LAST UPDATED: October 13, 2019
Best Compact Binoculars: See Far and Wide Minus the Extra Weight
See further away with these small and easy-to-carry compact binoculars
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PUBLISHED ON October 13, 2019
Whether you’re watching birds, hiking through the mountains, or going to a concert or game, using a pair of compact binoculars will enhance the experience. They allow you to see further and more clearly if you’re way back in the cheap seats or want to see an animal up close without spooking it. Compact binoculars are small, lightweight, and can be stored in small spaces for convenience. Here are the best compact binoculars to consider if you need to expand your vision.
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Benefits of Compact Binoculars
- Easy to carry around. If you have two pairs of binoculars—a regular-sized one and a compact one—it is easier to grab the compact binoculars due to their portability advantage. You will feel more at ease, as you are not burdened by their size and weight. Compact binoculars are also less likely to bump into hard surfaces during concerts and other intense outdoor activities.
- Budget-friendly. Full-size counterparts of compact binoculars cost way more. With more compact binoculars available on the market nowadays, you do not have to buy large binoculars to experience the best performance. You can purchase compact binoculars for a much cheaper price.
- Better optical correction. Compact binoculars have smaller lenses than larger ones, so they have better edge sharpness and have more freedom from barrel distortion, flaring, and coma. Optical correction is even better with premium compact binoculars, so if you have the cash and are willing to spend it on high optical standards, then we recommend that you invest in a good set of compact binoculars.
Types of Compact Binoculars
Roof Prism Binoculars
Roof prism binoculars are less expensive, so they are more popular than the other type of compact binoculars. They are designed in a way that aligns the eyepieces and the front lenses for slimmer and more compact binoculars. For a much better version of the roof prism binoculars, you can go for models with phase-corrected roof prisms. They are more expensive, but they greatly enhance the performance of compact binoculars.
Porro Prism Binoculars
Porro prism binoculars make use of the reverse Porro prism design. This reverse Porro prism design is characterized by unaligned eyepieces and front lenses, so when you notice this in your compact binocular, then you can be sure that it is a Porro prism type. Porro prism binoculars typically have wider eyepieces than front lenses. Their high quality versions are also cheaper than those of roof prism binoculars.
Zeiss is a German manufacturer of optics and optoelectronics. It is a company dedicated to developing products and solutions for medical technology, microscopy, industrial metrology, semiconductor manufacturing, camera lenses, and vision care. Zeiss, as one of the leading manufacturers of precision optics, is capable of producing compact binoculars such as the Zeiss 8x25 Terra ED Compact Pocket Binocular.
Leica Camera AG
Leica Camera AG is an internationally operating manufacturer of cameras and sport optics products. For years, it has produced excellent lenses and optical devices. It is a company dedicated to producing better pictures in a highly perceptive and visual world that we have today. Its binocular products, for instance, are built to provide intense experiences and great visual detail. One of these products is Leica Ultravid BR 8x20 Compact Binocular.
As an American manufacturer of optical equipment for various purposes, such as hunting, bird watching, outdoor sports, and law enforcement, Vortex Optics have a wide range of products. Its binocular lineup, in particular, provides the public with binoculars with different price ranges and levels of optical performance. The Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 10x28 Binocular, for example, is a binocular that offers good value for your money with its cheap price yet impressive performance.
Compact Binoculars Pricing
- $18-$50: This price range obviously includes cheap binoculars. However, they usually have poor performance, especially in low light conditions. So, if you want a relatively affordable, mid-budget compact binocular, then you can go for the ones within the next price range.
- $50-$100: Within this price range, you can find mid-budget compact binoculars with satisfactory features. By satisfactory, we mean compact binoculars that can perform well even in low-light conditions and have a greater magnification. Compact binoculars priced within this range are great for bird watchers who want decent images without spending too much.
- $100 and above: This price range offers premium, high-quality compact binoculars. Aside from being top performers in the compact binocular category, they are also sleek-looking and are sure to catch the attention of fellow bird watchers and observers. If you are quite invested in bird watching equipment and have the money for it, then purchase a binocular in this price range.
Magnification power on compact binoculars is usually 8x or 10x. Naturally, you will go for the 10x, but keep in mind that a higher magnification does not always mean that it is better. A magnification of greater than 10x can be harder to keep steady.
Field of View
Magnification power affects the field of view, and a higher magnification narrows it, so consider this when you purchase your compact binocular. A narrow field of view can make it harder for you to see small and moving objects, especially in the dark.
Objective Lens Diameter
The diameter of your objective lenses affects light gathering. The larger the objective lens size, the more light it captures, and the brighter the image it generates. The quality of the optics also affect the brightness of images, so choose not only larger but also high-quality lenses.
- Protective Touches. Consider additional features that can keep your compact binoculars from retiring early. These features include rubber coating and waterproof and fogproof features. Not only will they help your compact binocular last a long time, but they will also help you save more money.
- Exit Pupil. A higher exit pupil means a brighter image. Low-light situations require an exit pupil of 5 mm or more, but this does not matter in bright daylight viewing.
- Eye Relief. Consider long eye relief in buying a compact binocular. This refers to the distance between an eyepiece and your eye. Go for adjustable eye relief if you do not wear eyeglasses on a regular basis.
Best Compact Binocular Reviews & Recommendations 2019
This 10x42 compact binocular is made of durable and lightweight magnesium alloy. It has BAK-4 prisms with phase and dielectric coatings that help with light transmission. It also has a wide field of view that allows its users to follow their subjects without much difficulty.
The best features of this compact binocular are its fully multi-coated optics that generate brighter views and more resolution, its 6.5-foot focus for viewing objects from long distances, and its metal eyecups that can be adjusted for the correct position of the eyes.
This binocular comes with a neck strap but the problem is it is hard to attach to the binocular. It also lacks an eyepiece cap strap that can keep you from losing it.
This Bushnell roof prism binocular is a waterproof 8x25 compact binocular that offers bright and clear viewing with its BAK-4 prisms and multi-coated optics.
It has a non-slip rubber armor that serves as a shock absorber and a reliable grip for a more solid handling. This compact binocular also offers a fog-free close-focus distance performance without straining your eyes due to its 12 mm eye relief. Another great feature of this compact binocular is its easy adjustment feature and twist-up eyecups that novice hikers and birders will appreciate.
Despite its numerous positive features, it has a few annoying negative ones, such as hard-to-adjust diopter knobs and small eyecups.
Color and clarity are two of the things that make a good compact binocular, and this is exactly what this Nikon 10x30 compact binocular offers.
It contains fully multi-layer coated lenses and phase correction coated roof prisms. These contribute to the brightness, clarity, and color quality of the wildlife and nature scenery you are trying to capture or observe with your binoculars. People who wear eyeglasses will experience this powerful performance with its turn-and-slide rubber eyecups for a wider field of view. This compact binocular is also great for all weather conditions, as it is protected by a rubber armor.
The problem with this compact binocular, however, is its image sharpness. Despite its high specs, images can still look a bit dull. Its lens covers are also hard to keep on the lenses, which does not help, since the lenses are prone to fogging up.
These are compact binoculars ideal for both adults and children. They are incredibly lightweight and easy to carry around, providing a clear vision for bird and scenery watching, hiking, exploring, and more. With 10x magnification and 2a 5mm objective lens, you'll be able to see at great distances and enjoy enhanced views.
The thing that makes these binoculars special is a large field of view. They allow you to focus on an object that is about 1,000 yards ahead of you and see it in incredible detail. Furthermore, the item features multi-coated lenses that are not only waterproof but highly durable, too. You can use them in all kinds of weather conditions. The item also has an anti-slip coating that ensures you have a firm and comfortable grip at all times. You can even fold these compact binoculars for easier transportation and storage.
However, keep in mind that these are not ideal for night conditions. You'll be able to see through them, but not as clearly as in daylight. Buyers also complained about the case lacking a strap that would go around the neck. If you want to carry these binoculars this way, you'll have to order a new case separately.
Celestron offers another high-quality product worthy of your attention. It's a pair of binoculars with multi-coated optics that delivers high-resolution images and enhances visibility in a variety of situations. Thanks to the prisms made of BaK-4 glass, the item also ensures excellent color fidelity.
Overall, these binoculars are reliable and provide clean and detailed views. They are designed for all kinds of weather conditions, with their rugged waterproof and fogproof housing. There's also a protective coating that allows for a firm grip.
When it comes to the other necessary features, these binoculars have a lot to offer. The large focus knobs are made to ensure more accuracy and the twist-up eyecups can be easily adjusted for a full field of view. You can even set them up for wearing eyeglasses underneath.
One of the main drawbacks of this product is the design of the focus knob. The piece is quite stiff and might be difficult to adjust. Also, it seems that these binoculars sometimes get out of focus, so you might need to readjust them frequently. Another issue might be with the lighting. The item provides dark images that could cause eye fatigue with extended use.
This is an inexpensive pair of binoculars ideal for exploring, hiking, bird watching, and all kinds of other adventures. The item features 12x magnification and a 25mm objective lens. Thanks to the HD images and a range of 273 feet at 1,000 yards, it proves to be very powerful and convenient.
There's a lot of things to love about these binoculars. First of all, they are very convenient for both day and night conditions. With the night vision lens, you can clearly see the surroundings without straining your eyes. XMC Technology with BAK4 prism is there to ensure excellent light reflection and quality images at all times. Secondly, the binoculars are made to last. They are water-resistant and perfect for different weather conditions. Lastly, you'll get a hand strap, a carrying pouch, and a cleaning cloth.
However, keep in mind that these are budget-friendly binoculars. They might be a little less durable than some other high-end items on our list. You might need to put in some effort in storage and transportation to avoid accidental damages. It also might be challenging to adjust the focus because of the binoculars' small size, but it's a minor inconvenience.
These binoculars are an inexpensive alternative to high-end products. They provide a 362-feet wide view at 1000 yards and prove to be very reliable. With them, you'll get a clear and detailed view and be able to observe birds, scenery, and more.
The item works well not only in daylight but in weak light conditions. Thanks to the BaK-4 prism lenses with FMX multi-layer green film, the binoculars prove to be ideal for night situations. They enhance images making the view brighter and overall, a lot better.
Another great thing about this item is the intuitive design. The focus knob is adjustable and easy to use, and the rubber cover rolls down for more convenience. Additionally, the binoculars are waterproof and anti-skid, allowing you to use them with great security at all weather conditions. Thanks to the lightweight and compact design, you'll also find these binoculars super easy to carry around and store.
Still, some buyers warn about these binoculars being 8x25 rather than 10x25. They are still reliable and convenient, but the product description might be a little misleading. Also, others complained about the binoculars being too small. If you have large hands, you might have difficulty holding these properly.
The Leupold binoculars are packed with many useful features to ensure clear and detailed views for the user. Along with being made of quality materials and producing top-notch images, the binoculars come in a compact and lightweight design to meet the needs of travelers, explorers, and other adventurers.
The item features a multi-coated lens system that ensures a high level of brightness in both day and night conditions. Thanks to this design type, the binoculars offer excellent clarity, contrast, and color fidelity. On top of that, the item is built to last and comes with a rugged housing resistant to water and impacts.
The product is not without drawbacks, though. The included accessories, for example, are not of the best quality. A carrying case is a little too small, and the strap is somewhat flimsy. You might need to replace these items with new ones. Also, the controls are tad stiff and difficult to adjust. One of the focus rings is too close to the body flare and challenging to grip with two fingers.
Revival Gear offers a quality pair of binoculars that come at an attractive price. The item is ideal for those on a limited budget who want to get reliable and well-performing binoculars. With the 10x magnification and multi-coated lenses, it proves to be super useful for hiking, biking, camping, bird watching, and more.
The thing you'll get with these binoculars is a clear and detailed view regardless of different weather and light conditions. The item has an easy-to-adjust focus knob and green film optics glass lens for a better image in poor light conditions. That doesn't only ensure clear views but prevents eye strain and other possible discomforts.
You'll also like the compact and lightweight design of these binoculars. They are small enough to be carried easily and even fold down for storage. The housing also has an anti-slip coat for a secure and comfortable grip.
The thing that might cause you an issue with this item is the overall design of the rubber eyecups. Although they do fold down, they also tend to pop back up. It happens frequently and might be quite annoying. Some buyers also complained about the carrying case not being included in the package.
Bushnell offers compact binoculars that are perfect for all kinds of weather and light conditions. With the 10x magnification and 25mm objective lenses, this item proves to be highly reliable. You'll find it very useful while camping, hiking, and exploring the outdoors. Thanks to the compact and lightweight design, the binoculars can be easily carried around and kept within hand's reach.
The binoculars feature optics with BAK-4 prisms, ED prime glass, water-repellent lens, and rugged housing. All these features ensure you get the best possible view, clear and detailed image, and a long lifespan out of the product. Additionally, the binoculars have soft-touch grips for more security and comfort as well as twist-up eyecups.
There are a couple of minor issues to keep in mind when it comes to this item. Firstly, some buyers noticed that the included neck strap is too wide to fit the loopholes on the binoculars. Secondly, the item doesn't have lens caps for dust protection, and the eyecups are somewhat flimsy. They close too easily and can't be locked in an open position.
- If you wear glasses, use binoculars with larger eyecups to fit over the lenses. You can still see through smaller lenses, but it may not be as comfortable.
- Leave the lens covers on the lenses when not in use to prevent any damage while walking with the binoculars. The covers also act as a barrier to prevent dust and other debris from getting behind the glass.
- To find the exit ratio, or how bright the image is in the lenses, divide the second number by the first. For instance, 32 divided by eight is four, so binoculars with an 8x32 magnification would have an exit ratio of 4.0.
Q: Can I use a tripod with compact binoculars?
A: This will vary by manufacturer. First check if the specific brand of compact binoculars you are looking at is compatible with a tripod. Many may not have the proper adapter built in.
Q: How can I tell how far the lenses can see?
A: The numbers—such as 8x32—dictate the magnification and the overall distance the binoculars are able to see. The first number is the power and magnification of the lens. The second number is the diameter of each lens. These numbers are used to calculate the binocular’s exit ratio to determine how bright the image will be.
Q: How do I take care of binocular lenses?
A: Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away any smudges. If the binoculars do not come with a cloth, you can use a soft towel or piece of clothing that won’t scratch the surface.
For one of the most powerful and durable compact binoculars, consider the Wingspan Optics FieldView 8x32 Compact Binoculars.
Save some cash and check out the Bushnell H2O Waterproof Compact Binoculars for their strong magnification and clear view.