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After this, you’re going to feel like you have eagle eyes.
Hunting binoculars are one of those must-have items that people often forego, and we can’t imagine why—visibility is going to either make or break your ability to bag game out in the wilderness.
It’s important to have a clear line of sight on your prey at all times, or at the very least, be able to spot them from a distance and make calculated decisions to move closer towards them.
So we’ve thrown together a list of the best hunting binoculars to get you ready for the hunt.
We’ve taken a look at different FOV settings, magnification, and answered some hard-hitting questions revolving around binoculars and your ability to see your targets in the great outdoors.
Don’t let your binoculars be an afterthought when you could have been prepared all along. It’s time to get fully kitted, and ready to bring home the bacon.
Our Reviews Of The Best Hunting Binoculars
#1 Bushnell Trophy Binocular Roof Prism System
Visibility is everything.
Your prey is likely able to see you, regardless of the camouflage and efforts at clouding your scent, so you need to see it first.
Bushnell makes it easier to spot them and remain far enough away as to not rouse their suspicion, thanks to their roof prism system.
As the best binoculars for hunting, the 10x42mm pair of camouflage Bushnell offers unparalleled quality.
Where others cut corners, they refuse to, such as with the lens. It’s completely lead-free, which is probably something you didn’t even know could be a concern for something like binoculars.
On top of that, there’s an agreeable 60° field of view, and just shy of 400 feet of distance in that FOV range.
Flip on the 10x magnification feature to see even farther, and begin marking your target from a distance.
The anti-glare design is shockproof and non-slip, so you won’t give yourself away from a gleam of light when you’re making precise movements with your binoculars.
It’s textured and feels excellent in your hands.
#2 Nikon ProStaff 3S Binoculars
Hailed as the best binoculars for deer hunting, Nikon took their love and knowledge of lenses and put them into this perfect hunting accessory.
You get adjustable eye cups that allow glasses wearers to use these with ease, even if you have a high prescription.
Nikon includes a carrying and protective case, as well as a wearable strap in your purchase.
You’ll even get eye cup and lens protectors.
Nikon made these as versatile as possible, but the fact that they don’t come in a camouflage (just basic black) makes them a little less viable for hunting.
The 10×42 package sits right on the median price point for a good pair of binoculars, except this has a twist: you get an added benefit that you usually only see in $300+ pairs of binoculars.
Nikon used alloy prisms to help refract more light, so you get a clearer picture.
Mix that with the very hair trigger adjustments (in the best possible way) for adjusting the magnification, and you’ve got the Nikon level quality that we’ve all come to know and love.
#3 Carson 3D Series HD Binoculars
What are 3D binoculars, anyway?
Well, they’re just a fancy name for high quality binoculars.
There’s nothing special about the 3D part of the name, but that doesn’t take away from the power behind these excellent binoculars.
With a standard 60° FOV and good range, you get a 10’ focus and outstanding clarity.
Carson is known for being premium priced, but is it worth the cost? Well, for starters, you get a lot in your kit.
This includes a lens cover, cloth, should harness system, and an armored carrying case. As for the binoculars themselves, you get ED glass, which is extra low dispersion.
It reduces the effects of the second color spectrum, making images clearer, especially in low light conditions.
But the price worthiness comes in at the long use eye strain relief.
Based on the way the eye cups are formed, you don’t have to squint and aim your eyes as much as usual, so you’re not physically
straining your eyelids and feeling eye fatigue.
As far as the physical design goes, the shock-proof exterior means that dropping this out of a tree stand isn’t going to cause any problems.
This is easily one of the toughest built pairs of binoculars that we’ve ever tested, and lives up to the Carson name just fine.
#4 Vortex Optics Crossfire Binoculars
To say that Vortex Optics made good hunting binoculars would be an understatement; these might be your new favorite pair.
You’ll see us rip apart certain binocular sizes in our buying guide below, but these have a special place.
If you’re using a gun to hunt with, it’s time to slap a scope on and get to hunting.
Yes, the scope could be used for seeing long range targets, but it doesn’t have the features that Vortex Optics offers, such as the multi-coated lenses that offer better clarity at long distances.
You’ll get a clearer image of what’s ahead, and identify your target well before you ever raise a barrel to pull the trigger.
It’s built for longer ranges, which means that the short range focus suffers a bit. It’s not minimized by much, but it’s still enough that it’s noticeable.
If you’re a master with a compound bow, this boost of long range visibility will help you stick your shots far easier, even when you account for wind speed and drop.
#5 Autosports 10×25 Folding Binoculars
At the bottom of the list, Autosports brings us a budget pair of binoculars that have some limitations compared to the other models that we’ve seen.
There’s nothing wrong with that, so long as you can expect to see a few less features. For one, the lenses are only a 25mm size, when usually you’re looking at 42mm at the very least.
Now this isn’t world-ending, but it will bring on eye strain and fatigue quicker than higher millimeter lenses.
From looking at the hunting binocular reviews, we were able to see a common bit of shock across the board, and we couldn’t agree more: the color is sharp.
They use multi-colored lenses to enhance what you’re seeing, so you get an extra layer of green to illuminate whatever it is that you’re looking at.
Despite the smaller lens size, you’re still only going to get a max of 9.8’ on the focus range. Usually with smaller lenses, you get a bit more focus, but that’s just not the case here.
They’re a quality little pair, great for beginners and designed with a durable enough shell to withstand short falls (six feet or so shouldn’t damage it).
Hunting Binocular Buying Guide and FAQ
What is the Best Magnification for Hunting Binoculars?
Magnification is important—it’s the whole reason we’re here in the first place.
You want to be somewhere in between a 7x and 12x magnification range. Anything less, and it’s not worth your time. Anything more, and you’re getting a bit too much distance.
In most hunting scenarios, you’ll be on the prowl for whitetail deer, pheasant, rabbit, quail, elk and maybe some other small game depending on the season.
The thing that these all have in common is that they’re easily roused by the appearance of a human. That being said, most of them have terrible eyesight.
For example, a whitetail deer has 120° vision, whereas most humans have about a 135° vision.
They have to really focus on one specific thing before they can fully see it, because they have 20/100 vision.
They also look with their nose, so they have to point their nose in the direction of whatever blur they’re looking at, and have both eyes focused to see it.
You can be fairly close to them. You don’t need birdwatching binoculars that give you 18x zoom.
Another thing to consider when you’re looking at magnification is that the farther the magnification, the lower the FOV becomes.
From 7x to 12x, you should have a 60° FOV, but that lowers as you climb the ranks of magnification.
It’s why a small vibration of your arm can make the image in a sniper rifle scope completely jostle away; it’s a very low field of view.
Why is Field of View (FOV) Important in Hunting Binoculars?
It defines how much of the target you can see.
The human eye has a natural FOV of 135°, which is a fairly big line of sight. That being said, it’s also not being magnified (unless you’re wearing reading glasses).
If you are, you can switch from using your glasses to having nothing and see a vast difference. Imagine that magnification, but tenfold.
You’ll see the best budget binoculars for hunting that have between an 8x to 10x magnification, offering a 60° FOV.
Field of view can also be determined by the width (in feet) that you can see at the distance of 1,000 yards.
In our product reviews, it’s why you’ll see the angles at X amount of feet.
So 1,000 yards (3,000 feet) from you, the width of the area that you can see will factor in to your binoculars total FOV.
Now the reason all of this is important boils down to a total of two things.
- You don’t want to nauseate yourself. It’s very easy to feel sick or woozy when you look through binoculars for a long time. A lower FOV will reduce the amount of eye strain and dizziness you may encounter while using binoculars. Think that the closest FOV to your natural eyesight will provide the lowest chance of getting dizzy.
- At a certain point, some FOVs are unnecessary. For hunting, you don’t need more than a 330’ FOV at 1,000 yards. Why? That’s plenty of coverage to see prey over the hill or down in the meadow. When you get into 12x-18x magnification, you’ll get less in your line of sight because the FOV is decreased even further.
What Should I Look for When Buying Binoculars?
The best hunting binoculars for the money aren’t necessarily going to be the best hunting binoculars for your needs.
It’s good to save money, but you need to know where you can cut corners, and what is just far too important to ignore.
If you drop these in the mud (which is known to happen from time to time), you don’t want to be left without a pair of binoculars for the rest of the trip.
Waterproofing comes in numerous ratings, whether they’re IP or IPX. The higher the rating, the more protection you have against moisture destroying the prisms in your binoculars.
Fog forms when moisture gathers on the lens during humid weather and adverse temperature conditions.
If your binoculars were in a cold car the whole ride to the hunting site, and then you bring them out into 85° F weather, fog happens.
Problem is, it’s detrimental to your visibility. Some lenses have completely fog proof designs, and they’re well worth the investment.
You need to pack as light as possible when you go on a hunting trip. You need room to bring back all that game, after all.
Every ounce counts, especially when you overlook a list of gear and see just how many things you’re bringing along.
Ultralight hunting binoculars help alleviate some of that total carry weight, but they’re also just easier to handle.
Lightweight binoculars also tend to be harder to drop, so that with a good textured armor will keep everything A-okay.
This defines how good your grip will be. External textures are what you hold onto the entire time.
It’s difficult to gauge this from photographs or supplied information, so this is something that you often look towards comments and reviews to get a real feel for.
To protect you from dropping or nicking the side of your binoculars. You’ll often see this referred to as armor on binoculars.
The chassis that holds the prisms and lenses in place needs to be durable and tightly constructed to prevent the prisms from jiggling around in the chamber anyway, so most brands go one step higher and make them entirely shockproof as well.
This helps against small and short drops, but there are some that could be dropped from a twenty foot tree stand and still be okay.
Not digital camo—real camouflage. Too many colors can make you look like a big sore pink thumb just walking through the woods.
Woodland and canopy camouflage should be on as many aspects of your hunting outfit as possible, from clothing to accessories.
They don’t make camouflaged bird watching binoculars, so you’ll be able to pick out hunting ones fairly easily.
Prisms and light reflection can get pretty complicated.
There’s tons of literature on different prism shapes, but the main one that you’ll see used across the board for hunting are roof prisms.
These offer the best light reflection for the magnification that you’re looking for.
They’re also designed to reduce or eliminate any amount of sun glare that you get, so you’re not just reflecting sunlight into your eyes.
It gets a bit complicated, but these are the prisms you should be looking for.
What is Better: 8×42 or 10×42 Binoculars?
10×42 binoculars are better for hunting.
That might be up for debate based on personal preferences, as we’re all different.
Nevertheless, you’ll see that most manufacturers sell 8×42 and 10×42 versions of the same model, and it’s because there’s this divide in the hunting community about which is better.
It might sound like a very minor difference, but it comes into play in different ways during application.
To figure out how to choose binoculars for hunting, you need to first identify what type of hunter you are.
Do you track? Do you set up a tree stand? How high up is that tree stand?
There’s a lot to consider.
Trackers and tree stand users that sit above 20 feet in the trees should opt for a 10×42.
This gives slightly better magnification for prey that’s farther away. 8×42 is good for 10-12 foot tree stand heights, as well as spotting smaller game.
The higher the magnification, the less you get in your line of sight, so small game almost exclusively require 8×42 binoculars.
If you’re wondering what all the fuss is over, it’s this: the higher the magnification, the lower your FOV.
The field of view dictates what angle you’re looking at. For some context, you have about a 135° vertical and 114° horizontal FOV.
That’s what most human eyes have. If binoculars displayed everything you can see right now, even in your peripherals, it would be a bit much.
What is the Difference Between Hunting Binoculars and Ones for Bird Watching?
There are quite a few.
For one, bird watching binoculars are designed to let more light in through 50mm lenses (where the standard for hunting binoculars is 42mm).
This allows them to see more vivid colors on the birds they are watching, and get an overall sharper—though not necessarily clearer—image of what they’re looking at.
But then you have hunting binoculars.
You need to be able to identify your prey beyond the shadow of a doubt, and that’s something that you can do with 42mm lenses, no questions asked.
As we discussed earlier, it can mess with your FOV.
With bird watching binoculars, you might not see anti-glare features as you do with hunting ones.
Anti-glare means that the body of the binoculars won’t reflect light, so you don’t give away your position to your prey with a little flash that hits them out of the corner of their eye.
Bird watchers generally don’t need this feature.
Hunting binoculars also feature no-slip grips, whereas birdwatching binoculars might just be smooth or have a very small amount of texturing.
Those are marketed to be aesthetically pleasing, whereas with hunting binoculars, you want it to be camouflaged and effective.
Spot Your Prey like an Eagle
Now that you know exactly what goes into a good pair of hunting binoculars, there’s nothing stopping you from getting a close-up and personal look at your prey from hundreds of feet away.
Most animals will either be able to smell you or hear you, so it’s important to have the upperhand before setting a snare or climbing up into a tree stand to begin the hunt.
Your hunting binoculars, regardless of what pair you get, should last you for years to come as an essential part of your hunting pack.
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