We’ve heard every reason in the book for purchasing a pair of binoculars; ranging from an older gentleman who wanted to save money by being able to buy cheaper seats at baseball games, to a younger lady who wanted to get a better view of the men at the beach down the street from her apartment. Buying a pair of binoculars for bird-watching might not sound quite as exciting, but to the contrary – it can be every bit as exciting when you finally catch a glimpse of a bird you’ve never seen before, but only birdwatchers will understand what it’s like.
Gotta Watch ‘Em All
These days, everybody is out there trying to catch these imaginary Pokémon, and granted it’s great that it’s getting people outside into nature and being active, but there’s been a real life version of this game that people have been playing for centuries, and you don’t need to worry about your GPS signal or your phone’s battery running out.
It’s called birding. All you need is some patience, and a pair of binoculars. In today’s digital world, it’s easy to constantly check our phones any time we become bored for even a split second, but that prevents us from ever truly being relaxed.
One of the greatest aspects of bird watching is the meditative state that it can put you in, but also the sudden rush you feel when you’ve finally spotted a bird you’ve been looking for.
We’re going to be taking a look at some of the best binoculars for birding, but first let’s go over some of the criteria:
- Price: Typically, a higher price means better quality, but not always. We’re going to look at some options for every budget. Rest assured that every pair of binoculars on this page has one thing in common: value. No matter what it costs, you know you’re getting at least what you paid for – and in most cases, a lot more.
- Quality: This also ties into value. We’re not going to suggest any binoculars for you to take birding if they’re likely to fail when you need them most. A good quality product should last you many years of worry-free use.
- Magnification: The birding community can be quite torn as to whether 7x, 8x or 10x magnification is the way to go. The 10’s are better for watching birds that are further away like hawks, or birds that hang out over the water, or simply seeing greater details in closer birds. However, you lose out on some of the field of view that you’ll enjoy from 7’s or 8’s. It really comes down to a personal preference, and honestly if you’ve got room, maybe consider going with one pair of 7x or 8x, and another pair of 10x.
The 5 Best Birding Binoculars
Alright, with all of that preamble out of the way, let’s take a look at our top choices.
Zeiss Conquest HD Binoculars 10×42
These are going to be the most expensive pair on our list. There are some other models out there that top the $2000 price range, but that’s really getting into the highest of the high end, and you reach a point of diminishing returns.
The Conquest HD model by Zeiss is made in Germany, has a water-shedding coating making it acceptable to use in any weather conditions, they’re very lightweight, and are suitable for people who wear eye-glasses as well as those who do not.
Now, if you’re more of a casual bird watcher and you don’t want to sell the farm to afford a pair, let’s look at some more reasonably priced binoculars next.
Celestron 71332 Nature DX
These bad boys are available in a variety of sizes, are very highly reviewed, and come in at just over $100. They’re not the cheapest pair of binoculars out there, and they’re not even the cheapest ones we’ll be featuring on this list, but if you aren’t on too tight of a budget but still aren’t looking to spend hundreds, they’re going to be your best bet in terms of quality, optics, and overall value.
If you’re looking to spend under $100, here’s your best option coming up next.
The Bushnell Legacy WP 8×42
Click here to Read User Reviews and Amazon Pricing
Bushnell has a long standing reputation as a maker of binoculars, and this Legacy model is a great place to start for a beginner birdwatcher. Are they are absolute best binoculars for birdwatching in the entire world? No, but at literally a fraction of the cost of some of the other choices out there, they’re really not a bad place to start if you don’t have more money to spend on your binoculars. They’re the best binoculars under $100, quite likely, and have hundreds of positive reviews over at Amazon to prove it.
Here’s another budget-pair that won’t break the bank but will give you some great sights.
Opticron Oregon 4 LE WP 8×32
Just over $100, these still fall well within the “budget” range. Now, we know there are binoculars out there for $20, $30, $40… but we would classify those as below-budget. That doesn’t mean they’re absolute trash or anything, but we’re assuming that anyone who is taking the time to go birding, especially if it represents a few special moments on a camping trip, is looking for something that will do at least a solid job, if not absolute perfection. When you spot that rare bird, “good enough” isn’t really good enough, so that’s why we’re skipping the very bottom of the barrel, so that you can rest assured that everything on here is nothing but pure quality.
We’ve recommended some cheaper options in the past, but one of the biggest concerns is quality control. You just can’t make a GREAT pair of birding binoculars at those prices, and we’re here to recommend the sure-things, not to take a shot in the dark on something that “may or may not be good enough”.
That’s the end of my little rant… we’ve seen too many people miss out on great views because they were tricked into buying a sub-par product, and that’s just not going to happen on our watch (no pun intended.)
Anyways, with that out of the way, there’s just one more pair to look at. They’re on the pricier side relative to this list, but compared to some of the most expensive models out there, they’re still an absolute bargain.
Best in Class: Nikon 7548 MONARCH 7 8×42 Binocular
These binoculars are absolutely incredible. You know the old saying “you get what you pay for”? Sometimes, you get a lot more. You get the peace of mind that they’re going to be ready to go when you need them the most, lightweight and easy to carry along, super-high quality glass for incredible visuals, high-grade anti-reflective coatings so you aren’t stuck staring at a glare, and those camping memories that will last a lifetime.
Normally, we might not recommend something at this price point to take with you on a camping trip, but they’re so durable and resistant that you’ll be just fine, and you’ll be glad that you have such a high-quality pair to get the best views that nature has to offer.
So there you have it, five great choices to fit most budgets. Bird watching can be a great addition to any camping trip, you don’t even have to leave your camp site in many cases. Lots of people like to keep a pair of binoculars at their lake, and a checklist of all the local species of birds that they’re seen and the ones that they’re still looking for. With that, we wish you good luck wherever your journey takes you!