Binoculars have become standard gear for the modern hunter. Not only are they an essential tool for spotting and identifying game at a distance, the best hunting binoculars also help you verify the safety of your shot. It is always important to know what lies beyond your target, and a quality set of hunting binoculars helps you do just that.
With a ton of different binoculars on the market, knowing which you should add to your hunting gear is no easy task. If you’re having trouble deciding which models are the best on the market, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve compiled this informative guide to help you know just what to look for. We even have a list of our top picks to help you narrow the field of options.
If you don't have time for the details, check out the list below for the best rated hunting binoculars:
Table of Contents
- Best Binoculars for Hunting - Things to Consider
- Best Hunting Binocular Brands
- Best Hunting Binoculars on the Market Review
- Hunting Binocular Tips and Tricks
- Final Thoughts
Best Binoculars for Hunting - Things to Consider
Binoculars are designed to perform a fairly simple job - let you see things that are far away. However, they aren’t exactly simple devices.
There are several things you should consider when looking for a good set of hunting binoculars. Here are just a few things to look for.
The first number on the binocular label (the one preceding the x) indicates the optic’s level of magnification. For example, binoculars with 8x magnification will have an image that appears 8 times closer than it does when viewed with the naked eye.
The amount of magnification you need largely depends on the type of game you plan to pursue. If you’ll be scouting pronghorn across miles of open prairie, you’ll need powerful magnification to stretch that far. However, if you’ll be using your binos to watch gobblers feed across a few acres of new clover, too much magnification could be a hindrance rather than an asset.
The number that follows the x on the label of your new binoculars indicates the diameter of the objective lens. Measured in millimeters, the objective lens lets light into the optic so you can view a bright, clear image.
A larger objective lens lets in light and creates a brighter image in much the same way large windows allow light to brighten a room.
Large objective lenses make it easier to see wildlife in dim light. If you are hunting corpuscular game (like whitetail deer) that are most active in the hours surrounding dawn and dusk, binoculars with large objective lenses will make scouting during these times much easier.
However, large objective lenses do have some drawbacks. Binos with large objective lenses tend to be bulky and cumbersome, which can be problematic for hunters hiking long distances to their favorite hunting spot.
Field of View
The binocular’s field of view (FOV) refers to how wide an area you can see through the optic. FOV is measured in feet at 1000 yards. Hunters typically want to look for binoculars with a wide FOV, especially if you may need to track moving targets.
When you are tracking animals in the field, light reflection can distort your image and may even alert game to your location. Hunting binoculars feature special coatings on the exterior glass surfaces to reduce light glare. These coatings also help ensure a bright clear sight picture. Look for binoculars featuring fully multi-coated glass for best results.
Best Hunting Binocular Brands
Not sure where to begin your search for high-quality hunting binoculars? Start with these reputable brands. These companies have well-earned reputations for designing and producing some of the best optics money can buy. You can rest assured their binoculars are some of the best in the world.
Headquartered in Austria, Swarovski is most famous for producing fine crystal and gemstone jewelry. Their motto is: “Capturing the natural magic of light.” Swarovski Optik carries this drive into their optics by creating some of the best-quality glass in the industry. When you look through a pair of Swarovski binoculars, you will see brighter, clearer images than anything you can view with the naked human eye.
Carl Zeiss AG
Founded by optician and scientist, Carl Zeiss in 1845, Zeiss AG designs and manufactures cutting-edge optical systems and optoelectronics. The company is currently working on optical designs for the James Webb Space Telescope, which is scheduled to take the place of the famed Hubble Telescope sometime in 2021.
Zeiss optics, including their binoculars, are well-known for their high-quality lenses. The company brings the same quality and cutting-edge technology to their hunting binoculars that they do to their high-tech telescope components.
Leupold & Stevens, Inc.
This company may have a German name, but the products are 100 percent American-made. Founded in 1907 by German immigrant, Fred Leupold, the company originally focused on repairing survey equipment. Today the name is synonymous with high-quality optics, and their products include binoculars, riflescopes, and performance eyewear, all of which have impressive glass quality and extreme reliability.
With humble beginnings as a small mail-order binocular company, Bushnell has grown into one of the most recognized and respected sports optics brands on the planet. With more than 50 years experience, Bushnell brings a lot to the optics table. Certainly one of the most popular brands on the market, Bushnell products are all reasonably priced and designed specifically for outdoor pursuits.
Best Hunting Binoculars on the Market Review
Here is a list of what we consider the best binoculars available to the modern hunter.
1 Swarovski SLC 10x42
Swarovski’s SLC binoculars feature the company’s patented SWAROBRIGHT and SWAROCLEAN technologies. With unique Field Flattener lenses and a large field of view, these binos deliver unparalleled image definition and edge-to-edge clarity. The fluoride-containing HD lenses are made with special optimized coatings to minimize color fringing and ensure maximum color fidelity.
With true natural colors and razor-sharp edges, you can easily see rich detail on distant game, even in twilight conditions. The images viewed through these high-end binoculars are sharper, brighter, and clearer than anything you could view with your own eyes.
These binoculars also feature a comfortable ergonomic design and durable shockproof construction, which makes them ideal for even the toughest hunting conditions.
The price tag on the Swarovski SLC binoculars may give some hunters a serious case of sticker shock. However, we promise you won’t find optical clarity like this in any other optic on the market.
2 Zeiss Terra ED 10x42
An ideal option for hunting duck and other waterfowl, the Zeiss Terra ED binoculars feature special hydrophobic lenses that easily shrug off water and dirt. Constructed with a waterproof body with a water resistance rating of 100 mbar, you could conceivably drag these outdoor binoculars through a muddy swamp and still get vibrant, clear, highly detailed images when you get to the other side.
Zeiss Terra binoculars are designed with a large, smooth and easy-to-grip focus wheel. The placement and design allow your index finger to automatically land in a position to easily focus without fumbling. This a major asset in the field, especially when trying to identify waterfowl that are quickly coming into your shooting range.
These binos have an easy grip surface and ergonomic eyecups that hunters will love. And with an extra wide field of view, the Zeiss Terra binoculars make viewing game comfortable, natural, and easy. Also a great option for hikers, birdwatchers, and other outdoor activities, these binos are awesome all around outdoor optics.
3 Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 8x42
These 8 power hunting binoculars from industry leader, Leupold, are perfect for those remote backcountry hunts. Designed for rugged conditions, the BX-5 Santium binoculars are made with a durable lightweight aluminum housing. The housing is wrapped in a rubber armor coating that provides a secure grasp, even in wet weather. These binos are also guaranteed absolutely waterproof and fogproof, even when used, in rainy, snowy, and icy conditions.
Leopold’s image quality is some of the best in the business. With extra-low dispersion HD lenses, you’ll enjoy premium edge-to-edge clarity plus a generous field of view. These high end optics also feature guard-ion lens coatings that shed water, dirt, sweat, and fingerprints, so your images are always crisp and clear.
Hunters will particularly appreciate Leupold’s proprietary Twilight Max Light Management System, which not only brightens the viewing image, but also adds up to 30 minutes of extra glassing light at dawn & dusk, the times most game animals are active.
The BX-5 Santiam also comes covered in the Sitka Subalpine camo pattern to help you completely disappear into mountain hunting areas.
4 Upland Optics Perception HD 10x42
It can be difficult to find high-quality binoculars for under $300, but the Perception HD field glasses from Upland Optics definitely fit the bill. Created specifically by hunters for hunters,
Perception HD binos are built for rugged conditions. Waterproof, fogproof, and scratch proof, these binos are made from the most durable materials around.
Perception HD glasses feature extra-low dispersion (ED) glass (the same glass used in high-end camera equipment). ED glass is designed to minimize chromatic aberration, so you have crisp clear images and bright color that allows you to easily identify game species in the field.
Weighing in at less than a pound and a half, Perception HD field optics are relatively lightweight for full size binos. On top of superb image quality and rugged durability, these field glasses come with a carrying case, neck strap, lens cloth, and a lifetime warranty.
5 Bushnell Fusion 1-Mile 10x42
Big game hunters trying to minimize their gear, will love these Bushnell Arc Laser binoculars with rangefinder technology. Perfect for accurately measuring those tough long range shots, Bushnell Fusion 1-Mile binos deliver precise range readings from 10 yards to 1760 yards. (That’s a full mile for those reluctant to do the math.)
The high-tech rangefinder aspect of these field glasses features bow and rifle modes that measure angle, true horizontal distance, and calculate bullet drop/holdover up to 199 inches. It also has a handy variable sight-in option to use when zeroing your rifle.
The binoculars feature BaK-4 prisms with a PC-3 phase corrective coating and premium fully multi-coated optics, so you get stunning image clarity and superb contrast.
Built for rugged use in the field, the Bushnell Fusion 1-Mile has a special RainGuard HD water repellent lens coating, making them reliably waterproof and fogproof.
These binoculars are a bit on the pricey side. However, with features and performance like this, we’re actually surprised this one is priced under $1000.
6 Vortex Optics Viper HD 10x42
Vortex has made a name for itself as a top producer of high-quality hunting optics. The company manages to balance performance and durability in their products, while keeping them surprisingly affordable.
The Vortex Viper HD binoculars are lightweight and compact, making them convenient for packing into remote hunting locations. Although they are one of the lightest full-size binoculars on the market (weighing just 24.6 ounces), don’t let their lightweight design fool you. These binoculars are built for rugged hunting conditions.
Viper HD binoculars are argon purged and o-ring sealed, making them completely fogproof, waterproof, and shockproof. For extra protection, these binoculars feature a rubber-armored chassis and special Armortek coating which protects them from bumps and bangs on the trail. This rubberized coating also makes them easy to hold onto in wet weather.
Viper HD binos feature high-density (HD) extra-low dispersion glass, and dielectric, multi-layer prism coatings to deliver bright, clear images with amazing color fidelity and crisp resolution.
Hunters can easily customize the fit for more comfortable viewing with or without eyeglasses. Viper HD binos even feature a locking right eye diopter to easily adjust for focal differences between your eyes.
7 Carson 3D Series 10x42 in Mossy Oak
Carson has been producing high-quality optics for nearly 30 years. As hunters, their 3D Series is our favorite in their line-up, especially since they come in popular Mossy Oak Camo.
Relatively compact for full size binoculars, these field glasses won’t take up much room in your pack. Plus, they weigh only 1.38 pounds, so you can carry them easily across your shoulder or around your neck all day without fatigue.
Carson 3D binos feature fully multi-coated extra-low dispersion glass that reduces color fringing and corrects chromatic aberration for true color fidelity. The prisms in these high quality binoculars are phase-corrected to enhance resolution and contrast, giving you bright, clear images, even in low light.
O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, these binoculars won’t fog, even during cold, wet weather and drastic temperature changes. They also feature a waterproof body, so they are completely ready for whatever rough weather conditions Mother Nature decides to throw your way.
Hunters will appreciate the ergonomic thumb grooves and textured body that make them easy to hold onto in the field. You can also mount these binoculars on a tripod in a matter of seconds, making it easy to view deer or elk across wide open fields.
8 Nikon Prostaff 3S 8x42
Nikon is famous for its high-performance cameras. Devoted to quality, Nikon brings the same level of excellence to their outdoor optics. Although the Nikon Prostaff 3S definitely falls into the “budget binoculars” category, these affordable field glasses don’t feel cheap at all.
These standout binoculars feature lead-and-arsenic-free Eco-Glass for crisp, clear images. The prisms in these binos are coated with multiple layers of a highly reflective silver-alloy that provides high light transmittance across the entire color spectrum. Honestly, the image quality is surprisingly good for an optic in this price range.
Fairly lightweight and relatively compact, the Nikon Prostaff 3S has a durable design and is covered with a low profile rubber armor. The result is a solid body with a good non-slip grip.
Probably the best binoculars for hunting you’ll ever find for under $200, the Nikon Prostaff 3S binoculars offer plenty of value for the money.
9 Bushnell H2O 10x25
If you’re looking for compact binoculars that slip easily into the pocket of your hunting vest, this is the pair for you. The Bushnell H2O binos weigh less than a pound and are the smallest set of field glasses on our list. They are also the only ones priced under $100.
A great, all around set of field glasses, Bushnell H2O has BaK4 prisms and multi-coated optics for bright, clear images, even in low light. They are o-ring sealed, nitrogen purged, and 100 percent waterproof.
Bushnell H2O binoculars have a durable design with a non-slip rubber armor that protects the optics from bumps and drops by absorbing shock. They also feature a unique Soft Texture Grip that provides a firm and comfortable grip, even in wet weather.
They even feature a convenient camo pattern, making them a perfect option for turkey hunters. These are definitely the best compact hunting binoculars on our list.
10 Sightmark Ghost Hunter Night Vision
Sightmark specializes in budget optics (particularly scopes and binoculars) for daytime use. The Sightmark Ghost Hunter integrates Gen 1 night vision technology into an optic the size of a standard set of daytime binoculars. Night time hunting just got a whole lot easier.
Durable and surprisingly lightweight (barely over 14 ounces), Ghost Hunter binoculars feature high power built-in infrared illumination, so you can view clear images in low-ambient light conditions. They even work in total darkness, making these night vision binoculars perfect for hunting hogs, coyotes, and other nocturnal predators.
With only 2x magnification and a detection range well under 150 yards, these hunting night vision binoculars are best-suited for short range targets. They have a great ergonomic design, quick power-up, and a battery life of approximately 72 hours.
The optic also has a handy automatic shut-off feature that quickly powers down when exposed to bright light to protect the night vision tube from damage. The Ghost Hunter comes with a three-year warranty on the tube and a limited lifetime warranty of the housing.
Hunting Binocular Tips and Tricks
Here are some pro tips to help you get the most out of your new hunting binoculars.
Keep it Steady
Viewing a magnified image can be tough. Even the tiniest movements become big movements when you’re looking through your field glasses. If you can’t manage to hold your binos steady, you’ll have a hard time scouting distant game. Using a tripod with hunting binoculars is an absolute game-changer.
However, carrying a tripod across rough terrain isn’t always practical. If you can’t lug a tripod with you, try other ways to steady your binos. Place your elbows on your knees or balance your binos on the top wheel of your bow to create a stable platform.
Put the Sun Behind You
By glassing with the sun at your back, you’ll be able to see further and more clearly. Having the sun behind you also reduces the chance of light reflecting off your lenses and giving away your location.
Keep Them Clean
Whether you spent 100 bucks or several thousand on your hunting binoculars, keeping them clean will deliver better optical clarity. However, if you don’t clean them properly, you could damage your coatings.
Although it may be tempting to use your jacket sleeve to remove dirt and smudges from your lenses, this could cause tiny microscopic scratching. Over time, this could degrade your glass coating and reduce image clarity.
Instead, use a microfiber cloth to safely lean the exterior surfaces of your binoculars.
Don’t Cut Corners
In the world of hunting optics, it is usually true that you get what you pay for. Quality binoculars aren’t cheap. In most cases, the benefits of a high-end pair of binoculars make them worth the investment. Plus, they will probably be the last set of binos you ever need to buy.
As a general rule of thumb, buy the best pair of binoculars you can fit into your budget.
The best hunting binoculars will take your hunt to the next level. Any of the binoculars on our list are high-quality options that have proven their value in the field. Whether you’re glassing for bull elk in Colorado or identifying ducks coming in for a landing, the right binos are an invaluable hunting tool.