Best Safari Binoculars – The Complete Guide 13

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Binoculars are one of the first things to pack when going on your next African safari. In this guide, we will cover what to look for when choosing good binoculars for safari as well as a few handy tips and recommendations. We’ve been getting a lot of requests lately by customers planning their African safari trips and needing some expert binocular advice. So here it is:

Safari binoculars

Do I Really Need Binoculars for Safari?

There are plenty of times where you will get close to the animals anyways, but in many cases, you won’t. So binoculars are almost a MUST. Good safari binoculars definitely enhance your safari experience and allow you to see the animals up and close. Most tours will have one or even two shared pairs of cheap binoculars on board. But these are usually low quality, beaten-up binoculars and not that great for sharing among the passengers. If you want a good view and not miss the right moments because someone else is using the shared pair – it is highly recommended that you bring your own.

Do I Need the Highest Quality or Expensive Binoculars for Safari?

Certainly not! There is no need to go overboard. Especially if you’ll only be using them once or twice in a lifetime. If you are a dedicated birdwatcher or a regular observer, then check out our birdwatching binoculars guide, otherwise just get a pair of good quality, mid-priced binoculars.

What’s the Best Magnification for Safari Binoculars?

High magnification is always nice to have. Unfortunately, it is nearly useless for safari! The problem with too much zoom is that your image becomes unstable. There is no space in the safari vehicle for using a tripod so powerful binoculars are not a good option. Another reason is that higher magnification also means a narrower field of view. In safari, you will often need to spot animals hiding around large bushy areas. A wide field of view will allow you to achieve that. So, in our opinion, 8x or 10x is the perfect magnification for safari. Any more than that will result in an unstable image.

Safari view

What’s the Best Lens Size for Safari Binoculars?

Bigger lenses mean that you can view in lower light conditions. Because you will be out there in the field early mornings and at dusk, you will benefit from 32mm to 42mm lenses. Smaller than that means your image will be too dark at those times. Larger than 42mm means a lot of glass making your binoculars heavier, bulkier and harder to carry, use and stabilise handheld.

What’s the Optimal Size and Weight for Safari Binoculars?

Obviously, you will be better off with lighter, smaller binoculars for safari. They are just easier to put up to your eyes and spot the action right away. That said, you still need some decent magnification and big enough lenses for viewing in low light conditions. So bottom line: go for mid-sized (8×32 or 10×42) binoculars. These will be the perfect balance between magnification, lens size and weight.

What Other Features Should I Look for in Safari Binoculars?

Safari means rough roads, high temperatures, frequent movement, dust, humidity and possible drops or hits to your new binoculars. So features like waterproof and shockproof are not a must but are definitely favourable. Another feature to look for is long eye relief. In plain English, this means that you will be able to hold your binoculars further away from your eyes and still see a clear image. This is important if you’ll be using your glasses or sunglasses while using the binoculars.

Safari binoculars image

Which Brand and at What Price?

We won’t sugarcoat it, with optics you simply get what you pay for. Top notch European brands like Swarovski or Carl Zeiss offer superior image quality and nearly indestructible binoculars. But these can cost you over £2,000 for a 10×42 pair.

Cheaper binoculars between £50 and £100 might work as long as there’s always enough light around. Another downside to cheaper models is that they will have blurry, dark or distorted images when using the full magnification. If you want those beautiful views of the magnificent wildlife around you, then mid-range binoculars would be your best bet.

Our Best 3 Safari Binoculars for 2022

Here at Procular, we stock over 400 different binocular models. Our top pick for safari binoculars would have to the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars and the higher-end Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 Binoculars. They both deliver an extraordinary image quality for their price range and have a wide field of view to capture the wildlife around you. These two models are waterproof, fog-proof, very durable and easy to use. They also work perfectly in low light (early mornings and dusk). For those looking for a more compact option, we also recommend the Avalon 8×32 Mini HD binoculars. They produce sharp, vivid images but are also smaller and lighter.

Avalon 8X32 Mini HD Binoculars

Current Price: £169

Avalon 8x32 Mini HD Binoculars

Going on a safari trip but need to travel light? These binoculars are a perfect companion. They are slightly larger than your average pocket size binoculars but much smaller than any standard size binoculars. They offer a perfect balance between small size (32mm lenses), lightweight (416 grams) and excellent quality optics. They fit in a jacket pocket, glove compartment or a small backpack pocket. This model combines Avalon’s HD lenses, compact easy to use design and a wide field of view (6.9 degrees) to spot and follow moving wildlife or birds. Just to top things up, the Avalon 8X32 Mini HD Binoculars are also 100% waterproof and fog-proof. They currently sell for only £169 which we believe is a bargain for a product at this level. Available in BLACK or PLATINUM colour.

Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars

Current Price: £199

Avalon 10x42 PRO HD Binoculars

These are Avalon’s best quality binoculars yet offer excellent value for money. The Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars are available for £199, which puts them in the low to mid-range when it comes to pricing. Considering that they are manufactured with the best optical features, they are a very good choice regarding both price and quality.

These binoculars have all the great features to maximise your safari experience including a higher 10x magnification, wide field of view, good weight (550g) and fully multicoated lenses. They are 100% waterproof and fog-proof so can endure rain or humidity. Long eye relief for use with or without glasses on. Their non-slip rubber armouring provides a secure and comfortable grip, as well as added shock-resistance.

All in all, if you want to get an affordable pair of quality lightweight binoculars, that are wonderful for safari, then the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars are an excellent choice. Available in BLACK or PLATINUM colour.

Zeiss Terra ED 10×42 Binoculars

Current Price: £639 (Out of stock)

Zeiss Terra ED 10x42 binoculars

This pair of high-end Zeiss binoculars features razor sharp optics, fully multilayer lenses and a remarkable image quality. The Zeiss 10×42 offer a wide field of view; they are waterproof, fog-proof, and highly durable. They provide a clear, bright image even in low light conditions. These are the perfect binoculars for safari, bird watching or any type of wildlife observation. Basically they are an all-around excellent quality pair of binoculars for those who can afford them.

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  1. I’m going on safari and like the look of the 8×32 as they are lightweight. Are they also good for general birdwatching please?

    Brenda Chanter
    1. Yes, they are very suitable for birdwatching as well as safari, travel, nature/wildlife watching and general use.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  2. For safari I have used canon stabilised 10 x30 for 20 years. They are great. The stabilisation helps pick up the fine details around eyes and beaks that is often a great help in positively identifying birds eg difference between male and female saddlebill storks. The limitation of 30mm front lenses is there but not a real problem on evening drives. I know there are better makes and models available – your comments would be great.

  3. Hello – i am going on safari in September 2020 and looking at both Bushnell (BS11050) 10x50mm Spectator Sport Binoculars and Celestron Outland (71347) 10×42 Binoculars. Any thoughts on either of these? or Auto focus binoculars in general for a safari which the Bushnell do have.

    1. Hi Megan,

      Thank you for your message. Good question. Although we understand the reasoning behind not having to adjust focus, we recommend staying away from any auto focus binoculars all together. These binoculars have several issues regardless of the brand or model you choose. They often fail to focus from closer distances and there’s no way of then solving this. As animals are sometimes surprisingly close to the safari vehicle, this means you won’t be able to see them clearly. Another common issue is that the image quality of these binoculars is noticeably worst than the standard central focus models. Most manufacturers are already discontinuing many if not all of their auto focus binoculars. We recommend opting for 8x or 10x binoculars of good quality (there are several models mentioned in the review above). These are all very easy to focus if needed using a central focus wheel. We hope this helps.

  4. hi adam
    i did not see u talking about steiner or minox, are they not up to the mark or not value for money, tq

    1. Hi Alye,

      There are several more optics brands out there, and also many similar models for every brand. We don’t have personal experience with Minox so wouldn’t be in a position to recommend or properly review them. We used to stock Steiner on Procular, nearly all of their models. Although once popular with navy they rarely sold due to very high pricing.

  5. My wife is going to Kenya early next year. Assuming 10×42 is best, what is best for her given that she wears varifocal lens glasses. Also her glasses are rimless!
    Thanks for the helpful material

    1. Hi Gerald,

      Yes, 10×42 binoculars would work best and she can use them either with or without the (rimless) glasses by twisting the binoculars’ eyecups in or out as needed.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  6. I am going on safari and have found my Dad’s old binoculars but unsure whether they are any good. They are chinon RB optics and are 8-17 x 25 RB 54M/1000M 17x. Would they be suitable?

    Catherine Carter
    1. Hi Catherine,

      From our experience that small binoculars (25mm) with such a large magnification, and variable too, usually provide very poor images and too narrow view. But the best way would be to go outside and test them. If you find them suitable for everyday viewing they should also work fine for safari.

      Adam Murray, Procular
  7. Re Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars
    I wear 2 different prescription contact lenses- one for near and one for distance vision. Can I adjust each eye separately (focus) to account for this?

    1. Hi Mary,

      Yes, you can adjust the Avalon 10×42 PRO HD Binoculars and they can also be used either with or without your contact lenses on as the binoculars already magnify and enhance the image. You can then adjust the right eye’s focus of the binoculars separately (there is a +/- wheel to adjust it). This adjustment compensate for one eye being weaker/stronger than the other.

      Adam Murray, Procular

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