Top rated monoculars – Buying guide & Comparison
If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands but you still want to find the best monocular money can get you, this paragraph should help you out. After carefully examining the market by taking into consideration aspects such as product quality and price to value ratios, we have reached the conclusion that the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Black, 10 x 42-mm is the best product out there. The item stands out thanks to its quality optics and HD clarity as well as because if its durability. What is more, this unit comes fitted with a magnification ratio of 10 x, and with a 42-millimeter objective compact roof prism. If the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Black, 10 x 42-mm is out of stock, we suggest that you give the Wingspan Optics Explorer High a good look as it is a reliable alternative.
How to choose the best monoculars
Finding a good monocular is not the easiest of tasks, especially if you are not familiar with the topic. Moreover, this job is made even more difficult by the fact that the market is currently overflowing with countless similar models. So, in an attempt to lend you a helping hand, we have put together a list of features that you might find useful when making a decision.
Whenever in the market for a device of this type, it is recommendable that you pay attention to a handful of key aspects that can help you understand how good a product is. One of these factors is the magnification ratio. To put it simply, the magnification of a device determines just how much can the model magnify a certain image.
When considering this aspect, keep in mind that you should shop in accordance with how you want to use the device. Although at a first glance, settling for a product that offers 12 x might seem like the best option, you should know that this is not, in fact, true. Actually, because a monocular uses a hand wobble, it is quite tricky to use a high magnification. Instead, it is reasonable to purchase a product that has a magnification ratio of 6x to 8x.
Equally important, all users should settle for a model that has coated lenses. Usually, coatings can improve the clarity and the brightness of the images. This feature comes in handy especially when you are using the device during cloudy weather and/or in the morning or in the evening.
Furthermore, you should be aware of the fact that nowadays almost all models come equipped with coated lenses. Even more so, the more expensive products usually have additional layers of coating that make them fully waterproof and anti-reflexive.
Last but not least, the lens diameter is another aspect that should stir your interest. From this point of view, the bigger is the device’s lens, the brighter is the image and the field of view. However, a big lens does not automatically mean a higher quality image. Moreover, the units that come outfitted with smaller lenses are usually lighter and more portable. This means that you can easily carry them with you whenever you are hiking or out bird watching. So, if compactness is a key factor for you, we recommend that you settle for the later model.
Easiness of use
If you take a good look at any monocular reviews section, you will definitely see that another factor that is worthy of your consideration is just how easy is the model to use. More to this point, a good telescope monocular should be comfortable and not tiring the eye, especially if you wear glasses.
In order to make sure that the user experiences no such inconveniences, some manufacturers supply their products with a feature that is called eye relief. It is recommendable that, all glasses wearers settle for models that can supply you with at least a 14 mm eye relief. Additionally, it might be suitable for users using glasses to purchase units that have removable eyecups.
The size and the weight of the model should also be on your mind. Once again, this decision should be made only after considering the purpose of the product. So, if you are looking for a model that is capable of fitting in your pocket, you should buy one that has a smaller lens. Yet, if you want a bigger model that doesn’t have to be portable, settle for a device with large lenses.
Special features and clarifications
Before making your pick, it is essential that you get familiar with the additional features that some models include. For example, if you are searching for a device that can be used during the night, you should know that you have to purchase a special type of monocular that has been designed to be used particularly for this purpose. What is more, normal monoculars can only be used in the evening when the sun is about to set and not during the night.
Waterproof and fogproof models might also seem appealing to you, especially if you want to use the device while out in nature. By choosing a model that comes equipped with these features, you can rest assured knowing that your unit is protected no matter the meteorological conditions. Interestingly enough, all potential buyers might like to know that these models are not necessarily a lot more expensive than their counterparts.
Besides, when exploring the myriad of products up for sale, it is advisable that you select a model that comes with additional accessories. While accessories are not particularly expensive on their own, and they are not difficult to find, it is more cost-effective to pick a product that already includes them in the price.
As a result, you won’t have to invest extra dollars in a carry bag, lens caps or neck straps. Even more so, you can rest assured knowing that all accessories perfectly fit the chosen product.
Tips and tricks
Last but not least, before you make your decision it might be helpful to know that the type of material used in the making of the device is relevant. Generally speaking, whenever shopping for any type of optical devices, it is best that you select models made from high-quality materials.
While most monoculars have an exterior coating made out of rubber that prevents the model from slipping from your hands, it is important that you do some research and find out what type of material was used in the making of the product’s body, as this feature has to do with the product’s durability.
As you probably intuit, most affordable models are made from hard plastic. Yet, if you want the best of the best and you are not afraid of making an investment, it is recommended that you settle for a device made out of a light metal such as magnesium.
Also, if you are a photograph or if you are fond of photography and you are searching for a device that can allow you to take pictures of the images that you see, we believe that you might be interested in a product that digiscopes. To put it in plain English, digiscoping is the act of placing a camera on the monocular for one to take pictures with. Originally, people used spotting scopes.
In order to do so, one has to purchase an additional camera mount. According to photography lovers, this type of activity is quite exciting, challenging and more than anything addictive. So, if you intend to purchase such a model, caution is advised!
Lastly, it is prudent that, before you order anything, you take the time to do some online research. So, if you like a particular model, go online and search for reviews and comments about the product. Consequently, you’ll be able to find out just how reliable is the item and make an informed decision whether to buy it or not to. Moreover, you’ll come to understand whether or not there are any undisclosed issues with the model.
Types of monoculars
If you are a novice in the field of monoculars, chances are that you don’t know what particular models one can opt from. So, this short introduction into the world of optical devices might be of use to you. First things first, you should know that this line of products is quite extensive.
For example, if you are keen of hiking and you want a device that you can use during your expeditions, there are models that are portable and easy to use that you might find appealing. The same is true if you are a hobbyist bird watcher or a hunter in need of a new gadget.
Furthermore, a different category of monoculars includes night vision units that are recommended to those that want a model that enables them to see at night. Additionally, thermal monoculars are also available.
So, it is safe to say that the market is filled with countless models that can cater to your needs. Nonetheless, if you are on a budget or you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a product of this kind, you should know that you can also find a lot of less expensive, quality models that might suit you.
Finding good monoculars for hunting is a rather challenging job. These models have to come equipped with a handful of features that can aid a hunter be successful during (hunting) expeditions. First things first, these models have to be quite lightweight in order not to hinder the huntsman movements.
Moreover, apart from being portable and compact, these products have to have a good magnification ratio. More expensive models also have night vision, a feature that many might find useful. Also, before making a purchase, the durability of the materials should be considered.
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Black, 10 x 42-mm
Highly appreciated by both specialists and buyers, the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Black is a model that is worthy of your time and money. This unit is said to provide its users with quality optics and HD clarity. The main advantage of the model is the fact that it combines portability with excellence in imagery.
According to the manufacturer, the product is made from quality, durable materials and it has been tested extensively in order to eliminate any type of malfunction.
Technically speaking, this device comes outfitted with a 10x magnification and a 42-millimeter objective compact roof. The model also features BaK-4 prisms, fully multi-coated optics and it was made using ED Prime Glass.
Additionally, the unit has a 100% waterproof and fogproof construction and comes provided with what has been described as comfortable twist-up eyecups. When shipped, the product includes a Picatinny rail and a carry clip.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($178.49)
When it comes to settling for a monocular that can be used for bird watching, there are some aspects that all buyers should think about. Firstly, you have to be aware of the fact that this device is usually used to spot and observe birds, so, magnification should count.
Also, in order to have a good view of the animal, it is recommendable that you settle for a model that has large lenses in order for you to be able to see a big part of the landscape. Also, large lenses mean brighter images. However, try selecting a model that is also lightweight.
Wingspan Optics Explorer High Powered 12X50
The Wingspan Optics Explorer High Powered is a model that is quite popular among bird watching enthusiasts.
With great online reviews and almost perfect ratings, one could easily say that picking this model is a safe choice.
The unit allows its users to see up to 12 times closer and provides him/her with clear and bright views.
Furthermore, the device comes fitted with an external armor that protects the item and that guarantees its durability.
What is more, if you order this product you will receive a tripod stand for hands-free steady viewing. This model is also waterproof and fogproof.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($199.99)
Hiking is the type of outdoor activity that allows people that practice it to get in touch with the beauty of nature. In order to help hiking lovers make the best of their outdoor expeditions, manufacturers have designed devices that can help them see any scenery in detail.
And, because hiking implies a lot walking and physical effort, when purchasing this type of device one should pay attention to whether or not the unit is portable. Additionally, the item should be waterproof and it should have a good magnification ratio.
Wingspan Optics Scout 6X32 Compact
If you are in the market for a compact model that has a wide view and that can easily be used while out hiking, we suggest that you check out the Wingspan Optics Scout 6X32 Compact.
The product has a waterproof exterior case that prevents moisture/ water from getting inside it. What is more, because the model is also fog proof, you can use it no matter the weather.
Also, the model has a wide view of no less than 6X32mm that supplies its user with a wide range of vision (1000yds).
Even more so, the unit is quite compact, as it easily fits in one’s hand, and is very light. Thus, you won’t find it difficult to carry it around.
Lastly, the model is considered quite cost-effective and has overall positive reviews from the current users.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($99.99)
Usually, when people choose monoculars over binoculars, they do it because the former devices are more lightweight. Yet, in the wake of new technological developments, manufacturers have been able to create compact units that are effortless to transport and comfortable to use.
The main advantage that these units have is the fact that they do not sacrifice quality for quantity. Hence, although they are quite small, one cannot say that they are inferior to other similar models. The only visible difference is the fact that they have a smaller lens and, consequently, a smaller field of view.
Vortex Solo 10×36 mm
If you are interested in a device that does not take up a lot of space, the Vortex Solo 10×36 mm might be all that you need.
This model features fully multi-coated lenses that are said to actually increase the light transition and supply you with a better viewing. Also, the manufacturer guarantees that the product’s lenses have anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces.
Moreover, the rubber armor that covers the device supplies you with a non-slip grip as well as with durable external protection. As a plus, if you are a glasses wearer, you should know that the model comes fitted with adjustable eyecups that twist up and down in order to provide you with a comfortable viewing with or without eyeglasses.
Lastly, all possible buyers should know that this monocular is waterproof. In fact, the unit’s optics are said to be sealed with O-rings that can prevent the formation of moisture.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($109)
Best budget monocular
In general, the task of finding good optical devices is not an easy one. What can make it even more dreadful is having to stick to a fixed budget. Nonetheless, when shopping in this category of products, there are a few tricks that can help you find quality models.
For one, it is advisable that you settle for a product that has a magnification of at least 6X and a relatively wide field of view. Moreover, try to pick a model that has coated lenses, as this will improve its durability and reliability.
Wingspan Optics Outdoorsman 8X42 Compact
If you want a monocular that can do its job well but that is not expensive, we recommend that you check out the Wingspan Optics Outdoorsman 8X42 Compact. With an unbeatable price, this model can supply its users with bright, crisp images.
As a plus, this unit has a significantly wide view and it can safely be used while outdoors. In fact, this device is not only waterproof but also fogproof, dustproof and debris proof.
Similarly to the previous model, this monocular also comes fitted with adjustable eyecups. As a result, just in minutes, you’ll be able to quickly twist them up or down in order to get a better viewing of the surroundings.
As a way of showing its trust in the product’s quality, the manufacturer offers a 30 days trial period. If you are not happy with the device, you can return it and get your money back.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($169.99)
Best night vision monocular
Another type of monocular that is gaining popularity lately is the night vision model. These devices are usually used for hunting or fishing at night as well as while camping in secluded areas.
There are three generations of products of this type, the first being the most affordable and oldest while the third one includes top-notch products that are multi-featured and that are significantly pricier. The latter models can supply the user with up to 10.000 hours of vision without needing any replacement. Also, they function using a handful of practical accessories that make the product more practical and useful.
FLIR Systems Scout III-240 Thermal Imager
All those looking for a high quality, reliable model that won’t let you down when you need it should take a good look at the FLIR Systems Scout III-240 Thermal Imager. Although settling for this product means investing a few extra dollars, this device is well received by both users and experts.
This unit can supply its buyers with enhanced performance with 30Hz or 60Hz imaging and with advanced image processing. As a plus, the unit can be used by all hunters due to the fact that it identifies the pray (heat signatures) at 1200 yards away.
Lightweight, this model only weighs 12 ounces and can easily fit in one’s pocket. Moreover, the manufacturer claims that this product is weather and impact-resistant so, you won’t have to worry about it being able to handle bad weather or unforeseen impacts.
Also, you can take pictures/make videos while using it.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($1399.9)
Best night vision monocular under 200
At a close look, gadgets that can provide one with the possibility to see during the night are not as expensive as they might seem. While it is 100% true that the expensive devices that fall into this category have a series of features that one might not find the cheaper alternatives, you should know that you can still get a good, quality model without paying a lot of money.
The features that many of these more affordable models can supply its users with include allowing you to see moving targets in the dark and providing you with decent magnification ratios.
Astromania Portable Digital Night Vision
With a great price to value ratio, the Astromania Portable Digital Night Vision is a model that many previous buyers currently use and recommend. The model has a hard to beat price and is generally regarded as a solid deal.
Among the features that make it worth your time and attention are the fact that it delivers high magnification that enables the user to see in the dark up to 100 meters.
Additionally, the unit lets you actually take pictures and record videos during the night while still catching objects in detail. Later on, you can download them to your PC or phone.
In order to help you distinguish various objects, the model comes supplied with an illumination system that lets you select one of the seven brightness stages available. The unit works by using AA batteries that are not included in the price.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($127.99)
Best night vision monocular under 300
Staying in a budget while searching for advanced technology that can allow you to see at night is a task many would deem impossible. However, all those that find themselves in this situation should not despair.
Nowadays, the market for this line of products is filled with a lot of models that can satisfy all needs and budget. Consequently, you should know that there are models that you might find appealing. However, before placing any orders, it is advisable that you go online and search for reviews of the chosen product.
Bestguarder 6x50mm HD Digital Night Vision
This digital night vision monocular has a 6 X magnification ratio, digital zoom and an objective lens of 50mm. As a plus, the unit can take 2592 pixel photographs and quality videos (1280*720pixel @30 fps).
The unit also contains a built-in infrared illuminator that that allows you to see in front of you at 1150 ft./350m. According to its manufacturer, the model can be used both during the day and during the night hence, this product is quite versatile.
As a plus, the model has a water-resistant housing that ensures its durability. When ordering it you will also receive a mountable tripod. The product operates on 4 AA batteries that have to be bought separately.
It is recommended that you use the device for night hunting and scouting games, security, and surveillance, camping, bird watching, observing wildlife, night fishing and/or boating.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($299.99)
Best thermal monocular for the money
Although in the beginning, thermal technology was only used by the military, nowadays it is accessible to all people. A thermal monocular is usually used for hunting. The reason for this lies in the fact that these devices can help one actually distinguish the prey in the dark by thermally tracking it down.
By doing so, the hunter can actually see in the dark and can successfully hunt during the night time. When talking about the subject, most users of these models say that they are quite handy and that they can improve one’s ability to hunt.
ATN OTS HD 384 Smart Thermal
Undoubtedly regarded as one of the best products in this line, the ATN OTS HD 384 Smart Thermal is the go-to device for all those that don’t mind investing money in quality gear. This unit comes equipped with a proficient thermal sensor that has 384*288 pixel HD resolution that can help you find your way in total darkness.
Additionally, the model features a smart rangefinder that is said to accurately measure the distance to a subject/ object. Also, the 3D Gyroscope can reduce possible handshake and it can provide you with clear images.
The E-compass that the model includes can help you navigate easily in order to always get to the right location.
Moreover, the E-Zoom function of the product enables you to focus on distant objects while still maintaining stunning image clarity. Additional features of the device include 1080p HD Video Recording & Photos and Wi-Fi Streaming.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($1614.99)
Best monocular brands
The market is overflowing with a myriad of similar monocular brads. So, let’s take a look and see what each of them brings to the table.
Bushnell is a manufacturer that managed to make a name for itself in this line of products. The models that it manufactures are of high quality and are ideal for outdoor activities. Its products are usually weather protected, they have fully-coated lenses and are very durable (made from high-quality materials), a reason why many users recommend them. Pricewise, most models produced by Bushnell are affordable.
Another highly regarded brand that all hunters are familiar with is Vortex Optics. This manufacturer designs and produces a wide range of gear that can be used during hunting outings, bird and wildlife watching, outdoor sports as well as by law enforcement.
The optical instruments that it produces (binoculars, spotting scopes, riflescopes, and various other accessories) are seen as quality products by experts and buyers alike.
This brand is particularly a favorite of bird watchers. In fact, the Wingspan Optics are renowned for manufacturing top-notch, compact optical devices that can be used while bird watching. What is more, the models that they produce can be purchased by everybody, including those that are on a budget.
What is more, this brand has some of the best online ratings. Therefore, this manufacturer is highly regarded and should be considered.
If you are looking for a manufacturer that comes from a line of tradition, you should go online and search for Celestron. This company is known for producing all types of optical gadgets, including binoculars, spotting scopes, and microscopes.
The manufacturer is recognized as one of the manufacturers that offer its buyers the possibility of using computerized software programmes that can accurately locate different objects.
This manufacturer joined the business in 1990 and has prospered ever since. With a background of over 25 years in the trade, this producer has continually tried to cater to the needs of its customers by improving their experience.
Also, Carson describes itself as a company that is committed to offering buyers quality products at affordable prices. Most users that have opted for their products were happy with them.
Barska optics need no introduction. This manufacturer offers its buyers a wide selection of instruments and accessories that are safe and reliable. The monoculars that they produce can deliver crisp magnified images and are very much potable.
Their optic gear comes provided with many interesting and practical features that most users appreciate. Moreover, they include a patterned non-slip rubber armoring that is said to prevent slips and to enhance the models’ maneuverability.
Steiner is another manufacturer that all monocular enthusiasts have heard about. The models that it produces are regarded as great German value items that are worth the money. Steiner is nevertheless linked to the development of the indestructible rubber-armored Makrolon® housing.
What is more, Steiner is known for its water-repellant Nano-Protection® lenses and its overall durable and reliable models that can perform well in difficult environments and critical situations.
Described as small but powerful, the monoculars crafted by Carl Zeiss are ideal for sporting events or outdoor activities. The products developed by Carl Zeiss need no introduction. In fact, this manufacturer is well known for its remarkable quality, multi-layer coatings, and sleek design.
Another advantage of these models is the fact that they are rather small by comparison to other similar alternatives. Besides, some gadgets are very versatile as they allow one to also magnify at close range.
Last but not least, we couldn’t have ended this list without mentioning Nikon. This Japanese manufacturer stands out thanks to the fact that it supplies its users with products that are reliable and durable.
What is more, this company has a long line of tradition that goes back a century. Therefore, this brand has had enough time to develop new technologies in order to improve its products.
Frequently asked questions about monoculars
Which is better, a monocular or a binocular?
This is a particularly difficult to answer question. The two different varieties of optical devices have their own pros and cons. However, when deciding between the two it is crucial that you think about how you intend to use the instrument.
For instance, monoculars are recommendable for people that want a light, compact product that is easy to store and carry. On the other hand, binoculars can offer the advantage of allowing you to contemplate scenery while using both of your eyes. Also, they usually have a wider field of view and are considered more comfortable and less straining on the eye.
What is monocular vision?
Usually, to understand this concept it is easier to compare it to the notion of binocular vision. Thus, while the first term refers to the action of looking at something while using just one of your eyes, binocular vision implies the use of both eyes.
Additionally, monocular vision is said to allow a deeper, more detail-focused perception of reality. Also, this vision gives one the ability to effortlessly estimate the distance between the observer and the object observed. Still, the latter type of vision supplies the user with a wider picture (field of view).
Who invented the monocular?
Although the history of monoculars is innately linked to that of binoculars, it is believed that Ignatio Porro was the actual inventor of what we nowadays call a monocular. He was an engineer of Italian origins that moved to France in early 1840.
Here, he founded an institute and spent his time developing optical instruments. During the years spent in Paris, Ignatio Porro crafted the prism assembly, an important piece that can be found in monoculars as we know them today. In his work, he was assisted by Jean Georges Hofmann, a German optician.
Why buy a monocular?
Monoculars and binoculars are two devices that have been constructed with the same purpose: to bring objects closer to the eye of the observer. However, there are a few advantages that a monocular brings that people generally agree upon.
For instance, monoculars are more compact and overall more lightweight than their counterpart. Moreover, by using a monocular the observer gets to correctly estimate the distance between objects. Lastly, monoculars are ideal if you are a light packer that wants a device that can help him/her see specific details in various landscapes and sights.