Best Binoculars For Hunting in 2020 (Reviews of Our Top Picks)
Last Updated: September 21, 2020
Arguably, when it comes to hunting, a pair of good quality binoculars are just as important as your rifle scope - just try glassing an entire area for several hours at a time before your shoulder gets stiff and your rifle feels like a concrete block.
And, don't forget the most important benefit of using the best hunting binoculars in your hunt - you can use them with both eyes open.
If you're in the market for the best binoculars for hunting, then you're in luck because you've come to the right site. We have put together in-depth and well-researched reviews about various types of hunting optics to help you in your search to buy one.
From compact and pocket-sized, to giant beasts that rule the optic world, we'll take you through all the brands and binoculars worth mentioning.
How to Choose a Binocular for Hunting
With so many choices available to you, the search for the ideal hunting binocular might seem like an overwhelming task - but never fear! We hope to make the entire process much easier for you with the following compilations of the top options in a range of price categories, sizes and usage classes. So before you begin the process of choosing, here are a few things to consider;
What do you plan to use the binocular for? What platform will best suit your needs? 8X42, 10X42 or even larger? Do you require compact binoculars or special features such as night vision technology, thermal imaging capability or a rangefinding function? What is the budget you have available to invest?
If you already know the answers to these questions, you are reading to start choosing a pair of binoculars from the lists below. Happy hunting!
|BEST HUNTING BINOCULARS 2020|
|MID-SIZED8 of the best mid-sized binoculars||COMPARE NOW|
|RANGEFINDER 7 of the best rangefinder binoculars||COMPARE NOW|
|NIGHT VISION15 of the best night vision binoculars||COMPARE NOW|
|THERMAL9 of the best thermal binoculars & goggles||COMPARE NOW|
Best Hunting Binoculars for the Money
Since everybody’s budget is different, finding the best binoculars for hunting is not just about telling you which pair of binoculars we think are ‘best’, it may not be very helpful to you – especially when some of the top hunting binoculars in the world will run you up thousands of dollars.
Instead, we have considered several price ranges that the typical hunter may be looking in, from beginners to experts and everyone in between. From there, we have collated a list of what we consider to be the top hunting binoculars for that price range, considering quality of glass, coatings, durability and extra features.
In doing so, our goal has been to present to you the top rated binoculars that are the best quality for the money you have available to spend. There is something for every hunter here.
|BEST HUNTING BINOCULARS FOR THE MONEY|
|UNDER $1008 of the best binoculars below $100||COMPARE NOW|
|UNDER $2007 of the best binoculars below $200||COMPARE NOW|
|UNDER $3007 of the best binoculars below $300||COMPARE NOW|
|UNDER $5007 of the best binoculars below $500||COMPARE NOW|
|UNDER $10008 of the best binoculars below $1000||COMPARE NOW|
|OVER $10007 of the best high-end binoculars||COMPARE NOW|
The Best Hunting Binoculars in 2020
1. Vortex Optics Razor HD 12X50 Hunting Binoculars - Best Overall
- 12x magnification and 50mm objectives lenses, the Razor HD features hand selected prisms and premium high density glass, delivering unparalled resolution and color,...
Surprised to see a Vortex Optics binocular top the lineup when we've got world-known brands here too? That's because Vortex always does it well. The optical quality, design and aesthetics, and of course, price of this Vortex Optics Razor HD 12x50 has all been packaged together to present a binocular more practical and affordable for the everyday binocular user. Granted, a thousand bucks is not affordable, but compared to its competition, it's a steal!
It was a toss-up between the Vortex Optics Viper HD and this Razor, but in the end, we went with Vortex's most prized, high-end series. It's dimensions are more in line with what a hunter could use in a practical manner in the field for a full-size binocular.
Vortex didn't leave anything behind on this Razor. It's been preened and primped with a lightweight magnesium chassis, APO glass, and the True Open Hinge design. If there's a brand that caters to all the needs of a hunter and wildlife watcher, it's Vortex!
2. Bushnell H2O 10X42 Hunting Binoculars - Best Value
- Quality optics with stunning HD clarity; Exit Pupil: 4.2 millimeter / 0.165 inch
It was a toss up between these and the Bushnell Trophy, but whether you’re on land on a wet, rainy day or you’re hunting prey in the lakes or the open seas, you can rely on your H2O binoculars to see you through to the end.
- Fully multi-coated optics
- Non-slip rubber
- Good eye relief
- No additional glass treatments
The most attractive feature is obviously its waterproofing treatment with O-ring seals that keeps those optics moisture-free. As such, these budget binoculars are water submersible, so if it falls from a tree stand into a pond or falls off the side of a boat, the most worrisome thing about it is how to retrieve them. The optical quality? Safe and sound.
The entire body is wrapped in a non-slip rubber armor that provides good grip even when it’s pouring out. Of course, it also provides some shock-proof benefits if it ever does take a tumble. If you’re accustomed to the binoculars of yesteryear, you’ll find this set very lightweight in comparison since it weighs 25 oz which meets the current demands of today’s hunters.
Good eye relief of 17 mm will give you plenty of wiggle room to find that optical sweet spot, and if you wear glasses, it may be a little bit of a squeeze to get comfy with it. With fully coated optics, you’ll have clarity, plenty of light transmission, and good color fidelity to view wildlife and nature.
As is, the binos are what hunters need. With no fancy frills, you can expect a fair-enough price, and with waterproofing, it’ll keep you in the hunt about as long as you’re willing to endure the wet conditions.
3. Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 10X42
- 10x magnification & 42mm objective lenses, these Diamondback HD binos are optimized with select glass elements to deliver exceptional resolution, cut chromatic aberration...
The Vortex Optics Diamondback 10x42 is a long-time favorite series of optics from this awesome brand, but the newest line release is the best version yet.
- HD optics
- Dielectric coating
- Accessories issues
The Diamondback is 10/10 for value. It has incredible features for the price, and of course, it comes with Vortex’s VIP warranty that has won over many a buyer. As usual, the brand throws in some accessories, but this bino comes with the GlassPak bino case and GlassPak case harness. Also included are some stock cap covers and a neck strap that some like and some don’t.
As for the binocular itself, it’s an excellent optic. With multiple coatings that includes FMC, dielectric, and ArmorTek coatings, you’ll have clear, sharp, and bright images all day and night long. Low-light and even dark coverage will be no obstacle for this pair. Color fidelity is kept intact and is appreciated since the additional HD optics and coatings significantly reduce chromatic aberration.
It’s very lightweight at 21 ounces, is fully fog and waterproof, and you can expect shock-proof protection with its rubber armored body. With multi twist-up eye cups, you can find decent eye relief up to 15 mm. You also have a good field of view of 330 ft/1,000 yards for a 10x42.
All in all, this model of the latest Diamondback line has outdone itself. It’s one of the best binoculars for the money you will ever find.
4. Nikon Monarch 5 10X42 Hunting Binoculars
- All Monarch 5 binoculars are now built with Nikon's premium ED (Extra-low dispersion); Glass for a sharper, clearer and more brilliant field of view.
When the Monarch 5 was redesigned, it was predicted by the brand that it would be a favorite for hunters. With upgraded features, they proved themselves right.
- Low light conditions
- Extra-Low Dispersion glass
- Multiple coatings
- Narrow field of view
The included accessories have been a point of annoyance for some buyers. Between the ill-fitting eyepiece covers and caps and a Velcro case, the complaints are legitimate. But, let’s not judge a binocular by its hat and shoes. Instead, we’ll judge this binocular by its DNA makeup.
Unfortunately, it has quite the narrow field of view for a 10x42 with only 288 ft/1000 yards, but at least what you are able to see will quickly dissipate any feelings of dissatisfaction since it’s repeatedly said to offer unparalleled focus and image quality.
The bino is a clear and sharp champ. It’s the optics that sells this unit. It’s all thanks to the ED glass, dielectric and phase coatings, and FMC optics. No color fringing, fuzzy sight picture, or focusing issues will be seen here.
It has just over 18 mm of eye relief, so it has enough wiggle room for those who like to keep their shades on. It’s right within weight spec demands of 21.6 oz, and it’s completely fog and waterproof. Don’t shy away from puddles or a bit of rain – this binocular was made to endure it.
With excellence built into its genes, this binocular provides the confidence you need when you’re out in the hunt.
5. Nikon Aculon A211 10X50 - Best 10x50
- Aculon A211 10x50 binoculars are designed to be as light as possible along with excellent ergonomics.
It’s a Porro prism binocular with in-focus image quality and a fundamentally better optical system at its core.
- Aspherical lens
- Eco glass
- 50 mm objective lens
- Wide field of view
- BaK4 glass
- Not waterproof
- Short eye relief
The offset lens design of this type of binocular isn’t everybody’s favorite, but it has its benefits in the field. Even though this 7 x 7.8” unit is approx. 2” larger than its roof cousins, it’s still quite compact for its type. It also has those large 50 mm objective lens, and with high magnification of 10x, the field of view usually suffers, but not in this case since it has a wide 341 ft/1000 yards.
With Eco glass, it’s made with arsenic and lead-free materials, and it also has aspherical lenses that provide a field flattening view. This means that everything you are able to see at the same distance will remain in focus with clear and sharp detail from edge to edge of the field of view.
However, Porro prism binos are difficult to fully waterproof, and so you won’t see that here in this entry-level model. Additionally, with a very tight eye relief of 11.8 mm, those who wear glasses are going to find these unforgiving to use.
Usually, you’ll see BK7 glass used with Porro prism binos, but this set has BaK4 glass for that little bit of an extra upgrade. This Porro prism bino gives you the best of its kind for a low price under $100 (approx.) and has earned its place in the market.
6. Celestron Outland X 10X42 Binoculars
- Multi-coated optics and BaK-4 PRISMS: Multi-coated optics help obtain high resolution and high contrast views, while the prisms made of BaK-4 glass will give you enhanced...
The Outland X is your basic binocular, but it has all the fundamental features you need for the hunt. Keeping it low-priced and functional, Celestron fits the bill.
- Rubber armored body
- Twist-up eyecups
- Narrow field of view
The field of view is only 294ft/1000 yards which is just shy of 300 ft, so it’s not quite as wide as some others out there. It does have a completely rubber armor body for body and shock-proof protection, and it’s also waterproof and fog proof for weathering the elements and any accidental oopsie moments.
Twist-up eyecups allow you to get a full picture of the field of view but will only extend to 14 mm. It’s lightweight for a binocular weighing in at 21.8 oz, and it’s compact in size at only 5.75” x 4.96” x 2.08”. These specs become important when you consider that you will be carrying these around your neck.
With 10x magnification, it’s perfect for deer or elk hunting needs, but you can always mount it to a tripod stick if you need that extra steadiness that your hands can’t achieve.
The Outland X 10x42 binoculars is the cheapest binocular in this lineup, and with BaK4 glass, roof prism design, and real features that sets it apart from the “cheap,” no-name units on the shelves, it’s a steal. These are waterproof binoculars, has high power, is lightweight and compact – sounds like a hunting binocular to us.
7. Vortex Optics Crossfire HD 10X50
- 10x magnification & 50mm objective lenses, these Crossfire HD binos are optimized with Select glass elements to deliver exceptional resolution, cut chromatic aberration...
Who said you can’t get optics with HD for under 200 bucks? The Vortex Optics Crossfire HD proves those skeptics wrong.
- HD optics
- Wide field of view
- GlassPak accessories
This Crossfire HD model has extra-large objective lens with their 50 mm diameter. While you can expect exceptional low light usage out of them, you’re also tacking on extra poundage raising the weight to 30.4 oz – yep, it’s a little bit heavy.
But, with HD optics, you might find that extra weight worth it. What you get is better resolution and clarity – both of which you’ll need to be out at dusk and dawn. The wide field of view of 320 ft/1000 yards is excellent for a 10x50.
Of course, since this is a Vortex, you’re not only getting their exceptional VIP lifetime warranty in the buy, but your bino comes fully weatherproof and shockproof – all the types of protection you need for a bino.
GlassPak accessories included are the binocular case and harness. Stock accessories include the comfort neck strap, Rainguard covers, and tethered objective lens caps. For the extra light transmission and HD optics with all the foundational features and trappings included, Vortex Optics gets our vote.
8. Swarovski CL Pocket 10x25 - Best Compact Hunting Binoculars
- 10X magnification binocular
- 25mmobjective lens diameter
- Roof prism design
- Swarobright- Fully multi-coated optics
- Wide, 294' at 1000 yards field of view - 5. 6° angular view
Swarovski introduces their binocular that comes in under $1000, and it's no kids toy. The CL Pocket model may be small, but it's every much capable of keeping up with its full-size competitors. We know this is true because it's a Swarovski.
The glass and overall quality is right in line with Swarovski's strict quality control manufacturing policies and is upheld with the same standards as their bigger siblings regardless of its small size.
Swarovski takes a spot as the best compact binoculars because it does come in at an affordable price point (for a Swaro product) and is ideal for almost any application including, hiking, birding and even close-range hunting, with the outstanding image quality they provide.
You also have their SwaroBright lens coatings, the Schmidt-Pechan prism assembly, and of course, its extremely durable and weatherproof housing that can survive submersion up to 13 feet.
While all its high-quality features invoke images of a larger than life optic, the Pocket binocular comes in under a pound with it's cute dimensions around 4 inches. If there's a miniature binocular worth saving for, it's this Swaro!
9. Athlon Midas 8X42 Hunting Binoculars
- ED Glass - ED glass gives you an image with little or no chromatic fringe so the final result brings a clearer and sharper image to your eyes
It’s another “birding” binocular, but we found its features more than adequate for hunting. In fact, you can always count on Midas to give you more than what you’d expect.
- Quality coatings
- Magnesium chassis
- Argon gas
- Wide field of view
- Focus wheel issues
The 8x42 model is popular with birders – no doubt. But, there are many hunters that can’t quite keep a 10x magnification binocular steady enough for their needs and you have hunters that are often in tree stands in thick brush that find 8x more than adequate. You can check out the 10x42 model that is cheaper in price and has the same features, but it’s not quite as popular as the 8x magnification – just FYI.
As the 8x magnification model, it has a much larger field of view. It has 85 feet more than the 10x magnification model maxing out at 426 ft/1000 yards. The fully coated lenses are HD quality because it has ED glass, dielectric coating, and phase correction coatings – it has the works! This means little to no chromatic aberration, sharp resolution, ultimate clarity, and picture-worthy image quality. You can get you’ll get some decent low light coverage with this little unit.
Quality extends to the build with its magnesium chassis and Argon gas – both are better than an aluminum chassis and nitrogen gas – just so you know. . . But, there has been some speak about the focus wheel. Few have mentioned its stiffness and a squelching sound during use. Perhaps, this mechanism was overgreased? It doesn’t pose an issue for most, but still something to take note of.
Everything about the Midas will help to bring you closer to bagging your gold trophy. After all, it does have the Midas touch of quality to it.
10. Bushnell Engage 12X50
- ED prime glass is fully multi-coated to offer maximum brightness
The Engage is one of the newest series released by Bushnell, and as a high powered binocular, it has low light conditions and long-distance obstacles conquered.
- ED Prime glass
- EXO Barrier coating
- Multiple coatings
- Locking diopter
- Short eye relief
The eye relief is 15 mm which is still a little on the short side for many, but there has been more than a gripe or two about it being shorter than that. You may want to rethink this spec if you wear glasses while glassing.
This model has every optical feature you could look for just short of Image Stabilization. It has ED glass for reducing color fringing, phase correction coatings for improved contrast and resolution, and dielectric coatings for even more light transmission.
The EXO Barrier coating is Bushnell’s latest exterior coating that protects the objective lens from debris, water, oil – you name it.
For such a high-powered pair of binoculars with huge objective lens, it’s quite lightweight at just under 30 oz. It also has a decent field of view of 280 ft/1000 yards. The locking diopter is a high-end feature that you may appreciate.
It’s not the most expensive binocular in this lineup, and yet it’s one of the most decked out units of the lot.
11. Leupold BX-1 McKenzie
- Leupold model #173788 Bx-1 McKenzie 10x42mm in shadow Gray
The McKenzie line has entry-level and low-price tags at its core, but it may prove to be exactly what you want. Better yet, Leupold’s the name behind this unit.
- Phase coatings
- Tripod ready
- Short eye relief
The eye relief on these hunting binoculars may test you with its short 13.7 mm – not exactly friendly for those who wear shades or specs. But, the optical quality should be better than most since it not only has FMC coatings, it also boasts phase coated prisms which helps to correct for roof prism deficits. The result is better picture quality across the board.
It’s ready for the weather that you’ll inevitably see first day of the hunt, and it’s tripod ready, so you’ll be able to mount this puppy to steady the 10x power.
Only weighing 22 ounces, it’s right within lightweight specs, and it has a 305 ft/1000 yards field of view – good enough.
The McKenzie BX-1 is a simple pair of binoculars, but the phase coatings are needed on even the most basic roof prism binoculars. With this feature, your roof prism binoculars are ready to go whenever you are.
12. Meopta MeoStar B1 15X56 HD - Best 15x56
- MEOBRIGHT ion assisted lens multi-coatings deliver an outstanding 99.7% light transmission per lens surface
Don't want to pay Swarovski and Zeiss prices for a high-powered, full-size binocular? You can get A-class quality from Meopta without having to pay A-class prices. Gray's Sporting Journal recognizes the value and quality in this MeoStar, and if you know what's good for you, you will too!
The MeoStar is large and heavy, but no larger or heavier than the following Swarovski binocular. And, like its competitor, it also features world-renown glass with HD quality and ED elements. Seeing further and longer is the MeoStar's expertise.
Extreme long range hunters are going to appreciate the pure usability of this exceptional binocular that's more price attractive than any of its challengers in its class. For full-size and full performance, it's got our full recommendation!
13. Swarovski SLC 15X56 HD - Best Full-Size Binoculars
- The purchase Includes: Swarovski Optik SLC 15x56 Binocular, Field Bag, Eyepiece Cover, Objective Lens Cover, Lift Carrying Strap, Swarovski Optik Lifetime Limited...
Of course we expected to see this swanky brand make the lineup. They don't discriminate when it comes to size. The SLC full-size binoculars are definitely not for those with shallow pockets either. It's a heifer in price for good reason.
With a high binocular power and large 56mm apertures combined with Swarovski glass, you can bet this optic is right up there with the absolute best in the world. Top this baby off with HD image quality and Swarovski's patented external lens coatings, and you couldn't want for anything more.
While it weighs upwards of two pounds, it has a relatively slim profile for a full-size binocular. Thanks to its weight-balanced frame and extended depressions, holding this hunting binocular will come naturally and with ease.
Buyers Guide: 8 Essentials to Consider When Shopping for The Best Binoculars
1. Additional Features
One of the biggest factors that will help you to determine an appropriate price range is whether or not you want to consider additional features.
And, if you decide that you're not going to snub your nose to what could be a really cool add-on, you might want to check out our Binocular Features article that addresses the ins and outs of these high-tech features.
From the best rangefinder binoculars, to image stabilization, you could be missing out on some time-saving and image quality benefits that you'd never know about if you didn't give it a try.
No matter how small and inconsequential eyecups may seem to be, they actually have a large role in whether or not you're going to be able to get any quality use out of your binocular.
In fact, their function and proper use is tied up in many other aspects, such as eye relief, field of view, IPD, image quality, and of course, comfort.
To get caught up with how your choice of eyecups will affect your hunt, you better read our "4 Essential Adjustments to Master Today" article.
3. Exit Pupil
If you're familiar with rifle scopes, you might be a little turned off by most of the exit pupil sizes you see in a pair of hunting binoculars. But, don't make any uneducated decisions without being informed.
Most glassing is usually done during the day when the human pupil is open to to around 2-3 mm. So, if you know what you're hunting, when you're hunting, and what you're hunting with, you'll want to make sure that a good conventional daytime binocular will do what you need it to do.
If you're not sure about the whole exit pupil thing and how it will work out for your hunting style, our in-depth "How to Focus Your Binos" article will clear up your cloudy understanding.
4. Eye Relief
Knowing this about a pair of hunting binoculars can make all the difference between making an excellent and well-informed purchase to a buy that you mightn't ever get any quality use out of.
That's because the distance from your eyes to the ocular lenses matters - a lot. And, for glasses-wearers, you're going to want enough eye relief to ensure you're not getting jipped on the short end of the stick when it comes to quality viewing.
This article on focusing binoculars will get into all the specific details on what you need to know about eye relief.
5. Focus Systems
While most good binoculars sport the center focus system, you might not realize you could get more benefit out of another type of focus system - the Individual Focus System.
Or, perhaps the conventional center focus knob could be improved to really make speedy glassing convenient without causing quality degradation.
Knowing your focus system options and correct calibrating instructions is vital information if you want to get maximum use out of your binocular for hunting. But, how would you know what's what if you haven't read our "How to Focus & Calibrate Your Binoculars" article?
6. Prism Type
Roof prisms or Porro? It's a legitimate question since optically, they're different. And, with roof prism optics on the rise, you mightn't want to discard the porro just yet since there may be some benefits that a low budget roof binocular can't offer.
And, if you didn't know, a porro prism is actually, at its core, optically superior to roof prisms. But, if you want more on this, you're going to have to read our article Roof Prism vs Porro Prism that explains everything there is to know about the on-going roof versus porro prism controversy.
Just as important as it is to decide whether you want a fixed zoom or a variable on a rifle scope, it's also important to decide this for a hunting binocular.
But, what are the ups and downs of a variable power? And, why doesn't your favorite brand make one?
While there's advantages and disadvantages of both types of power options, you might want to consult with this information about binocular features before you blindly buy a zoom binocular.
8. Master the Terminology
Happily researching the optics world will soon leave you feeling like you're wading in mud if you can't keep up with all the terms and jargon.
All the doublespeak, language, and buzzwords can end up sounding like a bunch of gibberish and twaddle.
Being able to discern between quality features on a pair of binoculars and the fancy 50 million ways there are to describe the same thing is a gift in and of itself.
And, it's a gift that Target Tamers can impart on you with our Glossary of Bino Features & Terminology.
What Makes Great Hunting Binoculars?
The best binoculars for hunting are going to be the ones that give you a clear, bright, and sharp image of your target. Even better ones can give you a view that puts you right there in front of it. And, all hunters desire this kind of quality glassing.
From prepping for the upcoming hunt to comfortably glassing for hours without raising your rifle to your shoulder every single time, a good binocular certainly has its place in the sport. So hunt the market as you would the field - safely, wisely, and with a lot of fun!
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