If you are planning to go on a safari adventure, there is one thing that you must pack in your luggage: Binoculars. Because of the overwhelming number of binoculars on the market, I have outlined in this safari binoculars review the best pair of binoculars available online.
First, keep in mind that wildlife comes in different shapes and sizes! During your safari adventure, you might encounter some birds, insects, wild dogs, giraffes, and of course, the Big Five.
Many safari companies will lend you binoculars, which means ONE pair of binoculars for the whole group! To avoid having to share binoculars with others, you ought to bring your own binoculars on your safari vacation. Otherwise, you will miss out on the action while waiting for your turn for the binoculars.
How to choose the right binoculars for your safari vacation? There are three criteria that you need to consider when looking for a pair of binoculars, and they are as follows: the magnification, the objective lenses, and the field of view.
So, let’s review each one to help you pick the perfect binoculars for your safari.
Many safari experts and wildlife photographers recommend binoculars with an 8-10X magnification. Why? Because they are more versatile since binoculars with an 8-10X magnification, enable you to track the wildlife from a distance and also observe the birds up close. You will not miss out on any of the actions.
The size of the objective lenses is used to classify the binoculars in 3 categories:
- Full size: 42 mm.
- Midsize: 32-36 mm.
- Compact size: 21-28 mm.
One drawback of the full-size binoculars is that they are massive and cumbersome. So you need to take this into account, especially if you plan to keep your binoculars around your neck for extended periods of time.
There are two factors responsible for the image quality with binoculars:
- The size of the objective lenses determines the amount of light coming through. Hence, with large lenses, you will get a clearer image, especially in low-light conditions like dawn and dusk.
- The quality of the lenses and the prism has a tremendous impact on the picture quality.
However, nowadays, you can buy compact binoculars without having to forgo the image quality! There are compact binoculars of high quality available on the market that outperforms many full-size binoculars. These high-end compact binoculars are equipped with multi-coated optics and a high-quality prism.
Field of view (FOV)
The field of view is the width of the image that you can see through the binoculars, at once without having to move binoculars. The way to measure the FOV is either:
- In feet at a distance of 1000 yards.
- In meter at a distance of 1000 m.
- An angle.
The ideal FOV for safari binoculars is at least 330 feet at 1000 yards, or 105 m at 1000 m, or 6°.
I examined many brands and different styles of binoculars in order to write this review. So, without further ado, here they are, the best binoculars for your safari adventure!
Nikon Monarch 5 ED ATB 8×42 Binoculars
The Nikon Monarch 5 offers the perfect balance between quality and price. The lenses are fully multi-coated resulting in a high-resolution image.
The Nikon Monarch 5 is waterproof, fog-proof, ultra-rugged, and the lightest in its class. These binoculars weigh only 20 Oz (590g).
The rubber armor body provides an excellent grip even when wet, which significantly reduces the risk of the binoculars slipping through your fingers!
Moreover, the chassis offers excellent protection against shocks, so even if you are the clumsy type, and accidentally drop them, you won’t damage the binoculars.
The Nikon Monarch 5 binoculars are eco-friendly since no lead or arsenic is present in the glasses.
One drawback with the Nikon Monarch 5 is the lens caps tend to come off too easily.
- Size: Full-size binoculars
- Prism type: Roof prism
- Magnification: 8X
- Objective lenses: 42mm
- Fully multi-coated optics
- Rubber armor body
- Lightweight (fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate resin)
- Eco-Glass (lead and arsenic-free)
- Field of view: 330 ft @ 1000 yards/110 m @ 1000 m
- Eye relief: 19.5 mm (0.77 in)
- Close focus distance: 8.2 ft/2.5 m
- Weight: 20 Oz (590 g)
Average Customer Review: 4.7/5.0
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 8×42 Binoculars
The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD binoculars are very popular because of their affordable price. The Bushnell Legend delivers a high-quality image through the ED (Extra-low Dispersion) Prime Glass.
The designers of the Bushnell Legend Ultra have outdone themselves, by using magnesium for the chassis which helps lighten the binoculars tremendously.
The Bushnell Legend Ultra has a wide field of view. Because of this, you can track the wildlife effortlessly from a distance, and still get a sharp image up to 6.5 ft (1.9 m).
Therefore, the Bushnell Legend Binoculars are the ideal choice for a birdwatching safari to observe up close the birds as well as for game drives to watch the megafauna from afar.
- Size: Full-size binoculars
- Prism type: Roof prism
- Magnification: 10X
- Objective lenses: 42mm
- ED Prime Glass
- RainGuard® HD water-repellent lens coating
- Fully multi-coated optics
- Lightweight, magnesium chassis
- Field of view: 426 ft @ 1000 yards/142 m @ 1000 m
- Eye relief: 17.2 mm (0.68 in)
- Close focus distance: 6.5 ft/1.9 m
- Weight: 22.4 Oz (635 g)
Average Customer Review: 4.1/5.0
Carl Zeiss Conquest HD 8×32 Binoculars
Zeiss, a German company, is amongst the top manufacturers of lenses in the world. Zeiss offers very high-quality products.
The Zeiss Conquest HD binoculars are among the best on the market. As a result, the Zeiss binoculars are expensive but worth it!
So, if you are looking to buy only one pair of binoculars since you don’t want to bother with various binoculars for different purposes, then you should opt for the Zeiss Conquest HD binoculars.
These binoculars are extremely rugged and built to last a lifetime! You will be able to pass them on to your children!
The external lens is coated with a product called LotuTec which repels moisture and resists scratching.
The Conquest HD offers an outstanding image quality even in low light conditions. The multi-layer coating of the lenses transmits more than 90% of the light, resulting in a high-resolution image.
- Size: Midsize binoculars
- Prism type: Roof prism
- Magnification: 8X
- Objective lenses: 32mm
- HD lens system
- T Premium lens coatings for extreme brightness
- LotuTec external lens coatings shed moisture and resist scratching
- Field of view: 420 ft @ 1000 yards/130 m @ 1000 m
- Eye relief: 16 mm (0.63 in)
- Close focus distance: 4.9 ft/1.5 m
- Weight: 22.2 Oz (630 g)
Average Customer Review: 5.0/5.0
Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25 Binoculars
The Swarovski CL Pocket binoculars are a very high-end product. Therefore, the image quality delivered by these binoculars is excellent.
In order to obtain a high image quality, Swarovski is using a very high-end prism as well as lenses. Consequently, the Swarovski CL binoculars are pricey.
With compact-size binoculars, the chassis has to be sturdy to withstand shocks and abuse. So, a metal case is the frame of choice, which is more expensive than a plastic case.
The field of view for the Swarovski CL binoculars is similar to the ones of many full-size binoculars.
The eye relief of 17 mm (0.67 in) is above average for compact-size binoculars. Because of this, the Swarovski CL binoculars are fitting if you wear glasses.
The Swarovski CL binoculars are perfect for bird watching, hiking, and walking safaris. Why? The dual-hinge feature enables you to fold the binoculars to a size of 2.6 in (6.5 cm), a perfect fit for your side pocket!
So, if you don’t want to wear your binoculars around your neck all day, but rather carry them in your pocket, then you should get the Swarovski CL binoculars.
- Size: Compact-size binoculars
- Prism type: Roof prism
- Magnification: 8X
- Objective lenses: 25mm
- Fully multi-coated optics
- Waterproof /Fogproof
- Dual hinge bridge – Genuine pocket binoculars
- Metal chassis, comfortable grip
- Field of view: 357 ft @ 1000 yards/119 m @ 1000 m
- Eye relief: 17 mm (0.67 in)
- Close focus distance: 8.2 ft/2.5 m
- Weight: 12.2 Oz (345 g)
Average Customer Review: 4.5/5.0
Final Thoughts: Which Safari Binoculars to Choose?
First off, all the binoculars presented in this review constitute excellent picks for your safari excursion. However, bear in mind when selecting a pair of binoculars for your safari the following:
- Type of Safari: if you are going on a walking safari, you ought to bring compact binoculars. However, if you are going on game drives, you should opt for binoculars with a wide field of view.
- Budget: No need to worry here! Nowadays, you can get good-quality binoculars without spending all your savings!
If you are planning to go on a birdwatching safari and don’t want to carry loads of equipment with you in order to observe the various bird species, then you should get the Swarovski CL Pocket binoculars. Not only do these binoculars fit nicely in your side pocket, but they also deliver a high image quality that outranks many full-size binoculars on the market.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to spend a fortune to get awesome binoculars, then the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD binoculars are the ones for you! These full-size binoculars are the best value for the price in their class.
The Bushnell Legend binoculars are ideal for everyday use since they are very versatile. You can use the Bushnell Legend to observe objects from a distance as well as up close. They deliver high-resolution images. So, if you are on a tight budget and want awesome binoculars, then you should buy the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD at Amazon.
If you have any questions about this review on binoculars, please leave a comment below. I will get back to you promptly.
46 thoughts on “Safari Binoculars Review — Zoom-in on Wildlife”
It’s nice to land at your site and read your safari binoculars review as we are actually planning on a safari adventure holiday to Kenya. I agree with you that I need my own pair of binoculars as I won’t like to borrow from any of the members of our holiday group.
After reading your product reviews, I think I will invest in the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 8×42 binoculars because it appears to be very popular, and the price is affordable me. I love its wide field of view, as that will be useful for close-up observation of the birds or other games from afar.
Your post is lovely, and I will share it.
I think it is wise on your part to get your own binoculars for your safari adventure to Kenya. Moreover, the Bushnell Legend is an excellent choice.
Kenya is an ideal destination for a vacation. If you are interested to learn more about Kenya, you should take a look at my review about Local Living in Kenya from G Adventures before booking your trip. Thanks for sharing.
Oh, this is very good. The last binoculars that I made use of was a write-off. It got spoilt after a very few days of using it. It was broken due to my own carelessness, but I think this list is outstanding. I will be going to South Africa this December so getting new binoculars is a must for me. From your post, I pick the Bushnell Ultra Legend. Looks pretty good to me. Thanks!
If you don’t want to miss out on the action, you definitely need a new pair of binoculars!
I have a few posts that you might want to check before going to South Africa. The first one is about the best zipline in South Africa. Moreover, if you are on a tight budget, then you should take a look at my post about some great Bed & Breakfast in South Africa. Lastly, if you are in for a wine tasting safari, then check out this post is a must-read!
Binoculars are really nice for looking into nature as they may sometimes seem far away. Going on Safari is something I anticipate a lot. Your article just gave me the number one thing that I need to put in my backpack, binoculars!.
I like to participate in various activities ranging from sightseeing to hunting to gaming, and I think I’ll need binoculars that can be used for different purposes. Therefore, I don’t have to buy two or three pairs of binoculars for each activity I am undertaking. As a result, I am choosing the Carl Zeiss Conquest HD 8X32 Binoculars. All the binoculars are excellent, and they have excellent specs too. Thanks.
You chose wisely! The Carl Zeiss Conquest is the kind of binoculars that will last you a lifetime! I do own a pair myself, and this the best investment I ever made!
Being a nature enthusiast, getting binoculars is needed since I plan to explore the wildlife of Kenya. Plus, due to the hazards, it is better to stay at a distance to keep safe and avoid any encounters with dangerous animals.
You have really helped simplify my search with all these products that you have shared here. Though I will not be buying one for myself because of financial constraints, I like the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 8X42 Binoculars. Thanks.
First off, if you are planning to go on a safari in Kenya, you should take a look at my review to experience local living in Kenya by clicking here.
Secondly, I think that the Bushnell binoculars would be handy on your African Adventures since you don’t want to miss out on the action while waiting for your turn for the binoculars. Just a thought!
Wow, I have always been a huge fan of the Safari, and I must say that your post here is a very good one because I can see how you have given a list of good binoculars that one will use.
I would be going on a vacation to my favorite spot so that I will bookmark this post for reference. Thank you for sharing this and best regards.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars to explore your surroundings while on vacation!
Hey there Sonia:)
I loved reading this review on Safari binoculars. I know the value of using binoculars more than most to enjoy the outdoors as I am short-sighted and really miss out on a lot of it is farther than my nose.
I own one very old binocular I got as a birthday gift some years back and have been looking for a reason to trade up. From your list, I prefer the Nikon Monarch 5 ED ATB 8×42 Binoculars, and it has great customer reviews, as well. Thanks.
Excellent choice! The Nikon Monarch 5 offers superb value for the price. Often overlooked by many, is the fact that you can use binoculars in your everyday life. You don’t need to be going on the adventure of a lifetime to buy a pair of binoculars. I find my binoculars to be convenient when I am going for walks in my neighborhood to gaze at nature and birds!
This is the first time I would be going on such an adventure, and it was advised that we bring our own binoculars along. Thank you so much for sharing this with us all. I personally have been a fan favorite of the Nikon products because I use their camera too so, I will surely go for the Nikon Monarch 5. It seems more than enough to catch a glimpse and beauty of the wildlife. Thanks.
Well, are you going on an African Safari soon? If so, Where are you going if I may ask?
I am also a big fan of the Nikon and even Zeiss products. I actually own a Nikon camera and a pair of Zeiss binoculars! But no matter all the binoculars in this review are more than enough, I would say, to capture great photos of any adventures you may undertake!
I am planning to buy Celestron binocular this one kindly help me out is it good for the Birding and hunting?
Celestron Trailseeker 8×42
42 mm objectives
25 mm exit pupil diameter
17 mm eye relief
Fully multi-coated (FMC) optics
28 relative brightness
BaK-4 prisms with phase and dielectric coatings
8.1 degrees field of view
Limited lifetime warranty
Weight 1.45 pounds
Well, the Celestron Trailseeker binoculars, in my opinion, could be a good choice for birdwatching and hunting. However, If I may, I have a suggestion for you. You should consider getting the Wingspan Optics Phoenix Ultra HD Binoculars as they are specially designed for birdwatching and therefore an excellent choice for your outdoor activities.
Hope it helps, if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to drop me a line, and I will gladly help you out.
A Google search for available reviews on the Wingspan Optics Phoenix pointed me to your review. Good review! I realize that these binos were released after you did this review, but mentioning them in the response above may indicate that they might have been included if you would have to update this article today? No?
The Wingspan Phoenix binos are currently the front runner on what I would prefer to spend on a pair of binoculars. The next step up would be the Carson 3D ED or Nikon Monarch 5, but both would be a significant step up in price. It was challenging to distinguish between real knowledgeable experience and hype from the amazon reviews. I know that the Wingspans are optimized for bird watching, but I am trying to determine what I will lose compared to the Carsons or Monarchs in exchange for a significant saving. I know there is a ghosting issue with bright lights (e.g., full moon) with the Wingspan offerings in general, and they are not submersible in water (only rain waterproof). I am looking for a few creditable pointers regarding available optical quality, such as chromatic aberrations, distortion, and clarity over the field of view. I plan to use them for general sightseeing/games and bird watching during vacations and short hikes. Have you tried the Phoenix binos in person? Would you rate them above the Bushnell Legends?
Yes, I have tried the Phoenix binoculars and find them to be a notch above the Bushnell Legend binoculars. So I think if you opt for the Phoenix binoculars you can’t go wrong.
These are cool. I love wildlife and nature and so many times you can’t see because it’s too far away. I have a telescope but binoculars are much better. I want to go on a safari one day and sure wouldn’t be with these. I like the descriptions and specs that are mentioned here. There’s some excellent information on what size and type to buy. Do they normally come with cases as well?
I am glad that you found value in my review. Hopefully, you will get to go to Africa to observe the wildlife with your own binoculars. You don’t want to share binoculars with others and miss out on the action!
To answer your question, none of them come with a protective case. I hope it helps. Thanks.
Sonia, yes, binoculars are essential for traveling, even if you stay in cities. After all, there are many areas to visit, including botanical gardens, zoological gardens, harbors, and so on.
I bought a Nikon many years ago, and it has served and is still serving well. We live up a hill overlooking the Huon River, and there are so many things to bring close to our eyes.
During summer, we have yacht racing. In winter and spring, the storms fling the waves high in the air, and often we just watch the eagles fly over the bay.
I don’t expect to have to replace these, but from reading your excellent review, I believe I would buy a Swarovski as I find anything around my neck really annoys me.
Then I would do another trek up to the Hartz Mountain National Park in the spring and drink in the view of all the spring flowers, including the many Waratahs.
The Swarovski are indeed excellent binoculars. I find them to be very convenient when traveling since they are compact and can fit in your pocket! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
I’m planning to go on an African safari sometime within the next 12 months or so, as it has always been a dream of mine. I love photography and would love to photograph the wildlife in Africa.
While I have a good camera, I am in need of some quality binoculars. I like the look of the Bushnell Legend you mention. Looks like just what I may need. Thanks.
You certainly need a pair of binoculars if you are thinking of going on an African Safari; otherwise, you will miss all the action!
The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD is an excellent choice since they are very affordable and offers a great image quality.
You have a really good page here on great binoculars. Although I’m not going on a safari adventure anytime soon, I will be visiting Alaska and will need a quality set of binoculars to view the wildlife with. I’m considering buying the Nikon Monarch 5 ED ATB 8X42 Binoculars after reading your review on them. Thank you so much for the great suggestion. Your site is amazing! Keep up the great work!!!
You can’t go wrong with any of the binoculars that are shown in this review, and the Nikon Monarch 5 is an excellent choice indeed!
Even though this post focused on binoculars fitting for a safari vacation, I think that everywhere there is wildlife present, you need to have a great pair of binoculars to be able to observe up close its beauty!
Very good products and review, I agree with you totally on when choosing binoculars size is something to consider seriously. I have binoculars myself , full-size , mid-size and mini-size. My full-size have not been used in years, my mid-size used more but my mini are my first choice they are light weigh and easy to lug around with me all day.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on binoculars.
Great review here, very comprehensive and easy to understand. I used to play around with binoculars while I was a little kid, and afterwards in the Army (doing reconnaissance work). However, now I don’t really know how a binoculars would benefit me, seeing that I am not really an outdoor person!
Nonetheless, you did bring up a good point on using them for a possible “safari vacation”. Hence, the pocket Swarovski really appeals to me due to its compact size, and metal chassis.
But what do you say about the lenses? Are they resistant to scratches over time? And I realise that lenses are usually the first to deteriorate in quality as compared to the rest of the binoculars.
Thanks and all the best to your site!
The Swarovski Pocket Binoculars are very high-end binoculars, and the lenses are scratch-resistant so that the binoculars will last you for a very long time. In fact, these binoculars will most certainly be the last pair of binoculars that you will buy in your lifetime!
Hi Sonia, I love to read this article about binoculars. I myself have Minolta 8 times zoom somewhat similar to the Bushnell Legend, which you showed here. I usually use it when I go to mountains, to watch the wildlife. But, in the recent time, I realize that I do not carry my binoculars much because they are rather heavy. I normally have enough stuff to carry as a mountaineer.
I realize that the models you show here are rather expensive, most likely this implies a great quality. Do not remember how much I paid my own; it was 13 years ago in Tokyo. I guess it was not so much. Thank you again.
If you are looking for another pair of lightweight binoculars, the Bushnell Legend is an excellent choice. For about $300, you get high-quality binoculars.
I have shown in my review four different pairs of binoculars, which are all of high-quality, but ranging from very affordable to expensive.
Nowadays, with technological advances, it is possible to get compact-size binoculars that will outperform many full-size binoculars. But the downside is that these high-end compact binoculars are more expensive than the mid-size binoculars or the full size.
However, remember that purchasing binoculars should be viewed as an investment, especially when buying high-end binoculars such as Swarovski or Zeiss. They will be the last pair of binoculars you will ever buy since they will last you a lifetime!
Thank you, Sonia for a great review here on Safari Binoculars!
I actually come from a wildlife country where it can be a huge viewing experience to look closely at, but a big mistake to get anywhere close to the big five! Nairobi, our national capital here in Kenya, is the only capital city in the world with a national park where the big five occasionally stray into the streets! At the parks, binoculars are a recommended must if indeed anyone doesn’t want to miss some action while taking turns at some common binoculars.
Thanks, and I believe you love our wildlife!
As you said, it would be quite a pity to go on a safari vacation of a lifetime and miss out on the action because you have to share binoculars! Since you never know when you are going to encounter the wildlife, especially in Nairobi!
What a great review. I have been thinking about traveling now that the kids are bigger since I do all my work online, and therefore, I can take it with me. I am glad you mentioned taking my own binoculars because I would not have thought of that, and sharing is no fun ;)!
I have a question: do you know if the African hotels or safari lodges offer accommodations with an internet connexion? Is it safe to travel to Africa?
What kind of binoculars will be best when traveling outside the USA?
Ok, lol, it is more than just one question 😉
Depending on what kind of safari adventures you choose, you will find that many safari lodges offer an internet connexion. However, you should be aware that the connexion speed is nothing like what you get in the USA! And also, keep in mind that if you decide to go into remote regions of Africa where the lodging is not a permanent camp, there will be no internet!
Africa is safe to travel to, in general. Before you book your trip, check with the State Department to see any warnings issued by the country you plan to visit. Besides, it would be best if you used the same caution that you would when traveling to Europe or even within the USA!
And for the pair of binoculars you should buy for your traveling, it depends on your intended purpose, preferences (full size or compact size binoculars), and most importantly, your budget. If the size doesn’t matter and you don’t want to invest a large sum into your binoculars, then you should opt for the Nikon Monarch 5, which are high-quality binoculars for the price.
But if you are willing to spend more and get a pair of binoculars that will last forever, then you should opt for something like the Swarovski CL Pocket Binoculars.
Hope I have answered all your questions. If not, drop me a line below, and I will be glad to help you further, 🙂
I always wanted to have a great pair of binoculars, I think that I found them! I enjoyed watching the videos!
I’m an outdoor guy, a hunter who loves to explore nature, and to have a great pair of binoculars that are lightweight, compact enough to fit in your pocket is so important especially, when you’re trying to track down a wild animal in the forest.
I think that the Swarovski CL Pocket binoculars are the perfect choice if you’re looking for something that will last a lifetime. The Swarovski is expensive, but these binoculars will probably be the last pair of binoculars you will ever buy! The image quality is without any reproach!
The Swarovski binoculars are a sound investment with a high return!
Wow great site I have to say! I find myself a little envious of your travels, while I have traveled to many countries and enjoyed many cultures. I have never seen Africa, but you never know what the future holds, as I say.
I found the product reviews very informative and helpful as I am looking for the perfect gift for my father, an avid wildlife observer.
May I ask what your preference for binoculars is?
I look forward to your response.
My personal preference is the Zeiss Conquest HD binoculars. They are very high-end binoculars. Thus, as you might expect, they are pricey (around $900). But, you should see this as an investment. The Zeiss Conquest HD binoculars will most certainly be the last pair. Of binoculars that you’re going to buy, they will last you for a very long time!
The Zeiss binoculars are compact and give you an excellent image quality even in low light conditions. And the quality of the lenses is beyond any reproach. Furthermore, the lenses are coated with a special coating that protects them from scratching.
But, if you don’t want to a lot of money and still get an excellent pair of binoculars, the Bushnell Legend Ultra constitutes a very good also.
Thanks so much for your advice Sonia. Really appreciate it. 🙂
You’re welcome. I’m glad I could help. 🙂
Hi Sonia, thanks for this comprehensive recommendation of binoculars of different specs that suits different occasions.
My wife and I are planning a trip to Australia for Whale watching. My budget is not high, and perhaps we will only occasionally use the binoculars for bird watching when we go tracking at nature reserves.
What would your recommendation be? Love to hear from your advice.
If you’re on a tight budget and plan to use the binoculars occasionally, your best bet is to buy the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD, which you can get at Amazon for an affordable price if you are on a tight budget.
This pair of binoculars are perfect for bird watching and whale watching since you can focus on objects that are at a minimum distance of 6.5 feet (1.9 m) (close focus distance) and be able to see small details. And these binoculars are waterproof and fog proof, so perfect if you’re going on a whale-watching excursion!
Hope it helps.
Hey, great post. I was lucky enough to go on a safari in Tanzania a few years back so I was really interested in this post.
Your absolutely right about the binoculars. It is a very good idea to bring a pair of your own.
I was constantly waiting for my turn when looking for wildlife and of course missed a couple opportunities to spot stuff.
These are some great reviews. Thanks for the info.
And the pairs of binoculars you got to use on your trip were not very high-quality binoculars neither! I’m sure that the next time you’ll have your binoculars… So, you won’t miss out on any wildlife sightings!