Every type of hunting requires the use of good binoculars. Some would say that they are just as essential as a hunter’s gun. As a hunter, you need binoculars to observe your surroundings and get up close to potential targets. This can include things such as determining species, their specific sex, assessing the range or simply getting a closer view of your target. The following guide explains how to choose the best binoculars for hunting. We’ve also short-listed our Top 5 Hunting Binoculars for 2020.
Magnification and the FOV
Most hunters and binocular users in general already know that a higher magnification does not always mean a great buy. A larger magnification makes it harder to stabilise the image. When holding high magnification binoculars, even the slightest movement will result in a shaky image. Also, a larger magnification means that your field of view (FOV) is going to be much narrower.
A smaller FOV means that you will have a harder time scouting the wildlife in front of you, especially the ones that are fast. A wide field of view, on the other hand, will give you the ability to scout out larger amounts of ground.
The best magnification should take into consideration the terrain that you hunt in the most. If you like to hunt in the woods, then choose a pair of binoculars that has a lower magnification. This will allow you to achieve a significantly wider FOV, regardless of the brand or model you choose. 8x magnification would be ideal in this case.
If you often hunt in wide-open spaces or observe from longer distances, then you can opt for higher magnification. This will allow you to spot your target from further and in more detail. 10x magnification is a very popular choice in this case. The majority of hunters find that either 8x or 10x magnification best suits their needs.
The Best Lens Size
Some of the best hunting times are during early morning hours or late in the evening. So your binoculars need to be able to gather enough light and make the image as bright as possible.
Basically, with larger lenses, the binoculars will be able to gather more lighting in darker settings. Obviously, there will be other elements such as how well the lenses are crafted; the lenses coatings and the prisms that will determine how well the binoculars can transfer light to your eyes.
The downside to having larger lenses is that they are heavier and more expensive. So, you have to determine whether or not you want large, medium or small lenses, based on your personal preference.
A majority of standard size binoculars will possess an objective lens diameter of 42mm. The smaller sizes will usually have diameters in the range of 20mm to 32mm. Overall, from our experience, 42mm binoculars are by far the favourite choice for most hunters. 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars in specific. These specs represent a great balance between good magnification, good light intake and yet easy to handle binoculars.
Waterproof and Fog-Proof Binoculars
When you are out in the bush for any duration, you will encounter all types of different weather conditions. This means that you should ideally opt for binoculars that are waterproof and fog-proof. Sealed binoculars will keep out moisture, dust and other foreign objects. Also, fog-proof binoculars contain argon or nitrogen gas to prevent inside fogging that can result from fluctuating temperatures. Try to purchase binoculars with rubber armour. These will provide a better grip and good protection for those times that you might drop them.
Our Top 5 Hunting Binoculars for 2020
Here at Procular, we stock over 400 different hunting binoculars. We are also passionate about testing, studying and reviewing every single one of them! Below is a list of our top pick binoculars for hunting:
** Note: All 5 binoculars recommended below are suitable for eyeglasses users **
Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars
Current Price: $299
These are Avalon’s best hunting binoculars yet offer excellent value for money. The Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars are available for $299, which puts them in the lower range when it comes to pricing. Considering that they are manufactured with excellent optical features they are a very smart choice in terms of both price and quality.
These roof prism binoculars have all the great features to maximise your hunting experience including a wide field of view, very lightweight (550g), fully multicoated lenses, waterproofing and a long eye relief. Their rubber armouring provides a secure and comfortable grip, as well as added shock-resistance.
All in all, if you want to get an affordable pair of great quality binoculars, that work well for hunting, then the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD binoculars are the best choice.
Nikon PROSTAFF 10×42 Binoculars
Current Price: $389
Our #1 pick for mid-priced hunting binoculars. These are also our best selling model for hunting. They’ve been around for a while and are well known and appreciated by hunters worldwide. If you are looking for durable yet lightweight, top-notch binoculars with true low light performance then you will surely appreciate these ones.
The Nikon PROSTAFF 8×42 and 10×42 are made with prime glass and feature sharp images and vivid colours. Flawless performance at nearly dark or very poor light conditions. Their compact design is made with lightweight polycarbonate resin weighing only 650g. They are 100% Waterproof/Fog-proof/Shockproof and offer a wide 6.2° angle of view which is remarkable for their 10x power.
Another good feature of the Nikon Prostaff 10×42 is their close focusing distance. You can focus on subjects less than 4 meters away. The focus wheel works smoothly and is easy to use even with gloves on. They have a long eye relief which makes them suited for viewing with or without glasses (or sunglasses). The razor sharp image of these hunting binoculars will allow you to see your target in more detail.
Nikon Prostaff binoculars were specifically made for hunters and built to last you a lifetime. They feature broadband anti-reflective coatings that result in maximal brightness and resolution, true to life colour fidelity and exceptional contrast. Overall, these are one of the best binoculars you can own for hunting, especially in low light conditions.
And the price tag? $389. A very reasonable price by Nikon for their highest end hunting binocular. Actually quite a bargain compared to European brands such as Zeiss, Swarovski or Leica.
Vortex Viper HD 8×42 and 10×42 Binoculars
Current Price: $949
The Vortex Viper 8×42 hunting binoculars sell for just under $1,000 (discounted) but are comparable in their quality to the world’s best binoculars in the $2k – $3k range. These are 100% waterproof and weather proof with a wide 6.6 degrees angle of view. Featuring HD (High Density) extra-low dispersion glass they excel in low light and twilight hours.
Rivalling higher-priced European binoculars such as Zeiss, the HD glass, XR coatings, ArmorTek protection and phase-corrected prisms deliver extra-high resolution and increased light transmittance – rendering brighter views than one would expect from binoculars in this class. If you are looking to buy very high quality hunting binoculars and don’t want to spend over $2,000 then the Vortex Viper 8×42 and Vortex Viper 10×42 are exactly the ones for you.
A lot of people have commented on the fact that the Vortex Viper binoculars have excellent twilight performance. This is truly a great set of binoculars for hunting.
The Best Hunting Binoculars Money Can Buy
We often receive customer requests and emails asking which are the “world’s best hunting binoculars”. Although there is no definitive answer, we at Procular like to believe it is the Carl Zeiss binoculars. German manufacturer Zeiss is a world leader in high-end optics. Any binocular by Zeiss will produce crystal clear, razor sharp images with a remarkable 90% to over 95% light intake. Zeiss binoculars were designed for the professional hunter and are second to none in low light performance. They feature a beautiful minimalistic design yet are extremely durable. In terms of optical quality they are in many opinions the world’s best binoculars.
As you can imagine, Zeiss binoculars don’t come cheap! The most affordable Zeiss hunting binocular would be the Zeiss Terra 8×42 at $799 which features excellent optical performance.
The highest-end model by Zeiss is the Zeiss Victory SF 10×42 priced at $4,299 (reduced). These are world class, award winning binoculars well suited for the most demanding hunter.