Best Binoculars for Hiking: A Helpful Buyer’s Guide

Durable hiking gear? Check.
Watertight hiking boots? Check.
Snacks? Check.
Binoculars? …Oops!

If you are a seasoned hiking enthusiast, you know how frustrating it is not to be able to enjoy the view to the fullest. Next time you go for a trip, make sure to pack some quality binos and take your hiking experience to a whole new level. This article will guide you on how to get the best binoculars for hiking.

How to Choose Binoculars for Hiking

What makes binoculars perfect for hiking? What features to look for when you review accessories for your hiking and trekking trips?

Make sure the pair of binos you pick are:

  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Rubber-armored
  • Shockproof
  • Water- and fogproof
  • Resistant to dust and debris
  • The optics are O-ring sealed and have anti-reflective coatings

With that in mind, let’s dive straight into the recommendations.

Our Best Pick:

Vortex is one of the most popular and highly appreciated brands on the binocular market. This compact Diamondback model offers remarkable performance and is one of the top options in terms of image quality, durability, and size. It is fitted with fully multi-coated optics, an anti-reflective layer, and rubber armoring.

The phase correction coated roof prisms enhance resolution and contrast for sharp, bright views. Also, thanks to the roof prisms, these binoculars are compact and lightweight, meaning you can put them in your backpack or even pocket and use them easily.

The magnification is just right for scenery watching, so if you are a hiking and trekking enthusiast, this Vortex Diamondback binocular may be your best buy. Moreover, you won’t have to worry about harsh weather conditions when enjoying nature, thanks to water- and fogproof features of these binoculars, as well as optics sealed with O-ring.

Pros Cons
  • Impressive optical quality
  • Fully multi-coated lenses
  • One of the largest FOV in this category
  • Close focus of 6.5 feet
  • Some users have reported that slideout eyecups may block some view when not extended enough (but will stretch enough as you use the binos)

 


Great View, Even in Eyeglasses:

Nikon is known for advanced optics used in all its products, and these Nikon Prostaff 7S binoculars are no exception. Thanks to an advanced optical system for sharper images, these binos create a pleasant view and can be used for observing amazing sceneries in any weather conditions. Fully multi-coated lenses and phase correction coated roof prisms allow for bright, clear images, and the size of the objective lens makes these binoculars great for scenery watching at sunrise or sunset.

If you’re looking for a high-quality pair that you can use while wearing eyeglasses, consider purchasing this model. It is fitted with adjustable turn-and-slide rubber eyecups for regulating the eye relief.

Although this model is on the pricey side, the quality is worth the cost. Thanks to the ergonomic rubber-armored body, fully multi-coated lenses, impressive optical system, and waterproofness, these compact binoculars will come in handy for both one-day trekking trips and grand hiking trails, ensuring satisfying scenery watching. This model is probably the best for backpacking and camping lovers.

Pros Cons
  • Great colors and clarity
  • Adjustable turn-and-slide rubber eyecups
  • Rubber-armored body for enhanced protection
  • Ergonomic
  • Not the cheapest option

Budget Option with Great Power:

These are remarkable binoculars made by Bushnell, a well-known manufacturer with 65+ years of successful, innovative performance on the market. H2O binoculars are one of the best budget options for hiking enthusiasts, and this advanced model is fitted with multi-coated optics to enhance light transmission and clarity.

BaK-4 prisms deliver one of the brightest and crispest viewings among the models in this category. Despite the relatively small objective lenses, these binoculars provide a pretty decent image and can be used for hiking, games, climbing, fishing, traveling, etc. Also, these binoculars are O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged to ensure great visibility in any weather.

This may not be the best option if you wear eyeglasses, and the eyecups don’t fully block the wind and sidelight. Also, given 10x magnification, you may need to set your elbows on some surface for a stable image. During a hiking trip, it may be challenging to ensure perfect conditions for scenery watching and birding with these binos, but if you like staying in one place and enjoying a great view as the sun goes up or down, you won’t be disappointed with the quality of the image provided by these Bushnell H20 binoculars.

Pros Cons
  • Multi-coated optics with advanced BaK-4 prisms
  • Waterproof, fogproof, and O-ring sealed
  • Rubber armor with a comfortable grip
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • 15-foot close focus distance
  • Challenging to get a stable view

Fast and Clear Focus:

These ZEISS Terra Ed binoculars 2020 are amazing for hiking enthusiasts since they deliver razor-sharp images of both far-away objects and those near you. This lightweight and trail-tough model has a nice grip and ergonomic eyecups for comfortable viewing.

One of the remarkable characteristics of this model is its fast focusing. The index finger automatically positions itself on the focus wheel. The optical precision is guaranteed by SCHOTT ED glass with hydrophobic multi-coating. Also, the model is waterproof, meaning you can enjoy sightseeing in any weather conditions. The FOV of 390 ft. (52°) is pretty wide for hiking binoculars.

This black binocular model is best for scenery watching when hiking, trekking, camping, travel, and other outdoor activities, including sports. However, it is not the best overall for exploring wildlife and bird watching in the evenings since the objective lens won’t deliver a clear image without enough light.

Pros Cons
  • Extremely portable, thanks to the folding design
  • Clear focus
  • Operating temperature range of -4 to 145°F
  • Perfect for hiking and travelling
  • Not suitable for evening and night viewings

Compact and Affordable:

Here is another compact model by Nikon that is worth your attention. Its bright, multi-coated optics paired with BaK4 high index prisms ensure extra-high resolution and excellent brightness. Thanks to the rubber-armored coating, fog-, and waterproofness, these HD binoculars can be utilized for hiking and trekking in any weather.

The only con is due to the 10x magnification, the field of view may be too small compared to 8x models. Besides, you may find it difficult to stabilize the image because of this power. All in all, these binos are a nice compact option and among the best gifts for adults and kids, but don’t expect too much from this model.

Pros Cons
  • Lead- and arsenic-free eco-glass
  • BaK4 binocular roof prism for extra clarity
  • Fully multi-coated optics
  • Small FOV
  • Hard to stabilize the image

Features of Binoculars to Consider when Choosing a Pair for Hiking

Same as with durable hiking boots, before settling on good-looking or just cheap binos, you need to understand the main features of such a product. You are probably looking for binoculars that will deliver the best value for money and fit your needs. Thus, here are the main features to guide you:

Magnification

Each pair of binoculars has an AxB characteristic, usually mentioned on the focusing screw, i.e., 8×26, 8×42, 10×50, etc. Magnification stands for the first number specified in this AxB note and reflects how many times the binos magnify what you see. It is also often addressed as a power of binoculars. 8×42 is the most common specification of powerful binoculars, and such a pair will be the best option for a hiking trip, as well as safari, hunting, and other uses.

The size of the objective lens

The diameter of the objective lens reflects the amount of light that gets through the lens, thus, making the image brighter or duller. So, an 8×42 model will work for sunny days, while an 8×50 will be a better choice for evening adventures. At the same time, 10×42 binoculars will deliver greater power but a bit less light than 8×42 ones.

Field of view (FOV)

FOV is another important feature to consider that shows how wide will be the area that you can see in binoculars. The point is, the bigger the magnification, the more narrowed your field of view is. It is measured in feet for convenience and explains the width of your view in 1,000 yards away.

Coating

Binoculars can be either coated, fully coated, multi-coated, and fully multi-coated. The more high-quality the model is, the more coating layers it has and, thus, the more it costs. The chemical coating of the lenses can be added for different purposes, i.e., reflection reducing, anti-phase shifting, etc.

Final Thoughts

Although it may be challenging to choose a compact yet high-quality pair of binoculars for hiking on the go, after reading this article with a list of best binocular reviews, you are now equipped with the important information on such accessories and some product descriptions to consider. Evaluate the pros and cons of each model, choose the best binoculars for hiking, pack your hiking gear and shoes, and get ready for the next trip.