A good pair of birding binoculars is essential for any birder, but having the right binocular accessories is just as important to make the optics easier to use, work better and last longer. By understanding the different types of accessories and how to choose them to match your binoculars, it is easy to choose the right tools to use with your binns.
Types of Binocular Accessories
From simple tools to care for your binoculars to accessories to turn simple binoculars into stronger, more powerful optics, there are many types of binocular accessories for birders.
- Neck Strap: A basic neck strap is typically included with every pair of new binoculars, though its length, strength and quality can vary. Extra straps for purchase are often wider and padded for more comfortable use, and specialized flotation neck straps are available that can be very useful for birding in wet areas, including lakes, rivers, wetlands and pelagic trips.
- Cost: $0-50+
- Harness: A binocular harness, also called binocular suspenders, is strung over both shoulders and under the arms to take the weight of the binoculars along the upper body instead of from the neck. Harnesses are usually more durable than neck straps, and they are adjustable to hold the binns at different heights. Many birders who spend hours in the field prefer harnesses for secure, hands-free carrying without neck pain.
- Cost: $20-35
- Lens Covers: Most binoculars come equipped with initial pair of covers for the lenses and eyepieces when the binns are not in use. These covers protect the binoculars from excessive dust or moisture, but they can be easily lost. It is best to choose covers that can be attached to the binoculars and removed quickly without getting lost.
- Cost: $0-15
- Case: Many binoculars include a basic case that may have one or two small pockets, a belt loop and a basic carrying strap. More elaborate cases are larger and could double as small field bags or may have enough room for a camera. When choosing a binocular case, opt for a model that allows quick, easy access whenever a bird is sighted.
- Cost: $0-75+
- Cleaning Pen: A simple cleaning “pen” has a small dust brush to delicately remove debris from binocular lenses, coupled with a gentle scrubber on the opposite end to remove spots or streaks from the glass, and a single pen is useful for dozens of cleanings. These pens are excellent for a fast cleaning job in the field, and they are a convenient size to be added to any field bag or birding vest.
- Cost: $5-10
- Microfiber Cloth: A small microfiber cloth is an easy binocular accessory for any birder to carry. These cloths can be gently used to remove basic dirt and debris from binoculars and can double as a cleaning accessory for a spotting scope, camera or glasses.
- Cost: $2-6
- Cleaning Kit: An extensive cleaning kit for binoculars and other optics may include several accessories such as a lens pen or small brush, microfiber cloth, cleaning fluid and premoistened cleansing wipes. These kits are especially useful for birders who carry several optics at once and can be used for any necessary binocular cleaning.
- Cost: $5-50
- Magnification Booster: A simple magnification booster is useful when a spotting scope may be too expensive or bulky to use. These small tools can be held up to the eyepiece of binoculars and effectively double the optics' magnification. They may be awkward, but can be preferable for traveling birders who prefer not to tote along a more expensive and more delicate spotting scope.
- Cost: $150-200+
- Camera Adapter: As the process of digiscoping – shooting photos through spotting scopes or binoculars – becomes more widespread, birders interested in using their binns for taking photos may need a camera adapter. These adapters connect the camera to one eyepiece of the binoculars with a secure, steady connection for better quality photos.
- Cost: $25-50
- Tripod Mount: Birders who may not have steady hands can easily use a tripod mount to position their binoculars for hands-free, stable views. These adapters hold the binns in place, but making fine adjustments can be tricky depending on the mount model.
- Cost: $15-30
What Accessories to Choose
The exact accessories you need to make the most of your binoculars will depend on the type of birding you do and how you use your binns. For example, if you often share your binoculars with others, a neck strap may be a better choice than a harness, which has more limited mobility between two people in the field. If you keep your optics well cared for and cover them in poor conditions, a simple cleaning pen or microfiber cloth may be sufficient for your cleaning needs instead of a full cleaning kit.
In addition to choosing only the accessories that suit your binns and your birding needs, it is essential to also choose accessories compatible with your specific binocular model. While basic cleaning supplies and straps will work with any binoculars, camera adapters, tripod mounts and other elaborate accessories may need to be chosen with specific models in mind. When investigating these types of accessories, it is best to refer to the optics' manufacturer for recommendations.
Where to Buy Binocular Accessories
Binocular accessories are available wherever optics are sold, including stores that specialize in hunting, camping and birding gear. Camera stores may also have limited supplies available that are suitable for use with binoculars. Online retailers often have a wide selection of binocular acccessories, including top retailers such as:
Choosing the right accessories for your binoculars is essential to make the most of these popular optics. By having the right cleaning, protection and enhancement accessories on hand, even a simple pair of binoculars can be more efficient and effective for many years.
Photo – Binocular Accessories © Melissa Mayntz