Best Compact Binoculars
Binoculars are such an underrated travel accessory. They’re small enough to fit in your pocket but add so much value to a sporting event or sightseeing when traveling.
I remember using a pair binoculars at a Red Sox game and it totally changed my experience of seeing aspects of the game I love so much. I would have never thought to bring binoculars either; it was my old girlfriend at the time that had them. I love Fenway Park and had always wanted to see a game there. We scored tickets last minute when we were in Boston, and I was ecstatic soaking up the smells and sounds of the stadium. It was an iconic event for me. We didn’t get great seats, but I didn’t care, I was just happy to be there. I remember just as we were starting to get comfortable in our seats, my girlfriend whipped out a pair of compact binoculars. I actually didn’t even know she had them on her. For the next hour, I hogged these mini binoculars as I peered around the stadium watching everything from the players on the field to the details all around the stadium at far distances.
Years later, I got roped into spending the day with these photography students trying to capture photos of birds in the wild. My friend was the teacher of the class, and I owed him a favor after he helped me move into my apartment across town. He needed an extra set of hands hauling equipment, and I had nothing to do that weekend. Because the kids were using their cameras, I was asked to help spot birds using binoculars. I had no idea what I was doing, I didn’t know what I was supposed to look for, and would just randomly say “bird” and point to a direction which followed with a dozen or so clicks from these young students. I kept joking I was the dog in that Pixar Movie “UP” that would stop mid-sentence to yell “Squirrel.”
Anyways, that day I got to test about a dozen pairs of binoculars. The students would hand them to me to use to spot birds, and by the end of the day, I really noticed a difference between the different brands, weights, and distances. From what I found, the best compact binoculars have a few common traits, but design can be misleading. After that day, and knowing how great my experience was at Fenway, I heavily researched the best compact binoculars online as I wanted to get a pair for myself.
Here are a few quick yet essential takeaways when researching or shopping for binoculars:
Binocular Magnification Power is Key
The best binoculars are identified by two numbers. The numbers on binoculars show magnification power and lens diameter. For example, 7 x 35 binoculars have a magnification power of 7. A magnification power of 7 means that an object will appear seven times closer than it would to your unassisted eye. Be aware that binoculars with magnification powers greater than 10 amplify the movements of your hands, making steady viewing difficult.
Binocular Objective Lens Diameter
The second number used in binocular identification refers to the diameter (in millimeters) of the objective lenses (those farther from your eyes; those closer to the “object” being viewed). For example, 7 x 35 binoculars have objective lenses measuring 35mm.
The diameter of the objective lenses largely determines how much light your binoculars can gather. If you have two binoculars with precisely the same specifications except for objective lens diameter, those with the larger diameter objective lenses will capture more light. More light means a brighter view, particularly in low-light conditions.
The following are 7 of the best compact binoculars that I would highly recommend to you.
Wingspan Optics NaturePro HD 8X42– 376 Amazon Reviews
Description: Professional compact binoculars for bird watching. Vivid color, clarity, and brightness up close or far away. Wide field of view. Close focus. Waterproof, Fog Proof
This is was the most common pair of compact binoculars that I tried the day I helped that photography class. They claim to be specifically for bird watching, but you could use them for anything. The Waterproof and Fog Proof feature is a nice added element, something you wouldn’t think about until you needed it. The weight listed for the Wingspan Optics Nature Pro is just 1 lbs 6 oz. They feel extremely durable like you could drop them on the ground and nothing would happen. Definitely quality craftsmanship with these Binoculars for the affordable price range, and with 370 strong reviews at Amazon, I think these compact binoculars are a safe, popular choice.
More Pictures (Click to enlarge)
- Feild of View 430 Ft/1000 Yds
- Power: 8x to see 8X Closer
- Bright, True Color Image, close up or far away.
- Ultra Comfort HD Ergonomic Binoculars with an Easy-Turn Focus Wheel
- Close Focus with extra-wide field Of view
- Waterproof, Fog Proof, Drop Proof
- Anti-slip grip for better feel
- Lifetime Warranty – Plus 30-day money back guarantee.
Ciwa Binoculars– 16 Amazon Reviews
Description: Ultra HD 10X42 for Bird Watching Hunting Auto Racing Horse Racing Rock Climbing Wildlife With cell phone photography adapter Carrying Bag
These compact Binoculars come with a whole bundle of accessories. I’m not familiar with the Ciwa brand name, but the reviews on Amazon are positive and they are really trying to win you over with the 10X magnification and Carrying Bag full of add-ons. For me personally, I don’t care much about the extras. Like I mentioned in the intro, I’m a sports fan and would just put the binoculars in my jacket pocket. However, I know there are a lot of people that would value this model and all the things that come with it. For a beginner, this is a great affordable Binocular bundle.
More Pictures (Click to enlarge)
- Feild of View 305ft/1000yd
- Power: 10x
- Durable Framework and Rubber Armor, Compact and lightweight, easy to carry outside.
- Item Dimension: 5.75in x 4.96in x 2.16in . Weight: 1.23lb.
- Use with or without glasses, Adjustable eye-cups twists up and down for comfortable viewing with or without eyeglasses.
BNISE Compact Binoculars– 30 Amazon Reviews
Description: BNISE Binoculars -10X42 HD Professional, BAK4 Prism FMC Lens, Suitable for Outdoor Travel, for Bird Watching, for Hunting, Concerts, with Smartphone Adapter
Bnise makes one of the best value pairs of compact Binoculars on the market. Their reviews are all very high on Amazon and do a great job going toe to toe against some of the bigger brand named models. The size is perfect – not too small to be ineffective, yet not so large they can’t fit in your jacket pocket. Magnification is great and images are clear, with a wide field of vision. Bnise includes accessories like many of the compact binoculars in this article, some may find that to be an added bonus, others find it to be clutter. Either way, this model includes a carrying case, shoulder strap, lens caps, cleaning cloth, and a cell phone mount for taking photos. The cell phone mount is a little tricky to set up at first but will come in very handy for most people.
- Feild of View 303 ft/1000yd
- Power: 10x
- The caliber of object lens: 42mm
- The diameter of ocular: 18mm
- Water resistant and fog resistant: Yes
- Net weight of Telescope: 1.43 pounds
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD Roof Prism Binocular– 813 Amazon Reviews
This is where we start to jump into more professional pro models. The Legend Bushnell Ultra HD has one of the best compact Binoculars on the market due to their superior light transmission and Ultra Wide Band anti-reflective lens coating. The high-definition viewing experience is sharp, color-true detail and we uses ED Prime glass. This model features an all-weather assurance of RainGuard HD anti-fog technology.
Interesting Review: “We bought these and the comparable set from Nikon, and took them along with equivalent Celestron and an older pair of Bushnells. After a few days, the Bushnell Legend Ultra was the pair that everybody tried to grab first. Lightweight, super-resolution, great light, easy to adjust- just superb. Comes in a hardshell case (a bit bulky, but good protection) and a support harness for long use.” – Link
- Feild of View 300 ft/1000yd
- Power: 10x
- Rain guard HD water-repellent lens coating
- Lightweight, magnesium chassis
- Includes a soft carrying case, Microfiber carry bag & neck strap
- 42mm objective lens binoculars
- Ultra wide field-of-view with long eye-relief; locking diopter
Nikon 7549 MONARCH 7 Compact Binocular (Black)– 118 Amazon Reviews
Best Compact Binoculars: The Nikon Monarch Binoculars are a very popular series. Crisp and bright, with low chromatic aberration, they feature extra-low dispersion glass for a natural image. Excellent durability, yet very lightweight and easy to use. If money isn’t a concern, these are the top choice for best compact Binoculars in my opinion. They are even coated with non-slip rubber so you won’t lose your grip and the lenses are scratch resistant. The MONARCH 7 have a tight O-ring seals and nitrogen gas to ensure no dust particles or moisture will seep in and spoil your view. Very impressive.
- Field of view at 1,000m (m): 117
- Power: 10x
- All lenses and prisms are multilayer-coated for brighter images
- Scratch-resistant coating is applied to the outside surfaces of objective and eyepiece lenses
- Phase-correction-coated roof prisms for high resolution
- Waterproof and fog-free with O-ring seals and nitrogen gas
- Turn-and-slide rubber eyecups with multi-click facilitate easy positioning of eyes at the correct eyepoint
- Flip-down objective lens cap
Final Grades: Best Compact Binoculars
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