Do you love spending all your time outdoors looking at birds? Or as much time as you can spare… Me too!
If you're obsessed with birding like me, you'll want all the right gear to make the most of your experience and improve image quality with a bird watching monocular. I've spent a ton of time researching and trying the best birding clothes and accessories on the market.
The result? I've made my favorite hobby that much better.
I can recommend great hats and even the best monocular for bird watching and excellent image quality with quality magnification power and a larger objective lens. Whether you're just starting out or a seasoned pro, there's a lot to discuss about birding in style.
Read on for the best tips and advice!
Bird Watching Outfits for Bird Watching in Style
Before you run out into the bush chasing after that flame-throated warbler, you want to take some time to think about your bird watching outfit and birding monocular.
When you’re birding, you want to be able to move easily and blend in with the outdoor surroundings. You also want to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the day, even as the sun rises in the sky and the weather changes.
The solution is in a combination of breathable and waterproof layers, and no bright colors or crazy patterns! I recommend earth tones like olive green, brown, and gray.
For your bird watching outfit, you’ll want to think about pants, tops, the shoes or boots and the hat, and then consider aspects of each, such as waterproofing, breathability, range of motion, sun and wind protection and durability, and so forth. All of this before you even get to buy the best monoculars for bird watching!
There’s a lot to think about, but I can guide you through it.
The Perfect Pants for Bird Watching
Khaki pants are the perfect pants for bird watching because they're designed for comfort. They also come in just the right colors. They have deep pockets so you can tuck away your bird whistle and a granola bar for a snack after long hours trekking outdoors.
Quality khaki pants tend to be durable. When out bird watching, you'll find yourself crouching in a meadow with your camera or creeping through dense underbrush with your monocular, bending low and scrabbling over fallen logs to find the birds you really want to see.
With reinforced seams and strong fabric, wearcing a good pair of khakis means you'll avoid splits or tearing that could ruin the birding fun.
Comfortable Shirts that Protect Your Arms
Your shirt or jacket needs to have long sleeves to protect your arms from scratches and sun exposure. Even on hot days, try to stick with full length sleeves. Choose lighter, breathable fabrics to keep cool, but try not to expose bare skin.
Layers are the most convenient way to regulate your body temperature. Try a birding vest, full of pockets, usually in a tan color or olive green, to allow freedom of movement for your arms while keeping your core warm.
What About the Bugs?
Weather aside, your bird watching clothing is meant to shield you from deer ticks and pesky bugs that can be harmful. If you're bird watching in tick-infested areas, such as fields with long grasses or dense forests–especially habitats frequented by white tail deer–be sure to check for ticks when you get home.
See a doctor if you find anything concerning. A tick bite can get infected or even lead to lyme disease.
Bird Watching Shoes that Go the Distance
Comfortable, sturdy shoes are one of the most important components of your bird watching ensemble. Sneakers or hiking boots are the bird watcher's most popular choice.
Stay Away From the Sandals!
As a rule, leave your sandals at home. Some chic strappy sandals with heels are too silly to even consider. Tevas may seem enticing in summer weather because you know you can walk comfortably in them all day, but the risk of splinters or a snake bite means it's always best to stick with solid shoes!
Hiking Boots are a Safe Bet
Hiking boots with deep treads and grippy rubber soles can help you find purchase on slippery slopes. Ankle support is also key when navigating uneven terrain. Timberland is one of those quality brands that bird watchers rely on.
My best birding boots are a pair of Blundstones I've worn in and waterproofed. They slip on with no laces, so that’s one less thing I have to worry about. They cost me a bit at the outset, but they're a great quality pair of boots that will last me for years.
Birding Hats are Where it’s At!
Next you'll want to consider hats. Boonie hats originated for military forces in tropical climates. A boonie hat is an excellent choice for bird watching because it's wide-brimmed and lightweight. It’s a hat that protects your head and neck from the sun and shields your eyes from glare. It also has wire in the brim so you can shape the hat however you like.
A boonie hat is perfect for hot weather birding; just make sure it's not too tight or it could give you a headache after long hours looking up at the sky. A brimmed hat in general will save your face and neck from the sun as well as keep the sweat out of your eyes. Shading your eyes will provide much needed eye relief.
Hats Help with the Bugs Too
For extra protection, choose a hat with mosquito netting. In buggy areas, this can make all the difference between an enjoyable birding experience and a birding nightmare!
Mosquitos attract the songbirds that feed on them, and songbirds attract birdwatchers... So it's not surprising we all end up sharing the same outdoor space and learning to live with one another.
If you do choose to bring bug repellent, make sure you choose a natural product. Any repellent is going to make you more comfortable but some are dangerous to the birds we want to protect. If you care about birds, stay away from the deet and say hello to citronella.
Cold Weather Beanies
When the temperature drops low, I wear a stocking cap or beanie underneath my boonie hat for added warmth.
A wide-brimmed hat saves you from the sun, offers eye relief and keeps your head warm in the winter. But if the brim of your hat obstructs your view of the birds, you're going to feel frustrated.
For that reason, always try on your birding hat before you buy. Pretend you spotted a rare eagle. Can you crane your neck without losing your hat? Can you see everything you want to see?
A Hat for the Seafaring Birders!
Another favorite birding hat of mine for birding is a Tilly hat, which is a boating hat with a moderate sized brim. The Tilly comes with the added bonus that it floats if I drop it in water! For sea bird lovers–calling all loon and gull-enthusiasts–a Tilly hat is a must!
Bird Watching Accessories
Now that you have the outfit, it's time to think about accessories. Birding accessories are the most fun to buy and they can make or break a great birding experience. Accessories can bring you eye relief, whether or not you wear glasses. You'll need a camera for image capture and a durable monocular.
I use a sturdy but small backpack to carry my camera and my cell phone mount or tripod mount, and to tuck away extra clothing layers. Jansport is a good quality brand.
I wear clothing with deep pockets where I can keep my whistle ready and always have a tasty snack on hand.
The Only Monocular You’ll Ever Need
Actually seeing the birds up close is the most important thing about bird watching. It's why we go out there in the first place! It's also why you want a good birding monocular, even if you wear glasses.
The best monocular for bird watching is small, lightweight and easy to carry. It should offer a bright image with high grade optics and superior light transmission, so you can see the birds as though you’re standing with your nose up close to their feathers.
You won't need night vision or thermal imaging unless you're hunting for owls in the dark. But you will need a clear image! The best monoculars for bird watching are entered around features such as fog proof lenses, image quality, objective lens and eye relief.
To get the best monoculars for bird watching you will want to consider a sturdy lens cap to prevent scratches, a twist up eye cup, and something that works well in low light conditions.
Glasses wearers or those who wear corrective lenses will have further considerations about the eyepiece lens and ante-fog aspects. Eye relief for those who wear glasses is an added concern. A high powered monocular will provide brighter images and refreshing eye relief for everyone.
To Binocular or Monocular? This is the Question!
Some bird watchers like to recommend traditional binoculars. This is a personal decision based on your budget and individual needs for eye relief.
I find binoculars don't actually offer higher magnification and are more bulky to carry around with me. I never like my equipment to slow me down. Sometimes you have so little time to get a great view. A flick of the wing and the bird is gone!
I've stayed loyal to my Starscope monocular. I’ve bought one good one and so far it's lasted through all of my epic outdoor adventures. I recommend bonding with a top quality monocular because they're more affordable than full size binoculars and lighter to bring with you, while still providing great viewing power and high magnification.
In short: You want an affordable price, but not a cheap monocular for bird watching.
The best monocular for bird watching will offer superior optics, durability, a stable image and ease of use so you can concentrate on spotting beautiful birds. So you can even see the feather patterns up close in HD, without having to worry about your equipment.
The best birding monocular will have higher magnification power, all the features you actually need, maybe even a portable spotting scope!
Don’t Forget the Water Resistance
A water resistant monocular is an especially great optical device. Add to that a shock proof bird watching monocular.
If you're doing a lot of birding near lakes or bogs, or if rain is in the forecast, be sure to have a waterproof or water resistant birding monocular on hand. You can also add non slip rubber armor for non slip grip, because you never want to drop your equipment.
Your equipment needs protection from the elements; it's not much use to you if it gets ruined the first time you're caught out in a shower or low light conditions.
Magnification is Key
I recommend a monocular with at least 10x magnification power. Magnification power makes for clean, detailed images and fully multi coated optics.
Higher magnifications can be helpful in certain situations such as low light conditions, but they also make the device heavier and more difficult to hold steady.
You'll also want to consider the size of the lens too. The larger the objective lens, the more light it will collect and the clearer your image will be. Multi coated optics are great value, and you may even want to ask if your monocular can capture photos?
I prefer to keep my camera and my spotting scopes separate. But I do like to think about all of the features for wingspan optics, from a large objective lens to multi coated optics, even a fog proof vortex optics solo monocular.
Anything and everything to get you clear images. You name it, I've researched it! Even night vision, not because I want night vision, but because it's interesting!
Putting it All Together
When choosing any bird watching equipment, it's important to get something that will be comfortable for you to use. You'll have extra considerations if you're a person who is wearing glasses.
You don't want anything too clunky or bulky that will slow you down, and you definitely don't want anything that's going to cause blisters by rubbing against your skin all day long. You want eye relief, compact design, and a decent image with quality features.
Be sure to try out different gear before making your purchase so you know what best suits your needs. Prioritize quality–having to replace poor quality items over and over again is not the way to save money, or improve your bird watching experiences.
And that goes for monoculars for bird watching as much as anything else.
With the right clothing and accessories with fully multi coated optics, birding can be a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone!
I hope that sharing this information helps you get ready for some great birding adventures. Happy bird watching means comfort during long days outdoors and birds that you can actually see!
I look forward to seeing you out there.
If you're looking for more outdoors experiences check out this article