Whenever you are planning for hiking, do not forget to bring a pair of binoculars with you. Since you are exploring the wild, it would be better to give a closer look at the wildlife because that will provide you with a perfect vision of disturbing animals or birds.
However, picking binoculars for hiking is a bit tricky. And, choosing the wrong binoculars can ruin your hiking by providing a shaky image, blurry vision, discomfort watching experience, and many other things.
So, In this article, I am about to explain how to choose binoculars for hiking.
Types of binoculars for hiking
In terms of building mechanism, or to be precise, prism mechanism, binoculars come in two types: Porro Prism and Roof Prism.
Let’s get started by explaining porro types. Porro prism binoculars have pretty classic housing styles with a bit of tricky construction.
Here, the eyepieces and the optic lenses don’t stay aligned with each other. Instead, you can see the eyepieces close to each other and lenses wider most of the time. Usually, the Porro prism makes binoculars heavier and larger.
Comparatively, room prism binoculars are the latest variant for magnifying objects not too far from the viewer. The type has a pretty simple design that might seem pretty cost-efficient. But in reality, the housings have complex prism folds that feature greater sustainability and performance.
Usually, roof prism models are universal binoculars because of their compact structure. These are easy to hold and feature lots of stuff with easy adjustment. Still, it might not be a good option for guys with a very tight budget for their next hiking trip.
There are a lot of varieties in magnification. But 8X and 10X are the most popular options for hiking binoculars. However, it depends on what you are willing to do with the binoculars. So first of all, let’s talk about the magnification benefits and drawbacks.
Indeed, higher magnification causes a closer image. But, that requires a lot of lights to maintain the image visibility. And, simple hand movement can provide a shaky image. So, in terms of stability, lower magnification is always better. Also, lower magnification is better for achieving a large field of view (Which I am going to discuss later). But, on the other hand, having higher magnification power allows you to identify tiny objects from a far distance.
So, if you are willing to observe flying birds or roaming animals from a distance, having higher magnification binoculars is going to help you a lot. And, lower magnification is an excellent option for observing landscapes and looking around with a large field of view.
Field of view
When you see through the binoculars, it minimizes your viewing area. Because you depend on a mechanism to see around. So, when you are expecting a better field of view, you either have to get lower magnification power binoculars or get a larger lens diameter.
In the hiking scenario, it depends on you. Most of the time, people use binoculars to look around to get a better idea about the environment. In that case, having a better field of view is always the best option for you.
However, if you are willing to use your binoculars for watching small objects such as birds or animals, then the field of view is less important than magnification. Also, lower magnification allows you to focus on a single entity rather than disturbing the experience.
It is the distance between the lens and your eyes. If eye relief is not enough, you might feel uncomfortable using those particular binoculars. Also, if you are wearing a pair of glasses, that can cause tremendous problems to get a perfect field of view.
To make sure you are getting a better field of view, the eye relief should be 14/15mm. And, it is the standard distance between eyes and binoculars regardless of whether you are wearing glasses or not.
Objective lens diameter
Lens diameter is responsible for two significant features. First of all, it has a straight connection with the field of view. Your field of view depends on lens magnification power and lens diameter. That is why you see the binocular number mentioned that indicated lens diameter and magnification power.
So, if you have a large diameter, it will ensure a better field of view. For example, if you have two binoculars: 8X24 and 8X30. Both binoculars contain the same magnification but different lens diameters. As a result, the second one provides a larger field due to the large size lens.
However, when you are hiking, weight matters the most. So, from that perspective, cutting small weights can be helpful for you. And, getting a larger lens means putting extra weight into the binoculars.
Also, it can cause instability problems while using it with bare hands. Therefore I recommend using a 24 to 30mm diameter lens for hiking to have a better viewing experience without adding extra weight to your backpack.
There are two types of focus mechanisms available in binoculars: central focus and individual focus systems. No matter what focus mechanism you are using, it must be fast.
Because in the Bundock terrain, you have to be fast. So, your binoculars should focus faster to show you the scenario.
For example, If you see a bird flying around, you will not get a ton of time to adjust your focus and take a closer look. As a result, you may lose the bird. But, if you get the faster focus binoculars, then there is a chance to not lose any object by focusing quickly.
However, faster focus requires better understanding and a lot of practice. Therefore, unless you are familiar with binoculars, I suggest starting with slow focus and central focus mechanisms.
While hiking, you have to pack all the necessary things in a small backpack. Therefore, cutting weight is an essential strategy. So, binoculars should not weigh too much at all. That is why compact binoculars are popular for hiking. These binoculars are small in size and lightweight.
Usually, binoculars should not weigh more than 1KG (2lb).
While you are hiking, you face various weather conditions. Sometimes it can be hot, sometimes rainy. Eventually, you do not know what’s coming toward you. So, if your binoculars do not have weather protection, there is a chance of severe damage.
Therefore, your binoculars must have weather protection, including waterproof, dustproof, and eyecap. However, it would be best if you still took a piece of cloth to clean lenses before using binoculars. And, the good news is, that most hiking binoculars come with weather protection.
Since you are roaming around rough terrain, it is not impossible to fall binoculars from your hand. So, having it wrapped with armor or getting a better build quality is going to ensure your binoculars will not break from an accidental drop.
When you are getting a product, whether binocular or monocular, it should have a warranty. So, make sure you are getting excellent customer support from your manufacturer. Usually, all popular manufacturers ensure better customer support, including free returns or a long-term warranty. So, before getting binoculars, you must check their warranty policy and customer support quality.
Hiking binoculars are available in various qualities. According to different circumstances, you have to pick the binoculars. In general, having 8X30 binoculars is the best choice for hiking. Also, you have to ensure your binoculars can focus quickly and offer the best quality weather protection.
If you ask me, I would suggest Celestron – Nature DX 32 Binoculars because it has a decent magnification and field of view. Also, it contains weather protection and armor.