What Are Monoculars Used For? (7 Main Uses)

What are monoculars used for? To answer this, we first need to address what a monocular actually is!

What are Monoculars Used For?

Monoculars are like your own personal tiny pocket telescope. A monocular is a small modified refracting telescope that is easy to transport. They are an optical instrument used to view objects that are far away using one eye.

They are often times referred to as being fifty percent of a pair of binoculars. A monocular can be used in a number of enjoyable activities both inside and out. They can also be used as a functional tool for people with a vision problem.

Let’s look at what monoculars are most commonly used for. This article will be helpful for anyone trying to figure out what monoculars’ function really is.

1. Hiking and Camping

what are monoculars used for?

One popular hobby one might use a monocular for is hiking.

A monocular can be used for scouting hiking routes. Their light weight makes them an ideal tool for hikers who need to look ahead to assess the best trail to take while on a hike without adding a bunch of unnecessary weight to their pack.

Not only hiking, but a monocular can also be handy on a camping trip to scout a campsite from a distance.

Any sort of trail activity is an activity one might find a monocular helpful to have on hand for. Some additional activities where a monocular could be helpful for scouting a route from a distance include but are not limited to a canoe trips, snowshoeing, and sailing.

Any sort of outdoor activity that would benefit from a look ahead at any given time is an activity that you might want to bring your monocular along on.

2. Hunting

monoculars for hunting

In 2017, 15.49 million people were paid hunting license holders in the United States, making it one of the most popular hobbies in the country (Statista, 2018).

In the hunting community, there are mixed feeling about the monocular. Some people say they do not like using a monocular to scout their target while hunting, because they feel a spotting scope or binoculars provides them with a better image.

They are correct a spotting scope, which is essentially a large monocular, typically will display a clearer image because it has a larger more powerful lens; a monocular typically will only provide a two-dimensional view, where as a pair of binoculars can provide a three-dimensional view.

However, a spotting scope is typically set up on a tripod, which takes time to set up and cannot be easily moved, and binoculars may be harder to handle while holding other hunting equipment like your bow or gun.

Neither a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope is as compact and easy to work with as a monocular, which is why it makes sense some people opt to use the monocular.

3. Bird Watching and Wildlife Viewing

monoculars for bird watching

While hunting remains one of the most popular hobbies in America, wildlife viewing is even more popular with a staggering 20.35 million people participating in the activity in 2017 (Statista, 2018).

Bird watching is a very popular segment of wildlife viewing in which a monocular is a very popular tool. While a monocular can range in clarity and distance, their small, compact nature makes them ideal for an avid bird watcher who may be carrying a lot of equipment with them already, such as a camera, record pad, tripod, and bird seed.

They can also be a fun tool for those individuals who like to leaf view, which is a hobby where the individual gets an up-close look at different kinds of leaves to view their patterns, etc.

Monoculars are also used for animal viewing, which is similar to bird watching, but viewers search for different types of animals instead of birds only.

4. Astronomy

use a monocular for astronomy

Typically, a monocular would not be the only tool a star enthusiast would have on hand because they are not as strong and their image is not clear as other long-distance viewing options, such as the telescope.

Certain monoculars work better than others as far as distance and clarity. Monocular’s range in price anywhere from about ten dollars up to prices in the high hundreds. The quality varies greatly between these.

There are other qualities that affect the price such as thermal imaging, infrared, and night vision, but one key price driver is the clarity and range (Telescope Observer, 2018). For astronomy lovers, a higher quality monocular may be an ideal supplemental tool used for stargazing.

In some case star enthusiasts may not require the clear image of a telescope and would be perfectly happy just using a standard monocular. It is all based on personal preference.

5. Sporting and Theatre Events

can a monocular be used for sports

Sporting and theatre events are another great time to use a monocular.

If you are seated far away from the action it will help you get a more up close and personal look at what is transpiring.

A monocular is great for sports where there may be quite a distance between the athletic event and the spectators such as rowing, golf, and cross country. This is another scenario where the compactness of the monocular might come in handy.

For example, you’re at your son’s cross country meet and of course you can’t see every inch of the race. Typical. Instead of waiting with all the other parents at the finish line, steal some glances with your monocular. When you’re done, it will fit right back into your bag.

Or, if you’re at the theatre, you can use a monocular to view the little details that make live theatre such a popular artform.

6. Vision Problems and Headaches

monoculars for vision problems and headaches

Another popular use for a monocular is when someone has a vision problem with one eye. In this instance, a monocular could be a way for someone to enjoy the activities we have discussed above or it could even be a tool they implement in their everyday life.

It might be the way they view a lecture board while at a college course or watch a movie at the movie theatre if they chose to. Even if someone does not have a vision problem, a monocular still might be used for comfort reasons and to avoid headaches.

Some people find a monocular more comfortable then the classic binoculars because a monocular does not put any pressure between the eyes like binoculars do.

In some cases, people find binoculars extremely uncomfortable, especially over long periods of time. In this instance they might opt instead for the singular monocular tool (Reloaderaddict.com, 2018).

7. Art Viewing

what are monoculars used for - art

Art exhibits and institutes are another place that one might find a monocular useful.

Avid art enthusiast will use a compact monocular to view different pieces of art. This allows them to obtain a closer view of the colors, textures, etc. of the artwork.

Art can be a very particular field and often times the devil is in the detail. Having a pocket monocular can come in hand for an art enthusiast spending their day at a studio or gallery.

It most certainly provides an interesting view of the artwork that others without a monocular will not be able to see. This is also a situation where, typically, binoculars or a telescope would be far too large to use.


The uses of a monocular tool are endless and the options for buying a monocular tool are vast. If you are enthusiast about any of these activities or feel this could be a tool you could use please refer to our monocular review section to see some of the best monocular models of 2021. Happy trails!

Read also: 3 Best Monoculars for Birdwatching


 1.       Reloaderaddict.com. (2018). Monocular vs Binoculars – Which Are Better? (ANSWERED). [online] Available at: http://www.reloaderaddict.com/monocular-vs-binocular-vs-monocular-review/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2018].

          2.       Roxant. “Authentic Roxant Grip Scope High Definition Wide View Monocular- with Retractable Eyepiece and Fully Multi.”

          3.       Statista. (2018). Number of paid hunting license holders in the U.S. 2017 | Statistic. [online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/247643/hunting-licenses–license-holders-in-the-us/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2018].

          4.       Telescope Observer. (2018). Monocular Reviews: Best Monoculars for the Money – Telescope Observer. [online] Available at: https://telescopeobserver.com/monocular-reviews/ [Accessed 21 Nov. 2018].