Contrary to what you may have heard, monoculars aren’t just for pirates. They’re pretty much a mini telescope (minus all the bulkiness) that’s main aim is to bring faraway objects closer, making them pretty useful and a great asset to have for anyone that enjoys the great outdoors, wildlife watching or the occasional sunday hike.
They’re more compact and convenient than a regular pair of binoculars, and just like the name suggests, you use them with just one eye rather than two.
However, when it comes to picking the perfect monocular for you, there’s certainly more than meets the eye (get it?) and we’ll be the first to admit, there’s a lot of choice out there. Luckily for you, we’ve scoured the web so you don’t have to and created this guide - signed, sealed and delivered.
Whether you’re on the lookout to upgrade your existing monocular, or you’re in the market for a great budget option, this article will help you understand what it is that you’re looking for.
Oh, and don’t worry, if you find that you still have some questions left unanswered at the end, we’ve got you covered: just check out our buying guide for all of the information you need to know before making a purchase.
In a hurry?
This is our Winner!
Pinched for time? No problem. If you’re looking for a sturdy, reliable ‘do it all’ monocular but don’t have a whole lot of time to compare and contrast options, then the Roxant Grip Scope High Definition Monocular is a great choice.
Wondering why? Besides it being a top of the line ‘all rounder,’ it has some pretty great features that stand it apart from the rest, such as:
A no slip moulded grip to ensure less shake and a steadier hand
It’s made with optical glass that’s multi-coated to ensure excellent light transmission and brightness for clear and clarified viewing.
6 x 30 viewing for a second-to-none wide viewing experience.
A sturdy and durable design perfect for all types of outdoor activities.
It’s super compact (making it great for travellers) boasts a sleek and elegant design that adds a touch of luxury and even comes complete with a neck-strap, cloth and belt loop - making it your perfect adventure companion.
Our opinion? It strikes the perfect balance between performance, weight and size, and gives you all the power and wide view of a binocular, the only difference? It’s half the size.
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First up in our roundup is the Celestron Oceana Monocular. With a sturdy rubber coated exterior and a multi-coated lens for clear viewing, this handy monocular provides an excellent wide viewing lense and the best part? Thanks to its waterproof exterior, you can take it just about anywhere you like, from the sunniest of places - all the way to the wettest.
The Oceana 8x42 monocular even contains a built in compass and an integrated reticle (that work together to allow you to easily determine distance).
Plus, offering complete ease of use, this monocular allows you to focus on subjects with a magnification of up to 8x with just one hand, while a folding eyecup ensures comfort while using.
Not only that, it’s super easy to take around with you thanks to its included durable and sleek bag case (so you can always keep it hand!)
While its impressive ability to offer a wide field of view means that whether you’re out at sea or admiring a mountain landscape, objects can be easily kept within view. How’s that for impressive?
If you’re planning on staying out after dark, then the Bushnell Equinox Z Digital Night Vision Monocular needs to be on your radar.
Offering state of the art features paired with affordability, this clever monocular boasts a long battery life, the ability to zoom in on objects with a magnification factor of 6x (which is considerably higher than other night vision monoculars in this category), and it’s also been manufactured to be compatible with a tripod.
What’s not to love?
It doesn’t end there, either; this Bushnell Night Vision Monocular allows for unparalleled optical clarity alongside a great wide field of view that can be enjoyed during both the day and the night thanks to powerful infrared illumination (making it a perfect option for star gazers).
It even has the option to take images and record videos with the use of wifi. We think it’s a great choice for those interested in a great viewing experience in low-light conditions.
A real powerhouse, the Blackhawk Waterproof Monocular ensures impressively clarified, clear and bright images thanks to it featuring stunning multi-coated lenses.
Its sturdy exterior is nitrogen purged to prevent fogging and O-Ring sealed to ensure 100% waterproofing, meaning that you can trust in this handy monocular to do the job and then some, regardless of the weather!
Speaking of handy, the Blackhawk Waterproof Monocular features a diamond textured grip to allow both a comfortable and stable viewing experience, while an added shock absorbing rubber provides an added protection and a non-slip grip.
It doesn’t end there, either! This dynamic monocular is also compatible with tripods (for complete ease of use) while its long eye relief and twist up eyecups provide optimal comfort, too.
We don’t know about you, but we think that this clever monocular certainly ticks the boxes.
Prepare to always have impressive optic quality close at hand with the Vortex Optics Solo Monocular!
Don’t let its miniature size fool you, this reliable monocular delivers quality viewing for all that want to bring the great outdoors just that little bit closer.
Its multi-coated glass surfaces deliver bright images in a compact, lightweight, easy to handle unit, while a waterproof, fogproof and shockproof promise makes it a great choice for those who like to venture off the beaten track.
It weighs in at a nimble 5.6oz (so it won’t weigh you down if you keep it in your pocket) features a fully rubber armour that ensures a non-slip grip and even has an adjustable eyecup for comfort of use, with or without glasses.
A feature that stands out to us the most is the focus wheel. Found on the eyepiece of this monocular, simply turn the wheel until your subject comes perfectly into view. Going the distance?
Just turn it clockwise to focus on objects far away and counter-clockwise to focus on objects that are nearer.
Fuss-free and modern - it’s certainly got our seal of approval.
Last up in our roundup is the Celestron Nature Monocular. An ideal choice for those that want to save on price but go big on quality, this nifty little monocular from Celestron definitely packs a punch at an attractive price point too, might we add!
So, what can it do?
Well,a feature that caught our eye straight away (pardon the pun) is the quality of its eyecup. It’s made of a soft rubber (so it won’t pull or tug) and can be twisted to allow you to easily mould it to your own unique eye shape, with or without glasses.
Its lightweight build (6.oz to be exact) makes travelling around a breeze and it won’t weigh you down either thanks to how lightweight it is - 6.oz to be exact.
Plus, it even comes with a handy belt case and lanyard (so you can choose how you’d like to carry it around) while a cleaning cloth will let you shine it up as and when required to make sure that it’s always in tip top condition.
Sure, the Celestron Nature may not be as flashy as some of the other models in this list, but it's certainly not to be snubbed at, either.
From boating to wildlife watching, sporting events to concerts; this little optic really does do it all... it’s ready when you are!
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Why should you choose a monocular:
So, if you’re sold on the idea of a monocular, but are just wondering what the bonuses of using a Monocular compared to other alternatives such as binoculars or a spotting scopes are, the benefits are as follows:
They are made up of only one viewing scope - which means they are much smaller than a pair of binoculars
Compared to both binoculars and spotting scopes, they are much more lightweight and portable
very portable and handy for a number of different activities ( you can take your monocular just about anywhere -from sight-seeing, hiking, hunting, spectator sports and even concerts)
Contrary to a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope, monoculars tend to be favored by those who prefer to take a quick glance at something, rather than viewing something for a longer period of time.
Monoculars vs Binoculars:
Though they offer pretty much the same function (except one is used for two eyes, and the other is used for just one) the biggest functional difference between monoculars and binoculars involves depth perception.
As you use two eyes when using a binocular, you are able to view all images in 3D.
However, when you use monoculars, you will discover that you can only experience more of a two-dimensional view due to only being able to use one eye at a time.
Monoculars vs. Spotting Scopes:
Funnily enough, monoculars and spotting scopes are pretty similar, especially as both products offer a single scope to view an object or subject.
However, there are some differences between the both, which can be seen below:
Size, portability and magnification:
Monoculars tend to be much smaller and in turn, lighter than spotting scopes.
Monoculars have a much lower magnification than spotting scopes, with the magnification power of monoculars usually being 7x, compared to that of a spotting scope which is usually 20x or higher (take a peek at our f.a.q section for a little more information on choosing the correct magnification for you).
Monoculars usually tend to only come with one fixed eyepiece, whereas spotting scopes often come with an array of different interchangeable eyepieces which increase comfort during use - making them a better choice for those who wear glasses (again, head to our f.a.q section for more information on comfort).
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I get a small or large monocular?
Well, that really all depends on you and your individual needs! If you plan on travelling and want to go light (backpackers, we’re talking to you) a smaller sized monocular is probably your best bet.
It will fit in your pocket with ease and won’t weigh you down thanks to them being so lightweight and compact.
However, if you don’t mind sparing a little more room, a larger monocular is probably your ideal go-to, especially as larger models usually tend to offer a sharper and brighter image.
What is a good monocular magnification power?
In our opinion, the first thing to consider when choosing a monocular power is what magnification you would most like.
Generally, most monoculars tend to have a magnification level anywhere between 6x and 10x (sometimes more, and the general rule of thumb is the higher the magnification level - the better and more crisp the picture will be. So, with that being said, it all depends on what you are looking to get out of your monocular and how often you plan on using it.
While it may be tempting to go for a product that offers the highest possible magnification, in reality you are unlikely to need a magnification over 10x as the greater the magnification, the harder they may be to use as you may experience hand wobble.
What lens diameter should my monocular be?
That all depends on you. Generally speaking, the bigger lens of your monocular, the wider your field of view will be and the brighter the image. However, though a smaller lens may usually offer a lower quality view, they do tend to be a lot easier to use and much lighter, too.
Another thing to note is that some smaller lenses do offer the same quality as wider lenses, it all depends on how good the monocular is, to put it simply. In our opinion, we recommend first deciding on whether you would prefer a bigger or smaller lens, and then going from there.
Why is the lens coating on a monocular important?
The coating on a lens is important because it will help to make the image through the lens that much clearer, sharper and bright. You’ll find that the lens coating comes in handy during those times when you experience low-light conditions, such as early mornings or when it’s cloudy.
An option we recommend are monoculars that have fully multi-coated lenses (though these do tend to be a little more on the pricier side) as they are anti-reflective and they often tend to be waterproof, so you can enjoy a crystal clear image and durability.
However, an alternative you can consider instead are monoculars that are ‘multi-coated’. Though these coatings do tend to be a little more reflective that fully multi-coated lenses, however, they are a little more affordable.
What level of eye relief should my monocular offer?
Do you wear glasses? If you answered yes, then you should look for at least 14mm of eye relief which essentially means that you can place your eye up to 14mm away from the eyepiece and still perfectly see the full image.
If you don’t wear glasses, then this particular specification shouldn’t be something that you’re concerned about.