The best binoculars to bring leaf-peeping

From bestreviews.com
By
Laura Duerr

As shorter days and cooler temperatures begin to transform the color of the leaves, many people start planning leaf-peeping outings. By plotting a car route, picking a hiking or biking trail or even going out on a boat, you can see the changing landscape and all the wildlife that comes with it. 

A rugged pair of portable binoculars like the Celestron Nature DX 10x32 Binoculars can help you make the most of your leaf-peeping adventure. Here’s how to pick the best binoculars for leaf viewing.

What to know before you buy binoculars for leaf-peeping

Weight

Particularly if you’re not relying on a car for your leaf-peeping trip, you’ll want to look for a lightweight pair of compact or travel binoculars. Some travel binoculars can weigh less than 11 ounces. Be sure they come with a protective carrying case to keep them safe in your pocket or backpack.

Magnification and lens size

When you’re shopping for binoculars, you’ll often see a pair of numbers in the name or description, like 10x32 or 12x60. The first number is the magnification, which measures how many times closer what you’re viewing appears compared to viewing with the naked eye. The second number is the diameter of the binoculars’ front lenses, called the objective lenses. For example, a pair of binoculars that’s 10x32 means they’ll make objects appear 10 times closer, and the objective lenses are 32 millimeters across. Eight times magnification is considered the sweet spot for most activities.

Field of view

The field of view tells you how much of the landscape you’ll be able to see when you look through a pair of binoculars. Field of view is measured in feet, though you may also see a similar statistic, angle of view, expressed in degrees.

Grip

Protect your investment — especially if you’re shopping for kids — by looking for binoculars with a textured or rubberized grip. Binoculars made with a polycarbonate chassis offer additional durability.

Binoculars for leaf-peeping features

Anti-fog lenses

Repeatedly moving your binoculars from a warm place to a cold place will result in lens fogging. It’s not only distracting and hard to get rid of, it costs you time. Look for binoculars that offer anti-fog lens coating or nitrogen-purged interiors for consistently clear views.

Waterproof construction

Eliminate the worry of damaging your binoculars with unexpected rain or by dropping them in a puddle by choosing waterproof binoculars. Look for features like O-ring seals and a waterproof rating of IPX4 or higher.

Coated lenses

Binoculars with specially coated lenses can reduce glare and make colors more vivid, making your leaf-viewing outing even more stunning. Fully multi-coated optics have several layers of coating on all interior and exterior lens surfaces. This moves light through the binoculars better, resulting in crisper, brighter images. Lens coatings can also help your binoculars last longer by protecting them from wear and tear.

Neck strap

If you’re going on a hike to view the autumn colors, you’ll want to have your binoculars easily accessible but still safe. Choose a pair with a neck strap or harness to keep them close to your body and in easy reach.

Binoculars for leaf-peeping cost 

Budget binoculars can be found for under $100, while high-end models can cost $500-$3,000. Many quality models are available for $150-$300.

Binoculars for leaf-peeping FAQ

Which prism type should I get for leaf-peeping binoculars?

A. Binoculars come in two types: roof prism binoculars and Porro prism binoculars. Roof prism binoculars have their objective lenses aligned with the eyepieces, while Porro prisms are offset, with the objective lenses further apart from the eyepieces. This makes Porro prism binoculars bulkier than roof prism binoculars, but they tend to be more affordable. When comparing the image quality of the two types, Porro prism binoculars usually end up delivering a much better value.

Do I need a tripod to view leaves with binoculars?

A. Heavy binoculars are easier and more comfortable to use with a tripod, but carrying around and setting up a tripod can be a hassle, especially if you’re hiking. Compact or travel binoculars are so lightweight that they frequently don’t even include built-in tripod mounts. Consider your leaf-peeping plans and pack or buy accordingly.

Which binoculars for leaf-peeping should I get?

Best of the best binoculars for leaf-peeping

Celestron Nature DX 10x32 Binoculars: available at Amazon

Our take: These binoculars are lightweight and compact but still offer crisp, clear views of nature.

What we like: They come with a carrying case, neck strap, rain guard and more accessories. They’re waterproof and fog-proof and have a rubberized armored coating. Their fully multi-coated lenses offer great viewing quality for a relatively good price.

What we dislike: Some users expressed concerns over how durable and waterproof this model is.

Best bang for your binoculars for leaf-peeping

Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars: available at Amazon

Our take: These binoculars are powerful yet compact and easy to carry, and they offer some helpful additional features.

What we like: Adjustable eyecaps, coated lenses and a grippy rubber coating make these great travel binoculars. They offer a comparatively wide field of view and sharp image quality for a pair of compact binoculars.

What we dislike: Some reviewers think the objects aren’t as powerful as claimed.

Honorable mention binoculars for leaf-peeping

Vortex Optics Crossfire HD 10x42 Binoculars: available at Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Our take: They aren't compact, but they offer excellent viewing, durable construction and convenient features.

What we like: The lenses are fully multi-coated, allowing for bright and clear images. The binoculars come with both a neck strap and a harness for secure and convenient storage. They’re waterproof and fog-proof thanks to O-ring seals and a nitrogen-purged interior.

What we dislike: The focus adjustment is very finicky, making these binoculars better suited to more stationary viewing. While these are lighter than other 12x binoculars, they’re still fairly large.

Laura Duerr is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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