A pair of good hunting binoculars is indispensable for hunters in the field. This may be the most important piece of gear in your inventory, and there are a lot of choices. What magnification is right? Should you choose a porro prism or roof prism? How important is it for binoculars to be waterproof, or shockproof? In this article, we’ll explain some of the important features of binoculars for hunting, and review some of the most popular models.

Key Features of Hunting Binoculars

Binoculars come in a variety of sizes, magnifying powers, and price ranges. Here are some of the most relevant features for deer and turkey hunters.


This is usually described as something like “8×25″. The first number is the magnification (8x), and the second number is the diameter of the objective lens (in millimeters). The larger the lens, the larger the field of view and the brighter the image.

Internal prism

All binoculars employ either a Porro prism or a roof prism. Porro prisms provide a slightly clearer, more three-dimensional image and better depth perception. They generally provide a wider field of view, which important when glassing for game in fields and open areas. You can recognize binoculars with porro prisms because the eyepiece is noticeably offset from the lens. This is because porro prisms are a bit bulky, which generally calls for a larger binocular frame.

The components of a roof prism overlap closely, allowing the objective lenses to line up directly with the eyepieces. This allows for a more streamlined, compact binocular design. You’ll often see roof prisms in compact pocket-sized binoculars.

Lens Coatings

Manufacturers apply chemical coatings to the lenses of binoculars to reduce glare while making the viewed image as bright as possible. The number, extent, and quality of these coatings directly affects how well your binoculars will work, especially in low-light conditions. Terms for lens coatings are as follows (the last one is the best):

  • Coated. A single layer is applied to at least one lens surface
  • Fully-coated. A single layer is applied to all air-to-glass surfaces
  • Multi-coated. Multiple layers are applied to at least one lens surface
  • Fully multi-coated. Multiple layers are applied to all air-to-glass surfaces

Eye Relief Cups

Eye relief cups are twist-up cups on the eyepiece of the binoculars that create a gap (empty space) between your eye and the glass. This creates a little darkness around the circle of light that you’re looking at, making it a bit easier on your eyes when looking through the binoculars (hence the term). I’ve noticed it’s really useful for if you wear glasses or shooting glasses while out in the field.

Hunting Binoculars Reviews

Let me tell you something about shopping for binoculars. It is HARD. The reason is that binoculars aren’t just for hunters – they’re for bird watchers, astronomers, sports fanatics, even opera-goers. As a result, when you start looking at the bestselling binoculars, many of them aren’t ideal for hunting. They’re too bulky or too heavy, or not rugged enough to be taken out in the field.

I’ve gone through and removed all of these, focusing only on binoculars that are good for hunting. That means lightweight, durable. Maybe waterproof, hopefully somewhat compact. Here are some of my favorites, including the pair I bought for myself.

Bushnell Powerview 8×25 Porro Binocular

Bushnell hunting binoculars reviews
Bushnell makes outstanding optics for sportsmen. These are their entry-level, compact binoculars that have the “InstaFocus” system: a quick-press lever that brings images into view. You can also use the center focus for more fine-tuning.

  • BaK-7 prisms and multi-coated optics for superior resolution and image clarity
  • Non-slip, shock-absorbing rubber armor
  • Fully coated optics
  • Fold-down eyecups

Buy these binoculars now

Bushnell Hunting Binoculars

Nikon ProStaff ATB 12×25 Waterproof Binocular

Nikon hunting binoculars reviews
This is probably the best-reviewed pair of Nikon binoculars for hunting (4.8 out of 5 stars). They’re waterproof, fogproof, and coated with rubber armor to be extra durable in the field.

  • 220-foot field of view at 1000 yards with 12x magnification
  • 100% waterproof and fogproof
  • Polycarbonite body with rubber armor

Buy these binoculars now

Nikon Hunting Binoculars

Bushnell Trophy XLT 10×42 Bone Collector Roof Prism Binoculars

Bushnell hunting binoculars reviews
Here’s a pair of binoculars engineered with the hunter in mind. They employ a roof prism to be streamlined and lightweight (25 ounces), and provide 10x magnification with 42mm objective lens for maximum brightness.

  • Full multicoated optics deliver bright, sharp image
  • Dura-Grip rubber-armored housing with soft-touch thumb grips
  • O-ring-sealed and nitrogen-purged to be waterproof and fogproof
  • Flip covers for objective lenses; twist-up eye relief cups

Buy these binoculars now

Bushnell Hunting Binoculars

Bushnell Waterproof Hunting BinocularsBushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Compact 8×26 Binocular

Bushnell hunting binoculars reviews
After much research and deliberation, these are the binoculars I bought for myself. I couldn’t be happier with them. The magnification (8x) is ideal for the dense timber where I typically hunt. Since I hunt primarily with a bow, I like that these were compact and lightweight.

Waterproofing is more important than you think. Already I’ve set these binoculars down on dew-soaked grass or had them out in the rain. I’ve never had any issues with fog or moisture.

  • Bushnell hunting binoculars reviewsBaK-4 prisms and multi-coated optics for clear, bright images
  • Non-slip rubber armor and Soft Texture Grip. I love the feel of the grip, and these absorb shock as well.
  • 8.5-foot close focus distance; 15mm eye relief. This is a deep eye relief. Great for use with glasses.
  • Large center-focus knob and single-eye adjustment.

Buy these binoculars now

Bushnell Deluxe Binocular Harness

Bushnell binoculars harness reviews

Bushnell Hunting Binoculars

Here’s a binocular harness from the maker of most of these hunting binoculars – Bushnell. Elastic straps position the harness comfortably on your chest, while the back panel distributes your binoculars’ weight evenly about your back and shoulders.

An optics rest below the chin enables quick-draw sighting if you need to look at something while afield.
Buy this binocular harness now



Summary: Binoculars as Hunting Tools

Without a doubt, my new hunting binoculars were the most important addition to my gear inventory last year. I’ve used them for scouting, still-hunting, looking for game on my tree stand, and even to look for rubs in open woods. Last year I used them to watch a tom strutting for his flock of hens for over an hour – a truly magical experience in the woods that I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy without a good pair of binoculars. Get one today!

The post Hunting Binoculars Reviews appeared first on In Search of Whitetails and is republished with permission.

Image courtesy In Search of Whitetails

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