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: June 20, 2022
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If you love to get up close with nature in the great outdoors, you will definitely have to invest in good vision equipment. A monocular might first appear to be a niche item but, if you invest in a good one, you may find it more useful than it appears. Famously known to be used by pirates in history, they are also a popular choice among birdwatchers and hikers. They are more convenient because of their compact and lightweight nature. They are also more pocket-friendly compared to other vision equipment.
Finding the best monocular for premium enjoyment of your outdoorsy life is not the easiest of tasks. Especially now that the market is overflowing with endless models and brands. We came up with this guide to lend you a hand in choosing the best monocular for your needs. We considered over 30 products and ended up with a list of 8 impeccable products. Of the 8 monoculars we reviewed, the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular was our best overall pick. It featured the highest number of positive properties, and it packed multiple superior features that set it apart from the rest.
You can trust our product list to have the best monoculars in the market, owing to the sources we used and the amount of time we spent on research. Some of the features on which we based our choices and rankings include; objective lens diameter, magnification, weight, lens coating, field of view, and many others. These features determine the quality and performance level of the monocular. The comparison table, detailed product reviews, and the buying guide have all the ideal information you need to know before choosing a monocular.
Other features: 100% waterproof / fog proof construction, ED Prime Glass, PC-3 Phase Coated prism
This monocular tops the list because it lives up to its “legend” name when it comes to quality and performance. It is a tactical monocular with an ergonomic design. It packs a myriad of superb features that make it one of the best monoculars for birdwatching, hunting, backpacking, and other outdoor activities.
The mono comes in a sturdy but lightweight design, which you can easily carry around in 2 colors. Its exterior is coated with rubber for extra protection against water or bumps. It is highly portable as you can wear it on your neck with a lanyard or use a clip to move it around. It also comes with a Picatinny rail on which you can mount your accessories. You can as well mount it on a tripod as it features a built-in tripod mount.
This powerful mono provides a stunning resolution for longer distances. You will get your images with exquisite detail. With its Bak-4 prisms, you are guaranteed of incredible clarity.
Additionally, it features fully multi-coated lenses that impede fogging.
The mono’s most exciting feature is the RainGuard HD coating, which makes it 100% waterproof. Unlike many other models, your viewing experience will never be ruined by rain, condensation moisture, or snow.
Another plus for this mono is the ED prime glass, which minimizes color dispersion. It allows you to enjoy great color detail in the images even at a long distance. What’s more, its objective lens provides a good amount of light transmission that allows you to see both in daylight and in lower light conditions.
The mono has a fantastic field of view measuring 340ft from a distance of 1000 yards, and it offers a good close focus distance at 6.5ft.
Bushnell backs up all these features with a 100% money-back guarantee, which show how much confident they are with its quality. It also offers great value with its pricing that no one should miss out on its wonderful set of features.
Why did it make our list?
Picatinny rail for mounting accessories
Great clarity and resolution
ED prime glass for great color detail
Can be used in daylight and low light conditions
Offers great value
100% money guarantee
What is not ideal about it?
Tough plastic cap lenses that cause creases in the rubber armor
Other features: nitrogen filling, 15 mm eye relief, 1.8 m close focus
If you are on the market for a premium quality monocular, this is your ultimate choice. This powerful mono is a dream in the field with several top-notch features that make it one of the best monoculars for backpacking, hunting, and many other outdoor activities.
The mono is incredibly compact and lightweight, weighing just 4 ounces. It is made of aluminum and a rubber exterior, which provides a great non-slip grip in all kinds of weather. It has been built sturdy enough to hold up well in harsh outdoor activities like hunting and hiking.
Its genius balance of a lightweight but sturdy build makes it one of the best small monoculars in the market.
This little mono is astoundingly powerful. It features a 20mm objective lens that provides 8x magnification, which undoubtedly gives clear and crisp images. With a field of view of 330ft. wide from 1000 yards and a focusing distance of 6’11’’, you will be able to get the closest focus on objects from a far distance.
Its lenses are fully multicoated, and they feature a water-resistant Aqua-Dura coating on the outside to keep off water and dust. Additionally, the roof prisms with phase correction coating provide optimum contrast, light transmission, and resolution.
Moreover, the mono’s focus ring is well sized to offer you a firm grip, whether you use gloves or not. It moves smoothly with enough resistance that you would never move it accidentally.
Another plus for this mono is that it is waterproof up to 3 meters, it is shockproof and fog proof. This makes it well-suited for everyday use.
In conclusion, Leica put in all the time and investment in this mono that its superior quality justifies its high price tag. If you can part with what it costs, you would make a worthy investment.
Other features: built-in infrared illuminator, adjustable exposure time, 4 display brightness settings, tripod mount
This is the best night vision monocular. Any nocturnal adventurer can get him/herself. The mono is powerful, owing to the iGEN technology that makes it stand out among its peers. The high tech night vision monocular offers clear and brighter images that will make night hunting, wildlife observation, or hiking more fun.
The mono is not the smallest or lightest in the market, but it is built to last and withstand the harsh outdoor weather conditions. In case you can’t hold its weight, you can always mount it on a tripod.
Excellent lens resolution and magnification are what make this mono stand out. It has a 2.6x magnification power and an edge to edge resolution. Additionally, it features a unique light amplification that ranges between 18x to 1345x. This guarantees you of clearer and brighter images when viewing objects from a distance. This makes it one of the best digital night vision monoculars in the market.
The mono boasts of a 3-mode IR intelligence, which improves its vision tremendously. Thanks to its enhanced Infrared sensor and a smart infrared mode, you can be able to adjust the mono to a higher intensity and view. The IR intensity is also automatic, and it adjusts itself to provide you with the right amount of infrared light for maximum illumination. This is another feature that makes it better than many generation one monos.
What’s more, it features a distortion-free 330 ft field of view of that guarantees you no black spots, which is common with many Generation 1,2 and some 3 monoculars.
Furthermore, the mono features several programmable features, including automatic time out turn-offs, variable frame rate, 4 display brightness settings, and 5 image and text color options. These allow you to customize the mono for optimal viewing experience. It also includes a video composite output through which you can connect to external recording devices.
In conclusion, this is a worthy investment if you are into night outdoor activities. It offers high-end features that no monocular within its range can compete with.
Other features: fully rubber armored, nitrogen purged, waterproof and fog-proof
This is another fantastic option for outdoor enthusiasts. It gives exceptional performance at a very affordable price. If you are a hiker or hunter, you can rust this mono to provide you with the best optics.
This device is sturdily built in an ergonomic design, which offers you premium comfort during use. Its casing is made with polycarbonate material, which is lightweight and durable at the same time. It is highly portable, thanks to its handy utility clip on which you can attach it or the neck strap, which allows you to carry it on your neck.
Furthermore, it is coated with rubber to offer a non-slip grip and also protects it from bumps. It is also entirely waterproof to its o-ring seals that prevent dust or drops of water from entering the unit. Plus, the nitrogen gas purging employed in its construction assures you of a lifetime fog-proof and waterproof performance.
The mono’s powerful magnification of 10x and an objective lens measuring 36mm are its biggest selling point. It is rare to find such a small monocular with a high power of this degree.
Because of its large lens diameter, you can enjoy viewing objects with greater clarity even in low light situations like when in heavily shaded vegetation or at dusk and dawn. The fully multi-coated lens also contributes to bright clear images as it offers an increased transmission of light.
Moreover, the mono features a wheel for focusing that has a pretty quick mechanism that moves from near to far with very little movement. This reduces finger stress and offers very fast focusing.
Overall, this is an ultimate choice for hunters and hikers as it offers solid magnification and quality view of the surrounding with a significantly lightweight.
Other features: comes with smartphone adapter, waterproof, dust- proof, and shockproof
This is one of the best zoom monoculars out there. It is an indelible combination of convenience, power, and versatility. Plus, you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy all its high-end features.
This Gosky mono is not the lightest monocular you can get, but you will appreciate its solid construction. It features an o-ring sealing against dust and water or humidity of any kind. Its exterior is stripped with rubber to offer a firm grip during use.
Eyeglass wearers were not also forgotten in the construction of the mono. It comes with adjustable eyecups that allow you to use the device without removing your glasses. Another convenient feature is its central focus knob that allows you to control the mono with one hand.
This great tele zoom mono comes complete with a smartphone holder, making it one of the best monocular for cell phones in the market. It will hold any type of phone and allow you to take photos of all the beautiful imagery you come across.
With a powerful magnification of 12×50 that allows you to see objects 12 times closer and an objective lens as wide as 50mm, which allows a higher light transmission, you are guaranteed the clearest and brightest images in your outdoor adventures.
Its 289ft field of view, the Bak-4 prism, and fully multi-coated lenses also contribute to the brightness, clarity, and sharpness of images viewed through this mono. These features make it such a perfect choice for safari, bird watching, and camping.
You can mount it on a tripod for convenience since it is not very light, and unlike many models, it features protective covers for lens and eyepiece. Other accessories it comes with include a cleaning fabric and a carrying case.
All considered, this is one of the best versatile monoculars you can get for your outdoor activities at such a reasonable price, especially with its smartphone holder feature.
Other features: waterproof and fog proof, limited lifetime warranty
Here is another great monocular for bird watching, concerts, sporting events, and many other outdoor activities. It s a little optic that gets the job done with its surprisingly powerful features. It also offers an excellent value with its convenient pricing.
The mono comes in a compact and lightweight design. You can easily pop it into your pocket and take it anywhere. It features a durable deep grooved armor that protects it from harsh weather elements as well as provides it with a secure gripping surface.
You can hold and focus the mono using one hand, thanks to its diopter focus dial. Additionally, if you wear eyeglasses, you will love the soft rubber adjustable eyecup that is both comfortable and easy to use with your eyeglasses on.
The mono’s optics are pretty impressive, with a 25mm objective lens and 10x magnification. Its lenses are multi-coated and o-ring sealed to keep out water, debris, and dust. It would survive an accidental dunk in the river because of this. Its barrel is also nitrogen-charged to make it fog-proof.
With a 304ft field of view and the generous light transmission, you will experience crisp and sharp images with so much clarity and contrast even in shadows and other low-light conditions.
The only downside to this monocular is that it is not tripod mountable, and its focus ring is too stiff. This becomes a problem when you want to observe moving objects which require frequent focusing.
Otherwise, with its thoughtful rugged and compact design, this is one of the best portable monoculars you can get, especially if you are a traveler.
Other features: 99.5% light transmission, waterproof and fog proof, smartphone compatible
If you are on the market for something that will offer you tremendous value for your money, here is your best bet. It is one of the best monocular telescopes out there. Its portability, power, and versatility set it apart from other monos within its range.
The mono is ultra-lightweight and small in size. In fact, it is one of the best small monoculars in the market. You can easily throw it in your backpack and take it anywhere you want. Plus, you can mount it on a tripod for more stability when observing moving objects like birds.
It features a durable striped armor made with rubber for maximum comfort and firm grip. Additionally, it is IPX7 waterproof and nitrogen-charged to make it fog-proof. Its optics are also o-ring sealed to prevent debris, dust, and drops of water from penetrating the unit.
It also comes with an adjustable rotating eyepiece fit for both eyeglass wearers and those who do not wear glasses.
With a high power magnification of 12x, you can view brighter, clearer, and crisp images in your hiking or safari adventure. Its 50mm objective lens also contributes to the high-quality images by maximizing light transmission. The 360ft field of view also makes viewing objects from a distance much easier and better.
What’s more, you can fast focus with one hand thanks to the mono’s compact body and ergonomic design.
Another plus for this mono is its smartphone holder that can hold nearly all smartphones in the market. This allows you to capture images and videos of your favorite moments in your outdoor adventures.
With a 100% money-back guarantee, this is the best monocular telescope you can get at its pricing. It is a great buy for the money.
Other features: retractable eyecup, non-slip comfort molded grip
If you are on the look for something super easy to use and carry around, then this should be your prime pick. Its size will allow you to multitask in target shooting, bird watching, hunting, and other outdoor activities.
The mono comes in a compact design that you can slip into your pocket and bring anywhere. Being only 5 inches long, you would have to be careful not to lose it in your outdoor escapades though it features a rubber grip for added comfort and a non-slip grip as well as a neck strap.
The rubber coating also keeps the mono weather-resistant. It prevents penetration of water, fog, or any form of moisture into the device.
You will love the mono’s powerful optics with a 30x magnification and great lens sizes that allow optimal light amplification. Its lens is also fully multi-coated. Thus, you will get sharp and bright images. However, its 180m field of view is somewhat limited compared to other monos in its range. This limits your ability to see so much from a distance.
On the flip side, you will still get clear, crisp, and bright images from a near distance of about 50 yards. Furthermore, you can hold the mono with one hand, allowing you to multitask for more compelling viewing.
Moreover, it features a retractable eyecup for maximum comfort and ease of use for glass wearers.
All in all, this is a great option for anyone looking for a compact and highly convenient monocular for stargazing, bird watching, camping, hunting, and many other outdoor activities. It is also very affordable.
There is so much to consider before buying a monocular, especially with the numerous brands and models in the market. In this section, you will get to know every important detail about choosing the best monocular for your needs from the benefits of owning one to the features you have to consider before settling for one.
Benefits of Monoculars
Here is why you should not think twice before buying a monocular.
Help people with vision problems
Since it enlarges images, people with vision problems use it as an instrument for distance reading of street signs or seeing things discreetly.
Most monoculars are small and super lightweight. Therefore, you can easily throw them into your purse of pocket and bring them to any of your fun outdoor adventures.
Monoculars are much cheaper than the binoculars because it is more expensive to build two lenses. A high-quality monocular will give you excellent value.
Monoculars are created for outdoor activities and are sturdily built with shock and fall-resistant materials, which increase their lifespan. Some models are also weather-resistant and dustproof for increased durability.
Can be used for multiple activities
You can use a monocular for countless outdoor activities, including camping, hunting, hiking, bird watching, wildlife viewing, and many others. They are perfect for multitasking because they are light and comfortable to wear plus, you can operate them using one hand.
Can work like a magnifying glass
If you turn a monocular upside down, you can use it as a magnifying glass.
Features to consider when choosing a monocular
There are a handful of features that you have to consider for you to choose the best monocular.
Dimensions and weight
Be sure to go for a lightweight and small monocular for comfort and convenience. Small and ultra-lightweight monos are easy to carry around, and you can even operate them with one hand as you do other things during your outdoor activities.
Go for a powerful magnification to be able to get the clearest, sharpest, and brightest images. Since most monos use a hand wobble, you don’t want to go for the highest magnification as you will not get the most out of it. A reasonable magnification would be something between 6x and 8x like what the Leica Monovid 8 x 20 Monocular reviewed above offers.
Objective lens diameter
The larger the objective lens diameter, the better. A large diameter increases light amplification, which in turn leads to perfect crisp, brighter, and clearer images.
However, do note that if you are on the market for a compact and more portable model, you will have to go for smaller lenses.
Field of View
This determines how far you can see objects with your mono. You should choose a field of view depending on what you intend to use the mono for. For instance, hunters should definitely go for a large field of view because they need to see their targets from as far as possible.
This is a critical aspect to consider, especially if you wear glasses or you are a shooter. It is the ideal distance that should be there between your eyes and the monocular’s eyepiece for you to get a full viewing angle. Go for a model with a long eye relief; otherwise, you will get the worst experience viewing through them.
Lenses and prisms
Be sure to go for fully multicoated lenses. They improve the brightness and clarity of images and really come in handy when the weather is cloudy or during mornings and evenings. Additional layers of coating also make the lenses anti-reflexive and waterproof. Prisms enable the display of images the right way up without needing many lenses.
The higher the waterproof rating, the better. It just means that your mono will be able to survive a dunk in the river or a few drops of water. Models with IPX7 waterproof rating and above like the Vivreal 12×50 High Power Monocular Telescope on this list should be your prime choice.
You need the most flexible focus adjustment, especially if you want to observe moving objects like birds and other animals. You have to ensure the focus ring is highly adjustable before buying the mono. Some models come with a stiff focus ring like the Celestron Nature 10×25 Monocular reviewed above.
If you want a very compact model, it is better to choose one with a neck strap to avoid losing it. A neck strap also makes it easy to carry the monocular as well as multitask.
This is very essential, especially if you have shaky hands. Since most monos are lightweight, you wouldn’t make the most of them with shaky hands. Mounting it on a tripod will give you a steadier view.
This depends on how far the objects you want to view are. Monoculars are mostly used for short-distance viewing, and scopes are used for long-distance viewing. A scope’s field of use is way better than that of a monocular.
A high magnification is not recommendable for a monocular because many models use a wobble hand. A reasonable magnification would be one between 6x and 8x.
Choosing the best monocular from the countless models that flood the market can be one hell of a task, especially if you are a novice in the field of monoculars. This article contains all the critical information you need to make the right buy from the comparison table and detailed product reviews to a comprehensive buying guide.