Binoculars for Hunting

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Hunting Binoculars
In almost all forms of hunting, a good pair of binoculars are a must and there are some that would even go as far as to say that your hunting binoculars are as important as the rifle. Binoculars for hunting are used to scout the surrounding terrain, help you to get a better view of potential targets to evaluate trophies and distinguish the sexes of animals.

Objective Lens Size

Many hunters will go out in the early morning or late afternoon/early evening and therefore the light gathering ability and the brightness of the image produced is critical. In general the larger the size of the objective lens, the better the binocular will perform in low light. Other factors including the quality of the lenses, lens coatings as well as prisms will also play a vital roll in transferring the maximum amount of light to your eyes. The down size to large objective lenses is that they not only make the binoculars bigger and heavier, but more expensive as well. So as with most things, you have to strike a compromise to get the best binoculars for your particular needs.

Most full size binoculars will have an objective lens diameter of 42mm, compact binoculars tend to have 26mm or even 22mm diameters.

A good compromise for many hunters wanting to travel light, but still want a good low light performance are mid-size binoculars that come with objective lenses of around 32mm. For me a good quality mid-sized bin often makes the ideal compromise between portability and light gathering qualities.

Magnification & Field of View

Most people imagine that the higher the magnification, the better the binocular. Not true. Large magnifications make it really difficult to keep the image that you are look at through the optics still (any slight movement is magnified more and more by larger magnifications).

Larger magnifications also generally reduce the field of view (width of the image that you see). A narrower field of view (FOV) will make it much more difficult to spot game, especially when scanning over large areas, it can also make it harder to track faster moving wildlife.

Having said this, the ideal magnification will also depend on your most commonly used terrain. Those who mostly hunt in the woods and forests will be best off choosing a binocular with low magnification (wide field of view) and plenty of light gathering ability, something like an 8x42 binocular or if you need a more compact binocular, an 8x30 or 8x32.

High Powered Binoculars for Hunting

Those hunting in wide open areas and in the mountains will obviously need to observe game at greater distances and therefore need a larger magnification: 10x, 12x or even greater magnifications may be required. But just keep in mind that the narrower FOV will hamper you a little when searching for game over large areas.

For more information on this, read an article I wrote on the Best High Powered Binoculars for Hunting, that includes advice on what to look out for, as well as a few suggestions on what binoculars to get.

Binocular Durability and Design

Waterproof & Fogproof
Spending time in any wilderness will mean encountering all sorts of weather conditions, it therefore makes sense to choose a pair of binoculars that are fully waterproof. Sealed binoculars not only prevent moisture from getting inside the optics, but dust and other debris as well. Also look out for fogproof binoculars are filled with argon or nitrogen gas to inhibit internal fogging caused by temperature extremes.

To protect you binoculars from accidental drops and knocks, look out for models that have tough rubber armour.

Although not essential, a camouflage exterior can also be helpful for keeping you out of sight. Many manufacturers produce models in different colour variations and include a camo version, that you should keep a look out for.

Steiner 8x42 Predator BinocularsSpecial Lens Coatings

Steiner Binoculars have a range of binoculars known as Predator's that have been designed specifically for hunting and that feature high contrast optics that block the colors of haze and foliage and enhance the visibility of browns, reds and other wildlife colors helping you spot hidden game. Read my detailed article on Steiner Predator Binoculars for more information, or take a look at my overview of the Steiner 10x26 Predator Pro Compact Binoculars.

Rangefinder Binoculars for HuntingRangefinder Binoculars

Binoculars like the Zeiss Victory Range Finder Binoculars that have LED displays within the view that, with a press of a button display the precise distance to the object you are viewing along with their integrated BIS™ ballistic information system.

View Demo of how the Zeiss Range finder works

Eye Relief

This is very important if you use eye glasses. Take a look at Eye Relief in my glossary for a detailed explanation, but basically it is the distance behind the ocular lenses where the image is in focus. So if you wear glasses, you can't get your eyes as close to the lenses, you need a longer eye relief that basically projects the image beyond the ocular lens on the binoculars. So if you wear glasses, you should be looking for an eye relief of at least 15mm, to see the full image full image. The down side to long eye relief is that it usually reduces the field of view. Some people wonder if you need to wear glasses at all using binoculars, well If you are near-sighted or far-sighted, you can use your binoculars without wearing glasses and the binoculars focus will compensate, but if you have astigmatism, you will need to use your glasses.

Eye Cups

Eye-cups are related to the eye relief as they keep the distance from the oculars to our eyes, but also help keep stray light away from your eyes while using binoculars. Many eye-cups are made from rubber and can roll up or down another type are eye-cups that slide rather than roll, but these can be hard to keep in place.

The third type and now most commonly used are eye-cups that twist up and down and so they can be left at any position from all the way up to all the way down, some even have click stops at regular intervals with the eye relief distance for each stop marked on the cup so you can get the perfect eye relief for your vision.

EyeShieldsSome of the best designs particularly for hunting have flaps/shades on the sides, which not only prevent light entering from the side, but also stop you being distracted by anything on the periphery of your view. If your bins do not come with these, you can get some that fit over your eyecup, some of the best that I have used are EyeShields from Field Optics that I highly recommend.

Hunting Binocular Reviews

Below are some of the binoculars that I have tested and fully reviewed and that recommend as ideal hunting binoculars. I have divided them into their size categories for you:

Full Size Hunting Binoculars

The binoculars below all have objective lenses of around 42mm and are classed as "full-size" - these larger lenses ensure they perform well even in very poor light. On the down side, they are a little bigger and heavier than some of the compact and mid sized bins (see below), not a problem if you hunt from a hide, but may not be ideal if you also carry a lot of hunting gear over large distances and difficult terrain.

 

Celestron Trailseeker 8x42 Binoculars

Aimed at the more price conscious user, but who still want a high quality instrument, the Celestron Trailseeker binoculars come with an impressive array of features.

A fully sealed Magnesium alloy body, with metal twist-up eye-cups protect high quality and fully multi-coated optics that include phase and dielectric coated BaK-4 prisms to offer a performance that easily surpasses their price tag and thus almost all of their direct competition.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 80%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Eagle Optics NEW Ranger ED 8x42 Binoculars

The latest version of the Eagle Optics Ranger ED Binocular improves on it's predecessor and now features a single bridged lightweight body that is of course both water & fog proof.

Optically these are hard to beat, especially at this price point as they are equipped with ED (extra-low dispersion) glass lenses, dielectric and phase-corrected BaK-4 prisms and fully multi-coated optics.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 82%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Vanguard Endeavor ED II 8x42 Binoculars

The new flagship model from Vanguard utilizes premium grade ED glass lenses made in Japan, fully multi-coated optics and phase corrected roof prisms to deliver an image of outstanding quality and brightness.

Add to this features like a robust & waterproof magnesium-alloy body, twist-up eyecups with a full 19.5mm of eye-relief, a wide field of view and good close focus distance and you have a bin that is hard to beat, especially at this price.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 83%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Minox BL 8x44 HD Binoculars

Designed & made in Germany by MINOX in conjunction with Volkswagen Design, these premium quality, hand finished binoculars come with HD glass, phase correction coatings and a full 30 year warranty.

Combine this with their large 44mm objective lenses, wide field of view and relatively low cost and you have a binocular that is really hard to match never mind beat.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 80%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Snypex Knight ED 10x50 Binoculars

High specification 10x binoculars with larger than standard 50mm objective lenses for superior light gathering ability, which combined with optical features like fully multi-coated optics and highly reflective silver mirror coated prisms deliver a stunning low light performance for a 10x binocular of this size.

Other optical highlights include the use of ED glass elements in their apochromatic designed lenses and phase corrected Bak-4 roof prisms.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 78%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Pentax 9x42 DCF BR Binoculars

Featuring a weight saving and comfortable open bridge design, the Pentax 9x42 DCF BR binocular is nitrogen charged and fully waterproof (JIS Class 6 compliant) that they say allows for fresh-water rinsing should you need it.

High-performance optics and coatings like the fully-multi-coated optics, phase corrected and silver mirror coated roof prisms deliver what I thought was an outstanding optical performance for a binocular in this class ideal for a wide range of uses including general nature observation, birding, hunting and much more.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 72%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

 

Hawke Frontier ED 8x43 Binoculars

Open hinge binoculars with a waterproof body made from magnesium and covered in a thick rubber armour. With a very wide field of view, the slightly larger 43mm objectives combined with some great quality glass and coatings also make for a bright and high quality image being produced.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 77%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Vanguard 10x42 Spirit XF Binoculars

With optical features like fully multi-coated lenses, phase correction coatings on the Bak-4 Roof prisms all contained in a lightweight, tough, water and fog proof open bridge body these inexpensive binoculars really are great value for money.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 77%
Excellent
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 6/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: Vanguard are currently offering a $25 Mail-In Rebate on these bins in the USA and are for sale at a reduced price on Amazon.co.uk in the UK
>> Check Prices
 
 

Leica Geovid 10x42 HD-B Laser Rangefinder Binoculars

Binoculars.com's Innovation of the year Award 2013 -Leica Geovid 10x42 HD-B Laser Rangefinder BinocularsWinner of Binoculars.com's Innovation of the Year Awards 2013

What Binoculars.com say: "Advance Ballistic Compensation in a binocular. That's right. Leica has continued the tradition of continually upping the ante in high-tech optics with 2013 Innovation of the Year, the Geovid HD-B Laser Rangefinder Binocular. ABC, as it's called, allows hunters to upload ballistics data for their equipment and accurately calculate their shot based on ballistics curves and real-time distance, angle, temperature, and air pressure calculations. All within .2 seconds. This incredible technology is paired, of course, with state-of-the-art optics from Leica, with a new Perger Porro prism system and unparalleled optical performance. You didn't know it until just now, but you need this."

What I say: There is no getting around the fact that these Leica binoculars are not cheap, but if you hunt with a rifle and are looking for very, very best hunting binocular, then these must surely be worth taking a very close look at.

As well as all the hunting specific features that Binoculars.com have already discussed above these Leica's have all the optical components and coatings that you would expect to find in any standard binocular in this class. What is more all this comes encased in what must be said is a tough and beautiful looking open bridge body.

Price Range
These Leica Geovid Rangefinder Binoculars cost about $3000 in the US:

 
 
 

Mid-Size & Compact Hunting Binoculars

The compact & mid sized hunting bins below all have objective lenses of about 32mm and under. These may not perform quite as well as larger bins in low light conditions, but due to their smaller size and lower weight are more portable and ideal if you cover large distances on foot or traverse difficult terrain when hunting:

 

Swarovski EL 10x32 Swarovision Binoculars

The new Swarovision EL 10x32 binoculars combine the very best optics and coatings with a waterproof, lightweight and tough Magnesium open bridge body to produce one of the very best mid sized binoculars currently on the market.

Optical features include Field flattener lenses to correct field curvature, Phase correction and dielectric coatings on the roof prisms and fully multi-coated Swarobright lens coatings for a much better light transmission.

Price: (6/6) Expensive Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 10/10 97%
The VERY Best
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 10/10
Optical Stats: 10/10
Image Quality 10/10
Extras & Details: 10/10

These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Swarovski EL 10x32 SV binoculars are available at a discount on Amazon.com, Binoculars.com and Eagle Optics in the USA
>> Check Prices
 

Celestron Granite 9x33 Binoculars

Top of the line mid-sized binoculars from Celestron with that feature a lightweight open bridge magnesium body that protects high end optical components. These include fully multi-coated lenses, with ED glass elements and Bak-4 roof prisms with phase correction and very highly reflective dielectric mirror coatings that really do help produce a superior view.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 8/10 82%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 9/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 8/10

 

Kowa 10x33 Genesis XD Binoculars

High-End mid sized roof prism binoculars featuring Prominar XD Lenses (extra low dispersion glass), fully multi-coated lenses and phase corrected Schmidt-Pechan prisms to ensure excellent optical performance. This Kowa Genisis binocular is also fully waterproof, fog-proof and lightweight, with a durable and tough rubber coated armour exterior.

Price: (5/6) High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 92%
The VERY Best
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 10/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 10/10

These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Kowa Genesis 10x33 is available at a reduced price from Eagle Optics in the USA and Amazon.co.uk in the UK.
>> Check Prices
 

Minox 8x33 BL Binoculars

Quality mid-sized waterproof and fog-proof binoculars that feature the comfortable open bridge design and come with high quality optics that include Bak-4 phase coated roof prisms and fully multi-coated lenses.

Price: (4/6) Mid-High Value Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 9/10 83%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 9/10
Extras & Details: 7/10

 

Nikon 10x36 SHE Safari Monarch ATB Binoculars

Nikon & SHE Outdoor Apparel have come together and designed a pair of binoculars for women ideal for most outdoor adventures including especially safaris. The Nikon SHE Safari Monarch is not only good looking, but include high spec quality optics that produce an excellent quality image.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Nikon SHE Safari binocular is available at a discounted price on Amazon.com, Eagle optics and Binoculars.com in the US
>> Check Prices
 

Nikon 10x36 Monarch ATB DCF Binoculars

Fully Multi-coated Lenses with Phase corrected Bak-4 Roof prisms. The 10x36 Monarch ATB binoculars bundle great performance with a lightweight, compact and super rugged body.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
These Binoculars are On SaleDiscounted Binoculars: The Monarch 10x36 binocular is available at a discount on Amazon.com, Binoculars.com and Eagle Optics in the USA and Amazon.co.uk in the UK
>> Check Prices

View >> All Binoculars for Hunting that I have reviewed.


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