Best Hunting Binoculars on a Budget
Preparation is key when going out hunting, sometimes your success will hinge on how you react when your prey is nearby and how accurate you can be on the field. Accuracy won’t be a problem with a good pair of binoculars right by your hands.
We know, these hunting gears can get quite expensive but you don’t have to compromise anymore. We’ve listed down some of the best hunting binoculars on a budget.
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Things you need to know about Binoculars
We think that it is first important to get to know the basics of this valuable tool. Just a quick section to augment your knowledge about binoculars and a quick refresher for you veterans out there.
There are two primary things that you need to understand when it comes to binoculars, its objective lens diameter, and its magnification strength. Take this, for example, Nikon Trailblazer 8×25 Binocular, here you see the figures 8×25, so what do these numbers mean?
The number 8 on our example refers to a binoculars magnification strength while the 25 refers to the diameter of the objective lenses installed on them. Why are they important then? What do they entail?
Magnification indicates the power of your binoculars, some compact models come in 8x magnification power. Most consumer-grade binos come in 8x and 10x magnification. More expensive for more serious applications will come in 12x, 15x, and the military-grade 20x magnification. There are more powerful ones but we don’t need to talk about them at this stage.
Take note that 8x magnification will provide a wider field of view (FOV) and 10x magnification will provide a more closer and detailed look.
The objective lens diameter, on the other hand, indicates your binos size and then relative weight. Generally, lenses less than 30mm are considered compact binos, midsized ones come in between 30mm to 40mm, while anything more than that is considered full-sized.
What is a prism type?
Another important concept and element of how your binoculars work is the prism type. We will be talking about this, mentioning this term a lot of times in the course of this article so it is quite important for you to be familiar with it.
Simply put, the prism is the optical element that directs the light coming from the object you are looking at through your binoculars towards your eyes. You have the older Porro prism type, then the newer roof prism type.
Porro prism features wide barrels in the front and isn’t aligned to the eyepieces. See those bulky binoculars? Yep, those are Porro prism types. Modern, more compact, slim, and ergonomic binoculars that are widely used nowadays are your roof prism types. The eyepieces and the lenses of these models are aligned.
Why would you need Binoculars for Hunting (and Other Applications)?
Binoculars will always come in handy for a lot of different situations. We can bring it with us when we go sightseeing, backpacking, hiking, traveling, and even use it stargazing just in the comfort of our backyards.
It’s also built for more serious applications like surveillance or recon for the military and law enforcement. Did you also know that when on a pinch you can also use its lenses as a firestarter? Yep, the same concept as when you were trying to start a fire with your magnifying glass when you were young.
But most of all, these binos are pretty useful for hunters. Here are a few reasons why you should bring them with you on your hunting trips.
Scouting. Having binoculars in hand will enable you to scout on a longer than usual range. Many opportunities to catch prey have slipped away because they detect you when you are trying to scout them using your bare eyes which in turn is super close to them. Using binoculars would also yield more efficient tracking.
Higher Clarity. I don’t need binoculars, I have my rifle’s scope, right? Nope! While they offer decent magnification (and we are referring to scopes and binos at the same price) binoculars generally outperform these scopes. Plus, binos tend to perform better in low-light situations.
Shoot the right target. A great pair of binoculars enable you to calculate the right amount of distance you have between yourself and your prey or target. Comes with that is making that you indeed shoot the right prey. Clarity and accuracy are what these binos offer and that’s what you’ll be getting once you add them to your arsenal.
Binoculars Buyer’s Guide
Here are a few other things to consider when choosing your next set of binoculars.
Resistance to the Elements and Brightness Settings
As an avid hunter, you’ll probably be going to be in a lot of different situations and weather conditions that are sometimes unfavorable. It’s going to get rainy, muddy, foggy, and you might hunt in the day or during dusk or nighttime.
This means that there will be a lot of times that your binoculars need to still deliver much-needed accuracy and clarity even when it is dark. So get a bright pair of binos to accompany you. A model with more than 5mm exit pupil should work great in dim situations.
You should also consider waterproof binoculars (utilizing O-ring seals) and at the same time for proof. Some models are also weather resistant.
Lens quality and Coatings
We’ve discussed a little bit about lenses on the previous section so a few other things that you need to know is that these lenses should be multi-coated. The coating ensures that your lens will still provide clarity and also have anti-reflective capabilities. Also, some lenses are made with eco-glass that would in turn be good for the environment.
Aside from lens coating, we are also looking at models with rubber coating. As a hunter, you’ll be in rugged situations so rubber coated models will handle bumps and bruises like a champ.
Ease of Use and Magnification
The last few things that you need to consider is how easy to use and adjust the binoculars. We are talking about how its central control for the focus can be adjusted easily on the fly, a good working diopter, comfortable eyecups, with your binos secured in a case or an ergonomic harness strap for portability. You need them to be always strapped on you anytime, anywhere.
Lastly, for eyeglass wearers, look into buying binoculars with at least 11mm of eye relief so that it would be comfortable to use.
Best Hunting Binoculars on a Budget Product Reviews:
1. Nikon 7577 Monarch 5 10x42 Binocular (Black)
The first entry on our best-hunting binoculars on a budget product review is the Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 10×42 Binoculars. It comes in 8x, 10x, and 12x magnification power where pretty much all models are similar in terms of quality.
These cool binos are a descendant or should we say a rendition of a rather popular model made by Nikon, the Monarch ATB. Considered as mid-priced its reputation is not without any good reasoning. It’s a great band for your buck as its one of the best in terms of resolution or brightness in its category.
It’s also an ounce lighter than its predecessor and in general, is quite lightweight compared to its competitors given that it’s full-sized. It’s also now infused with Nikon’s ED or Extra-Low Dispersion glass for clearer, sharper, and brighter view. The lenses are made of eco-glass and are multi-coated with 51.3 degrees FOV.
It’s also quite durable and non-slip because of its rubber coating. It’s waterproof, fog-proof, and has a whopping 18.4mm of eye relief perfect for eyeglass wearers. It’s fit for both hunting, bird-watching, and a lot more rugged applications simply because it performs consistently in any situation.
- Great value for money
- Comfortable for eyeglass wearers
- Crystal clear clarity in all situations (wet or dry)
- Lens cap can use some improvement
2. Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars
Next up is the Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars which is an upgrade to the brand’s old Diamondback models. For years the Diamondback has been Vortex’s bread and butter because it’s not only high in terms of quality but it is one of the best in its price range (cheaper than the Nikon above).
Now, it is much better with HD attached to its name. It’s got a better resolution, produces better and true colors, cuts chromatic aberration, plus sharp and bright images. It’s got anti-reflective coating and the Armortek protects it from scratch or dirt.
It’s got comfortable and adjustable eyecups, rubber armor, is waterproof and fog proof, so when out hunting you need not worry about its reliability. The central focus also helps out in magnifying and getting an accurate line of sight to your intended target with functionality to adjust your IPD or Interpupillary distance.
It also includes a convenient Glasspak harness strap so you can take it with you without hassle all the time, especially that as a hunter you’re going to go up and down, and then back and forth a trail.
What’s surprising about this model is that the price hasn’t gone up at all. So all this awesomeness at a very affordable rate.
- Probably the best binos at its price range
- Crystal clear resolution and clarity
- Extremely portable
- Easy to focus
- The diopter adjustment is a bit lackluster
3. Vanguard Endeavor ED 10x42 Binocular
Next is the Vanguard Endeavor ED 10×42 Binocular. The very first thing you noticed on this model is how convenient it is to hold and handle. This is important when you are rushing to look at a target and you won’t fumble it as you do so.
Its weight is just about the average of all 10×42 binos, it’s a comfortable grip, ergonomic, and steady. The faux-leather surface feels good in the hands.
As far as the lenses are concerned, it’s got all the features that you’d expect with modern binos. It is fog proof, waterproof, multi-coated for high-resolution clarity, and colors, plus it works pretty decently in low-light conditions. The ED glass works quite well.
It’s also got good eye relief at 16.5 but people with a closer set of eyes may find it a bit uncomfortable to use. The focus mechanism on this model is also a bit stiff. It comes with a bag, lens covers, and a strap as its accessories.
- Perfect for eyeglass wearers
- Easy to handle
- Good grip
- Works in any condition
- Good clarity of an image
- Focusing on these binos will need some practice
4. Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars with ED Glass
Next up is the Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars which is also infused with ED glass. This also the bread and butter of the brand and it is affordable and at the same time top-notch in terms of quality.
It has a compact and lightweight design thanks to the Bak4 prism. The extra-low dispersion glass, multi-coated lenses, and phase correction glass ensure optical clarity in many situations. It’s also 100% waterproof and fog proof and has an eye relief of 16mm.
What’s also great about this model is its innovative BinoArmor carry case. Which you can conveniently carry with you wherever you may go. And what’s more perfect for hunting than binos that come in camouflage design! But it’s all that as it is also protected with a rubberized armor.
It’s tough, it’s reliable, perfect for that next hunting trip.
- Camouflage design is best suited for hunting and bird-watching
- Overall frame quality is good
- Great for eyeglass wearers
- Comfortable eyecups and tripod adaptable
- Can use a wider field of view
5. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binocular
This Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binocular has also been quite popular recently. Once again, a reasonably priced model that delivers great quality with 10 x 42 size.
This prism binocular is built with magnesium chassis which makes it durable and lightweight at the same time, two qualities that are sometimes not that easy to have (lighter than aluminum alloy).
It’s also quite easy to carry in extended periods which makes it ideal for hunting trips. What’s more desirable is that it comes in a sleek camo design. The ED prime glass is quite exceptional, it’s got ultra-wide band coatings, and water-repellant Rainguard HD lens coating.
It’s got a wider than usual FOV and also eye relief. It also has soft tough grips and is a 100% fog proof. The center focus wheel also turns smoothly and you can magnify like a champ. Lastly, it’s also a tripod adaptable.
- Strong light viewing
- Optical sweet spot
- Perfect colors
- Built to last
- Easy to focus
- Flimsy strap and lens cover is easy to lose
6. Steiner Optics Predator Series Binoculars
The next pair on our list is the stylish Steiner Optics Predator Series Binoculars. A bit on the expensive side but will still be well worth your investment.
Across the board, if you’d look like all these modern binos’ features this model performs quite well. The first thing that stands out is its Color Adjustment Transmission feature which amplifies contrast to help spot your prey fast and in any environment.
It also has a fast close focus that would require you to turn the knobs less which is valuable when you are out hunting. The N2 injection system makes sure it is for proof and works in any condition, dry or wet, hot or cold. Plus its ClickLoc system makes sure it stays with you anywhere you go or no matter how rugged it can get.
It’s got a thick rubber coating to protect it and nubs and ridges for easy grip. It has the right amount of brightness and clarity that you’d need in any light condition.
- Decent features all-around
- Good construction quality
- Best suited for hunting
- Easy to adjust and focus
- The eyecups design can be more comfortable
7. Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars
This Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars is a step up in terms of quality for the brand. Well, if the Diamondback model is the best cheapest binoculars then this is arguable the best dollar for dollar binoculars in terms of quality.
Is it more expensive? Yes, it is, also more expensive than the rest of the binoculars mentioned so far. But what makes it super affordable is if you compare the quality it brings on the table.
Users are saying that it probably produces the best image quality out of all binoculars under $500. It could be because of its advanced and high-density optical lenses with anti-reflective properties. It could also be due to its dielectric multi-layer prism coatings. One thing is for sure it yields bright, color-accurate, and clear images.
It’s is compact, has a rubber coating that can take on a beating from days and days of hunting. And its eyecups are adjustable for a better fit and comfortable viewing either you wear glasses or not. It also promises to perform on any condition as it is fully waterproof and fog proof.
- Arguably best value for money overall
- Superb clarity of image
- Tough and durable
- Easy to focus and adjust
- Innovative lens technology
- A bit expensive
8. Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 Binoculars
This Celestron TrailSeeker 8×42 Binoculars will probably challenge the Vortex Diamondback for the best value for money category in its price range. It’s definitely up there in terms of quality but we need to emphasize that it is also way cheaper in general.
Its Bak4 prism design with phase and also dielectric coatings elevates it to premium quality binos as it increases light transmission for brighter and clearer images. This feature also greatly enhances the resolution and the contrast yielded. It is also multi-coated with anti-reflective coatings.
Made also of magnesium alloy this model is also quite durable and lightweight. It’s fully waterproof, fog-proof, and ready to take on any conditions which make it suitable for hunting. It’s got a wide field of view and the eyecups are adjustable and the overall design of the binos makes it ergonomic. It’s tripod adaptable and the IPD makes it easier to focus.
- Super affordable
- Compact and lightweight
- No strain on carrying it with you all-day
- Good focus and accurate images
- Good eyecups design with 17mm eye relief
- No ED glass
9. Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 Binoculars
We reviewed the big brother of this product above and nowhere is the Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 Binoculars version. As we mentioned, there are very few significant differences with the models aside from the apparent objective lens size, but we’re going to pint out a few to help you make the best decision on what to buy.
It’s still got the premium multi-coated eco-glass which makes the images crystal clear, sharp, and accurate in color. The Ed or extra-low dispersion glass aims for a more brilliant view of your target when hunting. As always, the rubber eyecups will accommodate you comfortably.
It’s waterproof, fog-proof, and will stay with you in any weather or lighting condition. It also still comes with all the handy accessories. Remember, 8x magnification means it’s got more field of view and that’s one thing this model offers.
It makes it more suitable more not only in hunting in wide fields but bird0-watching at the same time.
- Better FOV
- The clearest image you can buy for its price
- Good overall quality build
- Easy to adjust and comfortable
- Lightweight and compact
- Can use a bit of an upgrade in terms of the rubber coating
10. Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars 10x50
At some point, you’d be needing bigger lenses and that’s where the Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars 10×50 kicks in. The 50mm version of the Vortex Viper this one promises a few beneficial variations.
Think about the terrain or area that you’re going to go hunting in, will you need a closer than usual look or maybe be hunting on a cloud day or darker situations? Then you need this 10×50 version of the sough-after Viper model of Vortex.
It still got all the features that yield crystal clear images, the promised durability, and at the same time the ergonomic properties. So you think you’d need this? Go grab one now!
- Probably produces the brightest image of all models on our list
- Still super durable
- Compact and lightweight
- Perfect for hunting
- Above average price point
Let’s list down a few more products for you to better see the value of the ones we reviewed but at the same time have an idea of how other binoculars are on a different spectrum.
1. Nikon Monarch HG 10x30
We’ve been talking about affordable or best for the budget binoculars so we opted to include some high-end or expensive ones on this section. This will give you a perspective of what you’re getting if you spend a little bit more.
This Nikon model is expensive but still a little below $1000. What does it bring to the table? Well, it’s got a larger field of view at 362 feet. At its size, it is relatively compact and portable as it’s got a small body and it is super lightweight. Its best lens quality is probably the cutting of chromatic aberration. Plus, we can’t emphasize enough how the lens is so sturdy and resistant to any damage.
It also comes with a semi-hard case that will protect it on your travels.
2. Celestron Outland X 8x42
From an expensive one to something below $100, this Celestron Outland X 8×42 is the most affordable binoculars you can grab that will still bring quality on the table if the budget is tight.
It is actually quite versatile and is best suited for the outdoors mainly wildlife watching, so rest assured that it will also work pretty well for you when you go hunting. With its Bak4 prism design and sturdy polycarbonate build, this one is a bargain.
The only downside is that because of its material and design, it’s not that compact nor lightweight, durability is also a bit of a question.
3. Canon 10x42L IS WP
Lastly, we present the Canon 10x42L IS WP which is on a $1000 price range. Take note that this is a Porro prism type so while it is bulky it offers clarity and stability of your images like no other, even the best ones on our list.
You also get durability that’s going to last you fr years and toughness that’s not only going to battle the harshest weather conditions but take on the beating of any bumps or crashes it may sustain.
And we need to mention that it’s very comfortable to hold and comfortable to your eyes. Also, it’s got the closest focusing distance of all at 2.5 meters. Premium binos equal premium quality and features.
You may rely on your hunting skills and experience but they can only take you so far. Great tools and devices can greatly elevate your game and at the same time enhance your chances of achieving success when out on the field.
These best hunting binoculars on a budget will give you flexibility on the get-go as they are easy to use and adjust. They are affordable so you won’t hurt your budget as much, and lastly, they are high on quality so you can be sure that they are accurate.
So, what are you waiting for? Choose either of our reviewed products now and elevate your hunting experience!