Whether you’re exploring night skies, scouting routes, or observing wildlife, binoculars are a staple in your gear. If you don’t own a pair yet, it can be confusing going through exhaustive lists of recommended models. To help you out, we’ve narrowed down ours to the best binoculars for the five categories that matter. Here, you’ll see reliable pairs from Nikon, Celestron, Vortex, and Opticron. We’ve also provided quick looks at their key specifications and give you the lowdown on their pros and cons. Read below to find out the binos that suit you.
Best Binoculars Comparison Chart
Best Binoculars For The Money
Nikon’s PROSTAFF 3S binoculars boast excellent build quality and viewing clarity for a price point that’s hard to beat.
The Nikon PROSTAFF 3S isn’t just our recommendation for the best overall binoculars. The pair, in fact, ranks highly in many other listicles and is consistently praised across countless user reviews. It’s hard to argue against it, though. Nikon’s best-selling 10×42 binoculars are well-built and affordable while delivering clear and crisp images. Its award-winning design includes a rubber-armored coating, nitrogen waterproofing, and an O-ring seal.
Beyond the rugged exterior, however, are binoculars that use reflective, multilayer coating for clear views. With it, you get bright images that, while not on par with more premium binoculars, are excellent for the price point. For daytime viewing in the great outdoors, most people will be pleased. Plus, these binoculars are fairly lightweight, making them a handy companion you’d want to bring all the time. All these help the Nikon PROSTAFF 3S deliver bang for your buck.
Weight: 575g | Eye Relief: 15.7mm | Objective Diameter: 42mm | Magnification: 10x
- Stunningly sharp images for its price
- Intuitive and user-friendly design
- Not as impressive in low-light conditions
Best Binoculars For Wildlife Viewing
The Vortex Optics Viper HD offers stunning and color accurate images ideal for wildlife viewing.
While marketed for hunters and shooters, Vortex Optics Viper HD is also great when it comes to wildlife viewing. These premium binoculars sport 50mm objective lenses that make for generous light-gathering. As a result, you get high-definition images even under challenging, low-light conditions. Users spotting local wildlife at dusk or dawn will definitely appreciate these binos.
The Viper HD’s multi-layer prism coatings also help reproduce accurate colors and tones while enhancing contrast and resolution. This makes it ideal for birdwatching, an activity that relies strongly on a binoculars’ color fidelity to accurately identify a species. Of course, if you’re taking on the wild, you need a sturdy viewing device as well. As expected, the Viper HD is water- and fog-proof. It also brandishes a scratch-resistant coating and rubber armor for a non-slip grip.
Weight: 805g | Eye Relief: 16mm | Objective Diameter: 50mm | Magnification: 10x
- Suitable for all types of light conditions
- Accurate color rendition and sharpness
- Compatible with a tripod adaptor
- Adjustable eyecups are stiff
- Eye relief is not that huge
Best Binoculars For Long Distance
Outdoor enthusiasts who want to see things closer from afar will like Nikon’s ACULON A211 10-22×50 Zoom binoculars.
One of the best all-around binoculars in the market today is the Nikon ACULON A211 10-22X50 Zoom. Where most binos offer up to 10x magnification, the ACULON changes from 10x up to 22x. This feature makes it popular among outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy long-distance viewing. With its eye-piece mounted zoom lever, the zoom control knob is even easier to reach and adjust.
Like other Nikon binos, you get the patented Eco-Glass lenses on the ACULON’s 50mm objectives as well. Combined with phase correcting prisms, the results are clear and bright images across varying light conditions. There are also multi-click rubber eyecups that are easy to customize and adjust depending on your comfort level. The only downside with these zoom binoculars is that they’re heavier than most models.
Weight: 961g | Eye Relief: 8.6mm at 10x | Objective Diameter: 50mm | Magnification: 10-22x
- Bright and clear images even at higher magnification
- Durable rubber-armored coating
- Not as lightweight as advertised
- Lens cap can be a loose fit
Best Binoculars For Stargazing
Newcomers to astronomy stand to benefit most from the Opticron Adventurer T WP 10×50 binoculars.
You don’t necessarily need a telescope to gaze at the night skies. Binoculars, like the Opticron Adventurer T WP 10×50, also offer excellent optics to enjoy the stars. Since a binocular is easier to operate, it’s a great first investment for beginners or young astronomers, too. Despite its lower price point and slight cheap build quality, the Adventurer T WP delivers where it counts most. The images produced on the binoculars are surprisingly bright and sharp, great for viewing the night sky.
Opticron’s budget-friendly binoculars aren’t one to skimp on design and comfort, as well. The Adventurer T WP sports a stylish, leatherette-look rubber armor. It’s also lightweight and can be held comfortably for long periods of time, which is expected when stargazing. Those who wear spectacles will also appreciate the long eye relief offered by Opticron’s binocular.
Weight: 759g | Eye Relief: 18mm | Objective Diameter: 50mm | Magnification: 10x
- Lightweight design with long eye relief
- Build quality feels cheap
Best Binoculars Glasses Wearers
The Celestron Nature DX 10×56 binoculars offer comfortable viewing distance for glasses wearers.
Speaking of spectacles, a common gripe among glasses wearers are binoculars with short eye relief. Consider looking for binos with an eye relief of at least 18mm to 20mm if this is you. Now the Celestron Nature DX 10×56 Binoculars fall exactly in this range. The fog and waterproof model offers an eyeglass-friendly 18.2mm of eye relief. It also delivers 10x magnification and a 6.5-foot close focus. In addition, the binoculars feature twist-up eyecups with multiple stops.
To increase contrast and resolution, the Celestron Nature DX uses phase-coated BaK-4 prisms. Multi-coated lenses deliver bright and clear images as well. Like most binoculars, the Nature DX is also nitrogen-filled for fog and waterproof performance. You also get gripping ridges on the focus knob and diopter ring for easier location, too. Celestron’s eyeglass-friendly binos, however, are heavier than the other models in this list, weighing 1030g.
Weight: 1030g | Eye Relief: 18.2mm | Objective Diameter: 56mm | Magnification: 10x
- Easy to adjust eyecups
- Long eye relief
- A bit heavy for long use
The Nikon PROSTAFF 3S and Vortex Optics Viper HD edge out the other binoculars in this list.
Among the five best binoculars in this list, the Nikon PROSTAFF 3S is still the best multi-purpose binos to get. It boasts a sturdy build, great image quality, and an affordable price. Whether you’re bird-watching or stargazing, it’s a viewing device worthy of becoming a staple. So for most outdoor enthusiasts, the PROSTAFF 3S will be good enough.
But if you have deep pockets, splurging on a more premium option like the Vortex Optics Viper HD isn’t a bad idea either. After all, it’s arguably the one that delivers the most color-accurate image reproduction in this list. It’s one of the reasons why it’s a great binocular for observing wildlife. At the same time, the Viper HD makes a strong case for outdoor enthusiasts who are a bit more discerning when it comes to a binos’ color fidelity. The only downside is that its eye relief isn’t huge. For eyeglass wearers, you’ll be better off with the Celestron or Opticron.
Nikon’s PROSTAFF 3S is the best binocular for your money. It’s a well-built device that delivers sharp images for its price point.
Yes, the Nikon ACULON A211 is available in a regular 10×50 model.
Yes, the Vortex Optics Viper HD includes the GlassPak chest harness so you can carry your binoculars more conveniently.
For general use, binoculars that offer 7x to 10x magnification are enough.
Last update on 2022-08-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API