Being a professional journalist, James knows how to turn any topic into a comprehensive, easy-to-digest text. Even if you've never dealt with telescopes before, rest assured James will explain everything you wanted to know about them better than your physics coursebook.
Charles holds a Master’s degree in Physics Engineering (optics and photonics specialization), has been teaching physics at school for almost 15 years and recently has started teaching a course on optics at a local university. Our irreplaceable website expert.
Last updated: July 15, 2022
The Optics is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Binoculars are the optical instruments used in many fields and activities of human endeavors. But there are situations whereby a pair of compact binoculars will be more practical than other bigger 50 to 150mm binoculars. Do you need the device for hobby and leisure uses such as stargazing, night hunting, hiking, or trekking? Then you need a small-sized model, ranging from 8 x 20mm to 10 x 32mm. So, how do you choose the best compact binoculars?
There are a large number of options available in the market in a very diverse price range. First, it is important to know which ones best suit the user’s preferences and the purpose of use. This will allow you to choose the best binoculars for each case. Selecting a model for each category of users and purposes, we have gathered the 16 best compact binoculars for 2020. Our ornithologist put into consideration factors such as weather resistance, prism system, eye relief, field of view, lens coating, length, weight, and more while picking them. First, let’s see an overview of these products in the comparison table.
Other features: waterproof, fogproof, twist-up eyecups, rainguard, carrying case, polycarbonate body
The Celestron Nature DX 8 × 32 binoculars have a BAK4 roof prism, a field of view of 388 feet at 1000 yards out. Do you want to take a quality leap in your observations of nature? Here we have the best small binoculars for you!
What stands out? First, one of the problems with buying small inexpensive binoculars like these is that you won’t find a renowned brand. So, we like the fact that this model is made by Celestron, one of the best brands on the market. The Celestron Nature DX 8 × 32 binoculars are very famous binoculars among hikers and nature watchers. They have an excellent optical quality and design. The model has roof prisms Bak-4 coated and lenses. Fully multi coated, they guarantee maximum transmission of light throughout the optical path. You will have bright images even in the early hours of the morning and on very cloudy days.
8 x 32 binoculars are perfect for observing nature. Smaller binoculars would be too dark and larger ones would be too heavy. You don’t need any more less. They are very comfortable to hold and very light. The model only weighs 18oz (0.51 kilograms). They are built with polycarbonate, a very light and very resistant material. In addition, being completely covered with a rubber that facilitates grip, it is protected against falls, and you will have the binoculars for many years.
They are purged with nitrogen to avoid fogging. You won’t have to wait to use them when you get out of the car. One of their strengths is that they have a very short close focus of just 6.5 feet. You will be able to observe all the birds that cross your path and you will also be able to observe butterflies, dragonflies and other insects.
What could have been better: The quality of the accessories (strap and carrying case) leaves a little to be desired.
Other features: manual focus, splash-proof, shockproof, adjustable eyecups
The Hontry Binoculars for Adults and Kids are a great option for watching sports events, hunting, viewing concerts, and more. They have a lightweight and ergonomic design and they can be folded into a more compact size when you’re finished. These binoculars are coated with a rubberized water resistant finish with anti-skid properties to improve your grip. The images are sharp, they are tough enough for camping and hiking and they are an affordable option.
What are its best features?
What we like most about the Hontry Binoculars for Adults and Kids is the ergonomic design that makes the users grip steady to improve focusing when viewing. The 25mm objective lens provides clear images in high definition which is a surprise at this lower price point. With a foldable design and weight of only 0.6lbs, this is a very portable choice.
What could be improved?
No product is perfect, there are a couple of improvements that could be made which would make these binoculars much better. First, the eyepieces are too small, and the apertures are not wide enough, this is a real disadvantage for people that wear eyeglasses and it can make focusing a chore. Second, when the binoculars are unfolded they are too large for smaller kids to handle and they could be dropped.
Other features: night vision, rotatable eyepieces, carrying pouch included, shockproof exterior
The Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars is a rotatable model and one of the best for transport without taking up a lot of space. With lowlight night vision, it has large eyepiece and a fully multi-coated lens coating.
What we liked: Occer has created these compact binoculars equipped with FMC lenses for activities such as bird watching, traveling, hunting, sightseeing and more. It provides clear and distant vision with 12 times magnification.
Measuring 4 x 4. 5 x 1. 9 inches and weighing 0.65 lbs (295 grams), they are lightweight binoculars suitable for children and adults. It is our best compact binoculars for hiking. The angle of the field of view is 7.5º and the total field of view is 273 feet / 1000 yards.
For greater comfort, it can be adjusted to the width of the eyes. It is a rubber model that has high impact resistance and creates a non-slip surface. Overall, it is a lightweight and sturdy binoculars suitable for children and adults. The pack includes a neoprene neck strap, microfiber fabric and a holster.
What negatives must you be aware of? The binoculars are not protected against ultraviolet (UV). Also, they are not waterproof. This means they cannot be used in heavy rain or be submerged in water.
Other features: ultra HD sensor, night vision mode, dual Wi-Fi streaming, built-in IR illuminator, weather-resistant, interpupillary adjustment
The ATN BinoX 4K-16×65 is described as a smart binocular, as it is designed with the Ballistic Information Exchange technology, which allows it to communicate with your other devices. The binoculars can also be connected to the Laser Ballistics app, so you can monitor what you want to look at manually from your phone.
The binoculars are also fitted with an integrated laser rangefinder which helps you find the exact distance to your target. If you’re a hunter, you can easily identify your target and measure the distance in no time. It can also be used to record 1080p videos to share with others, and you can even simultaneously stream your videos without any distortion or lag with Wi-Fi.
We likedthis product because you can use this ATN BinoX 4K 4-16×65 binocular at night with the built-in IR illuminator and enjoy its high processing power. It imitates your natural eyesight with crisp night images. The binocular would come in handy in outdoor sports, surveillance, hunting, wildlife, and bird observation, and even golfing. It is also designed for low power consumption with 18 hours of active use and can work effectively on low power.
However, there are some things that could be improved: ATN BinoX 4K 4-16×65 binoculars require regular firmware updates. Also, users highlight the photos are sometimes grainy. Finally, they can be a bit expensive.
The Nikon Trailblazer binocular comes with a 10 x 25 binocular. With 10x magnification for a 25mm lens, it is ideal for hunting and for observing nature, especially moving animals. It is light and elegant in body. Its field of view is wider than the Occer model’s.
What we liked: The Nikon Trailblazer 10×25 is a pair of all-terrain binoculars. They are strong, compact and have excellent optical quality. It is the best compact waterproof binoculars in this review. With other binoculars, you have to worry if you get caught in a storm, but with this Trailblazer, it doesn’t matter if the monsoon hits you! Its rubber coating provides a comfortable grip. And if something fails, you have a Nikon guarantee to fall back on. You can change or repair the product if it comes with a factory defect, whether you are the original owner or not.
They are purged with nitrogen to prevent the lenses from fogging up in temperature changes. No more waiting to get out of the car to use them in winter. They are always ready for action. Its multi-coated lenses are built with eco-friendly glass, free of lead and arsenic acid. The binoculars have a smooth close focus at 11.5 feet.
They are covered with rubber to improve grip and weigh only 15.2oz (440 grams). They are Nikon binoculars and it shows in the quality.
What could be better: The eye relief is very short. It is more difficult to use it if you wear glasses. Also, there’s no provided mount for a tripod adapter.
Lens coating: hydrophobic ZEISS MC, fully multi-coated, anti reflection
Weight: 10.9 oz.
Other features: waterproof, fogproof, nitrogen field, test to 100mbar of pressure against ingress of water, lifetime warranty, easy grip
The Zeiss Terra Pocket 8 x 25 binoculars are robust, reliable and easy to handle. They are the best small binoculars for hunting on the list. These binoculars are perfect for serious explorers and for true adventurers.
Why are we impressed? We like the fact that you can use the Zeiss Terra Pocket 8 × 25 binoculars in extreme situations. They have an operating temperature that ranges from -20º to 63º centigrade. No glacier or desert can stop you!
In addition, its fully multi-coated lenses are hydrophobic and repel water and fog. You will have excellent vision even when sailing by boat or crossing the Norwegian fjords. The best compact binoculars for sports, the focus wheel is very precise and the field of view is very wide. With it, you will have incredible panoramic images and you can easily track birds. They are premium binoculars and extremely light. The binoculars only weigh 310 grams.
In our opinion, the Zeiss 8 × 25 Terra ED are the best compact binoculars out there for explorers. It has a field of view of 119 m at 1000 m, 19m close focus, and a 16mm eye relief.
What negatives must you be aware of? Its price is not cheap. However, we will tell you one thing… by investing in this, you will have a set of binoculars for life! Thinking about it that way, they don’t seem so expensive anymore.
The Vortex Raptor 10×32 binocular is a wide angle joint prism binocular. A very stable binocular, it is ideal for nature observation and hunting. It features multi-coated, anti-reflective optics with great depth of field and vision.
Why are we impressed? The Vortex Raptor 10 x 32 offers us 8.5x magnification and a 32mm aperture. It provides ideal optical characteristics for observing in the middle of nature. The higher magnification gives it greater power for use in ornithology and hunting.
Consisting of two joint prism structures, they incorporate premium optics to produce a sharp and bright image. The differential point is marked by observation in low light or in difficult conditions with annoying reflections. The binoculars preserve all fidelity of color and contrast.
It is purged with nitrogen gas to prevent fogging. The joints are perfectly sealed and make it impervious to dust and external agents.
The qualities we like most in the Raptor is that it is resistant to water and fog. It has a non-slip and ergonomic rubber surface. You have adjustable eyepieces and focus which is adaptable to each person according to their diopters of choice.
What negatives must you be aware of? None of Vortex Raptor’s midsize binoculars have an adaptable tripod adaptable. While this feature can offer you stabilized view of objects, the 10×32, unfortunately, doesn’t feature this.
Other features: center focus, 12-hour battery life, ±3° opto-electronic image stabilization, auto-off function
The Fujinon Techno-Stabi is a high-end binocular set with 12 times magnification and 28 mm lens. It’s an image stabilizing binocular model and is best for beginners. The binoculars are the most expensive 25mm aperture binoculars on the list. This is thanks to its premium build and unique design.
What makes it special? They are very easy to use and are designed for beginners who do not want to be complicated with too many adjustments. While it has an 8×25 magnification and aperture, the field of view is 73 feet at 1000 yards, and center focus. If you are looking for your first binoculars, these are perfect. They have everything you need: a wide field of vision, lenses with multi-treatment, and they are waterproof. Weighing 14.8oz (420), these binoculars are so small that they’re among the lightest on this list. You can carry them around the neck, at the waist, stored in their neoprene cover or put in the backpack. They take up very little space.
They have fully multi-coated lenses to improve light transmission and make images brighter. These features are some of the reasons why the Fujinon model is very expensive. You can be rest assured of its resistance even if you get caught in a storm. It offers detailed observation of nature and ornithology. Multi-coated optics show clean, natural colors with a spotless image, free of halos and obtrusive reflections.
What cons did we find? The price is too high. However, as expected, the product includes additional features such as the fully multi-coated optics, and CR2 batteries with 12 hours runtime. It also features an automatic shut-off system.
Other features: twist-up rubber eyecups, weather-resistant design
The Essentials binocular is configured with a lens diameter and magnifications more than adequate for the needs of a general purpose optical glass. This binocular is ideal for finding and tracking objects in the field, a mountain range, a stadium or simply observing by the city.
What makes it stand out? Full anti-reflective coatings on its optics maximize light transmission, color rendering and contrast. Its 42mm lenses exceed normal usage time capabilities. This model is one of the best binoculars for hiking backpacking. They allow you to observe from the first rays of light at dawn to the last minutes of sunset. Complementing the optical performance is its chassis protected by a rubber frame that provides a secure grip. Its elongated center focus wheel helps you achieve sharp focus when observing.
They are strong and resistant binoculars and at the same time light. Besides the design is compact so they are comfortable to use. Its construction allows it to endure harsh conditions during outdoor activities. They are resistant to drops and scratches. They are rubberized for a better grip even with wet hands.
They are ideal for leisure, activities in the outdoor, hiking and strolls through the park, or other similiar activities. They are made of durable plastic with a center focus wheel to give sharpness to the image.
They offer a pretty good 10x magnification so long distances won’t be a problem. It is also a good product for children. Very inexpensive, it is considered the best compact binoculars under 50.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? First, the binoculars have weak transmission and high distortion. The exit pupils are truncated and the rubber padding smells a bit odd.
Other features: waterproof design, Ego-Glass lenses, smooth-turning central focus knob
The Nikon Aculon A30 10 × 25 is the best lightweight binoculars for travel. They offer a spectacular and wide image, which, due to its definition and luminosity, is recommended for activities with great movement, such as sports.
What are its best features? The binoculars offer the best value for money in travel binoculars. An ergonomic feature is the distance between the eye and the eyepiece, which allows prolonged use without straining the eyes. Its shape and special rubber cover offers a firm and comfortable grip. It has an ergonomic design that easily adapts to the hand. This allows prolonged use without causing fatigue. With them, you will always have a space in your backpack or pocket, due to its small dimensions of 115 x 122 x 44 mm. Holding them in your hand is a real delight for the size and light weight of 275 grams. These are some of the best compact travel binoculars on the market.
Its optics are developed in ecological crystals that do not have harmful components such as lead or arsenic. The brand offers its customers a special service system for the maintenance and repair of the Aculon A30 10 × 25. This service ensures the quality of vision and use of the equipment, as well as its durability over time. The image adjustment feature is smoothly operable, allowing fast focusing without loss of time.
Many people think that the prices of Nikon binoculars have to be expensive. However, it’s because they have not seen what this model costs. It’s one of the best rated compact binoculars that comes at a cheap price. Finally, you can take home a model that really fulfills what it promises, emulating the characteristics of other more expensive ones.
The the actual field of view is 5º, the closest focusing distance is 3 meters, and the eye relief is 10.6mm.
What could be improved? The model has it all! There are no downsides or cons for this product, yet.
More features: Right Eye diopter, rubber armored, variable magnification range
The best compact zoom binoculars, the Barska AB12542 is a model with a variable feature. These waterproof binoculars offer a clear, crisp and bright vision, perfect for outdoor activities, regardless of the weather conditions.
What do we love it for? The porro BK-7 prism model from Barska has managed to become one of the most popular binoculars among users, thanks to its interesting features. It is a completely waterproof model which prevents water from entering and, therefore, misting up.
It has fully-coated optics for better light transmission, with a field of view of 230 feet at1000 yards out. They are lined with shock absorbing non-slip rubber to ensure good grip and good impact resistance.
We liked the fact that the lens is variable from 9 to 27 times magnification. Due to their characteristics, these binoculars are highly recommended for outdoor activities such as country trips, bird watching, sporting activities, hunting or fishing, or for hiking. As they are waterproof, whatever the weather conditions, you can carry them without problem in your bag or backpack.
The binoculars are very compact and lightweight. The model weighs 367 grams. Well-accessorized, this model comes with lens covers, a carrying case, lens cloth and neck strap.
What were we disappointed with? This product is a pre-used model. However, since it can last almost a lifetime, it is still in good condition and is available at an under 50 price.
More features: Diopter Focus paddle, waterproof and fogproof, rubber armored body, lifetime warranty
The Leupold BX-1 binoculars allow you to observe the action with very good clarity without any adjustment. Their unique fully multi-coated focus feature lets you instantly be right in the middle of the action.
What makes it stand out? These binoculars are ideal for sporting events, observing landscapes, a bird in flight, etc. They are also very practical in winter (no more problem of adjusting the dial with gloves).
Be careful, however: they will be blurry for a closer view. The sharpness distance varies depending on your vision, but these binoculars are not suitable, for example, for observing nearby animals.
These 8×25 binoculars also ensure good light transmission and good image clarity thanks to all-surface coated optics and quality porro prism. You would have a good grip thanks to its non-slip rubber protection.
Waterproof, rugged, and built to last a lifetime, this product comes with a bumper lifetime warranty in the event of a manufacturing defect or any problem layer. With a small overall dimension, this is a pocket binocular. It produces sharp, ultra-bright images for all the new territory you’re exploring.
The binoculars have a porro prism system and a Bak-7 prism material. At 1000 yards out, you have a field of view of 337 yards and a 15 mm eye relief. This device has a very resistant material. This ensures it is waterproof and protected against fog. Very light in weight, it weighs just (12.6oz) 360 grams. It is one of the best small binoculars for birding.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? The glass is of poor quality. It is not in HD. Also, there are no field replaceable eyepieces.
More features: extendable eyecups, diopter compensation at the eyepiece, splashproof, durable aluminum housing
With their compact dimensions of 9.6 x 9.2 x 3.7cm and their low weight of 8oz (227 grams), the LEICA Trinovid 8×20 BCA binoculars are your ideal companions to take anywhere. It is suitable for when you have little room in your luggage or for long excursions, that is, when you prefer practical gadgets.
Why did it make our list? One of the best lightweight binoculars for hiking, this model is equipped with a 20mm lens with 8x magnification. They offer a field of view at 1km of approximately 113m. The proprietary HDC® (High Durability Coating®) multilayer treatment guarantees absolute color fidelity and high contrast. The rotating eyecup allows the eyepiece to be adjusted according to the user’s vision, up to ± 3.5 diopters. It has the perfect clairvoyance for your outdoor adventures.
These binoculars are designed for those who spend a lot of time in nature. Despite their small size, they will surprise you. Thanks to their quality finishes, they offer a crisp visual experience, brilliant colors and precise contrasts. With them, observing the flora and fauna becomes a boundless pleasure. And to prevent you from losing them, they are equipped with a cord. Finally, to transport them, they can be stored as easily as quickly in the case provided with belt loops. The intterocular distance is adjustable from 32 to 74mm. The binoculars are built of aluminum.
The AquaDura® treatment of the outer lenses helps to protect them from dust and water. It has a roof prism system with P40 phase correction treatment and HighLux HLS® system. The product comes with a 10 year manufacturer warranty. In the pack, you’ll have the LEICA Trinovid Compact binoculars, a cord, a cordura case with belt loops.
What is not ideal about it? We feel the whiteness rendition is poor and could be better. Also, the strap case is initially not very easy to use.
Other features: IPX-4 waterproof, fog-proof, military grade lenses, NBR long life rubber armoring, auto focus, rugged Makrolon housing, ergonomic silicone eye cups
Awarded the best lightweight binoculars of 2019, the Steiner 2045 8x30mm model is a pair of high quality binocular with some unique features. Hardly any other binocular could achieve Steiner’s legendary quality in values of innovation and tradition better than the Nighthunter 8×30 AF. This is the best compact tactical binoculars. It combines high performance at twilight with very precise distance measurement using laser technology. Thus, it makes it perfect for wildlife observations.
Why did it make our list? The Predator 8×30 is built on the proven 8×30 formula that has been the standard for decades for wildlife viewing binoculars. Due to Steiner’s special high-definition coating on the lenses, an excellent light transmission is created. Even at twilight, this provides high image quality. Images are sharp, natural color contrasted, and flare is kept to a minimum.
The contours are clearly visible even in low light conditions or at sunsets. Also, these binoculars provide clear and sharp vision from 20m to infinity thanks to the Sports Autofocus system, so the chances that the object in focus will be lost, run or fly are zero.
The product is made of a polycarbonate material and is suitable for spectacle wearers. Perfect for hunting or nature observation, the product has a unique imaging technology known as the Color Adjusted Technology (CAT). It lets you view a deer or any other game which is in hiding in a shade or foliage. It has a joint prism type (porro and BAK4). This product is very rugged and fully waterproof.
What is not ideal about it? This pair of binoculars could have been better if it was built to be mounted to a tripod for a better stability. This feature would provide succor to the arm as it is also a bit weighty at 19oz (half a kilogram). Nonetheless, it comes with a carrying bag and a bag.
Other features: prism with phase correction coating and a highly reflective aluminum coating, nitrogen purged, one axis center focus
Finally, we will finish the review on the best small binoculars with the Kowa 8×25 binoculars. This type of binoculars is excellent for you if you want a lightweight model that is easy to carry in your pockets. Its lenses have a diameter of 25 mm which are optimized so that you have the best view if you are going to carry out activities such as hunting or any other kind of sighting.
What do we love it for? This is a compact model for those who want a light and convenient equipment that is easy to carry. It has an ergonomic and resistant design, with a weight of only 10.5oz (299g) and a length of 4.5 inches. Also, it is completely waterproofed and filled with nitrogen, so you can take it with you anytime and anywhere regardless of the weather.
Its optical system is made up of eco-glass lenses with a full multilayer coating and phase-corrected prisms. It is shaped to provide 8x magnification and a field of view of 87.3 meters at 1000 yards out. It also features non-stick coated 25mm lenses to provide sharp images without aberration or fogging. This is because even though they are a bit small, they are compensated for by their incredible contrast and sharpness.
Also, is worth noting that these binoculars are waterproof, so you can use them in the rain or water. Thanks to its coating and nitrogen filling.
To bring your gaze closer to your goals, you have 10 times magnification, which makes it powerful for its size.
What were we disappointed with? Although it is waterproof, according to the manufacturer, it is not suitable for use underwater like the marine-grade Steiner model above.
Other features: tripod adaptable, waterproof, fogproof, lifetime warranty
The Wingspan FieldView 8X32 is a pair of compact binoculars for bird watching, concertgoers, outdoor sports, and games. The binoculars are waterproof and haze resistant. It is easy to transport due to its size.
Why is it special? The best compact binoculars for birding, these compact binoculars have Bak-4 prisms that guarantee a good image. In addition to that, weighing just 430 grams, it is fairly light in weight. Designed for outdoor use, the binoculars are fully waterproof thanks to its cover prepared to offer the greatest resistance to adverse weather conditions. This model is one of the best compact binoculars under 100.
With BaK-4 coated prisms providing higher resolution and contrast, these binoculars deliver brilliant images thanks to their multi-coated optics. They are an ideal model for any adventure or activity that takes place outdoors. These binoculars are suitable for sporting events, concerts and many more. The product is also the best compact binoculars for bird watching. They are therefore very versatile binoculars.
Their minimum focus distance is 6 feet 6.74 inches and they have a field of view of 362 feet at 1000 yards out.
What could have been better: Their performance is inferior to that of other professional equipment. However, they are an option to consider due to their price.
When buying a new pair of binoculars, different criteria should be taken into account. These are important in making the right decision and avoiding the mistake of buying binoculars that do not meet the needs of every user. Binoculars are a pair of optical instruments that have the ability to bring distant elements closer to our vision. They can be used for a wide range of applications. However, not all of them offer the same benefits. That’s why we’ve broken down below the different factors you need to consider. Also included in this buying guide are usage information. These will help you to find the model that best suits your preferences and needs.
What are compact binoculars good for?
Compact binoculars can be used for a wide range of outdoor activities. However, each model is more suitable depending on the type of use for which they are intended for. Here are the various purposes compact binoculars can serve:
Binoculars for bird and animal watching in nature: Lovers of nature and birds will not be able to live without binoculars. And this is one of the main applications of this type of instrument. For bird watching, the most common binoculars are the 8 × 42 and 10 × 42. Although, they can have a magnification range of 7 to 12, with a millimeter between 40 and 50 mm. A good example of a model for this purpose is the Tasco Roof Prism Binoculars ES8X42.
Binoculars for shows: Some people are looking for binoculars they can take to events such as the theater, music concerts or the opera, among others. For these cases, we recommend binoculars that offer a great brightness at the same time as a good increase like the 4 × 30.
Astronomical binoculars: Astronomy enthusiasts should have the right binoculars to help them locate objects in the sky. These binoculars are designed with long and wide lenses to let in a large amount of light. This is because the more light that enters, the easier it is to see distant stars. Different types of binoculars are used for this activity, the 10 × 50 being the most effective. Others are also frequently used, such as: 7 × 50, 15X70, and the 20X50.
Night binoculars: For military use and hunting activities, these binoculars are used to view images in almost total darkness.
Hiking binoculars: Those who go hiking and want to appreciate the details of the landscapes and animals, should opt for lightweight binoculars. They can bet on standard binoculars like the 7 × 35, 8 × 42, 8 × 25, and the 10 × 25. Tasco 8X42 Essentials Binoculars offer qualities suitable for this purpose.
Nautical binoculars: When you are on a boat or the likes, it is very important that the binoculars are completely waterproof to avoid damage. In water activities, a high magnification range is not recommended. The movement of the boat would make the image very unstable. The best binoculars for this activity are the 7 × 42 or 7 × 50.
Multipurpose binoculars: Some models are designed to accommodate all types of activities, such as travel, hikes and many more. In this case, it is recommended to have a magnification between 7 and 12.
Features to consider when choosing compact binoculars
As earlier mentioned, there are several factors that are determining when choosing compact binoculars. Taking them into account will help you make the decision and will make you choose the perfect binoculars for you. If you choose well now, be rest assured you’ll have a model guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Size and weight
There are binoculars with very different sizes and weights, depending on their use they will be more or less bulky. If you are going to walk very long routes, through complicated places or travel for weeks loaded with your backpack, we recommend that you choose very lightweight and small binoculars.
The compact binoculars have very small dimensions, are easy to store and do not occupy space in your backpack
. Avoid large and heavy full-size binoculars. Do not choose astronomical binoculars to take on excursions. Do not choose binoculars that weigh more than 400 grams. If you do, we are sure you will regret it before the 4th day of your trip through Thailand. You might be weighed down after the 2nd climb in a National Park. Those with joints are lighter and smaller than those with a roof. It is also important to go for those that offer better ergonomics.
There are very different sizes and with several uses:
XXL binoculars: usually weigh more than 1500 grams. The largest weigh more than 3,500 grams. XXL binoculars are astronomical binoculars. They are used to view stars and planets. The most common are: 15 × 70, 20 × 80 and 25 × 100.
Full size: they usually weigh around 1000 grams. Full-size binoculars are used to view birds and nature. They are luminous binoculars that can be used without a tripod and can be used on excursions. The most common are: 8 × 42 and 10 × 50.
With medium size: they weigh between 500 and 1000 grams. Medium-sized binoculars are less luminous than the previous ones but they are lighter. They are used to see nature. Some of the most common are: 8 × 32 and 7 × 35.
Compact binoculars: the best weigh less than 400 grams. Compact binoculars are extremely light and compact although they perform worse in low light conditions. They are ideal for hikers and adventurers who need maximum lightness.
Our recommendation is that for long walks or backpacking trips, choose a compact and lightweight binoculars that weigh less than 400 grams. The Leica Trinovid 8×20 and the Kowa Binoculars 8×25 are excellent choices. The most common compact binoculars are usually 8 × 25, 10 × 25, and 8 × 21. These sizes offer the perfect balance between size and optical quality. The main quality of compact binoculars is their size. If the aperture were larger, the binoculars would be bulkier and weigh more. By having a smaller aperture, less light enters the binoculars and they offer a worse performance in low light conditions (cloudy days, at dawn, etc.). Therefore, it is very important that you choose binoculars with excellent optical quality.
Objective lens diameter
Another important factor is the quality and diameter of the lens. Extra Low Dispersion (ED) and High Density (HD) low dispersion lenses provide bright images with good contrast and no chromatic aberrations. To improve light transmission, anti-glare chemical treatments are applied to the lenses. The more treatments the lenses have, the better. Make sure your binoculars have fully multi-coated lenses like the Leupold BX-1 Rogue 8x25mm Binocular or multi-coated lenses like the Nikon Trailblazer 10×25 ATB.
The lenses of the binoculars are located on the front of the binoculars. The larger the diameter of a lens, the sharper and clearer the image is. This makes it essential if it is to be used at night or in low light conditions. It is therefore necessary to assess in which situations the binoculars will be used frequently in order to find the most suitable lens diameter.
On the other hand, the size of the lenses also has a direct influence on the resolution. However, don’t make the usual mistake of considering some binoculars to be better than others just because the lens diameter is larger. It depends on other factors.
As with the previous points, the magnification is a very important factor when deciding to buy a new pair of binoculars. Magnification less than 8 are considered too small. However, magnification between 8 and 10 are considered normal, and those between 10 and 16 are considered high and will make the binoculars bulky. However, there are also models with magnifications above 16, which are considered very powerful. In this sense, it is important to emphasize that the greater the magnification capacity, the more the image tends to vibrate. This makes it necessary to use a tripod in certain situations. In fact, for magnification greater than 12, this is recommended and for those greater than 16 it is mandatory. However, some models incorporate electronic or mechanical stabilization systems. An example is the Fujinon Techno-Stabi TS12x28 Binocular.
In all binoculars, you will see that there are two numbers separated by an “X”. The first of the numbers indicates the magnification of the binoculars, and the second indicates the aperture millimeters of the objectives.
You are going to use the binoculars outdoors, in nature. And in nature, there is a high chance of coming in contact with water. It can rain at any time, you may have to cross a river or get in a kayak. In fact, the best binoculars are waterproof. In countries with a tropical climate like Thailand or Vietnam, there is a lot of humidity. Make sure your binoculars are waterproof. Binoculars are usually sealed to prevent them from deteriorating due to the entry of water and humidity.
The better the seal, the greater its resistance to water, and it will also prevent the entry of dust and dirt.
One thing that a priori is not usually counted on is that they are resistant to mist and fogging. Many lenses tend to fog up when there are large changes in temperature. To avoid this, the lenses are purged with nitrogen. To avoid damage from bumps or drops, binoculars are usually covered with rubber. This rubber also helps grip better.
Binoculars are equipped with a cylinder or wheel which is usually located in the middle of the binoculars. This helps to adjust the sharpness or focus. In some models, it is possible to adjust the focus independently in each eyepiece.
When purchasing a new pair of binoculars, it is advisable to check both the infinity focus and the minimum focus. The latter is the minimum distance at which the equipment is able to focus on an object. It is considered positive when it can do so in 5-8 meters. Whereas, if it is close to 2 meters, it is considered excellent.
On the other hand, when evaluating the infinity focus, you should check whether you are able to focus on an object that is straight and away from your position.
It is the ability of binoculars to capture and transmit enough light to show images with adequate contrast and sharpness. The higher this factor, the greater the brightness of the images obtained. To choose the best model with ideal relative brightness, the diameter of the exit pupil must be squared.
Prism system, roof prism vs Porro prism
The prism system can be made of Porro or of ceiling (roof). If you buy cheap binoculars, choose one featuring Porro. Inexpensive binoculars usually do not have correction treatments. And without these treatments, Porro prisms offer better images.
If you have a higher budget, we recommend that you choose a pair of roof prism binoculars. These binoculars will have correction treatments that will improve the image quality. Roof prism binoculars are more ergonomic, compact and strong. Regardless of the type of design of the prism (Porro or roof), you have to take into account the material from which it is built. Bak-4 prisms deliver high quality images with a great 3-dimensional feel. BK-7 prisms are of poorer quality.
Optical quality is always a key factor when choosing binoculars. But when choosing small binoculars, it is even more important. There are 3 things you have to pay attention to:
Chemical lens treatments
The type of prism
Field of View
The field of view is the width of the images you will have when looking through your binoculars. With a wide field of view, you will have panoramic images and you can easily follow moving birds. Narrow fields of view are better for viewing stationary objects and appreciating their details.
Usually, the angular field of view offered by the binoculars is indicated on the outside of the binoculars and in degrees. A larger field of view allows a larger area to be observed. At this stage, it should be noted that it is indirectly related to the magnification. The field of view being smaller, the magnification will be higher, and vice versa.
Materials of construction
When you go to buy binoculars, it is advisable to buy a model with mineral glass rather than organic prisms, which are usually made of questionable or low quality plastics.
On the current market, we can distinguish two different types of prisms: Bak-4 (Barium) and BaK7 (Borosilicate). These are generally less expensive, but are also less efficient at transmitting light. BaK-4 prisms are of superior quality and make images clearer, with higher contrast and brighter.
The exit pupil refers to the cone of light that comes out of the eyepiece. The higher this setting, the brighter the binoculars will be. The diameter is obtained by dividing the diameter of the target by the number of magnifications. If we consider that the diameter of the human pupil varies between 1.5 mm and 8 mm depending on the level of light, in cases where the exit pupil is smaller, you will have the sensation of observing through a peephole door. Whereas, if it is larger, you will not take advantage of all the light that the targets are able to capture.
Even when you want small-sized binoculars, these products are not intended for a few months or years of use. They are intended for decades or even lifetime uses. Therefore, you have to ensure the binoculars are ruggedly designed, made of durable aluminium or plastics, and come with a super warranty. Some models like the Leica Trinovid 8×20 Compact Binoculars come with a 10-year manufacturer warranty. However, it’s more advisable to choose one with a lifetime warranty, like the Wingspan Optics FieldView 8X32 or the Leupold BX-1 Rogue 8x25mm Binocular.
Accessories are the last thing to consider when buying a new pair of binoculars, but they shouldn’t be overlooked. Typical accessories are a carrying strap, case or bag, lens covers and a tripod. They are all very helpful. The strap helps you to be able to transport them from one place to another while walking, hanging from the neck and with maximum comfort. The strap helps to avoid wetting (and damaging) the lenses by carrying them in suspension. The tripod helps to avoid vibrations in the image. As earlier mentioned, this is fundamental in binoculars with high magnification. They’re also important for models which do not have mechanical or electronic technology to stabilize the image.
You can use a lens cleaning pen to clean your binoculars’ lenses. It has a soft brush and wouldn’t scratch or damage the surface of the lens. However, don’t use facial tissues or paper towels. These have fibers that can generate tiny scratches.
The cost of a compact binocular is hard to generalize. This is because the features of the product first determine the price, before the size. However, you can find under 100 binoculars like the Wingspan Optics FieldView Binoculars. You can also find a high-quality compact binocular that is under 200, like the Vortex Raptor Binocular. Meanwhile, there are some which can cost well over half a thousand bucks. It depends on what you want and the budget you have. However, compact binoculars are usually the most inexpensive types of binoculars.
Compact binoculars are your best bet if you want to take the device out on hiking, boating, and birding trips. The advantages they offer include their low price, lightness, and portability.
The Celestron Nature DX 8×32 binoculars are our Editor’s Choice and the overall best model in the review. We like it because they’re handy for hikers and nature watchers. They have an excellent optical quality and design. The model has roof prisms Bak-4 coated and lenses. Fully multi-coated, they guarantee maximum transmission of light throughout the optical path.
The Hontry binoculars are lightweight with a compact folding design to make them easier to transport to any event. They produce sharp images and are tough enough with a rubberized water resistant finish to handle the rigors of camping, hunting or the rough handling of kids.
Do you have a tight budget and don’t want to spend over the ordinary for a pair of binoculars? Then we recommend to you, our Budget Pick, the Occer model. The Occer are the best compact binoculars for users on a budget. It comes with a 12 x 25 binocular. With 12x magnification and an angle of field 7.5°, it is ideal for hunting and for observing nature, especially moving animals. It is light and elegant in body.
How Binoculars Work | Space
A few minutes getting to know how your binoculars work is time well spent, if you're planning on using them in your stargazing sessions.