Best Compact Binoculars

Everything we use has a tendency to become smaller and lighter. This is true in the outside world as anywhere else. Clothing, camping gear, backpacks, and binoculars are no different.

No matter if you are hitting the trails for fun, or you are out hunting, the last thing you need is a hefty pair of binoculars hanging around your neck.

These in depth binocular reviews look at some of the best, and after putting them through their paces, we will have the best binoculars that can meet all your needs, and fit your budget.

Depth Compact Binoculars Reviews

What are Compact Binoculars

A binoculars definition is that they are optical devices that sit over each eye and bring distant objects closer.

Nowadays, all the features we found in larger variants are now filtering their way down into good binoculars.

Generally, these are smaller optics that will fit most faces, and allow people to see far off into the distance.

No matter if, you are hunting, or out hiking and want a pair to toss into your backpack for bird spotting or seeing where the next water stop is located.

While your binoculars may be compact, it can be hard to find the best as there are specific things that happen once they reach a specific size.

Loss of light transmission being one of the key things users need to look for in small powerful binoculars.

Therefore, with that in mind, you do need to make sure you get a good set, because just going for cheap toss anywhere models won’t serve you very well, or very long.

These top compact binocular reviews look at the best, so we can give you an informed review on the top pair.

Top Compact Binoculars Reviews

Bushnell Powerview 10x25 Compact Folding Roof Prism Binocular

1. Bushnell Powerview 10×25 Compact Folding Roof Prism Binocular

The Bushnell binoculars come from one of the largest manufacturers. These best small binoculars are snug in the hand and are ideal for use in any situation. They deliver 10x magnification so you are never far away from the action.

Due to the size, they are not the best performer in near dark. While this is nothing to do with the binoculars performance, it is down to the small lens size and the amount of light they can take in.

However, with their further reach than others here, they may be the best hunting binoculars under $200.

The lenses are fully coated on air facing faces, however; they are not waterproof, and so you can face some fogging if they are in very damp situations.

Even being small, there is no need to keep them in your backpack as the carry case easily fits to your belt. This alone makes them easy to carry as essential camping gear.

Pros

  • Very durable – rubberized protection
  • Suitable for multi-use
  • Includes high-quality canvas case
  • High-powered binoculars for the price
  • Foldable for ease of storing

Cons

  • Not fully waterproof
  • Not the easiest to focus
  • Images can appear fuzzy at full zoom
  • Not tripod ready

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 242 grams
  • Size: 10 x 25
  • Field of view: 300 ft.
  • Prism: Roof BK7 glass
  • Lens Coating: Fully coated
  • Magnification: 10x
  • Eye relief 9mm

The folding binocular offering from Bushnell’s are great performers for something so small. They are not tripod ready, but by design, they are not intended for that kind of use. You can easily rest your hands on a solid object.

For no frills but the most powerful binoculars on test, then the guide price of around $75 will get you a pair of best buy binoculars that can’t be matched.

These tough little performers can take a few knocks with their rubber armor, and will last for years with their limited lifetime warranty.

Wingspan Optics Spectator 8X32 Compact Binoculars for Bird Watching. Lightweight and Compact for Hours of Bright, Clear Bird Watching

2. Wingspan Optics Spectator 8X32 Compact Binoculars for Bird Watching. Lightweight and Compact for Hours of Bright, Clear Bird Watching.

These binoculars are rugged and light, however they do come in larger than some other options.

As they are not foldable binoculars, they can take up more room in your bag. If you use the neck strap, they can wear down after a time and the extra bulk will bang against your chest if you are on a stiff hike.

On the upside, these are ideal for bird watching or scoping prey as you can mount them on a tripod. This may be an ideal scenario because it can be hard to focus straight away.

The Wingspan binoculars are also slightly less powerful than some options with only 8x magnification and are more suited to closer viewing than trying to reach the horizon.

Pros

  • Tripod mountable
  • Close focus
  • 30 day double guarantee
  • Splash proof

Cons

  • Larger than other options
  • Lens caps not connected
  • Only none slip on grip
  • Hard to focus

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 15.2 oz.
  • Field of view: 326 ft.
  • Prism: Bak4
  • Lens Coating: Fully coated
  • Magnification: 8x
  • Waterproof: Yes

In the right situation, the Wingspan Optics Spectator 8×32 are ideal. In addition, as the name says, they can be used at outdoor concerts or used as sports binoculars.

The lenses are not large enough to let failing light in, and with only the right eye being able to focus, there is some trial and error.

With a guide price of just under $80, they are affordable, yet they are on the lower end of the feature set at this price.

Skygenius 8×21 Small Compact Lightweight Binoculars for Concert Theater Opera Mini Pocket Folding Binoculars with Fully Coated

3. Skygenius 8×21 Small Compact Lightweight Binoculars for Concert Theater Opera Mini Pocket Folding Binoculars w/Fully Coated

The company behind the Skygenius binoculars are quite new and only began back in 2013. However, so far they are churning out some decent optics. While these are not in the same field as Bushnell’s, these cover all the basic needs.

For their size, these mini binoculars are still light, but heavier than others of this size at 180 grams are. Eye relief is 16 mm, and the diameter is 13 mm.

The prism uses BK7 glass and is a roof design. Lenses are fully coated in green for clearer vision; however, the 8x magnification means it is suited to close up viewing. They are foldable, so they are a snap to slip in your bag, and the lens covers are attached to the body.

Pros

  • Wide field of view
  • Can be used by children
  • Durable
  • Center focus knob
  • Fully coated lenses

Cons

  • Not suitable for larger faces
  • Neck strap is not very strong
  • Only none slip on grip
  • Hard to focus

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 0.38 lb.
  • Field of view: 369 ft.
  • Prism: Bak7
  • Lens Coating: Fully coated
  • Magnification: 8x
  • Waterproof: Not waterproof or fog proof

With a guide price of just under $60, you do get some decent optics, but with the small size, they may not be suitable for larger faces.

If you sue them for children or females, then they can be a great addition to hiking or, sporting events or shows.

They are still a new company, so they may be one to watch out for in the future. If they were a few dollars cheaper, they would certainly be the best binoculars under $50.

Wingspan Optics Feather ED Lightweight Binoculars - 8x25 Folding Binoculars for Bird Watching w ED Glass, Small Compact 12oz Travel Birding Binoculars w Wide Angle, Waterproof, Adjustable Eyecups

4. Wingspan Optics Feather ED Lightweight Binoculars – 8×25 Folding Binoculars for Bird Watching w ED Glass, Small Compact 12oz Travel Birding Binoculars w Wide Angle, Waterproof, Adjustable Eyecups

These pocket binoculars have been made with bird watchers in mind. You can mount them on a tripod so they are stable.

The case has been nitrogen purged to make them waterproof and fog proof, so they can be used in the not so nice weather.

While reach isn’t the best with only 8x magnification, you do get clear images of things, which are slightly closer. The grips are none slip, and this wraps around more of the body than some alternatives.

The company makes a bold claim with their lifetime warranty, but with a guide price of around $110, you do want something extra for your money.

Pros

  • Wide field of view
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Lifetime warranty and 30-day money back guarantee
  • Can be fitted to a tripod
  • Foldable

Cons

  • Heavy for compact style
  • Expensive
  • Only uses Bak4 prism glass
  • Flimsy zoom wheel

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 12 oz.
  • Field of view: 362 ft.
  • Prism: Bak4
  • Lens Coating: Fully coated
  • Magnification: 8x
  • Waterproof: Waterproof and fog proofed

Overall, if you are not in the most rugged situations, then these may be a great choice. If you are on a hike, they are not such lightweight binoculars that you won’t feel their bulk after a while. One of the better features is the use of ED glass, which helps with color fringing.

This inclusion is another feature to make these small binoculars more suitable for bird watching. For travel binoculars, they are a great addition, but you are paying more for not many more features than the competition.

This being said, if you look at models that are more expensive, these could be the best binoculars under $200, but that is a very different market.

Celestron 71330 Nature DX 8×32 Binocular

5. Celestron 71330 Nature DX 8×32 Binocular

These have been designed with the outdoor enthusiast, even down to the color. These are green, and will blend in when bird watching or out hunting.

Like most of the others in these reviews, they are only 8x magnification, so far reaching subjects will be a touch too far away.

While they are suited to far off subjects, they are also great for close up viewing at a distance of 6.5 feet.

With a wide field of view, you can take these to a concert or sporting event and make full use of the easy zoom to get up close or take in the entire scene. Viewing wise, they are the best binoculars for concerts.

Pros

  • Wide field of view
  • Waterproof
  • Can be fitted to a tripod
  • Good in low light

Cons

  • Neck strap is narrow
  • Eye relief dial can turn without effort
  • Heavier than other compacts

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: 18 oz.
  • Field of view: 388 ft.
  • Prism: Bak4 phase coating
  • Lens Coating: Fully coated
  • Magnification: 8x
  • Waterproof: Waterproof

The body is all rubber armor, so they can take a few bangs here and there. With a guide price of around $90, they are not the cheapest but you do feel you have something durable in your grip.

All the lenses are fully coated, and although waterproof, they can fog up at times in humid or damp conditions. Using a tripod, they can be the best binoculars for sports or bird watching.

The Celestron binoculars are a tad heavier than others are, and aside from their mid-size compared to a compact size.

The biggest grip of users is the thin neck strap digging in when carrying them that way.

This can easily be changed for something more suitable, but with the reputation and the price, then you would expect something more suitable.

If the few niggles were sorted, then these would be close to being the best binoculars under $100.

how to choose compact binoculars

What to Look For When Buying Binoculars

When you look how to choose binoculars, there can be quite a few things to consider. Most of all you want to get the best binoculars for the money, but this doesn’t mean the most expensive will give you a better experience.

You can see the difference in feature and price when you compare regular compact binoculars, to that of something like the Nikon Monarch range. These are at the very far end of the spectrum in features and price.

This overview gives some useful information on how to buy binoculars that will deliver the best viewing experience.

Size

If you are looking for hiking essentials, then you need to keep way from mid-full sized binoculars. Not only will they waste space but also they add considerable weight.

If you have considerable weight, then you need to contend with the neck strap digging in the skin for hours.

Focus knobs are also crucial because with binoculars that are very small, it can be hard to locate the knob with just your fingers.

The binoculars need to sit in the hand so you can easily reach the focus without stretching or bending your fingers too much.

Magnification

Binoculars ratings are rated by 2 numbers. The first is the magnification and the second the diameter of the outer lens. Larger lenses can gather more light, and a clearer picture of what you are looking at.

The lens diameter can be one of the most crucial factors for overall performance because of the light transmission it allows through the binoculars.

The larger the lens diameter, the more light passes through in low light conditions. You do tend to find, the best low light binoculars are in the mid to full size range rather than compact.

As well as far reaching lenses, there are also now close focus binoculars that allow you to get really close to objects, which are near.

Field of View

The majority of binoculars specify their field of view. This is taken at 1,000 yards. The wider field of view means you can get more into your view than one that is narrow.

If you are bird watching and the birds are in flight, it makes things easier to track them.

There is some tradeoff because a narrow field of view gives a crisper and sharper image, although this makes it harder to locate your targets.

Lens Coatings

Rather than clear glass, all lenses now come with multi coating. This lens coating maximizes the amount of light that can pass through the lens. They do this by reducing the light that bounces of each lens, thus leaving clearer images.

Waterproofing

You may have a great pair of binoculars that are waterproof, however, it is ones that are waterproofed and fog proofed that are best suited to hiking and hunting.

In many cases, you can protect your binoculars against wet weather; however, it is hard to prevent fogging of the lenses.

This will render your binoculars useless until the conditions change and the fogging has gone.

There are ratings that follow an IPX standard. IPX0 is the lowest rating, and IPX8 being the highest, and your binoculars can withstand being submerged in 3ft of water.

Some binoculars are nitrogen purged to enhance the anti-fogging inside the binoculars.

Lens Glass

There are three common types of glass found in lenses, with a fourth being proprietary.

  • BK7 – this is the low end that is used on prisms, and can lead to chromatic aberration. In some binoculars, this leads to blurry images even if focused.
  • BK4 – this is the most common glass used in prisms for quality optics.
  • ED Glass – this stands for Extra Low Dispersion and is used on higher end optics. This comes into force with higher magnification.

Prisms

In most small sized binoculars, you will most often find roof styled prisms. These allow for a smaller pair of compact binoculars to be made.

Porro prisms used to be the standard, however, many use these updated and better performing roof prisms.

Durability and Construction

Many cheaper binoculars are made from plastic, however, some of the better-made come with rubberized armor.

This makes them waterproof to an extent as well as making them strong enough to withstand some knocks and bangs. Rubber coated binoculars also have the advantage of not slipping through fingers if they become wet.

When you look for the best cheap binoculars, you can check they come with a lifetime warranty. If the manufacturer believes in their product, they will offer a warranty, even if it is a limited one.

Glass Wearers and Eye Relief

Eye relief is the best distance your eyes should be from the lens eyepiece and your eye. Binocular manufacturers place rubber eyecups that are correctly sized. This makes sure your eyes are at the correct distance from the lens.

If you wear glasses, this distance will be too far, so to correct this, there needs to be a dioptric adjuster. This changes the distance in one eye so you can regain focus even with glasses being worn.

Bushnell Powerview 10x25 Compact Folding Roof Prism Binocular as Best Compact Binoculars

Final Verdict

After all our testing with the above binoculars, we sat down and went through all our criteria to see how they performed.

By the end we came up with one pair of top rated binoculars that are ideal for any backpacker, hunter, or to take to a sports event.

The best compact binoculars from our finalists was the Bushnell Powerview 10×25 Compact Folding Roof Prism Binocular.

While not the most expensive by a long way, they performed admirably. Their full rubber coating makes them super durable, and they are the ideal size to be used by children up to adults.

It was also surprising to see they were the most powerful binoculars on test, and this made them perfect for hunting scenarios without getting in the way.

The field of view was large enough, this made tracking easy, and any fogging issue was quickly resolved.

The Bushnell’s are a well-deserved winner and have to be the best compact binoculars you can take on any trip.

Best Compact Binoculars