OUTDOORS

Best Monocular: Enjoy Mother Nature Up Close

watching thrue monocular
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

The beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, but you need to see things up close enough to figure that out, right? And it’s not easy picking the best monocular to do the job, either. But that’s what we’re here for: to help you choose the right monocular for you, depending on your interests and budget.

Monoculars have a wide range of use starting with enjoying the surroundings while camping and ending with hunting and bird watching. So, if you want to see Mother Nature up close, you must make sure you choose the product that fits your needs.

For that, we’re going to start you off with some of the most important factors that influence your choice, regarding the main features of a monocular.

Name Dimension Works in low light Waterproof Price
MiluoTech Monocular Telescope16x52YesNoCheck price on Amazon
Vortex Optics Solo R/T8x36NoYesCheck price on Amazon
HDE Compact Monocular  15-55x21YesNoCheck price on Amazon
Night Owl Optics NOXM505x50YesNoCheck price on Amazon
Authentic ROXANT Grip Scope6x30NoNoCheck price on Amazon
Vortex Optics Solo Monocular10x25NoYesCheck price on Amazon
ROXANT High Definition Mini Monocular7x18NoNoCheck price on Amazon
Polaris Optics Explorer12x50YesYesCheck price on Amazon

Things to consider before buying

It’s not easy choosing a monocular, and it shouldn’t be either, considering how important this piece of gear is. So let’s review some of the key factors which impact your choice:

Magnification

This is the first number you’ll see in the specifications. Take 16×52, for instance, like for the first monocular in our product’s list. 16 tells you how bigger the image will be rendered through the monocular.

The 4 to 9 times magnification is the lowest range, meaning you’ll have a smaller zoom, but a bigger field of vision. This is intended for getting a bigger scope, and more appropriate for kids.

monocular

Conversely, the biggest magnification of over 15 times will enable you to see precise details, but give you a smaller perspective. The middle range, which is 10 to 15 times, will give you the best of both worlds, so it’s what works for most.

Diameter

This is the second number you’ll find in the official specs. Let’s take the same example as before, in this case, the second number is 52. This tells you the lens diameter, 52 millimeters.This is a pretty big diameter, like all diameters above 35 millimeters.

That will allow more light to get through the lens, which means you can use them when the lighting is poor. The smaller diameters work with good light, during the day, when it’s sunny.Regardless, a larger lens means you’ll get a heavier monocular, which sabotages the portability factor.

Coating

This is an important issue to tackle because the coating is what impacts image brightness. That means, the thicker the layers of coating are, the less glare you’ll get. That way you can see a brighter and more pristine image through the monocular.

monocular coating

The fully multi-coating is the best for this because it consists of multiple layers of anti-glare coating, one of which is bound to be waterproof. The next best thing is the multi-coating, for a decrease in price. But it still uses grade A materials for diminishing unwanted reflection.

The second options are the least expensive, and therefore, the least capable of reducing glare. The fully coated option means the lens will be completely coated, but with just one material. That will get you an image with blurred edges but still, works for beginners.

The coated lenses are the most inexpensive on the market, and the least qualitative when it comes to reducing glare. That means you’ll have to be careful not to use them in direct light. Otherwise, they will still do a good job.

Lens design

Among all factors, this is connected with the magnification too. One type of design is the roof prism that, not surprisingly, looks like a roof and is better suited for a bigger focal distance. That’s why this type of construction is usually best with a bigger magnification.

monocular lense

The Porro prism is a modern construction, that looks a lot like a roof prism. The difference is that this will get you a vertical image, not one that’s upside down and needs correcting.

The Galilean design renders a vertical image too, but with a particularly small field of vision. That is why you shouldn’t couple it with a bigger magnification, which already has a smaller FOV.

Portability

Consider the weight and dimensions of your product. Are these burdensome, or can you easily carry a monocular of this size and weight? If you have room in your backpack, and if it’s not too much trouble, you can choose a heavier monocular, with more layers of coating and a bigger diameter.

mini portable monocular

But if you need to stand for hours, holding your monocular perfectly still for longer chunks of time, you might consider a lower weight product.

Included extras

We love when our monoculars focus on user experience, and that includes adding all sorts of other items in the package. For instance, a sturdy holster to wear on your belt is definitely needed. The protective lens caps are good for dust proofing and a microfiber cloth makes for an easy cleaning of your monocular.

We also like to see at least a tripod connection available, if not the actual tripod in the package. It would be even better if the included case could fit this tripod too, but we’re not THAT picky.

Cool characteristics

We like it when a monocular is waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and fog proof. That guarantees its resistance to most on-field damages, which is important to add years to its life.

monocular

Retractable or even adjustable lens caps are another plus. We want everyone to be able to use a certain monocular, and that includes people who wear eyeglasses. And if your monocular happens to have an adjustable magnification, then it’s really an asset.

Taking all these factors into account, we’ll give you our monocular reviews. That allows us the opportunity to apply these characteristics to actual products, so you can get a better picture of how to choose your monocular.

Best products on today’s market

Without further ado, take a look at some of the monoculars we love. Maybe you’ll find one to love too.

MiluoTech Monocular TelescopeMiluo Tech

Price: approximately $15

Weight: 3.2 ounces

Dimensions: 2 x 2 x 5.7 inches

Specifications: 16×52; 98-8000m field of view; multicoated; dual focus; rubber armored construction

Best use: sporting events; camping

Description: The MiluoTech Monocular Telescope performs well for its price. It has a 16x magnification, so you can see even the finer details at a bigger distance. The 52 millimeters for the objective is a pretty impressive measurement too, rendering more light to pass through the lens, so you’ll get less glare.

The field of view is advertised between 98m and 8000m, which may sound too good to be true coupled with the 16x and the meager price. In fact, it works well for a mile’s distance, and only part of the lens will focus for that. The lower quality optics make it work for non-professionals when you’re traveling or watching a live sporting event from a further seat.

We still like that this is a multicoated monocular, meaning you’ll get a bright image, even in poor light. The dual focus is great too because that will give you a front and back adjustable zoom. The rubber armored construction means it’s a sturdy item, that resists well to many possible on-field damages.

But what we love the most about this are its low weight and compact dimensions. You can easily carry this monocular in your back pocket, so it’s always at hand when you need it.

PROS:

  • Quality construction.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Portable.

CONS:

  • Narrow focus.
  • Low-quality

Related: We love the Carson MicroBrite Plus 60x-120x Power LED Lighted Pocket Microscope (MM-300) for people who want to have more fun when camping, especially kids who will find a new love for nature. You’ll get to see and experience the world in its finer details, and you can easily carry this in your pocket too.

Check the price on Amazon

Vortex Optics Solo R/T  Vortex Optics Solo R/T

Price: approximately $120

Weight: 12.8 ounces

Dimensions: 7 x 3 x 3 inches

Specifications: 8x magnification; roof prism design; Vortex R/T ranging reticle; fully multicoated; rubber armor; O-ring seals; Nitrogen gas purging; waterproof; shockproof; fog proof

Best use: hunting

Description: The Vortex Optics Solo R/T has an 8 times magnification, which isn’t the biggest available. So it’s definitely not for bigger distances, but it will give you a generous field of view. Conversely, the roof prism design used works well with this magnification and accounts for precise details spotted at suitable distances.

We love the Vortex R/T ranging reticle because it has a reticle focus that allows you to estimate the range precisely. That, in turn, enables you to take clear shots. The fully multi-coating is another plus, as you’ll get extremely pristine images.

The whole thing is compact and light, which makes it easy to carry and to handle. The construction is sturdy, with a rubber armor coupled with O-ring seals and Nitrogen gas purging. All that makes this monocular immune to water, fog and shocks.

The flared adjustable eyecup, utility clip, neck lanyard and soft carry case are additional benefits that focus on user experience and convenience. Unfortunately, the carry case needs a lot of work, as it allows dust and other particulates to get inside. So we’d advise you to get a different sheath if you want to carry this monocular on your belt.

PROS:

  • Sturdy build.
  • Accurate distance measurement.
  • Compact.

CONS:

  • Poor quality sheath.

Related: We recommend getting the Vortex Optics Flip Cap Optic Cover to use along with this monocular. It has a rubber construction, which makes it sturdy and it protects well the lens from any fine dust particles and damage. And considering the low-quality sheath, this addition is great for protecting your monocular.

Check the price on Amazon

HDE Compact Monocular HDE Compact Monocular

Price: approximately $15

Weight: 4 ounces

Dimensions: 1 x 4.2 x 1 inches

Specifications: handheld; 15x-55x magnification; 21mm diameter; Black and Gray; connection piece for tripod, case, and cleaning cloth included

Best use: bird watching

Description: The HDE Compact Monocular enables you to see at a distance of 5 miles away, thanks to an adjustable zoom that can reach from 15x to 55x. That also means your field of vision will be adjusted accordingly, from a large one to a smaller one, which is perfect for bird watching. At first, you can scour your surroundings in search of your bird, and then zoom to examine its traits.

The 21mm diameter allows minimal glare, and you can even use this monocular at sunup or sundown. In fact, thanks to its powerful zoom, you can even see the individual craters on the moon after it rises, but you won’t be able to see too much after sundown. And for prolonged use, the connection piece for the tripod comes in really handy, plus it’s hard to keep it steady at 55x.

We like that this product comes with its own case and cleaning cloth. Regardless, you won’t get the most pristine image, since this isn’t the most expensive product on the market. The focus is a bit hard to acquire too, especially when you zoom it in.

PROS:

  • Solid build.
  • Minute detail at bigger distances.
  • Inexpensive.

CONS:

  • Difficult to keep steady.
  • Blurred
  • Difficult to focus.

Related: We love the Bushnell Advanced Tripod to go with this monocular. Its legs are sturdy, since they’re aluminum-made, and their height can be adjusted individually.

Check the price on Amazon

Night Owl Optics NOXM50 Night Owl Optics NOXM50

Price: approximately $200

Weight: 16 ounces

Dimensions: 7.75 x 3.79 x 2.48 inches

Specifications: solid focus ring; 5x magnification; 200 feet FOV; 15° angular FOV; 50 mm diameter; built-in infrared; coated; 5.7 feet minimum focus range

Best use: at night

Description: The Night Owl Optics NOXM50  is the most expensive, and the heaviest from all our monocular reviews so far. Still, it has a qualitative design, its optics being made entirely from glass. The focusing ring is solid, like the whole unit, and you can use it with just one hand.

The light amplification is 500x, but the magnification is 5x, so you can’t see really minute details. On the other hand, the field of view is pretty wide, at 200 feet, not to mention the angular FOV is 15°. And since the lens diameter is 50mm, you’ll get pristine images even in poor light.

The minimum focus range is 5.7 feet, but the feature we love most is the built-in infrared that’s easy to operate. That will allow you to use this unit even after dark. However, the lenses are merely coated, so there’s a lot of glare.

PROS:

  • Sturdy.
  • Easy to use.
  • Night vision.

CONS:

  • Limited on distance.
  • Expensive.
  • Heavy.
  • Glare.

Related: Since this monocular uses a 3-volt lithium battery that’s not included, you need to purchase your own. The Ultralast UL-123/2 3V CR123 Photo Lithium Battery Retail Pack is one option, as you’ll get four such batteries.

Check the price on Amazon

Authentic ROXANT Grip Scope Authentic ROXANT Grip Scope

Price: approximately $40

Weight: 7.8 ounces

Dimensions: 5.5 x 2 x 2 inches

Specifications: 6x magnification; 30mm diameter; all glass optics; retractable eyecup; molded grip; fully multicoated; included cleaning cloth, neck strap, and sheath

Best use: hiking

Description: The Authentic ROXANT Grip Scope is another good monocular, ideal for various outdoor activities, from target shooting to hiking. The magnification is 6x, so you won’t be able to see at a huge distance, but you’ll get an impressive field of view. The 30 lens diameter is relatively ok, but we wouldn’t recommend using it in poor light.

Otherwise, it’s a compact and sturdy monocular, with all glass optics, for a qualitative design. The retractable eyecup is definitely our favorite feature since it means you can use it even with eyeglasses on.

The molded grip prevents slipping and it’s resistant to shakes. That’s amazing for climbing or target shooting when you need to hold the monocular steady with just one hand. Plus, since its fully multicoated, the glare is kept to a minimum.

We like the included extras, meaning the cleaning cloth, the neck strap and the holster with a belt loop. The portability and low price are additional pluses, but we would’ve liked some lens caps for dust proofing, instead of just a cleaning cloth.

The focusing ring can’t be operated quickly, so you can’t focus this monocular as fast as you’d want to on moving targets. So don’t use this for hunting. Plus, there isn’t any tripod hole or connection piece for prolonged use, which is definitely needed for hunting/ bird watching.

PROS:

  • Retractable eyecup.
  • Wide FOV.
  • No-slip.

CONS:

  • Not dustproof.
  • Can’t focus fast.
  • No tripod connection.

Related: The ROXANT High Definition Mini Monocular Pocket Scope is definitely something that complements this product. It’s a compact scope that can fit in your back pocket, plus it’s inexpensive and offers a bigger, 7x magnification. The diameter is just 18mm though, so it can’t be used in adverse lighting conditions.

Check the price on Amazon

Vortex Optics Solo Monocular Vortex Optics Solo Monocular 

Price: approximately $50

Weight: 5.6 ounces

Dimensions: 4.4 x 2 x 2.4 inches

Specifications: 10x magnification; 25 mm diameter; fully multicoated; waterproof; fog proof; shock proof; adjustable eyecup; rubber armor; roof prism design

Best use: backpacking

Description: The Vortex Optics Solo Monocular is definitely the thing to have for backpacking or even target shooting. With a 10x magnification, you can see finer details at a pretty long distance, while also enjoying a wide field of view. Plus, thanks to its fully multicoated glass lens, there’ll be no glare, just pristine images.

The whole unit is relatively compact and lightweight, so you can carry and handle it with ease. Plus, it immune to shocks, fog, and water, so you can rely on its sturdiness and longevity. The adjustable eyecup is another plus making it customizable and hence comfortable.

The rubber armor construction is a great advantage as it provides both a sturdy grip, as well as external protection. Then, the roof prism design complements the 10x magnification, consolidating the durability and compactness factors too. The only things we don’t like are the stiff focusing ring and the fact that there’s no retractable eyecup.

PROS:

  • Sturdy.
  • Good grip.
  • Great for beginners.

CONS:

  • Stiff focus ring.
  • No retractable eyecup.

Related: If you’ve ventured too far backpacking and lost your way back, the Ultimate Survival Technologies Star Flash Micro Mirror is a great signaling device. You can use the monocular to find the people in your group, then this signaling mirror that works even in overcast conditions, to let them know where you are.

Check the price on Amazon

ROXANT High Definition Mini Monocular ROXANT High Definition Mini Monocular

Price: approximately $20

Weight: 2.4 ounces

Dimensions: 4 x 5 x 1.5 inches

Specifications: 7x magnification; 18mm diameter; high definition optical glass; multi-coated; molded grip; cleaning cloth, neck strap and holster included

Best use: camping

Description: The ROXANT High Definition Mini Monocular is a durable, albeit inexpensive monocular that’s powerful enough for beginners who want to use it for camping and general outdoor activities. Since it’s merely about 2 ounces, and so compact, it’s really portable and easy to hold steady for a prolonged time. Plus, we like that it has a molded grip that adds to this comfortable hold.

The downside of this low weight is that it’s pretty difficult to hold close to your eyes and focus on a relatively small sight.

Apart from that, the 7x magnification isn’t the biggest available, but it can help you see things closer and in enough detail when backpacking. You’ll get a wider field of vision though, and a durable construction. The 18mm diameter is pretty small, so this monocular won’t work in low light.

Conversely, the optics are multi-coated, so you’ll get minimal glare and great light transmission for a bright image. The quality of the optics stems from a glass construction too. However, it’s pretty difficult to adjust the lens in order to get a perfectly clear image.

PROS:

  • Portable.
  • Sturdy.
  • Inexpensive.

CONS:

  • Images could be clearer.
  • Difficult to focus.
  • Small magnification.

Related: If you want to operate your monocular during extremely bad, windy weather, we recommend getting these Glacier Glove Windproof Fleece Fingerless Gloves. Apart from a windproof fleece design, they also have polyurethane patches to make sure you have a steady grip at all times.

Check the price on Amazon

Polaris Optics Explorer  Polaris Optics Explorer 

Price: approximately

Weight: 1.41 pounds

Dimensions: 3.31 x 4.41 x 7.72 inches

Specifications: 12x magnification; 50mm diameter; steady grip; waterproof; fog proof; dustproof; included carrying case, protective lens covers and microfiber cleaning cloth

Best use: hunting

Description: The Polaris Optics Explorer is the only product we’ve reviewed here that comes with its own included tripod. That way, you can use this monocular hands-free and be sure it’s kept steady, but it would be better if the tripod were taller. That makes it perfect for prolonged, yet static outdoor endeavors when you need to use both your hands, like hunting, bird watching or target shooting.

The 12x magnification is pretty great for seeing fine details, while also providing a sufficient field of view. The 50 mm diameter is really an amazing feature because it allows for more light transmission, so you can use this monocular at dusk or dawn too.

The materials used are grade A too, accounting for a secure and steady grip even when you’re not using the tripod. And they make the monocular really durable, protecting it from external damages. Plus, this is a waterproof and fog proof item.

The bright and clear picture you’re getting, along with the included carrying case, protective lens covers and cleaning cloth are worth the money. However, be prepared that this is a heavy piece of gear, so not that good if you’re constantly on the move.

PROS:

  • Good magnification and FOV.
  • Sturdy.
  • Included tripod.

CONS:

  • Heavy.
  • Short tripod.

Related: If you don’t like the included mesh case, this Monocular Telescope Case from Khanka is really an amazing deal. It’s a hard EVA case that’s specially designed for this monocular, and it can fit the tripod inside it too. It has a soft interior and it’s lightweight, which are additional reasons to acquire it.

Check the price on Amazon

What will it be?

Among all these monocular reviews, one has to stand out for you.Do you want a night vision scope like the Night Owl, or are you happy with one that can be used during daytime only? Do you want a bigger magnification, like the HDE Monocular, or a wider field of view like that offered by the ROXANT monocular?

Are you interested in pristine images courtesy of a full multicoating like that of the Polaris monocular, or you can deal with a little blur around the edges? So, which is it? The comments are right below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

0
0
Total
0
Shares