The 10 Best Binoculars

Updated December 09, 2017 by Sam Kraft

10 Best Binoculars
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
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

The Steiner Champ is designed with comfortable eyecups, a compact body, and a padded neck strap — all of which make it a functional option for field work. You can use it to view objects in detail from as close as 11 feet away or at distances greater than 300 feet.
  • robust outer shell to absorb abuse
  • weighs just over 10 ounces
  • can be difficult to adjust
Brand Steiner
Model Steiner 2113, 10X26 Cha
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

9. Bushnell Falcon

For the budget shopper, you’ll discover enviable value in the Bushnell Falcon — with adequate zoom capabilities to boot. It doesn’t provide image clarity to rival the expensive models, but it’s reasonably comfortable and includes a carrying case.
  • scratch-resistant finish
  • comes with a cleaning cloth
  • lens covers do not fit well
Brand Bushnell
Model 133410C
Weight 1.8 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

8. Merytes Portable

Small and quite affordable, the Merytes Portable is a helpful option for those who may need assistance seeing the field, court or stage at a sporting event or concert. It comes with a user manual, which is nice if you’re not really used to using binoculars.
  • backed by a 1-year warranty
  • fits in most pockets
  • neck strap is quite flimsy
Brand Merytes
Model 4331882495
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. SkyGenius Clear

Designed to make your viewing subject appear 10 times closer, the SkyGenius Clear offers an extensive field of view that enhances your ability to keep track of fast-moving objects. It’s compatible with a tripod and comes with a travel pouch.
  • 2 size options available
  • lens coating eliminates distortion
  • can't use them when wearing glasses
Brand Skygenius
Model 4331882448
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

6. Nikon Aculon

Extremely versatile eyecups and an easy-to-reach control knob make it simple for less experienced users to get the hang of the Nikon Aculon. When using this pair, you can quickly toggle through a range of magnification settings.
  • body is not slippery when wet
  • lenses enhance image brightness
  • comes with a tripod adapter
Brand Nikon
Model 8252
Weight 3.2 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

5. Bushnell H2O

If you’re in search of a mid-tier model that produces dependable clarity and light transmission, the Bushnell H2O should satisfy your needs. This option has a large, easy-to-access center knob and comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
  • modern and stylish appearance
  • body is totally waterproof
  • suitable for use with glasses
Brand Bushnell
Model 158042-Parent
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Olympus Trooper

The lenses of the Olympus Trooper are designed with a coating that blocks reflections, which improves image brightness and clarity. It provides a wide-angle field of vision, which is ideal for taking in gorgeous panoramic views when you’re on vacation.
  • suitable for low-light use
  • protects eyes from uv rays
  • rubber coating for a reliable grip
Brand Olympus
Model 118760
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

3. Bushnell Legend

Those in need of a compact model won’t be disappointed by the Bushnell Legend and the striking color resolution and contrast it delivers. If you spend quite a bit of time out in the elements, this is a dependable option to have in tow.
  • 2 color options to choose from
  • will not fog up from moisture
  • just five inches wide
Brand Bushnell
Model 198104
Weight 2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Gosky Stargazer

With a resilient green film lens coating and the ability to connect to a tripod, the Gosky Stargazer has all the attributes you need to set up shop and take in the scenery. Not only does its rubber exterior deliver a nice grip, it protects the body from wear and tear.
  • includes a smartphone adapter
  • designed for outdoor activities
  • quality carrying bag
Brand Gosky
Model 4331882459
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Vortex Optics Diamondback

Offering a nice blend of weight balance and durability, the Vortex Optics Diamondback is easy to hold and won’t fatigue your arm during extended sessions. The image clarity is impressive, and the colors are about as accurate as it gets, even in low light.
  • comfortable neck strap
  • quality built-in lens protector
  • works well in hot or cold weather
Brand Vortex Optics
Model DB-205
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

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 December 09, 2017 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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