5 Best Hunting Binoculars for the Money | 2016 Buying Guide
If you are on the hunt for a pair of top binoculars, it is critical that you know exactly what it will be used for.
The binoculars you use when travelling, won't be suitable for elk hunting and deer hunting. Similarly a star gazing binocular won't be much help at a concert.
I have done extensive research on the topic of best binoculars for hunting, and today I will reveal my top picks.
When deciding on a set of top rated binoculars for hunting, it is easy to be overwhelmed with all the technical terms. Field of view, magnification, objective size, armoring, image quality, lens coatings, eye relief, prism type. These are all terms that can sound confusing if you are new to buying binoculars online.
That is where I come in. I know binoculars inside and out.
I will share with you the 3 best hunting binoculars for the money. Before we get stuck in with my hunting binocular reviews, here is a quick comparison table.
Hunting Binocular Buying Guide - Comparison Table
#1. Steiner Predator 10x42
- Best hunting binocular
- Built to take a beating
Field of View: 316ft
#2. Vortex Viper HD 10x42
- Good colour and clarity
- Light & comfortable
Field of View: 345ft
#3. Vanguard Spirit XF 10x42
- Value for money
- Light & comfortable
Field of View: 332ft
#4. Bushnell Bear Grylls 10x42
- Best Compact Hunting Binocular
- Fog proof
- Non slip grip
Field of View: 305ft
#5. Nikon 8248 ACULON 8211 10x50
- Best Nikon Binoculars for Hunting
- Good field of view
- Comfortable eye cups
Field of View: 341ft
For those of you who like to do a little more research before buying, here are the reasons why I decided to review these specific binoculars.
My nr 1 pick: Steiner Predator
The german-made Steiner Predator is a premium binocular. This means you pay a little more, but you get a whole lot more in return for your hard earned dollars.
This light weight versatile bino is perfect for hunting big game in the west, or white tails in the east.
Great performance in low light conditions, and the easy to use focusing wheel makes this ideal for turkey hunters, as well as bow hunters.
One feature that makes the Predator stand head and shoulders above the competition, is the CAT (colour adjusted transmission) coating. This coating really makes deer and other prey "pop" when they come into view.
In my opinion, these are the best binoculars for hunting. Hands down.
Perfect for: The serious hunter that is happy to pay for premium performance.
The runner up: Vortex Viper HD
The Viper HD by Vortex Optics is another premium quality binocular with exceptional images. These binos work well in low light conditions, pulling in plenty of light.
These are the best compact hunting binoculars in my book. They weight a few ounces less than the Predator, and also has a wider field of view.
For hunting specifically, the Predators take the top spot. But if you need a bino for more than just hunting, the Viper HD is the better option as it is a better all-rounder.
Perfect for: The serious hunter that needs a binocular that performs just as well on the hunting fields, as it does off it.
Vanguard Spirit XF 10x42
Whether you like the thrill of duck hunting, or prefer the patient game of stalking white tails, you can't go wrong with the Vanguard Spirit XF 10x42.
What I like about the Spirit XF, is that it doesn't cost as much as the premium models. And when it comes to performance, it isn't too far behind the big boys.
The XF features an open bridge design which makes it easy to carry with one hand. Super handy when the other hand is carrying your trusted Remington rifle (I am a Browning man myself).
These bins weigh in at 23.5oz, which is a good, light weight for the performance that you are getting. Are there lighter bins out there? Sure, there are. Are they any good for hunting? No, they suck for hunting.
However, if there is one thing that really impresses me, it was the field of view. When searching for that elusive deer, you need to be able to scan a wide area, without missing any detail. The XF delivers with a wide field of view at 332 feet.
Perfect for: Hunters who actively stalk their prey, moving around in the forest or on the hills.
Bushnell Bear Grylls 10 x 42mm
I'll admit these look a little tacky with the orange accent, and the Bear Grylls logo plastered on the side. But the Bushnell Bear Grylls 10 x 42mm Roof Prism Waterproof/Fogproof Binoculars pack a serious punch.
I can only imagine that Bear Grylls is getting a nice paycheck for the use of his name. At the same time, his stamp of approval is a big thing for any outdoors product.
You definitely don't want glasses fogging up when you spot that trophy white tail ambling by. And much less do you want your bins to take on water when looking for waterfowl. This is where these BG's perform well. You will have a clear image of your target at all times, and won't have to worry about missing your shot because of fog or water.
The BG's recommended price is just over a $100, but I have found that it is has regular discounts on Amazon. When it is on special, it is hands down the best hunting binoculars under 100.
Perfect for: Younger hunters who like survival shows on tv (and who won't mind the bright orange colours).
>> See reviews and pricing here <<
Rounding out the top 5: Nikon 8248 ACULON
Nikon is a well known name in optics, and no list of the best binoculars can ever be complete without their name being mentioned. With the Nikon 8248 ACULON A211 10 x 50, they have brought an affordable bin to market.
The Aculon has an objective size of 50, which trumps the others on the list. What does that mean? The Aculon is well suited to low light conditions, as the increased objective size allows for more light to be absorbed, and better picture quality in low light conditions.
This comes at a trade off though, as this very good hunting binocular is larger and heavier than the other bins mentioned. If you are sitting in a blind all day, the added bulk might not be a problem for you. If you are stalking your prey, you might want to opt for one of the lighter binos.
Having said that, the Nikon ACULON comes at a good priece for a set of binoculars for hunting. I have tested it side by side with binoculars twice the price, and the slight difference is only noticable by the trained eye.
Perfect for: Hunters who play the waiting game in a blind or hide, where the additional weight won't be such a big factor.
>> See what others are saying <<
What to look for in a good hunting binocular
Most of us do our hunting at dawn and dusk, those times when animals are moving about. These low light conditions should be a big factor when looking for a elk or deer hunting binocular.
To counteract the low visibility, you should be looking at a binocular with a 42 or 50 objective size (NOTE: objective size is the second number in the 10x42 description). A larger objective size will allow more light to be absorbed by the binocular, resulting in a clearer image.
While it would be easy for me to recommend that you always go with the biggest objective size you can afford, that would be poor advice. Like most things in life, you need to find a balance. A balance between having the best possible image in low light conditions, versus carrying a very heavy set of bins around.
I would also recommend sticking to the big brands, like Vanguard, Bushnell, and Nikon. There are many other manufacturers out there, and shops like Cabelas have their house brands. In my opinion, the house brands are not the right binoculars for the serious hunter.
While the larger objective size has its advantages, it will be larger and weigh more than smaller lenses. If you sit in a blind, or a hide while hunting, you might be able to justify going for the heavier, larger 50 objective size. I prefer stalking my prey, so I compromised and went for the 42 in the Vanguard Spirit.
Best for Elk and Deer Hunting
If you are on the lookout for a good pair of elk hunting binocs, I would suggest you go for a pair with quality glass. These binocs also need to be comfortable as you are bound to spend a good amount of time stalking your prey. My opinion is that the Vanguard Spirit XF is the nr 1 recommended deer and elk stalking binoculars on the market.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Vanguard Spirit XF 10x42 offers solid construction, and is comfortable to hold and carry when spending long days on the hunting grounds.
I hope this hunting binoculars buying guide has helped you find the right pair. If you have any questions on any of these hunting binoculars reviews, drop me an email.
I would love to hear which bin you went with, so please take some time and leave a comment below. Make sure you don't pay anymore than $200 for any of the above models. In fact, the Vanguard Spirit XF 10x42 should be just under that mark, with the Nikon ACULON and the Bushnell Bear Grylls coming in around the $100 mark.