Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside
GearTools & Tech

What binoculars should I buy for an African safari?

I wondering what binoculars you'd recommend for ge viewing in Africa. This will be for use on open plains and in thick bush, both when I'm on the go and standing still. I'm considering either the Leica Duovid 8+12x42's or Swarovski EL 8.5x42's. Bertus Calgary, Alberta

A: Well, how do you begin to say one is better than the other? The Leica Duovid 8+12's are only one of the finest pairs of binoculars on this or any other planet, with adjustable magnification and wide-angle view. Their aluminum and magnesium construction is utterly superb, as is their glass quality. Moreover, the Duovids are beautifully balanced and easy to hold.

Of course, for this you pay a premium: $1,400. But they're a lifetime investment, not to mention one helluva heirloom.

On the face of it, the Swarovski EL 8.5x42's are frankly just as good and essentially the same price. They're also eight ounces lighter, the product of slightly different construction and the fact their magnification is fixed at a power of eight—as opposed to the Duovid's eight to 12 range. They're also a slimmer design, something that may be a factor for extended hand-held viewing.

Generally, though, I gotta think the additional magnification afforded you by the Leicas makes them a superb choice for viewing distant objects and wildlife. The Swarovskis are slightly better "all-purpose" binocs, particularly when you're both hiking and standing, due to their lighter weight and trimmer design.

If you can, try to use both, side by side, in a store. See what feels best and is most comfortable when stuck up against your face. But rest assured, you'll not go wrong with either.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Binoculars and Telescopes