12 Best Binoculars for Safari in 2021 [Safari-Proof]

On safari, you spend most of the time in the Land Cruiser looking out (incl. few walks), which means that wildlife is rather far away.

If you want to spot a sneaking cheetah or a zebra drinking at a waterhole, you need the best binoculars for safari so that you don’t miss the action.

The consensus is that 8X42 is the best all-around safari binocular “size.” It’s stable and lightweight enough for handheld use while still offering enough field of view. If you mainly plan to observe open land, then go for 8X32.

We Recommend

Best price/value ratio

Nikon Monarch 5

Best that money can get

Swarovski EL

Best budget option

Celestron Nature DX

Best Binoculars for Safari

1. Nikon Monarch 5 8X42 Travel Binocular

binoculars on a white background

The Monarch 5 is the best all-around bino for your next safari trip. We suggest the 8X42 size for all-around wildlife observation.

The Nikon Monarch 5 has 42mm objective lenses, so these binoculars do great even in low light.

These Nikon travel binoculars also come with a roof prism system that is more resilient against any impacts.

The polycarbonate body makes the device durable against antsy impacts.

The binoculars come with quality ED glass with multi-coatings to deliver sharp images wherever you point your binoculars.

The color rendition these binoculars can manage is pretty close to reality. Hence, you won’t experience and wash out images when viewing the animals in their natural habitat.

The binoculars also come with an 8x magnification with a wide FoV of 330 feet at 1000 yards. The construction of these binoculars makes them useful for a variety of conditions as they are fog and water-resistant.


What we liked

  • Twist locking eyecups stay on the lens and protect them
  • Highly durable.
  • Fully fog and waterproof construction 
  • Wide FoV with a larger exit pupil 
  • Long eye relief ensures ease of use with eyeglasses
  • BaK4 roof prism system for clarity and robustness
  • Best binoculars for animal watching

What we didn’t like

  • Some chromatic aberration (not an issue if you aren’t an optics nerd)
  • Lens caps quality could be better

Aperture: 42mm
Magnification: 8x
Lens diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 6.3°
Eye relief: 19.5mm
Weatherproof: Fog

2. Swarovski EL 10X42 Binocular with FieldPro Package

binoculars

After experiencing the amazing sensation of seeing wild game up close, we decided to spoil ourselves and try out the very expensive Swarovski EL 10X42 Binocular.

At this high price, I expected exceptional views and I certainly got them! The views are so sharp. I almost felt that I was sitting next to the massive gorillas. Also, this is the ONLY pair of binoculars where the lens caps are actually well designed and won’t get loose after one use.

The binoculars have a 42mm objective lens and a 10x magnification. The set comes with a field bag, eyepiece cover, objective lens cover, and lift carrying strap.

Like most Swarovski models, it has a Swarovski Optic Lifetime Warranty. This model is waterproof with a submersion tightness up to 13ft deep. I even took a plunge into the water to view some stunning underwater scenes up close.


What we liked

  • Exceptional clear views
  • Great for hunting in low light
  • Waterproof up to 13 feet deep
  • Comes with field bag, eyepiece cover, objective lens cover 
  • Comes with lift carrying strap
  • Easy to hold and focus
  • Lifetime warranty on optics

What we didn’t like

  • High price


Aperture
: 42mm
Magnification: 10x
Lens diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 6.0°
Eye relief: 20mm
Weatherproof: Waterproof, submersible, fog proof
Weight: 29.6 ounces

3. Celestron Nature DX 8X42 Wildlife Binoculars

binoculars

The best binoculars for wildlife sightseeing is Nature DX Celestron because it boasts a pair of quality objective lenses of 42mm and comes with an unbeatable price.

Whereas the central focus mechanism makes the binoculars very easy to focus. These binoculars perform very well in low light conditions because of a larger aperture.

These travel binoculars also have roof prism construction to ensure robust performance.

The rubber armor body has been used for better gripping and impact resistivity. The fully multi-coated lenses and BaK4 prism have a comfortable eye relief that allows you to use them with your spectacles.

You also have a larger exit pupil of 5.25mm to see better in dim light environments, making them the best nature binoculars for this price. The body of these binoculars comes with fog and waterproof features.


What we liked

  • Long eye relief
  • Best small binoculars for travel
  • The larger exit pupil for better light transmission 
  • Wider field of view for better situational awareness
  • Different accessories available
  • Good grip
  • Lightweight and easy to hold

What we didn’t like

  • Some chromatic aberration (not an issue if you aren’t an optics nerd)
  • Flimsy eyecups
  • Not as waterproof as I would like

Aperture: 42mm
Magnification: 8x
Lens diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 7.4°
Eye relief: 17.5mm
Weatherproof: Fog and waterproof
Weight: 22 oz

4. Zeiss Terra ED Pocket 8X25mm Compact Binocular

binoculars on a white background

If you plan a safari day-hike or just need a pair of compact binoculars you can throw into your backpack, then the Zeiss Terra ED is the go-to option.

The Zeiss Terra Ed features the Schmidt-Pechan roof prism system, which makes these binoculars very light.

These are the best binoculars for African safari because they are lightweight.

You don’t have to worry about any large objective lenses here because, with these binoculars, portability is at its best.

The binoculars only feature 25mm objective lenses, so your viewing will be limited, especially in low light conditions.

But, you get to exploit a wider FoV angle of 52-degrees. These are the best safari binoculars if you are looking for a wider FoV.

The lenses of these travel size binoculars come with Zeiss MC coating, which keeps the images clear and the lenses safe from the external elements.

Furthermore, the device is fully fogged and water-resistant. The use of aluminum makes it one of the best lightweight binoculars for travel, birdwatching, events, nature observation, and outdoor activities.


What we liked

  • The device is nitrogen-filled for resistivity against fog and water
  • Best compact binoculars for safari.
  • Highly portable and a wider field of view
  • Functional handling with an ergonomic construction
  • Extremely user-friendly with a central focus
  • Schmidt-Pechan roof prism system contributes towards the lightness of this device 
  • Zeiss MC coating to keep the lens in perfect conditions for clear viewing

What we didn’t like

  • Not great low-light performance
  • Not great for hunting

Aperture: 25mm
Magnification: 8x
Lens diameter: 25mm
Field of view: 52°
Eye relief: 16mm
Weatherproof: Fog and waterproof
Weight: 10.93 oz

5. Vortex Optics Viper HD 10X42 Safari-Proof Binoculars

binoculars

Vortex Viper HD is a higher-priced binocular, ideal for safari wildlife viewing and hunting. It has a 10x magnification and 42mm lenses.

The high-end design is compact with an easy-to-grip rubber armored chassis. We loved the thumb indents that prevent the binoculars from slipping out of damp hands!

The XR anti-reflective lens coatings give exceptionally clear views, even in dimmer light. The focus wheel in the middle is large and easy to use, turning effortlessly for quick sharp views.

My hubby wears glasses and he enjoyed the twist-up eyecups which rest comfortably against the face and provide customized eye relief. The binoculars feature Argon purging and O-ring seals, making them waterproof and fog proof.

I carried them using the Glass Pak Chest Harness, which provides comfortable strain-free carrying and easy access when I needed to grab them to view an animal.


What we liked

  • Ideal for professional hunting and shooting 
  • Rubber armored chassis with thumb indents
  • XR anti-reflective lens coatings give bright views
  • Great for low light situations
  • Argon purged for waterproof and fogproof
  • Glass Pak Chest Harness for easy carrying 
  • Twist-up eyecups for customized eye relief
  • Smooth center focus wheel

What we didn’t like

  • Higher price
  • Shoulder straps are could be more comfortable

Aperture: 42mm
Magnification: 10x
Lens diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 5.5°
Eye relief: 16mm
Weatherproof: Waterproof and fog proof
Weight: 28.8 ounces

6. Vortex Diamondback HD 8X32 Safari Binoculars

binoculars on a white background

The Diamondback HD Vortex features a roof prism system for durable performance in the outland safari.

The binoculars come with a decent eye relief of 16mm and an exit pupil of 4mm.

These binoculars boast an FoV angle of 8.1 degrees. You can adjust the eyecup by twisting up and down for comfortable viewing.

The lenses in these binoculars for African safari have fully multi-coated layers and a central focus.
The only thing missing here is fog resistivity because the binoculars are not immune to fog. But you can use them in water without any issue.

The center wheel can adjust the focus of both barrels at the same time. These binoculars come with an Armortek finish and can hold pretty well in the outdoors.

What makes this Vortex the best travel binoculars is the shockproof ability and a range of different useful accessories.


What we liked

  • Best in class VIP warranty
  • The roof prism system ensures durability 
  • Wide field of view for better area coverage 
  • Better viewing in low light conditions
  • Fully multi-coated lenses to ensure resilience and clarity
  • Central focus makes it user-friendly 
  • Waterproof construction for all-weather conditions

What we didn’t like

  • Rather short eye relief

Aperture: 32mm
Magnification: 8x
Lens diameter: 32mm
Field of view: 8.1°
Eye relief: 16mm
Weatherproof: Waterproof
Weight: 15.9 oz

7. Nikon Prostaff 7s 8X30 Binocular

binoculars

The Nikon Prostaff 7S 8X30 Binocular was the first model we reviewed. It is reasonably priced at under $200 and is ideal for outdoor use.

It features a rubber-armored body that protects against wet weather. The rubber armor also protects the binoculars in the event of dropping or rough handling.

With a 30mm lens and an 8x magnification, the clarity and color of the images were impressive. On our last safari trip we saw a giraffe, impala, crocodiles, and even a pride of lions resting at a waterhole!

The binoculars have fully multilayer-coated lenses and phase correction-coated roof prisms.

Eye-relief is great, with turn-and-slide rubber eyecups. My better half wore glasses and was able to easily adjust the binoculars for perfect views. The set comes in a soft case.


What we liked

  • Good value for the lower price 
  • Lightweight and easy to hold
  • Advanced ocular system for clear images
  • Fully multi-coated lenses
  • Rubber armored body protects in rugged conditions
  • Waterproof and fogproof
  • Turn-and-Slide rubber eyecaps

What we didn’t like

  • May be too simple for a professional 
  • Eye-piece covers and straps are not top quality
  • A lot of reflection near exit pupils

Aperture: 30mm
Magnification: 8x
Lens diameter: 30mm 
Field of view: 6.25° 
Eye relief: 10.4mm
Weatherproof: Waterproof and fog proof
Weight: 14.6 ounces

8. Steiner Safari UltraSharp 10X26 Binoculars

binoculars

Also well priced, the Steiner 10×26 Safari UltraSharp Binoculars is a great choice for a Safari. It has a tough, mean look that delighted the kids!

We loved the fast Close-Focus feature that made it look as though we could touch the animals. This model has a 26mm lens and a 10x magnification.

There are Steiner High-Contrast coatings on every lens, giving clear and sharp images. For bad weather and rough conditions, the binoculars have a waterproof construction and rugged armoring that absorbs bumps and bashes.

The ergonomic eyecups fold down for use with eyeglasses, a great perk that my hubby enjoyed. These binoculars are very light, weighing only 10.5 oz. They come with a handy padded carry case.


What we liked

  • Well priced for great value
  • Lightweight and easy to hold
  • Steiner High-Contrast coatings on every lens
  • Rubber armored body to protect in rugged conditions
  • Waterproof and fogproof
  • Ergonomic eyecups that fold down
  • Padded travel case

What we didn’t like

  • May be too simple for a professional 
  • Lack of lens covers
  • Short eye relief

Aperture: 26mm
Magnification: 10x
Lens diameter: 26mm
Field of view: 5.9° 
Eye relief: 11mm 
Weatherproof: Waterproof 
Weight: 10.5 ounces

9. Steiner Optics Predator 10X42 Binoculars

binoculars

The Steiner Predator is great for use by professional hunters. We were not planning on hunting but took them along on our Africa Safari to view the wild game.

The clarity, sharpness, and color of the images were impressive. The binoculars have a large 42mm lens and a 10x magnification.

They are exceptionally tough but light enough to carry around your neck. The amazing Color Adjusted Transmission system amplifies the contrasts, allowing us to spot game in difficult conditions.

For the fast acquisition of images, there is a Fast-Close-Focus focusing wheel that requires minimal rotation to quickly obtain a sharp view. The binoculars are waterproof and fog-resistant.

An amazing perk was the ClicLoc System, which attaches and releases the neck strap with a one-finger push-button. It also keeps the binoculars hanging straight and ready for action.


What we liked

  • Great value for money
  • Ideal for professional hunting 
  • Color Adjusted Transmission
  • Fast-Close-Focus central focusing wheel 
  • N2 Injection System for fogproof viewing
  • Clicloc System keeps binoculars hanging straight 
  • Heritage Warranty – Lifetime repair / replacement of defective products

What we didn’t like

  • Heavier than some other models
  • The eye-piece wrappers may be small for some


Aperture
: 42mm
Magnification: 10x
Lens diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 5.0°
Eye relief: 16mm
Weatherproof: Waterproof and Fog resistant
Weight: 26.5 ounces

10. Hawke Sport Optics Endurance ED 8X32mm Safari Binoculars

binoculars on a white background

The Endurance ED Hawke is a quality pair of binoculars for safari.

These binoculars feature 32mm objective lenses with 8x magnification.

Having fog and waterproofing means you can use it in varying weather conditions.

These are the best safari binoculars that come with a long eye relief of 18mm, so you can use them while wearing your glasses.

These tourist binoculars feature a BaK4 roof prism for durability and their lenses have fully multi-coated layers to make sure they can take on the outdoors.

With a decent exit pupil of 4mm and a wider FoV angle, these sightseeing binoculars will provide you with better views of the surroundings of your target. Due to that, you can use these binoculars for bird watching and hunting as well.


What we liked

  • Rubber body to ensure durability 
  • Waterproof
  • Nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed to take on harsh conditions 
  • With reduced color fringing, low light performance get better
  • Top hinge construction for a secure and comfortable fit in the hands
  • Lightweight construction to ensure easy carrying and handling 
  • Long eye relief and wide FoV angle

What we didn’t like

  • Close focus is limited due to non-variable magnification
  • No anti-glare features

Aperture: 32mm
Magnification: 8x
Lens diameter: 32mm
Field of view: 7.4°
Eye relief: 18mm
Weatherproof: Fog and waterproof
Weight: 19 oz

11. Leupold BX-1 McKenzie 8X42 Binoculars

leupold bz 1 mckenzie bincular

The Leupold McKenzie BX-1 features a 42mm objective lens with 8x magnification.

And you can significantly enhance your vision when you are observing the wild or hunting.

These binoculars come with fully multi-coated lenses and have roof prism construction.

The construction of these binoculars makes them fog and waterproof as well with a rugged housing featuring armor coating on the outside.

Therefore, you can maintain a solid grip on your device even in wet conditions. The increased magnification makes them the best binoculars for travel and ideal for wide-open areas and picking out the small details.

With these lightweight travel binoculars, you get access to decent eye relief and exit pupil. These binoculars also provide you with enough field of view to know more about the surroundings of your target. The device is equipped with a central focus system for user-friendliness.


What we liked

  • Long eye relief is ideal for eyeglasses wearers
  • A large exit pupil means that you can see in low light conditions pretty well
  • With a quality rubber armor body, this device is resistant to water and fog
  • Twist-up eyecups stay on the lenses and don’t need readjustments
  • Extremely ergonomic design for easy single-handed use
  • No washed out colors with HD light management 

What we didn’t like

  • Takes a bit longer to focus
  • Very short close focus

Aperture: 42mm
Magnification: 8x
Lens diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 6.1°
Eye relief: 17.7mm
Weatherproof: Fog and waterproof
Weight: 22.1 oz

12. Carson 8X32mm 3D Series Waterproof Binocular

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The Carson 3D binoculars come with a 32mm objective lens and an 8x magnification.

They feature a roof prism system, so they are designed to take a toll.

Wonderfully designed rubberized armor body and quality ED glass optics, these are the binoculars for safari recommendations.

This device is an excellent option for hunting and birding.

They feature BaK4 roof prism and are nitrogen purged to ensure meticulous performance in a variety of conditions. If you do the best binoculars for safari comparison, you will find these on your priority list.

Additionally, the binoculars feature a long eye relief of 19.5mm and you can conveniently use them wearing your eyeglasses.

Central focus ensures its quick and convenient use on the field. With a wide field of view, you can get a clause to the action with better situational awareness.


What we liked

  • A good choice for birding and wildlife
  • Thumb grooves are very well placed
  • High -quality rubber armoring to ensures impact resistance
  • O-ring seals and nitrogen purged for all-weather performance
  • Lightweight in design with ED glass optics
  • Perform well in low light conditions 
  • Come with a variety of accessories and add-ons

What we didn’t like

  • Feels a little plasticky
  • Shoulder harness is a bit tough to adjust
  • Eyecups don’t stay on for long

Aperture: 32mm
Magnification: 8x
Lens diameter: 32mm
Field of view: 7.5°
Eye relief: 19.5mm
Weatherproof: Fog and waterproof
Weight: 18.1 oz

Porro-prism vs. roof-prism binoculars

One challenge when choosing safari binoculars is to decide on the type of prisms. I learned that there are two types – Porro Prisms and Roof Prisms. Binoculars use prisms to reflect the light and bring you the image. 

Porro-prism binoculars

This design places the prisms at right angles to one another, allowing them to redirect the light many times, from left to right and top to bottom. Binoculars that use porro-prisms are easier to manufacture. The prisms take up less space inside the tube. Binoculars have a broader shape with a hinge between the two oculars, for adjusting to the size of your face. 

Roof-prism binoculars

Roof-prisms have surfaces that look much like a house roof. Inside, are two roof-prisms, placed to give a double reflection. This allows the image to enter and reflect without having to flip it. Binoculars with roof-prisms give high-quality images. The design of the binocular is slimmer, with an H-shaped style. The cost of producing roof prisms is higher than that of producing porro-prisms. 

Which is best for safari?

Adjustment of porro-prism binoculars uses a focus wheel that shifts the eye-pieces. This design requires external moving parts. 

Roof-prism binoculars adjust by moving the lenses inside the tubes. There are no outside moving parts and less chance of failure or breakage. 

Porro-prism binoculars are generally cheaper. Roof-prisms’ designs are sleeker and more streamlined. 

Both are suitable for a safari adventure. If you are happy to spend more, the roof-prism design is a premium, sleek, and compact choice. 

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What is the best magnification for safari?

When shopping for binoculars, you see numbers that look something like 10×42 or 8×30. The first number indicates the magnification. This is how many times larger the image is when viewed through the lens. 

10x means that an image is 10 times larger than you would see with your naked eye. For safari, a magnification of 10x to 12x is perfect. If the magnification is too big, your binoculars will be heavier, more difficult to carry, and focus. 

On safari, you are either walking or traveling in a safari vehicle. There is no time nor space to set up a tripod. Your binoculars need to be hanging around your neck, ready to be lifted and focused at a moment’s notice. 

The second number is the size of the lens in millimeters. 30 indicates a 30mm lens. Larger sizes allow more light to enter, giving better views. When on Safari, your most exciting viewing takes place at dawn and dusk. Lenses smaller than 30mm won’t give a good image in dim light. Lenses bigger than 42mm make the device larger and heavy to carry.

Exit pupil size is another number to consider. It also determines the amount of light entering the binoculars and the quality of the image. An exit pupil of 7mm is ideal for safari viewing. 

Our guide has recommended binoculars of size 7×35 or 8×40 as quite adequate. For a lightweight binocular for animal viewing and birding, go for 8×30 or 8×20. For a walking safari, the Leica 8×20 is a good option as it is small. However, the 20mm lens would not work as well as a 30mm in low light. 

You need “safari proof” binoculars

Everything about a safari is rough! Rough roads, high temperatures, frequent movement, dust, humidity, rain, and the chance of dropping your binos at some stage! Your model must be up to the challenge.

Waterproof

Getting wet on a safari drive will happen. Your model must be waterproof and possibly fog proof. Some models can even be used underwater if you are brave enough to dive and look at the crocodiles.

Shockproof

Travelling on rough, bumpy sand roads will shake you and your equipment around. Even though safari vehicles are pretty comfortable these days, you are bound to drop or bash your binoculars at some time during your holiday. 

Models with rugged armoring absorb bumps and bashes. A flimsy model will be easily damaged, ruining your chances of an amazing sight! Choose a pair that comes in a good quality protective carry case. 

Long eye relief

This means that you will be able to hold your binoculars further away from your eyes and still see a clear image. In the hot African sun, you will probably wear sunglasses, or you may wear eye-glasses. Keeping them on is important, even when looking through the binoculars. Eye relief of 12mm to 18mm will give you enough distance to suit your needs.

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Weight

Packing for safari means taking a lot of things. There are also weight limitations on planes and limited luggage space in the vehicles. You need lightweight binoculars. Choose a model that weighs between a light 10 ounces to a heavier 30 ounces. 

Another great hack is to pick up binocular harness, in that way you don’t need to worry about the weight so much. If you are on a very tight budget, then we suggest to consider a proper monocular instead. It’s quite small, cheap, and easy to use.

How to choose the right binoculars for safari?

Magnification

A magnification of 10x to 12x is ideal for safari. 8x will probably be too small to get great views of faraway animals. Bigger magnifications make the binoculars heavier to carry. 

Lens diameter

A lens diameter of 26mm to 42mm is good for safari. The bigger the lens, the heavier the binoculars will be. I was very happy with a 30mm lens, and got great views even at dusk and dawn in lower light. 

Field of view

The field of view needs to be as wide as possible. Choose binoculars that range between 4° and 6°. You will be doing a lot of scanning in areas enclosed by undergrowth, bushes and trees. The wider field of view will help you spot animals quickly in these conditions.

Lens coating

As this may be the first time you are seeing exotic wild animals, you want to see them clearly! Choosing the best optical coatings will cut down on light reflection, giving you sharp images. Look for fully multi-coated or high-contrast coatings. 

Eye relief

Long eye relief is important. You will be spending a lot of time looking through your binoculars. They must be comfortable, especially if you wear spectacles or sunglasses.

Weatherproof

The weather can be unpredictable! Choose waterproof models and if possible, fogproof. Look for rugged outer armor coatings that protect against rough weather as well as dropping and bashing. 

Weight

You will be doing a lot of walking and climbing in and out of your Safari vehicle. Being weighed down by a monster binocular around your neck is not what you want. Choose models between 10 to 30 ounces. 

Frequently asked questions

Do you need binoculars for safari?

Yes, you need binoculars for safari for a closer view of the animals and birds that you are trying to see. Make sure you go for a robust design with quality optics and wider FoV if you want the best binoculars for safari. 

What are the best binoculars for safari?

Overall the best binoculars for safari are the Carson 8x32mm 3D Series Binocular. For better low light performance you need to go for Leupold BX-1 McKenzie 8×42 Binoculars. And if portability is your primary concern then choose Zeiss Terra Ed Compact Pocket 8x25mm Binocular.

What type of binoculars is best for safari?

The best binoculars for safari are lightweight and comfortable to grip. They must come with quality optics and a wide field of view. If you happen to wear spectacles, choose a device with longer eye relief. As you are going to use it outdoors; your binoculars need to be sturdy. 

What are the best all-around binoculars?

If you are looking for the best all-around binoculars, pick the Celestron Nature DX 8×42 Binoculars. They are robust, have quality optics, and come with a wider field of view. 



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