The 9 Best Binoculars to Buy in 2018

See the sights up close with these top picks

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Buying a new pair of binoculars can be a daunting task, as you will encounter a wide range of models and prices. In order to choose the right pair, the key is to understand when and where you plan to use them. From there, you can better compare technical specs such as objective lens diameter, magnification power, field of view, and even prism type to narrow down your choices. Whether you are looking for a compact model for use in daytime outdoor activities or a full-size, standard model for serious bird watching and marine use, we have you covered. Here are our favorite binoculars for use in a variety of situations.

Our Top Picks

01 of 09

Best Overall: Vortex Diamondback 10x42

Combining excellent optical performance with ruggedness, portability, and comfort, the Diamondback 10x42 Binoculars from Vortex Optics work for a variety of situations. The optics include fully multi-coated lenses and phase-corrected roof prisms to deliver clear images with contrast and true color. With a close focus distance of 6.7 feet, you get plenty of focus range to better see everything from faraway scenery to nearby street signs or wildlife. The combination of 10x magnification and the 42mm objective lens diameter offers you a generous 330-foot field of view. The lightweight aluminum housing is purged with argon gas and sealed with o-rings to offer fog-proof and waterproof performance. For non-slip operation, the body of the binoculars, as well as the focus ring and diopter, are all rubberized. Also included with the binoculars are a carry case, neck strap, rain guard, and tethered objective caps.

02 of 09

Best for Kids: Think Peak Kids Binoculars

Whether for bird watching, camping, hiking, wildlife spotting, or just playing games, these lightweight Think Peak binoculars are perfect for kids. With 8 x 21 magnification and an objective lens diameter of 21mm, the binoculars offer a wide, 384-foot field of view (the width of the area you can view at a glance, 1,000 yards from where you stand).

Unlike many “toy” binoculars that don’t offer much in the way of real functionality, these binoculars from Think Peak actually work. Plus, they have lots of kid-friendly features like an easy-to-turn focus wheel, adjustable sizing that’s scaled for kids, and a grip that’s ergonomically designed to fit little hands. The whole thing, including the eyecups, is covered in shock-proof rubber that’s comfortable and protects both the binoculars and your child’s face. These binoculars come with a carrying case as well as a neck strap and lens-cleaning cloth.

03 of 09

Best for Bird Watching: Vortex Viper HD 10x42

With 10x magnification and a 42mm objective lens diameter, the Viper HD is a high-end, full-size yet compact binocular that is well suited for any bird watching adventure. The High Density (HD), extra-low dispersion glass in the lens, together with an anti-reflective coating, delivers edge-to-edge clarity so you can see every detail on the bird in question. And at 341 feet, the binoculars offer a wide field of view so you can cover more ground when searching for specific birds. Use the center focus wheel to quickly dial in sharp views, while the locking, right-eye diopter can be used to tailor the individual focus of each barrel to match that required by your eyes. The rubber chassis with thumb indents make the binoculars comfortable to hold for long periods of time. Argon purging and o-ring seals provide bomber waterproof and fog proof performance through any outdoor conditions. An included chest harness enables you to comfortably carry the binoculars all day while having them always at the ready. 

04 of 09

Best budget: Bushnell Legacy WP 8x42

Get your kids in on all the nature watching around them with this specially crafted pair of binoculars that for little hands. They can hold this pair for a long time due to its lightweight construction and compact design. They'll be able to view woodpeckers and hummingbirds alike with 10 times magnification with a lens diameter of 25 mm at a range of 380 feet at 1000 yards.

Parents love these because they are made with quality, come at an affordable price and have gotten their children really interested in the outdoors. 

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Best for Hunting: Zeiss Victory RF 8x42

The Rangefinder series of binoculars from Zeiss features a built-in inclinometer that gives hunters holdover values for up to six ballistics profiles. The rangefinder determines the precise distance of your target, up to a maximum range of 2.3 kilometers. With 8x magnification and an objective lens diameter of 42mm, these binoculars are best for daytime hunting adventures. The binoculars feature a measuring range of 3/4 of a mile or 1200 meters where physical and environmental factors such as temperature and air pressure are taken into account. Use Bluetooth to connect to your phone and synchronize with the ZEISS Hunting App and transfer your personal ballistic data. The binoculars have storage capacity for up to nine ballistic profiles which can be set up within the app. The binoculars are both fog-proof and waterproof, so will withstand even the harshest hunting conditions. 

06 of 09

Best Compact: Nikon Monarch HG 8x30

As binoculars get more compact, the trick is to minimize the loss of light transmission. Nikon has perfected this with the new Monarch HG 8x30 that maintains the performance specifications of the larger models but in a smaller size and nearly 8-ounce reduction of weight. ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass works together with a multilayer coating on all lenses and roof prisms to deliver a brighter, higher resolution image. The binoculars’ wide field of view at 8.3 degrees provides a sharp, clear view all the way out to the lens periphery. In addition to the center focus wheel, these compact binoculars feature a locking diopter to personalize the focus of each barrel. Waterproof and fog-proof, the binoculars will continue to perform in extreme conditions.

07 of 09

Best for Fishing: Fujinon Mariner 7x50 WPC-XL

The Fujinon 7x50 WPC-XL binoculars magnify at 7x, which makes them ideal for use aboard a boat or from the shore. The image remains stable even at high seas or when the boat is shaking. The 50mm objective lens diameter combined with fully multi-coated lenses delivers bright and clear images, even when used in low light. The a field of view enables you to quickly spot approaching boats or other water vessels. A built-in digital compass is visible through the eyepiece and can be used for navigation. The compass is universal so is accurate for both the Southern and Northern Hemisphere. These fog-proof, waterproof binoculars come with a floating neck strap in case you should accidentally drop them overboard. 

08 of 09

Best for Stargazing: Gosky Skyview 15x70

The Gosky SkyView binoculars are built for astronomy use with 15x magnification and a large, 70mm objective lens that maximizes light transmission for vivid star images in low light conditions. The large roof prism and multi-coated lenses deliver bright, crisp, and clear images of all those celestial bodies. A digiscope adapter enables you to connect your smartphone to take photos and videos of what you see — it is compatible with almost all brands of smartphones on the market. The binoculars can be mounted on a tripod for steady, hands-free viewing and photo taking. The binoculars come with a carrying case, eyepiece and lens protection covers, and a cleaning cloth.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Best for Both Day and Night: Orion Scenix 7x50

If you’re looking for a pair of binoculars that can be used in all kinds of lighting conditions, the Orion Scenix 7x50 is a great option. It has porro prisms made from BAK-4 optical glass for sharp, clear views, plus, Orion has coated the entire inside with anti-reflective coating so you get the brightest, truest images through the lens. This makes it a great model for nighttime and astronomical viewing, as well as for daytime use in full sunlight. Whether you’re looking to stargaze or birdwatch, the Scenix has you covered.

And just as it’s suited for all kinds of lighting, the Orion Scenix is suited for all kinds of rugged conditions, too. The housing is made of metal rather than the plastic used in many comparable models (so it’s super tough), and the rubber coating makes it comfortable to grip and helps protect against superficial scratches and bumps. The Scenix weighs 28 ounces and comes with a carry case and wide neck strap for easy and comfortable transport.