It can be very challenging to meet the need for high-quality optics when backpacking or hiking. In this instance, you need durable and lightweight equipment to survive the challenges of the outdoors.
This is an issue every traveler, hiker, or bird watcher has to reckon with when choosing the best compact binoculars. The best binoculars have very big, delicate, high-quality lenses (Source).
In our buying guide for binoculars, we’re going to look at some of the benefits and features of the five top compact binoculars. We are going to help you choose the best lightweight and compact binoculars with fully integrated modern technology. We’ll also mention what to look for in binoculars after the review.
Best Compact Binoculars
Our Top Picks
- 1 1. Bushnell 138005 H2O – The Best Value For Money
- 2 2. MINOX BV II 62030 BR – Best On The Water Viewing
- 3 3. BUSHNELL POWERVIEW – Best Magnification
- 4 4. Wingspan Optics Spectator – Best For Use In The Wild
- 5 5. Swarovski Optik El Swarovision – Most Luxurious
- 6 Ready To Buy a Pair of Quality Binoculars?
1. Bushnell 138005 H2O – The Best Value For Money
The Bushnell features BaK-4 prisms for bright, clear, and crisp viewing, non-slip rubber armor to absorb shock while providing a firm grip, and multi-coated optics for excellent light transmission.
Additionally, it is 100 percent waterproof, O-ring sealed for fog-free use, and nitrogen-purged.Likewise, this binocular’s grip is textured and ensures that you’ll keep your hands on it even in the most challenging conditions.
Moreover, its multi-coated optics ensure bright viewing. Similarly, the binoculars are equipped with twist-up eyecups, longer eye relief, and a larger center-focus knob.
It also boasts a 3.13mm exit pupil and a 114m field of view. Hence, even if you wear glasses, you can still enjoy the full field of view. This small, yet rugged binocular guarantees fog-proof performance under all conditions, even the most demanding ones.
You can adjust the twist-up rubber eyecups to set the long eye relief where it is needed. Lastly, this binocular can be sold with a strap, a nylon case, and a rain guard. It is one of the best value compact binoculars out there as well.
What We Like
- Can be used without glasses
- Exceptionally lightweight
- Dual hinges on main body enable folding
- Can fit in coat pocket
What We DisLike
- Every hand movement is noticeable due to high compactness
- Not suitable for short distances (better-suited for long distances)
2. MINOX BV II 62030 BR – Best On The Water Viewing
The Minox BV features a 30-year warranty, a lightweight aluminum body. Fully coated waterproof and fog proof nitrogen-filled lenses, rubber-armored for shock absorption, twist-up eye cups, 3.13mm exit pupil, 15.5mm eye relief, and 119 m field of view.
It is tested and designed in Germany and used by professionals worldwide. This isn’t to say it is not suitable for recreational use – novices are welcome to get this too. Moreover, this binocular is sold with a special case and strap.
We’d go so far to say that the Minox BV II 8×25 BR is appropriate for every application – nature observation, traveling, sporting activities, and especially on the water viewing. Boasting an exceptional price-performance ratio, this item is also the perfect choice for those looking for a high-quality, small, and affordable binocular.
Furthermore, its design is extremely sturdy. Its aircraft aluminum body ensures the reliable functioning of all inner optical systems and precision mechanics. All glass/air surfaces are equipped with multi-coating for stunning brilliance of the image and maximum light transmission without an interfering glare.
What We Like
- Top image quality
- Fits in large pockets
- Excellent price/value ratio
- Less shaking observed when using it hand held
- Can be used for night viewing / astronomy
What We DisLike
- No lens caps
3. BUSHNELL POWERVIEW – Best Magnification
This binocular is an excellent choice for professionals due to its advanced features which include a roof prism design, 100% protective rubber armor, and fold down eyecups for users wearing glasses.
Additionally, all air to glass surfaces is coated with anti-reflective cover to facilitate light transmission. The binocular also features 10mm eye relief, 2.6mm exit pupils, and a 115 m field of view, 8x magnification and a 21-mm objective diameter.
Optimal brightness and a center focus system to sharpen your view more easily. The close focusing distance is 21 feet.
What We Like
- Easy to fit in pocket
- Excellent magnification
- Hand shaking not noticeable
What We DisLike
- Not fog/waterproof
- Don’t work well in weak light
- Cannot be used with a tripod (but won’t need to be)
4. Wingspan Optics Spectator – Best For Use In The Wild
The Wingspan Optics Spectator features lifetime warranty, twist-up eye cups, BaK-4 roof prism, fully multi-coated lenses, 14.8mm eye relief, cover for both sets of lenses, 4mm exit pupil, and 110m field of view.
It’s the best choice for wildlife lovers, and also excellently suited for safaris and bird watching. You’ll love these binoculars if you have a keen eye for a travel bargain, yet wish to experience nature at its finest. Moreover, they are also a great choice for people on a more limited budget.
In addition to that, these binoculars are lightweight, weatherproof, and waterproof. All images are captured in brilliant detail thanks to the easy-focus vision wheel system. It is also non-slip, drop-proof, and family-friendly. Your kids will love it. Plus, these can go from wide view to the sharpest focus in seconds.
Likewise, they are easy to carry, compact, and very powerful. Hence, if you want to upgrade, you can’t go wrong with these. Lastly, this item is sold with a neck strap, nylon mesh binocular case, lens covers, and lens cleaning cloth.
What We Like
- Very clear at long distances
- Excellent image quality
- Full lens glass coating cover
- Waterproof and fog-proof
- Binocular Harness compatible
- Tripod mount adaptable
What We DisLike
- Not as portable or compact as the other options
5. Swarovski Optik El Swarovision – Most Luxurious
The Swarovski brand speaks for itself, and its excellent reputation extends to the Optik El Swarovision. This is a high-definition pair of binoculars with great optics that ensure optimal contrast, HD lenses, enhanced coating on all lenses and prisms, 20mm eye relief, twist-up eyecups, 4.9mm exit pupil, and 133m field of view.
These binoculars are perfect for all situations and professional as well as recreational use. They are especially suitable for hunting and ideal for longer distances with their famous wrap-around grip that enable the user to control the 10x magnification as well as possible.
Moreover, this item features the company’s hallmark Swarovision technology for optimal image resolution. The combination of high-definition optics and field flattener lenses yields outstanding contrast, too, even if the binoculars are used at dusk.
Consequently, even the most minute details and finest structures are reproduced with razor-sharp clarity. For this instance, the HD lenses contain fluoride which helps minimize color-fringing for contrast-rich images with crystal clear outlines.
Moreover, we would also recommend these binoculars for the greater eye relief of the exit pupil that it provides. This makes it possible to survey the entire wide-angle field of view even if you wear glasses.
Enhanced, sophisticated coatings on the prisms and lenses generate absolutely lifelike color reproduction and unbelievable image brightness as well. The coating on the external surface of the lenses makes sure no particles will stick to them which makes them easy to clean.
What We Like
- Perfect for people who wear glasses thanks to the large eye relief
- Field flattener lenses
- Binoculars with HD glass
- Excellent in dim light
- Improved viewing comfort
- Images are exceptionally precise and clear
What We DisLike
Things To Know Before Buying A Compact Binocular
A set of two numbers attached to the name of the binoculars, such as 8×22, will be the first thing you’ll notice when shopping for a pair of compact binoculars.
The first number shows the magnification of the binoculars (in this case 8x) and the second indicates the size of the objective lens (at the front) in millimeters.
The smaller the objective lens is, the less light will enter the lens, making images less bright and clear. This means you should look for the highest numbers possible.
The overall size of the binoculars depends on the objective lens size. Compact binoculars will generally have much smaller objective lenses than bigger ones, and the images will be dimmer as a result.
At the same time, you don’t want to get a compact binocular with magnification over 10x if your hands aren’t steady. Magnification over 10x increases the amount of handshake that is perceived as you look through the lens.
Because of their ease of use and more compact size, binoculars with smaller lenses and magnifications can be more practical. If you want clearer, brighter images when hunting or birdwatching, get a more expensive pair or use a tripod to steady them.
The best spotting scope tripods help you to stay focused on one spot and gives the best result.
Exit Pupil Size
Another major consideration is the size of the exit pupil diameter. The diameter is the size of the hole through which the light passes in the binocular. It is calculated by dividing the objective lens size by the binoculars’ magnification. The lower this number, the less light can enter the binoculars.
Field Of View
The size of the field of view depends on how you intend to use your binoculars. The field of view is associated with the width of the scene you can see through your binoculars.
Its size is inversely proportional to the magnification of the binoculars. So, if you plan to use them for wildlife watching or field sports, you will need a pair with a wider field of view.
You’ll notice that many binoculars indicate that their lenses are coated when looking at different models.
Lens coatings can help to improve the brightness and clarity of the image that you see through the binoculars and affect how much of the light is reflected away from the lens. Most binoculars have at least eight lenses and you can lose light at each one of these.
Binoculars with multilayered coatings have several layers on each lens which means a brighter and clearer image, while those that indicate they are fully coated will have a coating on each lens.
Not all binoculars can be worn by people who wear glasses. Eye relief is the distance required between your eyes and the ocular lenses of the binocular (that’s the lenses you look through).
If your eyes are too far away from the lens, you will see a dark ring around the field of view. Also, if your eyes are too close to the lenses, you will see a black crescent moon shape at the bottom of the field of view.
However, if the image is clear, that means your binoculars have the correct eye relief. Thus, if you wear glasses, you should get a pair of binoculars with 15mm eye relief equipped with eyecups that can be folded down or twisted.
Because you already have a bit more distance between your eyes and the lenses than people who don’t wear glasses.
Water And Fog Proofing
In conclusion, if you plan on using your binoculars in the outdoors while trekking or on a hiking trip, the issue of water- and fog-proofing is crucial. O-ring sealed binoculars are impervious to moisture.
To prevent the binoculars from steaming up in humid conditions and for them to be fog proof. The air inside the binoculars is replaced with a gas (argon or nitrogen) that has no moisture content. We then speak of the binoculars being “nitrogen purged”.
Ready To Buy a Pair of Quality Binoculars?
Even with these considerations in mind, you will realize that you still have a vast variety of options to choose from. To save you the time and trouble of having to test each of the models, our binoculars buying guide offer the five best-rated compact binoculars today.
We have found these models to be the most effective. We assure you that any of these compact pairs of binoculars will get the job done. Are you looking for a great binocular for hunters and birdwatchers? Check this review instead.
Birdwatching or field sports will never be this fun!