Binoculars may be perfect for seeing far away - but they can be extremely heavy. It’s common for your neck to feel sore if you carry the binoculars around it all day.
I had the same issue, so I’ve been looking for the best monocular for hunting without hauling heavy binos around.
There are so many great options available online, but after 19 hours of thorough research, I found a couple of fantastic options. Here they are:
Top Compact Monoculars for Hunting:
Best Monocular for Hunting Reviews:
1. Vortex Optics Solo R/T 10x36 Monocular:
Vortex Optics Solo is the best overall monocular on this list. It’s not the best optics, but you won’t find a better monocular in this price range.
- Dimension: 4.9" L x 2.6" W
- Weight: 9.3 oz
- Objective lens diameter: 36 mm
- Magnification: 10x
- Field of view: 325' at 1000 yds
Clear & Sharp Image Quality
The Vortex Optics monocular comes with a wide angle thanks to the object lens of 36 mm.
The bigger lens enables this monocular to gather more light than the 8x model. It’s also nice for weaker eyes.
Easy to Hold with 1 Hand
Thanks to the compact mid-size of this monocular, 4.9 inches by 2.6 inches, it’s light and compact enough to fit into any backpack.
It weighs only 9.3 ounces. With this monocular, you are always ready to scan without carrying bulky monoculars.
High Power Monocular
The 10x magnification offers a decent field of view - around 325 feet at 1000 yards. This monocular offers a quick scan to 100 yards allowing you to spot animals nearby.
The product is extremely useful and requires less movement on the stand. You don’t need to lift the bow or rifle to look through the scope.
Easy to Use & Adjust
Thanks to the utility clip, it’s pretty easy to use this monocular.
The clip attaches easily to a vest or a belt for easy access in the field. However, you can remove the pin if you aren’t using it.
Note that there is still a sharp mounting point, which can hurt your fingers.
The adjustable eyepiece cup blocks the sunlight, which can turn in or out if you wear eyeglasses.
The rubber armor is comfortable to hold in your hand without worrying about falling off.
With a lifetime warranty, this monocular is unbeatable for the price.
The first thing I didn’t like about this monocular is that it’s made in China.
The pouch can make noise. The Velcro on it can make noise when you open it, spooking your bucks.
There is also no lens cover, so your lens can get scratched.
The mounting belt clip is not well-designed, and you will need a steady hand when sighting, or you will see a shaky picture.
I also didn’t like the manual focus ring as it’s pretty stiff, so you will need both hands to turn it, and it’s relatively difficult to get your eye focus.
2. Bushnell Legend 10x42 Ultra HD Monocular:
If you want a budget-friendly monocular with the best field of view, here comes the Bushnell Legend.
- Dimension: 5.4" L x 3.5" W
- Weight: 13.2 oz
- Objective lens diameter: 42 mm
- Magnification: 10x
- Field of view: 340' at 1000 yds
Excellent Optic Quality
The lens has a vibrant color paired with a big objective lens diameter of 42 mm. It has a bigger optic than the Vortex Solo, so it gathers more light for a sharper, clearer image.
This monocular is a great buy because it does super well even in low light during dawn or dusk.
Largest Field of View
The Bushnell Legend offers the largest fov compared to any other model in this list.
It provides a view of 340 feet at a distance of 1000 yards. With it, you can glass a deer from a distance of 400 yards.
The magnification is also great - 10x, reaching the hand-held scope's limit. However, if you need more range, go for the binoculars.
Handy for the 1 Hand Operation
As the focus knob is positioned near your finger, you can quickly and smoothly zoom in and out with one hand adjusting the knob and one hand keeping the scope.
The monocular size is quite bulky - 5.4 by 3.5 inches.
It’s also quite heavy - 13 ounces, so it’s triple the weight of the Leica Monovid (more on that later), but it does help to hold the scope steadily.
Amazing Build Quality
This monocular is highly durable, thanks to the rubber coating. It makes the monocular shock-proof if you accidentally drop it, which is a nice touch.
The whole design gives a steady feeling when you hold the monocular.
The product is waterproof and fog proof, so it’s safe to use in snowy or rainy weather.
The flip-up front cover is convenient as it protects the lens from dust or scratching.
Versatile Eye Relief
The eye relief is 15.2mm, and you can screw it in or out to adjust it if you wear glasses.
Picatinny Rail Mount
The Bushnell Legend uses the standard ¼-20 adapter, so it’s pretty easy to mount to most tripods.
It can help you stabilize your picture while leaving your hands free.
Limited Lifetime Warranty
The warranty covers 20 years of product lifetime.
I didn’t like it so much that the lens cup is noisy and flimsy, so that it can fall off with the slightest touch. It’s dangling around, so you’d better wrap it to keep it silent.
On the other hand, The monocular is also pretty heavy, and the belt clip is cheap, so the monocular can fall out.
The case is bulky, so it can take up lots of space in your pack.
It is made in China, so you shouldn’t expect remarkable quality. I hope it to last about ten years.
3. ZEISS Mono 10x25 T* Monocular:
If you are looking for an upgrade to something more advanced, make sure to check out the Zeiss Mono T*.
It provides weight-saving and superb optics which enable you to enjoy while bumming around.
- Dimension: 4.3" L x 3.1" W
- Weight: 3.1 oz
- Objective lens diameter: 25 mm
- Magnification: 10x
- Field of view: 264' at 1000 yds
Outstanding Optic Quality
Zeiss offers perfect clarity with a crystal clear view. You can see a clear image from edge to edge with natural colors, not from the center of the field.
It’s suitable for low-light conditions, so it’s a plus for deer hunting.
However, the field of view is narrow due to the small lens of only 25mm. It’s still more than satisfactory if you need quick glassing to verify your prey on the field.
If you are a big fan of Sony cameras, you will notice how the optics stand out.
Smooth Focus Ring
The focus ring is burger-like, and it’s incredibly easy to focus with one hand.
It’s stiff during the first use but will get smoother with practice.
It’s easy to adjust by sliding it in and out. But make sure to dry it before you fold it up to extend your usage.
The Zeiss has the lightest weight of only 3 ounces, so it’s a good fit for hunters who need to reduce their gear load a lot.
The dimensions are 4.3 by 3.1 inches, so it’s better to carry to a stand than binos. What’s more, it provides immediate access when you need it.
The 10x magnification is the same as the Vortex Solo, but it’s more powerful than the Leica Monovid. It allows you to view detailed signs at a medium distance.
Flexible Eye Relief
The eye relief is 15mm, allowing hunters who wear glasses to adjust quickly.
Zeiss monocular comes with a soft leather case and a carrying strap to secure your monocular from dropping. It makes the monocular quite handy to haul around.
The monocular comes with an aluminum housing with a rubber coating, making the product durable and shockproof. It’s made in Hungary, so you don’t have to worry about flimsy quality.
It’s waterproof, so there are no issues if you are hunting on a rainy day.
The issue with this otherwise fantastic monocular is that it’s expensive. However, it’s still worth the money, and it’s a good trade-off of the weight and the size compared to binoculars.
Besides that, it is cheaper than the Leica Monovid below.
Another downside is that it comes with a small field of view.
4. Leica Monovid 8x20 Monocular:
If you are looking for the perfect, top-notch monocular with a first-class build and accessories, here comes the Leica Monovid monocular.
- Dimension: 3.9" L x 1.4" W
- Weight: 4 oz
- Objective lens diameter: 20 mm
- Magnification: 8x
- Field of view: 331' at 1000 yds
Incredible Clarity, Contrast & Color
The optical performance of the Leica Monovid is truly impressive, even with close-up magnification.
It does offer only 8x magnification, so it has less power than other monoculars on this list.
It’s enough for a medium distance with a limited field of view - 110 meters on 1000 meters.
The lens is the smallest - only 20mm in diameter, but it provides a crisp image quality.
The nitrogen coating enables a high-contrast, crystal clear image while water and fog-proof. Without worry, you can leave it in your pocket on winter or rainy days.
Smooth Focus Knob
The knob is made of metal, and it’s easy to focus up to ~1.2” of focusing distance. It provides a robust and reliable feeling.
Note that you need both hands to turn the focus ring, as it’s located near the bottom.
The leather grab around the aluminum body makes it feel luxurious and attractive.
It doesn’t use a cheap rubber coating but leather grab, which helps to hold it steady with ease.
The settings for the eye relief are flexible - there are two settings, so you can change it up to 0.6” to help you use glasses while hunting.
There are three color options: black, silver, and red.
Nice Size & Lightweight
Its dimensions of 3.9 by 1.4 inches can fit into your jacket pocket or a backpack side pocket without swinging binos around your neck. It’s ⅓ size as Bushnell Legend.
It weighs only 4.0 ounces, so it’s space and weight-saving for a hunter.
A big and famous German branch produces Leica, and it’s made in Portugal, so you can be sure it is high-quality.
This product can easily last you a lifetime, and there is a 3-year warranty for accidental damage to the monocular.
The eye cover to protect the lens is included, along with a slick hard case made of black leather to secure your investment.
The handy belt loop is great for attaching the monocular to your pocket.
The magnetic closer allows you to quickly and easily open the case. However, it’s pretty bulky to attach to your wrist.
The best part?
The macro lens is included for close-ups, and it’s easy to screw into the top. It works as a microscope which is extremely useful for observing more-detailed bucks or elk.
The wrist strap makes it easy to pull the monocular out without any worries about dropping it.
I didn’t like the price, which costs double compared to the Bushnell Legend. But you get what you pay for, which is worth every penny.
The case is bulky and hard to use with one hand due to the focus ring being far away.
The strap might make it difficult to close the case. Last, it can be pretty small and shaky for older hunters.
5. Hawke Endurance ED Monocular:
If you need a substitute for your binos or a spotting scope, check out the Hawke Endurance - a fantastic monocular that won’t break the bank.
- Dimension: 5.6" L x 3.1" W
- Weight: 11.5 oz
- Objective lens diameter: 42 mm
- Magnification: 10x
- Field of view: 304' at 1000 yds
Thanks to the large lens with a diameter of 44mm, this monocular transmits more light. It creates a bright view with good clarity.
Besides that, it enables you to see in dim conditions, which is a plus for hunting deer in the late evening or the early morning.
The monocular creates good contrast and color without chromatic aberration. You’ll get an optimistic view of natural color while scanning animals.
The image is sharp with high resolution from edge to edge.
The field of view is neither far nor narrow - you get 304 feet at 1000 yards.
It has the same good magnification as Bushnell Legend, 10x. You can spot up to 75 yards with joy.
Portable Size & Weight
With 11 ounces of weight, it is not heavy or lightweight - it’s just right.
Its dimensions are 5.6 by 3.1 inches, so it’s bulkier but lighter than Bushnell Legend.
It’s still lightweight and compact enough compared to a spotting scope or binos, which is great to throw into a few bags.
Simple & Quick to Use with one hand
The focus is smooth and quick, as the big focus wheel will stay near the top. But, if you are going to have any brush in the way, the entire thing becomes useless.
The textured grip is excellent, and it helps the user hold steadily and provides a clearer image.
Easy to Attach
The monocular is easy to attach to most tripods and bipods, as it has the standard ¼-20 thread that fits most tripods.
It’s fast to set up, takes less than a minute, and does a great job stabilizing the image.
Long Eye Relief
The relief is 13mm. If you wear glass, you can twist it to fit your preferences.
The cool armored color is a nice touch. The product is also water and fog proof, so you can use it in harsh weather conditions, even if it rains or snows.
The soft case with a belt loop and a Velcro closer is convenient to attach to your belt, but it can be pretty noisy to open.
The neck strap and the drop cover to protect the lens from damage are included in the package.
The lanyard is hard to use and flimsy - I didn’t know how to install it.
The case can make noise, and the eyecup is easy to lose, as it’s not attached to the core.
How to Choose a Monocular for Hunting:
Compact Size and Weight
When you are going for hunting, a good monocular will allow quickly scanning the field.
So, ensure that your hunting monocular is always ready on your pocket. They must be compact and light weight (under 10 oz) that can easily fit in your pack, hunting vest or pants.
It represents by the first number of monocular.
Exp: 10x42 = 10x magnification, 42 mm objective lens (more on that later)
But the problem is: the higher the magnification, the narrower the field of view.
It’s a tradeoff of weight, size and power.
Usually, 10x is the max power of monocular due to their thin size and weight.
If you need higher power, I advise you to go with compact binoculars that provide clearer image and farther range.
Fog or Waterproof
These factors will determine whether you are going to enjoy your hunting experience in all weather conditions.
Check out if the brand you are buying is well sealed to be able to keep dust, moisture, and any other foreign particles from entering into the lens.
Another aspect you need to look is to check whether the monocular is sealed with O-rings and a casing that is waterproof.
Also, if the brand is filled with nitrogen or argon gas, it’s able to withstand any element of fogging that is prone to occur from temperatures changing.
A good prism will aid you to see images clearly when you look into a monocular. There are two types of prism in the market:
You need to know how each of the prisms operates.
Also, make sure the monocular are armored with rubbers. This will ensure they can absorb shock and will give you a good grip when holding on hand.
Field of View (fov)
The field of view is how far you can see through a monocular.
The smaller the number, the narrower the field of view while a larger number means that you will have a wider field of view.
For instance: the Bushnell Legend has better fov than ZEISS Conquest, 340' at 1000 yds vs 264' at 1000 yds. It means Bushnell provide wider landscape.
For hunting monocular, you need to consider a wider field of view which enables you to see the broader view.
The ambient light transmission in most monocular is lost through reflection resulting to poor contrast and glare.
So, always look out for the ones that come with a coated optical lens system.
The optical lenses increase light transmission, reduce the loss of light and glares on images, result to brighter and more vivid images.
So that when you are using them in the field, you won't get a headache, or an eye strain.
You also need to check if the coating is applied correctly and uniformly. Also, check if the effects of the coating are lost.
The larger objective lens, the more light it can gather and brighter image.
I will advise you to go for a lens that comes with a larger objective diameter even though they are likely to be expensive.
Well, it all boils down to your personal preference from small, medium or large objective lens.
For me, I think an objective lens that comes with 40 mm and above in diameter will be perfect for a hunting experience.
Some brands provide low light feature that enable you to glass in dim condition. Although it's not as good as thermal monocular, but is a plus for deer hunting in dawn and dusk.
Many high ends monocular provide 15 mm eye relief for hunters wearing glasses. I definitely recommend it.
Lastly, investing in a monocular can be the perfect way to save some weight and space in your pack.
There are so many great options for the best monoculars, and I had a great time trying them all out.
However, the best monocular for hunting would have to be the Vortex Optics Solo. Here’s why:
If you are looking for a durable but not too expensive monocular, go with the Vortex Optics Solo.