Our expert reviews the best binoculars for bird and nature watching UK - from Nikon, Viking, Decathlon

Best binoculars 2022 for birdwatching and nature hikes Best binoculars 2022 for birdwatching and nature hikes
Best binoculars 2022 for birdwatching and nature hikes | Best binoculars 2022 for birdwatching and nature hikes

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Lightweight, stable, with excellent magnification: these are the best binoculars for birdwatching, as reviewed by an expert

There are a number of things to consider if you’re in the market for a pair of binoculars for birdwatching. Not only do you need to think about the right magnification, but additionally it’s important to understand how some of the elements of good binoculars come together to magnify and stabilise the image you’re viewing.

Here, we’ll be assessing some excellent binoculars on the market at the moment, in a range of categories, styles and price points. We’ll also below outline what to look for when you’re shopping and testing the right binoculars for you.

Best binoculars at a glance

What do you need in terms of stabilisation?

There’s always a balance to be struck between magnification and stabilisation - of course the higher you go in terms of zooming in, the more steady your hand needs to be. Some binoculars come with waist supports or threads to screw into a tripod - but these do tend to be amongst the more expensive options. We’d recommend trying a few with different zoom ranges, normally 8x or 10x magnification, to try out which feels best for you.

Weight versus magnification - how to chose?

The level of magnification, and therefore the amount of glass included in the binoculars, also determines the weight, which is a key consideration if you’ll be taking the binoculars on long walks or treks. You’ll want to look for binoculars that strike the right balance between weight and a large enough objective lens to let sufficient light through.

In many cases, in stands to reason that the larger the lens, the brighter the image you’ll view will be. Again, it’s worth testing a few out, as everyone’s eyes are different and have different shapes, sizes and focal ranges, so the right pair of binoculars can be a very personal thing.

That being said, here’s a list of some recommendations from us that will help you start your birdwatching journey.

Get kitted out for your hiking and backpacking adventures

We have detailed guides to the best hiking backpacks here, and the best backpacking tents for your adventures here. Want to steady your stride? These are the best walking poles for hiking.

Keep it comfy with the best camping folding chairs, and sleep on the best air beds around, as listed here. And keep things illuminated with a great camping head torch.

Viking Badger 10x25 Binoculars

Key Specs

Objective lens diameter 25 Millimetres

Colour 10X25

Material Rubber

Lens coating description Multi-Coated

Water resistance level Waterproof

Zoom ratio 10 multiplier x

Affordable binoculars aimed at the casual user, we liked the fact they’re lightweight as well as being weatherproof, so we’d have no worries when it comes to taking them out in the best of British weather.

The focus’ wheel is easy to use, ideal for beginners.

10x multiplication is ample, and for birdwatchers to wear glasses, the twist-down eyecups mean they can be used with your spectacles in place. They feel sturdy, well built and durable too. A option for most people.

Bushnell Engage EDX 8x42

Key Specs:

Magnification [x] 8

Mount Connection Yes

Objective Lens Diameter [mm] 42

Type Roof prism

Bushnell Engage EDX binoculars take things to the next level, and are a great choice if you’re looking for increased performance and a crisp, clear and well manufactured lens.

We especially liked the fact that the lenses are coated with a unique EXO barrier, providing protection against water, oil, dust and any other contaminants that could affect your view. They’re pleasingly compact, too.

Solidly constructed, they come in at a hefty 666g , which can be a bit much on the arms after a while, but the views they offer are steady, and judder-free.

Nikon Action 12x50 CF Binoculars

Key Specs:

Magnification: 12x

Objective diameter: 50mm

Field of view at 1000m: 96 m

Closest focusing distance: 7m/23 ft

Eye relief: 16.1mm/0.63

Weight: 36.8oz/1kg

Dimensions: 179 x 196 x 68mm

Nikon knows a thing or two about creating excellently designed lenses, so we had high hopes for their Action 12x50 CF binoculars.

First things first, 12 x magnification is impressive - the powerful lenses are well suited to birdwatching and best used for longer distance magnification - they have a 7 metre limit on what they’ll focus on close by.

The binoculars themselves however are bright and crisp, and they feel sturdy and weighty in the hand. For the magnification and the quality, we thought they were also well priced.

The Nikon Action EX 12x50 offers powerful magnification, but thanks to 50mm objective lenses, it lets in as much light as possible - a fabulous picture.

Decathlon Adult Adjustable Binoculars

Key Specs:

Size: semi-compact Focus: central Prism type: roof Prism lens: BK-7 Min. focus distance: 10.7m Seal/antifog: non

If you’re birdwatching on a budget, Decathlon offers these compact, lightweight options that are easy to use and offer a bright view through large lenses that convey a lot of light.

Of course, at this price, build quality does suffer a little and we sometimes found that the scroll wheel was a little hard to use to get accurate focus, but otherwise we enjoyed using them and wouldn’t hesitate to add them to our rucksack when out and about on the hills.

Celestron Nature DX 8x42 ED Binoculars

Key Specs:

Objective lens diameter 42 Millimetres

Magnification maximum 8 x

Material Rubber

Size map 8x42

Model name 72332

Eye relief 17.8 Millimetres

Exit pupil 5.25 Millimetres

These binoculars are versatile and easy to use, offering superior glass that although are only 8x magnification, provide sharp, crisp results. The Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass virtually totally eliminates chromatic aberration (colour fringing - an outline of unwanted colour along the edges of objects)- especially noticeable in low light conditions whilst using the binoculars in dawn and dusk environments.

As with many good binoculars on this list, we also appreciated the twist-up eyecups that make life a lot easier for spectacle-wearers.

Zeiss Terra ED Compact 8x25cm Binoculars

Key Specs:

Magnification 8x

objective-diameter 25

zeiss-range Terra ED Pocket

Binocular Type Compact

In the lens world, it’s fair to say that Zeiss needs no introduction. Their lenses are in everything from binoculars and cameras to microscopes and tools - and although these sit at the higher end of the pricing spectrum you can be sure of excellent glass and an exemplary build quality that feels easy to use, durable and rugged.

We liked these options because they’re extremely compact, perfect for popping in your coat pocket whilst out on the hills. At only 310g, they’re also very lightweight.

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