Best Binoculars 2020 - Award Winners

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10th Annual BBR Awards

Annual Binocular Awards LogosNow a full decade since they first began, the Best Binoculars 2020Awards are once again the ideal way in which I can present and indeed highlight the very best binoculars, spotting scopes, monoculars, night vision devices and Astro telescopes that I have used, tested and fully reviewed over the past 12 months.

Beware of Fake Reviews & Awards!

The fact that the internet and in particular product reviews and awards on the internet are largely given out by people who in most instances have never seen, used or tested the actual products in question! This is a source of huge annoyance and frustration to me.

These so-called 'reviews' and 'awards' are not only meaningless but worse still often completely misleading as they convince consumers into making a purchase that is often completely wrong for their actual needs and circumstances.

Completely Genuine Award Winners

As you may know, here on BBR I pride myself on the fact that every review I write is only conducted after I have thoroughly used, tested and researched the binocular, scope or other devices in question.

What is more, all of the reviews on the BBR website are completely genuine. I am not sponsored and do not take any sort of compensation to write about a binocular in a particular way. In other words, every review on BBR is completely genuine and 100% my honest opinion of the instrument.

Why the BBR Annual Binocular Awards are different:

In order for an instrument to be considered for a BBR Award and thus rank with the best binoculars for 2020, it must have first been tested and reviewed by me here on BBR.

Then I go over each review at the end of the year and see which if any deserve to be called the BEST in a particular category. If I cannot find any deserving winners, or if I have not reviewed a product in a certain category over the last 12 months, then I either forgo the award or if still relevant and available on the market, I will suggest the previous year's winner instead.

I would like to also like to reassure you that my choice for an award winner in every category is completely independent and unbiased.

As I can only review and test a limited amount of binoculars and other instruments every year, this does mean that the pool of potential winners is way smaller than every single pair of optics on the market. But I do hope that you will agree that this is a worthwhile trade-off and a better option than if I was to follow other people's leads and just offer awards to products that I have never used or tested. For more info, take a look at the Rules at the foot of this page.

Best Binoculars 2020

The shortcut links below will take you to the top binoculars in 2020 in a range of popular categories. As with past years, I will be announcing each winner one-at-a-time over a period of days, so please do check back if you are reading this and there are still winners yet to be announced:

Annual Binocular Awards 2020Contents: 2020 Award Winners:

  1. Best Binoculars 2020 - Vortex Razor UHD 10x42
  2. Best Birding Binoculars 2020 - GPO Passion ED 8x42
  3. Best General Wildlife Binoculars 2020 - Kite Lynx HD+ 10x50
  4. Best Hunting Binoculars 2020 - Vortex Razor UHD 10x42, Steiner Nighthunter/Shadowquest 8x56 & Steiner Predator AF 8x30
  5. Best High Power Binoculars 2020 - Athlon Midas 12x50
  6. Best Mid-Size, Safari & Travel Binocular - Hawke Frontier ED X 8x32
  7. Best Compact Binocular 2020 - Steiner BluHorizons 10x26
  8. Best Marine Binoculars - Fujinon Polaris 7x50 FMTRC-SX
  9. Best Mid-Level Binocular 2020 (Under $200 / £200) - Bresser Condor 10x42
  10. Best Low Cost Binocular 2020 (Under $100 £/ €) - Vortex Vanquish 10x26
  11. Best Binoculars for Astronomy 2020 - Celestron SkyMaster Pro 15x70
  12. Best Night Vision Device - Luna Optics 6-30x50 LN-DB60-HD
  13. Best Binocular Accessory - Cotton Skout Binocular Harness
  14. Best Children's Binoculars 2020 - Bresser 6x21 Binoculars
  15. Best Spotting Scope - Yet To Be Announced
  16. Best Astronomy Telescope - Yet To Be Announced

Best Binoculars 2020

Vortex Razor UHD 10x42 Binoculars

At 92% these new Vortex Razor UHD binoculars achieved a BBR score that places them alongside the very best binoculars that I have ever tested and thus I had no hesitation in awarding them the overall title as the Best Binoculars of 2020.

From the top-hinge designed magnesium frame to the incredible APO Lens System and Abbe-Koenig roof prisms, almost every single component used on the Razor UHD is the best that you can get.

This combined with excellent attention to detail and build quality that is second to none results in a binocular that comfortably compares and in some cases beats the top 'alpha' level instruments from the more established brands from Europe.

Body Quality: 9/10 92%
The VERY Best
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 10/10
Optical Stats: 10/10
Image Quality 10/10
Extras & Details: 9/10

A Few Highlights:

  • Extremely high level of body components and build quality, which includes a magnesium alloy chassis, all-metal eye-piece housings, ultra-smooth focus wheel, and lockable diopter adjuster.
  • As with the body components and perhaps even more so, the level of optical components and coatings used is as good as it gets. This starts with the APO Lens System, goes through to the Abbe Koenig design of roof prisms and finally ends with anti-reflection coatings on all optical surfaces and protective ArmorTek coatings on the exterior lens surfaces.
  • The combination of all these extremely high spec optical components results in what I thought was a truly exceptional view. Indeed I gave it a score of 10/10 and thus truly believe it is as good as it gets.
  • Another important highlight for me was the level of the included accessories. For starters, the carry case doubles as a fully enclosed bino harness and the package comes with all the necessary straps as well as an extra accessory pouch that can fit onto the front of the case or indeed anything that has the standard MOLLE webbing system.

Main Specs & Features:

  • Very High-End Binoculars, RRP Approx: $1500 / £1500 / €1600
  • XR Plus Fully Multi-Coated Optics with:
    • APO Lens System
    • ArmorTek Exterior Lens Coatings
  • Abbe-Koenig Roof Prisms
    • Dielectric Coatings
    • Phase Corrected
  • Single "True Open Hinge" Body Design:
    • Magnesium Chassis
    • Water & Fogproof (Argon Filled)
    • Central Focus Wheel
    • Locking Diopter
    • Twist-up aluminum eyecups with 16.7mm of Eye Relief
    • Tripod Adaptable
  • FOV: 346ft @ 1000 yards
  • Close Focus Distance: 4.5ft
Buy & Compare Prices: Vortex Razor UHD Binoculars

Past Winners:

Best Birding Binoculars 2020

I always seem to find that selecting the winner for the best birding binocular as being one of the most difficult. This year was no different, however, taking a look at all the binoculars that I class as being ideally suited for general birding one instrument stood out as being amongst the very best in this category and in my opinion is easily as good as last years winner, the truly superb Hawke Frontier 8x42 ED X which in itself is super impressive:

GPO Passion ED 8x42 Binoculars

The 8x42 version of the Passion HD binocular from the German Precision Optics (GPO) makes an ideal birding binocular, by combining excellent quality materials and coatings and a high degree of workmanship they have produced an instrument that delivers an extremely bright, high-quality view with an impressively wide field of view:

Excellent Quality Image
For just about all uses, but especially important for birding, an image that is of excellent quality and true to life is a critical feature. This is because it not only ensures you can fully appreciate the beauty of the birds in all their glory but sometimes, tiny differences in plumage colorations can make the difference when trying to positively identify one sub-species from another.

These GPO Passion ED 8x42 binoculars with features such as their high-quality lenses containing ED (extra-low dispersion glass) elements Schmidt-Pechan roof prisms that are both dielectrically coated and phase-corrected all working together to deliver an image of superior quality and brightness.

Wide Field of View
As most birders will know, having a wide field of view is another extremely important feature as it enables you to more easily find and then follow your subjects, this is especially true of the small faster-moving ones at closer ranges! At 426ft wide at 1,000 yards, these GPO binoculars have an extremely wide view that ranks up there with the very widest 8x42 binoculars currently on the market and which is why I would certainly describe them as being a wide angle binocular.

As with the predecessor, another reason I chose these over the other contenders is down to them having an excellent build quality level and with it a performance that was well above what I would expect to find in just about every area.

Indeed I would go as far as to say that these GPO binoculars have no major weaknesses, which makes them a very versatile instrument that will not only stand out in most types of birding but also many other areas and thus I feel they rank up there with the best binoculars for 2020 overall.

Main Highlights & Details:

  • Mid to High End Binoculars. approx: $350 / £400 / €400
  • Single Top-Hinge Body Design
    • Magnesium Chassis & Bridge
    • Water & Fogproof (Nitrogen purged)
    • Right-eye diopter
    • Twist-up Eye-cups with click stops
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • ED Glass Lenses
  • Schmidt Pechan Roof Prisms
    • Dielectric Mirror Coatings
    • Phase Corrected
  • Very Wide Field of View: 426ft at 1000 yards
  • Close Focus: 6.6ft
  • Excellent 18mm of Eye Relief

Outstanding Quality at a Reasonable Price

Buy & Compare Prices: GPO Passion ED 8x42 Binoculars

Hawke Frontier ED X 8x42 BinocularsPast Winners:


Best General Wildlife Observation Binoculars 2020

Kite Lynx HD+ 10x50 Binoculars

Achieving an outstanding 83% on the BBR scale, there is no doubt that these new Kite Lynx HD+ binoculars were amongst the best binoculars of 2020 and easily up there with the best I have ever tested.

As well as the very high level of optics and components used, I very much liked the 10x50 configuration as it enables an image as bright as an equal quality 8x42 yet you get a little more image detail with the higher power and all with only a minimal size and weight penalty.

High-Quality Image & Improved Low Light Performance
As with the windows in your house, the slightly larger 50mm objective lenses can capture and let in light than smaller ones, potentially resulting in brighter higher-quality views with an improved low light performance when compared to a standard 10x42 binocular.

More importantly, with the use of very high-end optics, this potential improvement is actually realized and I noted in my review that the image delivered by these Kite Lynx HD+ 10x50 binoculars was equally as bright as my alpha level 10x42 benchmark binoculars in both good and fairly poor light conditions.

In very low light when the sun had just dropped below the horizon, they were most certainly a step up from my mid-range 10x42 and I would say to my eyes, about equal to that of the 8x42 benchmark which is impressive.

This superior performance is not only important when the sun is just below the horizon but helps in thick forests or even on dull overcast days.

Wide Field of View
For a 10x binocular, the field of view on this Kite Lynx HD+ 10x50 Binocular is incredibly wide and indeed matches many 8x binoculars. This opens this instrument up to a whole host of uses and certainly makes it a more interesting option to the birder and general wildlife observer.

As well as all this, the attention to detail and their included accessories are also well above average and which is why I have no hesitation in offering them this award and they make a great option for general uses including wildlife, hunting, and birding observation.

Important Details:

  • High-End Binoculars: $1000 / £800 / €800
  • Single Top Hinge Body Design
    • Waterproof & Fogproof (Nitrogen Filled)
    • Aluminium Twist-up Eyecups
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics using KITE's MHR Advance + Coatings
  • Scratch Resistant & Water-dirt Repelling Exterior Lens Coatings
  • Large 50mm Objective Lenses
  • Schmidt/Pechan Roof Prisms
    • Phase Corrected
  • Field of View: 120m @ 1000m
  • Close Focus: 2.6m / 8.5ft
  • Eye Relief: 17.8mm
Buy & Compare Prices: Kite Lynx HD+ Binoculars

Past Winners:


Best Hunting Binoculars 2020

Vortex Razor UHD 10x42 BinocularsWhilst not completely designed only for hunting, this year's overall winner of the Best Binocular 2020, the Vortex Razor UHD 10x42 Binoculars listed at the top of this page is largely aimed and marketed at hunters which can be seen with features like the included bino harness and additional accessory pouch that doubles as an ammo holder.

So logically as this Best Hunting Binocular award comes under the main award, the Vortex Razor UHD would also be my choice as the best hunting binoculars of 2020.

The 10x42 configuration of these is a popular choice amongst hunters as it performs well in a wide range of uses, however, as with many niches, there are many types of hunting and ones where different configurations and thus different types of hunting binoculars will be more suitable.

Therefore as I have decided to split this section into a few more subcategories and also included a couple of other hunting binoculars that I feel would be a better choice for different users and in different types of environments:

Best Low Light Hunting Binoculars 2020

Steiner Nighthunter/Shadowquest 8x56

Depending on which side of the pond you live, these Steiner 8x56 binoculars are either known as the Shadowquest (In North America) or the Nighthunter (In Europe), however, apart from the sticker on the front, they are the same instrument.

Whilst these Steiner Shadowquest binoculars are specifically designed for hunters and especially those who require the brightest views, even in very low light conditions, I would also recommend them to anyone needing an instrument that excels in very low light conditions, be that for general wildlife observation, security needs or even birding.

Incredible Low Light Performer
Manufactured in Germany, using the very best optical components and coatings, Steiner Optics has managed to produce an instrument that has an industry-leading light transmission level of more than 96% (across all visible wavelengths).

This extremely high light transmission level combined with their large 56mm lenses means that they can collect more light than smaller ones and thus can deliver a low light performance that is off the charts and as good as or better than anything I have ever used before. No question.

However, along with this, I would also add that the general image quality is excellent and about as good as you could ever hope for.

Always in Focus = Faster Subject Acquisition
The Nighthunter/Shadowquest incorporates a fixed focus (Always in Focus) optical system which means that once you have set up the instrument to match your particular vision using the double diopters, no further focal adjustments are necessary from their minimum focal distance to infinity. This means that you can more easily use this instrument with just one hand (important for hunters carrying a weapon) and thus lock onto your subject that much easier and faster.

Extremely Wide Field of View
As with the birding binoculars above, a wide field of view is often of great importance to the hunter and general wildlife observer. This is because it makes it easier to scan wide-open areas and then at closer ranges it makes it much easier to quickly locate and then follow fast-moving targets.

Extras & Accessories
For hunters who need to carry other equipment like a rifle or bow, the ability to easily attach your instrument to a bino harness for hunting is often of great importance. The good news is that like the lens covers, the neck strap has Steiner's excellent Click-Lock quick-release system making them a cinch to remove and quickly fit onto your harness.

Other excellent features include the eyecups with included side shields that are extremely effective in blocking out light and distractions from the periphery of your view.

So it is for these and many other reasons which you can read about in my full review, that I had no hesitation in awarding the best binoculars for hunting 2020 to the Steiner 8x56 Nighthunter/Shadowquest Binoculars.

Main Highlights & Features:

  • High End, approx USA: $750 / UK: £800
  • Made in Germany
  • Fixed Focus Binoculars (Always in Focus)
    • Waterproof
    • Nitrogen Filled for fog proofing
  • Fully Multicoated Optics:
    • +96% Light Transmission
    • Protective hydrophobic exterior lens coatings
  • Porro Prisms
    • N-BaK-4 HT glass from Schott
  • Field of View: 441ft at 1000yds
UK & Europe: Buy & Compare Prices: Steiner Nighthunter Binoculars
USA: Buy & Compare Prices: Steiner Shadowquest Binoculars

Best Lightweight/Travel Binocular for Hunting 2020

Steiner Predator AF 8x30 Binoculars

Steiner Predator AF 8x30 Binoculars - Best Lightweight/Travel Binocular for Hunting 2019CAT™ Game-Sensing Lens Coatings
Even more so than the Nighthunter above, the Steiner Predator AF binocular is specifically designed for hunting. This is because they incorporate special lens coatings that can enhance the reddish-brown colors of game which means that they stand out against the background. Of course, this feature also makes them excellent for anyone wanting to discover wildlife, but you do have to accept that the colors you in the view see are not completely true to life.

Easy to Carry & Travel-Friendly
Whilst Nighthunter/Shadowquest above focuses on delivering the brightest image possible, this instrument aims to make it as easy as possible to transport and carry, but still keeping half an eye on image brightness and performance.

The 30mm lenses mean that a smaller more lightweight body is possible, but what stood out for me was the open bridge body design. Quite common on roof prism binoculars, it is the first time I had come across it on a Porro prism instrument. Whilst this may seem like a small or unimportant feature, I think for the lightweight hunter it can be of great importance.

I say this because not only is it extremely comfortable to hold when glassing, but the space left by the vacant focus wheel opens up more of the barrels and makes for a very secure as well as a comfortable region with which to hold onto. Therefore, if you often walk about with your binoculars in just one hand and perhaps with your weapon in the other, this is an advantage.

Like the binocular above, these are also focus free binoculars which once again not only makes it quicker for you to locate your subject but means that it is easier for you to use the binocular with just one hand whilst holding your bag, camera or weapon in the other.

Important Features:

  • Mid to High End: Approx: $340 / £340
  • Made in Germany
  • Open Bridge Design
    • Fully Sealed & Nitrogen Filled Chassis
    • Material: Polycarbonate - Makrolon®
    • Weight 19ozs (539g)
    • Eyecups with side shields
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
    • 30mm Objective Lenses
    • Porro Prisms
    • Focus Free / Individual Eyepiece Focusing
    • Steiner's CAT™ game-sensing lens coatings
  • Field of view: 302ft at 1000yds
  • Close Focus: 60ft

With a current retail price of well under $400, these mid to high-end Steiner Predator AF's are hard to argue against if you are after a top quality but easy to carry hunting binocular:

Buy & Compare Prices: Steiner Predator AF Binoculars

Best High Power Binoculars 2020

Athlon Midas 12x50 Binoculars

Whilst not as powerful as the winner from a few years back, the also outstanding Steiner HX 15x56 binoculars, these 12x Athlon Midas binoculars offer power and size of the instrument that can still be used from the hands and thus in many ways is more versatile.

These long-range, high power binoculars from Athlon are also extremely good value for money. At well under $400, they have many features and components that I would normally only expect to find on far more expensive binoculars:

This includes a sealed magnesium chassis and argon-filled interior ensuring that they will not let you down even in harsh environments.

Superior Optics
From the ED glass lenses to the dielectrically coated, phase-corrected prisms and not forgetting the extra protective exterior lens coatings, the level of optical components and coatings used is out of the top-drawer.

Indeed it matches and even beats many far more expensive instruments on the market, including that Athlon's more expensive Ares series, where the level of optics looks to be identical.

Wide Field of View
Compared to just about any of their direct 12x competitors that I have come across, the field of view on the Athlon Midas 12x50 binocular is superior. It even matches some 10x instruments which is excellent and certainly helps you scan wide-open areas looking for a point of interest and then at close range makes it easier to pick up and then follow fast-moving objects.

Main Features

  • Mid-High End Bins - approx $379 / £450
  • Single Bridge Body Shape
    • Magnesium Chassis
    • Water & Fogproof (Argon Purged)
    • Weight: 33oz / 936g
  • Optics:
    • Advanced Fully Multi-Coated
    • 50mm Objective Lenses
  • Field of View: 95m @ 1000m (approx: 281ft @ 1000 yards)
  • Eye-Relief: 15mm
  • Minimum Focus: 3.5m (11.48ft)
Buy & Compare Prices: Athlon Midas Binoculars

Best Mid-Size, Safari & Travel Binocular 2020

Hawke Frontier ED X 8x32 Binoculars

Hawke Frontier ED X 8x32 Binoculars, winner Best Safari & Travel Binocular 2019Last year I was fortunate enough to test and review the full-sized, 42mm version of these Hawke ED X binoculars, which were so good, they went on to win the award as the Best Birding Binoculars of 2019.

Partly due to this and partly because I was going on Safari, I tested a whole host of mid-sized binoculars this year and whilst there were several contenders (see the honorable mention below), these Hawke Frontier ED X 8x32 binoculars were the pick of the bunch, certainly one of the Best Binoculars of 2020 overall and a worthy winner as Best Safari & Travel Binocular.

Achieving a truly outstanding total BBR score of 85%, they managed to score an almost perfect 9/10 for image quality, optical stats, and optical components and an 8/10 for everything else!

Highlights include a full magnesium chassis that is both robust and lightweight, excellent quality fully multi-coated optical system with ED glass elements in the lenses and they not only produce a bright, superior quality image, but also a very wide field of view making it easier for you to find and follow fast-moving wildlife and birds.

Important Specifications & Details:

  • Mid-to-High Level Binos - approx $380 / £380
  • Open Bridge Chassis Design
    • Fiberglass Reinforced
    • Fog & Waterproof
    • Dimensions: 4.25in (10.8cm) x 4.64in (11.8cm)
    • Weight 13.4ozs (380g)
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
    • 32mm APO Objective Lenses
    • ED Glass Elements
    • Phase Corrected Roof Prisms
    • Dielectric Coated
  • Field of View: 288 @ 1000yds
  • Close Focus: 3.9ft
  • 17.5mm of Eye-relief

Best Value For Money Binoculars
Considering their level of components and performance, their current retail price (approx $380 / £380) makes these incredibly good value for a mid-to-high level instrument:

Buy & Compare Prices: Hawke Frontier ED X Binoculars

Highly Commended - Lower Cost Alternative

Bresser Pirsch 8x34 BinocularsIf you are looking for a lower-cost alternative, at around $190 / £175, you could do a whole lot worse than choosing the Bresser Pirsch 8x34 Binoculars to take traveling or on safari.

Highlights include an attractive and lightweight open-bridge design, fully multi-Coated optics, slightly larger 34mm Objective Lenses, phase-corrected BaK-4 roof prisms, long eye-relief and a wide field of view.

Past Winners:


Best Compact Binoculars 2020

Steiner BluHorizons 10x26 Binoculars

Steiner BluHorizons 10x26 Binoculars - Best Compact Binocular 2019 BBR Award WinnerAlso my pick for last year, the best compact binocular award is also one of, if not the most innovative instruments that I have reviewed in a long time. This is because these Steiner BluHorizons have optics that can automatically adjust the brightness of the view depending on the light conditions.

So just like the photochromic lenses on a pair of adaptive sunglasses, the lenses transmit less light in very bright conditions resulting in less glare and a more vibrant, less washed out image.

As well as all this, these Steiner binoculars also have just about every feature that I look for in a good set of compacts, including the double hinge design which permits them to fold down into a true pocket binocular when not in use.

On top of simply testing them in the office, I also put the Steiner 10x26 BluHorizons through its paces whilst I was on safari in Southern Africa and found that they performed extremely well the real world: This is reflected in the excellent BBR score of 78% that they achieved, which included a 9/10 for their body stats and 8/10's for their build quality, optical components and optical stats. Now if you also consider their low price point, this score is seriously impressive and makes them one of the highest scoring compacts that I have ever tested and fully deserving of the award.

Highlights & Features:

  • Mid Level Optics - approx $190 / £170
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Steiner AutoBright™ Optics
  • Schmidt Pechan Roof Prisms
  • Double Hinge Body Design with Metal Bridge
  • NBR Long Life Rubber Armouring
  • Rainproof IPX4 rating
  • Central Focus Wheel
  • Fold-Down Rubber Eyecups with Side Shields
  • Wide FOV: 322ft @ 1000 yards
  • Minimum Focal Distance: 3m (9.8ft)

At their current retail price, I do believe that they offer great value for money and are well worth considering if you are after a compact for uses like travel, safaris, hiking, camping and even skiing:

Buy & Compare Prices: Steiner BluHorizons Binoculars

Best Marine Binoculars 2020

Fujinon Polaris 7x50 FMTRC-SX Binoculars

Specifically designed to perform in some of the toughest environments on earth, the military-specification Fujinon Polaris 7x50 FMTRC-SX binoculars are commonly accepted by professionals within the boating, yachting and fishing industries to be one of the very best marine binoculars in the world.

After fully testing them and whilst I'll admit that I am not a sea fearing professional, I could do nothing but agree with this sentiment.

Not Only Maine Uses
One of the toughest binoculars I have ever used, I do feel that whilst they won't make the ideal general use instrument for day-to-day uses, they are far, far more versatile than just a boating binocular. I enjoyed using them at night and they gave wonderful wide views of the stars and I do believe that they would make an excellent search and rescue instrument, good for many security needs, survivalists and ideal for some birding, wildlife and hunting uses, where these can be very effective, especially in very low light conditions.

Excellent Low Light Performance
With their large 50mm lenses, excellent quality glass and coatings as well as the moderate 7x magnification that enables a very large 7.14mm exit pupil, it is no surprise that the low light performance on these is truly excellent.

Speed & Ease of Use
Once set-up, the fixed focus system (double diopter), along with the wide view, large ocular lenses and deep eye-relief all add up to make these binoculars so simple to use. Also finding and then locking onto your subject is about as quick and easy as it gets.

Field of View
Primarily to help maintain a steady whilst onboard and helping to deliver the very large exit pupil important for low light performance, another advantage of the moderate 7x power is that it helps produce a very wide field of view. This has many advantages in many different scenarios, be that scanning distant horizons looking for a point of interest, to being able to quickly lock on and then follow a moving object, which can be important for general wildlife observation, security, surveillance and of course birding.

Important Details:

  • High-End Binoculars: $750 / £820
  • Heads-Up Compass & Rangefinding Reticle Display
  • Double Bridge Porro Prism Body Design
    • Waterproof & Fogproof All-Metal Chassis
    • Thick Protective Rubber Armor Exterior
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics using Fujinon's EBC Coatings
    • Field Flattener Lenses
    • +95% Light Transmission
    • Large 50mm Objective Lenses
    • Porro Prisms
  • Field of View: 394ft at 1000yds
  • Exit Pupil: 7.14mm
  • 23mm Eye Relief
Buy & Compare Prices: Fujinon Polaris FMTRC-SX Binoculars

Best Mid-Level Binocular 2020 (Under $200 / £200)

Bresser Condor 10x42 Binoculars

Best Mid-Level Binocular 2020, the Bresser Condor 10x42 BinocularsPicking them up and holding these German-made Bresser binoculars, you would never guess that they cost as little as they do.

A high-quality rubber exterior and impressive features like an all-metal focus wheel, metal diopter adjuster and aluminum eyepieces make them feel and look far more expensive than they actually are.

However, more impressive than this is the fact that the quality goes far beyond their looks and by achieving an excellent score of 78% on the BBR scale, they were the best binoculars of 2020 within the sub $200 price range and one of the best I have ever used at this price.

At this price, it is very rare to find a binocular with features like metal eyepiece housings, focus wheel, and diopter adjuster. The exterior coating and design also looks great and certainly adds to the quality look and feel you get with these.

Image Quality
For 10x42 binocular, both the brightness and image quality are excellent and easily as good or better than the majority of the mid-level priced competition. I would even go as far as to say that they will certainly give many mid-high value 10x42 binoculars a run for their money.

Field of View
If you consider the reasonably powerful 10x magnification, these Bresser Condor 10x42 binoculars have more than a decently wide field of view. Indeed at 111m @ 1,000 meters (333ft@1000yds), it is wider than some top-end 10x42 binoculars like the impressive Swarovski 10x42 SLC and Opticron 10x42 DBA VHD.

Main Features:

  • Current Price: Approx $200 / £150 / €160
  • Single Top-Hinge Body
    • Polycarbonate Chassis (PPS) with Metal Bridge
    • Aluminium Eyepieces
    • Water & Fogproof (Nitrogen Filled)
    • Aluminium Central Focus Wheel
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics with Silver "Ultimate Reflection Coatings"
    • Schmidt Pechan Roof Prisms
    • BK-4 Glass
    • Eyepiece Lenses: 6 groups, 8 pieces
  • 15mm of Eye Relief
  • Wide FOV: 111@ 1000m (approx: 333ft @ 1000 yards)
Buy & Compare Prices: Bresser Condor Binoculars

Best Low-Cost Binocular 2020 (Under $100 / £100 / €100)

Vortex Vanquish 10x26 Binoculars

Best Low Cost Binocular 2019 - Vortex Vanquish 10x26 BinocularsSince I review them for a living, it is not often anymore that I have to buy my own binoculars, but as I was about to go on a camping trip and wanted to take a low-cost easy to use and carry binocular along with me, I decided that as an experiment I would as I thought it would be interesting to see what instrument I ended up with.

After a lot of research, I settled on these Vortex Vanquish 10x26 Binoculars and I can say that I am very happy with my purchase.

After fully testing them and then using them whilst on my camping trip, I can say that they performed well beyond my expectations and are as good, if not better than many mid-range compacts costing more than double the amount of these.

Image Quality
For a compact and especially a compact at this price point, the quality and brightness of the view was surprisingly good and certainly ranks them right at the top against their direct competitors in this size category and price point. I will also go as far as to say that it is as good as the better mid-range compacts that cost more than three times as much.

Build Quality & Components Used
At this price, it is not a given that your binoculars will be fully water and fogproof and whilst you may not go out in the wet, it is still important and is for me a big indicator as to the overall quality of a binocular, so it was great to discover that the Vanquish is both.

There are also loads of other small indicators of quality, this includes the ratcheted diopter adjuster, metal eyepiece housings and a bespoke focus wheel all of which contribute to placing this binocular well above what I would normally expect to find at this price point.

Eye-Cups & Eye-Relief
Not only does the Vortex Vanquish 10x26 binocular have twist-up eyecups, but you also get a full 16mm of eye-relief. Most budget binoculars will have simple folding cups and not enough eye-relief to accommodate eyeglass wearers, so this will certainly be a plus point to some.

  • Low Cost - approx $99 / £96
  • Compact Reverse Poor Prism Body Design
  • Water & Fog Proof (Nitrogen Filling)
  • Right Eyepiece Diopter
  • Twist-Up Eyecups
  • Fully Multi-Coated Optics
  • Wide FOV: 294ft @ 1000 yards
  • Minimum Focal Distance: 2.3m (7.6ft)
  • Eye Relief: 16mm
Current Price & Where to Buy: Vortex Vanquish Binoculars

Past Winners:

Best Binoculars for Astronomy 2020

As it was a focus of mine and because my interest in astronomy continues to grow, the award for the best astronomy binoculars of 2020 was more keenly contested than ever before and I had several excellent candidates from which to choose from and feel that this year's winner is a real corker:

Celestron SkyMaster Pro 15x70 Binoculars

Best Astronomy Binocular 2020 - Celestron SkyMaster Pro 15x70 BinocularsA noticeable step up from Celestron's very successful SkyMaster series, these SkyMaster Pro binoculars offer many important improvements and refinements which take them to the next level and whilst they are a little more expensive, I feel that it is well worth it and these must now surely be one of the best value for money astronomy binoculars on the market and should still be well within the reach of most amateur astronomers.

Designed for astronomy, but also a very capable binocular for long-range terrestrial uses, during my testing I was impressed by how well-built and sturdy they were, resulting in them looking and feeling far superior to most of the competition at this price range.

These Celestron SkyMaster Pro Binoculars have large 70mm objective lenses and an optical system that is fully multi-coated using their proprietary top specification XLT coating technology reserved for higher-end instruments.

Other highlights and improvements over the standard SkyMaster include the use of an all magnesium chassis that is both water and fogproof. High-end Porro prisms made from Bak-4 glass.

As you would expect with a binocular for stargazing, these are tripod adaptable and they come with an adapter included which also has an RSR (Reflex Sight Ready) rail attached to the top of it.

I also very much like the side-shield eyecups that do an excellent job of eliminating any distracting light from the periphery of the view and is a good example of the very good attention to detail that Celestron show with these.

Main Specs & Features:

  • Mid Range Binoculars - approx $166 / £130
  • Aluminium Chassis
  • Central Focus Wheel
  • Waterproof & Fogproof
  • Standard Folding Eyecups & Side Shield Eyecups
  • 15x Magnification, 70mm Objective Lenses
  • Fully Multi-Coated
  • Porro Prisms made from BaK-4 Glass
  • Field of View: 77m wide at 1000m (4.4 degrees)
  • Eye Relief: 17mm
Current Price & Where to Buy: Celestron SkyMaster Pro Binoculars

Best Night Vision Device 2020

Luna Optics 6-30x50 LN-DB60-HD Digital Night Vision Binocular

Luna Optics 6-30x50 LN-DB60-HD Digital Night Vision Binoculars - Best Night Vision 2019 BBR Award WinnerDigital night vision has come a very long way since I first used one over a decade ago. Now the good ones are able to perform every bit as well as an equivalent sized, high end (Gen-III) standard night vision instrument, but at a fraction of the cost and often have a number of other features that are not available or even possible with an analogue version:

More than simply a night vision binocular, the Luna Optics LN-DB60-HD also works in daylight and is also able to capture both images and video in full HD quality. Also included is a very powerful Infrared (IR) illuminator that enables you to clearly see objects even in complete darkness.

So a real strength of these night vision binoculars is their versatility and wide range of uses that they can perform very well in:

Ideal Uses: The Luna Optics LN-DB60-HD night vision binocular is a great option for many security, patrol and rescue related uses. It is also perfect to take on just about any camping or wildlife adventure like a safari and I can also see it been used very effectively for night hunting.

Using night vision binoculars and other devices for astronomy is also becoming more and more popular as they really highlight the stars, with ones that you would never see with the naked eyes simply jumping out at you.

As with all other Luna Optics night vision devices that I have tested, the build quality is superb and they display many features that go well beyond most of the competition at this $580 / £600 price range:

Main Features & Specifications:

  • SONY Full-HD CMOS sensor
  • Record Video in Full-HD (1080p, 60fps)
  • WiFi Capability
  • Full Color / Green / B&W options
  • Variable Electronic Zoom: 6x - 30x
  • Field Of View: 7°
  • Built in Infrared Illuminator
  • Tripod Mountable
  • Very High-Resolution - equal or better than standard Gen III NV devices
  • Max Viewable Distance: 200m in total darkness or up to 600m (656yds) with clear skies and a full moon
  • Manually adjustable brightness/exposure
  • Storage: Micro SD Card (up to 128GB)
Buy & Compare Prices: Luna Optics Digital Night Vision Binoculars

Best Binocular Accessory 2020

Cotton Skout Binocular Harness

Cotton Skout Binocular Harness - 2019 BBR Award WinnerI have used a lot of binocular harnesses over the years and during that time, have tried out all of the different designs. From the simple, but very lightweight binocular suspender straps, right up to the fully covered bag harnesses, that are more heavy and bulky, but do offer a great deal of protection to your optics and the ability to carry other equipment (like a rangefinder) as well.

Each of these designs has their specific advantages and ideal uses over the others and so there is really no perfect one, it just depends on what your specific requirements are.

However, within each of these niches, there are good and bad and then I find that the very best cross over a number of niches which makes them even more versatile.

One of these very best and a real revelation to me is the Cotton Skout Sling-Style Binocular Harness which is now, without doubt, my favorite type of binocular harness.

Not only is this sling-style harness comparatively inexpensive and extremely lightweight, but I found it to be very comfortable, the easiest of all harnesses to put on and wear and it will accept a wide variety of binocular shapes and sizes. It is for this and many other reasons why I have absolutely no hesitation in awarding it as being the best binocular accessory of 2020.

Buy & Compare Prices: Cotton Skout Harness

Past Winners:


Best Children's Binoculars 2020

It is actually quite difficult to make a really good binocular for a young child as it needs to have a number of particular attributes and features that we may not normally consider important when choosing an instrument for an adult or even a teenager.

Firstly it needs to be small and lightweight enough for them to easily use and carry. The eyecups should also be able to get close enough together to accommodate their smaller faces and closer set eyes.

The instrument then not only needs to look appealing to a child, but it must still work like a real binocular and also be tough enough to survive the inevitable knocks and bumps that it is going to receive. On top of this, it needs to be as affordable as possible because, at this age, these are never going to be the instrument that they keep for life, so you will inevitably have to buy them another more grown-up pair as they get older.

Next, it is very important that the field of view is nice and wide as this makes it much easier for the child to locate the object through the instrument. Kids also tend to have less stable hands and thus a lower magnification not only helps ensure a wide view but also makes it easier to reduce image shake.

Bresser 6x21 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Kids Binoculars

Bresser 6x21 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Kids Binoculars - Best Children's Binocular 2019 BBR Award WinnerMain Features:

  • Very Low Cost - approx $30 / £30
  • Lightweight Compact Design
  • Easy to Reach Central Focus Wheel
  • Right Eye Diopter
  • Foldable Rubber Eyecups
  • Low 6x Magnification for a wide and stable view
  • Multi-Coated Optics
  • 21mm Objective Lenses
  • BK-7 Roof Prisms

Both myself and my eight year old daughter tested these 6x21 Bresser Children's Binoculars and found them to possess all these main attributes and the fact they cost only $30 / £30 makes them exceptional value and which is why I would recommend them as a great option for the first pair of optics for a younger child.

Buy & Compare Prices: Bresser 6x21 Children's Binoculars
 
 

Best Binoculars 2020: Notes, Rules & Regulations

  • To have had any chance of winning, I have had to reviewed the instrument on BBR. This obviously means that an award winner has NOT been compared to ALL the binoculars currently on the market, but only to those that I have fully tested. So whilst the pool of contenders is relatively small, you can be assured that the winners have been thoroughly tested and used and not just based on manufacturers specifications or a "thumb-suck" - they truly are in my opinion deserving of an award.
  • Award winners are chosen by myself. There is no panel of experts or users. Thus those that have won are in my opinion the best in that category for this year, not that of anyone else. I guess this is both good and bad, but for now it is just the way it is.
  • I also feel that it is very important to emphasise that I do not offer an award to any device purely because I have a specific category to fill. To win, I must feel that the binocular, scope or accessory really deserves to and in that particular category. So if there has been no standout for me in a particular category, there will be no winner for this year in that section and the award will go to the previous years winner if it is still in production and relevant. Note: This is the reason you will see that in some categories there are devices that have won the award for more than one year in a row.
  • I choose the winners by going back over all the reviews I wrote last year and then placed all the best ones into a pool. Then I organized each of them into the categories that they were most suited to and from there and after studying them again, made a choice of the best of the best.
  • As it is for most people, price is a factor, however what is more important to me is the value for money within a particular price bracket. So for example a high end binocular is almost always going to be a fairly expensive product, but within this high value price bracket, I look out for ones that offer more for your money than others with a similar price tag by their build quality, quality of their components and just how well they perform both optically and physically.
  • Once again remember these awards are the same as with all my reviews: They are in no way biased towards any product or manufacturer, I have given the award because I honestly feel that they deserve it.

Further Reading