This post reviews the 14 best binoculars for hunting, at different price points. I cover everything from entry-level to high-end hunting binoculars and everything in-between, sorted by price for convenience.
What are the best binoculars for the money? Are expensive binoculars worth it? How do they compare? How to choose hunting binoculars? These are some of the questions that will be answered in this post
This post contains Amazon and other affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Of course, you are not obligated to use my links, but it does help fund these posts in hopes of bringing more value to you!
How To Choose Hunting Binoculars
Fortunately, high-quality affordable binoculars are more common now that binocular manufacturing technology has improved. That being said, it is important to choose the right binoculars for the job they are being asked to perform. You might like my post: How To Choose Binoculars | Confidently Buy The Right Binoculars For You.
How Hunting Binoculars Were Chosen For This Review
I bought 14 highly recommended binoculars from multiple sources, at different price points, to test and review the best value binoculars for hunting.
After researching binoculars using multiple online sources and cross-referencing them, I bought the best most highly recommended ones from these sources.
To keep these binoculars on a level playing field I chose to purchase 8×42 binoculars for the most part.
How These Hunting Binoculars Were Field Tested
I tested these 14 binoculars over a 3-week period in common hunting-like scenarios in order to see how they compared to each other. They were scored using 10 categories that are essential for hunting applications:
- Build Quality
- Bulk & Weight
- Field of View
- Low-Light Performance
- Chromatic Aberration
Top 5 Binoculars For Hunting In 2023
Binocular ModelVortex Diamondback HDAthlon Midas EDAthlon Midas G2 UHDVortex Razor UHDSwarovski EL AwardBest BudgetBest For The MoneyRunner Up For The MoneyExcellent High-EndBest Overall Price*23926529915002200 AvailabilityShop AmazonShop AmazonShop AmazonShop AmazonShop Amazon *Price At Time of Post
14 Best Binoculars for Hunting In 2023 Tested and Reviewed:
I bought 14 best binoculars for hunting at different points in order to determine the best binoculars for hunting in 2023. Here’s what I found…
You also might like the video review of these 14 binoculars:
Vortex Diamondback 10×50 Binocular Review Results
These are the binoculars that I’ve been using for the past 5-6 years now. For the price (on sale for 150$) these binoculars worked great and were some of the better binoculars on the market at the time for this price. However, after using other binoculars I found that my Diamondbacks were not nearly as clear as the newer binoculars that were around the same price.
The reason I included these older model binoculars in this review is to point out how much technology has changed in the last few years. Manufacturing has been able to produce much higher-quality glass, allowing for better binoculars to be a more reasonable price.
The difference between these Diamondbacks and the other binoculars in this review is night and day. If you have older binoculars, I would highly suggest an upgrade.
Vortex Diamondback Review – Field Notes
Edge to edge clarity: just isn’t there either. It feels like you have tunnel vision when looking through these binos, but at least the center is in focus.
Build Quality Durable binoculars, they have lasted over 5 years with no issues. Bulk & Weight Fairly heavy and bulky binocular for a 10X50. Usability Focus knob hard to move, one solid click-in eyecup setting. Field of View 315ft/1000 yards – not bad for 10X, but has tunnel vision (edge to edge clarity lacking) Brightness Not very bright compared to the other binoculars in this review Low-Light Expected more out of 50mm, orange-yellow tinted in lower light, things become ‘fuzzy”. Clarity/Color Edge to edge clarity is poor. Chromatic Aberration Aberration is noticeable and present but not terrible. Price Inexpensive, not made anymore Warranty One of the best there is for warranties – Lifetime Warranty
Vortex Diamondback HD 10×50 Binocular Review Results
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You might be wondering if there is a big difference between the older model Diamondbacks and the newer Diamondback HD’s. I had the same question, so I bought the HD’s in order to compare how glass quality has increased over the past few years.
There was a huge difference. The Diamondback HD’s were better in every way and were much more competitive and comparable to the other binoculars in this review.
Vortex Diamondback HD Review – Field Notes
Build Quality Durable, feels very well made Bulk & Weight Average for 10×50, slightly front-heavy Usability Eyecups work well, focus knob works well with one finger Field of View 315 FOV, average for 10x Brightness Brightness is about average compared to other binos Low-Light Not bad for 10×50, about average Clarity/Color Pretty good, also about average Chromatic Aberration Some, but not bad for the price Price One of the most affordable tested Warranty One of the best there is for warranties – Lifetime Warranty
Celestron Nature DX ED Review Notes
Build Quality Eyecups are finicky, they don’t stay in place well. Bulk & Weight Average compared to other binoculars Usability Does a good job focusing on objects quickly Field of View Excellent, 393 FOV, very wide Brightness Orange-yellow tint, especially in low-light Low-Light Slightly below average when compared to other binoculars Clarity/Color Slightly below average when compared to other binoculars Chromatic Aberration Slightly below average when compared to other binoculars Price One of the most affordable tested Warranty 2-year or Limited-Lifetime
Athlon Midas ED 8×42 Binocular Review Results
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Athlon Midas ED Review – Field Notes
Build Quality Average, feels sturdy in hand. Bulk & Weight Slightly better than average, lower-profile Usability 1 finger focus knob adjustment, everything works well Field of View 426 FOV, tied with best there is in this review Brightness Excellent, bright white, amazing for the price Low-Light Excellent better thana and comparable to more expensive Clarity/Color Edge to edge is very well done for wide FOV Chromatic Aberration Slightly better than average, not very noticeable Price Inexpensive, one of the more affordable options, especially for what you get Warranty Athlon offers a very good lifetime warranty.
Athlon Midas G2 UHD 8×42 Binocular Review Results
Athlon Midas G2 UHD Review – Field Notes
Build Quality average Bulk & Weight slightly better than average Usability average Field of View 426, tied with best Brightness excellent, bright white Low-Light great, comparable to more expensive Clarity/Color edge to edge is very well done for how wide Chromatic Aberration very little Price inexpensive Warranty lifetime
Nikon Monarch 5 10×42 Binocular Review Results
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This review examined the 10×42 model of these binoculars. Overall I was impressed with these binoculars as they were 10×42’s competing with mostly 8×42’s in this review.
I was impressed with the brightness and low-light capabilities of these binoculars, especially for being 10×42’s, which normally don’t do as well in this category compared to 8×42’s. But these were able to keep up with and do better than some of the more expensive 8×42 binoculars.
The Monarch 5’s didn’t slouch in any department except slightly in build-quality. The build quality, in my opinion, was not great because of the rubber that gets marked up very easily. Although the rubber coating of the binoculars is great for grip and deadens noise when bumped, the rubber is ‘pencil eraser-like’. My first impressions indicated that residue would likely remain on this rubber coating. This doesn’t affect performance but I’d like to keep my hunting binoculars clean and looking as nice as possible for years to come.
These binoculars were also very lightweight. This may be fine in an 8×42 pair, but for these 10×42’s I wouldn’t mind having a little bit more weight to stabilize my viewing experience. It can be difficult when looking for small details, and small details are often the most important for hunters. For example, being able to see antler tines, turkey beards, or identifying waterfowl at a distance.
I think I would have enjoyed ranked these Nikon’s higher if I had tested an 8×42 pair. This is because it would have ranked better in field of view (330 ft instead of 288 ft at 1000 yards), they wouldn’t have appeared to be as shaky, and low-light may have been even better than it already is.
Nikon Monarch 5 Review – Field Notes
Build Quality rubber grip leaves marks easily Bulk & Weight very light Usability too light, shaky ( 10×42) Field of View 288 ft 10×42 Brightness Better than expected for 10×42 Low-Light Better than expected for 10×42 Clarity/Color very clear binocular for price Chromatic Aberration some chromatic aberration present Price affordable Warranty Limited Lifetime
Celestron Trailseeker Review – Field Notes
Maven C1 ED 8×42 Binocular Review Results
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Zeiss Terra ED 8×42 Binocular Review Results
The Zeiss Terra EDs are an all-around solid binocular. They ranked slightly above average in most categories. The eyecups were a little sticky but not so bad it would prohibit me from buying. I liked that the focus knob was more easily moved with one finger than most other binoculars. They are very bright, crisp, and did well in low-light. I was not a fan of the lens caps, they are different than other binoculars and got in the way often.
Overall these binoculars were very good, but I was just as impressed, if not more impressed, with some of the lower-priced binoculars such as the Midas’s and Maven C1. I would be more inclined to buy this binocular over the Maven C1 because of Maven’s metal adjustment knob. The Mavens did appear to have better optics though. So, if the metal knob is not an issue for you then the Mavens would be a better choice.
Zeiss Terra ED Review – Field Notes
Build Quality Slightly better than average Bulk & Weight Average Usability Slightly better than average Field of View 375 ft @ 1000 yards, pretty good Brightness Slightly better than average Low-Light Slightly better than average, 88% light trans Clarity/Color Slightly better than average Chromatic Aberration Slightly better than average Price Fair mid-range price Warranty Pretty good, not the best
Vanguard Endeavor ED IV 8×42 Binocular Review Results
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I did not have a good experience with the Vanguard Endeavor ED IVs. I may have received a faulty pair, I’m not sure but they did not perform well. The eyecups and focus knob were terribly sticky, especially when cold. The focus knob also, if not weight placed on the center if the dial it would be even harder to twist. For this reason, I primarily had to use fingers from both hands to be able to move the dial in order to focus. This is annoying, especially in hunting situations when you often need to get focused quickly.
It was difficult to get a clear picture, even after using the diopter to adjust both eyes. The brightness and low-light capabilities left some to be desired. It had an orange tint to the glass in low lighting, similar to that of the cheapest binoculars in this review.
For the price, I believe there are many better binocular options to choose from for hunting applications.
Vanguard Endeavor Review – Field Notes
Build Quality Below average, sticky dial and eyecup Bulk & Weight Average Usability Everything was sticky, knob didn’t work well with 1 finger Field of View 377 ft @ 1000 yards, pretty good Brightness Average Low-Light Average Clarity/Color Below average Chromatic Aberration Average Price Expensive for what you get Warranty Average
Vortex Viper HD 8×42 Binocular Review Results
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The Vortex Vipers were one of my favorite binoculars in the review. These were my favorite binoculars in the mid-tier price range (350-500$). They were above average in most areas but were not as bright nor did they have the same and low-light capabilities that the Zeiss Terra ED, Maven C1, and Midas binoculars had. That being said, the Vipers were still competitive in these areas.
These are great binoculars but are beginning to be on the more expensive side. For the price, these aren’t a bad purchase, but I found that some of the cheaper binoculars did equal to, if not better, when compared to the Vipers.
Vortex Viper HD Review – Field Notes
Build Quality Feels like its built solid Bulk & Weight Small but heavy Usability They work great, no complaints Field of View 409 ft @ 1000 yards, excellent Brightness Average Low-Light Average Clarity/Color Slightly better than average Chromatic Aberration Slightly better than average Price Fairly expensive Warranty Excellent, can’t beat it
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Every credible article that I researched when determining which binoculars to buy for this review pointed to these binoculars as being the best of the best. I knew I had to buy these binoculars so that I would have something to hold all other binoculars to during the review.
These binoculars did not disappoint, everything that is mentioned about them in other reviews about them being exceptional binoculars I also found to be true. They were, without a doubt, the best binoculars I tested. They scored just about perfect in every category, except for price because they are by far the most expensive binoculars.
The diopter was the easiest to set, a very easy experience to perfectly dial in each eye. The focusing was unmatched by the way it was able to push in and out of the thick cover, and it was amazing clarity and low-light.
They were a little heavy and bulky when compared to most of the other 8×42 binoculars, but it made them feel very well made and durable as well as cutting down on hand jitters. They were much less cumbersome than the Maven B2s and Vortex Razor UHDs.
I particularly enjoyed how I did not need to be perfectly on-axis when looking into the binoculars. I could move my eyes side-to-side without the annoying ‘blackout’ effect you see from the lower quality binoculars. This meant eye-strain was at a minimum when using the Swarovski EL’s.
Swarovski EL Review – Field Notes
Build Quality Very well made Bulk & Weight For 8.5×42, slightly big and heavy Usability Excellent Field of View 399 ft @ 1000 yards, excellent for 8.5x Brightness Very bright Low-Light Superior low-light capabilities Clarity/Color A very clear and crisp glass Chromatic Aberration Minimal to none Price The most expensive binoculars tested Warranty Average
Best Value Hunting Binoculars
It was clear after conducting this review that both the Midas G2 UHD and the Midas EDs are the best value binoculars, for the money they were unmatched. You can’t go wrong with either one for the price. When compared to the Swarovski’s, there was a difference, but for hunting applications, there wasn’t a 10x difference in price. For the price difference, the Midas’s had, in my opinion, 80% of what the 1000$+ binoculars had to offer.
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Best High-End Hunting Binoculars For Hunting
The Swarovski’s and Vortex Razor UHD’s both tied for first place. These two were built differently, so you’ll need to consider your personal style of hunting when choosing them.
For me, the Swarovski EL’s were the best high-end binoculars for mobile hunters because they were the smallest of the tested binoculars in the 1000$+ category while also have slightly more zoom and maintaining a very wide field of view.
The Vortex Razor UHDs are built differently than the Swarovski’s but were also very nice binoculars. If you don’t mind a little more bulk for the type of hunting you do, these binoculars are just about every bit as nice.
Are Expensive Hunting Binoculars Worth The Money?
There is a point of diminishing return when buying hunting binoculars. You can obtain 80% of the quality by spending 10x less money.
For example, the Athlon Midas binoculars cost +/- 250$, whereas the Swarovski EL’s cost +/- 2500$. So for 10x less money, you can still have at least 80% of what those expensive binoculars offer.
For me, if 250$ binoculars are even 70% comparable to 2500$ binoculars, that’s good enough for me.
I put my hunting binoculars to the test in all types of weather and through rough habitats and I don’t need to be worried about losing, dropping, scratching, or forgetting expensive binoculars.
For the reasons mentioned in this article I believe the Midas binoculars are the best value binoculars for hunting because they offer, in my opinion, 80% of the value when compared to the most expensive binoculars that cost 5x-10x more money.
After hands-on testing and reviewing these binoculars for about a month, it was pretty clear which binoculars were the best. I hope you’ve found this review of the best hunting binoculars helpful.
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