If you’re looking to make your hunting expeditions more efficient, it might be helpful to find a good pair of hunting binoculars. There are many different kinds on the market, all with different features and different price point. Which one is the best for you?
Best Hunting Binoculars for the Money
We have collected a list of the top 5 binoculars for hunters and created this extensive review.
Celestron 71422 Cavalry 7×50 GPS Binocular
These binoculars are rugged and tough, at a fair price (coming in just under $200 at the time of our review; the price may have changed since publication). They have a tough rubber shell that helps to keep the binoculars in your hands, even under wet and slippery conditions. There is a compass, a GPS, and a range finder built-in, which adds a great bonus for those who don’t want to buy those items separately. The eye pieces are comfortable and accommodate glasses well – definitely a good feature for those who need it.
We have field-tested these binoculars for bird watching, hiking, and fireworks displays, as well as for hunting, and they performed incredibly well. The lenses have a wonderful optical clarity, and the overall design is durable and designed for all-weather use.
Customers should be warned that Celestron’s quality control is not always the greatest, although their customer service team is willing to accommodate the return process for exchanges in order to make it right. Most of the time, they get it right the first time, but please make sure you order enough ahead of time that you can determine if any exchanges will be necessary.
Bottom Line: When it’s good, it’s great – but there are some issues with defective products getting through sometimes. For the money, though, it may be worth it to allow extra time.
Vanguard Orros Compact Waterproof Binoculars
Coming up next, we have the Vanguard Orros (8×25 and 10×25, both under $100). These should be considered a cheap binocular set – they will hold up if you can’t afford better, but if you are used to higher-end models, these will likely leave you disappointed. They are slightly lacking in power and light gathering, but their strength is definitely in the waterproof design.
These binoculars are compact, rugged, and definitely live up to the claims of waterproof construction – you could even drop them in a puddle without the water seeping through (although we wouldn’t recommend pushing it if it’s not necessary). We found that they performed better for viewing sporting events than they did out in the brush, but they could make a reliable back-up pair if necessary.
Unfortunately, in terms of overall appeal, we didn’t find that these added anything in particular in terms of hunting preparation, and while they would be an upgrade over not having any binoculars at all, they are definitely at the low end in terms of market quality. Additionally, they may have to be manually adjusted after you receive them.
Bottom Line: For the price, most customers are satisfied, but if you can afford something higher end, you’ll want to get them instead. These are rugged and will take a beating, but the image quality leaves something to be desired.
Eagle Optics Shrike 8×42 Roof Prism Binoculars
For just a little more than the Vanguard Orros, we have the Eagle Optics Shrike binoculars. These are also in the under $100 bracket, but with a 97% customer satisfaction rating – the few extra dollars can make quite a difference! During the day, the image quality is excellent, and we found these to be the best all-around binoculars for beginners. If you can afford the price difference between the Vanguards, these definitely outperform.
One of our favorite features about the Eagle Optics was that they’re easy to adjust for your glasses – not always the easiest find in budget binoculars. They are a bit heavy, so those who are used to more compact binoculars may need time to adjust to the extra weight, but we liked how they felt in our hands. There may be a bit of neck strain if you use a neck strap for too long.
The only real complaint we had with these binoculars was that the focus wheel takes a bit to master; it can be difficult to precisely adjust before the animal you’re watching has moved. This is likely just an issue of getting comfortable with it, though, as all new tools take some time to get used to.
Bottom Line: Wonderful entry-level binoculars without any fancy frills or extra features. If you want something simple, durable, and cheap, these are the best.
Celestron 71404 TrailSeeker Binoculars
This isn‘t the first Celestron binocular set we‘ve reviewed, but we did find that these ones offer some improvements over the budget entry. These are lightweight, come with multiple carrying accessories (an unexpected bonus), and 17mm eye reliefs. Generally, these binoculars are built on comfort, but they provide a great deal of features as well, with all configurations falling under $300 – many under $200. (There are four total options for the TrailSeekers.)
These binoculars offer fully multi-coated lenses, a wide field of view, and an 8.1 degree angular field, making for an incredible view when compared to some of the less expensive models on our list. They do represent a significant price jump, but this is one of those situations where you get what you pay for – the extra cost is easily made up by the different carrying options available.
Our only discovered downside of these products: Celestron’s notorious quality control slips. That being said, the quality of the ones that aren’t defective are wonderful, and if you don’t mind the potential of having to return them to the manufacturer, most customers receive a great product the first time.
Bottom Line: Exceptional mid-range binoculars, but with some quality control issues – allow for a little extra time in case the first item you receive is defective. The company will work to make it right and send you a good pair. (Although we really do wish they’d check them better the first time!)
Leica 10×42 Geovid HD-B Laser Range Finding Binocular
If budget is no concern to you and you want to buy one pair of binoculars that will outperform everything else on the market, the Leica Geovid binoculars are a high-quality (but high-ticket) pair that will blow you away. Although the price tag is close to the mid-4-digit range, these binoculars make everything else seem like a toy.
The laser range finder is able to track targets at nearly 2,000 yards – with a near-instant reading. The targeted display is easily visible in any lighting conditions and it can even automatically accommodate for temperature, pressure, and incline. The LED displays are shown in the right ocular tube, as opposed to Swarovski and other similar models that show in the left side. For those who are right-eye dominant or have specific sight problems with the left eye, this little detail is an essential perk – although those who are left-eye dominant may find problems with it.
In our opinion (as right-eye dominant hunters) these binoculars are leagues above all the rest, and while the high price tag may intimidate some, those who want the best of the best will settle for nothing less – and these Leicas are the highest performing binoculars we have ever had the pleasure of trying.
Bottom Line: If you have a top-of-the-line budget and want a top-of-the-line set of binoculars, nothing else comes close to these Leicas (in either regard). They are significantly more expensive than anything else on our list (more than 10x as expensive) but they have every feature you could ever dream of, in a sleek and attractive package.
As with any other online purchase, there are a number of things you must take into consideration before making a final decision. We have tried to make note of each of these within our reviews, but you should always double-check with the product’s description before making a final purchase decision.
Generally, the more expensive the binoculars are, the more features they will have. It’s important that you keep your own budget in mind to make sure you’re not buying more features than you can afford.
Durability and Design
Depending on your specific needs, you will need to find a set of binoculars with an appropriate design for you. For example, some may have a rubberized coating to help protect from drops. Some may have argon or nitrogen gas inside to help keep the lenses from fogging or gathering condensation. Some may even have a camouflage exterior to help keep you from being seen. However, none of these is considered “essential”, and you should think of your personal preferences as they compare to your budget.
Objective Lens Size
The larger the objective lens size, the better the binoculars will perform in low-light conditions. As many hunters like to go out early in the morning and/or stay out later, you will need to ensure you choose binoculars that will perform adequately in these conditions. The binoculars may or may not have other features that help to accommodate lower light conditions as well.
Special Lens Coatings
Certain specialty hunting binoculars come with special lens coatings to help block out greens and blues, to help make wildlife (and other browns) become more visible.
Range Finder Features
There also exist certain specialty hunting binoculars that have built-in range finding features. These may be more expensive than using a separate range finder, but they can help save precious time by preventing the need to switch back and forth.
Eye cups serve to keep extra light out of the eyes while using the binoculars. They also help to assist the eye reliefs in keeping your eyes comfortable. There are two primary types of eye cups: roll-up rubber cups, and slide-out cups. There are other designs, as well as different shapes, and it will be up to you to determine which will be best for your personal situation.
The eye relief is of particular importance to those who will be using glasses, as the distance between your eye and the ocular lenses will be further. Simply put, this relief is the distance between the eye cup and the inner ocular lens, and is the “working distance” that you must be able to focus.
Magnification and Field of View
While you would expect that a higher magnification would mean a better binocular, this is not necessarily the case for hunting. Your ideal magnification level will depend on the type of terrain you frequent. Those who hunt forests and woods would be best to choose a low magnification level with a large field of view. Those who frequently hunt in mountains and open areas will require a stronger magnification, but they should expect to compromise their field of view. Generally, the higher the magnification, the narrower the field of view.
Especially if you are unable to see a particular set of binoculars in your local store, you must rely on reviews from other customers. It’s best to look for reviews from verified purchases when possible. If the binoculars have lower scores, you should check those with lower ratings to see if the drawbacks are things that are important to you – not everyone has the same needs, and something that disappointed someone else may not bother you.