So you’ve decided to break down and buy a new pair of binoculars. You probably even have a favorite manufacturer in mind that you are considering. Even within a single product line, there are a ton of options when it comes to binoculars. Power, objective, water resistant, waterproof, shockproof, eye cups, straps, the list goes on and on.
The list below will help you select the perfect hunting binoculars for your particular situation and style of hunting.
Depending on where you plan to hunt, you will have different considerations in terms of power and objective. For western hunters, 10x or 12x should be adequate for glassing longer distances. Western hunters also need to balance the need for more power with weight. Higher power binoculars are typically larger and heavier than smaller, lower power models. There is a line to dance in terms of weight and power. Consider how much hiking you will be doing and invest in a good pair of binocular straps that evenly distributes the weight across your shoulders, back, and chest.
Eastern bowhunters typically use an 8x-10x power with a large objective (40mm+). In low light, the lower power actually helps you because you have more field of view. Ever spotted something with your naked eye then had trouble finding it when you look through your binos? Some of this may have to do with the power you are using. Lower power binoculars are excellent for poor light and thick woods. Consider your needs and where you will be using your binoculars–sometimes a lower power is the correct power.
When you begin to look online or at outdoor stores for a new pair of binoculars, pay close attention to the following items:
- Lens Manufacturer
- Power & Objective
- Eyecup Construction
From the list, one of the most important items is the warranty program. Customer service and having a great warranty can go a long way to ease your mind in terms of cost and reliability. Some companies provide “no questions asked” replacement of lenses, eyecups, and straps while others require you to jump through a little more red tape. Study each company and determine which has the best warranty program for you.
Why is it so hard to tell in the store?
Similar to buying clothes, don’t buy a new pair of binos without “trying them on” first. Aside from online reviews and word of mouth, you will need to actually look through the binos and check for clarity, how much light they gather, how comfortable they are to look through and wear, etc. Everyone’s eyes are slightly different and making sure they work with you is key.
It’s difficult to differentiate binoculars in the store because most only show their true colors when the light is poor. You need dim light to tell which has better glass and that simply cannot be done standing in a florescent-lit showroom floor.
Tip: Go to the store at twilight or just as it is getting dark. Make friends with the sales person behind the optics counter. Ask, politely, if he or she will accompany you outside so you can really put them to the test. Most stores and employees are happy to help. Going outside when the light is poor will allow you to really test each pair and make a more educated purchase.