Binoculars today are much more efficient than those used in the past. Bulky binoculars with vision that does not last past sundown are nearly obsolete. The optics used nowadays have the ability to collect light in complete darkness, which is very convenient for the adept bowhunter. Regardless of the animal or the landscape, a good pair of binoculars is a key asset for catching prey.
Key Aspects to Look for When Purchasing Binoculars for Bowhunting
Before trying to identify the best binoculars for bowhunting, take the time to know exactly what qualities you are looking for. Here are some of the key aspects to consider before purchasing binoculars for bowhunting.
Binoculars are sold in three primary powers of amplification: 8x, 10x, and 12x. The amplification indicates how magnified the target will appear to your eyes.
- Lower magnification (7x or 8x) provides a larger view and heat waves are less noticeable, which means the view will be clearer in warmer temperatures. Naturally, a more high-powered pair of binoculars will provide better detail.
- Medium (and sometimes lower) powered binoculars can be useful if you often experience headaches and weary eyes during long periods of glassing.
- High powered bowhunting binoculars offer superior zooming ability at longer ranges to determine tines or the animal’s sex. However, these binoculars often have a restricted field-of-view (FOV), making them less practical for glassing unidentified animals. However, if you have already identified the animal’s location, and there is no need for “spotting,” higher magnification binoculars are ideal to reflect finer details.
In addition to amplification, it is important to consider the binocular’s objective dimensions. Objective dimensions are represent the diameter of the back of the lens. For example, if you have a pair of binoculars that are 10×50, the first number indicates the amplification and the second number indicates the objective dimensions. A larger objective dimension number means the lens is wider, which allows more light to pass through, and enhances vision as dawn and dusk, or in any situation where light is limited. However, a larger objective dimension will likely be heavier than smaller sizes that don’t collect as much light.
The prices of bowhunting binoculars can vary widely. Some cost as low as $29.00 while others can cost beyond $3000. It all comes down to your specific binocular needs. As a rule-of-thumb, the more pricey the binoculars, the better the lens. Pricier binoculars will also likely have enhanced clarity and light gathering features. That being said, by prioritizing your needs and evaluating the trade-offs, there’s no need to raid your savings in order to purchase a good pair of binoculars. Consider also the warranty provided by the manufacturer. Some companies offer an unconditional lifetime warranty, which is most likely the best option available, and should be factored in to the total price you are willing to pay for the product.
Secondary Aspects to Consider When Purchasing Binoculars for Bowhunting
Field of View (FOV)
There is no set guidelines for selecting the “correct” field of view (FOV). If you plan to use your binoculars in broad open spaces, high FOV will be beneficial. However, if you are more focused on finding game that moves quickly, a high FOV is not required.
Hunting binoculars come in two key “prism” categories: porro prisms and roof prisms. The main difference between the two is that porro prisms are usually larger and heavier as they require a larger model to reflect the light several times, while roof prisms are usually lighter, with a sleeker design. As a result, roof prisms are typically deemed more practical, and porro prisms tend to be more affordable.
Eye relief is a key consideration if you wear eyeglasses or sunglasses. Eye relief determines the distance you can hold your binoculars from your eyes while maintaining the full image in focus. If you are a bowhunter who wears eyeglasses, a minimum of 14 to 15 mm will likely be the best fit.
Binoculars come equipped either with a center focus, or a separate eyepiece focus. The separate eyepiece is helpful for medium to long distance use. Additionally, if your target is more than 30- 40 yards away, binoculars with a separate eyepiece require zero focusing on your part. There are also no exterior parts, which makes them more resistant to dampness and wear-and-tear. Center focus binoculars work best for targets that are not more than 30 yards away.
Even for the most experienced bowhunters, full-sized binoculars can feel quite heavy. The type and quantity of glass used to execute the binocular design adds significant weight to the product, which can be especially burdensome while hiking. If you plan to be wearing your binoculars around your neck for long treks, be sure to consider that a lighter, 30 mm objective design may be easier on your back and neck.
Water Resistance and Rubber Coating
Rubber coating is a key feature for bowhunting binoculars as it makes it easier to grip the binoculars during damp weather and provides greater durability. Water resistance or waterproofing are also important factors to consider, along with resistance to soil, dust, and other weather conditions. Additionally, a sealant can keep binoculars from fogging up or leaking.
From time to time, manufacturers will include a decent set of accessories to come along with binoculars, usually a case, strap, and body harness. Out of these three, the case is probably the most important as it protects against abrasions and damage during transport, and provides additional protection for binoculars that are not rubber coated or waterproofed.
Six of the Best Binoculars for Bowhunting
Below are six of the top binoculars for bowhunting, in no particular order. Keep in mind that the origin of manufacturing is crucial not only to ensure quality, but also to know that there is a local branch near you, should any problems arise. The quality of the manufacturer can hint towards the quality of warranty and after-sale service. If you are planning to make worthy investment on your binoculars, companies with a good product and reputation should be given preference.
Prices are categorized by lower-range (under $300), middle-range ($300-$599), and higher-end binoculars ($600 and up).
1. Vortex Optics Viper HD 10×42
This superior binocular is one of the best on the market and comes equipped with a myriad of features, including an O-ring that seals against moisture (fog), water, and dust. The Vortex Optics Viper HD has a multi-coated design that provides superior image quality due to its highly dense and extremely low-level dispersion glass. With a high user rating, this state-of-the-art binocular is for the serious bowhunter. The rubberized structure and custom grip is unparalleled in other models. The Vortex Optics comes with a variety of accessories as well. Some bowhunters may find this model a bit heavy, but not uncomfortably so. In addition, the FOV (field of view) is smaller compared to other higher-end models.
- HD low dispersion glass
- Multi-coated lens offers sharp details with supreme hues and clarity
2. Upland Optics Perception HD 10x42mm Binoculars
Upland Optics Perception HD is a more reasonably priced choice among the highly rated binoculars for bowhunters. With a 10x magnification and a 42mm objective lens, this multi-textured binocular is a moderately priced option for more casual bowhunters. Buyers of the Perception HD found the product a superior optic purchase with quality imagery and lucidity. On the whole, this model has great value for the money.
- Enhanced magnesium chassis
- Dielectric coating and multi-coating enhancing color, images, and light transference
- Moisture, fog, debris, and dust protection
- Small hinge for easier management
3. 40049 Leica 10×42 Geovid HD-B Ballistic Range Finder Binocular
Listed as one of the best-selling binocular models around the world, this 40049 Leica 10×42 is unmatched when it comes to superior quality. The Leica brand has a pristine reputation not only for producing amazing binoculars, but for producing some of the top-rated microscopes and cameras on the market today. This binocular model has all the features you are looking for as an experienced bowhunter. Probably the biggest disadvantage to this model is the high-end price. Nevertheless, it’s filled with up-to-the-minute ballistic properties, a barometer, thermometer, and inclinometer. This binocular design is worth saving up for.
- Water and fog proof
- Nitrogen filled
- Advanced technology for effortless hunting
4. Leupold Rogue Binoculars
This top-quality binocular offers more than sufficient attributes on the lower-end cost spectrum. The Leupold Rogue Binoculars offers bountiful eye relief and a large knob for focusing on prey.
- Generous eye relief
- Porro prisms and multi-coated lens
- Great price
5. Swarovski Swarovision 10×42
The Swarovski EL Swarovision is one of, if not the most, elegant and sophisticated pair of binoculars on the market today. They are the Rolls-Royce of binoculars with a hefty price tag to match! A top-quality protective cover and amazing lens with additional top-of-the-line attributes place this pair of binoculars at the top of the market. You will see what you’ve been missing once you look through the lens of this superior product. It will be hard to find a better pair of binoculars for hunting to compete in form, texture, size, lavishness, and overall sleekness. The Swarovski Swarovision 10×42 is a bit heavier than less costly hunting models, but its to be expected when purchasing higher-end binocular designs.
- Field view of 336 ft at 1000 yds
- Crystal clear images
- Three different types of coatings: Swarobright, Swarodur, and Swarotop
- Outside lenses coated with Swaroclean guaranteeing incredibly easy cleaning
6. Vortex Talon HD 10×42 Binocular
The medium-range Vortex Talon HD binocular is reasonably priced for the included attributes. With extra low dispersion-glass and HD, this set of binoculars is both lucid and damage resistant. What’s more, a view of nearly 350 ft at 1000 yds is exceptional and rare for a 10 power, 42mm objective binocular irrespective of the price. Vortex cleverly designed this mid-priced quality product with features comparable to higher-priced, European models.
- High Density ED Glass
- Waterproof and Fog proof
- Phase Corrected
Finding the ideal binoculars for bowhunting will require time and effort. You will need to consider particular qualities like eye relief, FOV, focus type, and more. Nevertheless, if you know what you want, you will find your perfect pair of binoculars with a bit of patience. By doing your research, you will be a happy hunter with the perfect bowhunting binoculars to help capture your game!