There are a ton of reasons that you could be looking into buying a pair of the best binoculars. Maybe you’re a traveler looking to be able to see some far-away spectacles of nature on a long hike through mountains. Or perhaps you’re going on an African safari and want to be able to see some of the Sahara’s greatest predators – at a safe distance, of course. You could also be a bird enthusiast looking to identify and watch some new species of birds.
But binoculars aren’t exactly a rare item, which means that there are a ton of them on the market today. So which one is the best? Is there a kind that can do it all or do you have to choose based on what use you have for a pair? We’ve got a list here that will answer your binocular dilemmas.
BEST BINOCULARS: COMPARISON TABLE
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HOW WE CHOSE OUR RATINGS
You might be wondering what we’re looking for when we add a pair of binoculars to our best binoculars list. We look for qualities we think you’ll find the most useful. You want a pair of binoculars that not only allow you to see things at a distance, but that provide you a clear image so you don’t miss a detail.
Also, you also want a pair that’s durable. Accidents happen and you don’t want your binoculars to break the first time you drop them. You also want water and fog proofing.
While you should be prepared to spend a decent amount of money on a great pair of binoculars, we also don’t want you to have to drain your bank account to do it. We’ll narrow down the list by keeping our choices under $$$. We look for all of these qualities through product descriptions, articles, and user reviews. Also, we do our homework so you don’t have to do as much work to find your perfect pair of binoculars.
10 BEST BINOCULARS THAT WON’T BREAK THE BANK
Now that you know what we considered when putting this list together for you, you’re probably eager to see what our choices are. Whatever reason you have for wanting a pair of binoculars, we’ve got you covered! Here are our top 10 picks for the best binoculars on the market that won’t drain your bank account, organized by purpose.
1. All-Purpose and Best Overall Binoculars
If you’re not sure what you plan on using your binoculars for or maybe you just want a pair that will be great for just about everything, we have a couple of top picks for you. Our number one choice for this category is the Nikon Monarch 5 Binocular. These multi-purpose binoculars have over 550 reviews on Amazon with nearly all ranking them at 4 or 5 stars. At $$$, they are well worth the money.
They are durable thanks to a rubber armored body and are both water and fog proof. Reviewers love these for their light weight, sharp focus, and clear imaging.
You also get the comfort that comes with buying from a big name company like Nikon. Our second top all-purpose binocular is the Bushnell Legend-L. Available on Amazon for $$ with over 40 reviews, these binoculars hit all of our marks. Bushnell is a big name in the binocular industry, so you can’t go wrong with a trusted brand like them.
The Legend-Ls are waterproof, fog proof, and light weight, so you can take them almost anywhere. Reviewers also praised these as being excellent for those who must wear eyeglasses at all times. We grant both the Nikon Monarch 5 and the Bushnell Legend-L binoculars 5 out of 5 stars for affordability, function, and overall customer satisfaction.
2. Birdwatching Binoculars
When it comes to birdwatching, you want a light pair of binoculars with sharp focus. Birds can be quick, so you’ve got to be able to shift your gaze quickly with binoculars that can refocus just as fast. The first runner up for the best binoculars for birdwatching is the Athlon Optics Midas 8x42, which you can purchase on Amazon for $$$.
With 101 reviews on Amazon that were overall extremely positive, it was easy to judge the Athlon Optics Midas as a great choice on a budget.
Reviewers loved how well they worked even in dark conditions and how great their field of vision is. They were also pleased with how lightweight they are, coming in under 2lbs. We’re happy to say that Athlon Optics Midas binoculars are also water and fog proof.
If you’re looking to save a little more money, we also suggest the Hawke Endurance ED for your next birdwatching excursion. You can get these for $$ on Amazon.
These lightweight binoculars have sharp focus, a wide field of vision, and are great for use in low light settings. One reviewer touted that they were great for viewing hummingbirds, attesting to their use for seeing quick little birds.
While both of these were close to our budget limit, their positive customer reviews and overall specs make them well worth the money. Both pairs get 4.5 out of 5 stars as the best binoculars for bird watching.
3. Safari Binoculars
When you’re on the lookout for the best binoculars for a safari expedition, you want a pair that’s durable and will allow you to see the most with the best clarity. You don’t want to have to get too close to anything dangerous just to make out the details. Wingspan Optics makes out first choice for safari binoculars: the Spectator 8x32. These are very inexpensive at only $ on Amazon.
Wingspan Optics Spectator 8x32 binoculars are not only a budget buy, but are also highly reviewed with over 1000 reviews on Amazon. Overall, customers spoke positively about the Spectators, highlighting their clear vision and sharp focus capabilities.
Many reviewers also enjoyed the fact that they could use their Wingspan Optics Spectators with their glasses on without any issues. To top it all off, these binoculars are durable and possess a non-slip grip so you don’t have to worry about dropping them even if the hot desert sun makes your palms sweaty.
We also suggest the Celestron Granite 9x33 if you have a little more money to spend. Celestron is another popular, trusted brand of binocular manufacturer and you’ll see them appear a few times on even just our list. Available on Amazon for $$$, a quick perusal through the 108 customer reviews will reveal more than a few pleasing features.
Customers reported that the Celestron Granites had great fields of vision and very sharp images. Celestron Granite 9x33 binoculars are also waterproof and very durable.
These attributed combined with the overall positive reviews and Celestron’s big brand name give them 4.5 out of 5 stars from us. We can easily grant Wingspan Optics Spectator 8x32 binoculars 5 out of 5 stars for their price, positive customer reception, and features that make them the best binoculars for safaris.
4. Stargazing and Astronomy Binoculars
You’re probably wondering why we would include a section for stargazing binoculars. Don’t you need a telescope for looking at the celestial bodies in the night sky? The answer is no, you don’t. Some people actually prefer to use binoculars instead of telescopes, including astronomers.
Who wouldn’t prefer being able to look with both eyes instead of just one? Our top ranking pair of astronomy binoculars is the Celestron Skymaster Giant 25x70. We told you you’d be seeing Celestron again here.
Not only are these great for those on a budget – they only cost $ on Amazon – but they are also very positively reviewed with nearly 3000 reviews written on Amazon alone. These water resistant binoculars please stargazers with their very far-seeing capabilities, great field of vision, and high magnification so you can see more details on your favorite planets and space bodies.
The only negative? Skymaster Giant is a big pair of binoculars, making them too heavy to want to hold up for very long.
But there is a solution and that’s the fact that they come with a tripod adaptor piece. And believe us; you’re going to want to put these bad boys on a tripod. With how inexpensive they are, however, you can purchase a tripod if you don’t already have one with the money you saved on the binoculars.
Another great pair of stargazing binoculars is the Orion Resolux 10x50. The Orion Resolux is at the top of our budget, but customers on REI had a lot of great things to say about it.
They are water and fog proof with great fields of vision. One customer wrote that he enjoyed that they had great eye relief and he could use them with his glasses on without a hitch. The Orion Resolux was also praised for having very crisp imaging and focusing on clusters of stars rather than seeing through them. We give both pairs of our best binoculars for stargazing picks 4.5 out of 5 stars.
5. Hiking Binoculars
Our final category is for our traveling enthusiasts who enjoy trekking through the wilds of the world. For hiking binoculars to rank, they need to be compact and very durable without losing much in functionality. You want to be able to carry them without adding extra weight to your packs, but you also still want to be able to see things clearly through them. Our first pair of best binoculars for hiking is the Vortex DiamondBack 8x28.
Vortex is yet another binocular manufacturer brand name that carries some weight to it, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that at least one pair of their binoculars made our list. At $$ on REI, these compact binoculars are lightweight and sturdy. They are also waterproof and fog proof.
Reviewers also listed them for having very strong clarity. If you need something a little less expensive, our second pair of hiking binoculars is probably for you. Celestron strikes again with the Nature DX 8x42 binoculars.
Nature DX binoculars are $$$ on Amazon and have been reviewed 455 times. Customers said that they offered bright, clear, and sharp images. They’re good for both daytime views and stargazing, making them ideal for camping as well as extended hiking trips.
If you need more convincing, they are also waterproof and possess rubber armor to protect them just in case you drop them on a rock. We give the Celestron Nature DX binoculars 4.5 out of 5 stars and the Vortex DiamondBack 4 out of 5 stars.
We’re sure our list is a great starting point for anyone looking into buying binoculars. However, if you’ve got more money to spend or you’d just like to look at more options, we’ve got a few tips for you. You don’t have to shop online to find the best binoculars for your purposes.
You can search in brick and mortar stores too, allowing you to test them out a little before you buy them. You can also ask customer service reps any questions you might have.
If you do want to shop online, make sure you read reviews before you make a final purchase. There are many sites where experts publish reviews and articles after testing various types and brands of binoculars. Some binoculars are very expensive, so you want to take advantage of the sources at your disposal giving you honest feedback before spending too much.
FIND THE BEST BINOCULARS IN THE MARKET
As we’ve shown with our top ten list of the best binoculars on the market, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a good quality pair. We hope that our list was helpful to you in your search, whether you use it to make a final purchase or as a starting point in your search.