Top 10 - Best Binoculars for Bird Watching 2020

What are the best binoculars to take bird watching? Discover our top picks of the year.

Last updated by Craig McInally 7 days ago

Top 10 - Best Binoculars for Bird Watching

We have tried and tested all binoculars in the UK so know what separates the best from the worst.


Choosing the right pair of binoculars can be confusing, especially if you’ve never bought them before. With so many uses for binoculars ranging from astronomy to wildlife spotting, it’s important to get a pair that is ideally suited for the activity you’re intending to use it for. We have developed this guide specifically to detail what to consider when looking for binoculars to take bird watching along with our Top 10 recommendations of the year. You’ll notice that all binoculars have a set of two numbers, which can help you determine whether they are right for your needs. The first number denotes the magnification (sometimes referred to as the power or zoom). The second number refers to the size of the objective lens. For example, 8x32 binoculars means that they come with 32mm lens with 8x magnification.

What’s the best magnification for bird watching?

The prospect of a very large magnification might be attractive, however, there are a number of reasons why opting for the most powerful binoculars might not be the best idea for bird watching. For starters, using binoculars that have extremely high magnification (e.g. 16x or more) will require a tripod to help you gain a steady image, which may not be convenient. Also, the field of view when using more powerful binoculars won’t be as wide so it can be hard to focus on a moving subject. Our preference is for 8x magnification as it affords a wider field of view, comfort, and image stability. They tend to offer greater eye relief as well so are better suited for glasses wearers. A higher 10x magnification can still be used handheld and might be a good compromise if you don’t use a telescope or mind the extra weight then are more suitable for use in hides or for viewing estuaries, reservoirs or other large, expansive areas. We wouldn’t recommend purchasing inexpensive binoculars with a high magnification as the performance was significantly inferior in our tests for image quality, clarity and durability.

Protection against British weather

A decent pair of binoculars will be okay to use in light rain and humidity. However, you really should think about getting a good pair of waterproofed binoculars, even if you are not the type who likes to look at your subjects while out in the rain. Make sure that your binocular choice is not only waterproofed but also fog proof. If the binoculars have been sealed with O-rings, then they will be moisture proof. Not only will this seal stop moisture from getting inside, but it will also deter dust and other debris from getting onto the lens and messing up your vision. Also, look for binoculars that Nitrogen filled, as this means that the inside air has been substituted with dry gas and prevents your binoculars from fogging up from the inside. Binoculars that are fully waterproof are also less susceptible to corrosion so are likely to last you a lot longer.

We conduct an extensive survey of our customers throughout the year to learn more about how their Binoculars perform in practice. This enables us to discover exactly what real customers think of their Binoculars and identify the top brands that you can rely on, and report on those whose standards are slipping so that you can make the right choice before parting with your hard-earned cash. Viking Optical are our top pick when it comes to Binoculars for Bird Watching, striking the perfect balance between quality and value for money with a range of models to suit varying budgets, which is why they feature so prominently on our Top 10 list.

What we look for in Binoculars:


  • Image Quality
    Every pair of Binoculars in our Top 10 has undergone extensive checks for excellent image clarity.
  • Usability
    We have a panel of experts who test every Binoculars for comfort, and ease-of-use.
  • Build & Reliability
    We conduct an extensive survey throughout the year to find out which Binoculars are the most reliable.
  • 1. Viking Kestrel ED 8x42 Binoculars
    Our Verdict
    Simply the best bird watching binoculars - fantastic quality, incredible value!
    Product Features
    • Extra Low Dispersion lenses for greater clarity
    • Waterproof & rubber-armoured for added durability
    • Nitrogen-filled to prevent fogging
    • Twist-down eyecups for glasses-wearers
    • 10-Year Guarantee
    Average Customer Review 4.8/5
    Editors Rating 97/100
    What We Think
    Our Best Buy Binoculars for Bird Watching in 2020! The Viking Kestrel ED Binoculars are the perfect companion for bird enthusiasts featuring the larger 42mm lens with Vikings specially engineered low-dispersion technology to allow in more light for greater clarity. The Kestrel ED is a reliable choice throughout the year and are better equipped to handle the low-light conditions British weather can throw at us. We recommend the 8x magnification for handheld use without a tripod. Viking Binoculars are backed by a 10-year warranty and the Kestrel ED feels solidly built with a nice tactile rubber finish and easily adjustable focus ring with smooth action. They are also suitable for glasses wearers too thanks to the adjustable twist down eyecups. Nitrogen-filled to stop internal fogging, they are also fully waterproof so should stand up to anything the Great British weather can throw at them. They offer the same quality as some far more expensive models we tested so represent excellent value for money. You simply won’t get a better pair of binoculars for birdwatching at this price!
    Product Features
    • Extra Low Dispersion lenses for greater clarity
    • Waterproof & rubber-armoured for added durability
    • Nitrogen-filled to prevent fogging
    • Twist-down eyecups for glasses-wearers
    • 10-Year Guarantee
    RRP: £219.95
    £204.95
    7% Off - Save a total of £15.00
    Average Customer Review 4.8/5
    Editors Rating 97/100

    Out of stock

  • 2. Viking Peregrine ED 8x42 Binoculars
    Our Verdict
    Superb optics with extra low dispersion glass for outstanding clarity
    Product Features
    • Extra Low Dispersion glass objective lenses
    • Fully multicoated optics with 8x Magnification
    • Dielectric coated, phase corrected BAK 4 Prisms
    • Smooth rubber armour & fully waterproof
    • 10-Year Guarantee
    Average Customer Review 4.7/5
    Editors Rating 95/100
    What We Think
    The Peregrine ED is the next model up from our pick for Best Buy in Vikings range of ED Binoculars, and were a close contender for the top spot. As with the Kestrel ED the quality of image thanks to the Viking’s Extra Low Dispersion glass objective lenses is truly outstanding and they handle low light conditions very well so are great for winter birdwatching. A high level of contrast and clarity is promised thanks to the dielectric coated, phase corrected BAK 4 Prisms, and there's no need to worry about the weather conditions as the Peregrine ED are fully waterproof and fog proof. The ultra lightweight design also makes them one of the lightest 42mm roof prism binoculars on the market. Comfort has been considered here too. Glasses wearers will appreciate the 3-position retractable eyecups, while the textured coating of the binoculars makes them comfortable to hold. At over £300 they’re not exactly cheap but you are paying a premium for quality.
    Product Features
    • Extra Low Dispersion glass objective lenses
    • Fully multicoated optics with 8x Magnification
    • Dielectric coated, phase corrected BAK 4 Prisms
    • Smooth rubber armour & fully waterproof
    • 10-Year Guarantee
    RRP: £329.00
    £309.95
    6% Off - Save a total of £19.05
    Average Customer Review 4.7/5
    Editors Rating 95/100
  • 3. Celestron Nature DX 8x42 Binoculars
    Product Features
    • Waterproof and fully rubber armored
    • Phase coated BaK-4 prisms for increased contrast and resolution
    • Fully multi-coated optics provide brighter images by increasing light transmission through the entire optical path
    • Close focus of 6.5 feet for viewing nearby subjects
    • Sturdy, twist-up eyecups with multiple stops. Eyeglass friendly with 17.5 mm of eye relief
    Average Customer Review 4.6/5
    Editors Rating 90/100
    What We Think
    The Celestron Nature DX 8x42 is a reliable option for bird watching offering the right combination of magnification, field of view, and close focus distance. The fully multi-coated lenses provide high-levels of well managed light transmission especially at 42mm and the phase-coated, premium BaK4 prism glass does a good job of providing sharp, true-to-life colour of your target.
    Product Features
    • Waterproof and fully rubber armored
    • Phase coated BaK-4 prisms for increased contrast and resolution
    • Fully multi-coated optics provide brighter images by increasing light transmission through the entire optical path
    • Close focus of 6.5 feet for viewing nearby subjects
    • Sturdy, twist-up eyecups with multiple stops. Eyeglass friendly with 17.5 mm of eye relief
    RRP: £139.99
    £104.95
    25% Off - Save a total of £35.04
    Average Customer Review 4.6/5
    Editors Rating 90/100

    Out of stock

  • 4. Viking Badger 8x42 Binoculars
    Our Verdict
    Affordable quality - an excellent pair of binoculars for beginners
    Product Features
    • 8x magnification- ideal for birdwatching
    • Weatherproof, rubber-armoured design
    • Multicoated optics limit light loss for a clearer image
    • Includes rainguard, case, and carrying strap
    Average Customer Review 4.5/5
    Editors Rating 86/100
    What We Think
    Next up is another entry from Viking Optical. The Badger range are designed for the casual or birdwatching beginner and the 8x42 offers an excellent viewing experience for the price. Still manufactured with excellent optics including fully multi-coated lenses and folding rubber eyecups for complete comfort with or without glasses. Their armouring provides a secure and comfortable grip, as well as added resistance. When it comes to bad features, there aren’t too many considering that they have so many good features. But, if you really had to be picky and name a bad feature, you would probably want them to have a better carrying case and perhaps a wider carrying strap. However, these are very minor details. All in all, if you want to get an affordable pair of high-quality binoculars, that are wonderful for bird watching and observing wildlife, then the Badger 8x42 are an excellent choice.
    Product Features
    • 8x magnification- ideal for birdwatching
    • Weatherproof, rubber-armoured design
    • Multicoated optics limit light loss for a clearer image
    • Includes rainguard, case, and carrying strap
    RRP: £99.95
    £88.95
    11% Off - Save a total of £11.00
    Average Customer Review 4.5/5
    Editors Rating 86/100
  • 5. Viking Scout 12x30 IS Image Stabilised Binoculars
    Our Verdict
    Exceptional image stabilisation and great value compared to competition
    Product Features
    • Centre focus with right eyepiece adjustment
    • Twist down eyecups for spectacle wearers
    • Real field of View 5°, Exit pupil 2.5mm
    • Takes 2 size AAA batteries
    • Battery life: 12 hours
    Average Customer Review 4.6/5
    Editors Rating 90/100
    What We Think
    We were mightily impressed with the performance of the Viking Scout Image Stabilised Binoculars, which are amazing to use with their higher 12x magnification. Binocular magnifications over 10x are very difficult to hold still enough for comfortable viewing but thanks to the image stabilising system (requires 2x AA batteries) with the flick of a switch the view becomes remarkably stable. The downside of such a high magnification means a narrower field of view, which can make it harder to locate targets while looking through the lenses. However, the Scout 12x30 worked well for us in the field and was comfortable to use handheld. As well as the top-class image stabilising the binoculars are backed up by a top quality optical system with multi-coated lenses and phase corrected prisms.
    Product Features
    • Centre focus with right eyepiece adjustment
    • Twist down eyecups for spectacle wearers
    • Real field of View 5°, Exit pupil 2.5mm
    • Takes 2 size AAA batteries
    • Battery life: 12 hours
    RRP: £599.00
    £589.00
    2% Off - Save a total of £10.00
    Average Customer Review 4.6/5
    Editors Rating 90/100

    Out of stock

  • 6. Celestron Outland X 10x50 Binoculars
    Our Verdict
    A top choice for best binoculars under £100
    Product Features
    • Multi-coated optics for enhanced colour fidelity
    • Protective rubber coating for added durability
    • Waterproof & fogproof
    • Includes carry case & strap
    Average Customer Review 4.5/5
    Editors Rating 80/100
    What We Think
    The Celestron Outland X are a fantastic pair of binoculars that offer incredible value and versatility for just £100. Boasting 10x magnification and multi coated optics for high-resolution views with enhanced colour fidelity. Suitable for outdoor use by birders, thanks not only to the powerful magnification but a sturdy build and waterproofing. They are also nitrogen purged so fogproof for using in all weather environments. We found the large focus knobs easy to adjust for precise focusing and twist-up eyecups allow for quick adjustment of eye relief to obtain the full field of view. If you’re looking for a reliable pair of binoculars for bird watching but don’t want to break the bank then the Celestron Outland X 10x50 offer affordable quality.
    Product Features
    • Multi-coated optics for enhanced colour fidelity
    • Protective rubber coating for added durability
    • Waterproof & fogproof
    • Includes carry case & strap
    RRP: £139.99
    £94.99
    32% Off - Save a total of £45.00
    Average Customer Review 4.5/5
    Editors Rating 80/100

    Out of stock

  • 7. Celestron Outland X 8x25 Binoculars
    Product Features
    • Multi-coated optics for enhanced colour fidelity
    • Protective rubber coating for added durability
    • Waterproof & fogproof
    • Includes carry case & strap
    Average Customer Review 4.4/5
    Editors Rating 76/100
    What We Think
    Ideal for travelling light and providing great quality at an affordable price point, we are big fans of the Celestron Outland X 8x25. The lightweight and compact design means these are easy to carry in a pocket and for a 8x compact roof prism binocular we cannot fault the quality of image. They fit comfortably in the hand and the fingers of the left or right hand are well placed to focus. They are also usable with glasses thanks to the twist up eye cups for eye relief adjustment is ok but as these are compact it is not a brilliant field of view. Without glasses, however the clarity, field of view and brightness are, in my opinion, excellent for binoculars of this size which easily fit in a large coat pocket. These binoculars are small enough to take anywhere and our top choice under £50.
    Product Features
    • Multi-coated optics for enhanced colour fidelity
    • Protective rubber coating for added durability
    • Waterproof & fogproof
    • Includes carry case & strap
    RRP: £54.99
    £49.99
    9% Off - Save a total of £5.00
    Average Customer Review 4.4/5
    Editors Rating 76/100
  • 8. Viking Badger 8x25 Binoculars
    Product Features
    • 8x magnification- ideal for birdwatching
    • Weatherproof, rubber-armoured design
    • Multicoated optics limit light loss for a clearer image
    • Includes rainguard, case, and carrying strap
    Average Customer Review 4.4/5
    Editors Rating 75/100
    What We Think
    Another compact option this time from Viking offering excellent optical clarity and value for money. The Viking Badger 8x25 weighs only 298g but still feel sturdy and well-built. They look great, small and discreet, and great quality through the lens and surprisingly powerful. They are still nitrogen filled and waterproof so can be used in all weather conditions, and the view is clear and bright through the lenses. Overall, a lovely pair of binoculars, which would be perfect for anyone who enjoys bird watching from a casual watcher to a semi serious birdwatcher looking for a decent compact for travel or convenience.
    Product Features
    • 8x magnification- ideal for birdwatching
    • Weatherproof, rubber-armoured design
    • Multicoated optics limit light loss for a clearer image
    • Includes rainguard, case, and carrying strap
    RRP: £79.95
    £74.95
    6% Off - Save a total of £5.00
    Average Customer Review 4.4/5
    Editors Rating 75/100
  • 9. Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 Binoculars
    Product Features
    • Magnesium Alloy Body: Lightweight, durable frame that will last a lifetime and handle use in the field
    • BaK-4 Prisms with Phase and Dielectric Coatings
    • Extremely Wide Field of View: Follow your subject easily, with less need to move the binoculars
    • 6.5' Close Focus: Detailed, up close observation of subject in close proximity
    • Metal Multi-Stop Twist Up Eyecups: More durable with a longer life than plastic eyecups
    Average Customer Review 4.5/5
    Editors Rating 75/100
    What We Think
    The Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 are a sleek and stylish mid-sized binocular that offer superb optical performance for bird watching. Also available with a more powerful 10x magnification, our preference is for the 8x42 for a larger field of view. The TrailSeeker benefits from a high-quality, lightweight, magnesium alloy frame for durability, which comes with Celestron's Limited Lifetime Guarantee. There is good sharpness of image at the center and edge of field of view and the overall brightness is excellent. Filled with Nitrogen and sealed, the TrailSeeker are fogproof and waterproof. A good choice compared to more expensive equivalents from the likes of Nikon.
    Product Features
    • Magnesium Alloy Body: Lightweight, durable frame that will last a lifetime and handle use in the field
    • BaK-4 Prisms with Phase and Dielectric Coatings
    • Extremely Wide Field of View: Follow your subject easily, with less need to move the binoculars
    • 6.5' Close Focus: Detailed, up close observation of subject in close proximity
    • Metal Multi-Stop Twist Up Eyecups: More durable with a longer life than plastic eyecups
    RRP: £229.99
    £219.99
    4% Off - Save a total of £10.00
    Average Customer Review 4.5/5
    Editors Rating 75/100

    Out of stock

  • 10. Nikon Prostaff 7S 8x42 Binoculars
    Product Features
    • Multilayer coated lenses and prisms for superior images
    • Phase correction coated roof prisms for high resolution
    • High reflection mirror-coated prisms for enhanced brightness
    • Long eye relief design ensures a clear field of view, even for eyeglass wearers
    • Waterproof (up to 1m/3.3 ft. for 10 minutes) and fog-free with nitrogen gas
    Average Customer Review 4.3/5
    Editors Rating 70/100
    What We Think
    Building on the success of their acclaimed Prostaff binocular range, the next generation Nikon Prostaff 7S series are designed for exceptional viewing comfort. The image quality is simply superb thanks to the multilayer coated Eco-glass lens and roof prism construction. Our preferred choice of 42 mm, combined with 8x magnification delivers a comfortably wide field of view with bright, sharp images with natural colours. A phase-correction coating is also applied to ensure high-resolution images at any magnification. The rugged but lightweight body is constructed fro fibreglass-reinforced polycarbonate resin covered in rubber armouring for shock resistance so the Prostaff 7S is a solid, durable and reliable choice. The rubber housing also provides a firm and comfortable grip, improved to ensure better handling in all kinds of weather. Whilst, they are not exactly cheap at nearly £300 the clarity is immense and compare favourably with the likes of Leica for nearly twice the price.
    Product Features
    • Multilayer coated lenses and prisms for superior images
    • Phase correction coated roof prisms for high resolution
    • High reflection mirror-coated prisms for enhanced brightness
    • Long eye relief design ensures a clear field of view, even for eyeglass wearers
    • Waterproof (up to 1m/3.3 ft. for 10 minutes) and fog-free with nitrogen gas
    RRP: £299.99
    £289.99
    3% Off - Save a total of £10.00
    Average Customer Review 4.3/5
    Editors Rating 70/100