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Bushnell Legend Ultra HD L-Series 10x 42mm Binoculars

Hiking Binoculars Buying Guide

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Binoculars are really great for exploring your surroundings during a hike. However, there is more than one type of binocular you can use. And although this provides quite the variety in your options, it can also cause you some difficulty in figuring out which type is best for your hiking needs.

If you’re not new to the world of binoculars, chances are you already have a basic understanding on what to look for in such a device. But, if you have no idea where to start, then please read on. Further down in this article, we will help you find that optimal binocular and get the best experience out of it. But first of all, our overview of the top 10 best hiking binoculars:

BrandMagnification & DiameterWeight (lbs)ExtrasPrice
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD L-Series 10x 42mm Binoculars
10x421.54Neck strap
Carrying case
Enhanced objective covers
Microfiber lens cloth
ED prime glass
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Merytes 10X50 396FT-1000YDS Sports Military Optics Binoculars Telescope Spotting Scope with Compass for Hunting Hiking Traveling Waterproof Shockproof
Cleaning cloth
Carrying case
Click Here
Vortex Optics Diamondback

Vortex Optics Diamondback 8x42 Roof Prism Binoculars
8x421.57Comfort neck strap
Tethered objective lens covers
Deluxe custom-molded carry case
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Carson VP Series

Carson VP Series Full Sized and Compact Waterproof and Fogproof Binoculars 10x42
10x421.50Neck strap
Carrying case
Objective covers
Bak4 prism glass
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Bushnell Falcon

Bushnell Falcon 133410 Binoculars with Case 7x35
Carrying case
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Bushnell PowerView

Bushnell PowerView Super High-Powered Surveillance Binoculars
Carrying case
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Leupold Mojave

Leupold Mojave Roof Prism 10x42 Binoculars
10x421.50Neoprene carrying caseClick Here
Nikon Prostaff 7S

Nikon Prostaff 7S 8x30 ATB Waterproof:Fogproof Binoculars
Neoprene carrying pouch
Nikon cleaning lens pen
FogKlear dry anti-fog cloth
PD Spudz microfiber cloth
Click Here

USCAMEL 10x42 Military HD Binoculars Professional Hunting Hiking Compact Telescope - Army Green
10x420.78Bak4 prism glass
Lens cloth
Click Here
Celestron 71344 Outland X

Celestron 71347 Outland X 10x42 Binocular
8x421.10Neck strap
Neoprene carrying case
Bak4 prism glass
Click Here

What binocular size should I get?

You might already be an experienced backcountry hiker that has the best quality boots, clothing, backpack, backcountry tenthiking gear and GPS equipment, but the technology behind binoculars is something completely different. You can get cheap hiking binoculars and you can probably throw them away after a few hikes. To enjoy your hikes even more, you should opt for reasonable quality or high quality binoculars that are very well suitable for hiking and hiking conditions (water, fog, robust, etc) so please read on and choose the best hiking binoculars for your next hike!

Nikon Prostaff 7S 8x30 ATB Waterproof:Fogproof Binoculars - with carrying case
Nikon Prostaff 7S binoculars

When you ask someone for advice on what binocular to buy, the answer will almost always be about the size. And this holds very true, especially when it’s going to be used for hiking.

Hiking involves a lot of walking from one trail to another. As such, you need to make your load as light as possible in order to avoid tiring yourself. With that said, the more compact the binocular you choose, the better the experience you’ll have, in terms carried weight at least.

However, small binoculars don’t have much scope and field of view, which could limit your viewing experience. And if you do go for a bigger size binocular, you’ll be adding more weight to your bag. So the question now is, which one should you get?

The answer to that is: it depends on your capacity and preference. If you can manage the added weight, then you’ll probably do fine with a full-sized binocular. But if you don’t like the extra load, and are okay with small views, then go for the compact. There is, however, a middle ground, which is the mid-size binocular.

Here’s the specification for each sizes:

  • Bushnell Legend Ultra HD L-Series 10x 42mm Binoculars - with strap and carrying case
    Bushnell Legend Ultra HD binoculars

    Full-size Binocular

This size allows for better and a fuller view of your surroundings. If you want a steady sight of the environment, as well as a wider field of view, this one is the best for sure. This makes the full-size binocular the perfect viewing tool for bird watching or any observations that involve a lot of movements. 

A full-size binocular also performs better in low lighting, and can absorb more light, giving you a vibrant picture. However, the downside to this size is its heftiness. In hiking, this one might be too heavy and could take up more space. But if you can manage, then feel free to carry one.

The lens specifications of full-size binoculars vary between 8 x 42 and 10 x 50.

  • Mid-size Binocular

Like mentioned above, mid-size binocular serves somewhat like a middle ground between the full-size and compact binoculars. Although its viewing capability is not exactly on par with the full-size one, it is still better than most compact binocular.

Plus, mid-size binoculars are not too hefty, but they’re not super light either. It’s more of somewhere in between. Expect average light captures with this one.

The lens specs of mid-size binoculars usually measures between 7 x 35 and 10 x 32.

  • Compact Binocular

If you want a light and small binocular, this one should be in your to-buy list. It’s perfect for backpacking and hiking since it doesn’t take up much space. However, compact binoculars tend to capture very little light and don’t have that big a view

These limitations of compact binoculars make them strain your eyes faster during continuous use, compared to the two abovementioned sizes. In terms lens specification, compact binoculars can come in either 8 x 25 or 10 x 25.

Magnification and Light Capture

Notice those numbers in the previous paragraphs? Well, those indicate the magnification and light capture capabilities of a binocular. For example, in a binocular with a specification of 8 x 25, the number 8 means the image will appear 8 times closer. As for the number 25, that represents the diameter of the lens and will determine how much light is captured.

Do note that the higher the magnification number, the harder it becomes to maintain a steady view, especially in lower lens diameter. Speaking of lens diameter, the higher its number, the more light that is able to pass through, meaning you’ll get brighter and more vivid images.

Carson VP Series Full Sized and Compact Waterproof and Fogproof Binoculars 10x42 330ft-1000yds
Carson VP series

Field of View

During hikes, you’ll encounter plenty of expansive sceneries. So, as much as possible, get a binocular that has a wide field of view. However, be reminded that in most cases, a binocular with high field of view typically has a low magnification power.


Most of, if not all, binoculars have their own focusing wheel. It is usually located between the two barrels of the binocular. This dial allows you to change the focus of the lenses, allowing you to adjust the visibility of the image you’re viewing.

Some models may also have something called a diopter ring. This ring is used to adjust just one barrel of the binocular, which is useful if you have differences between your left and right eye visions.

Lens Coating

No matter how big the lens diameter in a binocular, some light will still be reflected back. In order to prevent this, and maximize the amount of light that can pass through, lens coating is used.

Depending on the brand and model of the binocular, the type of lens coating may also vary. Some are single-coated, others are multi-coated. Regardless, if your hiking trail only receives minimal sunlight, getting a binocular with fully multi-coated lenses might work best to your advantage.

Leupold Mojave Roof Prism 10x42 Binoculars
Leupold Mojave binoculars

Weather Resistance

Since most of your hikes will be out in the open, you’ll also be susceptible to weather changes. But, a fog or a drizzle shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the views of your trek. All you need is a water-proof or fog-proof binocular, or maybe one that is capable of both.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to take advantage of all the information discussed here, and find that ideal binocular. But, if you’re still unsure of your decision, there’s no harm in asking those with experience in this regard, personally.

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