Top Handheld Monoculars Reviewed – Buying guide & Comparison for 2018
If you’re short on time, forget about other sources and read this comprehensive guide. Our mission is to find the best handheld monocular, and for that specific reason, we went through hundreds of advice and buying options, we’ve analyzed the market and read dozens of articulate handheld monocular reviews. We did that so you’ll save both time and money and invest in a model that will satisfy all your needs. One model that stood out from the rest is the Wingspan Optics Explore. The unit has an ergonomic body that can be held with just one hand comfortably, and it is made from top-notch materials that ensure its durability. Moreover, the optics inside are of premium quality and won’t disappoint when it comes to low-light performances. If you also need an alternative, the Orion 10×42 Waterproof can be just as effective in bringing distant objects close to you.
Monoculars are a combo between telescopes and binoculars. Like its brothers, these monoculars use lenses and prisms to reflect light to magnify an image accurately, and just like telescopes, they contain a single body and viewing lens, which is why their body is ergonomic. While magnification levels are often modest, a monocular can be a fitting alternative to the chunky standard binoculars and may even have some other advantages over the more popular viewing device. Now let’s learn about their must-have features.
Monoculars vs. binoculars
Both of them are excellent devices for magnifying distant objects and images and are mostly used outside, to get close-up views of far-off mountains or for hunting. However, there are many differences between the two pieces of equipment that you need to take into account.
Magnification levels are similar, typically ranging from 5x to over 25x, so technically they can be used for the same purposes. The greatest advantage monoculars have is their weight and size, both of which are less than half that of a pair of binoculars.
This makes them much more portable and perfect for walkers and hikers who want to travel light. However, keep in mind that you can find cheap and compact hiking binoculars as well. Regarding image quality, monoculars are less susceptible to slight movement, unlike binoculars which suffer from unsteadiness.
But it’s not a matter of positive differences. It is important to remember that most monoculars do not offer the same depth as a pair of premium wildlife viewing binoculars, as viewing through a single eye reduces depth significantly.
The perfect magnification
It is important to know how much larger the equipment inside a monocular makes the viewed image. There are many advantages to both lower and higher levels of magnification depending on the intended use of the monocular, just like when it comes to amazing night vision binoculars.
A 4x to 8x magnification is considered to be a low one. This means that the image magnification is small, but the product’s field of vision is very large. This type of monocular is suitable for viewing an entire area rather than a single remote object. They are also fit for children, and a product from this category would make for an excellent monocular for hiking.
A 10x to 14x magnification is considered the sweet middle. But this means the higher it goes, the lower the field of vision gets, although the size (diameter) of the objective also influences FOV. However, these mid-range monoculars provide a good compromise between the two aspects. They are suited for novices, and a model with this feature would also be an ideal monocular for hunting.
The field of view on monoculars with magnifications over 25x is low, but not surprisingly, magnification is excellent. These premium monoculars are particularly ideal when it comes to identifying single objects, such as an animal or a small bird in a large tree. A high-performance monocular for bird watching will have this specific spec.
Monoculars for sale come with various coatings on the lenses, ranging from a simple one to the more costly, fully multi-coated lens. The type of coating it features affects the brightness levels of the viewed image since the more expensive ones reduce glare to increase clarity.
Multi-coated lenses rock a combination of anti-reflective layers, and a special budget monocular that has this type of lens also tends to include waterproof properties to increase the product’s durability and longevity.
Cheap handheld monoculars use either roof or Porro prisms inside to help view the image correctly. Others use the 17th-century Galilean technique, but they are not that common.
A roof prism is constructed like a roof, with two faces coming together at 90 degrees. They are commonly found within higher magnification products as they work best with higher focal distances.
A good handheld monocular will usually feature Porro prisms. Porro prisms are the most widely-used optical systems when it comes to cheaper and cost-effective monoculars/binoculars. They are similar to roof prisms but work differently to invert the images so we can view them properly.
Our 2018 list: Find the right handheld monocular for your needs
Based on the criteria above, below you have some products that met our high standards and that are going to be by your side for many years to come. Each is well-made and impressive on its own.
Wingspan Optics Explorer
Also, it has a durable external armor that offers permanent protection, plus a non-slip grip which will come in handy in humid environments. The O-ring it rocks prevents debris, moisture, and dust particles from getting inside the monocular.
Moreover, the feature makes it waterproof and fog-proof, therefore perfect for any weather. The monocular comes with a Bak-4 roof prism that gives impressive color dispersion and clarity. The monocular has optics that are multi-coated, and they have anti-reflective coatings on all air to glass surfaces, a thing that makes this a premium device.
The item has a Bak-4 roof prism that offers outstanding color dispersion and clarity, even when it’s cloudy outside. The optics themselves are multi-coated, and they come with anti-reflective coatings on all air to glass surfaces to reduce glare.
The monocular is also waterproof, given that the barrel is filled with nitrogen. Furthermore, the optics are sealed to make sure dust is kept away from it. So, in a word, it is ideal for any environment or weather.
Its range of view has been extended over the years, and this makes it the number one choice for any outdoor adventure.
Some customers had troubles with focusing the device, which is not necessarily a con of the product since most models on the market suffer from that.
There were also some complaints regarding night vision, especially when there’s no direct source of light in the proximity of the monocular itself.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($55.45)
Orion 10×42 Waterproof
It was designed by experts to use a BK-7 prism. The lenses themselves come with an anti-reflection coating that ensures the images that you get with the help of this monocular are bright, balanced, well contrasted and rich in details.
The field of view is generous, as it provides a 5.9-degree field of view that produces a nice sized window. Moreover, the unit employs a center focus wheel that allows you to adjust the focus easily. The lens, which is 42mm in size, is big and clear to enable a good transmission of light so you can see images that are sharp and bright.
Since it is compact and portable, the monocular can be the perfect device for studying distant birds, wildlife and for traveling purposes. The tool is just 6.1 inches long, and it is lightweight too at only 11 ounces.
It was crafted to survive all the rough conditions of outdoor use. Thus, it has a waterproof rubber-armored construction that facilitates observations in virtually any weather.
Specs-wise, it comes with fully multi-coated 42mm diameter optics, plus anti-reflection coatings that ensure maximum light dispersion for bright, clear images. The close focus sits well at 20 inches, and with the 10x power magnification, no detail will go unnoticed.
Although the device is waterproof, it cannot be submerged in water because it wasn’t created for those types of missions.
Another setback could be the fact that its shape is not highly ergonomic, and that after a while, your hand might get tired from holding it.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($49.99)
Wingspan Optics Adventure
It is also useful to know that it delivers an extended range of view to let you see details at 1,000 yards away and that producing a bright image in dim light conditions is not a problem for the gadget. Buyers also like that it is fog-proof, waterproof, and also impact-resistant.
You should feel free to use it in rough and humid environments because it will survive. It feels good in the hands of the user due to the ergonomic enhancements of the design, and it won’t disappoint even if you use it daily since it was constructed to be highly responsive.
The unit comes with the DiamondBright technology, and it offers impressive brightness, clarity, and color differentiation.
You can easily use it to target and observe your point of interest since the device has a wide view and can zoom in without any distortion or color bleeding. The Adventure monocular is lightweight and portable as well, so you will always be prepared when a rare bird comes in sight.
Moreover, we can safely say that it is water and fog proof and that it has a durable design meant to defy nature and bad weather while being a pleasure to use at the same time.
Buyers said that although the image is clear at maximum magnification, the device has issues when it comes to keeping it stable, especially if you move around. They say that using a tripod might solve that issue, even if it means spending extra money.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($58.18)
Nikon 7394 High Grade
The lens coatings are multi-layered, as expected from a premium product, and the 5x magnification is significant enough for excellent viewing, but small enough that you won’t have to worry about your hand shaking and about distortion. Buyers who wear glasses won’t have to remove them to make use of the tool.
The model also offers a 472-foot field of view at 1000 yards, and it comes equipped with a 15mm objective lens. You’ll also enjoy using the smooth rubber eyecup, while the internal focusing system will make sure adjusting the focus won’t be frustrating.
If you want something tiny, this is exactly what this machine provides. It comes equipped with a 5x magnification and a 472-foot field of view at 1000 yards, which is decent considering how small its footprint is.
The diameter of the objective lens if of 15mm and the lens comes with multi-layered anti-reflective coatings for better low and bright light performance. And the views will also have accurate colors with no blur.
The gadget is small to fit in a pocket or purse, and it only weighs 2.6 ounces. The 15.8mm eye relief the machine sports allows use by eyeglass wearers as well, which is a noteworthy bonus.
When it comes to downsides, some buyers have noticed that the model doesn’t have a non-slip surface, which would make outdoor use much more comfortable.
Moreover, its list of features is not outstanding, especially if you correlate it to the price of the product.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Orion 10-25×42 Zoom
Buyers also like that the close focus distance is a very convenient 20 inches, which allows you to examine objects near or far carefully. In the box, you’ll also find a soft nylon case with a belt loop and the very helpful carrying wrist-strap, which is to be appreciated as accessories can be expensive.
There’s no reason to talk about image clarity, as results will speak for themselves. The model is waterproof, and it rocks a rubber-coated body that protects the zoom monocular from the natural elements and occasional tumbles. It is surprising that you get so many important things for such a decent price.
The first thing that it offers is variable zoom from 10X to 25X. And to minimize the shake you get at maximum magnifications, the monocular is tripod-adaptable. The images it provides are crystal clear and full of rich detail.
The field of view through its lens is praised by past buyers, especially since it has no blind spots. And considering the 42mm objective lens, it is surprising that you get both for a budget-friendly price.
This monocular uses a high-quality roof prism, and the optics are multi-coated. The focus mechanism is represented by a central wheel that’s fast and responsive.
The accessories you get in the box are halfway decent, but not terrific in any way. The nylon carrying case provides a rather tight fit, meaning you’ll have to work hard and waste energy when you try to remove the monocular, and vice versa when you have to put it back.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($79.99)