pair if you plan on actually spotting elk through them. Improvising a stable position on your pack, or traveling with a lightweight tripod, ensures a clear image.

Once the image is steady, you’ll be amazed at how far you can see. Hunters regularly mention glassing wild prey at distances as far as a few miles away. We don’t need to tell you how much of an advantage that provides.

And even with that ability, it wouldn’t matter if you couldn’t clearly see through them. But with this set, you’ll marvel at just how sharp the images transmitted into your eyes are.

With Vortex’s best anti-reflective coating and index-matched lenses, you’ll feel like the UHDs are an extension of your own eyes. Part of the reason for this natural feel is their excellent ergonomics. Now, we will admit that they’re slightly heavy, but that’s the name of the game with this size of objective lens.

If you need 18x magnification, here’s your best bet and the best vortex binoculars with high magnification you can find.

Top Budget-Friendly Binos Under $200

Though we prefer hunting with high-end glass, we understand that budgets can get tight. That’s why we’ve included a couple picks for the best binoculars under $200.

Bushnell Legend L-Series

Black Bushnell brand budget hunting binoculars

Style: 10×42 mm
Eye Relief: 18 mm
FOV: 340′
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-recognized name in the world of hunting. If you’ve ever hunted before, you’ve likely known somebody who’s owned a pair of Bushnell binoculars. Maybe you’ve even owned 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 in our binocular review? 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 binoculars 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 an eye on them. For some of the best binoculars under $200, check out Bushnell. 


Leupold BX-1 McKenzie HD

Black Leupold 10x42 binoculars

Style: 8×42 mm
Eye Relief: 13.7 mm
FOV: 242′
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 glass at any section of the price range, 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 binoculars features many of the good features that the more expensive models do: waterproofing, a rubber encased frame, and an unconditional lifetime guarantee. While they won’t have the same reduction in chromatic aberrations that a higher-end pair like the BX-4 Pro Guide HD will, these will still help you catch a clear glimpse of 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-focus wheel. If you’re looking for an excellent gift, or perhaps a set of entry-level binos for the less experienced hunter in your life, these might be perfect.

The BX-1 McKenzie HDs are not without their faults, however, as they don’t offer high-end eye relief or field of view. They still 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 set of binoculars as long as you don’t wear glasses. 

For less field of view but more magnification, check out the BX-1 McKenzie HD 10×42s.

Differences Between 10×42 and 8×42 Binos

Hunter wearing camo sitting on a log and looking through his 10x42 binoculars

10×42 or 8×42: Which magnification is best for you?


You might ask, “what binocular magnification is best for hunting?” We think 10×42 or 8×42 do well for most hunting needs. Because hunters need general-purpose glass, these two sizes offer the capability that works for most hunters most of the time. As such, 8× and 10× magnification offer similar abilities, but some may be more beneficial for some hunting than others. Let us explain. 

Don’t go out there thinking you need the highest level of magnification. As you hike and move around, you’ll get tired from time to time, and your hands might become unsteady. Those unsteady hands make images jumpy and hard to see through higher magnification hunting binoculars.

We tend to think that 8× is excellent for hunting, but if you need higher magnification, 10× and beyond might be for you. On the other hand, maybe you hunt primarily in densely wooded areas; if that’s the case, consider a lower magnification than even 8x.

Technical Considerations

Man in a hat staring through a set of 2022's best binoculars for hunting

There’s a lot to consider when researching your next set of binoculars


Now that you’ve taken a look at our list of the best binoculars for hunting, we answer some of the more technical terms here in more detail.

Magnification and Objective Lens

When you see numbers like 10×42, 8×32, and 10×50, these measurements mean two essential pieces of information. The first number in 10×42 indicates the amount of magnification that the hunting binoculars offer. In this case, the 10 shows a 10-times magnification compared to what your naked eyeball can see.

The second number in 10×42 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. Beware, though. Picking a set of binoculars based solely on their objective lens size could bite you in the backside. In addition, 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.  

Eye Relief

If you wear glasses, this number is significant 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 the binoculars, are they really the best binoculars for hunting? Typically, if you wear glasses, you’ll want to seek binoculars 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. 

Exit Pupil

You can think of the exit pupil as the bit of light that shines through the ocular lens of the binocular. You find it by dividing 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 have a massive role here too. Just because you buy some good binoculars with a large exit pupil doesn’t mean the image will be automatically better than a set of alpha-level binoculars like a Swarovski EL pair.

Lens Coatings

So much of binoculars (and optics in general) has to do with light transmission. For example, lens coatings enable light to pass through the lens and into your eye; without them, 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 mess 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 binoculars.

Roof and Porro Prisms

Inside the best binoculars for hunting, you’ll find prisms that help bounce the light from outside the binoculars into your eyes. Where those prisms are located dictates what they’re called; you have roof and Porro prisms. Roof prisms are situated at the top of the binocular barrel. This placement makes for some of the best compact hunting binoculars around since manufacturers can streamline their size and shape. 

On the other hand, you’ll read about Porro prisms. Hunting manufacturers place these 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 hunting binoculars on this list are of the roof prism variety. 

What manufacturing processes the prisms undergo make for higher- and lower-quality binos. For example, dielectric phase correcting, a type of coating, improves the image quality of your binoculars. Ultimately, improved image quality makes it possible to avoid eye strain so that you can use your binoculars all day without feeling any discomfort. 

Chromatic Aberrations

With some lower-quality binoculars, you’ll run into problems making out some of the 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 detail in some images.

Adjustable Diopter

Human beings aren’t as symmetrical as we think we are. For example, there are differences in the length of our legs or arms, and some of us have better vision in one eye than the other. That’s where the adjustable diopter comes in. This little dial enables hunters to correct their binoculars for their unique eyes to get the best possible view. 

Waterproofing and Rugged Construction

Last but not least, you’re going to want a pair of binoculars that can handle abuse. Some of the best binoculars for hunting feature waterproof construction by purging all oxygen from the binoculars with nitrogen or argon. These gasses keep them fog-free as well. Further, many of the best hunting binoculars feature o-rings to keep out any dirt, grime, and water that may try to force its way into your glass. 

In keeping with waterproofing, you’ll find that many of the best hunting binoculars feature rubberized construction to keep them from falling out of your hand when it gets wet outside.

Finally, look for a quality warranty and return program. Some of the best hunting binoculars manufacturers offer “no questions asked” return policies that give you peace of mind if your investment hits the dirt.

Final Thoughts on Hunting Binoculars

A gun, set of black binoculars, and a camo hunting backpack lying against a log

Which binoculars will lead you to a successful hunt in the 2022 season?


There you have it, the 15 best binoculars for hunting in 2022. We hope that we’ve shown you that you can buy excellent binoculars at all points in the price range. Whether you’ve got a couple hundred or a couple thousand dollars, you’ll find quality optics on this list. 

Now might be the best time in hunting history to purchase binoculars. The quality of glass, coupled with excellent warranties and rugged performance, makes for a quality glassing experience no matter your budget. We hope you find a set of binos you love and use for years to come.

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1 Comment

  1. Hey, Nice review article, I just missed the Stealth Vision Binoculars. They are 10×42, but they say it lighter and smaller than the others.

    I saw that they are pretty good for long-range shooting. They have good clarity and are lighter and smaller than the other ones.

    Maybe you can make a review for them too: stealthvision.com

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