The Best Compact Binoculars of 2020 – Easy to Carry Optics
The best binoculars have large, high-quality optics, but their size, weight, and the fact that they can be delicate preset a challenge when hiking or backpacking. When doing such activities such as hiking or backpacking, or any other vigorous activity that requires the use of binoculars but cannot accommodate the use of large sets, you need compact binoculars. They are compact, lightweight, and can survive the rigors of the outdoors.
With so many brands on the market, choosing the best product among a multitude of legitimates and decoys can be a very daunting task, especially if you don’t know the qualities to look for. Most people gauge the quality of binoculars by the value on their price tag but, price does not always dictate the quality, and hence, it should not be the only thing you consider.
In this guide, we are going to explore all aspects of compact binoculars, from their advantages, limitations, factors to consider when buying a pair of binoculars, and even provide you with a review of the best compact binoculars on the market.
Reviews of the Best Compact Binoculars on the Market
1. Zeiss Terra 8x25mm
The Zeiss Terra compact binoculars come with a fiberglass reinforced body to make it not only lightweight but sturdy as well.
It has hydrophobic, fully multi-coated lenses that repel water and fog for precision and clarity in any condition.
In this model, Zeiss focused explicitly on a smooth focus adjustment wheel that is easy to use and makes objects easy to find and focus on. That, combined with the 8X zoom and 25mm diameter lens, enables this pair of compact binoculars to handle anything you need.
These compact binoculars are specifically designed to be lightweight, compact, and withstand any conditions while at the same time functioning with optimal performance in any weather.
The Zeiss Terra binoculars are best for use in hiking. They are also available in 10X25 in case you need some extra magnification.
- Sharp images
- Easy to use
- Clear color visibility
- Compact hence very portable
- Quite expensive
2. Leica Ultravid BR 8x20mm
If you are looking for a pair of compact binoculars that have been engineered to provide images of the highest clarity from the ground up, the Leica Ultravid BR is the product for you. You will be amazed by the number of impressive features this pair of binoculars has to offer.
They come with adjustable eyecups, a quick focus wheel, and a right eye diopter to enable you to adjust for the perfect comfort and view, even if one of your eyes is slightly different than the other.
They are waterproof and come with internal inert gas filling, so you don’t have to worry about internal fogging.
The AquaDura lens coating on the outer surface of the lens is hydrophobic hence prevents water from obscuring your view by repelling it. While they are not what you would refer to as being inexpensive, they are the best compact binoculars for their price range.
The Leica Ultravid binoculars are compact, rugged binoculars with excellent optics and everything you need for seamless and efficient service.
When designing these compact binoculars, the company did not leave any stone unturned and went out of their way to develop the lenses for optimum crispiness using an asymmetrical pattern.
These binoculars are perfect for bird watching but are also suitable for a wide variety of applications.
- Lightweight and compact
- Great at gathering light
- Superb optics
- Very expensive
- Diopter sticks
- Not very durable
3. Vortex Diamondback
When it comes to making highly durable and efficient binoculars that are equipped to deal with the rigors of outdoor use, Vortex nails it. These 10X magnification binoculars come equipped with 32mm objective lenses for low light viewing and a lifetime warranty.
When using a high zoom binocular such as this one, you should be careful as any slight movement in an unsteady hand can exacerbate magnification. However, they are an excellent choice for anyone with a stable hand.
These binoculars come with a padded neck strap, included lens covers, and a rain guard. They are, therefore, ready for use in rough field conditions from the moment you take them out of the box. They have water repellent lenses and fog proof inert gas filling to enable them to be robust enough for use in any weather conditions.
With their superb quality, sturdiness, and 10X magnification, the Vortex Diamondback is one of the best hunting 10x32mm binoculars.
- Superb imaging
- Fully waterproof
- Designed for hunting hence may not be suitable for use in other activities.
4. Steiner Safari Ultrasharp 10x26mm
If you are into wildlife observation, then this is the compact binoculars for you. The Steiner Safari Ultrasharp come with 26mm diameter lenses that let in plenty of light that is ideal for making the most out of natural environments.
With these compact binoculars, you don’t have to worry about straining your eyes as they have ten levels of magnification, making them suitable for observing from a distance. They also come with fast focus controls. All you need to do to achieve this is to use one dial in the middle of these compact binoculars to adjust your focus.
They also come with a carry case that comes in handy when you need to store them safely when not in use. The strap is also a welcome feature as you can hang them around your neck for quick use whenever you spot something interesting.
The lightweight, compact design is also a big plus. Despite their wide lens diameter, they can adjust 11.6 X 4.6 X 12 cm; hence you will not have any problem carrying them around. Also, weighing only 295g, they are pretty light.
Despite their small size, they offer plenty of depth, which is pretty handy when observing small animals at a distance. Within their broad lenses and quick focus feature, they are the kind of binoculars you want to carry with you when going outdoors.
- Wide field of view
- Quick focus mechanism
- Only suitable for wildlife and bird watching
5. Celestron 71330 Nature DX Compact Binoculars
Celestron is best known for its telescopes but has now applied its optics technology to the Nature DX compact binoculars. These pocket-friendly binoculars offer fully coated optics that provide bright and glare-free images.
Although they are suitable for a wide variety of usage, they are perfect for bird watching, especially for beginners. At only 18 ounces, these binoculars are very lightweight and compact.
Among the many features that make them superb for outdoor use is that they are rubber coated to be completely waterproof; hence, they don’t get ruined when you get caught in a rainstorm when you are out hiking.
The Nature DX compact binoculars are purged with nitrogen filling and are also fog proof, which is very surprising for such a low price. They also have twist-up eyecups to provide you with comfortable viewing, even if you wear glasses.
This model is a power magnification of 8x. However, they also come in 10x35mm to 8x56mm; hence a variety is at your disposal to choose.
With such quality construction and low price, these are one of the best pocket binoculars.
- Large field of view
- They come in a robust and lightweight frame
- Sharp images
- Hard to focus
6. Nikon Trailblazer ATB Waterproof Binoculars
This device has an 8X magnification and a 25mm lens. These compact binoculars are best for hiking or wildlife observation at your local park reserve.
They are filled with inert gas and convey flawless images in both bright and low conditions, making them perfect for both bird watching and wildlife viewing.
Their phase correcting prism, lenses, multi-layer coated prisms, and rubberized armor coating makes them an excellent choice due to their uncompromising image in a durable package.
Nikon is well known for its performance optics, and they have held up their reputation by using premium materials on these binoculars, such as extra-low dispersion glass for the lenses to create the best lightweight binoculars on the market. This means that you get to enjoy crisp images as you are hiking and enjoying the most beautiful sceneries nature has to offer.
The Trabilizers are fully waterproof, and with a price tag of under $100, they are hard to pass up.
- Great crisp images
- Lightweight Great for outdoor use
- Comfortable to hold and use
- Fully waterproof
- Optics are merely good
7. Steiner Tactical 10x28mm Compact Binocular
When it comes to making the best binoculars, you can’t beat a company that has been making them for 75 years. If you want high-quality, reliable, and straight-up sturdy binoculars, go with Steiner, and you won’t get disappointed. Their Tactical 10x28mm is particularly a great option.
These compact binoculars err more on the side of combat binoculars. At a little of over 5 inches in length, you get a 10X binocular with a vast field of view and exceptional optical quality. All the glass used in these binoculars is multi-coated and is of premium quality.
Although they are quite large, they weigh under a pound, thus making them easy to transport in your pocket or anywhere else of your choosing. They are fully rubberized, rugged, and are nitrogen purged, thus making them not only durable but also offer super clear images which are not affected by fog or water.
- Great image quality
- Very tough and durable
- Comfortable to use and carry
- Quite expensive
8. Leopold BX-1 Compact Binoculars
If you are an outdoorsman, then you need to get yourself an excellent pair of binoculars. Leopold has a legacy of producing high-quality binoculars, and they did not let us down with their BX-1 Compact model.
For a compact 10x binocular, they are pretty long, but their narrow design enables them to fit perfectly in your pocket. With these binoculars, you get high-quality multi-coated glass lenses to offer you clear images.
They are nitrogen purged, fog proof, waterproof, the lenses scratch-resistant, and the prisms phase coated. They are also covered with a rubberized armor that improves their durability and grip when in use.
- Great optics
- Easy to use
- Rough and rugged
- Larger than most compact binoculars on the market
9. Minox BF Compact Binoculars
When most people hear of Minox, the thing that comes to mind is their cameras. What few know is that Minox produces some pretty cool compact binoculars too.
Although Minox binoculars are quite costly, they are of very high quality. This pair of binocular comes with multi-coated glass and phase-coated prisms to give you outstanding image quality.
As little as they may seem, this compact binoculars pack a lot of power and toughness. They are fully water and fog proof and come with a rubberized exterior for added safety and grip. They are perfect for outdoor use and are suitable for a wide range of applications.
- High quality
- Superlight and tiny
- Clear images
- Their small size can make them hard to use by people with big hands
- Could be tougher
Compact Binoculars Buying Guide; Factors to Consider
1. How Compact you want Them
Before you go shopping for a pair of compact binoculars, you should first ask yourself how compact you want them to be. Compact binoculars come in different sizes; some can only fit in a car’s glove compartment while others can fit in a pocket.
2. Their Compactness vs. Image Quality
While compact binoculars still offer decent image quality, they don’t perform as well as larger binoculars in low light settings. This is due to their aligned roof prisms.
Compact binoculars usually come with a smaller objective and magnification lenses, which have a considerable effect on the quality of the image they deliver.
This is probably the most important feature in any pair of compact binoculars. The higher their magnification, the further they enable you to see.
4. Lens Coatings
Nowadays, lens manufacturers are applying several layers of coating on their lenses to minimize reflection. When the rate of reflection of light from a lens is reduced, you get to see clearer and brighter images.
Advantages of Compact Binoculars
- They are great for use as a backup due to their minimal weight and size when folded
- When hiking, you can wear them around your neck thus making them easy to use
- Can easily fit in any bag or glove compartment
- They offer a great advantage to people with small faces due to their short distance between the ocular lenses
- They are perfect for use as kids’ binoculars. They have a shorter pupillary length. That, along with their compact nature due to their folding capabilities and the fact that they are made to withstand vigorous usage, makes them perfect for use by small children.
- They have a diverse range of usage. They are not just meant for hiking and backpacking; they can also be used in other functions such as the opera, concerts, or the theater.
- Fishermen also use them. They keep them in their anglers vest to have them quick at hand to distinguish fish
- When hunting, you can carry them around your neck to have them ready at hand when you need to react quickly
- If you are into the observation of animals, compact binoculars may come in handy due to their compact nature and lightweight. Unlike regular binoculars, which are large and heavy and can be quite tiring to the hand, compact binoculars can be used in their place since they are light and can be held with one hand.
- Compact binoculars are cheaper than large regular binoculars.
Limitations of Compact Binoculars
- Narrow Field of View: The lighter the compact binocular, the lighter their objective lens it comes with. A smaller objective lens means a narrower field of view.
- Poor Performance in Low Light: Compact binoculars do not perform well in low light settings. They don’t deliver top notch images due to their roof prisms. But, you can still get a high-quality compact model that can convey brilliant views.
- When using compact binoculars, the exit pupils are smaller; hence little light reaches the eye. In poor light conditions, like at night, the pupils are dilated; therefore, the projected image is smaller than the pupil’s diameter.
- The particularly small focus mechanisms in compact binoculars cannot be used effectively with large fingers.
- Compact binoculars don’t come with additional features such as image stabilizers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: Which compact binoculars are best for bird watching?
Answer: The best compact binoculars for bird watching are those with a magnification rating of about 7. Those with a magnification rating of above 7 sacrifice their stability when in use hence are not suitable for bird watching.
Question: Which compact binoculars are best for sightseeing?
Answer: When sightseeing, your focus is not limited to a particular point; hence you need binoculars with a large field of view and large exit pupils. For sightseeing, it is best to go with binoculars that are equipped with a Porro prism. Porro prisms offer better depth perception and a superior field of view.
Question: What do the numbers on compact binoculars mean?
Answer: Binoculars are specified with numbers such as 8 X 40 or 7 X 35. The first number represents the number of times the binoculars can magnify an object, while the second number is the measurement of the objective lens in millimeters.
When it comes to selecting the best compact binoculars, you cannot know which one will suit you best until you gauge each of its features in person. Doing that when you have hundreds or even thousands of products to choose from, can be a daunting task.
Now that you have read this review, we hope that you have found one that suits your liking. If you have not, you can always take the knowledge that you have acquired from this guide to the store to enable you to pick the best product.
For many years, hunters, archeologists, fishermen, and even the military have relied on binoculars to see further and locate their targets.
Modern technology has made these binoculars smaller and even more affordable. Now is your chance to experience what our grandparents and forefathers felt when using these simple but essential gadgets. Keep in mind all that you have learned from this guide to get the best binoculars.