Reviews of the Top Spotting Scopes for Wildlife Viewing

No need to review thousands of spotting scopes before getting one – we already did it and hand-picked these 4 models to consider!

Whether you are planning a hiking trip to a national park, preparing for a safari trip, or like exploring a wild forest, a spotting scope put in your backpack can double the enjoyable experience. If you feel that a pair of binoculars doesn’t fully cover your needs when it comes to wildlife watching for hours, considering a spotting scope is a smart move.

Our Recommended Pick:

If you have a headache even before diving into the specifics of spotting scopes and tons of available options, look no further. The Gosky 20-60x80 spotting scope is an all-around device that is packed with amazing features and delivers great performance at a reasonable price.

The magnification of 20-60x along with a large fully multi-coated lens of 80mm ensures bright, sharp imagery in any weather and light condition. Moreover, the dynamic lens focusing system allows for quick and hassle-free focusing on any object.

This Gosky 20-60x80 spotting scope has a rubber-armored, waterproof and fogproof body, meaning you can take the device with you on literally any trip. What’s more, this model comes not only with a tripod mount but also with a tripod itself, besides other accessories. It features an integrated smartphone adapter for digiscoping that can be used with a variety of smartphones.

For such a price, this spotting scope is all you need and more. Consider this item if you need a durable, all-purpose spotting scope that doesn’t cost a fortune.

  • Fitted with a dynamic lens focusing system
  • Fully multi-coated lens
  • Non-slip grip and shock-proof design
  • Comes with a tripod
  • A bit bulky
Is it for you?

The Gosky 20-60x80 is for you if:

  • You need a high-quality device for a variety of activities, from wildlife viewing to astronomical observation.
  • You don’t want to spend hours picking the best of the best and give up before finding The One.
  • You look for the best quality and performance for the money.

What to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Spotting Scope?

Although the number of spotting scopes available on the market looks endless, and choosing the right option quickly may sound nearly impossible, you can narrow your search when knowing what features to look for.

How to understand if a particular model is worth your attention and informed decision? Here are a few things to keep in mind when picking a spotting scope:

  • Optical Quality: It’s definitely worth it to go with a device with fully multi-coated optics, as it will deliver the best image quality under any weather conditions. Such options, as multi-coated lenses and ED (extra-low dispersion) glass, will also deliver a good performance.
  • Magnification: For wildlife viewing, 20-60x magnification is your best bet. With this magnification range, you will be able to enjoy both landscapes and close-ups of the observed species.
  • Lenses:  Although larger objective lenses mean more light-gathering capacity, it’s not always the larger = the better. It’s recommended to choose spotting scopes with 50 to 80mm lenses that cover all the needs of wildlife viewing enthusiasts, in any time of the day and any weather.
  • Compactness: When on a trip, the weight of the objects you carry with you matters. Therefore, go for a compact, lihjtweight spotting scope if you plan a long journey or want to observe wildlife for many hours straight.
  • Sturdy Construction: It may sound obvious, but choosing a sturdy device will save you a few bucks in the long run, because a well-built and well-protected spotting scope will serve you almost a lifetime.
  • Price: If you want to get yourself a quality spotting scope, there’s no need to break a bank for that. There are fairly-priced options with great performances out there, and we’ve highlighted the 4 best below, with their advantages and pitfalls respectively. The only thing to note, you should never expect top-class quality in a cheap spotting scope.

With these points in mind, here are three more models that are also worth your consideration.


Amazing Image Quality for Long Wildlife Viewing:

One of the most popular spotting scopes in this series, the Celestron 52250 Ultima Zoom model has a pretty large front lens of 80mm. To compare, the 80mm lens is 77 percent brighter than the 60mm alternatives.

The Celestron 52250 spotting scope can boast of high-quality fully multi-coated lenses, quality BAK-4 prisms, and antireflection feature. Coupled with 20-60x magnification, this spotting scope ensures great light transmission, thus, a bright and clear image.

The eye relief of this model is 18mm, and the spotting scope can provide a good close focus distance of 26.2 feet. Also, it features an integrated T-mount adapter for digiscoping.

Although it comes with a carrying case, it’s better not to rely on it too much. The case is soft but doesn’t have great padding, so it won’t deliver the protection such a quality item deserves, so you’d better keep it in mind when packing for a trip. Also, this spotting scope weighs 3.56 pounds that won’t cause a problem for long wildlife observing but can come as a significant pitfall if you aim for maneuvres.

  • Multi-coated optics
  • Water- and fogproof
  • Large focus dial
  • Comes with a T-mount adapter
  • Not lightweight
  • No hard case included
Is it for you?

The Celestron 52250 Ultima Zoom is for you if:

  • You want to enjoy the smallest details during nature observing and long-distance viewing.
  • You are willing to pay more for first-class optics.
  • You don’t plan to change the viewing position often.


Heavyweight Performer Worth the Money:

When it comes to the optic system, the Vortex Optics Diamondback model has it all. It comes with the XR fully multi-coated lenses, BAK-4 prisms, and a built-in sunshade, making it a heavyweight performer put in a compact design. If you are looking for the superb quality of the image and are ready to pay for it, here’s the model to consider.

The Diamondback spotting scope also has a 20-60x magnification, but thanks to the first-class optics, it ensures a close focus distance of 22 feet only. It’s worth noting that this spotting scope has a smooth, easy-to-focus wheel and a powerful zoom eyepiece. This model is O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, meaning it’s fully water- and fogproof.

Although some users mention the focusing problem with maximum magnification, most of the spotting scope holders are very satisfied with its performance. If you need a lightweight, powerful model, the Vortex Optics Diamondback is worth giving a shot.

  • Fully multi-coated lens
  • O-ring sealed and nitrogen filled
  • Provides a close focus (about 22 feet)
  • Comes with an unconditional lifetime warranty
  • On a pricy side
  • Possible focus issues at maximum magnification
Is it for you?

The Vortex Optics Diamondback is for you if:

  • You are looking for high-quality optics put in a lightweight body.
  • You are up for a famous brand that offers a lifetime warranty.


Premium Option for Quality&Comfort:

Last but not least is the Vanguard Endeavor HD model. This spotting scope is also on the pricy side, but if you are ready to spend some money on top-level optics, take a closer look at this item.

This model comes with 20-60x magnification and an 82mm objective lens, the biggest one on this list. What’s more, the device features high-quality ED glass, a fully multi-coated lens, and a BAK-4 phase-coated prism, ensuring accurate color reproduction and sharp-clear view. The dual focus mechanism makes fine-tuning quick and easy.

The notable 19-20mm eye relief makes it a good pick for eyeglass wearers, and the detachable angled eyepiece that comes with soft rubber eyecup also adds to the comfortable use. On the other side, this model has an ergonomic body with rubber armored magnesium and O-ring seals.

Although this Vanguard spotting scope’s price is above average, its performance quality is worth the cost. For those who have a budget for a top-level device that will serve a lifetime, this model is the option to take into account.

  • High-quality optics
  • MultiGuard coatings
  • Detachable angled eyepiece and long eye relief
  • Fog- and water-resistant
  • Relatively small angle of view
  • Pretty heavy
Is it for you?

The Vanguard Endeavor HD 20-60x82 is for you if:

  • You are looking for a powerful spotting scope with top-class optics.
  • You don’t mind the weight if the device is sturdy and built to last.
  • You wear glasses and don’t want any issues with that.

When it comes to wildlife viewing, a high-quality, well-built spotting scope is what can take your observation experience to a whole new level. By choosing any of the devices reviewed above, you are guaranteed great quality for money. Get yourself a powerful spotting device and enjoy your next journey.