Hunters using a binocular and monocular in a mountain range

Monocular vs Binocular: What's Best for Hunting?

- Creative XP Brand Team

A good pair of binoculars is handy whenever you need a closer look and you can't physically get there. You could be watching a football game, out in the hunting field, or standing on the beach watching a pod of dolphins go by—running inside to grab your binoculars just makes the experience better. Then you wind up arguing over who's  going to carry the glasses to the beach or the field or wherever—they can be pretty heavy and a little bulky.

What lots of people don't realize is that technology makes modern binoculars stronger and more lightweight at the same time, and that you have the monocular option for even greater portability. You might think of old-fashioned monocles when we talk about monocular, and you're on the right track—it's one vision tube instead of two, like a small telescope.

So—which is the better option?

Monoculars

A monocular is basically half of a binocular, just one side barrel. It's still a powerful mini-optic, but you only use one eye to scope out your target. This doesn't mean that a monocular is a simple tube; they look more like an old-fashioned Viewmaster or a virtual reality headset than a glorified tube. Some high-tech monoculars have the same  night vision capability and a digital memory card  to capture photos.

Pros and Cons of Monoculars

Like anything else, a monocular has its pros and cons. Here, we'll go over the reasons that a monocular would work for you, and why binoculars might be a better bet.

Pros

  • Easy to use—a monocular is compact, lightweight, and is pretty much instantaneous to use. With only one eye involved, it's automatically focused. You can carry it in a pocket, wear it around your neck, and it's easy to hide. If you're tracking game, just pop it out and peep—you don't waste any time focusing. 
  • Best for targeted application—when you're tracking your prey, a monocular lets you zero in faster and easier, and ensures you can keep a safe distance.
  • These are great for long range tracking
  • Best for the visually challenged—the truth is, as you get older, it's likely that your eyes will have significant variations, making binoculars almost impossible to focus. A monocular is much easier to use if you have an impairment in one eye or vision differences.

Cons

  • Not comfortable for very long—using just one eye leads to eye strain a lot sooner.
  • Limited field of vision—a monocular doesn't allow for wide-angle viewing, and they're not very good at tracking moving targets.
  • Lower power—Because there's only one lens, you may not have the distance or crispness that binoculars offer.

Binoculars

Most of us are more familiar with binoculars, where each eye has its own lens and you have to manually focus to see what's going on. Binoculars are certainly more common, so there are lots more options in terms of size, variations, and price. Most outdoorsy people and the military use binoculars for everything from sporting events to scouting.

Battery-powered digital binoculars  have the extra advantage of complete night vision, even with photo capability—so you can share images of the feral pigs or fireflies that only come out at night.

Pros

  • Less eye strain—Since both eyes are doing the work, you can  spend as much time as you need tracking your prey  through a compact set of binocs without your eyes getting tired.
  • Field of vision—Close one eye and look around—you just see a much narrower range than when you have both eyes open. Binoculars work the same way—both eyes are working and you have the same field of vision as you do with your naked eye. Binoculars also have the advantage of letting you see a more 3D image, which helps you get a better bead before you aim. 
  • Better for zeroing in on footprints.
  • Dial in focus—For hunters the focus feature on binoculars let you really zero in on the target, and move with it.
  • Rangefinder binocs help hunters calculate distance quickly.

Cons

Slower to focus—It does take longer to focus when you have to merge two sets of optics.

Not great for night vision—Your vision has to adjust to low-light situations—dusk and dawn are prime times—and that's almost impossible with binoculars since you're using both eyes. That's why the military uses monoculars at night, so they don't have to waste time while their eyes readjust to the dark.

Price—Twice the equipment doesn't necessarily translate to twice the price, but binoculars do cost more—a top of the line monocular will  cost less than even lesser-quality binocs.

Monocular vs Binoculars: Which is Right for You?

The decision whether to go with monoculars or binoculars really depends on how you're going to use them. First, you want them to be comfortable and lightweight enough that you actually bring them with you out in the field. It doesn't matter if you're watching for deer or your kid in the soccer goal, if your spyglass is too bulky or heavy, it's not leaving the case. Most adults find that 2 to 3 lbs. is the optimal weight.

That weight limit also limits the size of the glasses—a compact size is easier to carry, and modern technology makes better and sharper lenses in a smaller case.

In any case, here's our cheat sheet to help you decide.

Monoculars

  • Night vision
  • Bird watching
  • Golf
  • Long-distance rifle spotting
  • Hiking

Binoculars

  • Sporting events
  • Equestrian events
  • Stationary hunting
  • Scouting and tracking

Final thoughts on Magnifying Technology

Creative XP  does have something for everyone who needs to see longer distances. Hunters like our digital binoculars paired with a rangefinder so they can not only spot the target, but see the ground slope, too. If hunting for golf balls is more your thing, the rangefinder also works during the day and is just as reliable as the pricier models you find at golf shops—and it works at night, so it's good for double-duty.

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