As adventure season arrives, it’s the perfect time to get your gear in order. You have the boots, rain shell, and bag, but do you have binoculars? A good pair of binos literally gives you a whole new perspective and is an essential (but often overlooked) item for any outdoorsman. We’ve compiled a few choices and some of the pertinent specs to look for before purchasing you next pair. Here’s your guide to the best binoculars for your summer adventures.
Understanding the Numbers
Like any great piece of gear, purchasing a pair of binoculars with a specific use in mind is the best way to get the right pair. Regardless of use, two of the most important factors are clarity and brightness. If a pair is described as 8×32, the eight is the magnification power and the thirty-two is the objective lens diameter (size of the lenses). The power describes how large a distant object will appear and the lens size corresponds with how bright and clear the object is going to appear.
What Else to Consider
While the power and brightness are the most important specs, there are other features to consider. Field of view is measured in degrees and indicates the width of the viewing field. Another important feature is image stabilization. Typically found on higher end binoculars, image stabilizers account for your hand movement and help make the image stable. A great feature if you’re planning on using the binos on a vehicle or moving object. Coated lenses and rangefinders are also two nice features. A coated lens is a sign of a well-made piece of glass and a rangefinder is a great tool for sporting enthusiasts.
The final thing to consider is use. Binos can be a very specialized tool, so the features you want and need really depend on how you’re going to use them. Need a pair for your upcoming safari? Portability and image stabilization should be on top of the list. Taking a pair up to the observatory this weekend? Power and brightness should trump everything else.
Celestron 71333 Nature DX
This pair is a great value pick that gives multiple options for power and brightness. They are water and fog proof and deliver a solid image for the price. $140
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binoculars
One of the highest rated pair of binos on the market, this Bushnell model provides a number of features, especially considering the price. A nice value considering the quality of the optics and the ultra-wide field of view. $229
Steiner 2444 Predator Binoculars
A great choice for excellent optics and durability, Steiner is a company known to consistently produce high quality products. They are one of larger/heavier pairs on the list, but that con comes with multiple pros. $340
Leupold BX-3 Mohave
Leupold is another company with a long history of quality and innovation and their BX-3 model is a leading example. A lightweight open bridge design makes them easy to hold and the optics are bight and clear thanks to a proprietary lens coating, a great multi-use choice. $349
Vortex Viper HD
One of the highest rated binoculars on the market, the Vipers are made in Japan and pack incredibly clear optics and a tough housing that can withstand abuse. A lifetime warranty is another feature rounding out one of the most complete models on the market. $565
Leica Ultavid BCR
A bino created specifically for the jet-setting demographic, Leica has engineered one of the lightest pairs on the market without compromising image or build quality. $750
Leica, one of most widely respected optics producers, makes the Trinovid, a model that has been around for a long time and is a favorite of wildlife enthusiasts due to the superior optics and clarity of the glass. $1,500
Carl Zeiss Optical Victory RF Binoculars
If you need all the toys, and a brand synonymous with image quality, this is the perfect pair. A laundry list of features includes a laser rangefinder, fluoride glass, and top of class field of view. $3,000