When you need powerful magnification fast, a monocular can bring you closer to a bird or deer, depending on what you are using it for. The best products are made from robust materials to withstand the conditions of the great outdoors but they need to offer you more than just a strong build.
It can be hard to tell which brands are worth considering, especially with so many products promising you crystal clear magnification. Also, if you aren’t aware of what makes a great product so good and a cheap product one to avoid you might end up wasting money on a monocular that you barely use. To make sure you get the most out of your hike, hunt, or bird spotting experience we have outlined the very best monoculars available. Each of them offers unique features and there is something for every budget.
Quick Summary of the Best Monoculars
- Editor’s Choice: Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular (Amazon) – Review
- Best Close Range: Vortex Optics Solo Monocular 8×36 (Amazon) – Review
- Best Affordable: ROXANT Grip Scope High Definition Monocular (Amazon) – Review
- Best Compact: Celestron Nature 10×25 Monocular (Amazon) – Review
- Best With Smartphone Holder: Gosky Titan High-Power Prism Monocular and Quick Smartphone Holder (Amazon) – Review
Editor’s Choice: Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular
In the world of monoculars, this is the ultimate product that anyone can benefit from using. You get impressive 10 x magnification which is crystal clear, bringing a 42mm objective into the mix with their reputable brand name. Although it weighs a bit more than a lot of the more compact monoculars, this is part of the reason it is so popular as it adds to its sturdiness.
They are both waterproof and fog proof and feature fully multi-coated optics to ensure you are getting high-quality materials for a clear picture with bright colors through the ED glass. The twist-up eyecups add to the comfort and are great for anyone who wears glasses. A lot of people comment that the focus is easy to navigate and works fast so you can keep that bird in your sights
Best Close Range: Vortex Optics Solo Monocular 8×36
With a mix of value and performance, Vortex steps up to fill a void that means anyone can get their hands on a quality monocular. Although the magnification isn’t quite as impressive as other products, a lot of people will find that 8 x is more than enough for their needs. Combine this with the 36 mm lens and its ability to work well at close range of around 16.4 ft, it is a neat product, to say the least.
You get a lot of grip from the rubber armor on the outside so it won’t fall from your grasp even when the weather turns and since it is nitrogen purged, it is both fog proof and waterproof meaning it can be snowing or scorching and it won’t affect its performance.
Best Affordable: ROXANT Grip Scope High Definition Monocular
An affordable monocular that despite its limitations is a monocular that is worth considering. It has a wide view but only 6 x magnification. for some outdoor pursuits, this is plenty but for the serious hunter, this might be restrictive. Still, you can get a good grip of it thanks to the quality outer and in the retractable eyecups, they are one of the more comfortable for anyone who wears glasses.
The all-glass lens is multi-coated so it still provides a clear view which is probably why they are popular with those who are sitting at the back of a concert or the casual bird-watcher. Another plus point is the added extras you get that includes a sturdy carry pouch, a strap to wear the monocular around your neck and a cleaning cloth.
Best Compact: Celestron Nature 10×25 Monocular
With 10 x magnification you know it is going to be fun to use as it gives you plenty of scope and a 25mm lens that makes it so compact. Both waterproof and fog proof it stands up to the rigors of bad weather and Celestron includes a limited lifetime warranty that is still good to see. Y
ou get a clear view through the multi-coated lens and a focus dial that can be operated with one hand. It is one of the more modern-looking monoculars and should please most tastes aesthetically. Arguably the best pocket-sized monocular it fits into a small space with ease so you can take it on a hike if you want to get a good view of your route in the distance.
Best With Smartphone Holder: Gosky Titan High-Power Prism Monocular and Quick Smartphone Holder
Despite having some added features and extras this remains one of the more affordable monoculars on our list. Still, this is only impressive because it is still a high-spec product that gives you 12 x magnification, more than most. What attracts a lot of people is the smartphone holder that is easy to attach. Once it is on it allows the user to take photos and videos of their close-ups to capture the memory.
The objective lens of 50mm is big although it doesn’t give you the clarity of some of the others, images are generally pretty bright. It is one of the heavier monoculars as it weighs 13.9 oz and feels a little chunky in your hand but a lot of people prefer something a little bigger as it feels sturdier. To top it off, it is waterproof and comes with a handful of accessories such as carry bag, lens cover, straps, and more.
For some people, the convenience of a monocular means it can go anywhere with them, fitting easily in a side pocket of a bag or even in their trouser pockets. Because of this, they have become one of the must-have accessories for bird watchers and hunters who prefer to save space and travel light.
If you don’t already own one or lack the knowledge of those in the know then it can be hard to tell which ones are worth buying. This is why we have cleared a few things up in our buyer’s guide so this purchase becomes a simple one.
What To Look For In A Monocular
It isn’t always a case of the greater the magnification the better as you still need a clear image when looking through the lens but there is a balance. If you can find a product that gives you 8 x magnification or above then you have the basis of a good monocular. This means you are able to get a close look of a deer or bird without being so near that your breathing causes it to scarper.
If your budget allows you to buy a monocular with 10 x magnification then this is often a good place to start.
Because it affects the amount of light that gets through and gives you a brighter image you want to get a lens that gives you a wider view. It still needs to have a quality lens but starting with the size, they are commonly found within the 20 – 50mm mark. Anything up to 36mm should still be portable and fit into most convenient pockets without an issue.
This leads on from the diameter of the lens because typically the body will be more compact with a smaller lens. Whatever product you like the look of making sure it is going to be easy to store when you’re en route to a favorite bird spotting position or can go around your neck without weighing you down.
Some of the heavier brands weigh closer to 14 oz which should still be easily manageable for most.
We’ll go into more detail on this a little later but it is one of the most important considerations as the type of coated lens you buy will say a lot about the quality of the product. When there isn’t as much light available they can help to brighten what you see. The best available is a fully multi-coated lens although you should expect to pay more for them.
There is still good value to be had and a lot of quality in the multi-coated lenses as well.
Because even if you don’t wear glasses, you might want to wear sunglasses with a pair of monoculars on a sunny day, adjustable eyecups ensure they are still comfortable to wear. Most reputable brands give you this allowing you to get a better view.
This will be more important if you’re buying one of the high-end monoculars and you’re less likely to get much in the way of a warranty with the more affordable options. If you can find a product with a warranty then it is a bonus and can protect your purchase.
Some come with a lifetime warranty which means it should be the only monocular you ever own.
Because you never know when the clouds are going to open up it is important to buy a waterproof monocular that is robust enough to work in adverse conditions. Some come with IP ratings that go into more detail as to how waterproof it is.
It’s important to make sure that the product you buy is sealed well because if any water gets inside, the monocular can be pretty useless as the image will forever be affected.
Everyone likes to get as much as they can from a purchase and getting added accessories with your monocular can mean you are getting good value. Of course, this is only possible if the extras are high-quality and can come in the form of a padded case, a lanyard, lens cleaner, and even as you will have seen with some products, a smartphone mounting kit.
Monoculars Vs Binoculars
If you are considering both then you need to think about your needs. Are you going on a long trip where space is in short supply or do you need to keep your bag light?
Anything that centers around convenience will mean a monocular is a product well-suited to your needs. Even if you want a lot of magnification, there are plenty of monoculars that stand up well when compared to a lot of binoculars.
If you need to use them for an extended amount of time then binoculars can be more comfortable but if your budget is a little more restrictive, then it is better to buy a high-quality monocular than a sub-par binocular and monoculars tend to be more affordable.
What Is The Best Lens Coating For Monoculars?
In terms of the highest quality then a fully multi-coated lens is going to absorb light to a higher spec which allows for increased visibility and a crisper image. Expect to have to pay more but a lot of people consider this to be worth it because of the clarity.
Otherwise, you will often find monoculars with multi-coated lenses and whilst they are not as desirable as the former they are still a great option, more affordable but will give you better quality than other budget lens coatings.
Can You Get Nightvision Monoculars?
There are some products on the market that give you the ability to see at night but they are often closer to $1,000 for a pair worth buying. They are fun to use and give you the ability to see different breeds at night but the cheaper pairs will result in a wasted trip.
What Is The Best Monocular?
Of course, not everyone will agree on the single best monocular for everyone as your budget will determine the spec you can afford. However, there is no denying the all-round value and performance of our top pick, the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular. It offers a mix of 10 x magnification and fully multi-coated glass.
Then there are the twist-up eyecups for added comfort and the fact that they are pretty compact making Bushnells Legend monocular a product that only enhances their reputation. If this is stretching your budget, then there are plenty of great options for under $100.