Monocular vs Binocular: What Are The Differences And What Should You Go For?

by | Feb 7, 2020

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between monoculars and binoculars, then the clue is in the name. Mono, in scientific terms, means one, while bi means two.

Monoculars are built for one eye, and binoculars are built for two eyes. You may well be more familiar with binoculars as they are often more commonly used than monoculars.

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between the two and explore when you should use either monoculars or binoculars.

Monocular vs Binocular: Facts You Need to Know

Both monoculars and binoculars are compact and easy to carry, no matter if you’re going out camping, hiking, or just heading out for a stroll in the countryside.

Both devices easily fit into any daypack and are lightweight and easy to carry. Both tools allow you to get a closer look at any object in the distance and make a great addition to your equipment list, particularly if you’re an outdoor enthusiast.


What Are Monoculars?

A monocular is an optical device designed so you can see a faraway object through just one eye. Most monoculars are small in size, which means they can fit in your pocket and are perfect for those moments when you need to spot something far away.

While most monoculars are small, the most commonly known type of monoculars are telescopes. While telescopes are pretty sizeable, most monoculars are small, and some can even fit into the palm of your hand.


Pros of Monoculars

One of the greatest benefits of monoculars is how portable and lightweight they are. You can take them anywhere since they are only half the size of binoculars. Also, they are often cheaper to buy but are equipped with the same magnification levels.

Due to how lightweight they are and easy to carry, monoculars are perfect for the avid outdoors enthusiast. Monoculars make it easy to spot and observe wildlife while maintaining a safe distance between the person and the animal. A monocular can also double up as a magnifying glass.



Monoculars are an excellent option if you’re looking for an optical device, but you’re on a budget. They are a cheaper alternative to binoculars that can range in price massively. Monoculars are cost-effective, easy to use, and can be taken anywhere.


Cons of Monoculars

While monoculars have many benefits, there are also some downsides when comparing them with binoculars. First of all, a monocular can cause eye strain if you’re looking through one for an extended period of time. If you ever feel your eyes getting strained, then consider buying another monocular or switching to a pair of binoculars.


Viewing Angle

Monoculars also only allow you a narrow viewing angle when you look through them, while binoculars give you a wider viewing angle due to them needing both eyes to use. With this in mind, if you find that the viewing angle with a monocular is too narrow for your liking, then consider picking up a pair of binoculars.

monocular viewing angle


What Are the Best Activities for Monoculars?

There is a tonne of activities that monoculars are great for, one of these is hiking; monoculars are an excellent tool for being able to scout out hiking routes and trails. Monoculars don’t weigh you down, and can easily fit into your pocket or day pack.

Monoculars are also useful if you’re a fan of bird watching, wildlife watching, or other activities such as astronomy. Depending on how seriously you take an activity will depend on much you’ll want to spend. If you’re really into astronomy, then the most powerful monocular you can buy is a telescope!


What Are Binoculars?

While you may not have a solid idea of what monoculars are, you most certainly will have come across binoculars before. A pair of monoculars consists of two monoculars or two small telescopes that are joined together and can be looked through simultaneously.

Often binoculars are lightweight and easy to carry around, but some models can be larger and heavier than others. Binoculars allow for the user to view objects more comfortably than with a singular eye. The perspective and three-dimensional effect of binoculars make for a more enjoyable experience when you’re looking through them.


Pros of Binoculars

As mentioned above, most binoculars are lightweight and easy to carry. They are the perfect companion if you’re making a trip into nature or a walk in the great outdoors. Binoculars are great if you’re planning on moving around a lot or being on the move.

You may want to look for a lightweight pair of binoculars if you’re going to be moving a lot and taking part in activities that require different locations.



Binoculars can also be more comfortable than monoculars. Your eyes will also not suffer as much fatigue as they may if you use a monocular due to both eyes being used and not just one.

While most of the time, Binoculars are larger than monoculars, they can still easily fit in a daypack, or often you can wear binoculars around your neck. Binoculars also allow for a broader scope of view than monoculars.



If you take care of your binoculars, they will last a long time. It’s not uncommon for a pair of binoculars to last for years should you take care of them sufficiently. If you get a few years of service out of your binoculars, then your pair will also have provided value for money.


Cons of Binoculars

Binoculars can be fairly expensive. Prices for a pair of binoculars can range depending on the quality of the pair you decide to go for. If your budget is tight, then a monocular may be a better option to go for.



There are some surprisingly heavy pairs of binoculars available on the market. Make sure when you’re looking for a pair of binoculars that you consider their weight. If you’re going to be using them regularly, then make sure that the binoculars you decide to buy are lightweight.


What Are the Best Activities for Binoculars?

Binoculars are great if you’re going to be undertaking more stationary activities. If you’re a hunter, a bird watcher, or heading to a sports game. Binoculars are fantastic if you’re going to be looking at a particular item or area for a prolonged period.

binocular vs monocular


Binocular vs Monocular Conclusion: Which Is Best For You?

In all honesty, you should be fine with either option. Your decision can also depend on what you will be using either monoculars or binoculars for. If you’re going hiking, then a monocular is a better option

When you’re hiking, you’ll likely be on the move and moving swiftly, and you may have to get your monocular out at short notice, monoculars are small in size and lightweight, so they are easy to use at short notice.

Binoculars can be useful if you’re taking part in an activity such as birdwatching or any activity where you’ll be stationary. Binoculars are also a great option or hunters. Hunting requires you to be in a stationary spot for long periods of time, scouting and watching an area and binoculars are perfect for this.

Whatever you decide to choose, consider what you’ll be using either a monocular or binoculars for. When you know this,  it will be time to think about your budget and the quality of the equipment you’re after. If you’re going to be taking part in a wide variety of activities, then you may want to pick up a monocular and a pair of binoculars.

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