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Best Compact Binoculars: Making Sure You Can See Clearly Always

Best compact binoculars
Sean Nelson
Written by Sean Nelson

If you’ve ever been the type of person who was interested in the outdoors, you probably have tried out at least a pair of binoculars. After all, you want to be able to see the birds, the deer and anything else that might be a little far away to see with the naked eye.

But if you’re going out on a wilderness trip, you might not have the ability to pack a large pair of binoculars, but at the same time they might be even more important than ever before. That’s where you need the best compact binoculars you can find, to cut down on space and improve your vision.

Our Top Picks

Product nameDimensionsWeightMagnificationPrice
Nikon Compact Zoom2 x 6 x 4 inches1 pound8 - 24xCheck price on Amazon
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD4.6 x 2.3 x 3.4 inches0.5 pounds10xCheck price on Amazon
Leica BCA6 x 6 x 6 inches0.9 pounds10xCheck price on Amazon
Vortex Optics Viper Series5.75 x 2.25 x 6 inches1.15 pounds8xCheck price on Amazon
Hawke Sapphire ED1 x 3.8 x 4 inches0.5 pounds8xCheck price on Amazon
Nikon Monarch 52.4 x 5.1 x 5.7 inches1.34 pounds8xCheck price on Amazon
Vanguard Orros4.5 x 4.7 x 1 inches0.6 pounds10xCheck price on Amazon
Steiner Safari UltraSharp4.3 x 5 x 2.2 inches0.8 pounds10xCheck price on Amazon

What To Look For In Your Compact Binoculars

If you’re looking for a good pair of binoculars, you have to make sure that they’re actually going to be good, and that means looking at a variety of different features and aspects of them to make the best choice.

After all, there are hundreds and thousands of different choices in the market. How would you possibly know that you’re making the right decision if you haven’t at least had a chance to figure out what you should get?

Check The Magnification

One of the first things you want to look at is the magnification of your binoculars. Do you want to see things that are very far away or things that are not that far?

Binocular magnification

The higher the magnification, the further away you’ll be able to see; but it is going to narrow your field of vision at the same time. You need to decide on what’s more important for you, the distance or the size of your viewing space.

Look At Image Quality

Not all binoculars are created equal and that goes for the crispness of their image, as well. Some are going to give you a more true to life image, which means a more detailed and bright image. Some others, however, are a little dimmer.

This varies depending on the objective lens’ size, so make sure that you choose binoculars with large objective lenses to get as much light as possible into the frame. This is what gives you those brighter, clearer colors. You’ll definitely see better with at least a 25mm (but preferably larger) objective lens.

Get Good Eye Relief

If you wear glasses, you will probably need eyecups that are able to accommodate them. You should avoid being pressured by your glasses against the binoculars and getting too much light around your eyes when you’re trying to look through binoculars.

Good for the eye relief

The right type of eyecups is going to keep your eyes protected and shaded, but they also protect you from having too much pressure that might injure your eyes.

Durability

You want binoculars that are durable over a long period of time, especially if you will use them in outdoor activities. You don’t want them to be completely destroyed because you dropped them or because they fell in a puddle.

The binoculars you take with you need to be able to stand up to some severe weather, as well as dust, wind and whatever else might come your way. After all, survivalist situations are definitely not going to be ideal and you want your binoculars to be prepared for that.

Size

If you’re looking for compact binoculars, size is definitely an important aspect. You want something that’s large enough to easily see through them and see as far as you want to.

Sizes of binoculars

At the same time, you don’t want them to take up a lot of room in your pack and you don’t want them to add a lot of weight either. This means that size is definitely going to be an important factor to consider, and you’ll need to look at it very carefully to get a good result.

The Products You Need To See

Now that you know what to look for when buying binoculars, it is time for us to share with you what we think are the best products on the market.

Nikon Compact Zoom BinocularsNikon 8-24x25 Compact Zoom Binocular

Price: Approx. $147

Weight: 1 pound

Dimensions: 2 x 6 x 4 inches

Specific features: 25 mm objective diameter, 8 – 24x zoom, zoom control lever

Best use: High resolution, small objective diameter, high power zoom

The Nikon Compact Zoom Binoculars is so small that you can easily fit them in the pocket of a jacket when you’re heading out for a hike. You’ll be able to see relatively clear with the 25 mm objective lens, and have a really far away reach, too, with the 24x zoom, which is definitely more than most sets of compact binoculars.

Their eyecups are easy to adjust, so you can get just the right fit with or without glasses. They have a zoom lever that is simple to operate; and you can effortlessly adjust them accordingly to your size.

However, the most important downfall these binoculars have is a narrow field of vision that can make quite difficult to keep them steady. Also, since they are too lightweight, you might find hard to focus on your target. Finally, users said that they saw a different image from each eye, so the binoculars are mismatched.

PROS:

  • They have a really long reach
  • They have a zoom control level
  • They are easily adjustable to your eyes

CONS:

  • They have a quite narrow field of vision
  • It is not easy to focus on the target
  • They are mismatched

Related: For photographers, the Nikon DSLR Bag is a very convenient tool. It has lots of space for your camera and several lenses, has many zipper compartments and is really lightweight and easy to carry.

Check the price on Amazon

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD BinocularsBushnell Legend Ultra Hd Binoculars

Price: Approx. $193

Weight: 0.5 pounds

Dimensions: 4.6 x 2.3 x 3.4 inches

Specific features: 10x zoom, waterproof, 25 mm objective lens, fogproof, anti reflective coating

Best use: High power zoom, small objective diameter

The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Binocular is designed to get you up to 10x magnification with a 25 mm objective lens. This is done with the use of BaK-4 prisms as well as ED prime glass and ultra wide band coatings. The binoculars also have a water repellent coating on the lenses, so you can still see anything you want on the rain.

What’s even better is that they are fogproof, so you don’t have to worry about changes in temperature or breathing too heavily. These binoculars have an easy to use zoom knob that you can adjust while you’re using them, and they can be folded even smaller when you’re not actually using them.

Some users have said that this binocular have some issues. The first one is that the hinge is quite loose since day one, and that it just gets looser over time. They also said that the focus knob requires too much play to be precisely focused; and that the holding is not comfortable.

PROS:

  • They are waterproof and fogproof
  • Their zoom knob is easy to adjust even while using them
  • They can be folded down

CONS:

  • The hinge gets looser day to day
  • It is not easy to use the focus knob
  • Holding them is not that comfortable

Related: For hunters we recommend the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Riflescope. It has a red dot LED light; amber tinted front lens; 1 x 25 mm; easy target acquisition and is made of a waterproof, fogproof and shockproof material.

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Leica Bca BinocularsLeica 10x25 Bca Binocular

Price: Approx. $450

Weight: 0.9 pounds

Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 6 inches

Specific features: 10x zoom, 25 mm objective lens, water resistant

Best use: Lightweight, high power zoom, small objective diameter

The Leica Bca Binoculars may be higher priced than a lot of the other options, but they’re definitely going to give you more benefits than most compact binoculars. To begin with, they come with their own case and a really resistant carrying cord, so it is really easy to store them and to take them wherever you want.

Also, they are able to zoom up to 10x; they have a 25 mm objective lens; and they are water resistant, so you can use them in any whether condition. Additionally, you can easily adjust the eyepieces to adapt them to your face. Users say that these binoculars provide one of the sharpest images, and that you’re definitely getting what you paid for.

Nevertheless, buyers have stated that their loop is poorly design, so it is not as useful as it could be; that their material is not that resistant to drops or other damages, and that they have a poor contrast, so it is hard to zero in on targets.

PROS:

  • They come with their own case
  • They are waterproof
  • Their eyepieces are easily adaptable

CONS:

  • Their loop is not that useful
  • They are made of a weak material, so they cannot withstand damages
  • It is difficult to zero in

Related: Also, we recommend the Leica D-Lux Digital Camera for those who like taking pictures of their environments during their trips. It is a high resolution camera that comes with fixed lens for picture quality and a comprehensive user’s manual.

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Vortex Optics Viper Series BinocularsVortex Optics 8x28 Viper Series Binocular

Price: Approx. $319

Weight: 1.15 pounds

Dimensions: 5.75 x 2.25 x 6 inches

Specific features: 8x zoom, 28 mm objective lens, anti reflection coating, extra low dispersion glass, multi coated lenses, roof prism

Best use: Clearer picture, high power zoom

The Vortex Optics Viper Series Binoculars have a proprietary lens coating that ensures there is no reflection and increases the transmission of light, so that you get the best possible view while you’re looking through them. They are designed in a more bulky and less sleek format, and they provide a high amount of color accuracy.

They use low dispersion glass and multi coated lenses, so the image is enhanced through roof prism models that improve the durability. Overall, these binoculars are a little on the higher end for price, but they do have easy to use features and are built to be sturdy while you’re using them in the wilderness.

Nevertheless, they do not offer a wide field of vision, which may be troublesome for most people. Also, they are not that compact since they do not fold up as small as they should; and they are pretty heavy compared to other binoculars from the list, so they are not too comfortable.

PROS:

  • They have an increased light transmission with reduced reflection
  • They are made of a sturdy material and multi coated lenses to improve durability
  • They provide a high amount of color accuracy

CONS:

  • They have a narrow field of vision
  • They do not fold up properly
  • They are kind of heavy

Related: We also recommend the Vortex Optics Red Dot Sight since it is ultra compact and lightweight; it can be attached to most firearms; and it is fog and water proof.

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Hawke Sapphire Ed BinocularsHawke Sapphire Ed 8×25

Price: Approx. $200

Weight: 0.5 pounds

Dimensions: 1 x 3.8 x 4 inches

Specific features: 8x zoom, 25 mm objective lens, traditional style, moderate price, multi coated lenses

Best use: High power zoom, small objective lens

The Hawke Sapphire Ed Binoculars are designed to give you a great view and a great result with a moderate amount of money. They have a traditional style and are easy to fold and unfold, so you can use them at any time. They also have an easy to use zoom factor up to 8x and a 25mm objective lens.

The binoculars are lightweight, which makes it easier to take them with you whenever you go without reducing their clearness. They are water repellent; they have a multi coated lens to make sure you don’t get reflection and glare; they have an extra low dispersion glass; and their eyecups twist easily, which means that you can adjust them to fit exactly the way you want.

People who have bought and used these binoculars say that they are not robust or sturdy. In fact, they say they feel like a toy. Additionally, they say that they lose their focus once in a while; and that the focus wheel could be bigger to improve comfort.

PROS:

  • They are easy to fold and unfold
  • They have a water repellent coating
  • Their zoom is really easy to use

CONS:

  • They are made of a weak material
  • They lose their focus quite often
  • Their focus wheel is pretty small

Related: The Hawke Riflescope Rings are a pretty good tool. It has double hex screws to hold them to your scope, is made of a high grade aluminum, and has internal cushion tape to prevent marking and damages.

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Nikon Monarch 5 BinocularsNikon Monarch 5 8x42 Binoculars

Price: Approx. $300

Weight: 1.34 pounds

Dimensions: 2.4 x 5.1 x 5.7 inches

Specific features: 8x zoom, 42 mm objective lens, extra low dispersion glass, lightweight, multi coated glass, waterproof/fogproof

Best use: Uncertain conditions, high power zoom, large objective lens, durable

The Nikon Monarch 5 Binoculars are available in a couple different zoom options but these particular ones offer 8x zoom with a 42 mm objective lens. The larger objective lens provides a wider field of vision, so you’ll be able to easily see a whole lot more than with some other options from the list.

You’ll get extremely clear and sharp images with the extra low dispersion glass; they have a sleek style, turn rubber eyecups and an easy to use focus knob in the center. Also, they are entirely waterproof and fogproof and they are designed to stand up to drops and other damages.

One of their weaknesses might be that they are a bit heavy, which means that you’ll need a little more availability in your pack in order to carry them with you. Also, people say that it is difficult to use the focus knob, and that eyecups are not that comfortable.

PROS:

  • They offer a wide field of vision
  • They have extra low dispersion glass to provide clear images
  • They are fog and water proof

CONS:

  • They are rather heavy, which makes them difficult to carry
  • It is difficult to use the focus knob
  • The eyecups are pretty uncomfortable

Related: Also, we recommend the Nikon Wireless Remote Control. It is a small and lightweight remote that triggers the shutter from the distance. It is not necessary to point straight to the device and is really durable.

Check the price on Amazon

Vanguard Orros BinocularsVanguard Orros 10x25 Binoculars

Price: Approx. $70

Weight: 0.6 pounds

Dimensions: 4.5 x 4.7 x 1 inches

Specific features: 10x zoom, 25 mm objective lens, waterproof/fogproof, non slip rubber, multi coated lenses

Best use: High power zoom, small objective lens, wet conditions, low price

The Vanguard Orros Binoculars offer 10x zoom with a 25mm objective lens, so you can easily get a clear view of things that are quite far away. They are entirely waterproof and fogproof, so you don’t have to worry about the weather conditions around; they have a non slip material on the outside to make sure you won’t drop them; and have a really light framework.

They are easy to use and can even be adjusted with just one hand while you’re using them; and they are small enough to fit in your jacket pocket or in a bag very easily.

Also, their lenses are multi coated to make sure that you have a crisp image; and they come with a lifetime warranty to ensure that they are made to a high standard and a high quality.

People who have tried them out have said that these binoculars are not 100% clear. Also, they stated that they have some problems when it comes to light gathering and magnification; and that they do not fold evenly, so they occupy room that you might not have in your backpack.

PROS:

  • They are made of a waterproof, fogproof and sturdy material
  • They have a non slip material to prevent fallings
  • They come with a lifetime warranty

CONS:

  • They do not provide a 100% clear image
  • They have a poor light gathering and magnification
  • They do not fold evenly

Related: If you are looking for a great backpack, then the Vanguard Havana Backpack should be your choice. It is comfortable since it has well padded back and harness; it has several pockets that makes it organized; and it is water resistant.

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Steiner Safari UltraSharp BinocularsSteiner Safari Ultrasharp Binoculars

Price: Approx. $128

Weight: 0.8 pounds

Dimensions: 4.3 x 5 x 2.2 inches

Specific features: 10x zoom, 26 mm objective lens, water resistant, ergonomic design, integrated compass

Best use: High power zoom, small objective lens

The Steiner Safari UltraSharp Binoculars are sleek and uniquely designed to make them more ergonomic for you. They are water resistant as well as being able to block out glare and UV light. You can also fold down the eyecups if you wear glasses to make them more comfortable and have a better fit.

These lenses have 10x zoom as well as a 26mm objective lens, so you can zoom on anything around you. They also have a smaller size and are really lightweight, so you can fold them up easily and carry them with no problem since they will not take too much space in your pack.

Users say that, even though the company claims that these binoculars are waterproof, they are not resistant to humid places because the lenses get fogged after a couple of days. Also, they do not offer clear images and they lack of light gathering.

PROS:

  • They offer an ergonomic grip
  • They are made of a waterproof material
  • They block out glare and UV rays

CONS:

  • They are not fogproof
  • They do not provide 100% clear images
  • They have some problems on light gathering.

Related: The Steiner T-Series Scope Rings are a great mounting solution for precision riflescopes. They are made of an aluminum alloy, have a bubble level for maximum accuracy, and can be used with reflex sight.

Check the price on Amazon

Conclusion

With so many different choices, it might be difficult to decide which binoculars are the best ones for you on whatever situation you may find yourself in. If you’re careful to look at all of your options and you pay attention to what they have to offer, you may find what you’re looking for.

Binoculars and sleeve

So tell us, what are your favorite compact binoculars? How have you used them out in the wilderness? There are plenty of different options and we want to know what you found best.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sean Nelson
Sean Nelson

Sean was backpacking since he was 7. He was born close to the RMNP and his father was a ranger, so life surrounded by mountains and wildlife is a norm for Colorado. He likes to explore, but prefers to stay in USA. In his opinion, there are too many trails and options in US to go abroad.

  • Andrew Brown

    Hello! In two weeks my father has his birthday. He loves hiking and wildlife. I want to present him a binocular. My father is 62 years old and he is a very active person. What do you think is better to choose? Which model is better for an old person?

  • Sean Nelson

    Most of the binoculars we have today are lightweight and can be deftly handled by old and younger persons. Feel free to choose one from my reviews and see what fits best for your dad.

  • Carol Stephens

    I love being in nature, away from the city. One month ago, I bird watching with my husband. We bought two Bushnell Legend Ultra Hd Compact Folding Roof Prism Binoculars. After that, we have much more success in this activity! This is exactly what we need!

  • Sean Nelson

    Yes, that is a fine piece of gear and am glad you’re going to enjoy using it in your bird watching activities with your husband. They are very durable and comes in just the right size and weight so you won’t get tired using it. After all, it usually take hours just admiring and watching those birds.

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