When choosing the best tools for long-distance viewing, there are some categories that everyone considers – guns, knives and fire starting implements, for example. One of the tools that can literally mean the difference between life and death, but are often overlooked in rucksacks and bug out bags, are binoculars.

When you choose the best survival binoculars, you’re giving yourself an edge in any situation. Whether you’re identifying a potential threat, or tracking down resources, a pair of high-quality, durable binoculars are an important part of your tools cache.

Lets first start with some common binocular specs which might help in your decision. If you’d like to get right to the list, you can jump to the list now.

Common Binocular Specs

Below are a few common binocular specs. Consider these all-around good, general purpose binoculars.

  • Full-Size: 8×42
  • Mid-Size: 7×35
  • Compact: 8×25

Common Binocular Uses

Below are a few common binocular uses and the most common binocular type.

  • General: 7×35, 8×42, 10×50
  • Outdoor: 7×35, 7×50, 10×42
  • Bird Watching: 8×42, 10×42, 10×50
  • Boating: 7×50, 7×42, 8×42, 10×42
  • Stadium Sports: 4×21, 8×25, 10×25
  • Concerts: 5×25, 8×25
  • Low Light: 7×50, 8×42, 10×50

Magnification Power

Binoculars are made up of two numbers (for example, 8×25). The first number represented is called the magnification power. In this example (8×25), an object would appear as though it was 8 times close than your natural eye.

In a real life scenario, if you were looking at an object which was 300 yards away, using binoculars with a magnification power of 8, the object would appear as if was only 37.5 yards away. You get 37.5 yards by dividing the actual yards (300) by the magnification power (8).

Objective Lens Diameter

The second number (25 in the example 8×25), is the objective lens diameter. These numbers are represented in millimeters; so, 25mm.

This number mostly affects the amount of light that is allowed into the binoculars. Obviously, the larger the diameter of the lens, the more light allowed in, thus the brighter view of the object. A higher objective len diameter is particularly helpful in low-light situations.

Exit Pupil

The number which represents how bright an object will appear is called the exit pupil. This number is also represented in millimeters. To find the exit pupil you divide 25 by 8. This gives us an exit pupil of 3.125mm.

Like lens diameter, it is best to have a higher exit pupil for lower light scenarios. Exit pupil dimensions are less important during daytime viewing as your struggle to find enough light is less.

Relative Brightness

Realtive Brightness is often paired with exit Pupil. Meaning, they both measure how bright an object will appear, particularly in low-light situations.

In order to find the relative brightness, you would “square” the exit pupil number. Lets take our 8×25 example. The exit pupil was 3.1mm. 3.1 multiplied by 3.1 is 9.61. Therefore, the relative brightness of an object with an 8×25 binocular would be 9.61.

Again, the higher the number, the better viewing in low light situations.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece of the binoculars and your eyes when the whole field of view is visible.

This factor is most useful for those who wear glasses. A common best practice is to look for an eye relief of 11mm or more if you wear glasses.

Field of View

Field of View is represented by the amount of area you can view 1,000 yards away from you.

A higher magnigfication power typically results in a much more narrow field of view. Whereas, a lower magnification power typically results in a wider field of view.

Focus

Most, if not all binoculars, come with a central turn-style knob jut between the two eyepieces of the binocular. This allows you to adjust the focus on an object.

It is also common to adjust the focus of the eyepieces independently. This is to accommodate the focus and clarity differences between each of your eyes.

Prism Type

Binoculars are made using one of two types of prisms; Porro or Roof.

Binoculars made using Porro prisms are often times larger in size and less expensive.

Binoculars made using Roof prisms are often smaller, more compact. These binoculars are typically more expensive do to the complexity and precision to build.

Lens Coating

Much of the light which passes through your binocular is reflected away. In order to reduce this reflected light, coatings are applied to the lens.

Best Binoculars

We have identified 10 of the best and most affordable survival binoculars you can find on the market below.

1. Celestron 71334 Nature DX 8×56 Binoculars

Celestron 71334 Nature DX 8x56 Binoculars

With the advanced design of this Celestron model, unparalleled visuals are key. Constructed with phase-coated prisms and multi-coated optics, this pair of binoculars will provide a sharper and clearer long-distance view than many of its competitors. In fact, as far as binoculars for survival go, this model is considered a great bridge between entry level and more expensive, professional-grade binoculars. The large 56 mm lenses are specifically crafted to help you see farther, even in low light settings. Water and fog proofed, they are also capable of durability and reliability in any element.

Celestron 71334 Technical Specifications

Objective Lens Diameter (mm)56 mm
Magnification (x)8x
Angular Field of View7.2°
Linear Field of View378 ft @ 1,000 yds
Close Focus:6.5 ft
Exit Pupil (mm):3.1 mm
Eye Relief (mm):14 mm
IPD Max:72 mm

2. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binoculars

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binoculars

This high-efficiency pair of binoculars by Bushnell are powerful, durable and compact, making them highly desirable as binoculars. Housed in a lightweight magnesium case, they are both fog and waterproof. The water repellent HD coating on the 42 mm lens allows for a 10x magnification. Comes complete with a microfiber carry bag and neck strap for easy wear.

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Technical Specifications

Objective Lens Diameter (mm)42 mm
Magnification10x
Field of View340 ft @ 1,000 yds
Close Focus:6.5 ft
Exit Pupil (mm):4.2 mm
Eye Relief (mm):14.4 mm

3. Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars

Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars

From start to finish, this pair of Carson 3D Series binoculars seem to be made for maximum durability and functionality. The lenses are full-sized with HD optical coating to provide a clear and vibrant image. To ensure that the binoculars are rugged and resilient, the body is nitrogen-purged with rubberized armor coating. And don’t worry – Carson didn’t forget the important details. These binoculars are also both fog and water proof.

Carson 3D Series Technical Specifications

Objective Lens Diameter (mm)50 mm
Magnification10x
Field of View262 ft @ 1,000 yds
Close Focus:13.1 ft
Eye Relief (mm):20.0 mm

4. Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 10×42 Binoculars

Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 10x42 Binoculars

Nikon, long known for professional grade cameras, has now implemented their industry-leading knowledge of lenses and visual impact in the design of their binoculars. The 7577 Monarch is equipped with premium Nikon extra-low dispersion glass, for a sharper image and optimal field of view. Designed to be comfortable and user-friendly, these binoculars have added features like turn and slide rubber eye cups, a central focus knob and flip down lens caps.

Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 Technical Specifications

Objective Lens Diameter (mm)42 mm
Magnification10x
Field of View288 ft @ 1,000 yds

5. ALPEN Shasta Ridge Waterproof Fogproof Binoculars

ALPEN Shasta Ridge Waterproof Fogproof Binoculars

With BAK4 high-index metallic coated optics and long eye relief, this pair of binoculars by Alpen allows a full field of view, with or without glasses – which can be a challenge for many. Both water and fog proof, these binoculars are also fully multi- and phase-coated. The Alpen Shasta Ridge Binocular was also given the Great Buy Award in 2008 through Outdoor Life Magazine’s annual Gear Test Issue.

ALPEN Shasta Ridge Technical Specifications

Objective Lens Diameter (mm)42 mm
Magnification10x
Field of View330 ft @ 1,000 yds
Close Focus:7 mm
Exit Pupil (mm)4.2 mm
Eye Relief (mm)16 mm

6. Vortex Optics Viper HD 10×50 Roof Prism Binoculars

Vortex Optics Viper HD 10x50 Roof Prism Binoculars

This binocular’s design features a strong focus on visual quality, with high-density, extra-low dispersion glass lenses that create a clear, crisp magnified image. The Vortex XR anti-reflective coatings are also intended to increase light transmission, for brighter images. This pair is also built for durability and versatility. Waterproof and fog proof, these binoculars also feature a compact design protected by rubber armor and a secure, non-slip grip.

Vortex Optics Viper HD Technical Specifications

Objective Lens Diameter (mm)50 mm
Magnification10x
Field of View278 ft @ 1,000 yds

7. Vanguard Endeavor ED II Binoculars

Vanguard Endeavor ED II Binoculars

Intended for high functionality and comfortable use, this pair of binoculars offers all of the traditional bells and whistles of similar pairs, with a few extra touches users are sure to appreciate. A right eye locking diopter ring and three stage twist out eyecups customize use to the individual. The open bridge design, which features a magnesium alloy chassis, makes it lighter to carry without sacrificing strength. Plus, anti-reflection, multi-coated optics make low light viewing even easier. Vanguard Optics also offers a full lifetime warranty on each pair of its Endeavor ED II binoculars.

Vanguard Endeavor ED II Technical Specifications

Objective Lens Diameter (mm)42 mm
Magnification (x)8x
Angular Field of View7.2°
Linear Field of View377 ft @ 1,000 yds
Exit Pupil (mm):5.25 mm
Eye Relief (mm):19.5 mm

8. Hawke Endurance ED Binoculars

Hawke Endurance ED Binoculars

With an updated, top-hinge design, this quality pair of binoculars fits comfortably and securely in the hand and features a reduced weight for easier carrying. The optical system was built around ED glass, and the color fringing for low-light use is better than ever. These binoculars are also built to withstand inclement weather conditions, being both water and fog proof.

Hawke Endurance ED Technical Specifications

Objective Lens Diameter (mm)50 mm
Magnification10x
Exit Pupil (mm)5.0 mm
Eye Relief (mm)18.0 mm
Angular Field of View5.8°
Field of View304 ft @ 1,000 yds

9. Pentax 62555 8×42 DCF CS Binoculars

Pentax 62555 8x42 DCF CS Binoculars

Powerful and built for strength, these Pentax binoculars are both nitrogen-filled and waterproof up to 1 meter. The high resolution, high contrast images are enabled through phase-coated roof prisms that reflect more light through the chamber for optimal visuals. The body of the binoculars is made of a fiber reinforced polycarbonate for maximum strength. A complete rubber housing allows for a comfortable, secure grip, while protecting the binocular’s components from shock.

Pentax 62555 Technical Specifications

Objective Lens Diameter (mm)42 mm
Magnification8x
Exit Pupil (mm)5.2 mm
Eye Relief (mm)21.0 mm
Angular Field of View7.5°
Field of View392 ft @ 1,000 yds

10. Zeiss Terra ED Binoculars

Zeiss Terra ED Binoculars

The Zeiss Terra ED is a sleek yet practical pair of tactical binoculars. These perfect binoculars purposes feature extra low dispersion glass and a hydrophobic multi-coated optics lens. Both fog and water proof, these binoculars ensure ideal long-distance viewing in all situations. The comfortable, twist-up eye cups, center focus wheel and ergonomic grip make for easy use over long periods.

Zeiss Terra ED Technical Specifications

Objective Lens Diameter (mm)42 mm
Magnification8x
Exit Pupil (mm)5.25 mm
Eye Relief (mm)18.0 mm
Angular Field of View7.0°
Field of View375 ft @ 1,000 yds

In conclusion…

These top-of-the-line survival binoculars will give you the enhanced distance vision you need for a wide range of tactical uses, from hunting to threat analysis in emergency situations. By carefully considering the unique features of each offering, you can find the ideal pair of binoculars for survival that will meet your needs.

If you’re looking for other survival binoculars, you can browse the shop.