Hunting may involve a great deal of patience and skill, but you won’t be seeing much action without a good set of eyes. Hunting binoculars are second only to your weapon of choice in terms of necessity. But not all binoculars are designed for the specializations of hunting. That’s why it’s critical that you get the right pair for the task.
It’s not hard to start looking—simply search for “hunting binoculars”—it’s difficult to parse all the brands and features. Do you trust online reviews? Do you believe Amazon descriptions? We’ve taken all the mystery out of the experience by testing these binoculars for hunting and highlighting our top 5 picks. We’ll give you the low-down on each product as well as the various pros and cons. Our buyer’s guide will explore the various features to consider. By the time you finish reading, you’ll know exactly which pair is right for you.
|Vortex Optics Viper HD 10×42|
|Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42||Lifetime||4.7/5|
|Bushnell Trophy XLT 234210|
|Nikon Prostaff 7s 16003||25 Years||4.4/5|
|Bushnell Falcon 133410||2 Years||4.1/5|
Featuring an impressive combination of performance and durability, the Vortex Optics Viper HD 10×42 are the best binoculars for hunting on the market. With 10x magnification and wide field of view, you won’t have any trouble spotting a distant target. Built to withstand the most brutal outdoor conditions, these hunting binoculars may be the only pair you ever need to own. Waterproof and fog proof, this unit has an O-ring seal that repels dirt and debris.
The Viper’s HD, extra-low dispersion glass that provides this product with unbeatable resolution and color fidelity, even in low-light conditions. Images are simply sharp and clear at rated distances. Aside from the obvious quality and durability, these hunting binoculars come with a few accessories including a carry case, neck strap, lens cover and rain guard. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll get an unconditional lifetime warranty, and Vortex has a reputation for excellent customer service. If there is a clear drawback to the Viper, it’s the eye relief, which makes viewing with glasses somewhat of an inferior experience.
Just a step down from our top pick, the Vortex Optics Diamondback 10×42 is basically the Viper without the HD optics. Otherwise, it’s nearly the same pair of binoculars, with the same durable, waterproof and fogproof construction, and 10x magnification. And of course, the lifetime warranty.
If you’re concerned about high-quality visuals without compromise, the Diamondback offers a field of view on par with more expensive binoculars. The eyepieces are adjustable and a central tool allows you to quickly and conveniently focus the binoculars depending on what you’re tracking. If you have slightly better vision in one eye over another, you can make the changes to suit.
The user-friendly design is a great value product that’s enhanced by the various accessories included such as the carry case and lens covers. Also, the rubber exterior of these binoculars means that you can maintain a sturdy grip, even when it’s raining.
Overall, you can pay more to get better optics, but it’s hard to beat the Diamondback for overall value.
Didn’t we just say the value of the Vortex Diamondback would be hard to beat? Say hello to the Bushnell Trophy XLT 234210. These waterproof and fog-proof binoculars are protected by an O-ring seal and rubber-armored housing that’s comfortable in the hands. There are also soft-touch thumb grips for added comfort. While flip covers protect the objective lenses for the elements, they’re somewhat flimsy and easily fall off.
Essentially, these are binoculars for hunting in all conditions. As for the 10×42 optics, the multi-coated lenses deliver sharp and bright images, particularly in low light conditions. The fast focus is good and very useful when time is of the essence.
On the downside, these are probably not the best hunting binoculars if you’re trying to travel light. At 2.2 pounds, the Trophy XLT is on the heavier side. Overall, when priced against the top 2 pairs, we think that this is one of the best choices if you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck.
The Nikon Prostaff 7s 16003 provides consistent color and clarity, whatever you’re viewing, so they’re also good for hiking and birding. The 10×42 the multi-layer coated lenses and phase correction coated roof prisms are inline with what you’d expect from Nikon.
Of course, hunting binoculars also need to be comfortable. In our opinion, this pair of binoculars is the best for hunters who wear glasses. The Prostaff 7s feature turn-and-slide rubber eyecups which allow you to adjust the space between your eye and the eyepiece. Thus, you can have a full field of view quickly and easily.
The Prostate 7s rubber-armored body is comfortable to hold, and the grip is tight, even when hunting conditions are wet. However, we don’t like the cheap-feeling lens covers.
In our opinion, this product offers an excellent balance between quality and price. The build construction is solid and we like the very clear optics and that they’re convenient for people who wear spectacles.
If you’re on a tight budget then this may well be the product for you. The Bushnell Falcon 133410 is much cheaper than the other binoculars we’ve reviewed. At such a low price, there are some sacrifices in quality. For example, it only offers up to 7x magnification, which may not be enough for some hunting needs. However, the optics offered for the price are very good. The lenses are fully coated for superior light transmission. In particular, we like the Instafocus feature which makes focusing on fast targets so much quicker and easier.
Despite being budget hunting binoculars, the Bushnell Falcon 133410 offers several other useful features. Notably, the non-slip rubber grip is very convenient, particularly in wet conditions. Fold-down eyecups allow for a degree of flexibility, particularly for those who wear prescription glasses or sunglasses. These also prevent scratching of glasses lenses. These are fairly versatile binoculars that can be used not only for hunting but also for birding, hiking and watching sports games. At 8 x 6.2 x 3, these binoculars for hunting are not on the small side so it’s worth keeping this in mind if you’re looking for a compact product.
There are so many great pairs of binoculars for hunting. Best of all, these come in at prices to suit all budgets. But how are you supposed to separate one product from another? Well, one way to do this is to look at the following 10 features and decide which are the most important to you!
It’s often said that bigger is better but this isn’t always the case when it comes to binoculars for hunting. While it’s extremely important to have some magnification for spotting and tracking targets, having too much can lead to problems of image steadiness. Generally speaking, a magnification of anything from 7x to 10x should be more than enough for most people’s hunting needs. If you feel that you need more magnification than this, we highly recommend that you take a look at some spotting scopes.
Indicating the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters, the objective size is the second number you see when you’re researching a particular pair of hunting binoculars. For example, 7×40 refers to 7x magnification with a 40mm lens. The larger the objective, the more detail you’ll be able to see. However, the downsides of larger lenses are that they tend to be more expensive and heavier. A safe bet is to go with a 40 or 42mm objective. If hunting at night or in low light conditions, you may want something bigger.
The field of view of binoculars is the widest dimension you can see and is measured in feet over 1000 yards. The higher the number, the wider the area you’ll be able to see when using your binoculars. Needless to say, when you use magnification, the size of the image is reduced and so is the field of view. If you’re planning on using your binoculars in very open areas (such as looking across a valley), a higher field of view is useful. Plus, a wide field-view makes it easier to aim and track a moving target.
There are three focus types to consider when it comes to binoculars for hunting. First of all, there is individual focus. In this case, each telescope gets focused independently. Second, we have the center focus. This typically consists of a large focusing ring which is located in the center of the binoculars. Turning this focuses both telescopes at the same time. Finally, focus-free binoculars do not require adjustment. This is great for medium-range distances but not ideal for short or long distances.
When you wear glasses or sunglasses, eye relief plays a critical part in using your binoculars. This is particularly the case when you’re hunting. Eye relief is essentially the distance that the user can hold their binoculars from their eye while still being able to see the complete picture. With insufficient eye relief, a person will only see the center of the picture while the field is restricted. If you’re likely to wear glasses or sunglasses then be sure to look for at least 14 to 15mm of eye relief.
One of the most annoying things when using hunting binoculars is the resulting light reflection. This can hinder the tracking of targets when in the field. Luckily, coated optics provide a solution. These are on the glass surface of the objective and help to reduce or eliminate light loss or glare. The result is brighter, clearer images that can make all the difference when hunting. Look out for the best units which are fully multi-coated. In our opinion, this feature is well worth paying more for.
Image quality comes down to the sharpness and clarity of your view. The quality you get is down to your budget. Of course, it might not be essential for you to have excellent image quality. If this is the case, then most of the more budget hunting binoculars will be more than sufficient. But if you’re hunting on a very regular basis and are out and about in all weather conditions (such as low light) then you should go for the best optics you can afford. Remember that image quality can be greatly reduced the more magnification you use.
Full-size binoculars can be rather heavy and weigh as much as 2lbs or more! Needless to say, this isn’t ideal for hunters who like to travel light, particularly when out for a day at a time. One of the biggest factors regarding the weight of hunting binoculars is the type and amount of glass. The bigger the objective lens, the heavier the binoculars though bigger binoculars do tend to be more powerful. If carrying bulky binoculars for hunting isn’t appealing to you then you can always take a look at compact binoculars.
Are you planning on hunting in various weather conditions? Even if you’re not, sometimes the weather can take you by surprise. The last thing anyone wants is binoculars that can’t handle a little water! It’s therefore important to look for waterproof binoculars. This will stop not only water from entering but also dirt and debris. Try to find binoculars for hunting that have a rubber coating which will make them easier to hold in wet conditions. One byproduct of waterproofing is that such binoculars also tend to be fog proof.
Most hunting binoculars come with a few accessories. If you’re buying budget binoculars then these might not be of the best quality but they’re better than nothing! Straps, cases, and lens cleaning cloths are common accessories and these can prove useful. The ability to strap your binoculars around your neck or at least over one shoulder can be convenient, depending on the weight of the binoculars. Naturally, cases provide a level of protection in case of clumsiness while lens cloths help keep your view as clear as possible.
We want to help you to not only find the best binoculars for hunting possible but also get the best out of them when the time comes. Take a look at our top tips for using your new hunting binoculars!
Clean your lenses!
Keeping your lenses clean can make all the difference, particularly when you’re tracking hard-to-spot wildlife or when hunting in low light conditions.
Check your focus!
The focus is a very useful feature on your binoculars. Be sure to adjust it as you change surroundings to get the best picture possible.
Don’t be afraid to use the 8x or 10x magnification and keep a good distance from what you’re tracking. You’re less likely to scare the animal away by doing so.
Don’t become too reliant!
Some people spend too much time using their hunting binoculars. They’re very useful, no doubt. But just remember to focus on the big picture and get a full perspective.
Use the sun!
The sun can help or hinder you depending on its position. Try to keep it behind you and it will help provide a clearer, sharper image. But never look directly at the sun!
Now you know which hunting binoculars are the best on the market and which features you should be looking for. The great thing about binoculars for hunting is that there are so many brands at so many different price points. As such, you should have no problem finding a great product that serves you well when you’re out hunting.
All the binoculars we reviewed are worthy of consideration, but our top pick, the Vortex Optics Viper HD 10×42 has show-stopping performance and durability. Our runner-up, the Vortex Optics Diamondback is just a step below its bigger better brother. You’ll get the most for your hunting binocular dollar with the Bushnell Trophy XLT.
Note: we also have a binoculars buying guide specifically written for birding. It can be found here.
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