Rick is a former news reporter who decided that the corporate world wasn't for him and took off to travel the world. He's been to every continent (yes, even Antarctica!) and has tried out a multitude of outdoor gear along the way. From tents to hiking boots, he's probably tested it all. Now, he's one of our full-time product testers and experts.
Bryan is one of our leading experts since he's got a vast expertise in practically everything connected to the outdoors. He's been hiking since he was a young boy, was an organizer of kayaking tours which later led to another passion of his - kayak fishing. Now, he's a part-time expert consultant involved in our multiple product tests and topic research.
Last updated: May 06, 2022
Outdoorspedia is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
If you are a big fan of bird watching, then you’ll know just how important a good pair of binoculars are. It’s vital to find the right tool for easier bird spotting during your trips, but that can be a challenge as there are many different features that make up the best binoculars for birding.
Thankfully we’ve done all the hard work for you, and we’ve come up with the 10 best binoculars for bird watching after comparing more than 45 different products. While all the models in this list were of exceptional quality, the Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 is the clear winner. Its optics show fantastic performance in all conditions and are able to give you a razor-sharp image to see those birds clearly. On top of that, it has a rubber-armored body and great water resistance level. However, you might be interested in something a bit different. That’s why we have 9 more products included in the list for you.
Several key features go into the best binoculars. The objective diameter and magnification are vital, but also the field of view, eye relief, dimension, and weight all come into it, along with other factors. To find the best binoculars for bird watching, we’ve consulted several experts and have also completed countless hours of research for our extensive reviews. To make this easy to scan, we’ve created a comparison table, a buying guide, and FAQs. Let’s get started!
"If you are looking for an affordable pair of binoculars for bird watching, consider this product with excellent light transmission. It offers you 10x magnification and an optimal field of view to spot various species."
"This pair of binoculars is another high-end option that provides edge-to-edge clarity despite the conditions. Furthermore, it is covered with a long warranty and has perfect water and fog resistance."
"For extended trips, these smaller-sized binoculars can be ideal. They come with various accessories, including a carrying case, lens caps, neck strap, and lens cloth that make them ready for the adventures right away."
"With these binoculars for bird watching, you will be able to take amazing photos at a greater distance thanks to the 12x magnification and an additional phone adapter that is included in the package."
"A perfect product for those who want to use the binoculars in low light conditions. This model has a large objective diameter for a sharper image, comfortable design, and comes with some useful accessories."
"This pair of binoculars can be used for various tasks, including bird watching. They have large eyepieces and excellent magnification to allow you to spot the birds easily, as well as a great waterproof rating."
"These binoculars are prepared for rainy weather thanks to the IPX7 waterproof rating. Additionally, you will get a bunch of accessories with this model, including the case, lens covers, cleaning cloth, and a neck strap."
More features: waterproof, fog proof, rubber armored body, Turn and Slide eyecups, multi-coated eco-glass lenses
These binoculars are simply fantastic in all areas. They are the best lightweight binoculars for bird watching, weighing in at just 20.9oz, which makes them easy to hold for extended periods.
They are able to excel in all conditions, which gives them a high level of versatility. That comes not only from their water and fog proofing but also from the body of the binoculars. It’s made from highly durable rubber to give it impressive shock resistance.
As well as durability, that rubber armor also helps to give you a high level of grip, even when it’s raining. While the binoculars do excel in most areas, the eyepiece cover is a little difficult to keep on, which can be a little annoying.
The 8×42 specifications here are what you’d expect from a high-quality bird watching model with impressive distance and also a wide field of view. Even better than that, it ensures a razor-sharp image, allowing you to see those birds in clear detail. It all adds up to a phenomenal pair of binoculars and ones that are very hard to beat.
More features: O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, multi-coated prisms, non-slip rubber armor, twist-up eyecups
Bushnell has been able to make these powerful binoculars that are brilliant value for money. With the 10x magnification and 42mm objective diameter, you’ll have the range and field of view to be able to spot a wide variety of birds.
When you’re trying to spot a bird, you want the adjustments to be as simple as possible to keep your eyes on the target. With the large central knob here, you can do just that.
At 25oz, it isn’t a lightweight model, but it should be easy enough for most people to carry around. The overall build quality is very impressive, with excellent shock resistance along with durability throughout.
Optic quality is fairly impressive with the Bushnell H2O, and this includes a high level of light transmission. While you can find cheaper binoculars out there, these help to represent impressive value for money and can be a great purchase for bird watching and more. Unfortunately, a few people mentioned noticeable chromatic aberration. However, others were happy with their purchase.
More features: waterproof, ready for extreme weather conditions, multi-coated lenses, ergonomic and sturdy design
These binoculars may have a steep price, but many people are going to see it as worth it for the sheer level of quality that you have. The optics are excellent, and you’ll be impressed with the overall build quality and construction.
Zeiss has been able to create incredibly versatile binoculars. They are able to cope with a wide range of different conditions, including extreme weather. That makes them perfect for bird watching but also backpacking, hunting, and any other outdoor activity.
The field of view is superb, which will allow you to scan for birds easily. You’ll also notice the clarity of the image, which is sharp. It all adds up to a level of bird watching, which you often can’t get with many other cheaper binoculars.
The only downside here is the price. While it may be a little steep for some people, they do tick every box on what makes brilliant binoculars. They are comfortable to hold and to view, and this allows you to use them for a whole day with no issues.
More features: waterproof, fog proof, multi-coated optics with phase-correction, twist-out eyecups, smooth focus knob
Nikon has been able to make these binoculars that don’t have the type of distance that you see in other models, but they do have a wide field of view. You’re able to scan and find your birds quite simply with the smooth focus knob.
If you wear glasses, then you’ll want binoculars with a good level of eye relief, and with 17.3mm here, you get more than with most other models. It will prevent you from needing to wear contact lenses or taking your glasses off.
At 28.oz, they are on the heavier side and can be a bit more difficult to use for extended periods. Part of the reason for that weight is due to the quality of the construction, and that helps with immense durability.
The images that you get with these binoculars are bright and clear. This includes performing very well in low light conditions. Thanks to these qualities, they also have a high level of versatility and can be useful in many different situations.
More features: twist-up eyecups, argon purged, O-ring seals, waterproof, fog proof, rubber armored chassis
Vortex Optics has also made binoculars with a premium price tag that have a high level of quality. They perhaps don’t have the elite level of brightness you’d expect, but they are still great when compared to cheaper models, especially when it comes to edge-to-edge clarity.
If you didn’t want to have the 10×42 optics, then you have the options of either 10×50, 12×50, or 8×42 depending on your needs. While they offer slightly different dimensions and magnification, they all have exceptional quality in common.
You know that the company has a lot of faith in their product since they offer a long warranty with it. It’s something that you’re unlikely to need due to the high level of durability, but it’s nice to know it is there.
The binoculars are waterproof, completely sealed, and purged with argon to prevent any fog on lenses. There is also a rubber-armored chassis, which will protect it from drops. The sturdiness, along with the fantastic optical quality, makes these a great option for those looking for a premium product.
More features: waterproof polycarbonate housing, multi-coated lenses, come with carrying case, objective lens caps, eyepiece rainguard, neck strap, lens cloth, instruction manual
If you want to have the best compact binoculars for bird watching, then these would be a great option. Even though they are fairly small in size, these small binoculars are still quite heavy at 28oz, which is worth keeping in mind.
What is impressive about these binoculars is the number of accessories that you get here. You will find a case, lens caps, a neck strap, a cloth, and even a rain guard for the eyepieces. It’s more than you get with most other models, and that makes them ready for your next trip right out of the box.
If you are looking for something a little different, then there are 5 other models with different optics to get the perfect one for you. You can also buy the binoculars with a smartphone adapter that allows you to take great shots.
They have a high level of durability, but they don’t make any compromises on comfort as they are easy to hold and press against your eye. If you wear glasses, then you’ll also be happy to know about the long eye relief they have at 18mm.
More features: BAK-4 prism glass, excellent image clarity, come with phone adapter
The magnification is one of the most important aspects of binoculars. The 12x that you get here is exceptional. That is aided by the 42mm objective diameter that will give you a good field of view with plenty of light.
With 12x magnification, a lot of cheaper binoculars lose focus. With the BAK-4 prism glass used in this model, you’ll have excellent clarity. The crisp image is helped by high light transmission even in low light conditions.
Holding high-powered binoculars for a long time will eventually give you arm ache and become uncomfortable. With a tripod socket on this model, you can set it up at a fixed point and watch your birds all day with no problems.
While these binoculars are great, it’s worth noting that they don’t have the highest levels of waterproofing. They can still hold up well to the rain but not much else. It lessens their versatility, but it won’t be a problem for bird watching.
More features: anti-slip rubber armor, easy to focus, improved image brightness, can be used after dark, adaptable to a tripod, comes with accessories
Do you love bird watching near to dusk or dawn? If you then you’ll need a pair of binoculars that can excel in low-light conditions. It’s where the SkyGenius Binoculars prove their worth as you’ll get exceptional clarity at all times of the day.
We couldn’t find any obvious flaws with these binoculars, but some users have reported some issues upon delivery, which is worth noting. Aside from that, they tick all of the boxes on what makes great binoculars with a high level of overall quality.
The part of the reason that they are great in low light is due to their huge objective diameter of 50mm. That diameter also helps to give you great clarity of the image. You’ll be able to see those birds in exquisite detail.
A tripod can be also be used for this model for those who want a permanent set-up, and it also comes with plenty of accessories. They are quite simply brilliant binoculars and the best model for you if you’re looking for a wide object diameter.
More features: BAK4 prism glass, multi-coated optics, come with carrying case, lens protection covers, cleaning cloth and neck strap
Adorrgon has also produced binoculars that have a powerful magnification of 12x, and along with an objective diameter of 42mm, it creates a quality viewing experience. The image they produce is not quite as sharp as other options we’ve seen but still high-quality.
There is a nice range of accessories that comes in this package. You have a carrying case that will protect the lenses and a carrying strap to prevent drops. Added to that, you also get protection covers and cleaning cloth.
If you think that you may be bird watching in wet conditions, then you need a high level of waterproof protection. These binoculars can be fully submerged, and therefore, you’ll have no issues should they come in contact with water.
That level of weather protection also gives them excellent versatility. They can be used anywhere, and they are great for hunting, backpacking, or even sports events. If you simply want the best binoculars for bird watching, well, they are ideal for that too.
More features: IPX7 waterproof rating, comes with phone adapter, carry case, strap, cleaning cloth and lens caps
If you want to have the best binoculars for bird watching and astronomy, then this model by Stellax can be a great choice. They have exceptional quality with a powerful 10x magnification that is perfect for many different tasks.
One thing you immediately notice about these binoculars is the stylish design. While it’s not all that important for binoculars, it’s always nice to have something that looks great. That style is backed up with a range of different useful features.
The IPX7 rating of this model means it can be submerged in shallow water for up to 30 minutes. Add that to the solid build quality, and you will get a pair of highly reliable binoculars.
You get a range of great accessories here, although the smartphone attachment is a little flimsy. Another downside to these binoculars is the small eye relief, and therefore, they aren’t perhaps the best for anyone who wears glasses.
What makes it stand out?
Great for all conditions
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Phone attachment is poor
Eye relief could be better
Things to Consider
Unless you’re an expert in binoculars, it can be hard to know exactly which ones you should buy. In this buying guide, we want to give you that knowledge. Once you get a clearer idea, you’re going to make the informed choice on the best binoculars for bird watching. We’ll go through the key features as well as looking at some FAQs. If you even have any doubts, you can refer back to this section at any time.
Monocular vs. binoculars for bird watching
Whether you want a monocular or binoculars, a lot of comes down to personal preference. Apart from the obvious facts, there are a few key differences to consider.
Portability – With a monocular being smaller, it’s going to be easier to carry, but binoculars don’t take up much space either, so this would rarely be an issue.
Comfort – Even though binoculars are bigger, many people find binoculars more comfortable. This is because you get less eye fatigue, and there is a smaller chance of dropping them. In contrast to that, a monocular is a lot lighter, but at the same time can be less durable.
Optics – With having two lenses, you have a much wider field of view with binoculars and also a much better image. For viewing quality, binoculars are the clear winner.
How to find the best binoculars for bird watching?
To find the best binoculars for bird watching, you have to consider the conditions that you’ll be in, what magnification your need, and other features, such as the weight. There are also other factors, such as if you’ll potentially be in the rain and need high waterproofing. As we go through each section here, it’s a good idea to make a note of how important each feature is to you.
With binoculars, you’re going to see figures, such as ‘10×42’ found on the Vortex Optics Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars. What do they mean? Well, the first figure is the magnification, and the second is the objective diameter.
Magnification – This is simply how much further you can see that with the naked eye. On 10×42 binoculars, this will mean you can be 10 times further. While a higher figure is often seen as better, you can lose focus, and it is harder to find the balance for the optimal image.
Objective diameter – This figure is the size (in millimeters) of the lenses furthest from your eyes. This determines the amount of light coming into the lenses, which is great for low light conditions. The downside to this is that bigger means heavier. If you’re only bird watching in bright conditions, the objective diameter is less important.
Field of view
The field of view shows how much of the viewing area you get at 1,000 yards. The Adasion 12×42 Binoculars, for example, give you a field of view of 367 feet at 1,000 yards. This is fairly standard, and it will give you fairly wide coverage.
It’s worth noting that the field of view is largely impacted by magnification. The more powerful the binoculars, the narrower the field will be. For viewing objects closer to you, the field of view isn’t that vital, whereas it’s preferable for other hobbies such as astronomy.
You want to be able to focus easily when you are trying to get a clear image of a bird. The Bushnell H2O has a large central knob, which makes it very simple to focus while you’re still looking through the lenses.
Another important feature is eye relief. This is how far away from the lens your eye can be to get a clear image. This is important for glass wearers as a low eye relief will make it much more difficult for them to use. The Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars is an example of binoculars with great eye relief of 18mm.
The importance of size is going to differ from one person to the next. The SkyGenius 10 x 50 Powerful Binoculars are quite large. That may not be suitable for most people, but they can still be easily placed in a backpack.
If you love getting outdoors and need something a little more compact for your bird watching, then the Celestron – Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars can be ideal for you. They are easier to carry for those who are going to have limited space in the backpack.
Holding binoculars for an extended period can be quite tiring. If you think you may struggle with that, the Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 is a great option at just over 20oz. They can be held up for extended periods with minimal arm ache.
If you want a heavier model for more balance but don’t want to hold them all the time, then there is a solution. The SkyGenius 10 x 50 Powerful Binoculars are an example of ones that can be attached to a tripod to give you a fixed viewing point.
If you’re only ever going to be bird watching in sunny weather, then weather resistance isn’t going to be important. That being said, you always want them to have some water resistance. If it rains, you don’t want your binoculars to be ruined.
If you think you may be out in rough weather, then the Stellax ZoomX Binoculars can be an epic choice with their IPX7 rating. This means they can even be submerged up to 1 meter with no issues. It’s great for backpackers who may be caught in bad weather.
You don’t want to spend a significant sum on your binoculars only for them to fail after a few months. All of the binoculars that we have looked at here have an impressive level of durability, which should make them last for many years.
To protect your binoculars, you will want to find features such as rubberized armor. This will protect them from bumps and drops. Also, having lens caps and a carrying case is going to help keep them cushioned and prevent the lenses from getting scratched.
You need to have some accessories for binoculars to keep them safe and at their best. The likes of the Stellax ZoomX Binoculars have a great range of accessories, and here, we will take a look at some you should look out for.
Case – You don’t want to always rely on their tough exterior. A case will give them the protection you need.
Straps – You don’t want to carry binoculars in your hands all the time. Straps will make your life a lot easier.
Tripod– If you want to enjoy bird watching from a fixed point, a tripod can help you with that. Not all binoculars have a tripod socket, so look out for this.
Phone holder – Some come with a phone holder that allows you to take pictures.
Lens caps – Caps are vital to prevent your lenses from scratches or cracks.
Lens cloth – Not all materials are suitable for lens cleaning. Carrying a lens cloth is important.
In general, having some accessories included in the package increases the value of the product. Don’t forget to check the ones that you might need during your outdoor trips.
As with any type of product, you will find a wide range of prices here.
While they are probably the two most important aspects of binoculars, you shouldn’t put too much focus on them. On lower-quality binoculars, the figures may look great, but the construction of them may mean the image quality isn’t very good. You need to asses these specifications along with the other features. Magnification affects the field of view, and the objective diameter can affect the weight. It’s not always the best idea to simply opt for binoculars with impressive objective diameter and magnification.
There are four steps to getting the perfect focus on your binoculars.
Adjust the eye caps so that they fit your needs. If you have glasses, for example, you will often have to twist down the eye caps for comfortable viewing.
Ensure that the eyepieces perfectly match the distance between your eyes.
Set the dioptric adjustment. This is where you compensate for different eye strength. Focus on one image a reasonable distance away and adjust it until that image is sharp with one eye shut. You then do the same with the other eye, ensuring both can see the sharp image.
Once you have all that set-up, you can then use the large knob in the middle of the binoculars to get the perfect focus.
This is where the objective diameter is vital. When trying to view an object in low levels of light, it’s important that you get as much light into the lenses as possible. With a small objective diameter, you’re not going to be able to see much. Added to this, there are also specific lens filters that are better for picking up low light details. While you’re never going to be able to bird watch in complete darkness, a large objective diameter and the right lenses will make it a lot easier to do that in the evening.
While all binoculars we’ve looked at here have exceptional quality, we think the Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 stands out above the rest. The optics are brilliant with a price tag, which is excellent value for the level of overall quality you have.
If they are a bit expensive for you, then the Bushnell H2O still gives you impressive results.
In contrast, if you’re looking for the ultimate in optical quality and precision, the Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 Binoculars will allow you to spot any birds with ease.
Of course, it could be that one of these doesn’t quite match your needs. Thankfully, the other 7 we’ve looked at here are fantastic. Make sure to find the best binoculars for bird watching, and you’ll love the results and being able to spot those birds easier than ever before.