5 Best Spotting Scopes for Backpack Hunting (Light, Compact)

(Last Updated On: January 31, 2020)

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Passion, grit, and the right kind of gear; if you have these, nothing can stop you from enjoying backpack hunting. But, if your gear isn’t par excellence, you might miss the trophies and put yourself in a dangerous situation as well.

Therefore, we decided to collect some of the best spotting scopes for backpack hunting and make your hunting gear foolproof.

Here is our quick list of compact and lightweight spotting scopes for backpack hunters;

New hunters often avoid going on a mission with nothing but a bag because of its intimidating feeling and a sense-of-thrill that comes with it. Wandering alone in a vast region in search of your trophy is undoubtedly a tough job and requires specialized equipment. Therefore, if your hunting weapon and glass are top-notch, you will ace your backpack hunts like a pro.

If you’ve plans to go backpacking this season, stay with me, and I’ll help you shortlist the best spotting scopes for backpack hunting of different prices.

From the basic level spotters to high-end ones, our list has all; see for yourself:

1. Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scopes Review

Vortex Optics Razor HD Spotting Scope 11-33×50…
  • The Razor HD is Vortex Optics’ top of the line spotting scope. The 11-33×50 Angled Razor is ultra-lightweight and packable for your convenience.
  • Triplet Apochromatic lens combined with high density, extra-low dispersion glass delivers unparalled resolution and color fidelity. XR Plus anti-reflective coatings were applied to the lenses to yield maximum brightness for critical low-light glassing.

Specs

  • Magnification: 11-33x
  • Lens size: 50mm
  • Weight: 25oz
  • Close focus distance: 6.6ft
  • FOV: 191-96ft
  • Eye relief distance: 16-19mm
  • Exit pupil diameter: 4.5-1.5mm
  • Twilight factor: 24-40

Pros

  • ED lens glass with XR plus coating
  • Ergonomic & lightweight body
  • Smooth zoom eyepiece
  • Dual focus mechanism
  • Rugged grip
  • Fully weather-resistant

Cons

  • Tight eye relief distance

What’s in the box?

  • Vortex Razor HD scope
  • Stay-on carry case
  • Lens and eyepiece covers

Vortex Optics is every backpack hunter’s go-to brand if they need compact, apt, and inexpensive spotting scopes. This Vortex Razor HD scope has a brilliantly designed body for a comfortable grip and easy hauling. When you climb mountains and take long strolls across a desert, this 25 ounces scope will never become a burden for you.

However, just because it’s a small scope doesn’t mean its optical performance is less than the biggies (frankly, we should never expect that from Vortex). To provide you with the utmost image clarity, this spotter has a 50mm focal lens made from extra-low dispersion glass.

Here’s an overview of Vortex Razor Hd spotters:

Furthermore, this lens is coated with Vortex’s premium XR plus anti-reflective coating that reduces fringing, chromatic aberration, and glare from the final imagery. Vortex 11-33x HD scope ensures that the imagery is always fringing-free and coherent, regardless of the subject’s distance.

The impressive 191-96ft FOV is another supreme feature of this lightweight hunting spotter that you can’t find in other small ones. This large FOV and up to 33x magnification both perform remarkably well and let backpack hunters relax while scouting a region.

As hunting locations are always unpredictable, you must take care of the glass’s safety. Luckily, Vortex has solved that problem with the addition of rugged rubber armor in this Razor HD scope. This rubber housing offers a non-slip grip and also helps you keep the focus fixed at one point.

The unique dual focus ring proves to be helpful when you spot a running target and can’t afford losing its sight. The larger knob, i.e., coarse knob, quickly locks a view when you move it, and then the small knob, i.e., fine knob, further zeros in on the object. This dual knob saves your time and hassle when the prey is quirky and is constantly on-the-go. 

The soft, foldable eyecup provides 16-19mm eye relief distance to keep your eyes comfortable. Although this ERD is nothing we can boast about, it’s fair enough for a merely 10″ long scope. As backpack hunts require constant movement, you won’t even notice this ERD.

However, if you have other glassing interests, i.e., birding as well, we suggest you look at other best spotting scopes for backpack hunting before deciding.

Dry argon purging and O-ring sealed lens keep its insides dry, and the durable ArmorTek coating protects your precious scope’s lens from pollutants and debris alike. All in all, this one is a resilient scope with an ergonomic build and superior optical performance (what else could we expect from Vortex?).

2. Roxant Blackbird HD 12-36X scope Review

Sale
Roxant Authentic Blackbird High Definition…
  • ACCESSORIES INCLUDED – Compact Precision Spotting Scope With ZOOM 12-36×50 (Includes Premium Portable, Foldable, Handled Tripod and Carrying Case and Lens Caps) 45 Degree Angled Eyepiece Allows Practical Comfortable Viewing
  • WEATHERPROOF RUBBER ARMOR CONSTRUCTION – Rugged Non-Slip With A LARGE, “Smooth Glide” Textured Focus Ring ON the main barrel, (NOT a tiny separate knob above) + No Slip Comfort Molded Grip. Special Features – Extendable/Retractable Eyepiece For Use WITH Or WITHOUT Glasses + Extendable Sunshade Built Onto The Main Barrel To Reduce Glare. Large Objective Lens Allows Superior Light Transmission And A Bright WIDE View

Specs

  • Magnification: 12-36x
  • Lens size: 50mm
  • Weight: 17.3oz
  • Close focus distance: 26ft
  • FOV: 170-85ft at 1000 yards
  • Eye relief distance: Not specified
  • Exit pupil diameter: 4.1-1.4mm
  • Twilight factor: 24-42

Pros

  • Built-in sunshade
  • Textured central focus ring
  • Fully multi-coated glass
  • Non-slip rubber armor
  • Retractable eyecup

Cons

  • Image quality is not commendable at high magnifications

What’s in the box?

  • Roxant blackbird spotter
  • Foldable tabletop tripod
  • Lens and eyepiece covers
  • Durable carry case
  • Cleaning cloth

Roxant Optics’ motto is “cool gear for creative people,” which perfectly fits with the ideology of backpack hunters. This blackbird spotter is one-of-its-kind due to its sturdy construction and premium optical quality.

If you have a limited budget and want to experience military-grade glass performance, there’s nothing better than the Roxant 12-36×50 scope. It has a durable non-slip rubber armor that lets you run in the wild without bothering the glass’s safety. Moreover, this rubber housing offers excellent grip in rainfalls and doesn’t let your focus waver.

The attached rubber lens cap and extendable sunshade are some extra perks that you get with this palm-sized spotter. The retractable sunshade prevents glare and blocks the way of excessive sunlight without compelling you to move the set-up in a shaded place.

Roxant blackbird spotter is ideal for backcountry hunters due to its good magnification power and wide FOV. You’ll get excellent image quality without any edge distortion.

The high-quality Bak4 prism reduces edge fringing and always keeps the view well-differentiated. Moreover, the multi-coated lens ensures remarkable light transmission and removes chromatic aberration simultaneously.

Roxant introduced this scope to help you save money and be comfortable wherever you go. Therefore, it comes with a metal tabletop tripod that has a lockable pan head. You can easily pack this tripod and scope in the carry bag and continue backpacking in the most challenging terrains. This tripod’s metal mounting screw offers brilliant security and doesn’t consume your time. 

Unlike small focusing knobs, Roxant blackbird has a central focus ring for easy operation. This “smooth glide” focus ring is placed right behind the objective lens so that you don’t have to move your gaze while setting it.

This 12-36×50 scope has mid-level exit pupil diameter and twilight factor that are suitable for backpackers. However, this 24-42 twilight factor isn’t exceptional for morning/evening adventures.

Compact body, robust housing, military-grade optical quality, the no-wiggle tripod, and a great price; Roxant blackbird spotting scope is undoubtedly a jackpot for backpack hunters.

3. Bushnell 12-36x50mm spotting scope

Sale
Bushnell 12-36x50mm Waterproof Ultra Compact…
  • Hunting scopes spotting
  • Made of the highest quality materials

Specs

  • Magnification: 12-36x
  • Lens size: 50mm
  • Weight: 21.9oz
  • Close focus distance: 12ft
  • FOV: 140-65ft at 1000 yards
  • Eye relief distance: 14mm
  • Exit pupil diameter: 3.1-1.5mm
  • Twilight factor: 24-42

Pros

  • Multi-coated lens
  • Shock-absorbing rubber armor
  • Fully weather and shockproof
  • Excellent light transmission

Cons

  • Poor eye relief
  • Shaky tripod

What’s in the box?

  • Bushnell scope
  • Tripod
  • Car window mount
  • Carry case
  • Hard case
  • Scope glove

Bushnell 12-36x spotting scope is built to survive the harshest weather conditions and still perform remarkably well. Its 50mm fully multi-coated lens is specialized in producing a well-differentiated, vivid, and distortion-free view of the farthest objects in your way.

Once this scope is in your hands, you’ll feel the premium craftsmanship and due diligence that Bushnell has incorporated in its making. Its outer armor is made up of soft and textured rubber that shelters the prism and objective lens from all external shocks and impurities. Even if your Bushnell scope falls on a rock, its lens will remain unharmed.

Moreover, to make this spotter compatible for backpack hunters, Bushnell has made it 100% weatherproof. Rain, dust, and uneven terrains, nothing can beat the ruggedness of this little scope.

Despite being a pocket-sized scope, Bushnell 12-36X provides a mid-range exit pupil diameter that keeps your eyes relaxed and doesn’t strain your pupils. However, the only drawback of this scope is its 14mm eye relief distance. This narrow ERD means you’ll have a hard time adjusting with the eyepiece. But, once you’re habitual of this ERD, the optical clarity will captivate you for sure.

The sentry scope comes with a small tripod, car window mount, soft pouch, hard case, and attached lens cover. These useful accessories don’t increase your bag’s weight and don’t require much set-up effort either; these two advantages are perfect for backpackers.

Ultra-compact, resilient, and able-to-do-the-job, Bushnell Sentry spotting scope ticks most boxes of a good backpack hunting scope. If you want a mid-level spotter that matches most glassing requirements, go for this one!

4. Leupold Compact Gold Ring 10-20X40

Leupold GR 10-20x40mm Gold Ring Compact Spotting…
  • Leupold Model #120374 gr 10-20x40mm compact in Shadow Gray
  • 100% waterproof, Fog proof, & shockproof

Specs

  • Magnification: 10-20x
  • Lens size: 40mm
  • Weight: 15.8oz
  • Close focus distance: 5.5ft
  • FOV: 199-136ft
  • Eye relief distance: 18.5-17.2mm
  • Exit pupil diameter: 4-2mm
  • Twilight factor: 20-28

Pros

  • Incredible optical performance
  • Exclusive twilight management system
  • Ultra-lightweight carbon fiber construction
  • Compact housing
  • Smooth side focus knob
  • Thoroughly rugged body
  • Easy-to-stabilize

Cons

  • Narrow eye relief distance

What’s in the box?

  • Leupold gold ring spotting scope

Leupold gold ring is a premium series to find the best spotting scopes for backpack hunting due to the weight and size of the GR scopes.

This Leupold 10-20×40 scope is crafted from ultra-light carbon fiber that is not only sturdy but also lightweight. This spotter weighs only 15 ounces, which would never burden your hunting backpack.

Leupold has made sure that this spotter survives tough terrains and doesn’t give up midway. You’ll experience incredible resilience and freedom to try tough challenges with a Leupold gold ring scope in action.

Its optical quality easily beats some high-end competitors and leaves you in awe of the vividness that it produces. Its edge-to-edge clarity and aberration-free imagery make backpack hunting a soothing experience. You can observe wildlife in its natural habitat without leaving your safe zone and successfully hunt those exotic trophies.

There is a smooth side focus knob placed right at your thumb’s indent to make the view clear instantly. Also, you can quickly adjust the large zoom eyepiece with slight rotation and select any magnification between 10 and 20.

The 40mm multi-coated lens produces crisp clear views, and the 4-2mm exit pupil diameter ensures that you’re comfortable while glassing; both are perfect for hunters.

Leupold gold ring scope is 100% water and fog proof; whether you want to experience rainy day hunts or to scout snowy regions, this reliable spotter will always accompany you.

The wide-ranging field of view is another plus point of this straight scope that you don’t get in every mid-priced spotter. It offers 196-136 linear field of view with precise color-fidelity and no fringing.

Whether you glass in lowlight conditions or in the presence of bright sunrays, Leupold gold ring scope shows equally vivid and coherent objects.

Small, light, portable, and incredible optical performance; you’ll love this gold ring scope in every glassing activity, we are confident!

5. Nikon Fieldscope ED 13-30X50 scope

13-30x50mm FieldScope ED 50 Straight Body Spotting…
  • Nikon Fieldscope 50 mm ED Spotting Scope Straight Body – Nikon 13-30x Zoom Eyepiece – Case – Nikon 25 Year U.S.A. Warranty – Lifetime $10.00 No-Fault Repair/Replacement Policy
  • Waterproof/Fogproof

Specs

  • Magnification: 13-30x
  • Lens size: 50mm
  • Weight: 19.60z
  • Close focus distance: 9.8ft
  • FOV: not specified
  • Eye relief distance: 12.9mm
  • Exit pupil diameter: 3.8-1.6mm
  • Twilight factor: 24-40

Pros

  • 100% Nitrogen purged for optimal performance
  • Excellent image resolution
  • Great color-differentiation
  • Handy size with comfortable housing

Cons

  • Poor eye relief distance
  • Not suitable for eyeglass wearers

What’s in the box?

  • Nikon Fieldscope spotter
  • Carry case with straps
  • Eyepiece pouch
  • Zoom eyepiece
  • Lens cover

Nikon is a brand experienced glassers always trust and never shy away from spending their cash on Nikon gadgets. The same is the case with Nikon Fieldscope spotters. They are brilliantly designed, sturdy, great at optical performance, and above all, adaptable with all settings.

The Fieldscope range has bigger models as well, but the one that backpack hunters must look at is this 13-30×50 straight spotting scope. Its remarkable magnification range and sizeable focal lens enhance the fun of wildlife wandering and never let you miss a magnificent trophy.

Its high-resolution lens never compromises on image quality and ensures that light transmission is always apt. If you’ve faced problems of dull imagery or shaky resolution with other lenses, this high-resolution buddy is your answer.

Nikon Fieldscope spotter is entirely weather and shock resistant and never gives up in challenging situations. Its lens is purged with dry Nitrogen and has O-ring sealing to ward impurities from entering inside. From quirky daylight hunting to slow-mo evening scouting, you can experience all adventures with this stout scope.

Its high-grade objective lens is further coated with a layer that enhances image vividness and makes your adventures memorable.

Its sliding sunshade is useful to prevent light glare and to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. However, its eye relief distance isn’t impressive at all; you’ll have to take the glasses/specs off while focusing with a Fieldscope spotter.

Similarly, this scope offers a considerable twilight factor for lowlight glassing and lets you spend some extra moments in the woods.

Its 9.8ft close focus distance is excellent for a compact spotter, and it effortlessly facilitates close-range hunts.

The easy-to-move zoom eyepiece and focus knob help you spot and zero in on a target without wasting a minute; this is something backpack hunters always expect in a scope, Nikon has taken care of it already (no surprise here).

FAQs

Can I use backpack hunting scopes for regular hunts and birding as well?

Yes, you may. They are called backpack hunting scopes due to the weight and size factors, but apart from it, these small ones are similar to other scopes. Let’s say if a regular spotting scope has 60x magnification and weighs around 60oz, a compact spotter will be lesser in both categories. Its power and weight will be considerably lower than a full-size scope, i.e., 25x and around 20oz weight. 

Although the difference in weight is an advantage for all glassers, if your adventure requires high power, a compact scope won’t be suitable for it.

Are all hunting scopes rugged?

Yes, they are supposed to be. Since hunting conditions are challenging and unexpected, a fragile scope should never be an option. Sturdy housing, solid grip, and protective coating are some factors that determine how much reliable a scope can be. If your scope isn’t sturdy enough, you’ll face problems while protecting it.

Is a sunshade important for a scope?

Yes, it is, especially for hunting scopes. Backpacker hunters usually don’t have a proper set-up in their hunting spot and are exposed in the bright sunlight. In such conditions, a scope’s built-in sunshade proves to be an instant solution to reduce glare. 

If your scope has a retractable/fold-down sunshade, you won’t have to wear sunglasses and the imagery will also be flare-free. So, it’s always great to have a protective sunshade. 

Conclusion

Backpack hunting is truly an adventurous activity, and almost all challenge-loving people wish to try it. When you wander in an unknown region with all necessary gear in your bag, the feeling is nerve-wracking for most.

If your equipment is proficient, you’ll love backpack hunting more than any other activity. Therefore, we decided to bring forward the best spotting scopes for backpack hunting and review their positives and negatives.

Here’s a quick sum-up for you:

If you cannot compromise on optical performance, opt for Nikon Fieldscope 13-30×50 spotter that comes with impressive color-fidelity and light transmission. This is a small straight scope with good grip and ergonomic design.

Similarly, the Vortex Razor HD spotting scope is another great choice for the hunters who want precision in the final imagery. Vortex Razor spotter has premium XR plus coating for exceptional vividness and color-differentiation; with this one, you’ll never witness dull and blur views.

For a mid-level budget, we have Leupold gold ring scope crafted from ultra-light carbon fiber. This one is the most compact and sturdy one from the above-described spotters.  

And, if you are looking for a budget buy, go for either Roxant blackbird scope or Bushnell 12-36×50 scope. Both of these are sturdy, lightweight, and entirely weatherproof. Additionally, these two scopes come with tabletop tripods that show the value for money you’ll get.

I am sure that now you have sufficient knowledge of best spotting scopes for backpack hunting, and picking one out of the various options will be easier now. 

So, buy wisely, and don’t miss the thrill of backpack hunting. Get awesome gear and shot down your favorite trophies like a boss. Ta-da!

Last update on 2020-03-24 at 08:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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