Hiking creates some fantastic sightseeing opportunities, which is why binoculars are invaluable if you intend to adventure in the great outdoors any time soon. Imagine the prospect of zooming in on fantastic wildlife, or getting a close-up view of sculptured hillsides.
With binoculars, you can explore with confidence, with an appreciation for your surroundings. The idea of getting your hands on a pair becomes even more intriguing when you consider they are highly versatile. The best binoculars for hiking are lightweight and easy to operate, so you can immerse yourself in an authentic, natural outdoor experience.
However choosing a pair of binoculars that suits your individual preferences can be difficult, especially when you consider we’re spoiled for choice with the vast range of products available online. They’re likely to all look the same to the naked eye, so some additional assistance will be helpful.
Fortunately, we’ve taken the legwork out of finding the right pair of binoculars, compiling a list of some of the best hiking binoculars on the market. So without any further ado, here are some of the best binoculars that will help you make the most of your hiking trips.
5. Celestron – Outland X 10×50
Celestron’s budget binoculars are generally quite impressive, but the Outland X 10×50 can leave a little to be desired. Yes, they’re good if you’re looking for something cheap, but they do leave a little to the imagination when it comes to image clarity.
Clarity, Brightness & Ease of Adjustment
Despite not having the best clarity over long distances, the Outland X 10×50 provides decent clarity in a narrow range. They typically offer a clear picture of anything from 13 feet to about 50 feet away. It’s relatively easy to maintain a clear focus within this range, where images can be viewed as normal.
For example, you can expect to observe the bark on a tree in detail, but you almost certainly won’t be able to make out nearby drops of sap. Expect blurring and distortion of images in the distance!
The Outland X 10×50 has larger than average lenses, meaning images tend to stay bright even in the poorest lighting. However, the brightness fails to make up for a lack of clarity, in comparison with the smaller 42mm models.
They are easy to adjust, with four different depth settings which easily click into each one. The middle hinge can be a bit stiff, but not so hard that it’s difficult to adjust. The focus knob is also surprisingly supple.
Close Focus Range, Field of View, Comfort & Value
With a close focus range of 13.1, the Outland X 10×50 can start to feel slightly limiting. For example, if a butterfly lands around 10 feet away, the binoculars will struggle to focus on the details.
Large barrels and a rubber coating provide ample comfort, but the heavy weight can bog your arms down quicker than you’d expect. There is no padding on the neck strap, which consequently tends to dig in.
Though it’s easy to highlight some of the negatives above, it’s important to remember the incredibly low price these binoculars are sold for. The Outland X 10×50 sits in the bargain basement, but if you can afford to pay more for a better pair it’s almost certainly worth doing so.
- Excellent Brightness
- Good construction quality
4. Athlon Optics Midas Roof Prism UHD
For good image quality in a reasonably well-built package, the Athlon Midas 8×42 boasts promising features. Despite being nearly double the price of the Celestron Nature DX, the Midas does promote better clarity and brightness, with a wider field of view.
If you’re willing to spend more for slight improvements, the Athlon Midas is a worthy purchase.
Clarity, Brightness & Ease of Adjustment
The Midas 8×42 offers a crisp picture, with crisp clarity that shows only minor blurring around the edges of images. You can expect to get a good enough image to look at small birds, though making out the details of their plumage will likely be a stretch.
Daytime images appear perfectly bright, the only time you’ll be limited is in low-light settings. The slight lack of low-light performance isn’t too limiting unless you intend to use your binoculars in the very late afternoon or very early morning.
The focus knob on the Midas is quite sticky, taking a decent amount of torque to move. Therefore, fine-tuned adjustments are considerably more difficult. It can be a challenge for beginners to get used to adjusting the focus, where the knob loosens as it’s used before tightening up overnight. However, the eyecups and diopter are easy to adjust.
Quality, Comfort, Field of View and Value
These binoculars are well constructed, incorporating a neoprene padded strap and a nice rubber coating. Day-to-day use is not overly affected by the hinge being a little stiff.
Offering an average level of comfort, the Midas has a grippy rubber which provides a solid grip. However, if you have large hands you might feel like there isn’t enough room for your finger and thumbs.
The Midas offers a 6.5-foot close focus range, enabling you to look in as much detail as you’d need to observe insects you come across. Selling for around $300, the Midas is reasonably valued, though you can buy other binoculars which are just as good for around $140.
- Good Clarity
- Big Field of View
- Good Brightness
- Relatively Inexpensive
3. Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism 8×42
One of the first choices regarding clarity and brightness, get your hands on an impressive pair of binoculars that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. The Vortex Viper HD 8×42 binoculars strike a great balance between performance and price. Optimal performance for all-day nature walks and birding festivals.
Clarity, Brightness, Ease of Adjustment
They shine when it comes to clarity, providing a fantastic, clear view with only a small fade around the edges of things in the distance. Horizontal and vertical lines appear crisp and clear from a distance. Anti-reflective coating with high-density glass combines for a bright view. Only the very expensive binoculars can compete with the brightness of this Vortex model, where the large diameter objective lens is helpful.
One large central hinge enables users to adjust the distance, which has a high tolerance and higher quality parts than competing models. The diopter is easy to adjust the first time, with little stiffness.
Quality, Comfort and Value
The Vyper has a nice feel to it, with smooth hinges and joints which indicate tight tolerances in the manufacturing process. You’re also safeguarded by a VIP warranty, which is extra peace of mind on top of the smooth and comfortable operating features. The neck strap consists of a soft, stretchy rubber section that distributes the weight of the binoculars nicely. The rubberized coating and indentations for your thumbs make it easy to hold on to.
You can also look through these for a long period without feeling uncomfortable. Though reasonably expensive, ultimately you get what you pay for. In the high-end binocular market, the Vortex Viper 8×42 is exceptionally good value.
- Very clear
- Very bright
- Easy to adjust
- Excellent quality
2. Nikon 7549 MONARCH 7 10×42
These binoculars provide great optics for any occasion, producing a crisp, bright image that enables you to observe fine detail. If you’re looking for fantastic binoculars at a reasonable price, you’ll certainly appreciate the Monarch 7.
Clarity, Brightness & Ease of Adjustment
Offering a sharp image with good contrast, these Nikon binoculars have just a little defocusing around the last mm or two of image edges. There is no noticeable distortion, from a pair of binoculars that offers everything you’ll need. A multi-coated lens promotes a very bright view, with a promising objective lens and magnification allowing you to see things in bright detail from multiple ranges.
The Nikon boasts focusing which is smooth and fast, where it’s easy to scan from close to far objects without losing fine focus control. The diopter can be a bit stiff to move, and there is no locking mechanism. However, the interpupillary distance is easy to adjust and comfortable.
Comfort, Field of View & Value
The eyecups have a soft rubber that sits comfortably on the face. The rubber coating is easy to grip and hold, on binoculars which are a nice weight and are easy to manage. A comfortable pair of binoculars to use with little strain on the eyes.
The field of view makes these Nikon binoculars one of the best 10x models on the market. It’s a top performer in this category, with an impressive 351 feet field of view at 1000 yards. The Nikon is middle of the pack with regards to pricing, a quality pair that won’t break the bank. If the value is a determining factor, you’d be sensible to choose this model.
- High-quality construction
- Very comfortable
- Great clarity
- Excellent field of view
1. SWAROVSKI 8.5×42 EL
The best all-around model, with incredible precision and without question the clearest quality of any binoculars on the market. The Swarovski 8.5×42 EL binoculars produce a great image in any condition, offering reliability and unbelievably clear precision. They will improve your viewing experience no-end!
Clarity, Brightness & Ease of Adjustment
Top-of-the-range glass provides a clear and crisp view for users, with minimal fringing around the edges of images. All vertical lines appear crisp from edge to edge.
People have commented on how things appear brighter through the lenses of these binoculars than they do viewing outside of them! Though difficult to conceptualize, this remark is a testament to how bright these binoculars really are. Coated glass reduces scattering, focusing it on your eyes after entering the system.
The hinge at the front of the EL 8.5×42 keeps the lens in alignment, allowing the center to be open. They glide open with little pressure, with quick and effortless focusing from a smooth focusing knob. Adjustment is seamless and effortless.
Quality, Comfort & Value
A thick rubber covering safeguards the Swarovski EL 8.5×42, protecting them from dropping and impact. The weight and feel of the binoculars say ‘quality’, where everything moves with just the right amount of pressure. This is a sign of good quality and a solid manufacturing process in general.
Very comfortable to hold, these binoculars have indents for the thumb which adds more extra comfort than you’d ever think possible. The center is open and easy to grip around the whole barrel, with eyecups that are soft and pull out to provide 20mm of eye relief.
The Swarovski EL 8.5×42 can focus down to 4.9 feet, among the very best in close focus range on the market. These binoculars have a field of view that is above and beyond, second to only the Vortex Diamondback 8×42.
At $3,000, these are the most expensive binoculars on the market. So, are they worth the price? Well, if you seek a once-in-a-lifetime viewing experience, yes.
- Incredible clarity
- Incredible brightness
- Exceptional construction quality
- Unparalleled comfort
- Best hiking binoculars
Should I invest in a new pair of binoculars?
There will be many warning signs that you need a new pair of binoculars. Perhaps your current pair has experienced significant wear and tear, or you’ve changed but your binoculars haven’t.
Maybe you can no longer see through them or they generally give you a headache. Some binoculars will stop working after owning them for a while, where a lack of alignment can be a sure fire sign to invest in a new pair. Age and hard use can knock the interior elements out of kilter, a sure fire sign that it’s time to invest in a new pair of binoculars!
Do you need a gift idea?
Whether you’re looking to buy for a younger or older person, binoculars are a fantastic gift idea if the recipient has an active interest in hiking.
Selecting a stylish pair of binoculars that fit a practical purpose is a great way to surprise a family member, child or friend, who will be thrilled by the prospect of observing interesting things in close detail. If suitable to the situation at hand, you can’t go wrong when buying a new pair of binoculars!
How do I know what are the best binoculars for hiking?
So how exactly should you go about selecting a pair of binoculars that suit the individual preferences of the person you’re buying for? Well, it helps to create a personal checklist to consider what they’ll be used for, your available budget and any other specific needs in question.
Once you’ve created a checklist, you can match what’s needed with the features referenced throughout this article. That way you’ll be positioned to choose something appropriate. Don’t worry, we’ve got all of your needs covered in the sections above.
Buying a new pair of binoculars is a fantastic way to optimize viewing experiences, whether you’re buying for yourself or someone else. Binoculars will open doors to new viewing heights, enabling sightseeing, wildlife exploration and the determination of new routes as you quest through natural settings.
Thanks for reading this article! You should now be poised to buy the perfect binoculars for you!