Best Binoculars for Hunting

Mark Porter

Table of Contents

Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the products discussed in this article, we may receive a small commission.

Hunting is all about having the correct equipment. This includes binoculars. Binoculars are a vital part of a hunter’s kit and shouldn’t be taken lightly. A successful hunting trip is utterly dependent on how well your binoculars can pick out prey.

Binoculars for hunting

Packing the wrong pair could seriously jeopardize the entire expedition. By reading this article you’ll be a step closer to ensuring that never happens.

But before we get down to the all-important “best-of” list, let’s examine the criteria for deciding on the best binoculars for hunting.

If you simply want the products, here are the best binoculars for hunting:

What to Look for in the Best Binoculars for Hunting

Let’s look at the criteria by which to select the best binoculars for hunting in a little more detail.



Magnification and lens size are the two critical areas that determine the type of binoculars you are buying.

A typical lens specification for hunting is 10×42.

The first number, 10, refers to magnification. In this case, a magnification of 10x. Or, in other words, a magnification that is ten times closer than seeing with the naked eye.

As every hunter knows, getting within range of his quarry is challenging. Tracking and stalking in the wild requires a great deal of skill. Hence magnification is a vital element in being able to observe “prey” from a distance.

Magnification between 8x to 10x is ideal for hunting. It gives you both power and portability. Anything higher than that jeopardizes image stability. More on this below.

Objective Lens Diameter

The second number indicates the size of the lens, which in the above example is 42. This number, 42, signifies the diameter of the lenses in millimeters. The higher the number, the more light is gathered by the lens.

This gathering of more light facilitates better vision in low-light conditions.

How These Numbers Impact Hunting

Before moving on to other criteria, we need to consider what impact magnification and lens size have on vision.

Increased optical magnification reduces the field of view so that you will see less. And what you see is magnified to such an extent that every little movement is also magnified. This fact makes the business of keeping a subject within view that much more difficult.

As for lens size, we have already established that a wider diameter lens produces more light. But bigger lenses also create more bulk—not the most desirable characteristic when stalking animals.

But before you rush to buy a pair of binoculars with the smallest lens size, it is worth noting that though more portable, binoculars with smaller lenses let in less light and therefore are darker in optical characteristics.

No small detail.

The Hunting Ideal

A magnification of around 8x to 10x is ideal for hunting—anything more increases the size and weight of binoculars to unacceptable levels. As for lens size, look for something between 30-42 millimeters. In this way, you get both portability and performance.

Exit Pupil Size

Before leaving numbers behind altogether, let’s look at a third specification: exit pupil size.

Knowing exactly how much light your binoculars will let in is a critical specification of hunting binoculars. Hunting can cover a range of terrains and conditions. Encountering low light levels has to be factored into any serious hunt.

The exit pupil size of your binoculars will give you a very accurate indication of how much light your lenses will generate.

The exit pupil size is calculated by dividing the diameter of the objective lens by the magnification. For example, for 10×42 binoculars the equation would be 42 ÷ 10 = 4.2, giving the exit pupil size a 4.2mm diameter.

For hunting an exit pupil size of no less than 4 and up to 8 millimeters is recommended.

Field of view

Successful hunting requires a wide FoV.

Angular field of view (FoV) is measured in degrees. Binoculars that have a field of view between 4 and 6 degrees are recommended for hunting situations. An FoV in that ballpark gives you the scanning capabilities to ensure you spot animals quickly.

Visual Clarity

Visual clarity can be adversely affected by light reflection. Optical coatings are designed to combat interference of this kind. Multi- and high-contrast coatings deliver the best results in this area.

Extra-low Dispersion Glass (ED) is incorporated in some models of binoculars to correct the natural refraction of light. ED glass goes a long way to prevent what is known in optics as chromatic aberration. Chromatic aberration is an anomaly that can lead to color distortion.

ED glass is associated with high-end binoculars but should be a primary consideration if you take hunting seriously.

Rangefinder Binoculars

Rangefinder binoculars do just what the name suggests, i.e., establish the range between you and your target, usually at the touch of a button—vital information when out hunting.

In addition, rangefinder binoculars can also provide valuable ballistic details too—such as line of sight distance, degree of elevation, and bullet drop—so that you’re always on target.

Rangefinding binoculars better facilitate precision hunting.


Stealth is another crucial consideration when it comes to deciding on a pair of hunting binoculars.

Being out of earshot and view are two areas worthy of special attention.

Look for binoculars with dull exteriors or even camouflage to blend in with your surroundings. Rubber armor is non-reflective. Rubber armor with an engraved pattern, even less so.

Rubber armor also plays a large part in noise dampening and is preferable to a hard metal surface when out in the field.

Fast Focus

Being able to focus quickly is another vital feature to look for in hunting binoculars. A large, easy-to-grip focus wheel is a feature to look out for when investing in new glass.

Fast focus binoculars are just that, fast focusing. They can reduce focus tuning times by as much as one-fifth. A valuable commodity when time is of the essence.

Size and Weight

Hunting binoculars have to feel right in the hand. Stalking is a game of patience, and the last thing you want is to be conscious of the equipment you are carrying.

A rubber coating improves not only the tactility of your binoculars but also the overall grip.

Which only leaves weight.

Compact and lightweight binoculars might seem like the sensible choice when hunting, but a smaller lens diameter will mean they are less efficient in lower light settings.

There will always be a trade-off between practicality and overall optical efficiency.

Find the right balance.

Folding Mechanism

A not insignificant point is the folding mechanism of your prospective binoculars. Portability is often dependent on how small your binoculars will be when folded—this is where the folding mechanism comes in.

Binoculars essentially fold in two different ways, using one or two hinges.

One-hinge binoculars are less compact. They have just one hinge at the center of both barrels. However, this does make them easier to fold down.

Binoculars equipped with hinges for each barrel and a focusing wheel at the center of the bridge fold down very small. In other words, they are much more portable than their single hinge counterparts.

Waterproof and Fogproof

Conditions are often unpredictable when out hunting. Weather can turn without warning. Hence, your binoculars need to be waterproof and fog proof. Otherwise, rain and extreme temperature changes can render binoculars inoperable.

An “O-ring” guarantees your binoculars are airtight and watertight. While nitrogen- or argon-purging will prevent fogging by eliminating moisture buildup in your optical barrels—eliminating the prospect of condensation.


Unforgiving terrain requires rugged, no-nonsense equipment. The last thing you want to do is lose the use of a pair of binoculars due to damage.

Binoculars sporting a rubber coating offer better protection against bumps and accidental falls. They tend to be easier to hold too.

Long Eye Relief

The chances are that while hunting, you’re going to be wearing some form of eyewear. This fact makes Long Eye Relief an essential feature when considering the best binoculars for hunting.

Hunting binoculars are fitted with adjustable eyecups. These adjustments make the eye relief shorter or longer to accommodate the naked eye and the wearing of spectacles.

If you are wearing glasses, the amount of long eye relief you need is generally believed to be in the region of 16mm.

The Best Binoculars for Hunting

So without further delay, here is our selection of the best binoculars for hunting:

1. Vortex Diamondback HD Binoculars—Overall Winner

If you’re searching for binoculars that promise performance and value for money, then the Diamondback HD binoculars should be your number one choice.

The Vortex Diamondback 10×42 binoculars’ HD Optical System is designed to give you the maximum resolution with minimal chromatic aberration—to produce the very best in color fidelity, “edge-to-edge” sharpness, and overall image brightness.

The Vortex Diamondback HD binoculars boast a hard-wearing, lightweight magnesium chassis which is ideal for the demands of hunting. Fog proof and waterproof, the Diamondback HD binoculars are designed to take on the most extreme conditions.

Adjustable eyecups and a center focus wheel boost comfort and usability to deliver a pair of binoculars that punch way above their weight class.


  • High Definition optics.
  • Fully multi-coated.
  • ArmorTek coating.
  • Adjustable eyecups.
  • Durable and compact.
  • Short hinge design.


  • Eye relief needs improving.

2. Vortex Crossfire HD Binoculars —First Runner Up

Vortex’s Crossfire HD 10×50 binoculars combine high-end performance with affordability to deliver the best of both worlds.

Featuring HD fully multi-coated optics, the Crossfire HD 10×50 binoculars boast an ArmorTek scratch-resistant coating to give them the durability necessary for the most challenging conditions.

Sporting a short hinge design and supplied with Vortex’s GlassPak binocular harness, the Crossfire HD binoculars can be deployed effortlessly at a moment’s notice.

Just the sort of no-nonsense backup you need when you’re out in the field.


  • HD optics.
  • ArmorTek scratch-resistant coating.
  • Adjustable eyecups.
  • Short hinge design.
  • Supplied with GlassPak binocular harness


  • Could be lighter.

3. Nikon MONARCH M5 Binoculars—Second Runner Up

The Nikon MONARCH M5 10×42 Binoculars are particularly suited to the rigors of hunting.

By incorporating ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass, the MONARCH M5 binoculars are virtually distortion and aberration-free. The 42 millimeter objectives are wide enough to produce high-resolution views in conditions where there is little light. In contrast, 10x magnification keeps you on top of the action.

The innovative high-eyepoint design of the MONARCH M5 binoculars offers supreme levels of comfort and an unobstructed FoV—even when wearing glasses. Turn-and-slide rubber eyecups further enhance comfort.

The rugged, rubber MONARCH M5 binoculars are also waterproof and fog proof.


  • Wide FoV.
  • Extra-low Dispersion glass.
  • Close focusing.
  • Turn-and-slide rubber eyecups.
  • Rugged rubber construction.
  • Lightweight.


  • Cheap lens caps.

4. Vortex Viper HD Binoculars

The Vortex Viper HD 10×42 binoculars embody all the characteristics needed in premium hunting binoculars.

Optical features including HD lens elements and XR multi-coating deliver top-notch levels of resolution, color fidelity, and light transmission—to ensure “edge-to-edge” clarity in the most challenging conditions.

ArmorTek technology protects the lenses of the Vortex Viper HD binoculars.

Argon gas purging and O-ring seals are employed to give the Viper HD binoculars string weatherproof credentials, while adjustable eyecups and a center focus-wheel boost usability.

Vortex Viper HD 10×42 binoculars are good enough for any hunt.


  • Multi-Coated lenses.
  • Center Focus Wheel.
  • Durability.
  • Lifetime warranty.


  • Price.

5. Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10×42 Hunting Binoculars

The Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10×42 hunting binoculars combine the field of view and magnification in a compact and lightweight form.

Featuring an Elite Optical System, the BX-4 Pro Guide HD binoculars boast the exceptional light transmission, glare reduction, and edge-to-edge clarity that the best hunters demand from glassing.

Comfort levels are pretty high, too, with an open-bridge design that is both comfortable and lightweight.

The Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD binoculars are fog proof and waterproof and ship with a GO Afield shoulder strap.

Ready when you are.


  • Exceptional low-light optics.
  • Includes a GO Afield shoulder strap, binocular case, lens covers, and lens cloth.
  • Fog proof and waterproof.


  • Untethered eyecup covers.

6. Vortex Razor UHD 10×42 Binoculars

The Vortex Razor UHD 10×42 binoculars offer premium optics for those serious about their hunting.

The Razor’s Ultra High Definition optical design gives you exceptional image resolution and color fidelity, whether you need expanse or the minutest detail. At the same time, advanced XR lens coatings and multi-layered coatings on the “Abbe-Koenig” prism ensure that images remain crisp and bright in even the lowest level light settings.

Combine these optical qualities with a tough but lightweight magnesium exterior, and you’ve got everything you need in a pair of hunting binoculars.


  • Lifetime warranty.
  • Ultra High Definition.
  • True open hinge design.
  • Multi-layered coatings.
  • Waterproof and Fog proof.


  • Expensive.

7. Leica Geovid 10X42 HD-R 2700 Rangefinding Binoculars

The Leica Geovid binoculars offer all the benefits of high-end rangefinding optics in an elegant and compact form.

Geovid HD-R 2700 binoculars boast razor-sharp images combined with ballistics that you can truly rely upon in the field. Featuring equivalent horizontal range (EHR) output, which requires no pre-programming, Geovid HD-R 2700 rangefinding binoculars give you a realistic ballistic trajectory for much greater accuracy.

Leica Geovid binoculars also incorporate patented Perger-Porro prisms, along with optimized coatings to deliver exceptional contrast and “stray-light” suppression.

As you would expect from Leica, the Geovid HD-R 2700 rangefinder binoculars are both waterproof and fog proof. They are also fitted out in an attractive shock-absorbing rubber—just in case you drop them.


  • A linear distance determination of 2,700 yards.
  • EHR output.
  • Perger-Porro prism system.
  • AquaDura coating.
  • Waterproof up to 5 meters.
  • Flip covers protect objective lenses.


  • Price.

8. Bushnell Trophy 10×42 Bone Collector Binoculars

The Bushnell 10×42 Trophy Bone Collector Binoculars are rugged enough to survive the most challenging conditions.

Featuring fully multi-coated optics and BaK-4 prism glass, the Bushnell Trophy 10×42 Bone Collector Binoculars produce excellent levels of light transmission to deliver impressively high-contrast images.

The non-nonsense Dura-Grip rubber armor is O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged for top-notch waterproof and fog-free performance in the most extreme conditions.

The Bushnell Trophy 10×42 Bone Collector Binoculars are designed for action-packed hunting and more besides.


  • Fully multi-coated optics.
  • Nitrogen purged fog-proofing.
  • Fast focus wheel.


  • Bulky.

9. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 Binoculars

The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 Binoculars claim to be “everything you’ve ever wanted in binoculars.”

To back up this claim, Bushnell packs in a host of innovative features, including ED Prime Glass and Ultra Wide Band coating, to deliver exceptional levels of light transmission and high-definition optics, combined with an ultra-wide FoV. These characteristics give you both width and detail.

Boasting RainGuard HD technology for all-weather protection, the magnesium-tough Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 Binoculars can cope with just about anything you care to throw at them.


  • Ultra-wide FoV (field-of-view).
  • Locking diopter.
  • Long eye-relief.
  • Magnesium chassis.
  • Soft case, microfiber carry bag, and neck strap included.


  • Stiff focus dial.

10. Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 Binoculars

ZEISS Terra ED 10×42 binoculars are as sleek as they are effective.

Incorporating state-of-the-art optical features such as SCHOTT ED glass with a hydrophobic multi-coating means the Terra ED binoculars deliver outstanding levels of precision and contrast. ZEISS boasts an impressive 88 percent light transmission.

ZEISS’s Terra ED binoculars are waterproof and nitrogen-filled and incorporate a focusing wheel that lends itself to fast-focus situations.

The Terra ED binoculars are the perfect introduction to the world of ZEISS glassing.


  • 88 percent light transmission.
  • Hydrophobic multi-coating.
  • Exemplary optical clarity.
  • Fast-focusing.


  • Costly.

11. Nikon PROSTAFF 7s Binoculars

The Nikon PROSTAFF 7s 8×30 Binoculars are lightweight and compact enough to suit outdoor activities such as hunting.

Nikon PROSTAFF 7s binoculars deliver sterling sharpness and clarity courtesy of fully multi-coated eco-glass lenses and phase-correction coated roof prisms to get the very best from the action that surrounds you.

And wielding all this optical power couldn’t be easier or more comfortable, thanks to an ergonomic rubber-armored body.

Fogproof, waterproof, and fitted with turn-and-slide rubber eyecups, an entire field of view with optimal comfort is a reality.


  • Compact.
  • Advanced optics.
  • Armored body.
  • Waterproof and fog proof.


  • Heavy.

12. Steiner Predator Binoculars

The Steiner Predator 10×30 binoculars are all about strength and portability.

Predator binoculars feature the innovative CAT (Color Adjusted Transmission). These CAT coatings significantly boost low-light performance so that you can spot “game” regardless of the conditions.

A lightweight Roof Prism coupled with Fast-Close-Focus means that the Predator 10×30 binoculars are as quick and compact as they need to be for a life dedicated to the chase.

Steiner’s Makrolon housing takes care of any doubts about durability and grip. This all-conditions toughness is further enhanced by an N2 injection system for state-of-the-art fog proofing.

The Steiner Predator 10×30 binoculars are a solid addition to this list of best binoculars for hunting and should not be underestimated.


  • CAT Color Adjusted Transmission boosts contrast.
  • Fast Close-Focus.
  • N2 injection fog proofing.
  • ClicLoc neck strap release.


  • Eye relief not specified.

13. Maven B.5 15×56

The Maven B.5 15×56 binoculars are designed for those who need increased magnification and lens size in a svelte magnesium frame.

Featuring an Abbe-Koenig prism paired with fluorite glass, the B.5 binoculars are the personification of power and high-end optical systems designed to give outstanding low-light performance.

The B.5 binoculars also boast edge-to-edge clarity, good eye relief, and the “silkiest” focus mechanism that can be found.

Maven’s B.5 binoculars combine state-of-the-art technology with the very best in optics to give you a pair of binoculars worthy of any hunting party.


  • Lifetime warranty.
  • High-end Abbe-Koenig optics.
  • Includes strap, lens cap, and microfiber storage bag.


  • Expensive.

Man using a Binoculars for hunting

Big Takeaway

And that, dear reader, is that. The list of the best binoculars for hunting that are currently available.

We selected the Vortex Diamondback HD Binoculars as overall winners because they ticked all the boxes in terms of power, performance, and price. But any of the hunting binoculars on the list would make the perfect companion in your next chase.

Happy hunting.


Are 10×50 binoculars good for hunting?

A 10×50 pair of binoculars would be suited to most types of hunting. A magnification of 10x would mean that an animal viewed at 200 yards away would appear to be only 20 yards away. When hunting deer, for example, shots are typically under 200 yards.

The 50-millimeter lens diameter will improve light at dawn and dusk times but comes at a price—extra weight. If your hunting trip requires a lot of leg work a smaller diameter lens might be preferable.

What are the best binoculars for deer hunting?

Deer are among the most popular quarry for American hunters. Deer are woodland animals, which makes magnification less crucial because of the closer ranges involved.

However, scanning the undergrowth for movement requires a stable image. So anything above 12x magnification becomes a problem. Another consideration is hunting often takes place around sunrise and sunset. This means that lenses with the capacity for high light-gathering are also a factor.

After all, the advantage should rest with the hunter and not the other way round.

Binoculars with decent magnification, excellent light-gathering characteristics, and a good exit pupil size possess the winning formula for hunting. A decent pair of 8×42 binoculars should suit deer hunting just fine.

How much should you spend on hunting binoculars?

The million-dollar question, if you pardon the pun. The truth is it all depends on several factors including how dedicated you are to the sport. That is, an entry-level hunter probably shouldn’t spend several thousand dollars on high-end binoculars from Maven or Swarovski with all the bells and whistles.

Entry-level binoculars can be purchased for under 100 dollars, while high-end binoculars cost thousands.

Consider your needs and budget very carefully before buying.

How important are binoculars for hunting?

Binoculars are a vital part of hunting equipment. Binoculars facilitate long-range scouting and boost clarification when compared to a rifle scope. They also outperform scopes in low-light conditions quite convincingly.

In addition, rangefinder binoculars will help calculate the distance between you and your quarry. Invaluable when you are out in the field.

These features combined mean that you will stand a much better chance of success when hunting, not to mention that clarity and all-around vision also boost safety and reduce the risk of accidents in what is, after all, a potentially lethal pastime.

How do rangefinder binoculars work?

Most modern rangefinder binoculars use laser technology to determine the exact distance between you and your target. The process to establish this distance is initiated by the depressing of a button on your binoculars, which in turn emits a laser beam. The time this laser takes to reach the target and “bounce” back to the binoculars determines the precise distance of the object.

Rangefinder binoculars also exist in “reticle” form. Rangefinder reticles incorporate a crosshair with numbers to determine the distance of a target.

A more manual approach but just as effective.

Which are the best brands for hunting binoculars?

Leica, Zeiss, Vortex, Leupold & Stevens, and Bushnell are all well-established, reputable brands that make respected, professional-grade equipment. Pedigree is an important factor in the precision world of optics.

Price does not always determine quality but it is difficult to dispute the brilliance of high-end Maven and Swarovski glass—despite the accompanying price tag.

How do I clean hunting binoculars?

Though it might be tempting, never use your sleeve to clean the lenses on your binoculars. Precision optics and coated glass need care of the highest order to maintain high levels of clarity.

To remove dirt use a blower or soft brush before you attempt any rubbing. Breath is another no-no as this simply traps dust particles that might in turn scratch your precious lens. Compressed air canisters are also out as they often use chemicals that are harmful to lens coating.

Once the dirt has been removed then you can go to work with a cotton swab that has been dipped in a lens-safe solution. Proceed to clean the lens using circular motions.

Finally, dry your lenses with a microfiber lens cloth. Never use paper towels or tissues at this stage as it might lead to scratching.

As for the body, again loosen dust using a blower before simply wiping it down with a damp cloth. Said cloth should never be your microfiber lens cloth as that should be only ever used for wiping glass and otherwise be kept in a sealed bag.

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