Buyers Guides: Binoculars for Christmas 2016
It is always a slight dilemma for me as to when I should put up my Christmas buyers guide as not only am I notoriously a last minute Xmas shopper, but I have always been the one to complain that everything to do with Christmas, especially the advertising keeps getting earlier and earlier every year!
This year l have again decided to hold out until early December, which is when I think Christmas begins, is late enough for people to get into the festive mood, but still giving you enough time to do some research and get the perfect gift!
The main idea behind this guide is for it to be a kind of shortcut and especially help those who don’t know an awful lot about optics (and who don’t really want to know) choose the right pair of binoculars and be confident that the gift they have selected will be the right choice. This is because this guide will only recommend bins that I would personally also give as a gift, meaning that not only I have fully tested & reviewed them, but thought that they exceeded when I did.
Pay less for binoculars this Xmas
Whilst selecting the perfect gift is always a great start, what is even better is if you can pay less for it, leaving more for you to spend on yourself.. I mean more to buy even more gifts for others!
So where possible, I have also tried to highlight the best current Christmas deals available (for November & December) in a selection of price points.
Featured Gift Ideas
The Dream Christmas Gift
Swarovski CL Companion 8x30
With the Swarovski CL Companion you can be sure you are giving a gift that will not only last, but be treasured for life.
Not only do these compact 30mm binoculars look fantastic, but they punch well above their weight in terms of optical performance which is thanks to the finest workmanship and the use of premium grade optics and coatings.
Yet the really surprising aspect is the price tag that makes this "alpha" class instrument good value and which makes the dream of owning a Swarovski binocular a definite reality.
Best Value for Money
Hawke Endurance ED 8x42
This years winner of the award as the Best Value For Money Binocular, for around $200 / £200 you really are getting incredible value on an ED quality optic that delivers in almost every area.
Highlights include a modern top hinge body shape with a water proof magnesium housing. FMC Optics with ED Glass Elements in the Lenses and Phase Corrected BaK-4 Roof Prisms.
Combined with a wide FOV, these make ideal Birding, Wildlife & General Use Binos.
Best Deals & Discounts for Christmas
Vanguard Sale & Rebate Offer
Vanguard currently offering an impressive $100 Mail-In Rebate on most models within their best selling and high end Endeavour ED and Endeavour ED II ranges. (Offer Ends 31 December 2016)
Example: $230 Off Vanguard 8x42 & 10x42 Endeavor ED Binoculars:
- List Price:
- Current Retail Price approx: $299 (On Amazon / Eagle Optics)
- + Mail-In Rebate: -$100
- Vanguard 8x42mm Endeavor ED’s Now Only $199.99!!!
Whilst most of the binoculars I review and indeed recommend tend to cost more than $150 / £150, I still come across what I would call cheap binoculars, that in my opinion still perform to a reasonably high level.
So if you are on a tight budget this Christmas, take a look at my top recommendations for a gift that should put a smile on most peoples faces on Christmas morning and continue to bring them plenty of enjoyment for years to come.
This section is probably the most competitive with a huge selection of binoculars to choose from. You can get a really good pair of optics at this price, but there are also many very ordinary products, so finding the gems in amongst the crowd can be difficult.
To help, I have only listed the binoculars that have really impressed me with their quality features, components and view. Also highlighted are any deals or sales currently on offer that will help you save even more money this Christmas.
Within this price category you can get some real cracking pairs of bins that will definitely make someone very happy on Christmas morning.
Even though you are far less likely to find a really poor pair of optics at this price, just like mid range binoculars above, there are some that may not be quite up to scratch. Whilst on the other side of the coin there are also some that really stand up above the rest.
To save you time, I have placed what I believe to be the best that I have used and tested within this price range all on one very short list, so you can be sure that you get a cracker.
In this section of my Xmas guide to binoculars, I take a look at the very high end of the market.
In this price range you are almost guaranteed very high spec, premium grade optics and coatings, but not every one gives you good value for money. So take a look at the ones that I recommend for Christmas that are not only amongst the very best, but still offer good value for money and will most certainly make one awesome Christmas gift.
As we all know that Christmas is really out the kids, but many "kids binoculars" are little more than cheap toys that really do not work. This is fine for very young children, but what if you are looking for a binocular that they can actually use?
Children and young adults have some special requirements when it comes to optics, which includes being able to set the ocular lenses to the closer distances between their eyes and having a bin that will survive their natural instincts to push everything to it’s limits!
In this guide I take a look at some of the best binoculars specifically designed for kids, as well as standard binoculars that will be ideal for your teenager.
Other Gift Ideas
If you are looking for something a little different to a "standard" pair of binoculars, below are a few other options that I feel will make the ideal Christmas gift:
Opticron MM3 60 GA ED Travelscope
Mighty but small – This compact scope from Opticron is equipped with very high quality optics that produce a stunning image, making this in my opinion an ideal option for travel, safaris, hiking as well as for uses like bird watching, hunting and sports whenever you need to keep weight and size to a minimum.
High end features like ED glass lenses, fully multi-coated optics, twin speed focus knobs, and exchangeable eye-pieces make this the perfect gift for the more serious birder or someone who is interested in longer distance observation, but who already owns a set of binoculars.
Luna Optics LN-DM50-HRSD Digital Night Vision Viewer & Recorder
Night vision, especially digital NV has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years. Image quality has drastically improved and with increased competition, prices have fallen.
This Luna Optics monocular is an excellent example of this and proves that you do not need to spend a fortune to really see very well in the dark, but you can also record what you are seeing as well!
The ideal gift for personal security needs, night time wildlife observation and perfect for adventures like a safari or camping trip.
With it’s 50mm objective lens and compact, lightweight water and fogproof body there is no doubting the potential this Hawke spotting scope has as an ideal easily portable or travel friendly companion.
Add to this some really high end optics that are fully multi-coated and a removable 12x-36x zoom eyepiece and a really close short focus then you have a very travel friendly and versatile instrument, perfectly suitable for a wide range of applications and a great Christmas gift for any outdoor/wildlife or birding enthusiast.
Butterfly Binoculars & Close Distance Observation
These compact Pentax binoculars have an ingenious system where the lenses converge on tracks as you focus on near objects, which gives them an incredibly close minimum focusing distance of only 1.6ft, making them an ideal gift for anyone taking a better look at butterflies, flowers, bees or birds from closer distances.
They are also incredibly useful to take to a gallery or museum, but can also be used very effectively at longer distances, just like any other compact, which makes them very versatile. Their small size also makes them easy to carry about and so they make great hiking, camping and general travel companions, as well as perfect for taking to most indoor or outdoor sporting events.
Astronomy & Long Distance Observation
Celestron Astronomy Binoculars
Here I have two recommendations for Christmas depending on your budget, both from Celestron, the world leaders in great value instruments for astronomy:
If someone you know wants to take a closer look at the heavens or indeed distant objects on earth, but you are on a tight budget this Christmas, then these Celestron Skymaster binoculars may be the perfect gift.
At only $90 / £80, they come with a waterproof body, more than decent quality optics, large 70mm objectives and a very powerful 25x magnification, making them an ideal low cost option for long distance terrestrial observation as well as perfect astronomy binoculars.
Incorporating very high end Japanese glass, these premium Celestron Echelon binoculars are put together by hand in their plant back in the US where the focus is very much on precision and quality.
Large 70mm objective lenses combined with fully multicoated optics and a powerful 20x magnification the Echelon is fog & waterproof and comes with an included waterproof hard carry case.
At around $850, they are not cheap, but are still good value against other high end astronomy bins and if you really want to get one of the best long distance and astronomy binocular for Christmas, this is a great choice.
Stocking Fillers & Other
Ultra-Light Binocular Harness
Costing around $20, weighing only 1 ounce and taking up almost no space at all, the Ultra-Light Binocular Harness is the perfect stocking filler for anyone who owns a pair of binoculars:
- Weighs only 1oz
- Easily holds heavier binoculars up to 10x50
- Single point adjustment
- Adjust the harness for size whilst wearing it
- Quick Disconnect System
- Easily wraps around the binocular for hassle free storage
- Can be worn in four ways
For a video demonstration, more information and where to buy follow this link: Ultra-Light Binocular Harness
If your a searching for a gift for someone who already has a binocular, then take a look at this section that contains many related Christmas gift ideas that I have reviewed:
This section contains camera and smart phone adapters, including the excellent SnapZoom Universal Digiscoping Adapter and the Carson Universal Smartphone Optics Adapter, both of which enable you to take photos or video with almost any smartphone on the market through your scope, binoculars, telescope, night vision device or even a microscope!
Other ideas include optical cleaning kits, tripod adapters, binocular harnesses, floating straps and eye-shields that block out unwanted light and bags specifically designed for your bins.
Someone recently contacted me looking for some advice as they were wanting to surprise their husband this Christmas by getting them a night vision device.
They have a good budget of $500 / £500 and also wanted to know if they should be opt for night vision binoculars or a monocular.
So in this document, I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each and recommend the best night vision devices that I have tested and reviewed within this price range for Christmas.
Great Value for Money – Celestron Trailseeker 8x42
Winner of the award as the Best Value For Money Binocular in 2014 when their street price was around $200 / £200, these Celestron binoculars are now available for around $170 / £180, which I think translates to superb value for a binocular that I believe is way better than what it’s price tag may suggest.
An ideal general use, birdwatching and wildlife observation optic, highlights include a lightweight fog and waterproof body, optics that have been fully multi-coated and dielectric & phase correction coatings on their BaK-4 roof prisms, which is something that you rarely see at this price.