Choosing Your Next Pair of Hunting Binoculars
From the great open plains to the wooded coastlines and every ecosystem in between, a pair of rugged, high-performing hunting binoculars are a must-have item for every outdoorsman. Not only do they offer a convenient way to bring you closer to your favorite game animals, but they’re also ideal for use at distances ranging from 100 to 1,000 yards and beyond.
So, given the wide selection of hunting binoculars out there, what’s the best way to go about finding the pair that best meets the needs of your unique situation?
When it comes down to it, choosing the right pair of hunting binoculars is very much like shopping for the perfect spotting scope. It’s important to know what features you value most and to keep your budget top-of-mind because just like the target species and native environments vary from hunter to hunter, the checklists used to define the perfect pair of knockers do too.
Feel the Power
A key means of comparing binoculars is based on power, which is represented as a pair of numbers. For example, our Spirit XF 8x42 Binoculars feature a magnification power of 8; meaning when compared to what is seen with the naked eye, they magnify objects up to eight times, making them look up to eight times closer. Our Spirit XF 10x42 Binoculars, on the other hand, are powerful enough to bring objects up to 10 times closer. So, the larger the first (power) number in the pair, the greater the magnification strength of the binos.
The second number in that pair represents the diameter of the objective lens – the large lens farthest from your eye responsible for letting in light and enhancing the clarity of your image – in millimeters. The larger this number is, the greater the diameter of the objective lens and the clearer your view will be thanks to the increased amount of light entering the lens, which is especially helpful when scouting or glassing in low-light conditions.
Our ORROS 8x32 Waterproof/Fogproof Compact Binoculars, for example, feature 32mm objective lenses that deliver exceptional light transmission during daylight hours combined with a magnification power of eight to provide crisp, crystal-clear views in bright-light conditions. Keep in mind, while larger lenses deliver improved image quality, they add a bit of weight and bulk to the unit you’ll be carrying as well.
While magnification matters, you can’t count on your binoculars to really get the job done without a pair of quality glass lenses. High definition (HD) and extra-low dispersion (ED) glass deliver clear, sharp images with ample contrast and resolution, making them ideal when it comes to optical lens selection. For example, HOYA ED glass with SK-15 prisms combines in our revolutionary Endeavor ED IV Binoculars to deliver vivid detail and stunning image quality. And, when we add a quality coating to this premium combination, not only are light transmission and clarity improved, but glare and eye fatigue are also reduced.
As with spotting scopes, coatings are added to binocular lenses to improve light transmission and minimize light lost via reflection – resulting in a clearer, more detailed image that’s free of blurs and washed out colors.
Hunting binoculars will feature one of the following common lens coating applications, each providing a different level of light transmission:
- Coated: Lenses have thin, antireflective coatings on one or more of their surfaces.
- Fully coated: Lenses all have a minimum of one thin, antireflective coating on each side.
- Multi-coated: Lens surfaces have multiple layers of thin, antireflective coatings on at least one side.
- Fully multi-coated: Lenses have multiple thin, antireflective coatings on all sides and surfaces.
As you shop for your next pair of hunting optics, remember that when it comes to coatings, more is always better.
Full-size versus compact
Next, think carefully about how and where you hunt. If you rely on public land access and spend weekends covering countless square miles with a loaded down pack on your back, consider a pair of lightweight compact binoculars like our Vesta Compact Binoculars. Their durable aluminum housing and optical quality glass with coated lenses keep bulk to a minimum while still delivering the best image quality possible.
But, if you tend to hunt close to home and don’t mind carrying a little extra something against your chest while you’re at it, our Endeavor line of hunting optics – complete with the latest Vanguard optical technology enhancements, like premium Japanese HOYA ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass with edge-to-edge clarity to enhance light transmission – might be worth considering.
That said, for many hunters, there’s no such thing as too much gear. So, if a bit of added weight seems worth it for larger objective lenses and a boost in overall clarity, check out our hands-free carrying accessories – like the Optic Guard Binocular Harness – designed to make your life a little easier, and a lot more convenient, out in the field.
Built to Last
Because you hunt hard through it all – come sun, snow, rain, wind, you name it – you’ll need a pair of hunting optics tough enough to withstand whatever conditions Mother Nature throws your way.
Look for binoculars rated to outlast the unpredictable weather you’re bound to encounter while hunting everything from spring turkeys to late-season big-game. That means finding a pair that’s both waterproof and fog proof (fully sealed and nitrogen purged is a bonus for those that frequently find themselves hunting in downpours or splashing around in rivers and lakes – intentional or not), as well as coated with a rugged rubber exterior. Not only does the rubber coating delay the wear and tear that comes with many miles spent bouncing around inside your pack, but it also minimizes glare and provides a solid, non-slip surface for a sure hold in any weather.
We’d also recommend making sure your next pair of hunting binoculars have a solid warranty behind them. Lucky for you, all Vanguard optics include an industry leading Premium Lifetime Warranty. So, if we’re not able to fix your roughed-up binoculars, spotting scope, rifle scope, or other used-and-abused hunting optics, we'll replace them – guaranteed.
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Like most key pieces of hunting equipment, a reliable pair of hunting optics is a serious investment, albeit one that should show its value in the form of many seasons of use and even more, animals spotted. Whether you’re in the market to spend a thousand dollars or a couple of hundred max, what’s most important is that you maintain focus on the features that best meet your current needs afield. This will go a long way in keeping both your expectations and your budget aligned.