Best binoculars 2024: Top picks for stargazing, wildlife, birding and more

The best binoculars can be used for a range of different purposes, including spotting birds and other wildlife, sight-seeing, sporting events and even stargazing. The ideal pair of binoculars will be comfortable to hold, easy to transport, safe to use in all weather conditions and offer clear and bright views. Coated lenses help to prevent glare and reflections, increasing the efficiency of the light transmission and leading to clearer images.

Binoculars tend to be more portable and affordable than telescopes, making them a good choice for casual stargazing. Those looking to use them for this purpose will want to look for large front lenses (known as the objective lens diameter) to soak in as much light from distant stars as possible, along with high magnification to bring celestial objects into focus. Our reviewers have tested all the binoculars on our list out in the field to bring you all the best options for all different purposes and budgets.

If you're looking for a particularly portable pair that will easily fit in your pocket, check out our guide to the best compact binoculars, and if you're looking to get your kids involved, we also have a guide to the best binoculars for kids that are suited to smaller hands. Those who plan to get more serious about their stargazing will benefit from investing in one of the best telescopes, and for those who want to image the night sky we also have guides to the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.  

With the total solar eclipse due to cross the skies of the United States on April 8, we've included a list of certified eclipse eyewear, which is essential for keeping your eyes safe while looking directly at the sun.

Gemma Lavender Headshot
Dr Gemma Lavender

A contributing expert to Space.com, Live Science, All About Space and more, Gemma is the author of several books including 'Quantum Physics in Minutes'. She holds a degree in physical sciences, a Master's in astrophysics and a PhD in computational astrophysics and became fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2011. Gemma is also the Communications and Outreach Office at the European Space Agency.

The quick list


Best binoculars we recommend in 2024

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Best overall

Best binoculars overall: The finest stargazing binoculars money can buy with in-built stabilization

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 6.5-degrees
Eye relief: 14.5mm (0.57-inch)
Weight: 39.2 oz / 1.1kg

Reasons to buy

+
Optical Image Stabilizer 
+
Rugged build quality 
+
Lots of eye relief 

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky size 
-
Lens caps are loose 
-
AAA batteries required 
Buy it if

✅ You want the best of the best: Other than price and size, we really couldn't find major fault with these binoculars — we gave them 5 stars in our review.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're a casual user: These are an expensive pair of powerful binos, so if you only ever do casual stargazing or wildlife spotting, they'll be overkill.

❌ You want a lightweight binocular: These are undeniably heavy and bulky, so if weight is important to you, we'd suggest looking elsewhere.

The bottom line

🔎 Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars: They're not perfect, but they’re as close as you’ll get for hand-held astronomy. They're an outstanding choice for super-steady stargazing thanks to their image stabilization, waterproof design and large objective lenses. ★★★★★

When it comes to hand-held astronomy, binoculars don't come better than the Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars. These binoculars use premium L-series glass with Canon's multi-layered anti-reflective lens coating (known as 'Super Spectra') to increase light transmission and reduce lens flare for a bright and clear view that offers accurate color reproduction. The view through these binoculars is incredibly sharp with no chromatic aberration, which is just what you need for observing pin-point stars.

The main defining feature of the Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars is that they include Canon's Optical Image Stabilization (IS). This nifty technology uses gyroscope motion sensors to detect how much your arms are moving and a vari-angle prism to compensate for that movement up to 0.8 degrees. This means that at the push of a button you can eliminate the slight shakes created by your hands and ensure a consistently steady image — ideal for longer viewing sessions when your muscles might be prone to getting tired.

The downside of this technology is that the IS system is quite power-hungry, so it's worth making sure you take plenty of spare AAA batteries along on your trip. We also weren't wholly satisfied with the accessories provided with these binoculars, especially considering the price point. We found that the one-piece lens caps struggled to stay in place, and we thought the carry case was a bit basic and flimsy, so you might want to upgrade it. But overall, these are still the best stargazing binoculars on our list thanks to the astronomy-centric glass and clever image stabilization feature.

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Canon 10x42L IS WP
AttributesNotes
DesignRugged build quality, but bulky.
PerformanceProduce bright and colorful images.
FunctionalityOptical image stabilization.

Best optical performance

Best optical performance: Some of the best optics on the market in an easily transportable roof prism design

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 6.9-degrees
Eye relief: 17mm (0.67-inch)
Weight: 1.5 oz / 680g

Reasons to buy

+
Highly portable
+
Sharp views across the whole field of view

Reasons to avoid

-
No image stabilization
-
Negligible color fringing
Buy it if

✅ You want some of the best on the market: If you're prepared to pay for them, these binoculars will last you for years to come and provide stunning optical performance and a premium finish.

Don't buy it if:

You specifically want image stabilization: This may be the only thing missing from this pair of binos, so if that's important to you, there are other options out there that do have it.

The bottom line

🔎 Nikon Monarch HG 10x42 A premium package that comes at a premium price — though not ideal for beginner binocular users unless you have deep pockets or a real passion for wildlife or a similar interest that you plan on pursuing for years to come. ★★★★½

In our Nikon Monarch HG 10x42 review, we loved these so much that we found them hard to fault. These binoculars have high-quality optics, and we noticed almost no color distortion (chromatic aberration). This is because Nikon uses multilayer coatings on all glass elements and includes Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements. With a wide field of view and great built-in field-flattened technology, these binoculars ensure sharp images from edge to edge, particularly beneficial for keen wildlife observers.

Because of their slim design with a roof prism, these binoculars are sleek and easy to carry in a coat pocket or around your neck. Even though they weigh 680g, they remain comfortable for long periods of use, thanks to the soft and comfortable neck strap.

These binoculars are completely waterproof and fog-resistant because they're sealed and filled with nitrogen. You can feel confident using them in any weather, indoors or outdoors, making them especially useful for your stargazing sessions.

While they do come with a higher price tag because of their exceptional optics and quality finish, we believe they provide excellent value for those who can afford them.

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Nikon Monarch HG 10x42
AttributesNotes
DesignPremium finish all over.
PerformanceRazor sharp views from edge to edge.
FunctionalityOnly way to improve would be inclusion of image stabilization.

Best for affordable stargazing

Best for affordable stargazing: A wide aperture and 12x magnification make these excellent for observing the cosmos

Specifications

Magnification: 12x
Objective lens diameter: 56mm
Field of view: 5.5 degrees
Eye relief: 16mm (0.63-inch)
Weight: 36.2 oz / 1028g

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent build quality
+
Close focusing

Reasons to avoid

-
A little heavy for prolonged use
-
Image could be a touch sharper
Buy it if

✅ You want to take them anywhere in any weather: They were created with the outdoor enthusiast in mind, and they're waterproof and fogproof so you can use them anywhere.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to use them for prolonged periods: They may become quite heavy if you plan on using them for long periods handheld, so we'd opt for a more lightweight pair.

The bottom line

🔎 Celestron Nature DX 12x56 They offer bright and clear views, with a wide aperture for gathering light and magnification that is excellent for stargazing and wildlife spotting. ★★★★½

The Celestron Nature DX 12x56 binoculars represent excellent value for money for anyone looking for a sub-$250 pair of binoculars for casual wildlife-spotting, bird-watching or stargazing. The build quality is fantastic since they feature full rubber housing and they're completely waterproof, fogproof and nitrogen purged. They include a tripod mount that could be useful for longer viewing sessions and a rain guard that protects the lenses from getting watermarked.

The optics on these binoculars are comparable to some more expensive models, featuring phase-coated BaK-4 prisms with multi-coated optics. They may not have the sharpness to satisfy professionals, but for casual users looking for an affordable pair to invest in, these are some of the best you could buy.

The focus knob is smooth and easy to turn, and they offer close focus of just under 10 feet, which is handy for anyone wanting to spot wildlife from their own backyard. Glasses-wearers will also be glad of the 16mm eye relief offered by the twist-up eyecups. For an affordable price, you can't go far wrong with these binoculars.

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Celestron Nature DX 12x56
AttributesNotes
DesignFogproof and waterproof.
PerformanceBright images even when observing in low light.
FunctionalityA little heavy for prolonged use.

Best binoculars under $300

Best binoculars under $300: Fogproof and waterproof for use in all weathers

Specifications

Magnification: 8x
Objective lens diameter: 42mm
Field of view: 8.1 degrees
Eye relief: 17mm (0.7-inch)
Weight: 23.1 oz / 654g

Reasons to buy

+
No fogging 
+
Bright images 
+
Wide field of view

Reasons to avoid

-
Carry case can’t house harness strap
-
Lack magnification for serious astro
Buy it if

✅ You want to travel with them: We found they were lightweight enough to travel with them easily, although perhaps not the best for prolonged periods of handheld use.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're serious about astro: For dedicated astro use, particularly for deep sky objects, they lack the magnification needed.

The bottom line

🔎 Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binocular: Traveling stargazers will love them as they work well after dark and strike a balance between quality, affordability and portability. The TrailSeeker 8x42’s minimalist design makes them a hugely more attractive option than large and heavy deep-sky astronomy-centric binoculars ★★★★½

In our full Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars review, we thought the binoculars struck a great balance between quality, affordability and portability — especially for skywatchers.

The TrailSeeker 8x42 from Celestron offers a slightly different view from the norm due to the amount of light their 42mm apertures collect. Their slightly lower magnification also gives you a wider field of view. The Earth's moon will appear slightly smaller when compared with 10x50 binoculars. But compared to other binoculars we've tested, this optical system and lens multi-coatings offer a sharper, brighter view. 

The Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars are perfect for transitioning between different temperatures, such as moving from a warm indoor environment to the cold outdoors on a chilly night. They are waterproof and nitrogen-filled to prevent fogging, ensuring that you can use them comfortably for extended periods while observing without any problems.

When using the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars, you'll notice minimal false color. False color is that purple or blue halo around bright objects, also known as chromatic aberration. In our review, we rarely saw any false color, especially when observing the edge of the moon.

Although the TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars only weigh 23.1 oz (655g), we found that during long periods of observation, our arms started to shake, making it difficult to maintain a steady hand-held view. If you're prone to trembling arms or will be using these binos for long sessions, we advise pairing them with one of the best tripods for astrophotography or the best travel tripod.

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Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42
AttributesNotes
DesignFogproof and waterproof.
PerformanceGood quality optics, slight color fringing.
FunctionalityWide field of view.

Best budget binoculars

Best budget binoculars: Space and weight saving binoculars to take on your travels

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 50mm
Field of view: 6.8 degrees
Eye relief: 12mm (0.47-inch)
Weight: 27 oz / 765g

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and lightweight
+
Waterproof and fog-resistant 
+
Shock resistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Lenses need collimating 
-
Greater magnification needed for astro
Buy it if

✅ You're a beginner: If you've used binoculars before, then these are unlikely to impress you, so they're best suited to beginners.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You specialize in astro: While they do give decent views of the night sky, anyone focusing solely on astronomy usage would likely want to go for a better pair.

The bottom line

🔎 Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 Binocular: The Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 is a great value pair of binoculars, well suited for entry-level and all-round use. They're also great for occasional night sky use and are easy to set up, use and adjust. If you're an astronomer on a budget, these are a decent choice, although we do question their longevity. ★★★★½

These are affordable skywatching binoculars that would be ideal for anyone just starting out who wants to get the most for their money. While there are some true wins to this model, there are a few reasons why they're on the cheap side, and we discussed them in our Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 binocular review.

These binoculars offer a good view, and we managed to spot three stars within the Trapezium Cluster near the center of the Orion Nebula (Messier 42), but in order to see the fourth bright star in this star-forming area, you'd need a pair with higher magnification.

The moon looks amazing through these binoculars, fitting easily into the view with just a hint of false color. In July 2020, the UpClose G2 10x50 binoculars were very effective for spotting the naked-eye comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE).

In our opinion, these binoculars are an excellent option for those on a budget who are just getting into stargazing or exploring. They're lightweight and ideal for trekking. However, in our review, we did identify a couple of downsides. Firstly, they require collimation, meaning you need to adjust the alignment of the lenses. Additionally, they tend to fog up in certain conditions.

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Celestron UpClose G2 10x50
AttributesNotes
DesignBasic build design and quality.
PerformanceSurprisingly little chromatic aberration.
FunctionalityNeeds greater magnification for astro.

Best for moon views

Best for moon views: These binoculars have superb magnification and detail, but they're heavy

Specifications

Magnification: 15x
Objective lens diameter: 70mm
Angular field of view: 4.4 degrees
Eye relief: 18mm (0.71-inch)
Weight: 3 lbs / 1.36kg

Reasons to buy

+
Great price for giant binoculars
+
Excellent eye relief
+
Optics offer good detail

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy, requires tripod
-
Some softness around edges
Buy it if

✅ You want good quality without breaking the bank: Given the high magnification, sturdy build and large objectives, we think they're great quality for the price.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to view planets or small distant galaxies: They don't excel in this area, they're more suited to providing dramatic wide-field views or larger objects.

The bottom line

🔎 Celestron SkyMaster Pro 15x70 Binocular The celestron SkyMaster Pro 15x70 offer a top stargazing experience for a reasonable price. They won’t give you close-ups of planets or reveal the most distant galaxies, but they make up for it by providing dramatic wide-field views in a good, dark sky. ★★★★½

Celestron is a well-respected brand with a strong reputation in the field of technology, and the SkyMaster binoculars, including the 15x70 'giant' model, deliver excellent views at an affordable price. Despite being a bit on the heavy side, these binoculars are durable and we think they offer impressive quality for their cost.

At 11-inches (280mm) in length and weighing 3 lbs (1.36kg), we found in our Celestron SkyMaster Pro 15x70 binocular review that they certainly have a lot of heft, but using them handheld isn't impossible. It's best to use a tripod for maximum comfort with these binoculars. However, due to their powerful magnification, the views of the moon are truly stunning. We were particularly amazed by the three-dimensional look of the lunar surface.

Despite the larger 70 mm objective aperture, the higher magnification of 15x reduces the apparent field of view to 4.4 degrees, compared to typical 10x50s or 12x50s that provide a degree more. 

The SkyMaster 15x70 binoculars have a major advantage. They gather more light and offer stronger magnification, enhancing the clarity of objects that might appear blurry in less powerful binoculars. While there's a bit of softness and blurring at the edges, which is common in budget-friendly models, these binoculars provide a comfortable 0.7 inches (18 mm) of eye relief, making them suitable for people who wear glasses.

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Celestron SkyMaster 15x70
AttributesNotes
DesignRobust construction.
PerformanceOptics give good detail.
FunctionalityExcellent for viewing larger deep-sky objects.

Best mid range model

Best mid-range model: The pair you need if a wide field of view and a good sturdy build quality top your brief

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 50mm
Angular field of view: 8.1 degrees
Eye relief: 17mm (0.67-inch)
Weight: 1.89lbs / 861g

Reasons to buy

+
Sturdy, well-constructed build
+
Multipurpose optics
+
Manageable weight

Reasons to avoid

-
A little false color in views
-
Slight blurring at the edge of FOV
Buy it if

✅ You want to travel with them: The lightweight design of these binoculars makes them extremely manageable to travel with.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're on a tight budget: While they're not the most expensive option on this list, anyone on a particularly tight budget could certainly find a more affordable pair.

The bottom line

🔎 Vortex 10x50 Crossfire HD Binocular If you want to move up to the next level with your binocular stargazing, then the roof prisms on these binoculars bring super-sharp views and come with a useful harness and an excellent padded case. ★★★★

Thanks to their wide field of view, you'll be hard-pressed to find better than the reliable and robust Vortex 10x50 Crossfire HD for wildlife watching and the occasional bit of stargazing.

The view through the Vortex Crossfire HD 10x50 binoculars is sharp and clear, making stars look like perfect pinpoints of light. When observing brighter objects, you might see a bit of color distortion, which is typical for binoculars in this price range. However, the Vortex Crossfire HD 10x50 provides a great balance of brightness and sharpness across the entire field of view. During our Vortex 10x50 Crossfire HD review, we only observed a tiny drop-off towards the very edges of the field of view.

What makes these binoculars stand out is their excellent design. They're skillfully crafted with a sturdy and easily adjustable focusing knob, which is useful when you're wearing thick gloves in cold weather. The eyecups are comfortable and twistable, allowing you to customize the eye relief to 17mm for a personalized viewing experience. If you enjoy exploring nature and traveling, especially if you're into astronomy, you'll like how lightweight these binoculars are, weighing only 1.89 lbs (0.86kg).

Although these binoculars come with a harness, we realized during our review that the padded case forms part of the harness so you can't use one without the other which is a little frustrating.

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Vortex 10x50 Crossfire HD
AttributesNotes
DesignSturdy, well constructed build.
PerformanceBright and sharp images.
FunctionalityExcellent padded case and harness.