Although you may not think that a monocular is essential for backpacking and you could be right, however, they certainly can be very beneficial in many scenarios, both foreseen and unforeseen.
They will afford you the opportunity to look ahead in order to spot any hazards or to better find expected landmarks and of course can provide you with better views of any scenic landscape, wildlife or places of interest you may pass close to.
A monocular can provide you with the same benefits a pair of binoculars can except a monocular is lighter, more compact and due to their only being one optic, less expensive.
Often a monocular is compact enough to carry in your pocket, making it readily available if needed and yet can offer clear and bright images in varying magnifications.
Best Monocular for Backpacking
Today there are many different monoculars to choose from as they are designed and used for a diversity of purposes and so require diversity in features, but here are reviews for 10 of the most popular among backpackers.
Wingspan Optics Explorer High Powered 12X50 Monocular
As this monocular has x12 vision, it is considered one of the most powerful monocular compatible with backpackers. It is fog proof and waterproof and so will not allow moisture to blur the vision, making it suitable for all environments.
The non-slip ergonomic design also makes it easy to use. Just a single hand is needed to both find a target and also focus on that target. With a tough exterior that prevents debris and dust from getting inside, it is perhaps ideal for any backpacker.
Key Features include:
- Durable and ergonomic design
- Waterproof and fog proof
ROXANT Grip Scope High Definition Wide View Monocular
This monocular uses fully, multi-coated optical glass which ensures brightness by allowing superior light transmission. To reduce or avoid the shakiness, it has a comfortable, non-slip molded grip.
Although this monocular has a very solid build it is both lightweight and compact making it a popular choice with backpackers. Due to its retractable eyecup, it can be used by anyone whether they wear spectacles or not.
This monocular comes complete with a carrying pouch which has belt loops, a cleaning cloth, and a neck strap.
Key Features include:
- Good light transmission
- Compact lightweight design
- Made with high-quality materials
- Comfortable non-slip grip
Vortex Optics Solo Monocular
As this monocular was specifically designed for outdoor use, it is perhaps ideal for backpacking. Purged with nitrogen and then sealed with an O-ring makes this monocular both fog and waterproof.
Although small, it can provide magnification to x 10, and due to its multi-coated lens, provides a crisp, clear image.
The monocular has a comfortable, adjustable eyecup that can be used by people with or without glasses and is fully armored with rubber which makes it durable but with a comfy grip.
- Comfortable grip
- Clear images
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Monocular
This compact monocular is made with high-quality materials in order to ensure HD clarity to a magnification of x 10. The optical design has a roof prism and multi-coated lens to always deliver an exceptional image.
Designed for all outdoor activities, the monocular has a twist-up adjustable eyecup, carry clip and a Picatinny rail to double up as a scope. As you would expect with an outdoor design, it is durable and is fog and waterproof.
- Carry clip
- Water and fog proof
- Quality materials
- Smart design
- Adjustable eyecup
Gosky Titan High Power Prism Monocular
This is a powerful monocular with up to x 12 capabilities. Due to its impressive light transmission and multi-coated lens, it provides bright, clear imaging.
Designed for rugged outdoor use, it is not only fog and waterproof but is also dustproof and shock-resistant. Its rubber armor is striped for better grip, even when wet.
Although this monocular is budget-friendly, it is one of only a few which has a smartphone mount, a welcome feature for the modern backpacker.
- Smartphone mount
- Weather and shockproof
- Good imaging
Celestron Nature Monocular
Although more basic than the others, this is perhaps one of the best pocket size monocular available today. It has a modern ergonomic design and rubber-coated to provide protection.
The coated rubber has wave-like textured groves to ensure a good grip and ease of use. With an objective 25mm lens which is multi-coated, this monocular offers a reasonable mix of power and size but still manages mid-zoom capabilities.
Both fog proof and waterproof, this item is reasonably priced and comes complete with cleaning cloth, nylon case, and wrist strap.
- Multi-coated lens
- X 10 magnification
Feemic High Power Monocular
This monocular has one of the best zoom features and is waterproof, dustproof and shockproof with an adjustable eyecup.
Designed with a prism and multi-coated lens, this monocular can provide quality images including a wide-angle HD and a low lighting feature is also built-in.
Designed for hunters and bird watchers as well as backpackers this monocular can mount on a tripod which can be bought separately. For ease of mobility and use, it is compact and has an adjustable eyecup.
- Mountable on tripod
- Adjustable eyecup
- Wide-angle HD
- Built-in low light feature
- Good zoom
- Reasonable price
Vivreal Monocular Telescope
This is a compact monocular, considering it has a phone compatible feature which is sleek and slim allowing for the user to create a Snapchat record of their backpacking experience.
For ease of use with the phone, the attachment slips over the eyecup. The multi-coated lens ensures clarity of the image for both viewing and photos.
Although this monocular does come complete with tripod their attachment may seem precarious as it does not screw on.
- Compact and light
- Phone compatible
- Tripod included
- Multi-coated lens
- Modern design
Vemtona Monocular Telescope
This exceptionally powerful monocular can provide x 16 magnification and due to its use of prism technology and multi-coated lens, it still provides quality imaging and high resolution and wide-angle images.
Both waterproof and fog proof, this monocular is easy to use as it has a non-slip coating, indentures for the thumbs and comes complete with tripod. It is also designed to allow use with a phone.
- Tripod includes
- Phone compatible
- X16 Magnifications
- Non-slip grip
Hokone HD Compact Monocular Scope
Despite its relatively low price, this monocular has prism technology for clearer images and a long-range zoom feature. Designed for outdoor use it is both fog proof and waterproof.
For ease of use, this monocular has an adjustable eyecup, and in order for you to share your backpacking experiences, it also has an attachment, for use with phones, including smartphones.
- Phone attachment
- Zoom feature
- Adjustable eyecup
Best Monocular for Backpacking Buying Guide
There are several factors you need to consider when buying a monocular for backpacking and perhaps the most important factor is what you intend to use the monocular for.
Other factors are specifications, lens coating, optical design and of course price.
What do you intend to use your monocular for?
- If you intend to use your monocular for bird watching as well as backpacking in general, then you will probably want a higher magnification than you would for just viewing the surrounding landscape
- If you intend to use the monocular frequently and perhaps sometimes unexpectedly, you may want to consider a smaller, less powerful one which can conveniently fit in your pocket
- If your intentions are to keep a photographic record of your backpacking, consideration should be given to a monocular that has a smartphone attachment
These are the two numbers that each monocular is given.
- The first number indicates the magnification. For example, 10 indicates times 10 magnification which will make distant objects appear 10 times closer
- The second number indicates the size of the optical lens, the lens furthest from the eye. For example, 30 will signify that the lens has a diameter of 30mm. It is the size of this lens which determines how much light enters and therefore the clarity of the image
This refers to the type of coating the optical lens has been given.
- Coated – If a monocular just specifies that the lens is coated, it is probably an inexpensive one with less quality, best to only be used without direct sunlight
- Fully Coated – This means that although the lens has been coated, it has been coated only once which means it may be susceptible to glare
- Multi-Coated – This will provide a high resolution and yet is less expensive than a fully, multi-coated lens
- Fully, Multi-Coated – Although the most expensive, this is the ultimate which will not only give you high resolution but is more durable with a waterproof coating
Although there are 3 types of optical design, usually most monocular will only use 1 of 2, either roof prism or Porro prism.
- Porro Prism is the most popular design for monocular and provides direct images
- Roof Prism is similar to Porro prism but is used in monocular with a higher magnification as they provide better images for longer focal distances
- Galilean is usually only used in lower magnification monocular which has a very small field of vision
Prices for a monocular will range from $30 to $500 and so that is why it is important to decide what exactly you will be using yours for.
There are relatively cheap monoculars that include several different features but usually, you will pay more for the more features that it has.
Obviously, the more you pay for your monocular will usually mean that it is built to higher quality and may endure longer.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best magnification for a monocular?
Most monoculars have a range between x 6 and x 10 magnification although some offer even more. Usually a monocular in the x6 to x8 range is cheaper than x9 and up.
What is better, binoculars or monoculars?
A monocular can offer the same magnification as a pair of binoculars but only have less than half the weight, which is an important factor for backpackers.
Also, as a monocular is cheaper to make, you can buy a higher quality monocular than you could binoculars with the same magnification, for the same price.
What is a monocular vision?
Monocular vision means to see with just one eye as opposed to two with binoculars.
Viewing with only one eye may not allow you as wide a vision but it is said to provide you with a more realistic image and with a monocular vision you can better perceive correct distances.
What do the numbers mean on a monocular?
There are two numbers related to monocular, the first indicates the degree of magnification it provides whilst the second shows the diameter of the front lens.
These two numbers will allow you to determine how effective the monocular will be in different circumstances and may contribute to the size of the monocular itself.
What is meant by pocket-size monocular?
Sometimes a monocular may state that it is pocket size, meaning it is small enough to fit in a pocket.
Usually a pocket-size monocular will have a lens no wider than 25mm and a magnification no higher than x10 as otherwise, due to their small size, images would not be as clear.