Gear

Best Hiking Binoculars

June 12, 2019 by

Much like a visually impaired reader needs his or her glasses, so too does the hiker need binoculars. Binoculars serve the purpose of allowing hikers to see Mother Nature’s finest up close and personal, without disturbing the peace of animals too much. Of course, we’d all like to stand inches away from lions and tigers and bears and eagles, but the reality is that most animals don’t want us to get too close to them. Binoculars offer a safe and easy way to zoom in on all of the incredible sights nature has to offer, bypassing the limitations of the naked eye.

1). NIKON 7577 MONARCH 5 (10 x 42 or 8 x 42)

The Nikon 7577 Monarch 5 binoculars come with your choice of a 10x magnification or 8x magnification. The Nikon 7577 Monarch 5 is a smart pair of well-designed binoculars that is just what you’d expect from a reputable brand like Nikon.

A pair of extra-low dispersion, multicoated eco-glass lenses provide sharp, clear images and improved light transmittance. The Monarch 5 also includes useful features such as turn-and-slide rubber eyecups, a central focus knob, and lens caps that flip down to protect your binoculars when they’re not in use. The Monarch 5 is also great for hikers seeking a pair of binoculars that can take a beating. These binoculars are rubber-armored for strength and durability, as well as water and fog proof.

Pros

  • Good power
  • Lightweight
  • Intelligently designed
  • Great in all weather conditions
  • Sharp, clear vision

Cons

  • Field of view could use improvement

Why it’s recommended: Nikon can always be depended upon to deliver a high-quality product. The Monarch 5 is a no-brainer for anyone seeking a mid-level pair of binoculars.

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2). Bushnell Legend Ultra HD M-Series Binoculars

Also available as a 10 x 42 or 8 x 42, the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD M-Series is a great mid-range option. Extra-low dispersion glass and fully multicoated lenses are coated with RainGuard HD to guard your binoculars against water intrusion. Soft-touch grips and rubber armoring also make the Ultra HD M-Series great for all weather conditions.

Pros

  • Good power
  • Lightweight
  • Nice, wide field of view
  • Great in all weather conditions
  • Sharp, clear vision

Cons

  • Could be lighter

Why it’s recommended: The model for all-weather binoculars, the Bushnell Legend M-Series will take a beating and serve you faithfully in all conditions. There’s no challenge this pair of binoculars can’t handle.

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3). Wingspan Optics NatureHawk Ultra HD 8 x 42

The Wingspan Optics NatureHawk Ultra HD 8 x 42 is a nice choice for an affordable mid-level pair of hiking binoculars. Waterproof and fog proof, the fully multicoated lenses, and phase correction coated prism make this pair of binoculars an excellent companion for any hiker or amateur ornithologist. At nearly 41 ounces, the NatureHawk Ultra HD is quite heavy compared with most of the other binoculars in its class, and isn’t a great choice if you’re going on a long trip where every ounce of weight in your pack is taken into account.

Pros

  • Good power
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Great starting set of binoculars

Cons

  • Heavy

Why it’s recommended: At 41 ounces, you’ll be dragging the Wingspan Optics NatureHawk Ultra HD, but this set of binoculars offers a great value and is built for exploring all nature has to offer.

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4). Vortex Optics Razor HD Roof Prism Binoculars

A nice choice for higher-end binoculars, the Vortex Optics Razor HD Roof Prism binoculars are no ordinary binoculars. With close attention paid to every tiny detail of these binoculars, Vortex went above and beyond while still managing to keep the weight down to a very reasonable 24.2 to 28.7 ounces, depending on the model you choose.

There are four model options available, beginning with the 8×42, and continuing on to 10 x 42, 10 x 50, and finally the 12 x 50. Hand-selected prisms and premium HD extra-low dispersion glass round out the Vortex Optics Razor binoculars, which also come with a convenient Glasspak bag for safe and easy transportation.

Pros

  • Four options to choose from
  • Sharp, clear image
  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable eyecups and inter-pupillary distance
  • Scratch-resistant armortek lenses

Cons

  • Pricey

Why it’s recommended: The Vortex Optics Razor HD lives up to its name by delivering razor sharp visuals. We like the flexibility it offers in its range of power and apertures, and you really can’t go wrong with any one of them. A wonderful pair of binoculars all around if you’re ready for a higher-level, more luxurious set.

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5). Maven C1 10 x 42 ED Binoculars Gray/Orange

This sleek looking binoculars comes encased in a unique polymer frame that is gray with an orange accent ring. The extra-low dispersion, fully multicoated lenses provide you with clear images and bright colors. For protection, Maven coated the lenses, which are waterproof and fog proof. An unconditional lifetime warranty serves as a testament to the quality of the Maven C1 binoculars. Unfortunately, at just over 39 ounces, all of these features don’t come in the lightest package and may be cumbersome on longer trips.

Pros

  • Well-rounded
  • Stylish
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Heavy

Why it’s recommended: A perfectly fine option for high-quality visuals, the Maven C1 is recommended for short trips where weight isn’t a factor. Upgrade to the Maven C3 to shed 11 ounces.

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6). Maven C3 ED Binocular Gray/Orange 12 x 50

Maven seems to have hit the nail on the head with its C3 model. Offering the same sporty feel of its signature polymer frame, these extra-low dispersion, fully multicoated lenses are sure to deliver crisp, clear vision and color reproduction in just about any weather conditions. Built for rugged adventures, the Maven C3 is a great tool to bring along on all your hiking trips, and the reduced weight of 28 ounces in the C3 has certainly not gone unnoticed.

Pros

  • Great power and aperture
  • Good in low-light conditions
  • Durable
  • Stylish
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Pricey

Why it’s recommended: Our hats are off to the designers of the Maven C3. Every box seems to be checked off on this one, from durability and lens quality to color reproduction and its light weight.

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7). Zeiss 10 x 42 Conquest HD Binoculars

This German company’s name is synonymous with optic excellence, so it should come as no surprise that the Zeiss Conquest HD is a wonderful pair of binoculars, reserved for the serious hiker willing to shell out serious money. The Zeiss Conquest comes with a customized harness strap to keep your precious binoculars safe when you’re on the trail, as well as fully armored and waterproofed LotuTec water shedding outer coatings.

Zeiss doesn’t cut corners when it comes to quality, manufacturing its high-quality binoculars in-house. One of the heaviest binoculars you can find, the Zeiss Conquest HD is going to deliver superior images. It’s also equipped with rotating and lockable eyecups to ensure comfort in users both with and without glasses.

Pros

  • Great power and aperture
  • Amazing construction
  • Smart design
  • Comfortable
  • Strong brand reputation
  • Made in Germany
  • Durable
  • Dependable

Cons

  • Extremely pricey
  • Heavy

Why it’s recommended: The hefty Zeiss Conquest HD is one of the best binoculars money can buy. Our only complaint is that it’s heavy, really heavy.

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8). Leica Trinovid 10 x 42 HD Binocular with Adventure Strap

Another luxury German brand, Leica’s products are known for their tremendous quality. The Trinovid 10 x 42 doesn’t disappoint, delivering stunning color reproduction and contrasts, as well as impressive light transmission. The adventure strap will keep your Leica safe and accessible throughout your travels, and an impressively wide field of view is optimized for panoramic images.

At under 26 ounces, Leica was able to pack plenty of punch into this super powered set of binoculars. Of course, you’ll understand that this level of quality at just 1.6 pounds doesn’t come cheap.

Pros

  • Great power and aperture
  • Lightweight
  • Great color reproduction
  • Works well in low-light conditions
  • Large field of view
  • Durable
  • Strong brand reputation
  • Well-designed adventure strap allows for convenient, comfortable carrying.
  • Impressive close-up limit of 6.2 feet.

Cons

  • Pricey

Why it’s recommended: The Leica Trinovid sits at the top of the food chain. There’s really nothing to criticize about the superior quality these binoculars afford its user.

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9). Eschenbach Sektor D 10 x 32

The Eschenbach Sektor D 10 x 32 waterproof binoculars have bak-4 phase-corrected prisms and a full multi-coating for bright, sharp images. Similar to its competitors, The Sektor D is water proof and fog proof. Its phase correction feature improves the resolution and color reproduction of everything in your field of view, and the full multi-layer coating helps you to see in conditions of low lighting. The Sektor D is also ultra-lightweight as just one pound and is durable enough to accompany you on all your camping and hiking adventures.

Pros

  • Super-lightweight
  • Designed in Germany
  • Nice color reproduction
  • Surprisingly effective in low-light conditions
  • Compact design

Cons

  • Middling aperture

Why it’s recommended: With a lot of technology and functionality, the Eschenbach Sektor D is a durable, lightweight pair of binoculars that impresses with its attentive German design and color reproduction, hindered only by a sub-par aperture.

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10). Athlon Optics Midas Roof Prism UHD Binoculars

The Athlon Optics Midas Roof Prism UHD binoculars offers 8 x 42 power and aperture through its extra-lower dispersion, ESP Dielectric and fully multi-coated lenses. A dependable entry to mid-level pair of binoculars, the Athlon Optics Midas weighs in at just under 25 ounces, making it a fantastic light-weight option.

Pros

  • Great for users who wear glasses
  • Quality lenses
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Neck strap and carrying case included

Cons

  • Power could use improvement

Why it’s recommended: An all-around winner, the Athlon Optics Midas is a choice that won’t disappoint anyone, but probably won’t win any awards for excellence either.

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11). Vanguard Endeavor ED II Binocular with Premium Hoya ED Glass

At 8 x 42, the Vanguard Endeavor ED II doesn’t have the most power, but its use of Hoya extra-low dispersion glass does bring a unique feature to this pair of binoculars. Advanced multi-guard anti-reflective coatings help to ensure optimal light transmission and clear visuals. The Endeavor II also comes with locking diopter rings, so everyone can enjoy using these binoculars without having to tinker and adjust before each use. At 27.16 ounces, the Endeavor ED II 8 x 42 is light enough to transport, but has an unusually long construction at nine inches.

Pros

  • Hoya ED glass makes for razor sharp images
  • Long design may make it a hassle to pack

Cons

  • Room for improvement of power
  • Value is mediocre

Why it’s recommended: Though underwhelming in most other categories, the Vangard Endeavor II’s Hoya ED dispersion glass almost makes up for its shortcomings in design and power.

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12). Celestron 71404 TrailSeeker 8 x 42

A lightweight magnesium alloy body keeps the weight of the Celestron TrailSeeker 8 x 42 to just 1.45 pounds. Bak-4 prisms with phase and dielectric coatings help provide clear images. This versatile pair of binoculars offers a nice wide field of view, a close-up limit of 6.5 feet, and twist-up eyecups for comfort. As its name suggests, this pair of binoculars is ideal for hikers and trail lovers, and is fully tripod adaptable for maintaining comfort even during extended viewing periods.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Versatile
  • Great value
  • Wide field of view
  • Impressive close-up limit of 6.5 feet
  • Tripod adaptable

Cons

  • Power is underwhelming

Why it’s recommended: The unique, lightweight design of the Celestron TrailSeeker is a great set of all-purpose binoculars that will serve hikers of all experiences.

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Important Features to Look for When Shopping for Hiking Binoculars

Magnification Rating: There are a few things most hikers look for in a pair of binoculars. First and foremost, you’ll want to look at the magnification rating. The magnification rating is what helps define and differentiate binoculars. A binoculars’ magnification is akin to its power, telling us how powerful the binoculars’ lens is, expressed in terms of its ability to bring the object in its sights closer to our eyes.

All binoculars have a rating that consists of two numbers. The first number, which represents the binoculars’ magnification, tells us how many times closer to the eye the lens will bring the object. For example, a 5 x 40 set of binoculars offers the magnification power to bring whatever you’re looking at five times closer than your naked eye is capable of seeing. But what does the second number represent? Continue reading below to learn what a binoculars’ aperture rating means, and why you should care about it.

Aperture: The second number in the rating system used for binoculars is the aperture rating. Aperture in binoculars refers to the diameter, or the width of the binoculars’ lens, expressed in millimeters. A set of binoculars with a higher aperture rating of 80, for example, will afford you a wider field of vision. Aperture is so important to anyone using binoculars because it can mean the difference between seeing in low or dim light or being effectively blind. A wider aperture will give you a wider field of vision, allowing you to draw in much needed light from other sources and illuminate your target.

Weight: Hikers know that every ounce you carry matters. A pound can be what separates a sleepless night of back pain from a blissful eve of rest. Take a look at the weight of binoculars and make sure you can comfortably carry them throughout your journey.

Now that you have a stronger understanding of how binoculars are rated, let’s take a look at some of the best options out there for binoculars, comparing and contrasting some of the most popular models on the market.

Bottom Line

Choosing a pair of hiking binoculars can seem like a daunting task, and it’s important to consider what’s most important to you, and to make sure that you choose a pair of binoculars that has the features you’re looking for.

Most binoculars nowadays are built for all-weather conditions, but don’t forget to consider some other important details. While it’s important to look at the power and aperture of the binoculars, keep in mind that there is more to binoculars than just its ratings. Nevertheless, if you like hiking in low-light conditions or anticipate doing some stargazing, you’ll most certainly want to look into binoculars with a higher aperture that can offer a wider field of vision. If you’re a serious hiker who enjoys taking longer trips that demand a heavy load, you may want to sacrifice certain functional features and save a pound or two of weight.

In any case, you should take your time to choose the most suitable pair of binoculars. Test out all the different options, set your budget, and find the best possible binoculars to bring with you and enjoy on all your hikes.

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