No matter how coordinated your weather dance is, and no matter how many times you cross your fingers hoping for clear skies for your next camping trip, when Mother Nature wants rain – it’s going to rain. You can’t do anything about that, but there are some things that you can control…
Being prepared for anything that nature may throw at you is all about recognizing what you can control, what you can’t control, and that whatever happens will usually fall somewhere in the middle.
A storm can be exciting and invigorating when you’re dry and inside of your tent and all of your supplies are also dry, but what’s worse than being out in the thick of it with soaking wet gear? It can really put an – ahem – damper on the whole experience.
Having things like rubber boots for camping and water proof matches is a good start, but you’ll have a lot of gear that simply doesn’t exist in a water proof version – so that’s where a waterproof backpack for camping is essential.
This allows you to take your crucial belongings with you on the trail without worrying about them getting soaked, so if you’re caught out in a storm you can make it back to your tent, dry off the outside of the backpack, and you’re all set. It’s much better than dealing with a water-logged backpack in the middle of a storm.
The term “best” can be subjective, so let’s take a look at a few different sizes, price points, and levels of quality. Everything on this list is a good choice, we don’t feature any duds, it’s just a matter of choosing what fits your budget and adjusting your expectations accordingly.
We need to preface this by saying that this bag isn’t 100% water proof, but it’s water resistant and a lot of the time that’s good enough. It’s versatile, light, and can even fold up into itself. We’re featuring it first because it’s very affordable, well made, and has thousands of 5 star reviews. It’s available in two sizes, 20L and 33L. Now, if you need something that’s completely water proof, you’ll want to check out some of these other options, but for a lot of people – this is going to be a solid choice, especially if they’re not looking to spend a lot of cash. This isn’t the best bag on the list, but it’s very, very good for what it is.[maxbutton id=”7″]
This pack is loved by campers and hikers a like. It includes a suspension system which makes it a lot nicer to wear when you’re carrying a heavy load. It holds 40L worth of whatever you can throw at it. It’s made with 420D polyester, which is waterproof, and also includes a rain cover that goes over top to further keep the water out.
This bag has a lot of storage pockets, including a safe place to put your cellphone. It usually retails for well over $100, but you can find it on sale for a lot less than that sometimes – so keep an eye out, because it’s definitely worth grabbing when it’s on sale, if not at full price.
Next up, let’s take a look at an alternative before we head into the home stretch.[maxbutton id=”7″]
If you already have a backpack that you love for camping, but it doesn’t hold up great in the rain, consider just purchasing a cover for it. This cover will repel the vast majority of rain, but it doesn’t cover the straps. None the less, if your pack isn’t already waterproof or water resistant, you should really consider tossing this inside – just in case!
It won’t take up much room at all, and it could make a huge difference if push comes to shove. The nice thing about this cover is that you can use it while you’re wearing your backpack, but if you just want a completely water proof bag, and aren’t as concerned about wearing it, check out the next option.[maxbutton id=”7″]
Here’s a great pack for hiking, camping, and the like. It’s not ideal for everyday use, it would be a bit much, so if you’re just looking for something for school – this won’t be your best bet. For hitting the trails and the campground, however, this is an excellent choice with great reviews and many happy owners.
The material is very light weight, which is what you want when you’re carrying it around on the trail, but it might not last as long if you’re using it every day to carry around books, etc. It has very comfortable straps and breathable mesh, and includes a free rain cover for extra protection from the rain. It weights under two and a half pounds, and has plenty of compartments for organizing your belongings.[maxbutton id=”7″]
As you’ve likely noticed, there’s always going to be trade-offs. If you want something completely, 100%, dunk-it-underwater-and-it’s-fine waterproof, it’s not going to be as functional or practical as a regular backpack. If you want external zippers and to be able to wear it, you’re going to be making certain sacrifices in terms of how waterproof it is. A regular waterproof backpack like the Kimlee or one of the other models we looked at is a solid option for most people, and you can’t go wrong with any of these choice. Just choose the one that fits your needs, shut off the computer, and go enjoy nature after patting yourself on the back to take a little time to do some research first.
There’s something to be said about roughing it with nothing but a sleeping bag and tent, but there’s no shame in being a little more comfortable than that. A mattress will add some extra weight to your pack, but if you don’t like sleeping right on the ground, you’ll be happy to have it.
Nothing’s worse than carrying the extra weight for an air mattress that ends up being a total dud, or falling asleep on a perfectly inflated mattress only to wake up flat on the ground. This can be avoided by going with a sleeping pad, for example. A sleeping pad is more reliable in terms of survival gear and if you opt for one you need to keep that extra weight in mind. We ensured that the weight was kept below 5 lbs for our reviews. Anything higher would be too taxing for your pack.
There are options, but how do you choose the best bed for camping? It’s easy. Take a look at the pros and cons of all the highest rated options, figure out what best fits into your budget, and you’re well on your way to finding the best camping mattress. Don’t worry, you aren’t on your own. As usual, we’ve got you covered with an informative and helpful guide that takes the guesswork out of buying camping gear.
We’ve done all of the heavy lifting for you, so here are our top choices in several different categories. No matter which type of camping bed you’re looking for, we want to help you pick out the best one. Even if you aren’t really sure what you’re looking for yet, by the end of this page you’ll know more than enough to make up your mind.
This is a smaller, lighter version of the traditional air mattress that you might be picturing. It gives you that little extra bit of cushion between yourself and the ground, without taking up as much space in your pack. It’s a good compromise if you want to save room compared to a full air mattress or a camping pad, but when you also want a little more comfort. It’s also very affordable, and has great reviews. It self-inflates, but you’ll need to blow up the pillow yourself. If there’s a single weak point to this item, it’s the pillow – so just keep that in mind, you may want to bring something better for your head, or just wrap up a couple of shirts to use instead.[maxbutton id=”7″ url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BF9IYO4/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=survive343-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00BF9IYO4&linkId=38ac151788a3db69f8e4d246459c86f5″]
This is a great camping pad. The Adventurer Camp Pad weighs only 4.25lbs, which isn’t negligible but if you’re backpacking and have the extra room, it’ll make life a lot more comfortable. The foam is two inches thick, so it gets you off of the ground and helps if you’re not on the flattest surfaces, too. It’ll fit on most standard size cots, and has ties on the ends to make sure it stays in place, along with a fold for your pillow. It includes a roll-assister which helps you pack it up as small as possible when it’s time to pack up camp. Overall, it’s a very solid choice with hundreds of 5-star reviews.[maxbutton id=”7″ url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000P6DJ8O/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=survive343-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B000P6DJ8O&linkId=c1d2ce2896fe1ce6dbb98dced77b1657″]
But if you don’t want your pad right on the ground, and you’ve got some extra room and don’t mind the extra weight, you can grab a nice camping cot to go with it.
As usual, Coleman’s got you covered. This easy-folding cot stores away into a small carrying bag, and is super simple to setup. You can put your camping mat on it, and you’ve got something close to the best bed for camping without breaking the bank.
It can support up to 300lbs, and somebody who is up to 6 feet 8 inches tall. The little table that attaches to the side is also handy, we all know how hard it can be to keep track of our belongings in a tent. For its size and weight, it’s a very solid unit – not flimsy at all. You’ll be using it reliably for many seasons to come.[maxbutton id=”7″ url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0043AK0O4/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=survive343-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B0043AK0O4&linkId=5fea2fc701809ab9015f09823f53bf47″]
If you’re looking for a full-size air mattress for the ultimate in camping luxury, this is going to be your best bet. With almost 10,000 positive reviews, you really can’t go wrong. It includes a built-in pump so you don’t have to remember to bring one, and you also don’t have to stand around for an hour with a hand pump trying to get in inflated.
Now, keep in mind that you will need an outlet in order to power it up. This really isn’t the choice for people who are camping in any kind of deep woods. This is the “luxury” option, it’s basically designed for in-home use but it can be used in a camper, trailer, tent, cabin… it’s great if you have a significant other who isn’t too keen on camping, tell them it’ll be an incredibly comfortable sleep and they’ll be a little more excited.
We usually cater to the more serious and hardcore of campers, but every now and then we like to throw in a little something for the rest of ‘em. It’s also great to keep at home for when you’ve got guests.[maxbutton id=”7″ url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FAW4O0A/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=survive343-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00FAW4O0A&linkId=e87357caaf5d50a524fed105ca25b1d9″]
Now if that last one had you thinking “Uhh okay, but… that’s not really what I’m looking for,” here’s a similar bed by the same brand, which also has tons of great reviews, that’s specifically made for camping. If you want to sleep on the best air mattress that’s available at an amazing value, this has got to be it. It also includes a built-in air pump, except this time around the pump is rechargeable. The bed itself won’t be quite as comfortable, but it’s more than good enough for a great night’s sleep under the stars. It’s not as thick as the previous one, but it offers more support than just a plain mat or than the thinner Coleman self-inflating camping bed we looked at earlier. It’s a good compromise. We’ve looked at thinner mats, we’ve looked at an epic inflatable mattress – and this one right here falls somewhere in the middle.[maxbutton id=”7″ url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WL0227G/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=survive343-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00WL0227G&linkId=33a8acedb9340f16d4a97bed09c85180″]
Between all of the different options, you’re bound to find the perfect balance between price, size, weight, and comfort.
Lastly, save your money on expensive pumps or even hand pumps. Nothing says survivalist like doing it yourself. The video below goes over how to blow up an air mattress on your own, without wasting your own energy and oxygen supply. I always carry a trash bag, regardless of the situation and this is one of the reasons why.
An alcohol stove is a popular choice for camping because they can be very small and compact, and make a solid alternative if you don’t want to lug around a large propane camping stove or if you don’t want to cook over your campfire.
There are guides out there that show you how to make a basic alcohol stove out of a drink can, and they definitely work, although they’re made from thin aluminum and can become damaged easily. If you’d rather opt for something sturdier right off the shelf, we’ve got you covered.
The pros for alcohol stoves are that fuel is easy to come by, they’re very lightweight, and the book Long-Distance Hiking reports that after speaking to many hikers, this is the only type of camping stove that had a zero percent failure rate overall. The fuel is very inexpensive, there aren’t any essential moving parts, they’re durable, and dead-simple to cook with.
Cons include things like the fact that it doesn’t quite get as hot as other fuel sources so you might need to carry around more of that affordable fuel, although an oz or two of fuel should be plenty to cook a meal, so one 16oz water bottle will keep you going for days and days. If a gas stove takes about three and a half minutes to boil some water, the alcohol stove may take about five or six minutes instead.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to reveal our top 5 choices. Each stove on this list could be considered the best backpacking stove in its own right, so there really aren’t any wrong choices here. As usual, it comes back to finding the best value stove for your budget – and that’s exactly what we’re here to do.
This set includes the burner itself, along with a ‘stand’ for it (in other words, the stove.) You usually can’t put your pots or pans directly onto the burner, so in most cases you’ll need to purchase your burner and the actual stove separately. We’ll be taking a look at a great choice for a burner, and some stove options as well, including one that folds up into practically nothing. This one, on the other hand, doesn’t fold up but that doesn’t matter because it can all nest inside of the pot (which is going to take up the same amount of space either way), and only weighs 15 ounces.[maxbutton id=”7″ url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001UEL76Q/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=survive343-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B001UEL76Q&linkId=4d59e2ae9ce637681654d23d2c69a627″]
Here’s a really simple option that is akin to the homemade pop can stoves we mentioned earlier. The difference is that it’s stronger, you can even step on it without breaking it. It also has a stability plate along the bottom to prevent tipping or spills, and you can put your pot right on top of it. It’s simple, classic, durable, and it does the job.[maxbutton id=”7″ url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001G61KLU/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=survive343-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B001G61KLU&linkId=078b24ca61002bb7f981c258eed2ffe4″]
This one is semi-foldable, and has longer arms that extend out for holding larger pots and pans than the Vargo Decagon is able to. It’s very affordable, and you’ll just need to add the fuel and something to cook inside of.[maxbutton id=”7″ url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CY40FGE/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=survive343-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B00CY40FGE&linkId=3a6d428bae884f191022d8fdd25b547d”]
This simple little burner and something to hold your pot is all you need. You can pop it inside of a windscreen like this (click here to learn more) for a much more fuel and heat efficient experience. The nice thing about this little burner in particular is the fact that it has the screw-top so that you can toss it into your pack when you’re done with it and not worry about getting leftover alcohol on anything.[maxbutton id=”7″ url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000AR7970/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=survive343-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B000AR7970&linkId=e770da129a6e4ba6894db2d6ac537160″]
This is the priciest item on our list, but it includes everything you’ll need except for a really nice pot, which you can grab here (click here to learn more). You’ll get the solo stove, a very useful and big foldable windscreen, one of the best little alcohol burners, the Light My Fire Swedish firesteel, and a tinderstick to make starting your fire, and keeping it burning efficiently, a pain-free process.[maxbutton id=”7″ url=”https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008ABY69M/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=survive343-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=B008ABY69M&linkId=9dcd8d27d5146d071570c1501e4665eb”]
As you can probably tell, the core idea for all of these is essentially the same. You need a little reservoir to put the alcohol to light, and you need something to put your pots or pans on to absorb the heat of the flame while holding it steady and secure over the burner.
While it’s a simple idea, there are some key differences between these various products, but it’s all pretty clear and self-evident what those are just by looking at them. So, all that’s left is to check them out, and pick the one that makes the most sense to you now that you’re armed with knowledge from your research.
One of your most important hunting and survival gear purchases is your knife. This is also one of the more difficult purchases for beginners, too. Why’s that? Because frankly, to the untrained eye, most knives look exactly the same except for some cosmetic differences. So, how can you tell the difference between the best hunting knife and the worst?
We’re going to be looking at different styles of buck knives, folding knives, camping, and hunting knives… Whatever you want to call them, they all have a few things in common: quality, value, and from brands with great track records.
This fixed-blade knife by ESEE has a very comfortable canvas handle, and at just over $100 it’s certainly not the cheapest knife on this list, but it’s also worth every single penny of your hard earned cash. It comes with a Kydex sheath, and pre-equipped with ferrocerium fire-starting flint and tinder tabs hidden inside of the handle. It’s made from high-carbon 1095 steel, so you’ve got to take good care of it – it may rust if you aren’t careful. This knife is for somebody who understands the philosophy that sometimes you’ve got a pay a little extra for quality, and that having nice things usually means you’ve got to take better care of them, too. It’s not like it’s high-maintenance or anything, just keep it properly lubricated and clean it when you’re done using it. To top it off, their warranty is basically perfect: “If you break it, we will replace it. Warranty is lifetime and transferable. In other words, we warranty the knife no matter how many times it’s been traded, sold or given away – no sales receipt or proof of purchase required.” In other words, you buy it once and you’ve got a knife for life.
ESEE Knives LSP Laser Strike Fixed Blade Knife with Canvas Micarta Handles
This fixed-blade knife by ESEE has a very comfortable canvas handle, and at just over $100 it’s certainly not the cheapest knife on this list, but it’s also worth every single penny of your hard earned cash.
It comes with a Kydex sheath, and pre-equipped with ferrocerium fire-starting flint and tinder tabs hidden inside of the handle. It’s made from high-carbon 1095 steel, so you’ve got to take good care of it – it may rust if you aren’t careful.
This knife is for somebody who understands the philosophy that sometimes you’ve got a pay a little extra for quality, and that having nice things usually means you’ve got to take better care of them, too. It’s not like it’s high-maintenance or anything, just keep it properly lubricated and clean it when you’re done using it.
To top it off, their warranty is basically perfect: “If you break it, we will replace it. Warranty is lifetime and transferable. In other words, we warranty the knife no matter how many times it’s been traded, sold or given away – no sales receipt or proof of purchase required.”
In other words, you buy it once and you’ve got a knife for life.
This beautiful knife by Benchmade is in a higher price point than the previous one we looked at, but we’re going to feature some less expensive (yet still high-quality) knives in just a moment. This particular knife is also great for an everyday carry.
There’s no shortage of positive reviews, and the wood grain handle is gorgeous. This knife is popular amongst hunters, campers, fishermen, collectors, and just people looking for a new EDC. It’s made in the USA. It’s not spring assisted, so you don’t have to worry about the added headache of maintaining that or having it fail when you need it. It folds out smoothly, and can be adjusted.
Before we take a look at a couple more affordable options, let’s climb higher up the ladder and take a look at a premium knife by Spyderco.
This knife is an absolute treat. It’s not always in stock, so if you’re able to catch one – consider yourself one of the lucky ones! It’s designed by Chris Claycomb, and is just an all-around piece of art that can also get the job done.
It’s a collector’s item, no doubt, but don’t let that stop you from taking it out into the bush with you. This might be one of the best hunting knives you’ll ever own, and that your children will ever own, and that their children will ever own…
It also includes a premium leather sheath, but you’re never going to want to put it down.
This knife is specifically for skinning, in particular in the field. It’s the most affordable, but it’s not versatile at all. We really need to emphasize that. It does one thing, and it does it very well. It is made by a brand that is primarily known for making surgical equipment, so when you want to skin your game with surgical precision, you’re covered.
<Want to whittle away at a branch by the campfire? This isn’t the knife for you. If you apply any side pressure, the blades will break. It comes with 12 replaceable blades, and even if you toss it after they’re done – it’s still an amazing value when you compare function and price.
Here’s our value option if you want to spend under $50 but still get a high-quality knife from a reputable brand that will last you for as long as you’re willing to care for it.
It has over 1400 positive reviews, ships fast, folds up into an included sheath, and is very sharp. It’s a versatile blade, unlike the last one that we looked at, so it’ll have your back in any situation you may encounter.
It’s referred to as “the most copied knife in the world”, but why not own the original?
When you’re hot on the trail of landing that trophy buck you’ve been waiting all year for, not even a boot full of water on a cold day is going to stop you – but it’s definitely going to slow you down. That old pair of black rubber boots with the red bottoms that we all grew up with just isn’t going to do the job.
There’s an old saying that says you should invest the most money in anything that comes in between yourself and the ground. For example, things like mattresses, tires for your vehicle, and footwear. In this case, we’re talking about rubber hunting boots in particular.
Let’s be real. No serious hunter is going to let a bit of discomfort ruin their trip, but the difference between a perfect pair of boots that will keep you warm and dry and with a solid footing on any terrain, or a pair that’ll have you freezing and sliding all over the place with a boot full of water isn’t a huge amount of money. This is the type of thing where you buy it properly once, the first time, and you’re all set for years to come.
Let’s go over some of the best boots that you should consider for your next trip. First, here’s a few things you want to look out for, which we’ve taken into consideration when making these selections:
These boots are the real deal. LaCrosse makes some of the best boots for hunting, and they come with a variety of camo patterns for both men and for women. These ones in particular, however, just have a simple design. Even this particular pair is available in other patterns, check out the full selection over at Amazon. This pair is for when you’ve got some real thick and muddy territory to cover. They’re knee-high, so if you’re looking for something a bit shorter, we’ve got you covered in just a minute. First, something for the ladies…
Here’s the ladies version of the Alphaburly by LaCrosse, also available with a variety of different camo patterns, depending on what catches your eye. Again, these are a very solid pair of boots – they’re not the highest of the high end, but they’re definitely leaps and bounds above the lower-end of what is out there to choose from. The Alphaburly line of boots are constructed with flexible rubber so that they’re easy to get on and off, but still strong and sturdy and plenty supportive, which you need when you’re walking over unpredictable terrain.
Muck Boots are a very popular brand, and their hunting line is very decent, and also quite affordable. They’re a great value option, but also a great overall option too. They’re a strong contender in the mid-range, which is great for most people, and they also look good enough to wear as regular rubber boots – they’re not just for taking on hunting trips.
These boots are fully water proof, about 15” from the arch to the top, very light weight, and puncture proof because they can help prevent a snake bite or whatever else might be getting in your way as you stomp through the woods.
Some of the complaints that people have had is that they’re not the comfiest pair of boots in the world. Comfort isn’t really at the top of the list with snake boots (The list basically starts and ends with saving you from being bitten by a snake) but for what it is – it does a great job. The thread on the bottom helps you keep your grip if you’re walking through swamps. These boots are relatively light when compared to other snake boots, but still pretty heavy and durable in the grand scheme of things. If you’re in snake territory, give these guys a strong consideration.
This is the least expensive pair of boots that we’re going to be featuring in this guide. They’re quite basic, but they get the job done. You can tighten them up at the top. Many pairs have a zipper on the back for such a purpose, these ones just have a simple lace to tie up on the front. If you’re just looking for a pair to toss in the trunk or the truck just in case, they’ll do you just fine. If you know ahead of time that you’re going to be trekking through some really nasty land, you’ll want to pick something higher end – but in a pinch, these will work. They’re not out top pick, but we wanted to include something for people that are looking to save a bit of cash. Just remember, if you’re going to be in rough territory, you’ll be glad you invested in the best pair of boots that you can afford.
We’ve heard every reason in the book for purchasing a pair of binoculars; ranging from an older gentleman who wanted to save money by being able to buy cheaper seats at baseball games, to a younger lady who wanted to get a better view of the men at the beach down the street from her apartment. Buying a pair of binoculars for bird-watching might not sound quite as exciting, but to the contrary – it can be every bit as exciting when you finally catch a glimpse of a bird you’ve never seen before, but only birdwatchers will understand what it’s like.
These days, everybody is out there trying to catch these imaginary Pokémon, and granted it’s great that it’s getting people outside into nature and being active, but there’s been a real life version of this game that people have been playing for centuries, and you don’t need to worry about your GPS signal or your phone’s battery running out.
It’s called birding. All you need is some patience, and a pair of binoculars. In today’s digital world, it’s easy to constantly check our phones any time we become bored for even a split second, but that prevents us from ever truly being relaxed.
One of the greatest aspects of bird watching is the meditative state that it can put you in, but also the sudden rush you feel when you’ve finally spotted a bird you’ve been looking for.
We’re going to be taking a look at some of the best binoculars for birding, but first let’s go over some of the criteria:
Alright, with all of that preamble out of the way, let’s take a look at our top choices.
These are going to be the most expensive pair on our list. There are some other models out there that top the $2000 price range, but that’s really getting into the highest of the high end, and you reach a point of diminishing returns.
The Conquest HD model by Zeiss is made in Germany, has a water-shedding coating making it acceptable to use in any weather conditions, they’re very lightweight, and are suitable for people who wear eye-glasses as well as those who do not.
Now, if you’re more of a casual bird watcher and you don’t want to sell the farm to afford a pair, let’s look at some more reasonably priced binoculars next.
These bad boys are available in a variety of sizes, are very highly reviewed, and come in at just over $100. They’re not the cheapest pair of binoculars out there, and they’re not even the cheapest ones we’ll be featuring on this list, but if you aren’t on too tight of a budget but still aren’t looking to spend hundreds, they’re going to be your best bet in terms of quality, optics, and overall value.
If you’re looking to spend under $100, here’s your best option coming up next.
Bushnell has a long standing reputation as a maker of binoculars, and this Legacy model is a great place to start for a beginner birdwatcher. Are they are absolute best binoculars for birdwatching in the entire world? No, but at literally a fraction of the cost of some of the other choices out there, they’re really not a bad place to start if you don’t have more money to spend on your binoculars. They’re the best binoculars under $100, quite likely, and have hundreds of positive reviews over at Amazon to prove it.
Here’s another budget-pair that won’t break the bank but will give you some great sights.
Just over $100, these still fall well within the “budget” range. Now, we know there are binoculars out there for $20, $30, $40… but we would classify those as below-budget. That doesn’t mean they’re absolute trash or anything, but we’re assuming that anyone who is taking the time to go birding, especially if it represents a few special moments on a camping trip, is looking for something that will do at least a solid job, if not absolute perfection. When you spot that rare bird, “good enough” isn’t really good enough, so that’s why we’re skipping the very bottom of the barrel, so that you can rest assured that everything on here is nothing but pure quality.
We’ve recommended some cheaper options in the past, but one of the biggest concerns is quality control. You just can’t make a GREAT pair of birding binoculars at those prices, and we’re here to recommend the sure-things, not to take a shot in the dark on something that “may or may not be good enough”.
That’s the end of my little rant… we’ve seen too many people miss out on great views because they were tricked into buying a sub-par product, and that’s just not going to happen on our watch (no pun intended.)
Anyways, with that out of the way, there’s just one more pair to look at. They’re on the pricier side relative to this list, but compared to some of the most expensive models out there, they’re still an absolute bargain.
These binoculars are absolutely incredible. You know the old saying “you get what you pay for”? Sometimes, you get a lot more. You get the peace of mind that they’re going to be ready to go when you need them the most, lightweight and easy to carry along, super-high quality glass for incredible visuals, high-grade anti-reflective coatings so you aren’t stuck staring at a glare, and those camping memories that will last a lifetime.
Normally, we might not recommend something at this price point to take with you on a camping trip, but they’re so durable and resistant that you’ll be just fine, and you’ll be glad that you have such a high-quality pair to get the best views that nature has to offer.
So there you have it, five great choices to fit most budgets. Bird watching can be a great addition to any camping trip, you don’t even have to leave your camp site in many cases. Lots of people like to keep a pair of binoculars at their lake, and a checklist of all the local species of birds that they’re seen and the ones that they’re still looking for. With that, we wish you good luck wherever your journey takes you!
There are some purists who would be out there hunting with nothing but their bare hands if they could, but there’s something to be said about taking advantage of technology. Whether you like to hunt with a rifle or a bow, it’s very important to know the range of your target.
It’s not always easy to eyeball how far away your target is. That’s where having the best hunting rangefinder can be very useful. Before you take a shot, you need to be sure that it’s from a distance that will kill the animal, instead of just injuring them. If they’re injured and they run away because you tried to shoot from too far, which can also drastically reduce your accuracy, then you’re going to have to chase that animal down, whether it takes hours or days, that’s your responsibility.
Avoid situations like that by making sure you’re within the correct distance, depending on what you’re using to hunt. Having a low quality range finger can be worse than not having one at all, because it can give you a false sense of distance.
Thankfully, most of the ones on the market aren’t terrible, but there is still a noticeable difference between the best rangefinder and just an average one, and we’re here to help un-muddy the waters so that you can choose the perfect tool for the job. When the job is something this important, when we’re talking about the difference between potential animal suffering or not, as a responsible and compassionate hunter, the ball’s really in your court.
We’re here to help. We’ve taken a look at countless ranger finders so that we can bring you a handful of options to choose from. We’ve narrowed down your search, but at the end of the day its still up to you to make the decision. We’ve made that decision as easy as possible, by filtering out any range finders that lack quality, that are overpriced or overrated, that have too many negative reviews, or that simply don’t offer a good value.
You can be rest assured that any item appearing on this buyer’s guide is going to be a product of quality, that’ll last you many seasons, and that will do as good a job as possible. Still, not everybody has the same wants, needs, or budget, so we’ve broken things down to ensure that there’s something for everyone on this list, and that nobody is stuck using a product that’s anywhere less than great. If it made our list, you know it’s a quality product and a value buy.
Let’s start by going over a bit of basic information and explaining some of the features that these range finders may have. Knowing the difference between certain stats, and how that impacts the performance of the device, is crucial. You don’t have to be an expert, so we aren’t going to go super in-depth, but we’ll certainly provide enough information to help you make an informed decision.
You’ll notice various levels of magnification while shopping for a range finder. From something like a golf scope with one lens, to an advanced hunting range finder with multiple lenses, it’s not always easy to pick the right one.
On top of that, a device with multiple lenses can have different types of coatings, that even vary between each lens. We’ll cover the different types of lenses in just a moment, but first you’ve got to decide how much magnification you’ll want, so let’s look at some of the pros and cons.
You’ll often see magnification ranging between 4x, 6x, or 8x. The higher the number is, obviously, the more of a magnifying effect you’ll have, which means you’re able to get a better view of your target. However, greater magnification leads to a decrease in your field of view, which can make it a bit trickier to actually track down your target in the distance quickly.
The distance for rangefinders usually starts at a few yards, meaning it won’t really be accurate for something that’s a yard or two away, but that’s okay because you’ll never need that. The maximum distance that a range finder can be accurate at will vary, however it’s usually up to around 1000-1600 yards. The accuracy level at these distances is typically within about half of a yard, which is plenty accurate. If you’re ever at a point where that 0.5 yards is going to be the deal breaker, just don’t take the shot, get yourself into a better position first.
There are numerous lens types available for rangefinders, which can assist them in working better in a variety of different environments. The lenses and their coatings have an impact on the amount of lighting that can get through, which impacts the laser’s strength and ability to travel to and from the rangefinder. The amount of light that the laser is able to transmit is determined by these factors:
With some of the background information out of the way, let’s dive right into it now. Here’s a look at five different rangefinders. Some of them are more entry-level (But still perfectly capable of achieving a level of quality that you need), and some of them are higher end. If you can afford a better one, do it. If you can’t afford to spend that much on a rangefinder, don’t get discouraged – it’s not necessary.
As we mentioned in the introduction, everything on this list is a great product and a solid option – you can’t go wrong with any of them. None the less, we wanted to include options and variety to make sure that there’s something for everyone, without making any sacrifices to quality. As such, even the most affordable ones on this list aren’t the cheapest options out there. As we discussed, you should just skip the very cheapest options because this is a very important tool, and it’s your responsibility to get it right, so don’t take any chances.
This is one of the top sellers, so it’s worth mentioning first. There’s a reason that so many people choose it. The price is right, that’s for sure. At under $150, it does a great job. It has accuracy of +/- 1 yard, which isn’t as good as some of the others we’ll be taking a look at, but again – if you’re in a situation where that extra .5 yards is going to make a difference, you’re in the wrong situation to begin with.
This rangefinder has a magnification of 4x, meaning you’ll have a larger field of vision when you’re trying to pinpoint your target, but you won’t be able to see quite as close up since it’s less magnified. An 8x rangefinder will have you seeing things a lot more closely, but again, at the expense of a greatly reduced field of vision.
This is a simple device with just one button, a weather resistant housing, and it comes with a case. One of the downsides is the fact that it’s only good up to 600 yards, whereas some of the devices we’ll be featuring can do a lot more than that. If this one suits your needs, all things considered, it’s a great buy – but if you’re at a greater distance, you’ll find exactly what you need further down on this list.
This model by Nikon is quite similar to the one we just looked at. It also sits well above the line of the bare minimum that we’d recommend. Again, there are less expensive options out there, but we can’t recommend anything lower than these because when it comes to something this important, it would be foolish to start shopping at the entry level – so we skipped right ahead to mid-level.
This rangefinder has a slightly lower maximum range than the Bushnell we just featured, at 550 yards. A nice thing about the Aculon is that it’s very compact, light, and portable. Also, Nikon is primarily known as a camera company, but what’s one of the most important features on every camera? The lens. So you know you’re getting a quality lens when you buy from Nikon.
It’s water resistant and rainproof, but you won’t want to take it swimming with you, obviously. If you’re aiming at multiple targets off in the distance, it is programmed to give you the distance of the furthest one, which can be useful if your target is slightly obscured by grass or something like that. It also features a simple one-button operation.
We’re getting up there in price and quality now, this is one about twice as expensive as both options we’ve looked at so far. Is it twice as good? That can be a tricky question to measure. Also, often with these types of things, as you spend more and more, you aren’t necessarily getting an increase in value that scales directly to the price.
For example, something that costs twice as much isn’t necessarily going to be twice as good, it might be roughly 1.5x as good, but that’s the cost you have to pay when you get into higher-end items. There’s certainly a point of diminishing returns with anything that costs more money, not just the best rangefinders, but if you want that upper-level of performance, it’s just the price you’ve got to pay. It certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. In other words, the difference between a $50 and a $150 rangefinder is generally going to be more drastic than the difference between a $150 rangefinder and a $450 model. None the less, the $450 is going to reach heights that the cheaper ones simply cannot. So if you want that top tier of performance, if it has the features and the abilities that you need, you’re still getting your money’s worth either way.
Back to this model in particular – the rugged design means it’ll be reliable by your side when you need it without having to worry about it breaking easily. The distance varies depending on lightning, etc, but it’s going to be great at 600 yards and has been reported accurate at closer to 1000 yards, too. People use it for hunting as well as golf. It has 6x magnification, right in the middle sweet spot of magnification and field of vision, so you aren’t making any major sacrifices in either department.
This rangefinder right here is serious business. It’s the most expensive, and the best, that we’re going to be looking at today. This is going to be plenty more than the majority if hunters will need, but if you factor in the amount you’re already spending on everything else if you’re a dedicated hunter and outdoorsman, it’s not a huge expensive considering you’ll be getting one of the best range finders available without dropping a small fortune.
Earlier, we talked about the point of diminishing returns. Making the jump from something in the sub-$200 range to this one that costs right around $400 can be a very worthwhile investment, however going from $400 to an elite-level range finder than might cost $600 or $800 isn’t going to have nearly as big of an improvement in quality, and is basically reserved for the professionals who make a living hunting and can afford to write-off the higher gear costs. Having said that, again, this guy right here is absolutely stunning and plenty more than most people will ever need – let alone being able to tell the difference between this or something higher-end.
In other words, if you can afford to drop $400 on this Bushnell Rangefinder, do it.
It’s fully waterproof, not just water resistant like a lot of the options on this list. That makes a difference!
Also, the total range from this one makes it the best rangefinder for longer distances compared to everything else we’re going to feature. It is accurate from 5 yards, all the way up to 1760, with accuracy of +/- 0.5 yards, and it displays in increments of 0.1 yards. It can calculate your bullet drop and compensate for that, and other factors.
The only downside compared to some of the other options, is that it’s a little bit bigger and heavier, but that’s because it’s a lot more powerful.
Now, if you were interested in some of the models we looked at earlier, but unimpressed with the 550-600 yard maximum distance, and not quite tempted by the Tactical Elite by Bushnell that we just looked at, here’s a solid unit that fits somewhere in the middle. It offers 800 yards worth of range, which is a great upgrade from 550, but still nowhere near the 1760 – but at less than half the price, and only a bit more expensive than the 550-600 models, if you need that extra bit of range, this is a very smart buy. It fits nicely into the middle ground.
The reviews are more than solid, the price is great, and it’s a Bushnell so you know it’ll be good. This is a fairly simple laser rangefinder, one of the best you’ll find at this price. It won’t be a top performer in lower light, and it lacks the Clearshot feature that the Bushnell Truth editions have, but it’s still a strong choice if nothing else on this list has captivated you yet.
Have you tried any of the best rangefinders for hunting, archery, golf, that we’ve mentioned on this list? Did you have a good experience with them, or did you have any problems? Make sure you let us know, because the options of experienced hunters help us to include the best products for our readers. If you know of another rangefinder that deserves a spot on here – don’t be shy – let us know!