Best Hunting Binoculars In 2024 Tested And Reviewed

Written By John VanDerLaan 

Updated

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In today’s post we are going to show you how to choose the best hunting binoculars for your particular situation. We will show you our editor’s picks as well as complete reviews, by real hunters, of the top binoculars available today.

These are the binoculars that our team of hunters use every day and in all different hunting situations.

We will share our honest reviews about each of these binoculars so that you can make an educated decision as to what are the best for you and your situation.

best 10x42

Stealth Vision Binoculars

stealth vision 10x42 binoculars


Clearest and brightest binoculars available today

Best FOR THE MONEY

Vortex Diamondback  Hunting Binoculars

vortex diamondback

If you have been researching the top rated binoculars for hunting on the internet, you have no doubt come across the many articles that have clearly been written by non hunters.

Don’t be fooled by those articles. They are intended to sell you the binoculars that the author makes the most money from.

We are actual hunters and we have used each of these binoculars and evaluated them from a hunter's perspective.

Best Binoculars For Hunting At A Glance

How We Chose The Best Hunting Binoculars

I have been testing and rating hunting binoculars for this publication since since 2018. During that time, I have tested more than 50 pairs of premium binoculars in real world hunting situations. Not by looking at some resolution target, but by actually using these binos in the field.

I hunt more than 80 days a year for different species and in different states, from western hunting for elk and antelope to bowhunting whitetails in the midwest and small woodlots of New England. During these hunts, I always bring multiple pairs of binoculars, so that I can compare them with each other in every type of condition imaginable.

I then record my findings in my hunting journal, and at the end of the season, I go back through the data that I have compiled to find the standout features and the fails of each binocular.

Below are the binos that have performed the best after 8 years of testing.

Best Binoculars For Hunting: Reviews And Recommendations

Best Hunting Binoculars

We first put these binoculars to the test during the whitetail rut in Ohio last year and we were very impressed.

They replaced an old set of Cabela's binoculars that I had become quite fond of, and I have to admit that I was skeptical, but these binoculars are awesome!

The Viper HD comes with high density extra low dispersion glass and XR fully multi-coated lenses.

They are available in both 8X42 and 10X42 models. Both models weigh in at just over 24 ounces.

The 10X42 has a field of view of 319 feet, while the 8X42 has a very impressive 347 feet.

They are completely waterproof and fogproof thanks to sealed o-rings and argon gas purging.

The lenses feature an Armor Tek coating that is an ultra-hard, scratch-resistant coating that protects exterior lenses from scratches, oil and dirt.

The binoculars body is protected by a rubber armor which provides a secure, non-slip grip, and durable external protection.

Here is a great video that illustrates the features of the Vortex Viper HD Binoculars and why they are our top pick.

One of the deciding factors in naming the Vortex Optics Viper as our Editor's Choice is their incredible VIP Warranty.

Here it is directly form Vortex:

Our VIP warranty is about you, not us. It's about taking care of you after the sale.

VIP stands for a Very Important Promise to you, our customer. We will repair or replace your Vortex product in the event it becomes damaged or defective—at no charge to you. If we cannot repair your product, we will replace it with a product in perfect working order of equal or better physical condition.

You see, it doesn't matter how it happened, whose fault it was, or where you purchased it. You can count on the VIP Warranty for all Vortex Optics riflescopesprism scopesred dotsrangefindersbinocularsspotting scopestripods, and monoculars.

  • Unlimited Lifetime Warranty
  • Fully transferable
  • No warranty card to fill out
  • No receipt needed to hang on to

If you ever have a problem, no matter the cause, we promise to take care of you.

The only downside to these binoculars is that they are fairly expensive. At the time of this writing they are coming in just under $500, but if you are looking for quality 10X42 binoculars or 8X42 Binoculars, there is no need to look any further.

Click here for our full Vortex Viper Binoculars Review.

After doing a lot of research on the internet, I purchased the Vortex Viper HD Binoculars and all I can say is wow! I am not used to this kind of quality in a pair of binoculars. Granted they were a little more expensive, but well worth it!

Jim Gentry


Best 10x42 Binoculars For Hunting: Stealth Vision Binoculars

Stealth Vision Binoculars

When we had the opportunity to test and rate the Stealth Vision 10x42 binoculars and we were blown away by the clarity and crispness of color.

These are the highest quality binoculars we have ever tested and here's why.

These binoculars were developed by Dr. John McCall JR., an optometrist that had the idea to bring the same technology that is used in ocular microscopes to binoculars used for hunting.

This technology has changed the game in binoculars designed for hunting by bringing incredible optical quality that produces clarity and depthness of color to the market.

Never before has this kind of technology been used in a hunting binocular.

These are actually clearer and brighter with superior low light performance than binoculars costing twice as much, and the innovation doesn't stop there.

One of our pet peaves, when it comes to binoculars is the total lack of thought that goes into the lens covers.

How many lens covers have you lost?

Be honest.

Well, no more lost lens covers with the Stealth Vision because they are tethered to the binos.

Stealth Vision Binoculars tethered Lens Covers

They also feature a lightweight aluminum body, extra-low dispersion glass(ED) and of course, the incredible, proprietary roof prism with “total reflective Ocular surface mirror “. This is used in ocular surgical microscopes and reflects 99.7% of surgical laser energy. 

This exceeds the di-electric coating used by Swarovski by 3-4% and is offered at half the price of the Swarovski binoculars.

When you couple all of this with the Stealth Vision Unconditional Lifetime Warranty, it is easy to see why these are the best 10x42 binoculars for hunting that are on the market today.

The only reason that they did not take our top spot is because of the price. All of the technology and innovation comes at a fairly high price.

To learn more, check out our full Stealth Vision Binoculars Review.


Best Hunting Binoculars For the Money

Quality optics manufacturers are offering so much value today at reasonable prices, making it a very difficult decision to come up with the best binocular for the money.

We can rule out the high end german brands because even though they are awesome, their price puts them out of reach for most hunters.

What we are really talking about here is value for your dollar.

What are the best value binoculars?

This brings us to the mid range priced binoculars.

We looked for binoculars that offered many of the features of the high end binoculars, but without the high end price.

We were impressed by what we found.

As we performed our research and evaluated all of the features of the top binoculars, it quickly became apparent that one was really hitting the sweet spot of performance vs. price, or value for your dollar.

Vortex Optics is taking the Binoculars market by storm and their Diamondback model is leading the pack in price vs. performance.

Featuring a high performance optical system with fully multi coated lenses with their best in class ultra wide field of view, it's no wonder that Vortex is growing its market share.

You would expect to pay much more for feature rich binoculars like the Vortex Diamondback.

  • Fully multi coated lenses.
  • O Ring sealed and argon gas purged for 100% waterproof/fogproof performance.
  • Rubber armor coated for a non slip grip and durability.

The Vortex Diamondback also comes with:

  • Rainguard Eyepiece Covers
  • Tethered Objective Lens Covers
  • Comfort Neck Strap
  • Deluxe Custom Molded Carry Case

Couple all of that with the amazing price and you can see why they are our Editors Choice for the Best for the Money.

They are also our top pick for Under $200

Check out this video showing all of the features of the Vortex Diamondback Binoculars.


Best Low Light Binoculars For Hunting: Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Binoculars

Leupold BX-4 Binoculars

The quality of Leupold optics is legendary and the Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Binoculars are certainly high quality optics with good low light performance.

The Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10×42 Binoculars feature a compact and lightweight design built with Leopold's proprietary Twilight Max HD Light Management System which delivers vivid brightness, edge to edge clarity, and high tech glare management elements which help you to see incredible detail in low light environments.

The revolutionary ergonomic open-bridge design provides ease of use while reducing the overall weight for comfortable all day use.

Here are some of the features of the Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD:

  • O ring sealed and nitrogen purged for 100% waterproof/fogproof performance.
  • Aluminum body for super lightweight and rugged design.
  • Twilight Max Light Management System for vivid, high contrasting images in low light.
  • Rubber armor coated with soft textured grip for comfort and durability.
  • Functional mechanical parts are custom made to fit their sockets perfectly which 
  • High definition, calcium fluoride lenses provide unparalleled clarity. 

Couple all of that with Leupold's Full Lifetime Warranty which states:

"If your Leupold riflescope, binocular, or spotting scope doesn’t perform, we will repair or replace it for free - whether you're the original owner or not. You don’t need proof of ownership or a warranty card, and there’s no time limit. We do this because we believe in superior quality and craftsmanship, and we’re confident your Leupold won’t let you down."

And you have one of the best low light binoculars for hunting available today!

Click here for the full Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Binoculars Review.


Best Under $500: Zeiss Terra ED Binoculars

Zeiss Terra ED Binoculars Review

The Zeiss Terra ED Binoculars have made our list for the top binoculars under $500.

Here's why you should consider these high quality optics.

Zeiss optics are known for their superior German engineering and the Terra ED Binos are no different.

They are lightweight with an easy to grip, non slip surface and a large, smooth focus wheel.

Couple that with Schott ED glass and Zeiss hydrophobic multi-coating and you can see why we have chosen the Terra ED as one of the best under $500.

Here are some of the features of the Zeiss Terra ED:

  • O ring sealed and nitrogen purged for 100% waterproof/fogproof performance.
  • Fiberglass reinforced polyamide chassis for super lightweight and rugged design.
  • Crystal clear, sharp images due to Schott ED glass and Zeiss hydrophobic multi coated lenses.
  • Rubber armor coated with soft textured grip for comfort and durability.
  • Large center focus knob for quick, easy adjustments.
  • The Terra ED comes with a binocular harness which keeps the binoculars comfortably on your chest.

There are a couple of negative things that we should talk about with the Zeiss Terra ED Binoculars.

1. Even though the Terra ED Binos are German engineered, they are made in China. They are made to the German specifications, but the only way they could be manufactured at this price point is to outsource the work to China.

2. The Zeiss warranty is not as good as some of the other manufacturers. They do stand behind their product by guaranteeing to be free of defects, but they do not warranty against accidents etc.

These are very high quality binoculars, but we prefer the Nikon Monarch 7 as our top choice for binoculars under $500.

Click here for the full Zeiss Terra ED Binoculars Review.


Great Mid Priced Option: Burris Droptine 10X42 Binoculars 

Burris Droptine Binoculars

The Burris Droptine Binoculars are a great combination of high quality features at a reasonable price, which is why we have chosen them as the best 10x42 binoculars for hunting on a budget.

One of the features of these binos that stood out was the durable aluminum eyecups. Most of the top binoculars for hunting on this page have plastic eye cups that can get damaged when they are dropped or banged around, which they always do when you are hunting.

Let's take a look at some of the other features of the Burris Droptine Binos: 

  • O ring sealed and nitrogen filled for 100% waterproof/fogproof performance.
  • BAK-4 glass prisms for excellent resolution.
  • Phase corrected dielectric coated prisms for maximum use in low light conditions and incredible clarity.
  • Rubber armor coated with a unique textured grip that we really liked.
  • Hi-Lume Index-matched fully multi-coated lenses for reduced glare and high resolution.
  • Durable carrying case and neoprene neck strap included.

If you are looking for the quality binoculars for hunting and don't want to spend a lot of money, you should have a closer look at the  Burris Droptine 10x42 Binoculars.

Learn more by visiting the full  Burris Droptine Binoculars Review


Best For Deer Hunting: Nikon Monarch M5

Best Hunting Binoculars Under $300

Here at DeerHuntingGuide.net we live for deer hunting, so we believe that we are especially qualified to evaluate the top binoculars for hunting deer.

Our favorite binoculars for deer hunting are going to either be 8X42 or 10X42.

We prefer the 8X42 because you get a wider field of view and they generally perform better in low light conditions.

The only time you might benefit from the extra magnification offered by the 10x42 is if you are hunting mule deer or whitetails in wide open terrain, where you are trying to glass long distances.

For most deer hunting situations, the 8x42 will give you better performance with the features that you need.

Things to consider when choosing the binoculars for deer hunting

As deer hunters, we are in the field in all weather conditions so waterproof and fogproof are two features that we cannot live without.

They need to be O-ring sealed and argon purged for flawless performance in wet weather.

Another consideration is durability and ruggedness. If you are wearing your binoculars, they are constantly banging on things. Think of the last time you went up a tree in your climbing tree stand. I'll bet you banged your binoculars at some point.

Let's admit it, even if you keep them in your pack, they take a beating.

As we put all of the binoculars to the test, a couple of them stood out.

Here are the best.

 Nikon Monarch M5 Binoculars

Best Hunting Binoculars Under $300

I have to say that I had never used Nikon binoculars before, but I was very familiar with my old Nikon D200 camera, so when I came across the awesome reviews for the Monarch 5 binoculars, I was not surprised.

Nikon has shaved a full ounce off of the weight of the new Nikon M5. Couple that with extra low dispersion glass and fully multi coated Eco Glass lenses and you have a recipe for very high quality binoculars.

Of course they are 100 percent waterproof and fog proof thanks to being nitrogen filled and o-ring sealed.

The exterior is covered in a durable rubber armored coating which provides superior protection and a non slip grip.

While Nikon does not provide as good of a guarantee as Bushnell, it still is pretty good.

Here it is word for word from Nikon:

Nikon No-Fault Repair/Replacement Policy*

Nikon No Fault Guarantee

"For Binoculars, LaserForce Rangefinder Binoculars, Riflescopes, Scope Mounts and Fieldscopes

Nikon is dedicated to quality, performance and total customer satisfaction. If your Nikon Binocular, LaserForce Rangefinder Binocular, Riflescope, Scope Mount or Fieldscope requires repair not covered by our Limited Lifetime Warranty, just send it to us and Nikon will at our option repair or replace the product at no charge.

*Excludes lost or stolen products and intentionally caused damage, and also excludes Nikon Rangefinders, StabilEyes Binoculars & Specialty Optics."

Click here for the full Nikon Monarch 5 Binoculars Review.


Best For Bow Hunting: Nikon Monarch M7 8x42 Binoculars

Best Binoculars Under $500

Bowhunting is my passion, so I was very excited to do the research for this part of article.

I put the Top 6 Binoculars For Hunting listed here through all of the scenarios that I face as a bowhunter.

I even put all 6 pairs into my pack, brought them up in my tree stand and compared how well they could pick out objects in thick brush, like the flick of a tail, or an ear.

I found many differences that I probably would not have noticed if I didn't test them side by side.

Some definitely had better low light performance and some were clearer in bright sunlight.

I also tested both 8x42 and 10x42 models and I have to say that for bowhunting, I prefer the 8x42.

They are lighter and have a wider field of view, which is important when you are trying to find an animal while holding your bow in one hand and your binoculars in the other, or trying to quickly find a running animal through your binoculars.

8x42s are also better in low light situations, which as a bowhunter are when we really need our binoculars to shine.

There was one set of binoculars that was clearly rising to the top of the pack as the best for bowhunting.

Nikon Monarch M7 8x42 Binoculars

Best Binoculars Under $500

Here's why we chose the Nikon Monarch M7 8x42 as the best for bow hunting.

  • These were the one of the lightest binoculars that we tested at only 22.9 ounces. ( The Nikon Monarch 5 is lighter, but has a lower field of view.)
  • They have an incredible field of view at 420 feet. (The Bushnell L Series 8x42 had a wider field of view, but was heavier.)
  • They feature Extra Low Dispersion Glass and fully multi coated lenses.
  • They are rubber armor coated for ruggedness and non slip grip.
  • They are 100% waterproof and fogproof.
  • They feature multi setting click stop eyecups which allow custom eye relief settings.
  • They come with tethered objective lens covers, which I love. No more losing your binoculars lens covers.

These are our top pick for the Best Binoculars for Bowhunting, but they are expensive, at just under $500.

If that is outside of your budget, you should consider the Nikon Monarch M5, which is featured above as the Best for Deer Hunting.

And of course the Monarch M7 is covered by the Nikon No Fault Guarantee.

Nikon No Fault Guarantee

One of the things that we really liked about the Nikon Monarch is the tethered lens covers. These are very well secured and you won't lose the lens covers, like with every other binocular you've owned.

You can see them below.

Nikon Tethered Lens Covers

The Nikon Monarch M7 is a great pick for deer hunting and our top choice for bowhunting.

Click here for the full Nikon Monarch M7 binoculars review.


Editor's Choice Under $400: Carson 3D Binoculars

Carson 3d Series Binoculars

We were very impressed with the Carson 3D series High Definition Binoculars. We reviewed the 10X42 model that you see above because it comes in Mossy Oak Camouflage.

We decided to review the Carson 3D series after we read some reviews where it was being compared to the much more expensive Vortex Viper.

While we didn't find it quite as good as the Viper, we did find that it was packed with high quality features at a very reasonable price.

Here are some of the features that you will find in the Carson 3D series High Definition Binoculars:

  • Fully Multi Coated Lenses with ED Glass
  • Bak-4 Prisms
  • Nitrogen Purged and O Ring Sealed for Waterproof and Fogproof Performance
  • Rubberized Armor Coating for Rugged Slip Proof Performance
  • Price - Under $300
  • Comes with a BinoArmor Deluxe Carry Case, Shoulder Harness, Neck Strap, Lens Covers and Lens Cloth

Click here for the full Carson 3D Binoculars Review and you will see why they have made the list of top rated binoculars.


Staff Favorite: Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Binocular

Best Hunting Binoculars for the Money

When searching for the highest quality Binoculars, you know that there has to be at least one Bushnell in the mix.

I have to admit that I have been a fan of Bushnell optics ever since I was kid. Now at 52 years old, I am amazed at the quality of these Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Binoculars.

These binoculars feature Prime Extra-Low Dispersion glass which brings out the most distinct details possible in low-light hunting conditions.

They also feature Rainguard HD. Bushnell's patented permanent water repellent coating and anti fog technology.

All in a lightweight magnesium chassis with soft touch grips, but that's not the best part.

The Bushnell Legend HD Binoculars are covered by the best in industry guarantee.

Bushnell's No Questions Asked Lifetime Warranty Promise

"We’re proud to guarantee your complete satisfaction, and promise to repair or replace your product and ship it back to you at absolutely no charge. This fully transferable warranty covers accidental damage, as well as any defects in materials and workmanship, for the life of the product."

With this kind of quality and the legendary Bushnell name, you would expect to pay a lot more.

I have seen these binoculars online for under $200

Click here for the full Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Binoculars Review.

I had a pair of Bushnell Legend HD binoculars that I accidentally left on the bumper of my truck. They fell off when I backed up and I ran them over, shattering the glass. Bushnell replaced them, no questions asked and no receipt required. I am a Bushnell customer for life.

Joel DelGado


Top Pick Under $200: Vortex Crossfire HD Binoculars 

Vortex Optics Crossfire HD Binoculars

The Vortex Crossfire HD binoculars have a lot of the features of a much more expensive pair of binoculars.

They also come with the Vortex GlassPak Binocular Harness and the Vortex VIP Warranty.

Here are some more features of the Crossfire HD. Many of these are found in more expensive binoculars:

  • O ring sealed and nitrogen purged for 100% waterproof/fogproof performance.
  • Vortex HD Optical System.
  • Fully multi coated lenses for crisp images and superior light transmission.
  • Rubber armor coated with soft textured grip for comfort and durability.
  • Tethered objective lens covers.
  • GlassPak Binocular Harness Included.

If you are looking for a quality pair of binoculars under $200, you should seriously consider the  Vortex Crossfire HD Binoculars.

Click here for the full  Vortex Crossfire HD Binoculars review.


Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 ATB Compact Binoculars

If you are looking for the best compact hunting binoculars, we want to make sure that you know what that means, because you will be sacrificing a lot in order to have binoculars that are truly compact.

Compact binoculars are defined as having objective lenses of 28mm or smaller.

The size of the objective lens is what determines how much light is let in to the binoculars and therefore how well your binoculars will perform in low light conditions.

So by definition, these binoculars will not perform well in low light conditions, which makes them a bad choice for hunters.

We hope that we have talked you out of buying compact binoculars, but we are sure that there are some of you that are set on buying them, so we have evaluated the top choices available and found that even though they don't perform well in low light, there are some decent choices.

Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 ATB Waterproof Binoculars

  • Small ergonomic design folds up to fit in pocket
  • Super lightweight at only 9.9 ounces
  • Phase-coated prism enhances resolution and natural colors
  • Multicoated lenses utilizing multiple layers of anti reflective compounds
  • Compact rubber coated body for non slip grip
  • Completely waterproof and fog proof

If you are only considering compact binoculars then the Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 ATB Waterproof Binoculars are the best compact hunting binoculars.


Binoculars Comparison Chart

How To Choose Hunting Binoculars Video

Here is an awesome video by Ron Spomer on how to choose the best binoculars for your hunting style. Ron gives the best explanation that we have seen about hunting binocular features and what it means to the hunter.


Hunting Binoculars Buying Guide

Choosing the Best Hunting Binoculars

Binoculars basically do two main things for us while we are hunting.

1. They magnify the object that we are looking at, making it appear larger and closer than it would with the naked eye.

2. They let in more light, making objects appear brighter and clearer in low light conditions.

Choosing the right binoculars can be a bit confusing with the different numbers, sizes and prism types, as well as costs.

We will break down each of these factors and explain exactly what they mean so that you can choose the right binoculars for your hunting situation.

Regardless of the type of hunting you do, you should try to buy the highest quality binoculars that you can afford. Your optics are not where you should be cutting corners.

Here’s what you need to know…

Basically for hunting situations, you are going to want 8x42 or 10X42 binoculars.

RELATED: Best Headlamp For Hunting

20 Factors To Consider When Choosing Binoculars for Hunting

1. Quality

The number one factor to consider when choosing the hunting binoculars is quality, and while there is a correlation between quality and price, you don't have to spend a fortune to get a high quality set of binoculars. One way to insure quality is to stick with one of the top brands. 

2. Brand

As we spoke to long time hunters during our research for this buying guide, it became apparent that there was a fair amount of brand loyalty, similar to the way it is with automobiles. If you had a particular brand of binoculars that you liked and it served you well over a period of years, you were very likely to be partial to that brand.

Here is a list of brands that were consistently favored by many of the hunters that we interviewed.

  • Bushnell
  • Nikon
  • Vortex
  • Burris
  • Steiner
  • Leupold
  • Leica
  • Zeis
  • Swarovski

Those are by no means the only binocular brands, but they are the brands that came up consistently when we asked "What are brand are your favorite binoculars?".

These are the same brands that come up when we ask about the best rangefinder for bow hunting.

Now let's take a look at what the numbers mean.

3. Magnification  

Magnification

This is the first number in a binoculars description. A 10X42 binoculars means the image is magnified 10X. This number can vary from 7 to 10 in hunting binoculars, but 8x or 10x is preferred by the vast majority of hunters. It basically means that an object will appear either 8 times or 10 times closer than it actually is.

4. Objective Lens Size

The objective lens size is the second number in a binoculars description. A 10X42 binoculars means that the objective lens diameter is 42 mm. This is the lens on the front of the binoculars. The larger the objective lens diameter, the more light it lets in. Also, the more expensive it gets and the heavier it gets. An objective lens diameter of 42 mm lets in plenty of light while remaining lightweight and relatively inexpensive.

Objective Lens

5. Exit Pupil  

This term is sometimes difficult to understand, but I will try to explain. Exit pupil is a number that determines how well we will be able to see through the binoculars in low light situations. It is determined by dividing the objective lens number by the magnification. In a 10X42 binocular you would divide 42 by 10, arriving at an exit pupil of 4.2. Anything between 4 and 5.5 will perform very well in low light conditions.

Here is an excellent video that explains exit pupil and why you should know what it means.

6. Relative Brightness Index  

The Relative Brightness Index or RBI is another indicator of how well your binoculars will perform in low light conditions. The RBI is directly related to the Exit Pupil and is arrived at by taking the square of the Exit Pupil. So if the exit pupil is 4.5, the RBI is 20.25. With the exit pupil of 5.25 you get from an 8x42 pair of binocs, the RBI is 27.5625. The general rule is that for the quality binoculars you need an RBI of at least 20.

7. Field of view  

Field of View

When you look around with your naked eye, you generally have a 180-degree field of view. But when you use binoculars, it’s like you’re cupping your eyes with your hands at the side of your eyes. You’re limiting your field of view.

In binoculars, the Field of View is denoted by how wide the view is at 1,000 yards. Higher magnification leads to a reduction in your field of view, so you will need to find a proper balance. In general, you may want a higher field of view if you’re hunting in wide open areas and you’re going after fast-moving prey. Typically in a 10x42 binoculars the field of view will be 280-360 ft.

8. Eye Relief  

Eye Relief

This term refers to how far away your eyes have to be from the ocular lenses (the lenses nearest you). Short eye relief can range from 9 to 13 mm, with midrange at 14 to 16 mm. Long eye relief starts at 17mm. Eye relief is important for hunters because many people wear eyeglasses or sunglasses while out in the field. You may have very thick lenses on your eyeglasses or you may want to wear them further down your nose. Those conditions will require midrange or even long eye relief. Basically eye relief is the distance from your eye that you can hold the binoculars and still maintain a full field of view. Some binoculars have extendable eyepieces which will ensure proper eye relief.

That's enough of the numbers. Here are some other factors to consider.

9. Prism type  

The prisms in your binoculars are what allow you to see your images right side up instead of upside down. You have roof prisms, which have become the industry standard. They’re more compact and more rugged, so they’re generally more suited for binoculars. The other kind is the Porro prism, which to be fair offers brighter images as is. But then with roof prisms you can get the same image quality when you add the lens coatings. It is also the prism quality that will determine the optical performance of a pair of binoculars.

  • Roof prism - A roof prism reflects light 5 times and the light comes out on the same line in which it went in. This allows for a more compact and lighter weight design.
  • Porro Prism - Porro prisms only reflects light 4 times and it comes out on a different line than it went in on, resulting in the need for a larger body and hence Porro prism binoculars are heavier than roof prism binoculars.

10. Optical Coatings  

Anytime that light hits a glass surface, some of that light is reflected back. When you consider that a set of binoculars may have light striking 6 to 10 glass lenses, that is a lot of reflection. As a result, manufacturers use optical lens coatings to reduce the amount of light reflected and produce a clearer image.

Optical Coatings

These are the terms used to describe optical coatings in binoculars.

1. Coated Optics: This is the least expensive and means that one or more surfaces are anti-reflective coated with a single-layer coating.

2. Fully Coated Optics: This is fairly common in mid range binoculars and mean that all air-to-glass surfaces are anti-reflective coated with a single-layer coating.

3. Multi-Coated Optics: This is getting into more expensive binoculars and means that one or more surfaces have anti-reflective multi-layer coatings.

4. Fully Multi-Coated Optics: This is used in the most expensive binoculars and means that all air-to-glass surfaces are anti-reflective multi-layer coated.

The optical lens coatings used will vary based on price with the more expensive binoculars using the better coatings.

Examples of coatings include:

  • Anti-reflective coating. This is the most common type of coating used, and it helps keep the lens from reflecting the back glare into your eyes.
  • Anti-scratch coating. This protects the glass from dirt and dust particles.
  • Water-repellent coating. This helps shed water and resist outside fogging.
  • Metallic mirror coating. This enhances the light reflection so that the image is brighter. On roof prism types, you also have dielectric coatings for the same purpose.
  • Phase correction coating. This is just for roof prism binocs, and it helps bring about a clearer and sharper image. 

These are the same optical coatings that you are going to find on all of your hunting optics, like scopes, rangefinders, even the cameras that you might use to video your hunts.

RELATED: How To Clean Binoculars

11. Focus and Adjustment 

According to Wikipedia, binoculars utilize two systems for adjusting the focus, independent focus and central focusing.

1. Independent focus is an arrangement where the two telescopes are focused independently by adjusting each eyepiece. Binoculars designed for heavy field use, such as military applications, traditionally have used independent focusing.

2. Central focusing is an arrangement which involves rotation of a central focusing wheel to adjust both tubes together. In addition, one of the two eyepieces can be further adjusted to compensate for differences between the viewer's eyes (usually by rotating the eyepiece in its mount). Because the focal change affected by the adjustable eyepiece can be measured in the customary unit of refractive power, the diopter, the adjustable eyepiece itself is often called a diopter. Once this adjustment has been made for a given viewer, the binoculars can be refocused on an object at a different distance by using the focusing wheel to adjust both tubes together without eyepiece readjustment. This is the most common type of focus used in the high quality binoculars.

RELATED: How To Focus Binoculars

12. Image Quality  

Image Quality

Image quality is determined largely by the type of glass and coatings used and is usually indicative of price. The higher quality the image, the better the optical performance and the higher the cost.

RELATED: InfiRay Xinfrared T2 Pro Thermal Monocular Review

13. Portability (Size and Weight)  

Size and weight will vary with the type of prism being used as well as the size of the objective lens. We feel that a 42 mm objective lens is a good compromise for most hunting situations. If you go with a smaller lens, you sacrifice quality and a larger lens gets to be heavy when carried around in the field.

14. Waterproof   

This is a major consideration for hunters. We are using our equipment in all kinds of weather and all sorts of conditions. Our equipment needs to be protected from the elements and needs to be able to withstand changing weather conditions.

15. Ruggedness

High quality binoculars also often feature some type of rubber coating around the casing. This protects the binoculars should you drop it or bump it into something hard. In addition, the rubber coating offers a more secure hold even if you’re hunting in wet conditions. 

If you are wearing your binoculars, they are constantly banging on things. Think of the last time you went up a tree in your climbing tree stand. I'll bet you banged your binoculars at some point.

Let's admit it, even if you keep them in your pack, they take a beating.

16. Affordability  

As we stated earlier, you should buy the highest quality binoculars that you can afford. You really do get what you pay for when it comes to optics. With that being said, you can still get a quality set of binoculars at a reasonable price.

17. Type of Hunting That You Do

The type of hunting that you do is a major factor in choosing the right binoculars for you. To illustrate that point, we can look at the difference between a bow hunter hunting whitetail deer in thick brush and a rifle hunter hunting Dall Sheep in the mountains. These hunters are going to choose very different binoculars. Also, a beginner bow hunter is probably going to choose a different binocular than someone that has been bow hunting for years. Always consider what type of hunting you do and what kind of experience you have..

18. Hunting Specific Features

Some binoculars boast of some features that hunters may find extremely useful. These include having a laser range finder built in to the binoculars, so you can immediately find out the distance to your target. Others have an image stabilization feature that helps keep the image steady when you’re using high magnification. These features may help, but it’s highly debatable if they’re worth the expense and the extra weight.

Click here for our guide to the best rangefinder binoculars.

19. Reviews

Shopping for binoculars today is much different than it was just a few short years ago. Today, you can read reviews of all of the top binoculars available to determine which ones work for your particular situation. If you are shopping on Amazon, in addition to reading the reviews, you can determine how popular the binoculars are by the number of reviews. Considering the fact that very few Amazon shoppers actually leave reviews, so any binoculars with more than 100 reviews is an extremely popular set of optics.

20. Accessories

As you are shopping for binoculars, you may want to consider what accessories are available for the binoculars that you are considering. Different brands often offer specific accessories made only for their own brand. Things such as a binocular harness, specialty cases, tripod adapters, tethered objective lens covers and sun shades just to name a few.

Final Thoughts 

Whether you are buying binoculars for yourself or giving them as a gift, your choice for good hunting binoculars is going to depend largely on:

  1. The Type of hunting that you do.
  2. Your binoculars budget.

The good news is that there are some incredible high end binoculars available today for very reasonable prices.

Choose the highest quality binoculars that you can afford and you will be rewarded with many years of performance in the field.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best binoculars for hunting?

The best binoculars for hunting are the Vortex Viper HD Binoculars. Our team of expert hunters has found these to be the perfect combination of high end features for the price.

What are the best binoculars for the money?

The best binoculars for the money are the Vortex Diamondback Binoculars. They offer incredible value for the price and have many of the features of high end binoculars at an amazingly low price.

What magnification binoculars are best for hunting?

8x or 10x magnification is best for hunting binoculars. If you do most of your hunting in close conditions where there is thick cover, then 8x is best for your situation. If you hunt in more open terrain, then 10x binoculars should be on your list.

What binoculars do hunting guides use?

Hunting guides use 10x binoculars because they work great in open terrain and can still be used in thick cover if needed. 10x binoculars are the most versatile magnification for hunting binoculars.

Do you need binoculars for deer hunting?

Yes, you need binoculars for deer hunting. Binoculars allow you to see things that you would not otherwise see while hunting deer. Binoculars offer the opportunity to see parts of the deer while on stand. You may see the flick of a tail, or the leg of a deer that you didn't know was there. Binoculars will definitely help you to be more successful as a deer hunter. The top binoculars for deer hunting are the Nikon Monarch 5.

How important are binoculars for hunting?

Binoculars are extremely important for hunting. Our staff of hunters here at DeerHuntingGuide.net would not even consider hunting without a quality pair of binoculars around their neck or on a harness. If you are not hunting with binoculars, you are handicapping yourself and you are not seeing game that you would see if you were using binoculars.

Photo of author

John VanDerLaan

John VanDerLaan is the managing editor here at DeerHuntingGuide.net. He oversees a team of editors, writers and pro staff that are subject matter experts in hunting and hunting gear. John's expertise includes thoroughly testing all types of hunting gear, as well as hunting all over the U.S. and Canada. While his hunting expertise includes game birds, small game and large game, his favorite game animal is the whitetail deer and he loves to share the knowledge that he has gained over 40 years of chasing the wily whitetail with both archery gear and firearms. John is an active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

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