The 10 Best Binoculars

Updated June 10, 2018 by Sam Kraft

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We spent 40 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Binoculars are indispensable tools for passionate bird watchers and hunting enthusiasts, but their usefulness is certainly not limited to outdoorsmen and nature lovers. You can also use one of these models to improve your view of a sporting event from the nosebleed seats in a stadium, zoom in on performers during a concert, or scope out hazards while you’re out boating. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best binocular on Amazon.

10. Steiner Champ

9. Bushnell Falcon

8. Merytes Portable

7. SkyGenius Clear

6. Nikon Aculon

5. Bushnell H2O

4. Olympus Trooper

3. Bushnell Legend

2. Gosky Stargazer

1. Vortex Optics Diamondback

What Separates a Good Pair of Binoculars From a Great Pair?

The most important feature of any pair of binoculars is its ability to offer a clear and precise view of very distant objects. In that spirit, a lot of manufacturers will describe their binoculars by using phrases like, "long-range view," "adjustable focus," and "superior magnification." More often than not, a pair of binoculars can be refocused by rotating a thumbscrew in the center of the bridge. There are certain digital models on the market, however, that will allow users to adjust the focus via the touch of a button.

In many cases, people prefer to take binoculars along whenever they go hiking, or birdwatching, or boating on the water. This is why it makes sense to to seek out a lightweight model (e.g., 7-20 oz.) that comes with a carrying case, a shoulder strap, and a pair of lens covers. Consumers may also want to choose a model that is waterproof (or at least water-resistant). In addition, it pays do some research so you can get a sense of how each model will respond when being used in any extreme weather conditions.

The more you use a pair of binoculars, the more you'll want those binoculars to feature a decent grip. If you're adjusting the focus - or panning - as you view something, a binocular's grips can keep your hands from slipping. Certain binoculars have been crafted with rubber grips, while others have been molded to provide striations that the inner-palm can fasten onto. In the event that a pair of binoculars doesn't feature any grips, you can use driving gloves to hold the barrel scopes in place.

Several Non-Apparent Uses For a Pair of Binoculars

Scientifically speaking, a pair of binoculars is made up of two low-powered, mirror-symmetrical telescopes. While these telescopes are generally meant for daytime usage, they can also be used for doing some amateur stargazing at night. As a matter of fact, binoculars are even recommended for amateur stargazing, particularly because they allow users to focus on learning how to navigate the night sky (as opposed to focusing on how to calibrate a complex finderscope, and a lens).

The zoom lens on a pair of binoculars can allow you to see things up to 15X closer, which may come in handy if you're coaching a sports team, and you're trying to get a sense of very minute details, like a quarterback's technique, or a relay team's ability to pass the baton. The same applies to watching musicians in an orchestra, or eyeing up what an experienced fisher in a far-off boat might be using to bait his line. This is why binoculars have proven to be such an indispensable part of any surveillance work. They're capable of uncovering what cannot be deciphered by the human eye.

How thick are a pair of binoculars' lenses? So thick that you can remove one, and then use it to focus sunlight and start a fire. On the other hand, you can invert a pair of binoculars, thereby turning them into a low-density microscope that you can use - along with a smartphone - to identify a strange bug, or berry, or plant found in the wild.

A Brief History of Binoculars

The telescope represented a major triumph when it was originally introduced during the 17th Century. This one invention held the capacity to connect man with the stars. And yet if there was a drawback to the telescope, it was that the single lens did not allow for any depth. In order to see things in 3D, a telescope would've required two lenses, situated side-by-side. And this was how the earliest pair of binoculars were born.

Many early binoculars succeeded in providing a three-dimensional view. But these models were largely inefficient when it came to magnifying objects, and they only allowed the user to see a narrow point of view. Focus and magnification were improved thanks to what became known as Keplerian - or refractory - optics. As of the 18th Century, binoculars began using the refracting of thick lenses to gather and concentrate additional light.

Technology surrounding binoculars improved throughout the 18th Century, as scientists began experimenting with various prisms and mirrors to ensure that the viewer was actually seeing a scale representation of whatever the lenses had been trained on. The problem up to that point was that images, whenever seen through binoculars, tended to stretch vertically, rendering it difficult to judge an object's actual size. Once this problem was resolved, binoculars became a reliable tool used by every major country's military. Military binoculars were designed to be durable so that they wouldn't scratch or break in the field.

During the Industrial Revolution, manufacturers were able to simplify the production - and costs - associated with making binoculars. As a result, the general public began using binoculars for everything from birdwatching and survey work to hunting and astronomy. Today, the U.S. Military still utilizes a variety of binoculars, some of which are so advanced as to offer infrared, and even sonar.


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Last updated on June 10, 2018 by Sam Kraft

Sam is a marketing/communications professional and freelance writer who resides in Chicago, IL and is perpetually celebrating the Cubs’ 2016 World Series victory.


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