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Monoculars vs Binoculars: The Pros and Cons of Each


Article Categories: Gear | Travel
Article Tags: Binoculars

When you are out hunting, bird watching, or simply trying to get a better view of something in the distance, you have two main options: monoculars or binoculars. Each has its own set of pros and cons, which can make it difficult to decide which one to use. In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between monoculars and binoculars, and help you decide when each is most appropriate.



Monoculars are single-lens telescopes that are easily held in one hand. They are small and lightweight, making them easy to carry with you on your adventures. However, monoculars can be more difficult to use than binoculars because you must use both eyes separately when looking through them. This can cause added eye strain and fatigue.



Binoculars have two lenses that are held together with a bridge. This allows you to use both eyes at the same time when looking through the lenses, which many people find more comfortable than using a monocular.

Binoculars are usually heavier and larger than monoculars, making them less portable.


Benefits Of Monoculars

Monoculars have a few key benefits over binoculars:

  • They are lighter weight, smaller, and therefore easy to carry, and pack in bags.
  • The smaller size makes them a bit more durable and easy to store safely.
  • Monoculars often cost less than binoculars of the same quality. Because it is only one lens system, they simply cost less to manufacture.
  • Monoculars are a bit quicker to get eyes on target and adjust due to diopter settings, and the use only needing to worry about one lens setting.


Benefits Of Binoculars

Binoculars also have a few benefits over monoculars:

  • Both eyes having magnification on target makes for a better image for the user.
  • Both eyes on having magnification prevents eye fatigue. When staring at any object for a longer period of time, binoculars will be much more comfortable
  • Two hands and easy grips may make it easier for the user to hold the binoculars steady over a monocular (but this is personal preference)
  • Binoculars have a wider viewing angle than monoculars of the same magnification.


Binoculars Vs Monoculars Considerations



Monoculars are the more budget friendly option. If a major concern of yours is getting high quality for less, or you need to stay at a lower price point, monoculars can get you the same quality of lens at a lesser price than binoculars.



Binoculars weigh more than monoculars, so if on a long backpacking, hunting, or hiking trip, the weight might be a larger consideration. You can get the same magnification at out a monocular with less weight, and therefore they can be more efficient for traveling.



Monoculars are smaller than binoculars, making them easier to travel with, easy to keep in your backpack, and easy to pack in a safe location. This can be an important consideration while traveling, or while backpacking, hiking, or hunting long distances.


Viewing Comfort

Staring through a monocular for a long period of time will cause eye fatigue much quicker than staring through binoculars. Binoculars are simply more comfortable and offer a better viewing experience. This is why you’ll see bird watchers, people on safaris, and hunters that stick to binoculars.


Binocular Vs Monocular Use Cases

With the above information, benefits, and features in mind, we wanted to help you understand what use cases might be best for each type of magnification device. Keep in mind, that your preference will play the primary role for each of these situations.


Bird Watching / Animal Watching

With bird watching and animal watching, often require long term use of magnification. In order to avoid eye fatigue, binoculars are recommended for this use.



Hunting often requires viewing long distances for long periods of time. This makes many of hunters choose binoculars to avoid eye fatigue. Hunters needing to pack light may choose a monocular.



Hiking requires activity, often for long distances. This therefore means that hikers elect for either compact binoculars or monoculars to save on space and weight.



Monoculars are most commonly used for stargazing, much like a telescope. They are often mounted on a tripod for stability.


Boating / Marine Usage

Binoculars with wide viewing areas are most often used for marine usage. Historically, monoculars were quite common, but a wide angle binocular is often the best method for marine usage.

As you can see, there are many differences between monoculars and binoculars. It’s important to understand the features of each, as well as the benefits and use cases for each before making your decision on which one is right for you.


Further Binocular & Monocular Information

I have written several other informative articles on magnification that may be of value to you:
Types of Binoculars
Best Binoculars For Hiking
Best Binoculars For Birding
Binocular Maintenance Guide

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, backcountry skier, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued climbed all of the Colorado 14ers, is always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about