Watching the Watchmen: The 9 Best Binoculars

Mar 17, 2016

Category: Gear

While they might be the windows to the soul, the human eye is a horrible disappointment. Any optical technician will tell you that they have poorly designed lenses that require the advanced computing system in your brain just to try to understand what the hell is going on around you. They are easy to damage, they lie to you all the time, and they get worse over time. Thankfully, mankind has managed to improve on this shoddy workmanship by creating binoculars that do everything your weak-ass eyes cannot. If you are looking to upgrade your baby-blues, consider one of our choices below for the best binoculars on the market.

Nikon 7540 Monarch 3 8x42

Nikon 7540 Monarch 3 8×42

Nikon’s Monarch line offers numerous options, but to get everything you need without too many extraneous frills, the Monarch 3 does the job. It focuses all the way down to 9.8 feet, which is excellent for a budget option. Any outdoor enthusiast will be happy with the durability and waterproofing of the Monarchs, and the 25-year warranty shows that Nikon stands behind any defect in its product. Both the lenses and the internal prisms have anti-reflective coating, which will give you superior clarity in any light conditions. [Purchase: $177]

Bushnell Legend Ultra 10x42

Bushnell Legend Ultra 10×42

The Legend Ultra are specifically for those that love to watch wildlife. They use an ultra wide band coating that helps discern the foreground from the background and makes motion really pop. They are comfortable for extended use and, though their design looks streamlined, the 42mm lenses give a strangely broad field of vision. Can be used for spotting game by amateur hunters, but those serious about the kill will want something with a little more to offer. Light and easy to carry across hill and dale. [Purchase: $232]

Steiner Predator Xtreme 8x22

Steiner Predator Xtreme 8×22

Listen up sports fans, the Predator Xtreme are the ones you want in your pocket the next time you feel like buying seats in the nosebleed section. They offer the best clarity for a very compact package that can easily slip into a pocket or a pack without adding much weight.

To compensate for the smaller objective lens, Steiner employs color adjusted transmission technology they use allows them to keep colors and visibility truer even in lower light conditions. They aren’t going to be quite as good as larger models since they have a roof-prism design, but they’ll give you decent clarity and minimal jiggle without wasting space. The rugged rubber chassis and waterproof exterior prove they were intended for action. [Purchase: $128]

Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70

Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15×70

The SkyMasters are the antithesis of the Predator Xtreme in that they will not fit in your pocket. They will barely fit in your backpack thanks to their 70mm lens size. They are comical in appearance and look like someone strapped two telescopes together. The reason for this is they are not meant for easy transport or really any transport at all. The SkyMasters are best used at home for those that need a longer magnification for either light astronomical viewing or spying on the neighbor that doesn’t close her drapes during her pilates routine. Ideally they should be mounted on a tripod since holding them will tire out your biceps. [Purchase: $67]

Vortex Optics Razor HD 10x42

Vortex Optics Razor HD 10×42

For serious surveillance, the Optics Razor has few peers. They are rough enough to take whatever elements you throw at it and still retain outstanding clarity, even at maximum distance. The comfortable grip and light weight makes extended use a breeze. The APO Optical System makes them as much like a telescope as can be expected from pair of binos. Dielectric coatings on all the prisms reduce glare for both high and low light viewing so if you’re on a round-the-clock stakeout, these will never let you down and help you run your quarry to ground every time. [Purchase: $1,079]

Steiner Tactical 6508 10x42

Steiner Tactical 6508 10×42

You wouldn’t use the 6508 tactical binoculars to watch birds unless you suspected those birds had ties to Al-Qaeda. These are military grade tactical and surveillance binos that also work well if you like to do a little spotting for your sniper buddies on the weekends. They include a built-in SUMR reticle and mil gradations for identifying the distance to your target. The eye cups feel like an extension of your head and block out environmental interference so you can focus for hours on an insurgent’s nest. Can be submerged up to 6 feet or dropped down a cliff face with minimal damage. [Purchase: $700]

Bushnell Night Vision 25x42

Bushnell Night Vision 2.5×42

Your birdwatching habits are pretty extreme if you find yourself in the forest on a moonless night trying to catch sight of a spotted owl, but who are we to judge? You won’t get much magnification out of this Bushnell model because they are meant for extreme low-light environments. They have an IR sensor built in so no matter how dark it is outside, you’ll still be able to see. Great for tracking game at night, short-range surveillance, or stalking the girl from the coffee shop with the tongue stud, you creepy bastard. [Purchase: $490]

Swarovski Optik 10x42

Swarovski Optik 10×42

Only serious hunters that don’t mind scrawling zeros into their checkbook need apply for the Optik. When it comes to spotting and tracking game, there is nothing more impressive than a Swarosvski, and for determining target range, there is nothing that can outperform the Optik. It includes a stellar rangefinder that is effective between 33 and 1500 yards, though practical use has shown it works even slightly beyond that. Constructed with SWARO-AIM technology it will give you ballistic trajectory and maximize your shooting angle compensation. The scan mode even allows you to track fast-moving game with relative ease. Every kill begins with Optik. [Purchase: $3,179]

Zeiss Victory HT 10x42

Zeiss Victory HT 10×42

As soon as you pick up the ergonomically designed Victory HT, you will understand how a pair of binocs are supposed to feel in your hand. Besides comfort, as soon as you look through them you will curse your eyes for not being better. They are hands down one of the brightest glasses in existence. They are hermetically sealed and nitrogen purged making them not only waterproof but also dustproof, an issue that clouds some of the less expensive models over time. They fit with almost any face thanks to their broad interpupilary distance. They boast 95% light transmission, so that nearly all of the light bouncing off your objective makes it to your peepers. Expensive, but suitable for any and all situations. [Purchase: $2,250]

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