When you’re out in nature having lightweight and high powered compact binoculars with you really brings the beauty to you. They let you get up close and personal with the scenery, birds, or that 10 point buck in the meadow. A lot of people wonder how you choose a single pair from such a crowded market. We decided to help you out by creating this list of the 10 best compact binoculars available today.
- 1 Best Compact Binoculars
- 1.1 Steiner Tactical 10×28 Compact Binoculars
- 1.2 Zeiss 8×25 Terra ED Compact Pocket Binocular
- 1.3 Nikon PROSTAFF 7S 10×30 Inches Compact Binocular
- 1.4 Leupold BX-1 McKenzie Binocular
- 1.5 Vortex Optics Vanquish Reverse Porro Prism Binoculars
- 1.6 Minox BF 8×25 Binoculars
- 1.7 Olympus 10×25 WP II Binocular
- 1.8 Wingspan Optics Spectator 8X32 Compact Binoculars
- 1.9 Nikon Aculon A30 10x25mm Binocular
- 1.10 Bushnell Powerview Compact Folding Binocular
- 2 Buyer’s Guide for Buying the Best Compact Binoculars
- 3 Final Thoughts
Best Compact Binoculars
Binoculars are precision optical tools that take a lot of skill and craftsmanship to make. Unfortunately you get what you pay for with binoculars.
There just isn’t a way to make the high end lenses, coatings, and materials any cheaper.
There’s a range of prices that will give you great performance. We’ve gathered together several of the top ranked hunting, hiking, and bird watching binoculars for you to choose from.
Steiner Tactical 10×28 Compact Binoculars
The Steiner Tactical 10×28 binoculars are rugged hunting and camping binoculars designed for outdoorsmen. They use a roof prism design and are exceptionally lightweight and compact.
They’re fully fogproof, waterproof, and built from impact resistant materials. All lenses are coated with Steiner’s proprietary lens coatings to cut reflected light to a minimum.
They weigh just 12.7 oz and offer a 266 foot field of view. They’re designed to be comfortable to hold and look through for extended periods.
The Steiner tactical series offers something for any kind of binocular user. The compact 10×28 model is a robust pair of high quality binoculars great for any outdoor activity.
Zeiss 8×25 Terra ED Compact Pocket Binocular
The Zeiss Terra ED compact binoculars are 8×25 binoculars designed for outdoor recreation. They’re fully waterproof and fogproof and offer a lot of high-end features.
They rely on a roof prism system to minimize the size of the binoculars and reduce their weight. Every lens is coated with Zeiss’ hydrophobic ZEISS MC coating to reduce fog buildup on the interior.
They have a 390 foot field of view and a pupil distance of 35 to 72 mm. They’re designed to focus quickly and provide razor sharp images of faraway targets. Because of their large field of view they aren’t well suited to hunting use.
The Zeiss Terra ED are precision compact binoculars that provide crystal clear images over a large field of view. They’re easy to focus and comfortable to use over long periods of observation.
Nikon PROSTAFF 7S 10×30 Inches Compact Binocular
The Nikon Prostaff 7S is a 10×30 pair of compact binoculars. They’re fully waterproof and filled with inert nitrogen to prevent any internal fog buildup.
All lenses within the Prostaff 7S are fully coated with Nikon’s proprietary multilayer coating. It’s designed to provide an excellent balance between color and clarity while still protecting brightness.
The Prostaff 7S is comfortable to hold and impact resistant due to it’s all over rubber coating. They also have adjustable turn-and-slide rubber eyecups to allow you to adjust for eye relief or the use of glasses.
One thing we really love is Nikon’s industry leading warranty. Their No-Fault policy allows you to send in your damaged binoculars for repair under most circumstances.
The Nikon Prostaff 7S are high quality compact binoculars at a reasonable price. They provide excellent magnification, weather resistance, and comfortable use.
Leupold BX-1 McKenzie Binocular
The Leupold BX-1 McKenzie binoculars are designed to provide the sharpest clarity possible in a pair of compact binoculars. They’re waterproof and fogproof for safe use under challenging conditions.
They rely on BAK 4 roof prisms and fully multi coated lenses. This creates a perfectly round exit pupil that maximizes clarity, color, and contrast. The McKenzie’s are crafted from an aluminum alloy then coated with impact resistant rubber.
The McKenzie binoculars offer twist up eyecups and generous eye relief. At 12×50 they have a larger objective lens than most compact binoculars but are still rugged, durable, and built to provide a lot of value in the field.
Vortex Optics Vanquish Reverse Porro Prism Binoculars
The Vortex Optics Vanquish are 8×26 reverse Porro prism compact binoculars. They’re fully waterproof and fogproof and have multi coating protection on every lens.
They’re made from a durable aluminum alloy and rubber armored for comfort and impact resistance. The eyecups can be quickly adjusted with just a twist. They offer a 352 foot field of view, perfect for taking in a wide nature scene.
The Vortex Optics Vanquish weighs just 12.7 oz and are extremely durable. They offer excellent optics for their price and are comfortable to use all day long.
Minox BF 8×25 Binoculars
The Minox BF 8×25 binoculars are designed to be extremely lightweight and affordable compact binoculars. They’re waterproof, fogproof, and have an effective multi coating that improves light retention but does wash out some of the colors.
They’re made from durable aluminum and have a textured coating to prevent drops. The Minox BF 8×25’s offer a 390 foot field of vision and eye relief of up to 15.5 mm. The eyecups can be twisted to adjust for comfort and they’re quick to focus.
The Minox BF 8×25 binoculars are quality entry level compact binoculars. They lack some of the high end features of other brands but are still worth consideration.
Olympus 10×25 WP II Binocular
The Olympus 10×25 WP II compact binoculars are designed to provide excellent color fidelity in a large field of view. They’re waterproof, fog proof, and resist intrusion by dirt or dust.
They’re made from an aluminum alloy with a comfortable to hold rubber coating. All lenses have a multi phase coating designed to maximize the accuracy of various colors.
They offer a 374 foot field of view at 10x magnification. They weigh just over 9.5 oz, making them on the lighter end of the spectrum for quality compact binoculars.
The Olympus 10×25 WP II binoculars offer good performance at a reasonable price. They’re a great place to start if you want to try out quality binoculars but don’t want to spend too much.
Wingspan Optics Spectator 8X32 Compact Binoculars
Wingspan Optics produces binoculars designed for birdwatchers and others who wish to appreciate the beauty of nature. Their Spectator 8×32 binoculars offer good performance in a compact package.
They’re fully waterproof, fog proof, and have a multi coating on all lenses. They use a BAK 4 roof prism for excellent clarity and a compact profile. They come standard with a neck strap, carrying case, and lens covers.
The Wingspan Optics Spectator is a good value priced pair of compact binoculars. They can’t match the performance of some of the other binoculars on our list but do offer good value for your money.
Nikon Aculon A30 10x25mm Binocular
The Nikon Aculon A30 are 10×25 binoculars designed to be a value priced alternative to Nikon’s other products. They offer fully multi coated lenses and weigh less than 10 ounces.
They have a 262 foot field of view and are quick and easy to focus. The Aculon’s have a 10.6 mm eye relief, somewhat low, but acceptable for binoculars this compact. They’re backed by Nikon’s industry leading No-Fault repair or replacement policy.
The Nikon Aculon A30’s are excellent compact binoculars at a very reasonable price. You won’t get the same performance you would get out of their higher-end models but they’re still capable little binoculars.
Bushnell Powerview Compact Folding Binocular
The Bushnell Powerview 8×21 are extremely affordable entry level compact binoculars. They offer a 378 foot field of view and fully multi coated lenses.
The body of the binoculars is coated with a rugged rubber armor. This makes them easy to grip and gives them limited impact resistance. One serious downside to these is their lack of waterproofing or fog resistance.
Overall the Bushnell Powerview 8×21 binoculars are quality entry level binoculars. They definitely can’t compete with higher end models but they do offer adequate performance for their low price.
Buyer’s Guide for Buying the Best Compact Binoculars
When picking out compact binoculars there are several key features you need to look at. These are related to the durability, weather resistance, and actual performance as binoculars.
Before reading our best compact binoculars buyer’s guide we think you’d also like our best tactical flashlight guide.
With binoculars there is a huge range of prices and quality levels. You can get a decent pair of compact binoculars for under $30 or you can spend thousands on ultra high end binoculars.
For general hiking, camping, and bird watching use between $100 and $300 will get you a quality pair of binoculars with all the features you could want.
Size and Weight
The vast majority of binoculars fall into three size categories. These are full size, mid-size, and compact.
Full Size – Full size binoculars usually don’t offer great magnification but have a larger objective lens. This makes them larger, bulkier, heavier, and generally more delicate.
You have to carefully store and handle full size binoculars or you risk damaging the complex arrangement of lenses and prisms.
Mid-Size – Mid-size binoculars act as a meeting point between the compact binoculars we cover here and the larger high powered full size binoculars. They have some of the characteristics of both, being lighter and more portable than full size binoculars but still more delicate and larger than compact binoculars.
Compact – Compact binoculars are designed to be packable and lightweight. They still provide impressive magnification but don’t allow in as much light as full size or mid-size binoculars.
Magnification and Objective Lens
Every binocular will have a basic rating made up of two numbers, such as 7×35. The first number is the magnification. Binoculars with a 7x magnification make objects appear 7 times closer than they actually are.
In general you want a magnification between 7x and 10x. Any higher than 10x and the binoculars will start to amplify the tiny movements of your hands, creating a blurry and jumpy image.
The second number is the objective or objective lens. This measures the diameter of the objective lens, the one farthest from your eyes or closest to the object you’re viewing.
The higher the objective lens the more light your binoculars capture. This is very important for things like low light viewing.
Field of View
Field of view refers to the width of the view you’ll have when looking at a scene 1,000 yards away. Higher fields of view are better when searching for something at a distance. Higher magnification binoculars often have a narrower field of view to allow you to focus on what you’re looking at.
The prisms in a pair of binoculars are what actually make the image viewable. Without prisms the lenses would create a flipped image that would be very difficult to interpret.
There are two major types of binocular prisms on the market today.
Porro – Porro prisms provide you with sharp and precise optics but are quite large and bulky. Picture the classic offset double cone design of binoculars.
Roof – Roof prisms are more compact than Porro prisms while still providing excellent optics. Unfortunately they also require more precision to make so binoculars with Roof prisms are generally more expensive than Porro prism ones.
Eye relief refers to the distance between each eyepiece on a pair of binoculars and your eyes while the entire field of view is distinguishable. The larger the eye relief of binoculars the more comfortable they are to use over longer periods of time.
This is especially true if you wear glasses.
Exit pupil indicates how bright an object will appear when you’re looking at it under low light conditions. It can be found by dividing the objective lens by magnification.
With compact binoculars exit pupil will be reduced significantly. There’s physically no way to increase exit pupil without also increasing the size of the lens.
Fogproof, Waterproof and Weatherproof
Binoculars are designed to be used in the great outdoors but there’s still a wide range of water, weather, and fog proofing used.
Weatherproof binoculars can survive light rain or the occasional splash but not full submersion. Waterproof binoculars are built with rubber o-rings to prevent water from entering. They can stand up to accidental submersion but should be thoroughly dried as soon as possible.
Because binoculars rely on multiple lenses changes in temperature can cause them to fog up internally. Manufacturers fight this by filling the interior of the binoculars with inert gas that contains no water vapor. This won’t do anything to prevent the exterior lens from fogging up though.
If you plan to use your compact binoculars on a boat or near large bodies of water it’s worth it to spring for the full waterproofing.
When light passes through binocular lenses some of it is naturally reflected away. This reduces the brightness of the image you see and can become a real problem during low light viewing conditions.
To prevent this manufacturers have developed lens coatings that capture more of the light within a binocular. Most binoculars will have at least objective lens coating but the best will have multiple coatings on every lens surface.
Trusted Brand and Quality Warranty
There are honestly hundreds of binocular manufacturers in the world, but a few stand out. They make excellent products from quality materials and they stand by them. These include:
- Eagle Optics
Compact binoculars provide a ton of value in a very small package. You want to carefully consider where and how you plan to use them so you know what features you need.
As long as you set your budget and search for features within that budget you’ll be sure to find the best compact binoculars for your needs.