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: June 09, 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
While traveling, you may sometimes find yourself wanting to stop for a minute and appreciate the scenery around you. There is a plethora of places all around the globe to see and enjoy, but some of them could be easily missed because they are located far from you. Those views can only be admired from far distance, and diving into detail may be difficult without a binoculars set for traveling. Our profound guide will show you the best travel binoculars and help you make the right choice.
We made our selection based on multiple essential factors, such as magnification and objective lens diameter, weight, field of view, and eye relief. The most significant ones of those are weight and objective specs, as traveling enthusiasts are always looking to reduce the bulk of their carry-on luggage and want their picture to be at its utmost clarity. Whether you need a versatile lightweight option or a specific purpose set of binoculars for birding or withstanding weather conditions, our article will serve your needs.
"Being the ultimate portable decision, this panel kit boasts its lightweight foldable design and CE and ISO certifications that guarantee excellent quality and efficiency during your outdoor adventures.."
"Perfectly fit for a low budget, these binoculars provide an incredible set of features that you will see in more highly priced models, like portability, clear and bright picture, and a reasonable field of view.."
Other features: multicoated lenses, adjustable eyecups, rubber armor
The Vortex Diamondback HD are our Editor’s Choice because they define what a set of travel binoculars should be. They offer great optics in a lightweight and compact package, perfect for taking on your next trip. Weighing in at only 15.9 ounces, the Diamondback HDs are significantly lighter than full-size binoculars, making them much more portable. Despite their small size, they still offer a powerful 8x magnification and impressive quality 32mm lenses. One of the things that sets the Diamondback HDs apart from other travel binoculars is their use of multicoated lenses. This feature ensures that your view is clear and bright, even in low-light conditions. Additionally, the eyecups are adjustable to provide a comfortable viewing experience for users with glasses, and the rubber armor adds durability and grip, making them easy to handle in any conditions.
The Vortex Diamondback HD is a worthy upgrade from its predecessor the Vortex Diamondback. They have a lot in common and are nearly identical in design and performance. However, the Vortex Diamondback HD has better optical quality and offers sharper images, better brightness, contrast and resolution. Also, they are similar in design, the Vortex Diamondback HD has better ergonomics. Since there isn’t a huge price difference, the HD is a better option as it has costlier, higher-quality glass.
Other features: central focus knob, BaK4 high index prisms, nitrogen filled and O-ring sealed
The Nikon Trailblazer are great waterproof binoculars that are perfect for anyone who loves spending time outdoors. Their nitrogen-filled and O-ring sealed construction makes them resistant to water and dust, and the BaK4 high index prisms produce bright, clear images. The central focus knob makes it easy to adjust the focus, and the 10 mm eye relief provides comfortable viewing for those with glasses. Plus, they have a central focus knob that simplifies adjusting the focus without taking your eyes off the action. Trailblazers offer 8x magnification and have a wide field of view of 429 feet at 1000 yards, making them ideal for any travel outdoor activities. More than that, they are very lightweight and compact, which is perfectly fit if you want to take them with you somewhere.
The Nikon Trailblazer is not so different from the equally popular Nikon Travelite. The main difference between the two compact Nikon binos is that the Nikon Trailblazer has a roof prism while the Travelite has a porro prism. Otherwise, their optical performance is pretty similar. Since they fall in the same price range, you wouldn’t go wrong with either option.
Other features: carrying case included, polycarbonate housing, tripod adaptable
The Celestron Nature DX are a great option for birding binoculars. They have a large objective diameter of 42 mm and a powerful 8x magnification, making them perfect for long-distance viewing. They also have a wide field of view of 388 feet at 1000 yards, which is ideal for tracking birds in flight. Additionally, the Celestron Nature DX binoculars are tripod adaptable, so you can use them for extended viewing sessions. The polycarbonate housing is also very durable, so the binoculars are best suited for traveling. Moreover, they come with a carrying case, making them easy to transport. Overall, the Celestron Nature DX is an excellent choice for birding or any other outdoor activity where you need a reliable and powerful pair of binoculars.
If you don’t have the budget for the Vortex Optics Diamondback HD, the Celestron Nature DX is your prime alternative. At a much lower price, The Celestron Nature DX stacks up well against higher-end binos with its multiple impressive optical features. What’s more, it is a better option if you want a pair of binos for birding on a low budget.
Other features: IPX7, 15-foot close focus distance, limited lifetime warranty
If you’re looking for a pair of lightweight and durable travel binoculars, the Bushnell H20 are an excellent choice. They are one of the lightest travel binoculars on the market, weighing in at just 10.2 ounces. The H20s are also compact and easy to carry, ideal for travelers who don’t want to lug around a heavy pair of binoculars. This model has a 25 mm objective diameter and 8x magnification, providing a clear view of distant objects. The 341 feet field of view at 1000 yards also means that you won’t miss anything while you’re out exploring. Plus, these binoculars come with a limited lifetime warranty, so you can be confident in their quality.
The Bushnell H20 and the Bushnell Prime are almost identical both in design and performance yet, Prime is pricier. If you mind your money, the Bushnell H2O is a better option because it is cheaper yet it has the same magnification power, field of view and durable weather-proof build. The only difference is that the Bushnell prime has better eye relief and is slightly heavier.
Other features: FMC broadband lenses, neck strap included
These occer binoculars are one of the best for those who are looking for a budget-friendly pair. The 12x magnification is perfect for getting up close and personal with your surroundings, and the 25 mm objective diameter ensures that you will have a clear and bright view. The field of view is also impressive, at 273 feet at 1000 yards, making it easy to take in all the beauty around you. These binoculars’ lenses are also treated with FMC broadband technology for enhanced clarity and color reproduction. Moreover, they are relatively lightweight at 14 ounces, which makes them easy to carry with you on your travels. Plus, this model comes with a neck strap included, which means that you won’t have to worry about leaving them behind somewhere.
The occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars are the best affordable binos on this list. They may not offer premium performance and build quality that come with the likes of Vortex Diamondback HD, Nikon Trailblazer or Celestron Nature DX but will satisfy most of your needs. Besides top value for money, you will get sharp images and a convenient, durable, aesthetic build.
What makes it stand out?
Best value for money
Compact and visually pleasing
Surprising magnification level
Great to carry around with you for various activities
Choosing binoculars for your traveling need could be tricky. There are many different brands and types of binoculars on the market, and each has its own unique set of features, which can be a challenge for one who doesn’t really know where to start. In this buying guide we will list a few things to keep in mind when choosing the best travel binoculars for you.
What Should Binoculars for Travel Be Like?
There are a few important factors to expect from travel binoculars when choosing one. First of all, they should be lightweight and compact. Nobody wants to lug around a heavy pair of binoculars while they’re trying to enjoy their vacation. Second, they should have a wide field of view. This is important for getting a good look at everything around you, whether you’re birdwatching or exploring a new city. Lastly, they should be durable enough to withstand being thrown around in transit.
How Much Should You Spend On Travel Binoculars?
When it comes to purchasing travel binoculars, it is important to consider your budget. There are a variety of binoculars on the market that vary in price, so it is important to find something that fits your needs and budget. We’ve selected a few options ranging from 50 to 250 dollars that offer different features to fit your taste.
Generally speaking, there are three size types of binoculars, and you should choose the one according to your need.
There are a few different sizes of binoculars, and the size you need will depend on what you plan to use them for:
Compact binoculars are the smallest and lightest option, making them easy to carry with you on your travels. They usually have a shorter focal length, which means they don’t magnify as much as other options. However, they can still be a great choice for general use, such as birdwatching or nature walks. You can discover a few more lightweight and compact options in our guide for the best compact binoculars.
Mid-size binoculars are a good compromise between compactness and power. They are large enough to provide a clear image, but not so large that they are cumbersome to carry. Mid-size binoculars are a good choice for most travel needs.
Full-size binoculars are the largest and heaviest option, but they also offer the best image quality. If you plan to do serious birdwatching or wildlife observation, full-size binoculars are the way to go. However, keep in mind that they can be difficult to carry on long trips.
Binoculars come in a variety of weights, so it’s important to choose the right pair for your needs. If you plan on doing a lot of hiking or backpacking, you’ll want to choose a lighter pair of binoculars that won’t weigh you down. For bird watching or other stationary activities, a heavier pair of binoculars may be just fine.
Binoculars are commonly classified by their objective lens diameter in millimeters, e.g., 8×40 or 10×50. The first number is the magnification and the second is the objective lens diameter in mm. So, 8×40 binoculars magnify objects eight times and have 40 mm lenses.
Most people find 7x to 10x magnification to be ideal for most purposes, although there are binoculars available with much higher magnifications. Higher-magnification binoculars are usually heavier and more difficult to hold steady, making them more difficult to use. They also have a narrower field of view, so you’ll have to scan back and forth more to take in an entire scene. For these reasons, we recommend sticking with 7x to 10x magnification for most purposes.
Objective Lens Diameter
The objective lens is the large lens at the front of the binoculars. It’s responsible for gathering light, and a larger objective lens will gather more light than a smaller one. This is why binoculars with larger objective lenses are usually better in low-light conditions, such as dawn or dusk. They also tend to have brighter images and wider fields of view.
However, larger objective lenses also make binoculars heavier and more difficult to carry around. For this reason, we recommend choosing a smaller pair of binoculars if you plan on doing a lot of traveling. If weight isn’t as much of a concern, then you can go with a larger pair of binoculars.
Field of View
Field of view is one of the most important factors to consider when purchasing binoculars. It is measured as the width in degrees of the area that can be seen through the lenses at a given distance. The field of view for most birding binoculars ranges from 5-8 degrees.
Moreover, the field of view depends on the level of magnification. Generally speaking, the more the magnification, the narrower the field of view, and vice-versa.
Some binoculars have a fixed field of view while others have a zoom feature that allows you to adjust the magnification and, as a result, the field of view. If you want the versatility of being able to zoom in on distant subjects or focus in on something closer than what is in your field of view, then zoom binoculars would be a better choice.
So, what is a good field of view?
It really depends on what you will be using your binoculars for. If you will be doing a lot of long-distance viewing, such as scanning a horizon or spotting game in an open field, a wider field of view is better. On the other hand, if you will be doing a lot of close-up viewing, such as looking at flowers or birds in a bush, a narrower field of view is fine. In general, binoculars with a wide field of view are better for beginners, while those with a narrow field of view are better for experienced users.
Eye relief is the distance between your eyes and the ocular lenses (eyepieces) of the binocular. It is important for two reasons, firstly if the eye relief is too short, you will not be able to see the full field of view. Secondly, and more importantly, if the eye relief is too short it will be uncomfortable to use for prolonged periods as your eyes will be strained. The ideal eye relief for a binocular is around 15-17mm, anything less than this and you may need to take breaks from time to time.
There are two types of eye relief – fixed and adjustable. Fixed eye relief means that the distance between your eyes and the ocular lenses is set, so you need to make sure that it is comfortable for you before you buy. Adjustable eye relief means that you can adjust the distance to suit your own eyesight, which can be handy if you wear glasses.
To minimize the amount of the eye strain and maximize the field of view, you should choose binos with an eye relief around 15-17 mm.
Close Focus Distance
The close focus distance of a binocular is the minimum distance at which the binocular can bring objects into focus. This is an important consideration for birders and other nature enthusiasts who often want to get close-up views of their subjects. Most binoculars have a close focus distance of between three and five feet, although some models can focus as close as two feet. If you plan on using your binoculars for viewing subjects at close range, be sure to choose a model with a close focus distance that meets your needs.
Lens coatings: help to reduce reflections and increase light transmission. They also help to protect the lenses from dirt, fingerprints, and other damage. There are basically four types of lens coatings: coated, fully coated, multi-coated and fully multi-coated. Coated means that at least one lens surface has coating, while fully coated means that all air-to-glass surfaces have coating. Multi-coated means that at least some of the lenses have multiple layers of coatings, while fully multi-coated means that all lenses have them. Fully coated or multi-coated binoculars will usually provide better image quality than uncoated or only partially coated binoculars.
Weather conditions: if you are an avid traveler, then you know that there’s nothing worse than being out in the middle of nowhere without being able to see anything. You’ll want to make sure that you choose a pair that is both waterproof and fogproof, as this will ensure that you can use them in any weather conditions.
Accessories: many binoculars come with a carrying case and/or tripod, which can be essential for getting the most out of your investment. A carrying case will protect your binoculars from damage while traveling, and a tripod can be crucial for stability when trying to view distant objects. If you plan on doing any serious birdwatching or nature observation while on vacation, make sure to choose a binocular that comes with these essential accessories.
Make sure you always have a clean cloth with you to wipe down the lenses. You can also invest in a small brush to dust off the lenses before you use them. If you’re going to be in a dusty environment, it’s also a good idea to keep your binoculars in a case when you’re not using them. Last but not the least, clean your binoculars regularly when you get home from your trip so that they stay in good condition.
Roof prism binoculars are generally more compact and lightweight than porro prism ones, making them easier to carry around. They also tend to have better optics, resulting in sharper images. However, they can be more expensive than porro prism binoculars. So we advise buying a set of roof prism binoculars, as traveling enthusiasts will find the handling and weight convenient for their regular or not so adventures.
If you wear glasses, you’ll want to make sure the binoculars you’re considering have enough eye relief. Eye relief is the distance between your eye and the eyepiece of the binoculars. You should also look for a twist-up eyecup feature, which will allow you to use the binoculars even if you’re wearing glasses.
Based on our conclusion, the best travel binoculars is the Vortex Diamondback HD. It is lightweight and portable, which in combination with its outstanding optics makes these binoculars applicable in numerous traveling activities. Nikon Trailblazer takes place in our top because of its high durability. It withstands weather conditions thanks to its O-ring sealed construction and nitrogen filling. Our bird lovers may consider the Celestron Nature DX, as its objective specs are perfect for birding and tripod adaptability is suited for long viewing sessions. Every model from our top picks is worth looking into, and we ensure that you will be content with your decision.
How to Clean Binoculars Properly without Damaging the Lenses | Space
Here's our guide on how to clean binoculars properly, so you're well-prepared for the next stargazing event.