Vortex binoculars are useful for many different kinds of activities. We prefer to use ours on clear, dark nights, when you get a good view of the stars, but they’re also perfect for anyone who wants to try some bird watching.
Vortex itself operates out of Barneveld, Wisconsin, and currently sells binoculars, monoculars, spotting scopes, riflescopes, red dot sights and related accessories. And while its products may have a rather tight wildlife focus, there are plenty of binoculars on offer that will be attractive to the stargazer. The beauty of the best binoculars, after all, is that they are versatile, and are just as great for looking at bears as they are at the Great Bear.
Thanks to shortages in the optics industry, we’re not expecting a whole lot of bargains to appear when it comes to the best binoculars, even with Black Friday looming. As such, any money you save when you buy a pair at the moment is something to be celebrated, so don’t hesitate to snap up a pair if you see a good deal or discount below.
Things to look out for when buying binoculars for stargazing include porro prism construction, multicoated optics, and the ability to mount the binoculars on a tripod. Vortex products also come with a lifetime warranty, and are generally rubber-coated and sealed against being caught in the rain.
Buying for someone younger? Read through our article on the best binoculars for kids, to make sure you pick something that suits them. Or, if you’re looking for a wider range of optics, take a look at our round-up of telescopes for sale and binoculars deals currently available.
Vortex Optics Raptor binoculars
Price: $129, Objective: 32mm, Magnification: 10x, Field of view: 6.3°, Length: 114mm, Weight: 500g.
A porro prism design with an angle of view of 6.3°, this is the largest pair Vortex makes in the Raptor range. The 32mm objective could be larger for stargazing, to let in more light, but this pair would make an excellent multipurpose set of binoculars.
With an interpupillary distance that swings from 50-70mm (2-2.8in) these are suitable for all the family, even those who may have had trouble resolving an image with other pairs, and the multicoated optics enhance resolution and contrast, while rubber O-rings keep out the water and dust. A diopter adjuster on the right eyepiece allows you to make small changes to account for differences between your eyes, and the center-mounted focus adjuster is smooth and easily found with the fingertips.
The other thing to notice about these binoculars is the price. At just $129 MSRP you’re getting a lot of optics for your money, and they might be the only binoculars you ever need. An 8.5×32 pair is also available.
Vortex Optics Crossfire binoculars
Price: $219 Objective: 50mm, Magnification: 10x, Field of view: 6.1°, Length: 170mm, Weight: 863g.
A flat prism design, but a good one, these are longer and heavier than the Raptors, but make up for it in astronomy terms by having larger 50mm lenses that gather more light.
Younger or smaller users may struggle with the minimum interpupillary distance of 60mm, and the additional weight may prompt the purchase of a tripod and adapter for long periods looking at the night sky.
The optics are fully multicoated and the body rubber-sealed against water and dirt. Nitrogen purging of the elements means they’re less likely to fog up in colder weather, and a rainguard is also included. Also available are 8×42, 10×42, and 12×50 pairs.
Vortex Optics Kaibab HD binoculars
Price: $1,299.99, Objective: 56mm, Magnification: 18x, Field of view: 3.7°, Length: 195mm, Weight: 1,233g.
A large, heavy pair of binoculars designed for use with a tripod (and bundled with an adapter) these may be intended for picking out shy deer from a hillside a mile away, but those larger than normal objective lenses give them just the light-gathering power you want for night-sky use.
This is balanced out by the high magnification, which can lead to dimmer images, but the Kaibabs’ excellent coated optics – fully multicoated, with dielectric mirror coatings on the prism surfaces – plus the use of an extra low dispersion glass element – means you’re not losing too much light to the inner workings of the binoculars, and it’s being focused sharply to avoid color fringing.
If you can afford them, mount them, and deal with carrying them and a tripod around, then these will provide fine views of lunar features and areas such as Orion’s belt, but are less useful for wide star fields.
Vortex Optics Viper HD binoculars
Price: $729.99, Objective: 50mm, Magnification: 10x, Field of view: 6.6°, Length: 165mm, Weight: 805g.
Light and compact, the Viper HD binoculars are perfect for carrying with you all day, transitioning from day-time wildlife watching to night-time star spotting.
From the tough rubber coating to the broad and easy to reach focus adjuster, it’s clear these are the kind of class act we’ve come to expect from Vortex. The Viper HD binoculars contain the company’s HD optics, which are multicoated for better light transmission and extra-low dispersion to correct for colored fringing – something especially important in the high-contrast views you get of the Moon, for example. The roof prism is a Bak-4 design, with phase correction coatings to really boost that contrast. Despite being lightweight, holding binoculars up to the sky for long periods can be tiring, so there’s a tripod mount provided, though you’ll need to buy an adapter separately.
Note that there may be multiple versions of the Viper binoculars on sale out there – in 2018 the range received a new optical construction with a slightly wider field of view, and switched from a nitrogen purge to an argon filling to prevent fogging. Also available are 12×50, 10×42, and 8×42 pairs.