Why Every Survivalist Needs a Pair of Binoculars

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from James Petzke. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.


When you are scouring lists of equipment to prepare you for any survival situation, binoculars aren’t often found. However, you should seriously consider keeping a pair around. From hunting animals to scouting missions, binoculars are exceptionally useful in a survivalist scenario.

Why Do Preppers Need Binoculars?

For centuries, military scouts and sailors have used binoculars during their missions. Military scouts have used binoculars during recon missions to find out the position of enemy troops without being seen. Meanwhile, sailors use binoculars at sea to spot ships on the horizon, land and changes in weather conditions.

You will want to get binoculars if you like to hunt. Before your hunting trip takes place, binoculars are an excellent way to gather recon about game animals. You can figure out where bears, elk and other animals regularly walk so that you are in the perfect position for your next trip.

If you are on a scouting mission, you can use binoculars to spot an ambush before it is too late. You can scout the path ahead for people or situations that could become a problem. When you are encamped or at your retreat, you can use binoculars to scan the surrounding area and monitor any developments. Later on, binoculars can help you see through dense cover that would be impossible to see through normally.

Binoculars are a necessity during daytime missions because they help you to find cover to hide behind. Unlike nighttime, you are completely visible to intruders or potential combatants in the daylight. You need to stay within brush, and binoculars make it simpler to find cover. More importantly, they allow you to spot anyone who approaches from your position before they can see you.

In an extreme survivalist situation, binoculars can even be modified for starting a fire. The lens can be used like a magnifying glass if you do not have a flint stone available. Likewise, the lens can be used as a signaling device if nothing else is available.

Overall, preppers and survivalists can use binoculars for the following things:

  • Scouting your path ahead
  • Starting a fire
  • Signaling to friendly groups or individuals
  • Seeing through dense cover
  • Gathering recon about animals, combatants and supplies near you
  • Over-watching a position while you are holed up
  • Monitoring surroundings while you are encamped
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People tend to feel defensive or upset if a rifle is pointed at them. If you are trying to identify an unknown object that turns out to be human, then that person will probably view you as a threat.

Could I Use a Rifle Scope Instead of binoculars?

It is not possible to use a rifle scope instead of binoculars. If you do not have another option available, then you could use a scope temporarily. There are a number reasons why you do not want to use a rifle scope. People tend to feel defensive or upset if a rifle is pointed at them. If you are trying to identify an unknown object that turns out to be human, then that person will probably view you as a threat.

Other than trying not to terrify hikers who traverse the nearby land, rifle scopes are poor alternatives because they have a smaller field of view. If you are trying to monitor the surrounding area or gather recon, a larger field of view will speed up your ability to search and scan the area. Plus, the larger field of view means that you can move your arms less. This decreases the chances that you will be spotted and conserves a slight amount of energy. At the very least, you should use binoculars instead of a rifle scope because you are able to detect movement better using two eyes instead of one.

How Powerful Should Binoculars Be?

Binoculars are offered in a variety of magnification levels. While it seems intuitive that a higher magnification would be better, this is not always the case. If you want hand-held binoculars, you actually will need a lower magnification level for most purposes. When you have a high magnification, the images move around too much and are unsettling to see.

While there is such a thing as a magnification that is too high, it is also possible to buy binoculars that have too low of a magnification level. Low magnification makes it harder to see at a distance and are not that different from the way you would normally see things. For a magnification that provides a stable, clear image, most people will want to choose a seven or eight times magnification.

Selecting the Right Binocular Design

There are tons of options out there, and choosing the right pair of binoculars can be very difficult. The best place to start after you’ve determined the level of magnification you need is by choosing a design.

Roof prism or straight-through binoculars have fairly straight tubes from the objective lens to the eyepiece. This design is typically used as theater glasses, so it is not that effective for survivalist purposes.

The better option for preppers is the offset type of binoculars. These binoculars have a much larger objective lens, which means that more light can pass through. The additional light and the larger distance between the two objective lens means that the binoculars provide better perception and gauging of distances. Offset-type binoculars are designed so that they can have a smaller length because the light travels in a “Z” shape through the lens. Overall, this makes them a better design for survivalists.

Bushnell PowerView Super High-Powered Surveillance Binoculars
Bushnell PowerView Super High-Powered Surveillance Binoculars

Fixed observation points may require a different type of binoculars. Normally, you do not want a high magnification for portable binoculars because the lens will shake. Since a fixed observation point is designed with stable platforms and space, you can set up a tripod for the binoculars. This allows you to use a higher level of magnification and a larger objective lens diameter. While you may only need to see to the tree line, you could set up a telescope at a fixed observation point if you want to see something in great detail at a distance.

Consider the Ease of Repair and Construction

If the world ends as we know it, then the chances are slim that you will get to buy a new pair of binoculars or supplies. Due to this, you may want to consider the way that your binoculars are constructed. Rubberized or armored finishes make binoculars better able to handle the shock of being dropped. In addition, a rubber exterior means that the binoculars will make less sound if they bump against something.

When testing your binoculars, screw the focus adjustment completely to the end so that the eyepieces are as far away from the body of the binoculars as possible. Afterward, press on the two eyepieces and see if they wobble. A high-quality pair will not wobble when you place pressure on them. If they wobble, then the binoculars are not the type of quality that you are looking for.

If the worst case scenario happens, you will need to have binoculars on hand. From scouting missions to hunting, binoculars are a must-have accessory for survivalists. By picking the right binoculars, you can ensure that you are able to have the tools that you need to stay secure in any situation.

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3 Comments on "Why Every Survivalist Needs a Pair of Binoculars"

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Bolofia
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You are certainly correct that binoculars are an essential component for tactical activity and survival, and it’s surprising that little has been written about this in the past. I typically take three types of optical magnification with me when out in the field: A 20X to 60X spotting scope, an 8X to 24X by 50 wide field binocular, and a small 7X to 20X by 7.1 binocular. The spotting scope is primarily useful from elevated points (mountain tops), enabling me to monitor activity at long distances. This unit requires a tripod for stability, but it is always in my truck.… Read more »
To the Right of Attila the Hun
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To the Right of Attila the Hun

Binoculars are indeed must have gear. Each member of your group needs them as well as a couple of replacements. Another “Nice to have” item is a monocular for your “get home or bug out bag.” Do not get the cheap ones that go from 10x to 30x zoom. get a good on that is 8x with clear optics. Light weight and takes up very little room.

chuck Findlay
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I have used a rifle scope to spot things in the distance. Minus the attached rifle. I have at least 4 extra scopes sitting around. But you are right a set of binoculars are a much better choice because of the field of view. In my get-home-bag that I keep in my truck I have a 10-X monocular because the bag has so many things already and binoculars take up more space. For a while I had a small set of Tasco binoculars in the bag but getting bumped around they ended up with each tube looking different directions, so… Read more »