Looking for a great pair of binoculars? We’re counting down 8 of the best 10×42 binoculars on the web, breaking down all the essential functions and features along the way. It began with a comprehensive list of the 30 top-selling binoculars online, and now we’re ready to present you with the best and brightest.
10×42 is one of the most popular binocular specifications. This combination of 10x magnification power and a 42mm objective diameter means that you can get a bright, high-detail image. Whether you’re looking at a deer in a meadow or the stars in the sky, this is a great one-two punch of power and performance.
But power and lens width are only the beginning. Here are our top picks, followed by a comprehensive buyer’s guide that can teach you even more about how to choose a pair of binoculars.
Best FOV on a 10×42 Binoculars – Nikon Monarch 7
|Field of view||351 FT|
As one of the flagship products of Nikon’s binocular line, the Monarch 7 has quickly become one of the most popular models around. This is an all-terrain binocular that packs all the imaging power you would expect from a brand like Nikon.
The wide field of view is perhaps the most attractive feature here. The Monarch 7 is rated at 351 feet, with a level of brightness that matches the human eye. Color reproduction is also top notch, courtesy of the multilayer phase-correction prism coatings.
So yes, it’s safe to say that this is the best pair of 10×42 binoculars on our list. But all that power comes at a price. These babies come in just under $500, the highest on our list.
Best 10×42 Binoculars for Eyeglass Wearers – Gosky
|Field of view||307 FT|
While this pair by Gosky can’t compete with Nikon when it comes to imaging quality, it can compete in other ways. Primarily, the Gosky binoculars offer the greatest eye relief of any model on the list. This allows eyeglasses wearers to compensate for the distance … something the Monarch 7 isn’t as good at.
The price tag is another notable feature here. They’re just under 80 bucks, which is a heck of a deal when you take a look at some of the add-ons and extras that come standard.
The smartphone adapter is certainly the most valuable of these add-ons. It allows the user to use their smartphone screen to see what the binoculars are seeing. This isn’t just handy for eyeglass wearers, but also when there are multiple people who want to see the same image.
Best Under $300 – Bushnell Legend
|Field of view||340 FT|
When it comes to 10×42 binoculars, the $300 price point usually represents a significant boost in optical quality. One such example is the Monarch 7 by Nikon (reviewed above). But it is possible to get professional-grade optics without shelling out as much cash.
The Bushnell Legend, while not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, is a great balance of high-level performance and durability. Ultra-band wide coatings allow these puppies to offer a 340 ft FOV without any noticeable drop in image quality. In fact, the image quality and color projection is much better than other under $300 models, including those made by Gosky and Wingspan.
The shape of the Bushnell Legend binoculars is slightly awkward. They aren’t quite as comfortable in the hand as we’d like them to be. But they’re totally waterproof and shockproof, which more than makes up for it.
Best Under $200 – Bushnell Trophy
|Field of view||325 FT|
One of the reasons that we like Bushnell products is their relative balance of price and quality. While they can’t match Nikon when it comes to lens technology, they are still some of the best ones on the market.
The Bushnell Trophy is a slightly smaller and less powerful version of the Bushnell Legend that we looked at above. The FOV is very slightly reduced here, as is the overall weight. But other than that, they perform a lot like the Legend binoculars and are about fifty bucks cheaper.
Our favorite thing about the Trophy is their low-light performance. This isn’t something that Bushnell is particularly known for, which caught us slightly by surprise. Like the Legends, the Trophy is totally waterproof and fog proof.
Budget Pick – Wingspan Eagle Scout
|Field of view||283 FT|
The Eagle Scout model binoculars by Wingspan are the only sub-$100 binoculars that you can get that are also fog proof and water proof. Finding this level of durability and weather resistance is rare when it comes to budget optics. At about eighty bucks, the Wingspan Eagle Scouts offer one of the best bargains that we’ve come across.
Like the other models on the list, the 10x magnification level make these quite versatile. Wingspan seems to be marketing the Eagle Scout binocs primarily to bird watchers. The fact that they’re only 1.3 is probably why … that’s about half the weight of the Maven C1s that we look at a bit later.
These are also super comfortable in the hand. We can see how these would be a good pick for patient wildlife viewing.
Best Auto-Focus 10×42’s – Steiner Predator AF
|Field of view||330 FT|
While not as reputable as Nikon, Steiner truly is one of the best optical manufacturers on the market these days. The Predator Model binoculars are a good representation of this: FOV, weight, and image projection is all nearly as good at that on the Monarch 7 (but not quite).
The “AF” here refers to the auto-focus feature. This is certainly a unique element for 10×42 binoculars, and you have to hand it to Steiner for giving it a try. But in this case, they actually pull it off! Even if you’re tracking a moving animal, the Predator AFs manage to always stay in sharp focus.
Speaking of animals, these binoculars are outfitted with Color Adjusted Transmission (CAT), a feature that increases image contrast. This can make game animals “stand out” from their surroundings … something that hunters are sure to find helpful.
Our only gripe is that at this price (~$350) we feel like they should be totally waterproof, instead of merely water resistant.
Best 10×42 for Astronomy – Maven C1
|Field of view||314 FT|
The Maven C Series represents a big step forward in optical technology from the B series. The C1s are more powerful, more dependable, and more balanced than precious models. They are also significantly improved when it comes to image contrasting and color reproduction.
Like other Maven models, the C1 is a great all-around mid-range binocular. They are quite heavy … in fact they’re over a pound heavier than similarly priced models. This can make them less ideal for hunting and birdwatching. But mount these puppies on a tripod and you have yourself a prosumer level stargazing setup.
One of the biggest benefits of going with Maven is their unconditional lifetime warranty. If anything happens to your binoculars, you can contact the company for free repair or replacement. Even Nikon can’t offer something like this, making it a bit easier to shell out the cash for these high-end binoculars.
Best of the Rest – Upland Optics Perception
|Field of view||317 FT|
While the Perception model binoculars by Upland Optics are a great all-around performer, they are particularly well suited for hunters. In fact, they are the only model on this list that were designed exclusively for hunting. It’s a fact that becomes clear the moment you take them out of the box.
First, there’s the nitrogen purged lenses and sealed construction. This means that you’ll never have to worry about fog or water. Secondly, they are highly durable, with a thick rubber coating that will protect against drops and falls.
But it’s the extra low-dispersion (ED) glass that really turn these into a hunter’s daydream. This technology offers high-clarity image processing, keeping your target bright and sharp with virtually no color distortion.
Binocular Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best 10 x 42 Binoculars
As optical technology continues to advance, it can be difficult to stay up-to-date when it comes to binoculars. If you’re looking for a pair of 10×42 binoculars and you aren’t sure where to start, have a look at the following buying guide.
We’ll start by explaining the most important features to check when comparing binoculars. After that we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions associated with the models on this list. Finally, we’ll reveal our top pick for the best pair of 10×42 binoculars of the year.
Most Important Features to Check when Shopping for 10×42 Binoculars:
Here’s what you should be paying attention to when comparing binoculars:
Brand & Model
Some of the brands on our list are likely familiar to you, like Nikon and Bushnell. Because we try to review a wide range of products in terms of both quality and affordability, we also chose some lesser-known optical manufacturers like Gosky and Wingspan.
Here’s a few basic facts about each company to get you started:
- Nikon: Known for making top of the line lenses and optical devices. Nikon-brand binoculars are top-performers in almost every category, but this also means that they are consistently more expensive.
- Gosky: All of Gosky’s binoculars and telescopes are made overseas, which is one reason why they are so much more affordable than other brands. You can save a lot of money by going with Gosky binoculars, but you won’t get the same performance in terms of FOV, lens quality, or weatherproofing.
- Bushnell: Bushnell is a brand that specializes in action-proof optical equipment for the outdoors. In almost all cases they are able to offer their products at a lower price point than Nikon, but higher than the budget brands. FOV, focus control, and overall image quality are all great with Bushnell optics, making them a top-choice prosumer brand for binoculars and scopes.
- Wingspan: Wingspan Optics is a company that makes optical equipment exclusively for birdwatchers. This not only means that they are lighter and more compact, but they also tend to be much more affordable than other brands.
- Steiner: This is the brand for hunters and sportsmen who need high-performance optics that can withstand the rigors of the great outdoors. Steiner makes binoculars, laser scopes, battle sights, and other hunting-specific gear.
- Maven: Maven is kind of the new kid on the block when it comes to premium optics. Their scopes and binoculars are on par with Nikon when it comes to price. However, from what we’ve seen they tend to match Nikon on performance specs as well.
The first metric that you should familiarize yourself with is Power. When it comes to binoculars, power is represented by two numbers separated by a lowercase “x” (e.g., 10×42). The first number is the magnification factor, and the second number is the diameter of the objective lens.
Larger magnification power allows binoculars to see farther. A wider objective diameter allows more light into the lens, which allows for a brighter and more colorful image.
If you’ve already decided upon 10×42 binoculars, that’s great: it’s a good all-around rating that is appropriate for a number of activities. But most manufacturers make several versions of their flagship binoculars. This makes it possible to get a pair with greater magnification.
Field of View (FOV)
The Field of View is how much you can actually see when looking through the binoculars, or more simply, how wide the image is. FOV is commonly expressed at 1,000 yards.
A higher FOV allows the user to see more, while a smaller number would indicate a narrower visual field. Most 10×42 binoculars have an FOV between 275 and 375, but anywhere around 300 is fine for most activities.
FOV tends to be inverse to Power. In other words, increasing the magnification factor would mean decreasing the field of view.
A binocular’s Eye Relief is the distance at which they can be held from the eyes while still seeing the entire image. It is measured and expressed in millimeters.
Eye relief is not an important feature for everybody. However, for anyone who wears eyeglasses, it is an essential number that should not be overlooked. A longer eye relief means that you can hold the binoculars further from your face, making it possible to use the binoculars without having to remove your glasses.
Durability & Weatherproofing
It’s worth taking the time to think about the types of conditions you expect to encounter. All of the binoculars on our list are constructed a bit differently, and not all of them are designed to stand up to a whole lot of abuse.
If you’re getting into a potentially high-impact activity like hunting, look for a model with a protective rubber case. Hard shell binoculars can fall out of focus if you drop them even once … a rubber coating provides critical shock absorption.
Not all binoculars are waterproof. Most budget-level and mid-range optical equipment is only water resistant, and to varying degrees. This means that the rain probably isn’t going to hut anything, but dropping it in a river isn’t going to do it any favors.
The binoculars on our list are widely separated by their price point. This was done intentionally, so that we could provide our recommendations for all different budgets. We also avoided the super-high-end stuff, capping out at about $500 bucks for the Nikon Monarch 7.
The truth is, you don’t need to spend more than $100 to get a great pair of 10×42 binoculars. For example, both the Wingspan Eagle Scout and the Gosky binoculars both retail for about $80 bucks. Both of these brands make a quality binocular with the same power rating as pro models.
On the other hand, if you are looking for something that will last longer and provide a truly brilliant image, it’s worth going up to the next price level. Paying ~$300 for binoculars can get you significantly increased color reproduction and image clarity. For hunters, birdwatchers, and stargazers alike, this is more than worth the added price.
Conclusion: The Best 10×42 Binoculars for Birding, Stargazing, & Range finding
For our buck, the Bushnell Trophy provide the best balance of functionality and image quality. The focus knob is not as sturdy as the slightly more expensive Bushnell Legend, but the low-light imaging is noticeably better. These are also totally waterproof and impressively lightweight, adding to the Trophy’s overall versatility.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, binoculars with a 10x magnification and 42mm objective lens (10x42) are adequate for stargazing. This magnification level will provide some additional help for areas with more light pollution.
Because people have different preferences and experience different conditions regarding light pollution, opinions may vary.
There isn’t really a way to answer this question directly. That’s because the binoculars can see everything your own eye can see. The only difference is that the image is magnified 10x times. You will not be seeing farther, per se, but rather you will just be able to discern more detail of what you’re looking at.
This depends largely on how serious you are about your gear and what activity you’re using it for. If you’re in the woods a lot hiking, hunting, or fishing, then you might want to prioritize durability and image quality. In our opinion, the “money spot” for high-end amateur binoculars is about $300.
However, it’s possible to spend a fraction of that and still get a great pair of 10x42 binoculars.
We’re partial to the ones that appear on this list! Our top pick for 10x42 binoculars in 2021 is the Bushnell Trophy. It has a lot of top-end features but is less than half the price of the Nikon monarch.