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The Best Binoculars of 2024

Whether you're birdwatching, route-finding, hunting, or hiking to a stellar view, the best binoculars can help you optimize your time spent outdoors.

Testing the Best BinocularsTesting binoculars in the mountains of Colorado; (photo/Mallory Paige)
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There are many ways to appreciate the natural world and many tools to help you do it. But, perhaps no piece of equipment is as rewarding and versatile as a good pair of binoculars. We’ve been putting in the hours with the best of the best glass for years now and have formed a pretty good idea of what makes a pair of binoculars worth it.

To help you decide on the best binoculars for you, our roundup has something for everyone. Even if you can’t find the perfect pair of binoculars on our list below, our buyer’s guide and FAQ sections at the end of this article include all you need to know when buying your next pair of binoculars. For side-by-side spec comparisons, check out our specs chart. You can scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for here:

Editor’s Note: We updated our Binoculars guide on May 16, 2024, to add an excellent pair of Leupold binoculars: the high-end BX-5 Santiam HD 10×42 Binoculars.

The Best Binoculars of 2024


Best Overall Binoculars

Nikon Monarch M5 8×42 Binoculars

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 6 oz.
  • Close focus range 8.2'
  • Eye relief 19.5 mm
  • Magnification 8x
  • Objective lens 42 mm
  • Field of view 335'
  • Prism Roof
Product Badge The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Clear, striking image — even in low light
  • Easy-adjust dial
  • Durability

Cons

  • An average close range of focus
Best Budget Binoculars

Celestron Outland X 10×42

Specs

  • Weight 2 lbs.
  • Close focus range 14.8'
  • Eye relief 18.2 mm
  • Magnification 10x
  • Objective lens 42 mm
  • Field of view 289'
  • Prism Roof
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Most affordable adult binoculars on our list
  • Durable design
  • A good option for bulk purchase or outfitting an outdoor program

Cons

  • Touchy adjustment knob sometimes gets itself out of focus
  • Binos don't hold up well in wet and rainy conditions
Best Binoculars for Birdwatching

Vortex Viper HD 10×42

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 8.6 oz.
  • Close focus range 5’
  • Eye relief 17 mm
  • Magnification 10x
  • Objective lens 42 mm
  • Field of view 341'
  • Prism Roof
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Close focus for birding, optical technology
  • Simple and elegant design
  • Industry-best warranty

Cons

  • Wear down with heavy use
  • Expensive
Best Binoculars for Hunting

Maven C.3

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 12 oz.
  • Close focus range 8.2'
  • Eye relief 15 mm
  • Magnification 10x, 12x
  • Objective lens 50 mm
  • Field of view 251-262'
  • Prism Roof
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • High-contrast image quality
  • Easily adjustable focus wheel
  • Durable design
  • Excellent value

Cons

  • Narrow field of view
Best Binoculars for Kids

Obuby Real Binocs for Kids

Specs

  • Weight 5.9 oz.
  • Close focus range Unavailable
  • Eye relief 10 mm
  • Magnification 8x
  • Objective lens ~28 mm
  • Field of view 378'
  • Prisms Roof
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Fun colors/designs
  • Can handle wear and tear
  • Strong enough optics to enhance nature observation for children

Cons

  • Not the most durable lenses
  • Challenging to adjust for younger children
Best Premium Binoculars

Maven B1.2

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 10.7 oz.
  • Close focus range 4.9'
  • Eye relief 18.1 mm
  • Magnification 8x, 10x
  • Objective lens 42 mm
  • Field of view 347-420'
  • Prisms Wide angle roof
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Best visual experience
  • Not as expensive as other high-end competitors
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Durable design
  • Comfortable to handle

Cons

  • Expensive for casual users
Best Monocular

Nocs Provisions Zoom Tube 8×32

Specs

  • Weight 8.5 oz.
  • Close focus range 9.8’'
  • Eye relief 9 mm
  • Magnification 8x
  • Objective lens Multi-coated 32 mm
  • Field of view 384'
  • Prisms BaK-4 roof
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Super-compact size
  • Built-in grip texture
  • Tripod compatible

Cons

  • Not as broad a field of view as binoculars
  • More susceptible to shaky hands
Best of the Rest

Leupold BX-2 Alpine HD 10×42

Specs

  • Weight 1 lbs., 12 oz.
  • Close focus range 13.5'
  • Eye relief 15 mm
  • Magnification 10x
  • Objective lens 42 mm
  • Field of view 342'
  • Prisms Abbe-Koenig
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Tough magnesium body
  • Field-replaceable eyecups
  • Built-in tripod adapter port for easy glassing

Cons

  • Eyecups don't hold position the best
  • Included binocular harness isn't the most comfortable

Celestron Skymaster Pro 15×70

Specs

  • Weight 3 lbs., 3 oz.
  • Close focus range 49.2'
  • Eye relief 17 mm
  • Magnification 15x
  • Objective lens 70 mm
  • Field of view 231'
  • Prisms BaK-4 Porro
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Large objective lenses gather light from night sky
  • Tripod and red dot finder mounts
  • Fully coated optics with BaK-4 prisms

Cons

  • Difficult to keep still while handheld

Nikon Trailblazer 8×25 ATB Binoculars

Specs

  • Weight 9.9 oz.
  • Close focus range 8.2'
  • Eye relief 10 mm
  • Magnification 8x
  • Objective lens 25 mm
  • Field of view 429'
  • Prisms Roof
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Compact
  • Budget-friendly
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Not the best in low light
  • Narrower-feeling field of view

Celestron Trailseeker 8×42

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 7.2 oz.
  • Close focus range 6.5'
  • Eye relief 17 mm
  • Magnification 8x
  • Objective lens 42 mm
  • Field of view 426'
  • Prisms BaK-4 roof
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • State-of-the-art optics for optimal viewing
  • Excellent balance of price and quality
  • Ergonomically designed for comfortable use

Cons

  • Focus dial can become weak or rust if not cared for properly

Vortex Diamondback HD 8×42

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 5.2 oz.
  • Close focus range 5'
  • Eye relief 17 mm
  • Magnification 8x
  • Objective lens 42 mm
  • Field of view 393'
  • Prisms Roof
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Incredible value for the quality of optics
  • Great viewing
  • Excels in low light
  • Excellent warranty and customer service

Cons

  • Focus wheel and right eye diopter are a bit clunky
  • Included harness is not the easiest to use

Carson VX Series 8×42 Binoculars

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 5.7 oz.
  • Close focus range Unavailable
  • Eye relief 17 mm
  • Magnification 8x
  • Objective lens 42 mm
  • Field of view 378'
  • Prisms BaK-4 roof
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Durable feel
  • High-quality image
  • Coated lens helps reduce glare

Cons

  • A little bulky

Nocs Provisions Pro Issue 8×42 Binoculars

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 6 oz.
  • Close focus range 6'
  • Eye relief 17 mm
  • Magnification 8x
  • Objective lens 42 mm
  • Field of view 429'
  • Prisms BaK-4 roof
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Compact without compromising optic power
  • Durable/ IPX7 waterproof construction
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • A bit heavy

Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 10×42

Specs

  • Weight 1 lb., 8.3 oz.
  • Close focus range 5'
  • Eye Relief 16.6 mm
  • Magnification 10x
  • Objective lens 42 mm
  • Field of view 341'
  • Prisms Multi-coated roof
The Best Binoculars of 2024

Pros

  • Tack-sharp optical quality
  • Diamond Coat 2 lens treatment bumps up light transmission and abrasion-resistance
  • Guard-Ion hydrophobic treatment on lenses is excellent
  • Oversized eyepieces

Cons

  • Lens covers aren't the highest-quality

Binoculars Comparison Chart

BinocularsPriceWeightField of ViewEye ReliefMagnification
Nikon Monarch M5 8×42 Binoculars$2901 lb., 6 oz.335′19.5 mm8x
Celestron Outland X 10×42$1052 lbs.289′18.2 mm10x
Vortex Viper HD 10×42$6501 lb., 8.6 oz.341′17 mm10x
Maven C.3$5001 lb., 12 oz.251-262′15 mm10x, 12x
Obuby Real Binocs for Kids$315.9 oz.378′10 mm8x
Maven B1.2$1,0001 lb., 10.7 oz.347-420′18.1 mm8x, 10x
Nocs Provisions Zoom Tube 8×32$758.5 oz.384′9 mm8x
Leupold BX-2 Alpine HD 10×42
$2501 lbs., 12 oz.342′15 mm10x
Celestron Skymaster Pro 15×70
$2603 lbs., 3 oz.231′17 mm15x
Nikon Trailblazer 8×25$909.9 oz.429′10 mm8x
Celestron Trailseeker 8×42$3001 lb., 7.2 oz.426′17 mm8x
Vortex Diamondback HD 8×42$2901 lb., 5.2 oz.393′17 mm8x
Carson VX Series 8×42$2001 lb., 5.7 oz.378′17 mm8x
Nocs Provisions Pro Issue 8×42 $2951 lb., 6 oz.429′17 mm8x
Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 10×42$10001 lb., 8.3 oz. 341′16.6 mm10x
Comparing Binoculars
You can choose from extra-large stargazing binocs to ultra-portable, everyday options; (photo/Mallory Paige)

How We Tested Binoculars

You don’t want binoculars to fail you in the field, and neither do we. At GearJunkie, we know how important crisp, reliable vision is — whether you’re scouting for a bull elk to fill your chest freezer come fall, spotting a bucket list owl, or glassing the night sky.

We tested over a dozen binoculars (and a monocular) to see just how well they worked for different uses, budgets, and even hand sizes. The littlest tykes deserve a good viewing experience, too!

Compare and contrast testing left us with the best of the best. We’ve focused the dials, taken them out in the rain, and maybe even dropped them a few times. We’ve put these binoculars through the wringer so you can, with confidence, too.  

Reviewer Kylie Mohr knows the value of top-of-the-line binoculars firsthand. As an environmental journalist, she has accompanied snowy owl researchers out into the field in search of the beloved bird. Weather conditions at the northeast tip of Alaska are no joke, even in the summer. Mohr spent long hours staring into binoculars looking for a flash of white on the brown and green tundra. 

Cold hands and biting wind made easy-to-adjust models extra important, and high-powered magnification was essential to find nest sites. Today, she tests binoculars on jaunts throughout Montana’s many mountain ranges.

Comparing the Best Binoculars
Comparing binoculars; (photo/Mallory Paige)

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose Binoculars

While similar in appearance, each pair of binoculars is unique. There are many different features and measurements to consider when trying to find the best binoculars for you. By working through our list and prioritizing your needs, finding the best binoculars for your needs should be simple.

We’ve also broken down the typical user profiles of binocular users to better assist you in determining which binoculars are best for you.

Binocular User Profiles

Birders

Was that a black-capped chickadee, or a red-breasted nuthatch? Avian enthusiasts need to be able to zoom in close and also hold steady to make a correct identification. For that reason, most birders settle in around the 7-8x magnification power, and around 40mm objective lenses. This provides the perfect balance between magnification and the ability to handle your binos without shaking.

For budget-minded birders, the Carson VX Series 8×42 Binoculars are excellent for getting into the hobby without draining the bank. And for more experienced birders with a steadier hand, the 10x magnification of the Viper HD 10×42 binoculars by Vortex won’t be too much to handle, and will allow you to really punch in close.

(Photo/Erika Courtney)

Hikers & Backpackers

Bumped, battered, and bruised — you’ll want your backpacking binos to be able to put up with it all, and not weigh you down in the process. Typically 8-10x magnification will get the job done outdoors, and an objective lens diameter of around 30 to 40 mm will keep things compact without going too dark.

Using a binocular that uses roof prisms will also keep the profile slim, at the cost of a slight ding to the overall optical clarity. We are constantly reaching for our Nikon Monarch M5 binos for shorter hiking trips, and when going extra lightweight, one of our favorite luxury items to bring along has been the Nocs Provisions Zoom Tube 8×32, which always becomes the most-oft borrowed pieces of kit we bring.

Hunters

Hunters typically want a bit more punch in order to really zoom in on their quarry, and 10-12x magnification is just about the way to do it. A large objective lens will also suck in the light in early-morning or late-evening glassing sessions, and around a 50mm setup should compliment the binoculars well.

The Maven C.3 series is offered in both 10 and 12x, and utilizes ED glass and multi-coated lenses, which helps keep things clear when viewing through dense brush. And if hunting is really your thing, going with the premium B1.2 model is your best bet.

Moose_Through_Binos
Pulling a tight focus is often in higher demand over viewing broad landscapes with hunting binoculars; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Concert-Goers

Maybe the nosebleeds were cheaper, but you’ll probably need a little help in getting the view you’re after. Compact binoculars reign here, as do models with a higher field of view, as you’ll want to see as much of the action as possible. Look for something with a magnification of around 8 to 10x, and a field of view of around 350-400 feet.

With a FOV of 429 feet, the Nikon Trailblazer 8×25 ATB Binoculars make an excellent pair of daytime concert binoculars (as the smaller objective lenses won’t capture as much light). For evening shows, the Nikon Monarch M5, while at a somewhat smaller FOV, will still make the grade.

Stargazers

No, not even the heavens are left out of the gaze of binocular users, and amateur astronomy can be greatly enhanced with a good pair of astro-binoculars — no telescope required. In order to collect the light necessary to hone in on your globular galaxy clusters, you’ll need binoculars with large objective lenses. The bigger the lens the better. 

50mm objective lenses are an excellent place to start, though the best astro-ready binoculars in our review, the Celestron Skymaster Pro 15×70, make use of 70mm lenses that really pull in light and open up the sky. A sturdy tripod mount is also essential for binos meant for space viewing.

How Do Binoculars Work?

Carson VX Series 8x42 Binoculars in Use
8x magnification, like from the Carson VX Series 8×42 Binoculars, fits the bill for casual use on hikes and snowshoes; (photo/Kylie Mohr)

Put simply, a binocular magnifies an image by utilizing three separate optical components; the ocular lens, the objective lens, and the prisms. These three pieces of glass work in concert to take in light, flip it, and project it for your viewing pleasure.

Those new to buying binoculars will notice a few significant numbers while shopping through different options. The magnification power followed by the objective lens diameter is the numbers you see presented as “8×40” or “10×42” and communicates very important bits of information.

Magnification

An 8x magnification worked dandy to punch in on this Icelandic volcanic eruption; (photo/Erika Courtney)

The first number is magnification, and is relatively easy to understand. This number indicates how many times closer what you’re viewing will appear to you. A set of binoculars with 8x magnification makes objects appear 8x closer. A set of binoculars with 10x magnification makes objects appear 10x closer. 

This magnification is thanks to the ocular lens, which is a concave lens that blows up the image that is coming into the binoculars from the outer objective lens.

Objective Lens Size

The second number, the objective lens size, is a bit more complicated. At a basic level, the measurement of objective lenses gives you an idea of how bulky the binoculars are to handle.

Perhaps more importantly, this number indicates the length in millimeters across the lens and, in turn, how much light your binoculars let in when viewing. Higher numbers mean larger lenses and more light, resulting in brighter images. Binoculars with smaller objective lenses are smaller and more portable.

Celestron Trailseeker 8x42 Binoculars
At a stated 8×42 magnification, the Celestron Trailseekers sport an 8x magnification power, and 42 mm objective lenses; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Prisms, Optical Coatings, and Glass Type

The final component of the binocular puzzle is the prisms, which are necessary because when light is refracted through a concave surface like the objective lenses, it turns the image upside-down. Prisms are used to right the image for final viewing.

Prism design can generally be broken into two subcategories: Porro prisms and roof prisms. Without diving too far into each technology, Porro prism binoculars typically have a wider field of view with better depth perception and more contrast.

It’s easy to tell if a binocular uses a Porro prism, as the eyepieces and objective lenses are offset. The Celestron Trailseeker 8×42 and the Celestron Outland 10×42 (as well as a few others on this list) share the same type of Porro prism and provide an incredible viewing experience. 

Roof prism binoculars are a more comfortable shape to handle, with lenses and prisms aligned inside the binoculars themselves. This allows the binoculars they reside in to be more compact, and more durable as the design is more stable. Because the design allows for some loss of light, special reflective coatings must be used, which makes these designs more expensive.

Nikon Monarch Binoculars
The Nikon Monarch M5 sports high-end roof prisms that are multicoated for stellar visual clarity; (photo/Kylie Mohr)

Optical Coatings

Lenses without optical coatings can bounce errant light around, creating a blurry and glare-prone pair of optics. These coatings are applied to both sides of the lens, tamping down some wavelengths of light and allowing for a clear beam of light to pass through them.

Optical coatings are applied in either single or multiple layers, with a multi-coat lens being superior optically. Prisms are also coated with optical coatings, with roof prisms receiving both a reflective coating and a phase-correction coating that ensures high-contrast images.

Glass Type

The types of glass used in both the lenses and prisms can also have a large effect on the overall clarity of your binoculars, and aiming for high quality here is also the best bet. Common formulations are BaK-4, also known as barium crown glass, or BK-7, a cheaper alternative. If a perfect view is what you’re after, aim for BaK-4.

Extra Low Dispersion Glass, or ED glass, helps to limit color defects that can occur when the light splits up slightly after passing through the lens system. This is a more expensive glass and is often seen in higher-end binoculars. 

Field of View

The field of view is a critical piece to consider when buying binoculars. The field-of-view measurement denotes the width you’ll be viewing through your lenses. Our favorite binos for birdwatching, the Vortex Viper HD 10×42, and our favorite premium pair, the Maven B.12, were especially notable for their crisp and clear field of view. 

A wide field of view offers users the opportunity to see more of an area, whereas a smaller field of view is more zoomed into a smaller geographical space. The relationship between objective lenses and magnification and binocular design, in general, plays into the field of view measurement.

The field of view is presented in either feet or degrees. Most high-quality binoculars have a field of view between 6 and 8 degrees, or 300-400 feet when viewing a spot 1,000 yards away.

If you wear glasses, it should be noted that binoculars with a wide field of view often have shorter relief and may not be the best choice.

Binoculars Field of View Grizzlies
We would far rather view these Alaskan grizzlies through a good pair of binoculars than up close and personal; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Optical Adjustments

Eye Relief

Eye relief is most significant to consider for those who wear eyeglasses, but applies to all binocular users who might not immediately understand that a small gap between your eyes and the eyepieces is necessary to see the entire field of view.

The distance you should have your eye away from the eyepiece typically measures between 5 and 20 mm. Eyeglass-wearers should seek out binoculars with an eye relief measurement long enough to accommodate their glasses, which is typically at least 10 mm. At 19.5 mm, the Nikon Monarch M5 has the most eye relief of all our favorite binos. 

If you don’t wear glasses but found the perfect pair of binoculars that happen to have long eye relief, don’t fret! Most binoculars have extendable rubber-coated eyecups. This serves as a correction and makes binoculars usable for both those with and without glasses. 

Interpupillary Distance

Everyone’s face is different, and because of that, you’ll need to set the distance between your eyes (or, the interpupillary distance) to ensure that the image you see is combined between the barrels. 

To do this, simply compress or expand the barrels of the binoculars together or apart until your eyes can comfortably see through both eyepieces. This will marry the two images together into one cohesive view.

Diopter Focus Adjustment

In the same way that pupil distance can vary, so can the actual focus between each eye. Because of this, dialing in the focus between the barrels of your binoculars is a surefire way to ensure you don’t get double vision during long viewing sessions. 

Most binoculars worth their salt will incorporate a diopter adjustment ring into the eyepiece of one barrel of the binos to accommodate for the variations in focus. To set it, first set the diopter ring (commonly on the right eyepiece) to zero. Then, view through the binoculars with only the barrel that does not have the diopter ring, either by closing your other eye or blocking it with your hand. Using the focus wheel, bring the image into sharp focus.

Once your focus is set in your non-adjustable barrel, then uncover the diopter barrel and use the ring to dial in the focus until it is sharp in that eye as well, while covering the barrel you’ve already adjusted. Once you’ve completed this, both eyes should be adjusted for a crisp, clear image from both barrels.  

Collimation

Binoculars are tools, and since a good tool is meant to be used, they can become knocked out of alignment from time to time. Specifically, the internal prisms can sometimes become unphased with one another, meaning that the image seen is blurred or doubled. To fix this, you’ll need to collimate your binoculars, which we assure is a much more frightening word for bringing images into alignment. 

To be clear, collimation is most often best left to the professionals, and consulting your warranty is an excellent first step toward getting your binoculars collimated. Collimation can also be attempted at home, but this is outside of the scope of this review.

Carson VX Series 8x42 Binoculars
Manipulating the eye cups on the Carson VX Series 8×42 Binoculars is easy, even with gloves on; (photo/Kylie Mohr)

Close Focus Range

Virtually all makes and models of binoculars prioritize focusing on objects in the distance. However, all binoculars are also capable of focusing on items much closer.

The close focus range on a pair of binoculars is the measurement given to the closest distance that a specific pair of binoculars can focus. This distance enables users to examine intricate details of nearby objects. This distance is at least 25 feet for most binoculars. The close focus range of higher-quality binos comes in at under 10 feet, with the Vortex Viper HD 10×42 having the closest range — 5.1 feet — on this list. Great for getting up close and personal with whatever you’re sighting! 

Viewing the exit pupil through the Nocs Zoom Tube; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Exit Pupil and Relative Brightness

The exit pupil is the small pinpoint of light seen in the eyepieces when you hold them at a distance. The larger the diameter of this pinpoint, the more light that is allowed to pass through. This figure is easy to calculate by dividing the objective lens diameter by the magnification power. For example, a pair of 8×42 binoculars would yield an exit pupil of 5.3 mm. This number can be used to compare binoculars and the relative brightness of the image they provide.

Binoculars vs. Monoculars

Is two better than one? It depends! Monoculars and binoculars both excel in different situations. Due to the singular nature of their viewing tube, monoculars can be smaller, more compact, and a good choice for users concerned about size and weight. 

Monoculars can also be cheaper. But if you plan on using a device for extended periods of time (observing a bull elk or watching a hawk preen), binoculars are likely a better choice. Staring with magnification on one eye and not the other with a monocular causes eye strain if done for too long. Binoculars also have a wider field of view. 

Nocs Provisions Zoom Tube Monocular
Packing deep into the Chugach Range of Alaska requires trimming pack weight, and a monocular is a great way to bring good optics with you without going over weight; (photo/Chris Anders)

Packed Size & Weight

Depending on your desired use, the size and weight could be key considerations. When you’re hiking and hunting, having the lightest pair possible will make trekking that much more enjoyable. We also like having a small pair handy in the car in case a good animal peeping opportunity arises. Our favorite compact binoculars for adults are the Nikon Trailblazer 8×25 Binoculars, Nocs Provisions, and the much pricier Maven C.3.

FAQ

What do the numbers on binoculars mean?

Binoculars have both a magnification number (or strength), and a size (the diameter of the objective lens), which is most often expressed as a combination of two figures, such as 8×42 or 12×50.

The magnification number is the first figure given and relates how much closer images through the binoculars will appear. For example, many of the binoculars in our review provide an 8x or 10x magnification, where images appear 8 to 10 times closer than they are.

Higher magnification numbers will provide a more punched-in view, but oftentimes can be more difficult to hold steady. We’ve found that an 8x binocular is ideal for viewing landscapes, and that a 10x can aid in spying small wildlife like birds.

The lens size ultimately tells you how much light the binoculars are able to gather, and can be thought of as the aperture on a camera. The larger the lens size, the more light can be allowed in.

(Photo/Erika Courtney)
Which is the best magnification for binoculars?

When choosing the magnification for your binoculars, you need to consider how you’ll primarily use them. As an outdoor site, we would recommend everyone to purchase binoculars with a minimum magnification of 7x.

Binoculars with high magnification, such as 10x or greater, are suitable for long-distance viewing. These are often the go-to choice for hunters and the most serious birders.

Binoculars with notably smaller magnifications — in the 3x-5x range — can be good compact options for ultralight backcountry use or viewing concerts, theater productions, and sporting events from the nosebleeds.

Which is better — 10×42 or 8×42?

Both 10×42 and 8×42 binoculars share a 42mm objective lens. This example, however, provides two binoculars that differ in magnification. One pair has a 10x magnification while the other has an 8x magnification.

As you likely deduced, the 10x magnification binoculars are more powerful than the 8x. This allows you to view objects a bit more clearly and also hone in on more intricate details.

While the 8x magnification lens may not be as powerful, it does offer a more stable viewing experience. This means users can more easily stay focused on their subject matter and need to worry less about maintaining a steady hand.

Both 10×42 and 8×42 binoculars serve their purpose, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which magnification will better suit your needs.

Are compact binoculars any good?

The best binoculars are the ones you’ll actually use. And oftentimes, that means going with a more compact pair. Luckily, you can get a packable pair without sacrificing too much.

The main thing with compact binoculars is light transmission. It won’t be too much of a problem during the day, but at sunrise and sunset, you may notice the quality of the image decrease.

Bottom line — if you plan to use your binoculars often or for important tasks like hunting or birdwatching, it’s worth investing more and hauling a bigger set. If your use is casual, a compact pair will work great.

One of our favorite compact binoculars, the Nikon Trailblazer 8×25 ATB Binoculars, easily fits in the palm of your hand; (photo/Kylie Mohr)
What strength binoculars do I need for birdwatching?

You can birdwatch with any pair of binoculars, and serious birdwatchers have multiple pairs in their arsenal. At a bare minimum, select a pair of binoculars with at least 8x magnification.

Binoculars of this caliber offer a wide enough field of view to find and follow birds without compromising the magnification needed to identify your avian subject.

If you’re doing most of your birdwatching from a considerable distance, try a pair of binoculars with a 10x magnification. While slightly shakier and generally with a smaller field of view, the larger magnification allows you to focus closely on the bird at hand and observe its most intricate details. As you become more experienced, you’ll likely discover the value of having various binoculars on hand.

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