Birdwatching is a hobby that few appreciate – but those who are into it want to take full advantage of what it has to offer and for this you need the best birding binoculars. However, there are several issues when it comes to watching birds.
First, they are small – which may be problematic if you want to analyze tiny features, such as their feathers. Second, they are fast – so you need to keep up with their rapid movement. Third, and most important: they fly. This means that they’ll be all the way up there – and you’ll be squinting at them from all the way down.
This is why you will need a decent set of binoculars for bird watching. These binoculars will allow you to get a better image of the bird – particularly the feathers, its movements, and its habits. This will allow you to keep a distance, therefore not scaring the birds away.
The best bird watching binoculars will be versatile enough so that they can be used both close-range and long range. Plus, they need to be effective, yet affordable enough so as to not drill a hole in your wallet.
We have written this best birding binoculars guide for you to make the selection easier for you. You’ll read about our top choice, the Nikon Monarch 7, 8x42and you’ll discover four other models that are just as effective. You’ll have to consider your own budget, as well as your preferences before you decide on a model.
Our Top Choices
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Nikon MONARCH 7, 8×42 Binoculars
There’s a reason why this one is called the “monarch” of them all. If you are looking for a pair of binoculars that covers every base, you need to search no further than the Monarch 7 from Nikon.
These binoculars were designed with birdwatching in mind. They have an adaptable tripod, so you can stabilize them to look at the birds, setting a close focus that will not lose its stabilization.
With a magnification of 8×42, the Monarch 7 can see pretty well into the distance – which is obviously needed for birds that like to stay high.
Furthermore, it also provides a wide field of view that any other pair of binoculars could only dream of. Spreading over 419 feet, these binoculars are perfect for viewing birds in motion – which is a pretty great asset, considering you’ll never see one bird sitting for too long in one place.
The Nikon Monarch 7 is also lightweight, weighing only 22 ounces. This is a highly convenient advantage, considering you’ll be carrying it around all day, moving it left and right to catch the movement of birds.
This unit is also highly waterproof. Therefore, if you plan on using it in heavy-rain conditions, the longevity and functionality of the binoculars will not be compromised.
Plus, the multiple coating on the lens will not only protect it from damage but will also ensure that the light is maintained, offering you superior visibility even in the lowest lighting conditions.
Overall, these binoculars offer a clear image of the birds at a fairly good price. Granted, they are not the cheapest that you could get, but they are not the most expensive ones either. They represent a solid investment that is definitely worth the money, considering the features that they offer.
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Athlon Midas 8 x 42 ED Roof Prism Binoculars
Featuring ED glass, these binoculars were made to offer a very clear image, with no chromatic fringing. This pair of binoculars is perfect for birdwatching simply because the colors and images will be sharp – a quality that we need in order to analyze the feathers of a bird.
The Athlon Midas 8 also has a multi-layer prism coating that will reflect 99% of the light – therefore offering you a clear image even in low light condition. The ESP Dielectric Coating will ensure that the colors are delivered accurately as if you would be seeing them in real life.
Weighing only 25 ounces, this unit is fairly easy to hold. It’s not one of the most lightweight pairs of birding binoculars out there, but it is certainly not the heaviest either. Furthermore, they possess a wide field of view that can offer a clear image even as you reach 426 feet.
This binoculars pair features “Argon purging,” which offers you better waterproofing and a superior thermal stability. This way, you can use them in the rain without fearing damage, and you can also use them in the fog and you don’t have to worry about the moisture.
Overall, these binoculars will offer you a pretty large view with impressive details. Plus, not only are they perfect for birding, but they are also great for other types of wildlife. The price is fairly affordable, which means that you will not be damaging your budget that much.
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Vortex Diamondback 10 x 42 Roof Prism Binoculars
If you are on a budget but are still looking for a pair of high-quality binoculars, then you’ll definitely take an interest in the Vortex Diamondback binoculars. This is a pair that will be appreciated by all kinds of wildlife observers – but will be particularly loved by birdwatchers.
These full-size roof prism binoculars provide ten times the magnification – which is more than your average for any type of binoculars. Using a 42mm objective lens, the image provided by the Vortex will be sharp and clear – therefore allowing you to see everything in great detail.
Unlike most binoculars that have you focusing every lens separately, this one allows you to do it using a central tool. This way, you won’t risk losing view of a fast-moving subject, and you can easily switch from close-range to wide-range.
This gadget also comes with a comfortable neck strap. This way, you will not be forced to carry it at all times, allowing your hands some rest. Furthermore, you get a custom-made carry case in which you can store the binoculars when not in use. You will be protecting them this way.
These binoculars are also very easy to hold and handle thanks to their rubber appliances. Not only does this improve their waterproof properties, but it also improves your grip on the gadget – even in rain.
Overall, this is a set of sturdily-built binoculars that will bring objects close enough for you to view in detail. For the price that they are sold at, they are a very good bargain.
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Vortex Viper HD Roof Prism Binoculars
Perhaps the most attractive aspect of these binoculars is the fact that they are compact. They may not be the most lightweight binoculars out there, but when in compact form, they can easily fit into the pocket of a backpack.
Featuring an anti-reflective coating, the lens for these binoculars will provide a clear and bright image. They are perfect if you are looking for exotic birds with colorful feathers; their colors will not be compromised.
Furthermore, thanks to its argon purging and o-ring sealing, these binoculars will offer superior performance regardless of the weather conditions. They will not be damaged by the rain, nor will they be affected by the fog.
The multi-position eyecup makes this gadget perfect for every user, no matter if you are wearing glasses or not. The Viper features a right-eye diopter that allows you to adjust the focal difference – therefore matching it with your eyesight.
Aside from some issues on the sensitivity that requires attentive stabilization, these binoculars are perfect for those avid of birding. They are lightweight, they offer a clear image, and they are great for both close and wide-range observation.
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Nikon Monarch 5, 8 x 42 Binoculars
Another “monarch” makes its way, and this one is preferred due to the fact that it’s so lightweight. Weighing only 20 ounces, these are the kinds of binoculars that you won’t even feel you are carrying. Plus, since they’re compact, you can easily store them in a pocket when they’re not in use.
If you have to wear glasses, you will also appreciate the 19.5mm eye relief that this unit brings. This way, even if you have bad eyesight, you will still have the ability to see the entire field of view.
Offering an 8.2 feet close focus, this model allows you to see even the birds that are at a closer distance. Plus, the ED glass will capture 99% of the light, bringing you an image that is as close to reality as possible.
The highly-reflective dielectric multilayer prism coating will also provide rich, accurate colors. This is very convenient if you are looking at birds with colorful feathers, allowing you to analyze them in the greatest of detail.
With their smooth central focus knob, you will easily be able to shift from close-range to a wide range. Furthermore, their rubber-armored body doesn’t only make them waterproof and shockproof, but it also prevents them from slipping from your hands.
The field of view is narrower compared to the newer Nikon binoculars, but they will still provide a good image to those wanting to lock in on a target. Plus, the fact that they are so easy to carry around makes them perfect to take on a birding trip.
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What Can We See?
As we previously mentioned, the Monarch 7 is probably the best birding binocular you can use on a bird watching trip. Before, we only talked about a few features that it provides; however, in the following sections, we will break down the analysis into the most important factors.
Let’s start with their viewing capabilities. The Nikon Monarch 7 will allow you to see everything in very close detail. For example, you will have no problems reading a power converter even if you are a few blocks away. Even the fine print of a power bill could be easily read from across the room.
For this reason, the Monarch 7 is perfect for bird watching, as it can see everything in fine detail. You will be able to see the details of the feathers, without getting too close to the bird and scaring it off. Plus, everything is literally in High Definition, and the colors seem to catch life.
Now, some considerations on the Athlon Midas: this product has gained a lot of popularity recently among birdwatchers – and we can safely assume that it was for a very good reason. Just by looking at the below-mentioned features, we can see why it would be such a convenient purchase.
With these binoculars, you could easily see birds in their natural habitat, analyzing all the details on their feathers without too much of a bother. You can see objects clearly on a wide field of view, but you can also get a very good close-up of a standing object.
You can also see your targets even in low-visibility conditions, such as when it’s raining or it’s foggy. The light will be filtered, therefore offering you a bright image.
Some singers bring the sexy back; this one brings the “diamondback.” While it may not be made from real diamonds, the Vortex Diamondback here is definitely a stud. Here are some reasons why we believe it would be a great asset.
Most binoculars would offer an 8x magnification; however, this one offers a 10x magnification. Thanks to this, you’ll be able to watch the object ten times closer – which means that you can clearly see birds that are flying way up in the sky.
In regards to the Vortex Viper HD, you just have to stick your eyes through the eyepieces and it will be clear how much you can see. Thanks to its HD glass, the optics for this pair are of the highest quality, with margins so sharp that you will be able to see every detail. This way, every feather will be clear, every movement will be smooth, and every color will be lively.
The Nikon Monarch 5.8 x 42 may be an older model, and it may not have all the features that the newer models provide, but there’s a reason why this one has still remained a top favorite among birdwatchers. Let’s see what makes it so special.
The Monarch 5 allows you to see the birds in fine detail, no matter if you are going for close focus or wide-range view. Granted, you may not be able to go past the 8x magnification, so it’s only appropriate for wildlife. Furthermore, thanks to the ED glass and prism material, the image will be detailed and brightly colored.
Winner of the Viewing Section: Nikon Monarch 7
Considering that the eyecups for the Monarch 7 are made of soft rubber, they feel really comfortable on your face – leaving no marks whatsoever. Plus, thanks to the rubberized grip, they will not slip from your hands, even under rainy circumstances.
The size and weight of this pair of binoculars are very easy to handle. At 22 ounces, they’re lightweight and compact enough to be stored, making them comfortable to carry around.
Plus, with their 17,1 mm eye relief, there will be no need for you to squint or strain your eyes in order to see an object. Overall, they are very comfortable to use.
The Athlon Midas are approximately as comfortable as the Monarch 7. Featuring a large focus wheel, you can easily change the view from close-focus to wide-range.
The grip is also very good, which means that you can handle the binoculars even if you are wearing gloves. Furthermore, since they only weigh 22 ounces, they can be easily carried around without being bothered by the weight.
With an eye relief of 17,2 mm, the Athlon will allow you to see objects clearly without squinting through the binoculars. Even those with bad eyesight will be able to comfortably use them, without feeling the after effects. In this respect, the Athlon and the Monarch 7 are on the same par.
The Vortex Diamondback binoculars are comfortable to use, but they feature an exponentially smaller eye relief – only 16 mm. However, this does not have any impact on this comfort criterion. The eye relief is indeed smaller compared to other binoculars, but it is appropriate for most people with average eyesight problems.
Thanks to its rubber coating, this pair of binoculars is very comfortable to both hold and view from. Not only will it feel comfortable against your eyes, but it will also prevent the pair from slipping from your hands.
The binoculars have adjustable eyepieces. This means that you will be able to get the fit that you want, no matter if you have a different vision in both eyes. All you have to do is turn the wheel for each and you will get your fit.
If you have extremely bad eyesight, then the Vortex Viper HD is the perfect fit for you. With an eye relief of 22 mm, you can adjust the binoculars until they are comfortable for you – and therefore, you will not have to squint your eyes to see things.
Furthermore, since they only weigh 25 ounces, you can easily carry them around from one place to another. These are 3 ounces heavier than the previous 3 binoculars, though.
The last pair of binoculars, the Nikon Monarch 5.8 x 42 have adjustable eyecups, so you can get that perfect fit with just a twist of a cup.
Furthermore, you can adjust the eye relief for both lenses, making them the perfect choice if you have a different vision in both eyes. They are compact, which makes them easy to be carried around or stored in a backpack.
Winner of the Comfort Section: Nikon 7, followed closely by the Athlon Midas and Vortex Viper HD.
Field of View
Let’s start with the Nikon Monarch 7: with a field of view of 419 feet, this pair of binoculars is excellent even among pairs with a higher magnification. Plus, it has an 8.2 close focus, making it once more stand out among high-performing binoculars.
The Athlon Midas have a larger field of view that can go 426 feet at a total of 1,000 yards; so, these binoculars can see quite a lot. Furthermore, you also have a close focus that can go 2m at 6,5 feet, which is much better than most similar binoculars on the market.
The Vortex Diamondback also have a larger FOV than the Monarch 7. This pair of binoculars can see 365 feet at 1000 yards, which means that you get a pretty neat image even at a great distance. The close focus can be as close as 5 feet, which is smaller – and better – than most binoculars of this type. They are a great asset, no matter if the birds are far away or close to you.
Its kindred Viper HD model has a field of view that can go 347 feet over 1000 yards; so, it definitely lives up to its name. Plus, with a close focus of 5.1, you can see closer objects in great detail, allowing you to view finer details on aspects such as feathers, movement, and so on.
The Monarch 3.8 x 42 are just behind, allowing you to see only 329 feet at 1000 yards. Thus, it has a narrower field of view compared to other models that were presented. Still, it makes up for that by offering a high-quality image in return.
Winner of FOV: Athlon Midas, with the Vortex Diamondback on the 2nd place and the Nikon Monarch 7 on the 3rd.
The Monarch 7 is a fully waterproof roof prism binocular with a 42 aperture that allows you to get 8 times the close-up of an object. The ED lenses are multicoated, meaning that they will absorb most of the light.
This will offer you a clear, HD image even when it comes to low light conditions. They are perfect to take on a birding trip when your targets spend most of their time in trees or shaded areas.
The Athlon Midas also have a 42 aperture; so, this roof prism set of binoculars is perfect for a birding session. Plus, you never notice how much you appreciate a waterproof binocular until you are trying to make sense of a downpour – which is why the waterproof coating of this gadget is such a convenient feature.
The multicoating on the lens is also convenient for those who place importance on the details. This way, only the “good lights” will go inside the binocular, offering you a great image of what you have in front of you.
With an 8x magnification, you can see objects eight times closer to you. The image may not be as close as the one offered by items with a 10x magnification, but it is certainly clear enough to make up for it.
The Monarch 7 and the Athlon Midas are not that different in terms of specs. The Vortex Diamondback, again, is very similar to the previous two: Perhaps the most attractive feature of this pair of binoculars is its lifetime warranty, which means that every repair will be supported by Vortex – no questions asked.
Other than that, its 8x magnification and 42 mm aperture ensure that the ED multicoated lens will offer you a clear image that is well-lit and nicely colored.
The binoculars are also waterproof, which means that they will function even in the heaviest of downpours. The product is also fog proof, which means that it will provide the best possible image even in low-visibility conditions. Plus, the roof prism will ensure that every ray of light is properly captured and conducted to provide a high-quality image.
Now, for the Vortex Viper HD: perhaps the best feature provided by these binoculars is the fact that they offer HD level imaging. The picture is bright and clear, allowing you to clearly see every detail at an 8x magnification.
This model is also highly waterproof. Not only was it carefully constructed as to not permit water leaks, but the chambers were also filled with gas to make it fog proof. You’ll be able to see even in low-visibility conditions, without worrying about the functionality.
The Nikon Monarch 5.8 x 42 are waterproof and fog proof, because you may never know when Mother Nature might hit. Plus, with their phase corrected, multi-coated lens and prism, you will get well-lit images – even if you are in low-lighting conditions. Last but not least, the rubber coating improves the binoculars’ durability by making them shockproof.
Winner of Features: Nikon Monarch 7, since they are optimized for low-light environments
With a price that only beats around $450, the Monarch 7 is not the cheapest item that you can get – but it’s certainly not the most expensive one either. Considering the features and quality that it provides, the price is actually fair – even low. There are more expensive binoculars out there that don’t provide half the quality of this one.
Based especially on the price and image quality, we reached the conclusion that the Monarch 7, 8×42 is the perfect tool to take with you on a birding trip. The image will be clear, and you’ll be able to see small forms of life in the highest detail possible.
The price of the Athlon Midas goes around $300, a price that places this gadget at a low average when it comes to binoculars. Considering the features that you get, the product is actually a bargain.
You get almost all the features that our top choice provides – even better, in some circumstances and you’ll be saving more than $100. Considering the price, the comfort, and its ability to provide clear images at a great distance, the Athlon Midas 8×42 is definitely a solid purchase.
Found at less than $250, the Vortex Diamondback is what you would call a “budget” item. It is one of the cheapest out there, which is fairly surprising considering the benefits that it offers. Even Vortex is confident in the livelihood of these binoculars, which is why they provide a lifetime warranty.
Based on the price, the magnification power, and their adjustability level, these are definitely some of the best birding binoculars for those on a budget. They’re highly versatile, and you may definitely use them for a fairly long time.
Sold at just under $500, the Vortex Viper is not among the cheapest of items – but if you consider the features, it’s definitely worth every cent. Most binoculars of this quality could cost well over $1,000, but you get a high-performance product for almost half the price.
Considering its reliability and quality image, the Viper is definitely a pair of binoculars that you should invest in.
Found at just under $300, the Monarch 5 is fairly affordable. The features, however, are quite impressive – so the low price is most likely justified by the fact that the model is relatively old.
Winner of Price Range: Nikon Monarch 7 – the perfect balance between price and quality.
All of the products mentioned above were completely worth their money. They offered most of the features that a person passionate about birdwatching would need, the images were nice and clear, and they were all able to withstand all types of weather conditions. The overall purchase simply depends on your preferences.
We have settled, however, on the Nikon Monarch 7 as the best birding binoculars. The reason is that they are among the most lightweight models, therefore allowing you to carry them comfortably on your trip. Plus, they are adjustable, so you can easily find your perfect eye fit.
The field of view is also wide, and the magnification allows you to see a very clear image even if you are far away from your target. Plus, they are highly waterproof and fog proof, so you may use them even in the most unfavorable conditions.
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Buying a product can be rather complicated, especially if you choose the online method. If you cannot test the product yourself, you cannot know for sure how well it will perform.
Before anything, we encourage you to read our binoculars buying guide.
First things first, be careful about the place that you buy it from. Some online platforms such as Amazon offer fairly good discount rates and free shipping for some products, so you may want to keep an eye out for them.
Furthermore, do not underestimate the power of a review – particularly the ones that have less than five stars. Those are usually the most honest ones, and if the description is not entirely clear, you’ll definitely get your answers from the reviews.
Last but not least, think about your own needs before buying a product. If you don’t have eyesight problems, don’t buy a product simply because it has the “biggest eye relief,” or another similar feature that you might need. You will basically be paying extra for a fancy feature that you most likely won’t even use.