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One of the reasons we hike is to view and enjoy nature. But since nobody wants to get too close to a mother bear and her cub or disturb wildlife in general, binoculars and monoculars provide a great way of getting up close to nature while still keeping your distance.

A variety of binoculars and monoculars are available, and selecting the best one out of them will not be an easy thing to do. That’s why you need to have a basic understanding of how to get your hands on the best binoculars and monoculars for backpacking.

Below is a list of best hiking binoculars and monoculars for backpacking. You can go through the list and select the one that matches perfectly well with your requirements.

1. Vortex Optics Diamondback HD

Vortex Optics Diamondback HD
Magnification: 8 x
Objective Lens: 28 mm
Field of View: 332 feet/1000 yards
Type of Prism: Roof
Waterproof/Fog-proof: Yes
Dimensions: 4.5 x 4.6 in
Weight: 14 oz

Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binocular has fully multicoated lenses. That’s what you look for in a binocular because it allows the most light transmission to come through. This is a Roof Prism binocular so that you have a nice, straight line. You can keep your hands in nice and tight. That can be good for you if you’re in a tree stand or hunting with these.

The smallest one is the 8×28. This is very light and compact. The 8 refers to the magnification power and the 28 refers to the diameter of the objective lens. These binoculars are very ergonomically designed, they’re very comfortable and not tiring at all to use. These binoculars offer great optical quality in a small, cost-effective package. This makes it a great choice for both hikers and backpackers.

There are some week points to Diamondback HD’s clarity. First, it presents some distortion and blurriness around the edges of the image, which makes the image feel a bit less immersive. However, this doesn’t limit your ability to get a clear view of your subject. Second, the clarity tends to degrade quickly as the light dims but you can’t expect much more from a 28mm objective lens.

If you want a pair of binoculars that you can toss in a backpack for a day or even a multi-day hike, Vortex Optics Diamondback HD can be a perfect option.

Pros: Comfortable, small and lightweight, good clarity

Cons: Poor low-light performance

See the Vortex Optics Diamondback HD

2. Vortex Optics Solo Monocular

Vortex Optics Solo Monocular
Shell Material: Rubber Armor with Diamond-Checkered Grip
Magnification: 10 x
Objective Lens: 25 mm
Field of View: 315 ft/1000 yards
Dimensions: 4.88 x 2.17 x 2.36 in
Weight: 5.6 oz

Optics Solo is a chubby little monocular and is a great option if you just need a lightweight reference of a medium-range target area or a glance at a bird on a perch.

From bowhunters to backpackers, the Optics Solo makes a great addition to any gear list. It is a compact, lightweight, and easy-to-carry monocular that delivers a quality viewing for outdoor enthusiasts who wish to bring nature a bit closer.

Optics Solo has 10 x magnification capabilities, provided with a 25 mm and 36 mm objective lens to provide great results to you. The lens that you can find in Optics Solo is multi-coated, therefore it can increase the transmission of light and provide you with a crisp and clear light. The field of view is small of course since it is a compact monocular. The quality of glass is crisp and clear. This is usually where you get your money’s worth with Vortex.

Optics Solo is small, compact, really bright, not too big to carry and best monocular for backpacking.

Pros: The neoprene case that comes with it is very nice. Other pros include: fog-proof, waterproof, easy adjustment

Cons: Little ergonomically clunky for left-handers but not a big deal.

See the Vortex Optics Solo

3. Nikon Monarch 5

Nikon Monarch 5
Magnification: 8 x
Objective Lens: 42 mm
Field of View: 330 ft/1000 yards
Type of Prism: Roof
Waterproof/Fog-proof: Yes
Dimensions: 5.7 x 5.1 x 2.1 in
Weight: 1 lb 4.8 oz

The new Nikon Monarch 5 is a mid-level binocular. It brings a lot of great new upgrades which makes it a great asset to any optics arsenal. The new Monarchs have been redesigned and they lack nothing in quality. Out of the box, the housing is the sturdy and rubberized armor coating which provides for a very solid grip even when wet.

They’re compact size binocular, fits well in your hands or on a tripod. They’re built with a single hinge which helps reduce the weight. All lenses are multi-coated to achieve the greatest brightness with a good edge to edge clarity. Even better is the fact that Nikon installed ED glass lenses in this newly upgraded set of optics.

These binoculars are waterproof down to 3.3 feet for up to 10 minutes. The diopter for adjusting each eye for the user is on the right barrel of the optics and has a center focus adjustment. The Monarch 5 is nitrogen filled sealed so that they are fog-proof.

The rollup eye cups for those who wear eyeglasses are some of the best on the market regardless of price. There are heavy-duty with three specific stops and one is sure to be the correct eye relief for eyeglasses you wear. The flip down objective lens covers, which usually get lost on the first use on most binoculars, will be there for years.

Pros: Good clarity and brightness, smooth focus knob, work well in low light situations

Cons: Mediocre close focus range, mediocre field of view

See the Nikon Monarch 5

4. Brunton Echo Zoom Monocular

Brunton Echo Zoom Monocular
Shell Material: Aluminum
Magnification: 10 x – 30 x
Objective Lens: 21 mm
Field of View: 178 ft – 10 ft at 1,000 yards
Type of Prism: BaK-4
Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 in
Weight: 3.3 oz

The Echo Zoom by Brunton is the smallest zoom monocular you can find on the planet. It is pocket-sized, handy and powerful. The lightweight design of this monocular has contributed a lot towards popularity.

Echo Zoom is equipped with lens multi-coating and BaK-4 prism glass for a sharp image when you need it. The compact size keeps it close at hand, ready for use. The Echo shows bright, sharp images.

The Echo Zoom Pocket Scope Monocular by Brunton displays the landscape and features brilliantly. Therefore, you will be able to receive an excellent level of clarity out of the product.

The multi-coated lens delivers a superior speed in light transmission. Along with the monocular, you will be able to receive a case and a lanyard as well.

Features like small-sized, lightweight and BaK-4 prism making it the best monocular for backpacking.

Pros: Small-sized, lightweight, easy to take along on almost any outdoor activity

Cons: Although the focus is relatively easy to manipulate, but requires two hands to focus because the focus and the zoom are in places where the human hand cannot manipulate them without a second hand to hold the monocular steady.

See the Brunton Echo Zoom

5. Steiner Military-Marine Tactical Binocular

Steiner Military/Marine Binoculars
Shell Material: Polycarbonate, NBR Long Life (rubber)
Magnification: 10 x
Objective Lens: 50 mm
Field of View: 327 ft/1000 yards
Waterproof: Yes
Dimensions: 8.2 x 2.8 x 5.2 in
Weight: 2 lb 4 oz

If you are looking for military-grade binoculars, Steiner Military Binoculars is the best option available out there. The magnification capabilities offered by Steiner Military Binoculars are impressive.

Steiner Military Binoculars has rainproof construction for maximum versatility with exceptional clarity and reliable optical performance. The design of this binocular by the experts at Steiner has been refined by years of use in a variety of settings, from mountaintops to deep canyons, on-ship and ashore. For spotting game or exploring nature’s majesty, The Military Binoculars by Steiner has a high depth-of-view that puts all the action in focus at once.

The Binocular offers a wide field of view, which can provide excellent assistance throughout your hikes. The sports autofocus system can be considered as one of the unique features that you will be able to discover in Steiner Military Binocular. It provides consistent focusing. Moreover, you will be able to operate this binocular with just one hand.

Pros: Water-resistant, lightweight, compact, clarity & ease of use

Cons: If you want to look at something closer than 60 to 80 ft, that you will have to focus both eyepieces separately at the same time, which is difficult.

See the Steiner Military-Marine Tactical

6. Steiner Predator Binoculars

Steiner Predator Binoculars
Shell Material: Makrolon (polycarbonate)
Magnification: 8 x
Objective Lens: 42 mm
Field of View: 381 ft/1000 yards
Dimensions: 4.9 x 6.9 in
Weight: 26.1 oz

Steiner Predator is mid-size and durable binoculars that deliver bright, crisp images without added bulk or weight. The Binoculars come along with a durable polycarbonate design. To enhance durability, rubber armoring has also been introduced to the product.

The Predator Series was originally made for hunters who demand all-around capability in their optics – mobility without weight, ease of use and bright picture in any light. But Steiner Predator is also ideal for hiking, backpacking, camping, and related outdoor activities.

Steiner Predator is well equipped with lightweight roof prism design, game-revealing CAT (color adjusted transmission) coatings and excellent low-light performance. Hence you’ll be experiencing brighter images and best possible sights according to your vision sensitivity.

Pros: Durable, great optical performance, waterproof, ruggedness and sharpness of the image

Cons: No scratch-proof coating on eyepieces. If you brush off the glass, it can get scratched. To avoid this problem, always use a microfiber cloth.

See the Steiner Predator

7. Aurosports Folding Binoculars

Aurosports Folding Binoculars
Magnification: 10 x
Objective Lens:
25 mm
Type of Prism: BaK-4
Lens Coating: Fully multi-coated
Waterproof: Yes
Field Angle: 6.9 Degrees
Field of View: 362 ft/1000 yards
Weight: 8.8 oz

Aurosports Folding Binoculars is compact and lightweight and ideal for bird-watching. The great thing about Folding Binoculars by Aurosports is; it can also be used in both day and night. Most people will put down their glasses down due to the fading light, but you’ll have an excellent view even after the sun goes down. (Low-light-level night vision; can’t see anything in complete darkness).

The field of view is pretty large; you can focus on your target for brilliant detail at 1000 yards out.

These binoculars come along with a foldable lightweight design. Therefore, it is very convenient and easy to carry while you’re on your backpacking trip. The fully multi-coated lenses, waterproof, hyper-durable anti-slip grip gives you everything you want.

The binoculars are ergonomically very well designed and fit the hands in a very natural way. They are true 10 x 25 glasses and have excellent and precise focusing throughout the field of focus.

10 x magnification with a 25 mm objective lens allows you to see objects 10 x’s closer with clarity that strikes envy into the heart of your bird-watching friends.

I strongly recommend these binoculars to anyone looking for precision optics and above-average durability.

Pros: Clarity is amazing, very powerful, ability to see in low-light conditions, reasonably priced

Cons: It would be great if there was more movement available to expand the binoculars when viewing.

See the Aurosports Folding

8. Bushnell Equinox Z Digital Night Vision Monocular

Bushnell Equinox Z Digital Night Vision Monocular
Magnification: 4.5 x or 6 x
Objective Lens: 40 mm or 50 mm
Digital Zoom Range: 6.6 – 18.0 x
NV Range: 1000 ft
Field of View: 28 ft/1000 yards or 20 ft/1000 yards
Water-Resistant: Yes, IPX4-rated
MicroSD Card: Yes, up to 32 GB
Weight: 22 oz or 27 oz

For some, darkness marks the end of an adventure. For others, there is the Equinox Z. The Bushnell Equinox Z is a Night Vision Monocular, provides outstanding optical clarity and a wide field of view to get you through the day, as well as the night.

With its high-performance glass objectives, zoom capability and extremely long battery life, nothing reveals the unknowns of darkness like the Equinox Z line of night vision products. Whether used to track an animal across an open prairie or to explore the depths of the murkiest cave, Equinox Z provides an unparalleled viewing experience in low-light conditions.

Equinox Z offers powerful infrared illumination and day or night viewing with features such as Image Capture, Video Recording, Daytime Color, and tripod-mounting compatibility. To reveal all the unknowns, even at night, the Equinox Z Digital NV Monocular is the tool for success in all your adventures.

Be advised, however, Equinox Z is not a true night vision device. It does not amplify light using a Photocathode tube. It uses a CCD chip to process incoming infrared light that displays it in a video-like-picture. You don’t get the green-tinted image. Instead of feeling like Sam Fisher, you feel like you are looking through a sensitive camcorder, which isn’t far from the truth! Still, this is a pretty good package for the entry-level price.

Pros: Ability to take photos and video. Can easily zoom to 100, 200, 300 yards with the 3 x optical and 6 x digital zoom. Above all, it works at night. (It does and it does it very well).

Cons: The buttons are too close to the IR illuminator on the right side, but it feels much more comfortable to operate the buttons with the left hand.

See the Bushnell Equinox Z

9. Bushnell Roof Prism Binoculars

Bushnell Roof Prism Binoculars
Magnification: 10 x
Objective Lens: 42 mm
Field of View: 305 or 102 ft/1000 yards
Waterproof/Fog-proof: Yes, O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged for reliable, fog-free performance
Type of Prism: BaK-4
Dimensions: 5.91 x 7.09 x 3.15 in
Weight: 1 lb 11.04 oz

Whether you find yourself in the rain, fog, a stream, or a lake, don’t worry. The Roof Prism Binoculars can completely lock out moisture no matter what you fall into or what falls on you. Roof Prism is equipped with impenetrable O-ring sealing and nitrogen purging which make the H20 and its top-of-the-line optics waterproof and fog-proof. It is also well equipped with fully or multicoated BaK-4 prisms for maximum light transmission.

Roof Prism is beautifully designed and covered with rubber armoring for shock absorption. It also features exterior Soft Texture Grip to keep them in your hands even in wet, slippery conditions. So it will never slip out of your hands while you’re hiking.

The binoculars are very well made. They are not too large, can be fit into your pocket. It only takes a few seconds to get them adjusted and focused out of the box.

Roof Prism has a nice thick canvas carrying case. The pieces that cover the end lenses are thick rubber that closely attached to the binoculars so you don’t have to worry about losing them and they are not at all in the way. The caps that cover the front lenses are one piece of thick rubber that will easily fit in your pocket if you are on the go.

Pros: Lightweight and inexpensive with many characteristics of expensive binoculars, easy to carry with you while hiking.

Cons: Some people with relatively small faces found it difficult to adjust.

See the Bushnell Roof Prism

10. Occer Compact Binoculars

Occer Compact Binoculars
Magnification: 12 x
Objective Lens: 25 mm
Objective Lens Coating: FMC broadband
The angle of field: 7.5 degrees
Type of Prism: BaK-4
Waterproof Grade: Life waterproof
Field of View: 273 ft/1000 yards
Weight: 10.4 oz

The Compact Binoculars by Occer is highly powerful and large eyepiece binoculars. The binoculars have 12 x magnification, 25 mm objective lens and wide field of view, 273ft/1000yds, letting you look farther and see wider. These Binoculars are made to exacting specifications that result in a very easy to focus operation and a very clear view. The power is excellent for bird and animal watching.

These binoculars are made of non-slip rubber armor, giving you comfortable touch and ensuring that the binocular is waterproof and shockproof, even durable. It also comes with a neck strap which is convenient for people to carry everywhere.

The compact size makes it easy to carry, in or out of the case. The lightweight makes it nice to use for long periods without holding fatigue.

Occer binoculars adopted BaK-4 prisms, and the objective lens use FMC multilayer broadband green film, so it can offer a real color reproduction and no color distortion under a Multi-coated lens. Let you enjoy bright stargazing images.

The waterproof binoculars are designed two adjustable rotating goggles eyepiece so that they can more focus on the view and more fit for the glasses wearer. The binoculars are great for bird-watching, hunting, hiking, exploring, viewing, traveling, outdoor sports, etc.

Pros: Very easy to get the focus just right by adjusting the left eyepiece as outlines in the included focusing instructions. It comes with a nice case, neck strap, instructions, and a lens cleaning cloth. This is an excellent value at a very good price.

Cons: The neck strap is thin and will rub neck raw when wearing them for long hours when walking.

See the Occer Compact Binoculars

11. Wingspan Optics Spectator Compact Binoculars

Wingspan Optics Spectator Compact Binoculars
Magnification: 8 x
Objective Lens: 32 mm
Field of View: 362 ft/1000 yards
Type of Prism: BaK-4
Waterproof/Fog-proof: Yes
Dimensions: 4.5 x 4.5 x 1.75 in
Weight: 15.2 oz

Wingspan Optics Spectator is a lightweight, compact and pocket-sized binocular that you can take anywhere, without compromising on detail, clarity or brightness. Whether you’re a nature lover, sports aficionado, or you simply enjoy seeing the wildlife from 1000 yards away, the Wingspan Optics Spectator will deliver the impeccable detail you crave.

The great thing about Wingspan Optics Spectator is its wide field of view. Extra-Wide Field of View makes these the best binoculars for any outdoor activity. You will be able to take a look at a complete field of action while focusing on your target. The powerful 8 x 32 magnification allows you to see dew drops glistening on the field and feather tips fluttering in the wind.

Wingspan Optics Spectator is equipped with ErgoComfort (a Non-Slip Grip), which means you can watch birds, outdoor games or concerts for hours, without missing a single moment.

The lenses come with this binocular are extremely sharp, the images are clear and bright as well. Therefore, you will feel like you spend time closer to the objects that are located in distance.

Pros: Easy to focus, can be used with glasses, have a nice carrying strap and a good storage case, great ergonomics and feel good in your hands.

Cons: Little heavy compared to other compacts, few instructions available

See the Wingspan Optics Spectator

12. Authentic Roxant Grip Scope Monocular

Authentic Roxant Grip Scope Monocular
Magnification: 6 x
Objective Lens: 30 mm
Type of Prism: FMC Superior BaK-4 Green Film Prism
Lens Coating: Fully multi-coated
Dimensions: 5.5 x 2 x 2 in
Weight: 7.8 oz

Roxant Grip Scope Monocular is another compact and a powerful monocular built for outdoorsman and adventure seekers. The No-Slip-Comfort-Molded-Grip means it is very easy to hold with just one hand because the diameter fits hands perfectly. The rubber texture assures a good grip and the size is perfect for both large and small hands. You can comfortably hold it for long periods.

Grip Scope is equipped with a fully multi-coated BaK-4 prism glass lens that guarantees superior light transmission and brightness for optimal bright, crisp and clear viewing.

This sturdy-rubberized scope contains an ergonomic focusing ring, as well as a retractable eyecup in case you wear glasses. With 6 x 30 power and a very wide field of view, its multi-coated optics deliver sharp pictures in a very portable package. You can use it for many round-the-clock activities, including hiking, bird-watching, camping, boating, water sports, etc. The convenient package includes a case, carrying cord and polishing cloth. The monocular is very small-sized and has a compact design; you can easily fit into your pocket as well.

The price is very affordable and reasonable for such a high-quality optics device. Love it!

Pros: The features I like the most are the size of the monocular, rubbery grip material, easy to focus, easy on the eye adjustment, and crystal clear bright views.

Cons: Some people found it a little heavier than expected.

See the Authentic Roxant Grip Scope

Best Hiking Binoculars and Monoculars for Backpacking: Comparison Table

Binoculars/MonocularMagnificationObjective LensDimensions (In)Weight
Vortex Optics Diamondback HD
8 x28 mm4.5 x 4.614 oz
Vortex Optics Solo10 x25 mm4.8 x 2.1 x 2.35.6 oz
Nikon Monarch 58 x42 mm5.7 x 5.1 x 2.11 lb 4.8 oz
Brunton Echo Zoom10 x – 30 x21 mm4.2 x 1.43.3 oz
Steiner Military10 x50 mm8.2 x 2.8 x 5.22 lb 4 oz
Steiner Predator8 x42 mm4.9 x 6.91 lb 10.1 oz
Aurosports Folding10 x25 mm3.7 x 2.1 x 3.68.8 oz
Bushnell Equinox Z6 x50 mm7.8 x 2.5 x 3.91 lb 11 oz
Bushnell Roof Prism10 x42 mm5.9 x 7.1 x 3.11 lb 11 oz
Occer Compact Binoculars12 x25 mm4 x 4.4 x 1.910.4 oz
Wingspan Optics Spectator8 x32 mm4.5 x 4.5 x 1.715.2 oz
Roxant Grip Scope6 x30 mm5.5 x 2 x 27.8 oz

Tips to purchase Best Hiking Binoculars and Monoculars for Backpacking

The following are some useful tips that you will be able to keep in mind to end up purchasing the binoculars and monoculars for backpacking.


When you are hiking, you expect all your gear to be small and compact as much as possible. You need to focus on this when purchasing binoculars as well. The binoculars available for your purchase in the market can be divided into three main categories as full-sized binoculars, mid-sized binoculars, and compact binoculars. Even though the full-sized binoculars are heavy, they are in a position to absorb more light and give life to vibrant pictures. On the other hand, mid-sized binoculars offer excellent viewing capabilities to the users and they are not too heavy as the full-sized binoculars. If you are a person who doesn’t prefer to carry a heavyweight along with you, you can simply purchase compact binoculars.


Secondly, you must take a look at the magnification capabilities that are offered to you by the binoculars or monoculars. The magnification is usually denoted by an x. You will be able to see 7 x and 8 x marked in the products. If you want to get a better magnification, you are encouraged to go forward with a higher x rating. Along with the magnification, you will also be able to see the diameter of the lens indicated. This determines the amount of light that is being captured by the product. It is better if you can purchase a product that captures a higher volume of light. Then you will be able to experience better quality images out of it.

It is also important to keep in mind that increased magnification is in a position to create an impact on the stability of the views that you will be able to experience. Therefore, you need to be careful to go ahead with the best magnification offered by the binoculars.

Field of View

As the next thing, you should focus on the field of view. You will come across a large number of scenic landscape views. The binoculars or monoculars you purchase should be in a position to assist you by taking a look at those views. That’s where the field of view offered by the binoculars will be able to help you. However, you must keep in mind that the binoculars that provide a higher field of view have a reduced magnification capability. You need to keep this in your mind at the time of purchase. Then you will be able to stay away from hassle and frustration in the future.


You must also take a look at the focus when purchasing binoculars or a monocular. You can’t find a focusing wheel on all the binoculars and monoculars that are available in the market. If you are interested in focusing the object, you are encouraged to go forward with a product that comes along with this focusing wheel. Then you will be able to get a better look at your object. Besides, you will be able to receive excellent assistance when you are trying to adjust the object to get better visibility.

Lens coating

Finally, you must take a look at the lens coating. Even though the binoculars have a bigger diameter, you cannot expect them to keep the light away from reflecting efficiently. Therefore, you need to go ahead with a lens that provides an excellent coating. Then you will be able to make sure that the maximum light amount is being passed through the lens. Therefore, you will be able to get a clear view.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. John

    First of all thanks for such a great article about Binoculars. It is very helpful for a beginner like me. After reading this post, I am going to pick Bushnell Roof Prism Binoculars. What do you say about that?

    1. Hiking People Staff

      Hi John thanks for reading and commenting. The Bushnell Roof Prism Binoculars are well worth the price. They feel very comfortable in hands and they have an easy to use center focus ring. I plan on using them for sporting events. You’ll be happy with this purchase. Cheers!

  2. Gary

    Thanks for the reviews, but it feels kinda awkward having binos and monos in the same article. Have you looked at the mono from Docter? I’m interested in checking those out.

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