Are your optics optimized for your next big elk hunt? Choosing the best elk hunting binoculars can potentially make or break your next hunt. When glassing on an elk hunt, you must find the perfect balance of specs to ensure you don’t miss your next kill. If you go with too high of magnification – which reduces your field of view – you can easily miss elk on the fringes.
To ensure you don’t miss out on your next kill and have an unforgettable hunt, we created this very guide to lead you in the right direction. In this guide, you’ll find our personal favorite binos for an elk hunt, reviews of each model, and helpful tips throughout the reviews.
We also chose models in each price range to suit every budget. As you probably already know, binoculars vary widely in price. Depending on how much you hunt and where you plan to hunt, you’ll land on the right pair for your budget.
Below is a list of factors we considered when creating this guide:
- FOV (Field of View) – Choosing the optimal magnification without narrowing your field of view is the goal.
- Image Quality/Clarity – The saying “you get what you pay for” definitely applies to image resolution when selecting elk hunting binoculars.
- Objective Lens Diameter – The bigger the lens usually the heavier the binos. We prefer lenses in the 40 t0 50 mm range for an elk hunt.
- Single Power vs Zoom – Single power binoculars is the way to go for hunting elk.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s check out the binos.
Elk Hunting Binocular Reviews
In the following reviews, you’ll find the key specs & features to consider for each model plus some pros & cons to help you quickly get a full understanding of the advantages/disadvantages of choosing each model.
#1) Swarovski EL 10×42 Binocular with FieldPro Package
If you’re ready to go all-in on your glass, then the El 10×42 is the best of the best. First, the 10x magnification and 42mm objective lens diameter are perfect for elk hunting in the West, particularly Colorado. The 10×42 FOV of 60º (apparent) nearly matches the 61º FOV offered by the 8×42 and 8.5×42 models.
Regardless, you have options to choose from in the EL series to suit your needs. The 8X to 10X range is good, though, the objective lens diameter on the 8×42 is smaller at 32mm. This is good since the binos only weigh 21 grams compared to the 29.6-gram weight of the 10×42 model.
As far as image quality, it doesn’t get any better than the fluoride-containing HD lenses in the EL binoculars. If you currently own a cheap pair of lenses or haven’t used Swarovski glass before, you’ll be blown away by the resolution and contrast achieved from long distances. Swarovski achieves this through its special Swarovision, Swarobright, and Swaroclean tech, which is all featured in the EL Series.
- The clearest/sharpest image provided by the models in this guide
- Multiple powers available
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty
- The FieldPro package contains everything you need right out of the box
- Our top pick for eyeglass wearers
- Waterproof (submersion tightness 13 ft water depth)
- Highest upfront cost
#2) Leupold BX-4 Pro Guide HD 10×42 Roof Prism Binoculars
A great affordable alternative to Swarovski hunting binoculars in the mid-range category is Leupold’s BX-4 model. The Pro Guide HD 10×42 edition is perfect for elk hunting. These perform particularly well in low-light conditions and give you a spectacularly clear image without edge distortion for the money.
Next, the BX-4 is built to perform at its best in all weather conditions. You definitely won’t experience any fogging on the lenses during pivotal moments. Unlike our top pick, the BX-4s are completely waterproof in addition to being fog-proof and shockproof. Plus, the calcium-fluoride lenses get you closer to Swarovski’s image clarity than most brands.
Several final highlights are the full lifetime guarantee, Twilight Max HD Light Management System optical coating for top-notch glare management, field-replaceable aluminum eyecups, and a wide 7.5º FOV. Additionally, they’re available in several colors including SITKA Subalpine camo.
- Our favorite affordable alternative to Swarovski binos
- Available in SITKA Subalpine (172669)
- Full lifetime guarantee
- Excellent for glassing across valleys
- Great in low-light conditions
- Completely waterproof & fog-proof
- Lightweight at 24 oz
- The lens cover design could be improved
- You may find them less comfortable than Swarovski
#3) Vortex Viper HD 10×42 Roof Prism Binoculars V201
Another top mid-range elk hunting binocular is Vortex’s Viper HD. Comparatively, the Viper HD offers similar image quality as the BX-4s with its XR fully multi-coated lenses. Expect excellent performance in low-light conditions and edge-to-edge clarity from the Viper HD binos. Additionally, the Viper HD binocular is also waterproof and fog-proof for uninterrupted clarity in all weather conditions.
Another reason we love the Viper HD bino is its ergonomic, lightweight design. The non-slip rubber armor grip feels comfortable between the fingers and ensures they don’t slip in moist conditions. Plus, Vortex includes a Glass Pak Chest Harness that makes carrying and accessing them throughout the day just about effortless.
A couple of final considerations are that these are a bit longer than our top two picks at 8.75″, and the FOV is 6.5º which matches Swarovski, yet it’s one degree narrower than the BX-4 model. Lastly, Viper is well-known for its top-notch VIP warranty service and customer care. Viper’s lifetime warranty truly means you won’t have to deal with typical annoying hassles should any problems arise.
- Another excellent budget alternative to Swarovski
- The best warranty terms and service
- Bright & clear images with minimal to no chromatic aberration
- Light at 24.9 oz
- Very comfortable to hold
- Good eye relief
- Bifocal wearers may experience discomfort
- You may notice some light scatter
#4) Vortex Crossfire HD 10×42 Roof Prism Binoculars CF-4312
Now, let’s check out our top budget elk hunting binocular pick by Vortex. Compared to our top three picks, the Crossfire HD is a big jump down the price ladder, yet not so much that they won’t get the job done. Overall, the Crossfire HD is perfect for first-time bino owners and newbie elk hunters. With this pair, you get yourself accustomed to owning a quality pair of binocs without breaking the bank.
The Crossfire HD is available in several sizes with the 10×42 and 8×42 models as your best bets for elk hunting. However, if you prefer more magnification for spot-and-stalk hunting out West, there’s a 12×50 available, just know that it’s heavier and larger.
As far as comfort, these give you just about the same feel in the hand and against your face as the Viper HD model. The only real difference is the quality of the glass, though, when comparing quality to price, these give you the most bang for your buck. Even longtime optics owners who have used Swarovski are impressed by the quality these deliver for the money.
- Our top budget elk hunting bino pick
- Includes the Vortex Glasspak bino chest harness
- Perfect for elk hunting in Colorado
- Lifetime warranty
- Lightweight at 23 oz
- Adjustable eyecups
- Narrower FOV than our top 3 picks (325 ft at 1000 yds)
- You may or may not like the case
#5) Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binocular 191043
Our favorite Bushnell binoculars for elk hunting are the Legend Ultra HD binos in camo. These are built to deliver superb-quality HD images in all weather conditions for an affordable price compared to the big names. First, the RainGuard HD tech provides hydrophobic and oleophobic lens coatings to prevent moisture from inhibiting your vision.
Additionally, the same coating prevents fogging and oily fingerprints from affecting your view. Next, these binos feature Bushnell’s ED Prime Glass for great color resolution and contrast at this price point. Plus, you’ll find that these perform well in low-light conditions and provide a brighter image than you might’ve expected.
Finally, the base package includes some good accessories including a carrying case, neck strap, and microfiber cloth bag. Overall, these are worth a look, especially if you’re considering the similarly-priced Vortex Crossfire binos. Both pairs come backed by lifetime warranties from trustworthy names.
- Fully multi-coated lenses with Bushnell’s Rainguard HD tech
- Very unlikely to experience any fogging issues
- The camo color is perfect for field use
- Bushnell’s lifetime warranty
- Very comfortable for long glassing sessions
- Excellent performance in low-light conditions
- The case might be large in your elk hunting pack
- You may find you need to focus them more often than Vortex and Leupold
The best elk hunting binoculars are built to be used on the move and perform in all weather conditions. For optimal views, choosing the models in this guide will give you the perfect mixture of image clarity and FOV. It’s important to avoid single power binoculars above 12X for elk hunting because you end up narrowing your FOV or overdoing the magnification.
Also, you might prefer to leave the increased magnification or identifying details such as antler size to your spotting scope. The main purpose of your binoculars is to spot game. For this reason, first-time bino owners will find that budget Vortex and Bushnell models get the job done. It’s the seasoned veterans who will appreciate the bright edge-to-edge clarity provided by premium models the most.