Best binoculars for whale watching - header

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Whales are majestic and beautiful creatures. And watching whales in their natural habitat (the ocean) can be a thrilling adventure. There are a number of equipment you need for your whale-watching expedition of which a binocular is arguably the most important. The human eyes can only see so much and a binocular will bring about a more enjoyable whale-watching experience as you will able to see whale(s) in detail.

As you may have already suspected, not all binoculars are suitable for whale watching. You need a quality pair of binos with good magnification, a good field of view, high optical performance, as well as durability to enjoy whale watching. Not a lot to ask, right?

As something of a whale-watching enthusiast, I carried out extensive research and testing to compile a list of the best binoculars for whale watching. I’m talking about binoculars that can redefine your whale-watching adventure.

Below you’ll find the best binoculars for whale watching available today, their pros, cons, and a buying guide to help you choose the best binocular that suits your needs. Keep reading.

The 7 Best Binoculars Under 1000 Dollars for 2021

Celestron TrailSeeker ED 10×42 Binoculars

Celestron – TrailSeeker ED 10x42 Binoculars – Compact ED Binocular for Birdwatching and Outdoor Activities – Binocular with ED Objective Lenses – Fully Broadband Multi-coated Optics – BaK4 Roof Prism

$339.55  in stock
3 new from $338.49
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 22, 2021 5:04 pm

Made of lightweight magnesium alloy and a tough and rigid coated frame, the Celestron Trailseeker ED 10 x 42 is a very tough and durable binocular, This binocular will easily resist the elements outdoors which is a good feature to have in a whale watching binocular. The lightweight design of this bino allows you to hold it for a long time without any discomfort.

The high optical performance of this binocular makes it perfect for whale watching. You’ll get sharp, acute, colorful images. The high magnification power of 10x also brings whales closer to you i.e whales will appear 10 times nearer than they are. And the 42mm objective lens diameter ensures that enough light enters the bino thereby improving the quality of the image.

The Trailseeker ED 10 x 42 also comes with anti-reflective coatings to reduce chromatic aberrations and improve the quality images. The fog and water-proofing feature come in handy should water splash on the bino or during rainfall. A carry bag with a padded strap is included in the package to make transport easy.

 Quick Specifications

  • Magnification : 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 42 mm / 1.65 in
  • Dimensions : 5.5 x 4.9 x 2 in / 14 x 12.4 x 5.1 cm
  • Weight : 1.47 lbs / 667 g
  • Field of view: 340 ft @ 1000 yards

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Easy to handle.
  • Clear and sharp image.
  • Good performance in low light situations.
  • Fogproof and waterproof.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • Focusing may be slightly difficult at times.

Vanguard Endeavor ED 10×42 Binoculars

VANGUARD Endeavor ED 10x42 Binocular, ED Glass, Waterproof/Fogproof, Black (ENDEAVOR ED 1042)

$299.99
$259.00
 in stock
7 new from $259.00
2 used from $199.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 22, 2021 5:04 pm

Vanguard is a well-known brand in the binocular space. With the company established in the ‘80s, they have a lot of experience when it comes to making top-notch binoculars and this binocular is one of their finest inventions.

There’s a lot to like about this binocular. It’s very lightweight which makes it not only to transport but also comes in handy during whale watching. Holding a bulky bino is going to be tiring after a while, huh? And the price of this binocular means you are getting a good deal. Many whale watching enthusiasts have labeled this binocular one of the best value whale watching binoculars available.

This binocular offers an ergonomic, open-bridge design that makes it easy to operate.  And the 10x magnification and objective lens diameter of 42mm produces bright and sharp images. I must mention the inclusion of extra-low dispersion glass which significantly improves the optical performance of this bino. And the fog and water-proofing enhance the durability.

 Quick Specifications

  • Magnification : 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 42 mm / 1.65 in
  • Dimensions : 6.1 x 5.1 x 5.1 in / 15.5 x 13 x 13 cm
  • Weight : 1.61 lbs / 730.28 g
  • Field of view : 341.2 ft @ 1000 yards

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Ergonomic design.
  • High optical performance.
  • Performs well in low-light situations.
  • Fully waterproof and fog proof.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Carson VP Series Waterproof HD 10×42 Binoculars

Carson VP Series Full Sized 10x42-mm Waterproof and Fog Proof Binoculars in Black (VP-042)

$154.99  in stock
7 new from $154.99
1 used from $100.88
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 22, 2021 5:04 pm

The Carson VP series is a line of high-quality binoculars that can be used for a variety of outdoor activities ranging from bird watching, sightseeing, camping, kayaking, hiking, and of course, whale watching. All the binoculars in this series are compact, lightweight, and travel-friendly.

You can also expect to get images of high clarity from this binocular thanks to fully multi-coated optics. The brightness of the images is also enhanced eliminating the need to strain your eyes when using this bino, especially in low-light situations. And the magnification power is well suited for whale watching.

The VP Series Binoculars come with a couple of accessories. You’ll find a soft pouch, lens cover, and a lens cloth to help keep the binoculars safe. They are also tripod adaptable as you can mount them on a tripod in just a matter of seconds.

 Quick Specifications

  • Magnification : 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 42 mm / 1.65 in
  • Dimensions :  5.91 x 5.12 x 2.17 in / 15 x 13 x 5.5 cm
  • Weight : 1.92 lbs / 870 g
  • Field of view: 330.7 ft @ 1000 yards

Pros

  • Compact and travel-friendly.
  • High quality and sharp images.
  • Waterproof and fog proof.
  • Includes accessories.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Meade Instruments Rainforest Pro 10×32 Binoculars

MEADE Instruments – Rainforest Pro 10x32 Compact Outdoor Bird Watching Sightseeing Sports Concerts Travel Professional HD Binoculars for Adults – Fully Multi-Coated BaK-4 Prisms – Durable & Waterproof, Black (125041)

$134.99
$103.01
 in stock
1 used from $79.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 22, 2021 5:04 pm

Meade Instruments, the producer of Rainforest Pro, is known to be one of the most ingenious companies in the telescope-binocular market. They are known for their great innovative ideas as they tend to produce new and improved versions from time to time. And the Rainforest Pro 10 x 32 is one of their better products.

Thanks to the coated optics and BAK 4 prisms, the Rainforest Pro produces bright, detailed, and high-resolution images. The rubber-armored construction not only protects this binocular but also allows you to maintain a firm grip while holding it. And the nitrogen purging makes this binocular waterproof and fog proof making it able to withstand the sometimes harsh conditions of the outdoors. They are also capable of focusing objects from a short focus which makes them applicable in not only viewing objects from a long distance but also a relatively short distance.

This binocular come with some accessories – a case, a soft pouch made of nylon, a soft lens cloth, and a carry strap.

 Quick Specifications

  • Magnification : 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 32 mm / 1.26 in
  • Dimensions : 6.25 x 7.13 x 2.96 in / 15.9 x 18.1 x 7.5 cm
  • Weight : 1.15 lbs / 520 g
  • Field of view: 341.25 ft @ 1000 yards

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • High-resolution images.
  • Easy to maintain a strong grip.
  • Waterproof and fog proof.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • There might be slight chromatic aberrations on bright days. However, this won’t ruin the viewing experience and will only be noticed by experienced professionals.

Steiner Peregrine 10×32 Binoculars

Steiner Peregrine 10x32 Binoculars - Perfect for Wildlife or Bird Watching, Sporting Events

$419.99  in stock
Amazon.com
as of October 22, 2021 5:04 pm

Combining a stunning balance of power, image quality, and comfort, this Steiner binocular is one of the best whale-watching binoculars. The optical performance is impressive as Steiner’s lens coatings provide more contrast and color to images. This also brings about an improved performance in low light situations.  And the auto-focus makes this bino easy to use while making one-handed operation possible.

Thanks to the rugged and lightweight polycarbonate chassis with rubber armoring, this binocular is very durable. Also, you get a non-slip grip that allows you to easily handle this binocular without slipping. And the wide field of view makes it easy to find and follow targets with ease.

Waterproof and fog-resistant, you can rest easy knowing this binocular can stand up to weather. It’s also very versatile and can be used for a variety of outdoor activities like bird watching, sightseeing, kayaking, and so on.

 Quick Specifications

  • Magnification : 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 32 mm / 1.26 in
  • Dimensions : 6.9 x 4.73 x 2.5 inches / 17.53 x 12.01 x 6.35 cm
  • Weight : 1.66 lbs / 754.09 g
  • Field of view: 326 ft @ 1000 yards

Pros

  • Compact.
  • High optical performance.
  • Good performance in low-light situations.
  • Fully multi-coated lens.
  • Non-slip grip.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Nikon Monarch 5 10×42 BinocularsOur Top Pick

Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 10x42 Binocular (Black)

$329.95
$296.95
 in stock
11 new from $296.95
2 used from $290.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 22, 2021 5:04 pm

Nikon needs no introduction either in the camera or binocular space. And you can almost completely trust a Nikon product to be of good quality. And this Nikon binocular isn’t going to disappoint you.

Compact and lightweight, the Nikon Monarch 7577 is an ideal travel companion that you can easily take along on your travels. And the optical performance of this binocular is stunning thanks to the high-quality lenses which are fully multi-coated. There is also the ED glass which corrects chromatic aberrations and brings about accurate color reproduction.

The rubber-armored coating enhances durability while also bringing a non-slip grip in either wet or dry conditions. And the 10x magnification allows you to get a well-detailed view of very far objects. There is also the long eye relief which makes this binocular comfortable for people wearing eyeglasses.

Thanks to the nitrogen purging and sealed O-rings, this binocular is fog and waterproof able to easily withstand the harsh conditions of the outdoors.

 Quick Specifications

  • Magnification : 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 42 mm / 1.65 in
  • Dimensions : 7.6 x 3.15 x 5.94 in / 19.3 x 8 x 15.1 cm
  • Weight : 1.35 lbs / 612.35 g
  • Field of view: 288 ft @ 1000 yards

Pros

  • Travel-friendly.
  • High optical performance.
  • Non-slip grip.
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Good eye relief.
  • Tripod adaptable.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Zeiss Terra ED 10×32 Binoculars

ZEISS Terra ED Compact Binoculars, 10x32, Black

$449.99  in stock
9 new from $449.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 22, 2021 5:04 pm

The Zeiss Terra ED 10 x 32 binocular is compact, light, and robust making it easy to take along on your trips. I’m a big fan of the easy to grip focus wheel which makes this binocular super easy to focus.

Thanks to the super-durable and ergonomic casing, it’s easy to handle this binocular. The compact size also ensures it’ll fit easily in your hands. Zeiss coated the lens of this binocular with their signature standard coating that not only improved image quality but also makes the lens easy to clean.

Overall, expect images of stunning quality from this binocular thanks to the high-quality optics. You get natural color presentation and crystalline resolution that’s sharp and bright.

Thanks to the comfortable eye cups, users wearing spectacles will be able to use this binocular with ease. The wide field of view and magnification power of 10x will come in handy during whale watching as you’ll be able to see razor-sharp images of the whale even when they are far away.

The fog and waterproofing allow this binocular to stand up to weather making it suitable for the outdoors.

 Quick Specifications

  • Magnification : 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 32 mm / 1.26 in
  • Dimensions : 4.92 x 4.61 in / 12.5 x 11.7 cm
  • Weight : 1.12 lbs / 510 g
  • Field of view: 336 ft @ 1000 yards

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Large and easy to grip focusing wheel.
  • High-resolution images.
  • Good eye relief.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • The diopter adjustment has no luck and you may sometimes accidentally move it. But this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker.

Best Binoculars for Whale Watching – The Guide

Now that you know what are the best binoculars for whale watching you can get today, let’s get to the buying guide. I always include a buying guide after recommending the best products in a particular category. The purpose of this buying guide is to help you understand the features of a binocular so you what to look out for when making a decision about buying one.

Below are the factors you should consider before buying a binocular for whale watching.

What To Take Into Consideration When Choosing Your Binoculars

Size and Weight

Binoculars come in different sizes and are classified as compact, midsize, or full-size. And the size of a binocular is usually determined by the size of the objective lens. The objective lens diameter of compact binoculars is usually below 30mm while mid-size binoculars have objective lens diameters ranging between 30mm and 40mm. Full-size binoculars on the other hand have the largest objective lens of all, exceeding 40mm.

Size is a very important feature to look out for in a binocular as the size of a binocular affects its portability. For this reason, compact binoculars are the most portable offering unparalleled ease of transport and storage. This is followed by mid-size binoculars and then full-size binoculars. However, note that there are always tradeoffs between the size and performance of a binocular.

You need a portable and travel-friendly binocular for whale watching and that’s why the binoculars on this list are either compact or mid-size binoculars. This makes it easy to transport these binos as well as easily holding them for long periods.

Magnification and Objective Lens Diameter

Magnification and objective lens diameter are two key specifications of a binocular that has a significant effect on the overall performance. The magnification simply refers to the number of times that the binocular has enlarged the image you are seeing. A binocular with a magnification power of 10, like the ones on his list, will enlarge the image you are seeing ten folds. Therefore, a whale that’s 100 m away will appear as if it were only 10m away. Magnification power is usually written alone as 10x, 8x, 12x, and so on.

The objective lens diameter determines the amount of light that can enter the binocular. The bigger the objective lens, the more light is able to enter the binocular, and the sharper and clearer the image produced. However, increasing the objective lens comes with a corresponding increase in the size of the binocular. And this is why manufacturers usually find a balance between objective lens diameter and binocular size.

It’s common to see magnification power and objective lens diameter of a binocular written together. The format is usually 10 x 32, 8 x 30, and so on where the first number is the magnification power and the second is the objective lens diameter.

Field Of View

The width of the area you see when using a binocular is the field of view of that binocular. Should the field of view be large, it’ll be easy to find and locate objects or animals since you can see wider. There are activities like birdwatching, hunting, and even whale watching that require binoculars with a large field of view.

Best binoculars for whale watching - Guide

Weather-resistant / Waterproof / Fog-Proof

The conditions outdoors can be very harsh and the weather unpredictable. And this is why most outdoor equipment usually has some level of weather resistance. It’s important binoculars are weatherproof to make them durable and long-lasting. Two types of weatherproofing are available for binoculars – waterproofing and fog proofing.

Waterproof binoculars come with completely sealed O-rings that prevent water from penetrating the binocular. It’s common to see manufacturers using an internationally accepted standard to quantify the extent to which a bino is waterproof.

For fog proofing, the interior of binoculars will be filled or purged with inert or unreactive gases like nitrogen or argon to make them fog proof. This is to prevent fogging which occurs in a binocular when moisture penetrates to the inside and condenses on the optical components thereby compromising image color as well as durability.

There is this debate about whether argon is better than nitrogen and vice versa. Know that there’s no significant difference between nitrogen or argon as far as fog proofing a binocular is concerned.

N.B: All fog-proof binoculars are waterproof, but NOT all waterproof binoculars are fog-proof.

Prisms

Most binoculars have either BAK4, BK7, or SK15 prisms. The type of prism used in a binocular has a significant effect on its optical performance. BAK4 is generally regarded as the best prism material for binoculars due to its stunning light transmission properties, higher refractive index, and lower critical angle. Don’t worry yourself about the science terms if you are not a science geek.

SK15 is almost as good as BAK4 and even has the advantage of having a higher refractive index than BAK4. Some manufacturers prefer to use SK15 over BAK4.

BK7 is the cheapest and has the least optical performance of the three prism materials.

 Lens Coatings

Binoculars with coatings usually have improved optical performance as there’ll be a significant reduction of reflections and glares. The quality of the coatings matter as some coatings are better than others.

Generally, binoculars will either be coated, multi-coated, or fully multi-coated. Those that are coated have just one single layer of coating. Multi-coated binoculars have multiple layers of coating and they have improved performance. Binoculars that are fully multi-coated have the best performance since they have multiple layers of coating materials that are applied to the whole lens.

 Eye Relief

This is an important feature for people that wear glasses. The eye relief of a binocular refers to the distance between your eye and the eyepiece when you are using the binocular. People wearing glasses should go for binos that have eye relief of at least 11mm.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, the best binoculars for whale watching available today.  A good pair of quality binoculars can massively improve your whale watching experience. Hopefully, I’ve provided you with all you need to know to choose the right binocular for your whale watching expedition. If you have any questions about any of these binoculars, feel free to contact me through the comment section and I’d be happy to help!

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