hunter looking at hunting dog with binoculars and rifle on his shoulder
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The 6 Best Hunting Binoculars of 2023

I've been birding my whole life and hunting for 5+ years. These are the 6 hunting binoculars I trust.

What factors determine that a pair of hunting binoculars are worth your money? Honestly, I'd argue that these largely depend on personal preferences. To me, a self-taught hunter with about five years of experience, the best hunting binoculars are affordable, fit in my chest harness without falling out, and help me tell a deer antler from a tree branch on the next ridge over.

But because I've also been birding for 20 years, I know that not all of the best binoculars period are necessarily good for hunting. In birding (and other viewing-focused hobbies), the difference between good glass and great glass is crucial (and expensive). Ultimately, though, bank-breaking binoculars outfitted with the highest-quality lenses aren't the best option for field work: Hunting binoculars get exposed to harsh weather, extreme temperatures, heavy use, and literal blood and guts. Honestly, it's more worth it to spend more on your rifle scope than your binoculars.

Still, when shopping for hunting binoculars, you'll want to look for at least 10x zoom, great light transfer, and durability—and the type that suits your needs. Like I said, I've been looking through binoculars for the better part of two decades, and out hunting for a few years. Here are the best hunting binoculars for every type of need.

The Best Hunting Binoculars of 2023

Best Overall Hunting Binoculars

A product photo of dark green binoculars in front of a canvas bag


Our Pick: Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 12x50

Whether you're hunting whitetails in Wisconsin or mule deer in Wyoming, Vortex Optic's Diamondback HD 12x50 binoculars are a fantastic high-definition option. They are mid-range for high-quality hunting optics, yet those who use Vortex binoculars swear by their impressive value; they've been compared to high-end brands Swarovski and Zeiss. Indeed this is a result of the Vortex's unbeatable combo of features for a reasonable price, including a 50 millimeter objective lens, a light weight of 28 ounces, and a 6-inch-long compact size for packability.

My favorite Vortex feature is the company's lifetime warranty for both defects and damage. That's right: You can accidentally drop them off a treestand or a rocky outcropping and (as long as you can safely recover them), you may send them in for repair or replacement. This sets aside Vortex from all other hunting binocular companies; because hunters are known for being hard on their gear, having what's essentially binocular insurance is priceless.

It is worth noting that reviewers report that the rubber eye cups tend to become unglued with frequent use. However, just give Vortex a call, and they'll hook you up, thanks to the lifetime warranty. Additionally, the 271-foot field of view (FOV) at 1,000 yards isn't anything to write home about—generally, I suggest FOVs of at least 300 feet. But for the overall viewing quality you get here, it's not a dealbreaker by any means.

Vortext Optics Diamondback - from $240

Best Budget Hunting Binoculars

Black Bushnell All-Purpose Binoculars with green lenses


Our Pick: Bushnell All-Purpose Hunting Binoculars 10x42

Bushnell's entry-level All-Purpose Hunting Binoculars offer a good value. Unlike competitors in this price range, these are not compact binoculars, which means that their lenses are full-size, let in more light with their 10x zoom (especially compared to 8x), and maintain an acceptable field of view at 288 feet. Overall, they're simply more useful for hunters than other binos at this price.

Bushnell also offers a 20-year limited lifetime warranty against defects for its binoculars, which doesn't require a receipt.

This affordable price comes with some tradeoffs: The lens quality of Bushnell's All Purpose Hunting Binoculars is much lower than more expensive binoculars with the same level of magnification. You won't have the same edge clarity or low-light performance as more expensive options.

Bushnell All-Purpose Hunting Binoculars 10x42 - $50

Best Upgrade Binoculars

Gray Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD Binoculars with black detailing and green lenses


Our Pick: Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10x42

If you're looking for a mid-tier hunting binocular that's undeniably capable of doing it all, look no further than Leupold's best-selling BX-4 Pro Guide HD in 10x42 magnification. Whether you're filling an archery elk tag or hunting pronghorn on the plains, this set of hunting binoculars can help you get the job done. At 5.6 inches long and weighing in at 24 ounces, they have high portability and remain fully functional between -40 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're freezing your tush off in the treestand or forget them on your truck's dashboard, they'll still be operable.

You can mount them to a tripod and experience steady, comfortable, long-distance glassing with a 326-foot field of view all day long. Leupold's gas blend and seals can withstand depths up to 33 feet, protecting them against water and air pressure changes. Did you accidentally drop them in your duck hunting spot? No worries; they're still good to go!

Finally, Leupold has a lifetime warranty against defects (but not damage) that still stands even if you're not the original owner of the binos.

At $600, these may be pricey for most hunters just looking for a set of glass. However, their value is worth the cost, when you consider they have a lifetime guarantee. Also, note that the plastic eye cups around the eyepiece move very easily and may shift around in your pack. While this can be a little annoying, it's not a dealbreaker for these binos.

Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10x42 - from $500

Best Deer Hunting Binoculars

A pair of black Vortex Triumph HD 10x42 Binoculars


Our Pick: Vortex Triumph HD 10x42

Vortex Triumph HD 10x42 binoculars are an excellent option for deer hunting. First of all, their price tag is wallet-friendly. Secondly, the 10x magnification is great for glassing up deer in both open and wooded areas and allows adequate light to get into your binos in low-light conditions, compared to 12x. Additionally, as opposed to 8x binos, the greater magnification of 10x will help you tell the difference between an 8-point and 10-point buck from far away, and the 334-foot field of view will hopefully help you keep track of a moving target.

These binoculars are sturdy and will withstand all sorts of hunting conditions. Additionally, Vortex's quality glass keeps images crisp, bright, and clear. They're also fogproof, so they won't fog up in humid conditions or with rapid temperature changes, like when you take them out of the warm truck and into your snowy hunting spot.

One note: The harness that comes with these binoculars lacks functionality and isn't very comfortable. You might want to snag a chest pack that will fit you more comfortably.

Vortex Triumph HD 10x42 Binoculars - $100

Best Binoculars for Hunting Waterfowl

A pair of black Nikon ProStaff P7 10x42 Binoculars on a canyon rock


Our Pick: Nikon Prostaff P7 10x42

When searching for binoculars for waterfowl or duck hunting season, you're really shopping for versatile bird-watching binoculars. Great birding binoculars have a wide field of view and a good zoom that's easy to find with an excited finger, aren't too heavy to quickly bring to your face, and let in plenty of light. Preferably, they're also water- and weather-resistant.

Nikon's Prostaff P7 10x42 binoculars are an excellent choice for waterfowl hunting. Their 10x zoom combined with large objective lenses and 367-foot field of view will help you identify ducks on the water or in the sky with a bright image even in low-light conditions. They're waterproof up to 3.3 feet, so if they accidentally swim in the pond while you're setting up your decoys, they'll be fine. Nikon also offers a limited lifetime warranty on the optical components and a seven-year limited warranty on the non-optical components.

Note that these binos aren't tripod-adaptable. However, if you're using them for waterfowl hunting, not birding, you probably don't want another thing in the duck blind anyways.

Nikon ProStaff P7 10x42 Binoculars - $200

Best Long-Range Hunting Binoculars

A pair of black Celestron SkyMaster 15x70 Porro binoculars


Our Pick: Celestron SkyMaster 15x70 Porro

Celestron is known for quality optics intended for celestial and microscopic gazing. Therefore, its products are inherently designed to put high-quality images of tiny, faraway things in front of your eyes. The more rugged trail, birding, and field binoculars can be dual-purpose as hunting binoculars. After all, seeing long distances makes or breaks a big game hunt. This is where the Celestron SkyMaster comes into play.

The smallest of Celestron's SuperGiant series, the SkyMaster features a 15x zoom and 70 millimeter extra-wide objective lenses that let in a ton of light. These things help reduce eye strain while enhancing faraway images. When glassing up distant ridges, you can mount them to a tripod to increase your steadiness.

Celestron designed these binoculars to be lightweight yet tough enough to bring along on your hunting adventures. They're impact- and weather-resistant, so when you're hunting in inclement weather over tough country, you can glass in the rain or stumble over a rock without worry.

All that being said, there are a few trade-offs for this model: These Celestron hunting binoculars may not bring things as close to your view as you'd like. A 50x zoom spotting scope, or even Celestron's pricier options that feature 25x zoom, will go much further regarding high-quality, ultra-long-range glassing options. At the same time, the 15x zoom sacrifices some field of view over others on this list—you'll only get 231 feet.

However, for most hunters, these binoculars will do the trick and won't break the bank if you need to replace them after an exceptionally rugged hunt, an accidental drop from the tailgate, or if they bang up against a tree.

Additionally, the neck strap that comes with the SkyMaster is arguably too thin for the weight of these binoculars. You'll probably want to snag a thicker strap for them online.

Celestron SkyMaster 15x70 Porro - from $106

What to Look for When Buying Hunting Binoculars

Woman looking through binoculars

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While there are many things to consider when buying hunting binoculars, here are some general things to remember.

The field of view (FOV) is how much you can see through your hunting binoculars. It's usually expressed in feet per 1,000 yards. Hunting binos with a wide field of view range between 300 and 450 feet per 1,000 yards. This FOV allows you to find the thing you're trying to magnify more easily, especially when your target is moving.

Alternatively, when binos have a narrow field of view, for example, between 150 and 250 feet at 1,000 yards, you're more likely to "get lost" when looking for your target in your binos. However, binos with narrow FOVs typically have higher magnification, which can be useful if you're hunting a flat, open landscape for large animals, like whitetail bucks. Even though narrow FOVs are useful for open areas, wide FOVs are more versatile.

Magnification is how much larger what you're looking at appears through the lenses. Looking at things with your naked eye is referred to as 1x, or one times magnification, so 10x translates to 10 times magnification. Higher magnifications mean you can see more detail farther away. However, a balance should be struck because the more magnified a lens, the narrower the field of view is. More magnification also means less light transmission.

The most common level of magnification most hunters use is 10x or 12x. These magnifications provide a happy balance between zoom, weight, light transfer, and field of view.

Light transmission might not matter so much at high noon on a bluebird day, but it can matter a great deal during dawn and dusk, which is when hunters are often hunting. Too much magnification might allow for too little light transfer, and if so, then your field of view will be darker than what you can see with your naked eye. You might have trouble identifying your target when your binos are too dark, let alone being able to see through them at all.

You'd need a spectrometer to measure your bino's light transmission, but some companies list how much light transfer their products have. Fantastic binoculars generally have around 90 percent light transfer. When a pair of binoculars has excellent light transfer, the colors you see through them will also appear more like their actual color and everything in your FOV will be crisp. In other words, color fidelity will be bright, accurate, and sharp.

Edge clarity refers to how clear the image is at the edge of binoculars' field of view. Binoculars with poor edge clarity mean you're more restricted to using the center of the field of view to see your target subject because the image will be blurry or unfocused around the edges. Binos with excellent edge clarity allow you to make full use of your field of view and offer noticeable increases in image quality. In other words, an antler at the center of your field of view will look identical to an antler at the edge of your field of view when using binoculars with excellent edge clarity.

Your Questions, Answered

For most people, Vortex Optics makes the best hunting binoculars. Each model features fully multi-coated lenses that protect the longevity and visibility of their glass. They're tripod-adaptable, so you can use them to glass hillsides for hours without having to hold your hands up the entire time. They're multi-functional and are great for hiking, birding, traveling, stargazing, and any other applications you're looking to use binoculars for. Vortex binos are also waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof, which keeps them clear and useful in a wide variety of weather situations and tough conditions. Overall, Vortex Optics binoculars can't be beat when it comes to hunting binoculars.

They also range from wallet-friendly options to top-of-the-line products. Those top-notch optics come with a price tag, but sometimes the best idea is to take the "buy it once and never buy it again" approach—especially when considering Vortex's VIP Lifetime Warranty, those Razor UHDs may be the last pair of binos you ever need to buy.

The best-strength binoculars for hunting purposes are 10x and 12x. This range is very popular for hunters; this magnification balances good quality magnification levels with optimal light transfer. Basically, this magnification allows you to still see really far quite well in low light conditions.

Who We Are

Gabby Zaldumbide lives in western Colorado and is a big and small game hunting guide with Uncharted Outdoorswomen, the only multistate outfitter owned and operated by women in the US. She's a self-taught adult onset hunter and has been all sorts of animals each fall for the last five years. She's also been a birder since childhood and loves to glass up our avian neighbors any chance she gets.

In addition to hunting and birding, she runs a small firearms instruction and safety training business with her partner, Dan. He is a bonafide gear nerd who shares all of his expertise with her, even if it occasionally costs Gabby her sanity.

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