Last Updated on August 15, 2020
For some hunters, an elk hunt is the fulfilment of a lifetime wish. Elk are bigger than deer and more scarce, so they can offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience … and a lot of food. Elk hunting also requires specialized equipment because it can involve long, open distances. That means any hunting trip requires powerful binoculars, so you can see elk and track their movements.
We examined some binoculars that are suitable for elk hunting and wrote reviews of them. You can take them at face value and purchase the ones we rank most highly. You can also take them as an extended buyer’s guide, offering suggestions and tips about what to look for in your set of elk hunting binoculars.
|Best Overall||Nikon MONARCH||
|Best Value||Bushnell H2O||
Hunting elk is a serious endeavor, and Nikon’s 7577 MONARCH 5 is serious equipment. The optics deliver sharp, crisp images from long distances, and they’re built to take a beating. These are great binoculars under any circumstances, but for elk hunting they are outstanding.
The lenses are large for use in low light conditions, and they’re fully waterproofed in case it rains. This includes interior chambers filled with nitrogen to help prevent fogging. That makes them ideal for damp mornings when elk are on the move. They’ve also got a rubber casing for protection if you drop them.
They are a bit on the heavy side, so if you’re on foot and weight is a concern, that will give you pause. They’re also expensive, of course.
Under some circumstances, we’d probably go with the Vortex Optics Viper as our top pick. They’re a bit lighter than the Nikon MONARCH and of similar quality. If you have to pack gear and place a premium on weight when you go hunting, that could be a difference maker.
Otherwise, they are a non-nonsense great pair of binoculars. The optics are excellent, and they’re built for all-weather use. That means not just waterproofing, but purging the oxygen from the interior and sealing it with argon to cut down on fogging. They’re also shock-resistant to reduce the wear and tear of using them in the field.
If you buy these, however, gird yourself for some serious sticker shock. They’re expensive enough that we just couldn’t take them seriously as an overall top pick.
Bushnell has a long-standing reputation for making great optics, and the H2O Roof Prism holds that up well. These binoculars offer a great return on investment in terms of quality, which is why we gave them our Best for the Money rank.
Aside from being a great value, what this set of binoculars has going for it is its construction. It’s designed to get knocked around without jarring the optics out of place, and to work in all kinds of elements. The places elk live can go from being warm and sunny one day to cold and rainy the next, so that’s a critical quality.
However, the imaging isn’t quite as good as our top two models. Obviously, that’s reflected in price savings. It’s also true that when you’re hunting elk, a sharp, clear image from a quarter mile away isn’t always necessary. Still, if you’re looking for elk hunting binoculars that you could use as your standard pair, that’s something to keep in mind.
Bushnell’s Legend Ultra is another fine option for elk hunting. These rugged, all-weather binoculars produce sharp, clear images and are lightweight enough to carry with you.
They’re designed to cut down on the kinds of aberrations common to bigger binoculars in how the lenses handle colors and lots of light. That makes them as good for use at dusk and dawn as they are in the middle of the day. They come with a special coating that helps prevent water from getting through seals to fog up the lenses.
They are a bit on the pricey side compared to most of the other binoculars we reviewed. If you’re shopping on a budget, that’s worth noting. They also have a reputation for wearing out prematurely, not from being knocked around, but from normal, everyday use.
In a world where money grows on trees, the Steiner Optics Predator binoculars would perhaps contend for a better ranking. They’re a good set of binoculars with great optics and are comfortable to use. We really liked how comfortable they are on the eyes. For elk hunting, where you might have to spend some time scanning the horizon, that’s a good feature to have.
But money doesn’t grow on trees, so we have to talk frankly about the biggest drawback to these, which is the price. Compared to other, similar sets, the quality of these binoculars is just out of whack with what you’re asked to pony up for them. If you’re shopping on a budget, that ought to be a disqualifying factor.
These are good binoculars at a not-so-good price.
We like the Leupold BX-1 McKenzie binoculars. They’re weatherproof, produce quality imaging, and have the right kinds of features to reduce things like chromatic anomalies. They also don’t cost an arm and a leg, so if you’re shopping for elk hunting binoculars on a budget, you can give these a whirl.
However, the quality of these binoculars isn’t comparable to some of the other models. The images are good, but not as crisp. That might not be a huge deal when hunting elk, but if you want to use the binoculars for anything requiring clear details, you’ll want to keep that in mind.
There is possibly a place in your optics inventory for the Leaysoo 10×42 Professional Binoculars. They’re a decent choice as a secondary set of binoculars if you’re in the field and your primary set gets destroyed. If weight is no concern to you, these are a good budget-friendly backup set.
As a primary set of binoculars, they leave a lot to be desired. They’re not very good in low light conditions, and we question their durability in hard conditions. If you’re out hunting elk, you may not be able to count on them to function properly in the field. That could be the difference between a successful hunt and a failed one.
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If you’re looking for binoculars to take elk hunting, the Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 is your best bet for success. If weight is a lot more important than money, we’d lean towards the Vortex Optics Viper. We think the Bushnell H2O Roof Prism Binocular is the best budget option available. We also liked Bushnell’s Legend Ultra HD set, but didn’t feel it delivers the same quality of imaging. The Steiner Optics Predator is a great set of binoculars, but pricey enough to give us some pause. Leupold’s BX-1 McKenzie is another good set, but the image quality isn’t up to the level of its competitors. We liked the Leaysoo 10×42 Professional as a good backup set of binoculars, but not one you’d want to rely on as a primary choice.
We hope you found our reviews helpful and informative. If you didn’t find the set you were looking for, you can take these reviews as a helpful buyer’s guide, offering tips and ideas on how to shop for binoculars that you can use for elk hunting.
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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