Choosing the right pair of hunting binoculars has never been an easy task. In today’s market it is an even more difficult decision, with the introduction of several new manufacturers. The optics industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years and is fast becoming one of the fastest growing segments in the hunting world. Choosing a pair of optics is like choosing the right tree support. There are so many options available that it can get confusing, to say the least. I recently sold my pair of Redhead Epic 10X42 binoculars to a friend and will have to make this difficult decision myself in the near future. In this article, I am going to discuss the questions one should ask oneself before choosing the pair of binoculars that is right for them.
The first question I have to ask myself when choosing a new pair of binoculars is “what will I use them for the most” and “what is most important to me”. Let’s start with the first part of the question. What will you use your binoculars for the most? I do a lot of tree hunting during the season, and archery season is my favorite time of year. I also take trips north when I can and use my binoculars to glaze the edges and ridges of farmland. Knowing this, I can rule out bulky oversized models, high magnification. I need a pair of binoculars that I can wear around my neck while on the stand or while stalking, that don’t get in the way, but also have the right magnification to use while sitting in large farm fields in the north or on pasture here in Florida. . Weight, size, and light gathering ability are the most important factors to me when choosing a pair of binoculars. Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
Is weight the most important feature to you? Tree stand hunters don’t want a heavy pair of binoculars weighing them on the tree, plus glass isn’t that nice with a heavy pair of optics. If you are going to use your binoculars from a vehicle or while looking in open terrain, weight may not be such a big issue for you. Just a few ounces can make a big difference when using your binoculars for several minutes at a time.
How about the size of your binoculars? Many companies now offer their binocular lines in three categories: compact, medium and large. When shooting archery, a large pair of binoculars can get in the way at crucial moments when trying to shoot. However, most compact series binoculars lack the light gathering capabilities that the medium and large models have. Many turkey hunters like to use compact binoculars that can easily fit in a shirt pocket when not in use. Having a good set of compact binoculars can be a huge advantage when you don’t need to see more than 100 yards or so. However, in open areas or in low light situations, they can hamper your ability to judge an animal from a distance. Choosing the correct size range is the next step in determining which pair is right for you.
What objective power do I need? This is probably the most common question in determining which pair of binoculars to choose. Average 7X to 16X magnification for most manufacturers, with larger magnification models available. Personally, I like the magnification of a 10X binocular. Some hunters who primarily hunt dense thickets or thickets do not need as much magnification, while other hunters in the west need magnifications greater than that while sporting distant ridges for larger game. Most archery hunters don’t need more than 7X or 8X binoculars, but if you’re also a rifle hunter, that little bit of extra power can go a long way. The magnification also depends on the size of your objective lens to know how well it will work during the early hours of the morning, late at night, or cloudy days.
How do I know what size objective lens will work best for me? Most compact and medium binoculars have objective lenses in the 25mm to 36mm size range. Full-size binoculars have objective lens sizes that range from 40mm to 56mm on average. The size of your objective lens will determine many factors in the performance of your binoculars. The smaller the objective lens, the smaller your field of view. This may not be important if all you need to see is several feet through thick bushes or trees. In open areas, smaller fields of view can make the difference between seeing a few animals in a herd and the entire herd. The size of your objective lens also has a direct impact on the light gathering ability of your binoculars.
What does the light gathering ability mean to me? Remember that the smaller the objective lens, the less light can pass through the lens into your eye. Magnification also plays a crucial role in light gathering capabilities. Lower magnification binoculars have larger fields of view, which means that more light can be passed into the pupils. The key to determining how well your binoculars will work in low-light situations is called the “exit pupil.” This term is displayed in millimeters and refers to the width of the available light coming out of the viewing end of your binoculars. The pupil of the human eye can only capture so much light in situations where available light is scarce. A pair of binoculars with an exit pupil of 5mm or more will work best in low light situations. How is this related to your objective lens size and magnification? The smaller the objective lens, the less available light can pass through the objective lens. The higher the magnification, the less available light can pass into your pupils. Keep this in mind if light gathering ability is one of your main features when choosing a pair of binoculars.
The last piece of the puzzle is the quality of the lenses and prisms in your binoculars. The old saying “you get what you pay for” applies here to some extent. Most binoculars in the $ 200-plus price range have better lenses, lens coatings, and prisms. But what does all this mean? Let’s start with the lenses first. Good quality lenses will be smooth and symmetrical in size throughout. Even small flaws, waves, or discrepancies in lens density can mean lower clarity and display performance. The best way to see this difference is to buy a $ 25 pair of compact binoculars and compare them to a larger $ 300 pair. You should immediately see a huge difference in brightness and clarity across the entire field of view. Some less expensive binoculars are very clear in the center of the viewing frame, but become blurry when looking towards the edges of the field of view. Coatings that manufacturers put on lenses also aid clarity and light-gathering capabilities. It’s like looking through a pair of quality polarized sunglasses, versus a $ 5 pair at the gas station.
Prisms (which are the mirrors inside binoculars that reflect the light coming through the objective lenses to the magnifying lenses at the other end) are also important. The better the quality of the prism / mirror, the better the performance of the binocular. The last quality feature of binoculars is the gas purge. This is what manufacturers refer to by the term “fog proof”. This simply means what gas the manufacturer uses to fill their optics before sealing them. Nitrogen is the most common gas used in mid-priced binoculars due to its ability to not condense on internal lenses at varying temperatures. Most high-end binoculars are purged with argon gas, as it will not condense over a wider range of temperatures and conditions.
There are many more factors that determine the performance and quality of your binoculars. I tried to cover the most important features to consider. Remember to ask yourself the questions I have discussed above when choosing the right pair for you. Good luck in your decision and feel free to email us if you have any questions about the binoculars we offer.