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While a bow or rifle are essential to hunting, just as important for a successful and fun experience are a good pair of binoculars. You will be able to see nuances in terrain, spot rubs and game trails, and scout for animals at a distance beyond what you can see with your naked eye. Not only do binoculars help you find your target, but they also help you make sure it’s the right target.
Depending on the type of hunting you do, specifications like magnification and objective lens diameter can make a big difference. Some other things to take into consideration include price, compactness, whether you're hunting in low light, and more. To help you find the right pair for you, we rounded up the best binoculars for a variety of hunting situations.
Best Overall: 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 1,200 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 for up to nine ballistic profiles that can be set up within the app. The binoculars are both fogproof and waterproof, so they will withstand even the harshest hunting conditions.
Best Budget: Bushnell PowerView 10 x 50
With a large, 50 mm objective lens, these PowerView binoculars from Bushnell soak up plenty of light for detailed viewing even at dawn and dusk. Layer upon layer of anti-reflective coating on all the glass surfaces help further deliver bright, high-contrast images. The 10x magnification and 341-foot field of view mean you can rapidly scan areas for deer or other targets, even at some distance. Intermediate to long-range observations with Powerview binoculars are assisted by Bushnell's InstaFocus system, which gives you focused images of all objects beyond your set focus area. This means you won’t miss that deer grazing further along from your original search area.
The housing is covered in a Realtree AP camouflage, non-slip rubber that stands up to those occasional drops while and provides a firm grip. While not the lightest at 1.6 pounds, these binoculars will stand up to years of use.
Best for Woods: Nikon Prostaff 3S 8 x 42
The Prostaff 3S make a great binocular for those who mostly hunt in the woods and forests, thanks to its lower magnification that offers a wide, 378-foot field of view and gathers plenty of light via the 42 mm objective lens diameter. In terms of optics, prisms with high-reflectivity, silver-alloy, mirror coating and multilayer-coated lenses work together to deliver bright and clear images. The binoculars offer a close focus of 10 feet so you can see greater detail. At 19.9 ounces and dimensions of 6 x 5.1 x 2.0 inches, the binoculars are small and lightweight for their class.
The long eye relief design ensures a clear field of view without vignetting, even for eyeglass wearers. Also, turn-and-slide rubber eyecups with multi-click are provided to make it easy to position the user's eyes at the appropriate eyepoint. The rugged rubber-armored coating provides a non-slip grip, even in the wettest conditions. The binoculars are waterproof and fog-free, thanks to O-ring seals and nitrogen gas.
Best for Deer Hunting: Vortex Diamondback 10 x 50
The large 50 mm objective lens diameter and the fully multi-coated lenses on the Vortex Diamondback binoculars deliver super bright images, even in low light conditions. The brand’s extra-low dispersion glass (ED glass) delivers a crisp, clear image without a lot of aberration and the 315-foot field of view lets you cover tons of ground to quickly zero in on your target with ease.
Twist out, adjustable eyecups enable you to set the eye relief — useful if you wear glasses. O-ring seals and argon gas purging guarantee both waterproof and fogproof performance in all types of conditions. The center focus wheel adjusts both barrels simultaneously, while the right side locking diopter can be used to customize the focus to match your individual eye requirements.
The rubberized housing adds a level of durability and delivers a non-slip grip when used in hot or wet conditions. They come with a carrying case and padded neck strap that attaches to the eyecup covers. The binoculars also include fold-down barrel side covers to protect the lenses.
The 10x magnification means these are a bit on the heavy side at just under two pounds, but the extra magnification will help you quickly dial in your aim. The binoculars are tripod adaptable, and Vortex offers a VIP unlimited lifetime warranty should something go horribly wrong.
Best for Bow Hunting: Vortex Fury HD 10x42
Spot your trophy and range it within seconds using Vortex's dual-purpose Fury HD 10x42 Rangefinding Binoculars. The multi-coated lenses and 42 mm objective lens diameter work to deliver bright images of targets from nine to 1,000 yards, and even further if they are reflective targets. The laser rangefinder shows you both line-of-sight range, as well as angle-compensated range, which is useful for both bow and rifle shooters. When in scan mode, the rangefinder delivers continual distance readings as you pan across the landscape or track a moving animal in the wide, 315-foot field of view.
Right-side controls are simple to use and easily manipulated with a single hand – leaving your other hand free to hold your bow. The rubberized housing provides a non-slip grip while protecting the binoculars from damage. The binoculars are nitrogen gas purged for water- and fogproof performance in all kinds of weather. Eyecups twist up and down for comfortable viewing whether you are wearing eyeglasses or not. The center focus wheel adjusts both binocular barrels at the same time, while the left-eye diopter adjusts for the difference in each of your eyes. The binoculars are tripod adaptable or can be mounted in your car window.
Best Compact: Swarovski CL 10X25 Pocket Binoculars
The CL Pocket 10x25 binoculars from Swarovski may fold up small enough to fit in your pocket, but they deliver full-size performance. The 294-foot field of view is large for such a compact pair and the minimum focus distance sits at an impressive 8.2 feet. Weighing only 12.3 ounces, the binoculars are incredibly portable. While the 8x magnification and 25 mm objective lens diameter mean these are best used for daylight hunting adventures, the high quality, fully multi-coated optics deliver bright, high-contrast images.
The twist-up hypoallergenic eyecups and 17 mm eye relief make for comfortable viewing, even for those who wear glasses. An easy-to-operate focusing wheel lets you quickly dial in your target area. The water-sealed aluminum housing and anti-fog nitrogen ensure the binoculars deliver a reliable, shock-resistant performance in extreme temperatures and driving rain.
The CL Pocket series comes with a carrying case that has a zippered closure, separate accessory pocket, belt loop, strap, and ripstop nylon interior lining.
Best for Low Light: Steiner ShadowQuest 8X56
The ShadowQuest binoculars from Steiner are built to help you find animals at the edges of daylight when they are most active. The large, 56 mm objective lens diameter and the Steiner's Diamond Night lens coating use rare-Earth materials work together to deliver virtually all available light to your eye. Instead of a center focus wheel, the binoculars let you focus each eyepiece to your vision once, then keep images razor sharp from 20 yards to infinity. The 8x magnification delivers an impressive 441-foot field of view for quickly scanning an area. Winged eyecups block all-day light, helping to make views brighter and sharper. The binoculars are nitrogen-filled and O-ring sealed to be waterproof to a depth of 16-feet, and resistant to internal fogging in extreme environments.
Best for Rifle Hunting: Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 15x56
Useful in wide-open territories (like out West), the powerful BX-5 Santiam HD binoculars are made for all-day sessions of searching for faraway prey. At 15x magnification, you will be able to easily count the points your buck, but you’ll most likely need a tripod or rest to keep that image steady. Roll up eyecups have specific stops to accommodate eyeglass wearers. The large central focus ring enables you to focus both binocular barrels simultaneously, while the right side locking diopter adjusts for individual eye characteristics.