The right hunting binoculars can be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. With rock-solid construction backed by lifetime warranties, the world's premier hunting optics brands have created quality products that provide decades of enjoyment. So, when you're making the important decision to invest in hunting binoculars, where do you begin?
The elite hunting binocular brands come from all around the world, from Europe to Japan to the United States. Bushnell, Swarovski, Nikon, Leupold, and Leica are established industry favorites, while newer brands like Vortex, Vanguard, and Styrka have quickly made their mark on the industry. While brand reputation is important, the warranty and worksmanship each manufacturer puts into their optics matters much more.
The key consideration when buying hunting binoculars is low light performance. If you're looking for a budget-friendly option under about $200, you want to at least ensure that your binocular has fully multi-coated optics. That means all lens surfaces are coated with multiple layers of high tranmission coatings that provide brighter views.
If you have a little more money to spend, you'll certainly appreciate the boost in low light performance that comes with ED or Extra-Low Dispersion lenses. Made of specially formulated glass that varies by manufacturer, ED corrects for chromatic aberration and provides stunning, lifelike views in the field. With its enhanced contrast, ED will help you pick out subtle movement in the brush so you can spot more targets.
The standard hunting binocular is the 10x42 (that is, 10 times magnification and 42mm objective lenses). This size offers significant magnification while still keeping your views bright and the size and weight relatively low. If you're hunting at greater distances, you'll want to opt for a larger binocular or perhaps even a hunting spotting scope. For a quick view at targets while you're on the move, a compact monocular can come in handy.
No matter which size optic you choose, you'll want to make sure it can resist the elements. Look for a sturdy construction with rubber armoring that will protect from bumps and drops. Most hunting binoculars have some level of water-resistance, but not all are created equal. For worry-free performance, look for a binocular that says "waterproof and nitrogen purged." During the final assembly phase, technicans replace the air between these binoculars' lenses with nitrogen gas to prevent internal fogging. It's a must-have feature in cold, wet hunting seasons.
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