In this article, we’ll introduce some of the best binoculars for wildlife viewing that range in price and style. We’ll also give you some things to consider when selecting the best pair of binoculars for yourself.
Watching wildlife is an amazing way to pass time while also learning something new about our natural world. However, if you have ever tried to get a better look at an animal by getting closer, you have probably noticed that most animals prefer to be observed from a distance and can be quite flighty when approached. Luckily, we have tools such as spotting scopes and binoculars to help us get a better view.
Here are 5 of our favorite binoculars for wildlife watching.
Our top 5 best binoculars for wildlife viewing
In a hurry? Here are our top 3 picks:
- Premium pick: Swarovski SLC Series
- Best all-around: Vortex Viper HD
- Budget choice: Adorrgon HD Binoculars
1. SWAROVSKI Optik SLC Series
Best Premium Binoculars
For avid wildlife viewers and birdwatchers, binoculars from Swarovski are certainly among the best binoculars for wildlife viewing and a worthwhile investment in you want the best money can buy. This company boasts very high quality optics in a simple yet sleek frame. This series of binoculars offers three different models with magnification ranging from 8x to 15x.
Swarovski binoculars offer swarovision- which is the company’s signature quality lens that employs specialized lenses that allow for a wider view and clearer peripheral vision. Additionally, these lenses are enhanced to provide the viewer with clear, crisp color quality.
- Large viewing field (~62 degrees)
- HD lenses that allow for 93% light transmission and sharper colors
- Water resistant
- Rugged materials, resistant to wear and tear
- Up to 15x56mm magnification
While the sticker shock of Swarovski binoculars may scare some people off, there is no doubt that these binoculars are some of the best. Whether you are a hunter, birder or just interested in watching wildlife, you will not be disappointed with this product.
Swarovski also offers a lifetime warranty on their lenses, paired with a ten year warranty on other parts on their binoculars. This is a perk you certainly should not overlook, as not all companies will offer the same.
2. Vortex Optics Viper HD
Vortex optics makes binoculars that are marketed for hunters, however anybody can use these binoculars. The Viper HD line has four options ranging in size and magnification. The line starts with a pair with 8x magnification, and goes up to 12x magnification.
This line is a great middle of the road option in terms of price. They are high in quality at a fraction of the price compared to binoculars from Swarvoski. Their key feature is their high definition lenses, which provide viewers with a sharp view of whatever they are looking at from a fair distance. Additionally, they have anti-reflective lens coatings which give the best views, even with limited lighting.
- Waterproof and fogproof
- High density lenses that give edge to edge quality resolution
- Made with rugged materials and scratch resistant lenses
- Up to 12×50 mm magnification
This product is great for wildlife viewers that want to step it up but aren’t wanting to commit to a pair of binoculars that are upwards of $2,000. Vortex prides themselves on quality customer service that will help with repairs and servicing so that you can keep your binoculars in tip top shape.
When you purchase a pair of Vortex Viper HD binoculars, you will also get a glass pak chest harness that allows you to carry them in a way that you can access them quickly and effortlessly. The chest harness is also more comfortable than your typical binocular strap that goes around your neck.
3. Nikon Monarch 5
You’re probably familiar with the brand Nikon, known for their cameras, but they also make several lines of binoculars. The Monarch 5 series offers two sets of binoculars, one with 8x magnification and the other with 10x magnification.
Given that Nikon makes cameras with high quality lenses, it’s no surprise that their binoculars also offer the same. They are fitted with Nikon’s signature extra-low dispersion lenses that give users a sharper and clearer view. These binoculars give a high light transmittance and display colors clearly across the entire color spectrum.
- Waterproof and fogproof
- Apparent field of view ranging from 47.5 to 51.3 degrees
- Lightweight yet sturdy frame
- High Eye-point design which provides comfort for viewers that wear glasses as well as those that do not
- 8-10x42mm magnification
The Nikon Monarch binoculars are an excellent choice for wildlife viewers that want something both rugged and lightweight. Given that the Nikon brand is world renowned, you can be confident that you will be receiving a high quality product when purchasing from them.
Additionally, you’ll find that Nikon offers amazing customer service. With their products being covered by a warranty, you can send in your binoculars to be repaired, cleaned, or even replaced in some cases.
4. Bushnell Bone Collector Powerview
Similar to the Vortex optics binoculars, Bushnell binoculars are typically marketed towards hunters. Bushnell is well known for their affordable yet high-quality game cameras, used by hunters and wildlife enthusiasts all over the world. Despite being made for hunting, the Bushnell Bone Collector Powerview binoculars work well for anybody wishing to view wildlife up close.
One key feature of Bushnell Binoculars is that they are made to be adjusted quickly and effortlessly using an intuitive design. This will allow you to focus on wildlife that is on the move. Some binoculars require quite a bit of adjusting and fine tuning in order to perfect the image, which is not always ideal when trying to view moving animals.
- Rugged yet ergonomic design
- Easy to focus
- Multi-coated optics that draw in light- even in low-light situations
- Waterproof and fogproof
- 10x42mm magnification
This pair of binoculars is a solid choice for people that wish to be able to scope out and focus on wildlife quickly. They would likely be more suitable for someone wishing to watch marine life such as whales or dolphins or other large land mammals, as opposed to watching small songbirds.
This is the perfect pair of binoculars to throw in your backpack for a hike, or to keep in your car or boat due to how rugged they are.
5. Adorrgon HD Binoculars
Best Budget Binoculars
If you are on the fence on whether or not you think you’d like a pair of binoculars for yourself this pair of binoculars is a great place to start due to their price and quality optics. Granted, you can’t expect the same quality as a pair of Swarvoski binoculars, the Adorrgon HD binoculars boast powerful and clear magnification.
Another added perk of this product is that it comes with a small tripod and smartphone adapter. The tripod will keep your binoculars steady which is great for taking strain off of your arms when watching in a single spot for an extended period. It also allows for the user to set up their binoculars to take photos through the lenses using the smartphone adapter. This is a great feature that is not included with other binoculars on this list.
- Water resistant and fogproof
- Lightweight and foldable
- Up to 99% full spectrum reflectance that produces bright and clear images
- Can deliver a clear face from over 650 feet away
- 12x42mm magnification
Buying a pair of binoculars is a commitment, so if you are just getting into bird-watching or wildlife viewing, you may want to consider a pair at a lower price point before shelling out up to thousands of dollars on a pair. This product is proof that you don’t have to sacrifice quality- even when paying less.
6 things to consider when choosing binoculars
Seeing as the main function of binoculars is to magnify an image, the power of magnification is important to consider when picking some out. Magnification level is listed with a number followed by an x. Most binoculars are around 10x, which means they magnify an image ten times. While higher magnification may sound better, it can be more difficult to focus your image when the level reaches 12x and up. The level you choose should be influenced by your experience with using binoculars, whether or not you will use a tripod, and what you are trying to view.
2. Objective lens diameter
Objective lens diameter is indicated after the magnification level. For example, 10x42mm would be used for a pair of binoculars that magnify an image 10 times, with an objective lens diameter of 42mm. This value is essentially the size of the lens, which directly correlates to how much light will be taken in. More light often means a clearer, crisper image.
While most binoculars aren’t very heavy, it is important to take into account how much they weigh and how you plan to use them. If you plan to wear your binoculars around your neck for hours at a time, you probably want a lighter pair. Additionally, if you find yourself stopping and looking through them for extended periods of time, even a few extra ounces can cause a lot of strain and make your viewing experience less comfortable.
4. Field of view
Field of view can be measured in degrees or feet/yards. Essentially, the field of view is how wide your view is (in feet or degrees) from 1,000 yards. Lower magnification is typically associated with a larger field of view, while higher magnification typically has a smaller, but more focused field of view. For example, if you are interested in scanning large areas for wildlife, you probably want a large field.
When selecting equipment that is intended to be used outside, you definitely want to consider something that is waterproof or atleast water resistant. Waterproof binoculars typically have a very tight seal on the lenses, which also helps to prevent them from fogging up. The last thing that you want is to have your view impeded by fogged up lenses.
6. Eye Relief
One of the specs you may notice on binoculars is the eye relief. This measures the amount of space between the eyepiece and your eye, which is dependent on the eyecup size. Eye relief is especially important to consider if you wear glasses. Most binoculars offer adjustable eyecaps.
What can I use my binoculars for?
Binoculars can be used for watching wildlife, sporting events, concerts, hunting, photography and even astronomy and sky viewing.
What binoculars are best for bird watching?
While it all comes down to preference, most bird-watchers prefer binoculars with a wide field of view that allows them to scan areas for birds. Pairs between 7x and 8x magnification with lenses between 30mm and 42mm. This lense size rangs allows enough light in to see images sharply, while not being too heavy.
What do binoculars numbers mean?
The numbers you will see on all binoculars is their magnification power and their lens size, with the numbers displayed like this: Magnification x lens size (mm).
Are binoculars better than a telescope?
Both binoculars and telescopes have pros and cons. So “better” is relative to what you are looking for and what you plan on using your telescope or binoculars for. Telescopes offer stronger magnification, but are heavy and large.
If you are interested in stargazing, or looking over landscapes or otherwise static or still images, then a telescope is likely best for you. But, binoculars allow you to see clearly and up close in a diverse set of situations. Binoculars are also more portable, making them versatile and better for everyday use.
How far can binoculars see?
This depends on the magnification power of your binoculars. Some binoculars can return images from several hundred yards away, all the way up to over 10 miles away.
There are endless options when it comes to finding a pair of binoculars, ranging in quality, price and magnification power. How you select the pair that’s right for you will come down to how you intend to use them, how often you will use them, and how much you are wanting to spend.
Perhaps the best balance of price and quality is the Vortex Viper HD option. This pair offers extremely high quality optics in a rugged frame, at a fraction of the price of premium options. Not only that, but you certainly get your money’s worth when it comes to customer service.
However, if you are wanting something a little less expensive, then you can’t go wrong with the Bushnell BoneCollectors. These too are very rugged, but are lightweight. They are also easy to adjust and focus, making them great for beginners or anybody that needs to be able to focus their binoculars quickly.
The options above offer a diverse range of binoculars, with a pair for everybody’s price point. Hopefully after reading this article, you have a better idea of what to look for when selecting binoculars that are right for you, seeing as there are many factors to consider. Regardless of which pair you pick, you will definitely enjoy being able to see wildlife up close- all while remaining a fair distance away, giving you the ultimate wildlife viewing experience!