"Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission."
You must have met at least one person in your life who complained about a recent safari trip. Their biggest disappointment would be because of the animals being too far away and hard to spot. Then, how are you supposed to get a clear view of the wild animals without risking your lives? The ultimate answer is our best binoculars for safari.
Keep reading to find out how a safari binocular will enhance the quality of your safari vacation and what you need to consider before buying one.
Best Binoculars for Safari in 2021
Based on the benchmark we mentioned above, here are our top picks for the best safari binoculars.
Celestron 71347 Outland X – Most Compact of the Best Binoculars for Safari
With a magnification and lens size of 10×25, Celestron Outland X is one of the foremost compact best binoculars for a safari experience out there. Although the lens diameter is at the lower threshold for light absorption, Outland X makes up for it with its multi-coated optics and a unique Bak-4 prism for unobstructed views in the dark. On top of that, unlike many roof-prism binoculars, it has waterproofing.
Bushnell H20 Waterproof Binocular
Bushnell has a reputation for making the most durable binoculars, and H20 is one of its best cards. H20 comes with 42 mm, the largest lens diameter compatible with a compact binocular, and an integrated Bak-4 prism to enhance the quality. As its name suggests, it is 100% waterproof but also coated with a soft texture to allow a comfortable grip.
Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 – Most Shock Resistant of the Best Binoculars for Safari
Nikon is one of the best brands in binocular-manufacturing. One of their latest products – Nikon Monarch stands out for its very long eye-relief, allowing you to hold it far away from your eyes. The rubber material makes it resistant to impact and getting wet, while the 42 mm lens enables you to see even the shyest of nocturnal animals in complete darkness.
Nikon Prostaff 3S Binoculars
Prostar 3S boasts the same qualities as Monarch, with a bonus of 10x zoom instead of 8. The 42 mm lens diameter makes one assume that it is a bulky binocular, but Prostaff 3S is quite the opposite. The lens is coated with a novel technology using highly-reflective silver alloy mirrors for the coating to increase the brightness and color contrast.
In terms of being waterproof, Prostaff 3S can survive in as deep as one meter for up to ten minutes, which is a record for roof-prism binoculars.
Wingspan Optics Thunderbird 8×42 Ultra HD
Viewing fast-moving animals has never been easier. Wingspan optics has an exceptional prism quality that accentuates the colors and textures of anything you gaze at, even in low light.
Its fog proofing lens helps you see through the mist, a common occurrence in early morning safaris. Experts recommend this model, particularly for bird-watching.
Adorrgon Travel Binoculars
Of all the binocular brands, Adorrgon perhaps designs the smallest and feather-like. For a binocular that weighs only 1.1 pounds, Adorrgon is surprisingly effective. Its 12×42 magnification provides flawless distant-viewing and image quality compared to many of its rivals. Combine this with affordable prices, and you have one of the top-rated safari best binoculars on Amazon.
Avantek Binoculars 10×50
Despite its fancy look, Avantek offers the best value for money. Its lens diameter of 50 mm and a FOV of 367 feet per 1000 yards – despite making it slightly bulkier than its opponents – allows smooth wildlife viewing even in utter darkness. Finally, the 16 mm long eye relief and the ergonomic design complete the perfect package.
Leupold Bx-1 McKenzie 12×50
As you can infer from the title, Leupold Bx-1 offers an excellent close-up of distant animals seen like dots on the horizon, while the lens size overcomes issues of low light entirely. Edge-to-edge clarity in wide lenses is difficult to achieve. Yet, Leupold tackles this by implementing 10 minutes of extra glassing through Twilight Light Management System.
Above all, Leupold is one of the few brands that includes a portable field-ready case at an affordable price.
Hawke Frontier HD X 10×42
Both the inner and outer materials of binoculars have difficulty enduring extreme high and low temperatures. Hawke Frontier HD X, differently from many other binoculars, has a magnesium alloy body under the rubber surface. This helps the binocular survive between an unbelievably wide range of 55 to -15 degrees Celcius.
The hydrophobic coating around the lenses prevents water drops from adhering to the surface, so any water splash just slides away without a trace. Despite its slightly higher price, Frontier HD X is definitely worth buying due to its incredible durability, not to mention the lifetime warranty provided.
Kowa YF30-8 – the Lightest of the Best Binoculars for Safari
Kowa is a more recent brand that quickly earned a reputation with its YF30 series. Their best card is the massive field of view. With 140 m at 1000m, adjusting the binocular won’t even be necessary. Despite the Porro-prism, the exterior design is surprisingly modern, boasting a soft contour on the outside. Weighing 470 grams, Kowa YF30-8 is one of the lightest binoculars with the right old Porro prisms, and one of the few that is 100% waterproof and dirt-proof, making it the best binocular for a safari vacation.
Criteria for the Best Binoculars for Safari
In this buying guide, we are summarizing the criteria you need to consider when purchasing a binocular.
One of the two most crucial features of a binocular is the magnification. If you look at the specifications of binoculars, you will instantly see a pair of numbers as in an x b. The first number “a” indicates the magnification coefficient, which is used to describe how much the binocular can magnify the object.
The biggest misconception about magnification is that the higher the number is, the better. However, a number higher than 12, while it indeed zooms in further, can compromise on the brightness and focus, not to mention they would require a tripod to hold still. The ideal number for a portable best safari binocular is 10.
Objective Lens Size
The second number in the pair mentioned above is the objective lens diameter. An objective lens is found on the tip of the binocular directed towards the object. For this criteria, you want your binocular to have a broader actual surface to gather as much light as possible. It would make a massive difference in your sight in darker conditions.
The tricky problem is that the binocular size increases dramatically with the objective lens. For safari purposes, a range of 30-45 mm should suffice. You can stick to 32 mm for daytime tours, but try to find one with 42 mm if you are shooting for a nocturnal wildlife expedition.
A binocular will contain one of the two prism types – a roof prism or a Porro prism.
The two types of binoculars differ in the way the prisms are lined up with the eyepiece. While the lens and the prism are in line with the eyepiece in a roof prism, a Porro prism will have a zigzaggy alignment. Choosing either one of the prisms is tricky if you are indecisive, so let’s break down the pros and cons.
A Porro prism has the traditional design that you come across in movies. They refract the light much less than a compact roof prism, generating brighter and clearer images with higher depth. However, they are much broader and bulkier than roof prisms, which also reduces their durability.
A roof prism can obtain the same viewing quality as a Porro prism, but this comes with a cost. Because of the complex manufacturing process to achieve precision, they are more expensive than the Porro prisms. Nevertheless, they have several advantages over them, such as more extended durability, better waterproof quality, stronger magnification, and lighter weight.
Overall, they both provide a decent experience with slight differences, so you can make the purchase depending on your budget and the space in your luggage.
Field Of View (FOV)
The field of view indicates the width of the picture a binocular can span. You can see a lot more with a higher FOV. Although a binocular with small FOV can have decent image quality and magnification, you would still have to move it around to catch an animal sight, and make adjustments.
The rule of thumb is to look for a FOV with at least 315 feet at 1000 yards.
Exit pupil size is the ratio of the lens size divided by the magnification. Some binoculars can include this information in their specification, so it is essential to know its function. Similar to the lens size, a large exit pupil size allows your binocular to collect more light, allowing you to catch a clearer sight in the dark.
For early morning and evening safaris, go for an exit pupil size of at least 5 mm.
Besides the crucial specifications, here are other factors you should consider when deciding on the best binoculars for safari.
- Make sure that it is lightweight and small enough to stuff in your bag. On a side note, some safari vehicles will have weight limitations, so double-check that your binocular does not exceed the allowed weight limit.
- As we have emphasized earlier, waterproofing is critical as your safari vehicle crosses rivers. After all, you don’t want muddy water droplets clogging your view.
- Find out if the binocular of your choice is shockproof and resistant to constantly bouncing around.
- A long eye relief allows you to hold the binocular further away from your eyes, which will come in handy when you are wearing sunglasses.
Best Binoculars for Safari – FAQs
On some safari tours, you might get really lucky and find hundreds of animals lurking near the main roads. However, this is never guaranteed, and the large mammals are unpredictable in terms of where they want to hang out. With a binocular, not only will you maximize your chance, but you will also catch a glimpse of the animals hiding deep in the thick bushes
A magnification of 12 is the best that can be incorporated into lightweight binoculars. You can also use 16 without a tripod, but be warned that it will be bulky.
You can spot things as far away as 2 km.
A safari binocular usually costs between 100 and 500 USD. There are also high-end binoculars with an excellent combination of features, costing up to 3000 USD. The most expensive brands are Zeiss, Swarovski, and Nikon.
You might think that a safari binocular is a futile item for a safari trip, but that is because you are not aware of the wildlife potential you can’t see with the naked eye. The animals coming close to the vehicle are often the tip of the iceberg, and you want to dive to the bottom of that iceberg as an avid traveler. From that point of view, we would even argue that a binocular is more useful than a safari camera.
If you’re looking to buy a safari camera, consider reading our post on the best camera for safari. Also, browse through the various destinations where you can put these tech gears to good use: