Best Binoculars for Wildlife Viewing

Imagine yourself in the middle of your wildlife tour. The nature is amazing, the views are breathtaking, and the wildlife is…

… SO FAR AWAY.

To not make this bad dream come true, let’s dive right into all you need to know to get yourself the best binoculars for wildlife viewing that fit your needs.

What to Look For:

When choosing binoculars for wildlife viewing in the first place, make sure to check for the following features:

  • Optical quality
    ED (extra-low dispersion) or HD lenses will allow for great edge sharpness, brightness, and color fidelity. That’s what you need for convenient wildlife spotting and long viewing.
  • Magnification
    The point is to settle on the maximum reach with a clear and stable image staying at a safe distance from the observed wildlife. 8×42 and 10×42 are basically the best for a long-range wildlife viewing, with 8 and 10 being the magnification, and 42 – the diameter of the objective lens.
  • Light weight
    This one’s simple — you definitely don’t want to be using a bulky, heavy device.
  • Ergonomic design
    The same goes here — as you need a sleek design and a comfortable grip to enjoy using your binos.
  • Lenses and prism coatings
    There are four main coating types, with fully multi-coated lenses being the very best for wildlife viewing. If you see “fully multi-coated” among the characteristics of the selected item, the chances are it will serve you well and long.
  • Fog- and waterproof
    No one expects ideal conditions when going on a wildlife watching trip. Choose fully sealed, rubber-armored, and watertight binoculars to enjoy the wild.
  • Wide field of view (FOV)
    You need binoculars with a wide field of view to be able to spot and locate birds, mammals, or any other animals of interest.
  • Warranty
    Here’s the thing about warranty — it highlights the quality of the product and the confidence of the manufacturer in it. So, if you see a 10-year, 30-year, or lifetime warranty, you can expect such binoculars to be durable and reliable.
All-Time Favorite:

These Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 binoculars are most popular among travelers and nature lovers. The premium ED glass used in these binoculars allows for a perfectly sharp, clear, and wide field of view. Also, it ensures rich and accurate colors so that you will be able to enjoy bird and wildlife watching to the fullest.

Here is an exemplary pair fitted with fully multi-coated eco-glass lenses that ensure high light transmission in any weather conditions, providing the best vision day and night. Among the other features that will come in handy during a safari or hiking trip are adjustable rubber eyecups, a convenient central focus knob, and flip-down lens caps.

If you are looking for a compact, highly useful, and durable model, these binoculars can become your best buy and serve you a lifetime. Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 binos are the best overall and among the top picks of beginner and advanced users.

Pros Cons
  • Fully multi-coated eco-glass lenses
  • Wildlife watchable in any light
  • Fog- and waterproof
  • Great value for money
  • FOV is 330 ft at 1000 yards (okay, but could be better)
  • Lens caps are pretty loose

Exceptional Close Focus:

Fully multi-coated optics of this Pentax Papilio II model, coupled with high-quality BAK-4 binocular prism, assure great light transmission and clear and bright views. Aspherical lens elements come as an important feature that provides amazing edge-to-edge sharpness to the items in the center of your FOV and on its edge.

It is worth noting a unique Uni body design of this model that allows for locking objective lenses in a single housing, thus, minimizing moving parts and synchronizing the eyepiece movement. Also, these Pentax 8.5×21 binoculars have a 50 cm close focus which is a great plus if you like to observe insects, butterflies, flowers, etc.

Although the binos are great in daylight, their objective lenses are small and won’t produce bright images in dim light. Also, note that this model is not waterproof, meaning you may use it only in fair weather.

Pros Cons
  • Unmatched close-up viewing
  • Fully multi-coated optics
  • True-to-life color reproduction
  • Unique Uni body design for enhanced durability
  • Aspherical lens elements for sharp edge-to-edge view
  • Not very powerful in dim light
  • Not waterproof

Advanced Optics for Bright Views:

These Athlon Optics Midas 8×42 binoculars can boast of ED glass and ESP dielectric coating that allow more light through, thus delivering a clear and sharp image to your eyes. Advanced fully multi-coated lenses provide a perfect light transmission that results in amazing bright and color-accurate images both in a good and bad light.

The close focus and low-light performance are the features that make this model a popular choice for wildlife watching. Also, being purged with argon, these binos are fully waterproof, have great thermal stability, and an amazingly wide field of view. If you wear eyeglasses, you will find a long eye relief of this model pretty useful since you can use them and enjoy the entire FOV without any difficulty.

However, it is worth noting that many customers mention different build issues of these Athlon Optics Midas binoculars, such as inadequate close focus. So, if you decide to choose these binos because of the number of undoubtful benefits it offers, make sure to check your model performance before heading onto the real wildlife tour. There’s a tiny chance you may need to return it and get a replacement.

Pros Cons
  • Advanced fully multi-coated lenses
  • ED glass and ESP dielectric coating for bright, crisp images
  • Remarkable FOV of 426 feet at 1000 yds
  • Water- and fogproof (argon purged)
  • May have build issues (check your pair once you get it)
  • Stiff focusing knob

Powerful Model with GlassPak Harness:

These Vortex binoculars provide quality resolution and minimize chromatic aberration. This model is widely used for wildlife watching, thanks to its amazing color fidelity and brightness. The 10x magnification allows for better viewing, although it may be hard to stabilize the image with such power.

These binos are also fitted with fully multi-coated lenses (a characteristic of a high-quality item) that allow high light transmission. Also, the item has anti-reflective and dielectric coatings for clear and color-accurate images.

These binoculars are rubber-armored, argon-purged, and O-sealed. Thus, you are guaranteed fog- and waterproofness of this model. Also, the binos have adjustable eyecups and interpupillary distance (IPD), that is, the distance between the center of your left and right pupils. So, you can set up the model to your liking and use it with or without eyeglasses. What’s more, a diopter is added to the right eyepiece that can be regulated for differences in a user’s eyes.

However, this model has some considerable cons. You should not count on exceptional sharpness of image when using these binos, and they have a pretty narrow depth of field. It means that you will spend some considerable time resetting the focus, even if you make a slight distance switch. This may be a nuisance when hunting, for example. Also, this item is a bit heavy.

Pros Cons
  • Fully multi-coated lenses
  • Good power and brightness
  • Adjustable eyecups and IPD
  • Fog- and waterproof
  • A fairly narrow viewing angle
  • Depth of field could be better
  • Heavy (30.1 oz)

Quality and Compact Optics at an Affordable Price:

Here is a nice pair of binoculars for viewing wildlife if you have a tight budget. These Nikon Aculon 10×25 binoculars are extremely lightweight and provide high magnification. Taking into account the quality optics that all Nikon products are fitted with, you can rest assured of quality images within any wildlife area, including parks, forests, savannas, national wildlife refuge, etc.

The multi-coated lenses of this model deliver great clarity and precision. If you need a pair of binoculars that are best for birding and wildlife spotting at a low price, these ones are good to go.

Although the IPD can be adjusted to one’s preference, unfortunately, there is no way to lock it in. When focusing, the width adjustment may move too easily. Also, the item has a pretty narrow FOV.

All in all, this model is small but mighty. If you or your kids are just starting with wildlife watching, or you are on a budget and want to get the maximum value of your money, that’s the best travel model at such a bargain.

Pros Cons
  • Extremely portable and lightweight
  • Ergonomic design
  • Great magnification
  • Affordable
  • FOV only 262 feet at 1,000 yards
  • IPD adjustment is not lockable
  • Hard to use with eyeglasses

Final Remarks

Without the right binoculars, you are unlikely to enjoy all the wildlife viewing opportunities during your trip. Thus, make sure to think of suitable binos in advance and get yourself a high-quality pair before going on the next wildlife photography tour. Equipped with the information and reviews of best models above, you are good to go in choosing and acquiring ideal binoculars for the best wildlife viewing experience.