Hiking Binoculars – Bring the Wildlife a Little Closer

Hiking along the trails and national parks there are so many exciting and interesting things to see. I don’t care whether you’ve hiked the same hiking trail three times every summer since you were 9 years old, you’ll still be fascinated around every corner.


Hiking trails kind of stay the same (thanks to the hard work of thousands of volunteers and enthusiasts) but at the same time they are always changing. The light, the foliage, the trees, the birds, the weather, the splish splash of the water fall . . . oh, I’ve just come over all poetic but don’t worry, it’ll soon pass.

Get A Good View

Hikers are often twitchers, and twitchers are often hikers or back packers, so it stands to reason that there’s a great variety of binoculars available which are perfect for twitching and hiking at the same time. Hiking trails are packed with a large variety of birds at different times of the year, and there’s nothing better than to have your hiking binoculars at the ready for when you hear the call of a “lesser spotted more striped bush tailed woodpecking song thrush” . . . very rare in these parts you know, write it down and let the authorities know as soon as you’ve finished your hiking adventure. Anyway, with your hiking binoculars at the ready you should be able to get a really good view.

Hiking Binoculars Health Warning

Hiking binoculars in themselves are not dangerous, I mean, they don’t bite the hiker or tear through your backpack or anything like that . . . they don’t take any feeding and won’t cause a lot of noise to frighten away the wildlife on your hiking adventure, but there are dangers associated with hiking binoculars . . . more realistically, hiking and looking through your binoculars at the same time. Binoculars are great for scouring the tree branches and mountain ledges for mountain birds, bears and other critters, but when you’re looking through your binoculars you are not actually looking where you are going . . . where your next hiking boot will fall. “Watch out for that rock” . . . “what rock” . . . aaahhhh. It could be worse, “watch out for that cliff” . . . . “what cliff” . . . you get the picture?

Choosing Hiking Binoculars

Hiking binoculars vary considerable from model to model, but that doesn’t mean that one pair of binoculars is better than the other . . . like many things in life it’s all down to personal preference and what you’re planning on doing with them. What things should you look out for when you’re choosing a pair of hiking binoculars (they would make a great gift for the “hiker who has everything” – well, everything except a pair of hiking binoculars).

Full size binoculars

have lenses of 40mm or more, and although they’re great (particularly in low light situations) and can provide a wide range of view for the serious wildlife watcher, they’re a bit too big, bulky and heavy for hiking or backpacking trips.

Mid size binoculars

with lenses of between 30 – 39mm are very popular for general wildlife watching and sports, but are still a bit too big and heavy for backpacking. Hikers need to cut down on the weight of their back packs and other stuff they carry in every way possible, and to take a pair of mid size binoculars on a hike would prove to be a pound or two too far.

Compact hiking binoculars

are the answer, with lenses smaller than 30mm. They are much smaller and lightweight but might not be quite as comfortable for long periods of wildlife watching or twitching, however, they do offer a great solution for hikers who feel the need to get really close to the wildlife on their hike . . . but not too close. Better scan the camp from afar carefully for uninvited bears in search of Luna bars, how are they to know you ate the last one this morning!

Monoculars – have you heard of those before? Go on, try and guess what they are, that’s right, they’re binoculars for people with one eye! Anyway, monoculars are perfect for hikers who like to take a quick look at the local wildlife, because they’re “mono” they’re both smaller and lighter, but you probably wouldn’t want to look through them for prolonged periods of time.

Hiking binoculars need to be waterproof too, you never know when you’re gonna get wet when you’re out hiking . . . I know, the sun was shining this morning but now it ain’t . . . did you bring your hiking waterproofs? No? Bad call!

Thanks Ben and Nina (sorry if I’ve spelled your name wrong) . . . I hadn’t even mentioned the numbers on the binoculars . . . good job you thought of that! Cheers guys.

How’s that for a great reason to keep your binoculars handy while you’re hiking! Now, if I just scan this way a bit I’ll try and find a bear . . . there’s one . . .

No, don’t shoot the bear . . . I repeat don’t shoot the bear!