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how to choose your binoculars

How To Get The Right Binoculars


I don’t usually carry binoculars everyday, but they are definitely one of the things that I keep in my car. I usually grab them when the family and I go out for walks in the woods and when I go hiking around, but other than that, the only other times that I pull them out is when there might be a lunar eclipse, at an airshow or some other event that I really want a better view.

There are quite a few different binoculars available, but when I purchased mine, I was looking for smaller, more compact ones as opposed to the full size pouch carried binoculars. I feel that if I ever did need to carry them for distances, or out of necessity, a smaller set would fit better into my bag than having to carry a whole separate pouch.

Understanding the Binocular Magnification Numbers

On almost every set of binoculars, you will find two sets of numbers. 

Set 1: 7X50

In first set of numbers in our example, the 7 represents the magnification over what your eye sees naturally, so objects will appear 7 times bigger through the binoculars. The 50 is the diameter of the objective lens, or not the one you put up against your eye. The larger this is, the better the binoculars are at gathering light, making the view in the binoculars brighter. Larger numbers here (meaning larger objective lenses) are better for low light or night time use.

Set 2: 297 feet at 1000 yards

The second set of numbers simply tells you how wide your field of vew (FOV) is at 1000 yards. If you had a big measuring stick that you placed across the ground, a thousand yards away from you, and you had the furthest most part of your view at the beginning of the measuring stick, on the far right, you would see the marker at 297 feet. Simple put, you have a 297ft FOV at that given distance.

Choose The Binoculars For It’s Use

While you could get just any binoculars, it’s pretty important to choose the right binoculars for the situation. For example, the ones in my car are the smaller, more compact binoculars that are easy to carry, and I keep a larger set at home for special use.

I got the smaller ones specifically for hiking and just general anytime use. They are 8×21 magnification, which is great for looking into trees for birds, across a pond at sandhill cranes and other stuff like that.

The ones at home are 7×50, the ones I used in the above example. My parents gave those to me as a Christmas present one year when I was 8 or 9, and they really don’t come out much anymore.

You don’t want to get binoculars that have too much magnification depending on use. If you’re a serious bird watcher, and really want to get up close, then you might want to have 20x or 30x magnification from binoculars that are as long as your forearm. If you’re just wanting a quick peek at what’s up ahead on your trail in the woods, then you may only need 3x to 5x magnification.

vivatar classic binoculars

Vivitar Classic View 7×50 Binoculars

Although the exact binoculars that I own aren’t being made anymore, Vivatar support tells me that the Vivitar Classic View 7×50 Binoculars are the current model of the ones that I have. They are tried and true, and also trusted by many people as good all around general use binoculars.

barska compact binoculars

BARSKA Lucid View Compact Binoculars

The Barska 8×21 compact binoculars are about 3.5″ long and 3.75″ wide, so they fit really nicely in the weekend EDC bag or hiking backpack. They are quite powerful, but at the same time, I didn’t break the bank to purchase them. They’re my all purpose glasses that come out whenever I need a closer view. They have a 383 foot FOV at 1000 yards, so you see quite a bit at range.

vixen folding binoculars

Vixen Opera Glass 3×28 Grey Trim

I do also have a four Vixen popup 3×28 binoculars as well. Three of these are for the kids when we’re out on our walks. They’re cheap, light and fold down conveniently to the size of a wallet. The last pair stays in my emergency car bag. If the primary glasses were ever to be broken or lost, I have these as a temporary backup to get me by until I can get another set.


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