Best binoculars to bring leaf peeping


Leaf peeping season has its peaks at different times depending on location, with earlier peaks occurring along the Canadian border and later peaks in the Southeast.

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Which binoculars are best for leaf peeping? 

Cooler weather is fast approaching with the arrival of fall, which means that leaf peeping season is just around the corner. Thousands of people each year flock to national parks, quaint New England villages and otherwise sleepy mountain towns across the nation to experience the coveted changing of the leaves. 

As we begin to trade our summer greenery for fall foliage, it’s time to make sure that you have all the gear you’ll need for leaf peeping season, such as a good pair of binoculars to bring you up close and personal with the robust reds and oranges of autumn. The Celestron Nature DX 10×32 Binoculars is a top pick that’s perfect for all your leaf peeping needs. 

What to know before you buy binoculars for leaf peeping 

Types of binoculars 

Binoculars can be tricky to shop for, especially if you are purchasing your first pair. It’s important to understand the two main types of binoculars that you can buy. 

Roof prism binoculars are often more compact due to their streamlined nature. The eyepieces are directly in line with the objective lenses, which means that roof prism binoculars are significantly less bulky than their porro prism counterparts. 

Porro prism binoculars are the most recognizable and familiar of the two types. The objective lenses of porro prism binoculars are larger than the eyepieces, which makes the binoculars bulk out around the lenses. Porro prism binoculars are more inexpensive than their roof prism counterparts. 

Angle of view and field of view 

Both angle of view and field of view are common ways of measuring how much you can see with your binoculars. Most binocular manufacturers will either list both of these measurements or at least one or the other. 

The key difference between angle of view and field of view is that the former is measured in degrees, whereas the latter is measured in feet. 

Objective lens diameter and magnification 

Another confusing aspect of buying binoculars is understanding all of the numbers or specs that the manufacturer lists alongside their product. Using the Celestron Nature DX 10×32 Binoculars as an example, we are given the number 10×32. The first number, or 10 in this case, refers to the magnification of the binoculars; the second number, or 32 here, refers to the objective lens diameter. 

The important thing to understand is that the larger the objective lens number is, the sharper your subject will appear in the binoculars. The downside to binoculars with a large objective lens is that they will be heavier and bulkier. 

What to look for in a quality binocular for leaf peeping 


Heavier binoculars, in particular, are difficult to use while leaf peeping due to their bulky nature. If binoculars are too heavy, you’ll have a hard time seeing anything without the help of a tripod. Most people enjoy leaf peeping either from their car or while hiking, so having a pair of binoculars that are easy to take out and use is key. 

Anti-fog lenses 

Anyone that wears glasses will tell you that there’s nothing worse than a foggy lens. The same is true for binoculars. Lens fogging is often caused when the binoculars are taken from a warm place to a cold place or vice versa. Some binoculars are made with features to help prevent this from happening so that you never miss out on the action. 

Optics and lens coating 

When using a pair of binoculars for leaf peeping, you want to be able to see every color in all its glory. Having a pair of binoculars with coated lenses will help reduce glare and to make colors appear more vivid in the lens. Some binoculars are uncoated, whereas others have either one coat or multiple coats on the lenses. 

How much you can expect to spend on binoculars for leaf peeping

Binoculars can range from about $50 to upwards of $1,000, depending on their specs and features. 

Binoculars for leaf peeping FAQ

Should I buy a tripod to use with my binoculars while leaf peeping? 

A. This depends on a few different factors. Are your binoculars heavy to use? If so, having a tripod will help you use them while leaf peeping. However, bear in mind that it will be difficult to transport and set up binoculars and a tripod on hikes or road trips. 

Do I need binoculars with a large exit pupil diameter for leaf peeping? 

A. For leaf peeping specifically, not at all. Most leaf peeping is done during the light of day in bright enough conditions that you should need no more than a standard exit pupil of 2mm. 

What are the best binoculars for leaf peeping to buy?

Top binoculars to bring leaf peeping 

Celestron Nature DX 10x32 Binoculars

Celestron Nature DX 10×32 Binoculars

What you need to know: These binoculars are rugged and designed to be taken out on the trail. They are perfect for both leaf peeping and birdwatching. 

What you’ll love: These binoculars produce very clear images and are also easy to use. 

What you should consider: Some users have reported concerns about durability. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top binoculars to bring leaf peeping for the money

Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars

Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars 

What you need to know: These bargain-priced binoculars are compact and easy to use. They are the perfect pair for first-time users. 

What you’ll love: These binoculars are lightweight and comfortable to use, thanks to their adjustable eyecups. 

What you should consider: The lenses in this binocular are not multi-coated. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Zeiss Terra ED Binoculars

Zeiss Terra ED Binoculars 

What you need to know: These premium binoculars from Zeiss come in a few different size varieties, from 8×25 to 10×42, as well as color varieties. Since they are waterproof, they are perfect for those who enjoy leaf peeping in rainier climates. 

What you’ll love: Aside from being waterproof, these binoculars are also top of the line when it comes to durability. The optics are multi-coated for crisp images. 

What you should consider: These binoculars are on the more expensive end of the price range but will last you for many seasons to come. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Addison Hoggard writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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