When you’re planning a long trek and a big adventure, the last thing you need is heavy bulky equipment weighing you down.
That’s why we’ve looked at some of the most compact binoculars around and come up with our Top 5 compact binoculars, and since you’re specifically looking for binoculars that are compact, we’ve concentrated on binoculars that fit into the palm of your hand.
We have also written a buying guide for you and attempted to answer some of your most frequently asked questions.
In a hurry?
This is our Winner!
Best Compact Binoculars - Comparison Table
Buy on Amazon
Best Compact Binoculars - Reviews
As compact binoculars go, you’re not going to get a much better magnification than this!
It offers a 12 times magnification and has a large (for compact binoculars) objective lens, measuring 25mm, which produces a wide field of view coming in at 1000 yards, so you’ll have no problem watching fast moving wildlife.
They’re very lightweight, and if they’re too bulky at full size, you can simply fold them up! They’re small enough to hold and use with one hand - perfect if you need to take a sip from your flask without losing out on the action.
The long eye relief, combined with the large eyepiece, measuring 15mm, means you can even get a comfortable viewing while wearing sunglasses or eyeglasses.
It also has an excellent exit pupil distance, coming in at 20mm, which really helps in low light, for example at the theatre or an indoor concert.
It has those five star features we all know and love like using BAK4 glass in the prisms, and fully multi coated lenses. Both of which make for better viewing.
The non slip rubber outer shell is made for a good, secure grip, and is also shockproof, light water resistant, so it can handle the occasional drop or a drizzle of rain.
Not only are these binoculars waterproof and spill resistant but they are great in low light too! So if you find yourself wading through streams with dense overhead foliage from trees, you’ll still still get a nice, clear image through the binoculars.
It offers a 10 times magnification against a 25mm objective lens - really good for a compact binocular. You can even get a 362 feet wide view from as much as 1000 yards away!
It’s made with top quality materials, including BaK-4 glass in it’s prisms, and fully multi coated lenses (more on that in our buying guide). Light transmittance goes up to as much as 99.5% for bright, high contrast viewing.
The eyepieces are adjustable, so suitable for glasses wearers.
It’s rubber shell is shock resistant, anti skid, and wear resistant - so it’s really durable despite it’s light weight.
The manufacturers are so confident in their product they offer warranty, all included in the price.
It comes with its own carrying bag and neck strap - not that you need it - it will fit in your jeans pocket, just what you’re looking for in a compact binocular.
For this price you couldn’t ask for much more in a compact binocular!
The picture you get with these babies is phenomenal - Vortex are right to put “HD” in the title!
You get a 10 times magnification power combined with a 28mm objective lens - that’s way up there for a compact binocular.
It’s one of the most wished for compact binoculars on Amazon, and after over 200 ratings and reviews is still showing 5 stars on average.
It has fully multi coated lenses, with an Arbortech coating that protects the exterior lenses from scratches, oil and dirt, and a Dielectric coating that provides clear, bright, images with outstanding colour fidelity.
We love how it uses argon purging and O-ring seals to provide water and fog proof performance in all weather conditions.
It has adjustable eyecups, so you can quickly switch from using them glasses to using them without.
It’s super light too, coming in at only half a pound in weight.
It has sturdy rubber armor to provide a secure, non-slip grip, and durable external protection against drops and falls.
These binoculars are also tripod adaptable, featuring a tripod adapter socket in the center.
Customers love their performance in low light too.
What an absolute bargain! If affordability is a significant factor for you, you could do a lot worse than this.
These super convenient fold up binoculars are perfect for taking out camping, hiking or bird watching. They weigh less than a pound yet boast a magnification of 10 times, against an objective lens of 25mm diameter.
It offers a large field of view too, reaching up to 1000 yards - great for catching the movements of fast moving wildlife
It’s outer shell is just what you need, made of ABS plastic, it has an anti slip grip, and it’s completely waterproof and durable to boot, withstanding the toughest of weather conditions.
And that’s not all - it features fully multi coated lenses and BAK4 glass in the prims - all set for nice bright, crisp images. The lenses also use green film to increase light transmission.
It has a dioptric adjustment facility to adjust the picture to the visibility in each eye.
It also comes with a handy neck strap, leaving your hands completely free for other things.
The stand out feature of this baby is that it's 100% waterproof. This is thanks to it’s being O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged. It physically repels rain, and if you need to wade through a stream in your venture, you won’t have to worry about your binoculars getting wet - no mere stream is going to hold you back!
Not only that but despite its low price it uses a roof prism rather than a porro prism (our buying guide has a little more detail on the difference between the two). The prism also uses BaK-4 glass and the lenses are multi coated for excellent light transmission and bright, clear viewing.
It offers a good magnification for a compact binocular, 8 times magnification against an objective lens diameter of 25mm.
It has a non slip rubber outer shell which absorbs shock and features a special soft texture grip to keep them where you want them.
It also has twist-up eyecups altogether providing a long maximum eye relief of 12mm, along with a center focus knob to adjust for different vision in each eye.
Best Compact Binoculars - Buyers Guide
Choosing a good pair of binoculars for your journey can be somewhat of a challenge, you need to strike a fine balance between taking the best highest quality equipment, without having your equipment weigh you down.
The good news is that there are plenty of good compact binoculars on the market, but ideally before you make your purchase, we must address the issues typically faced with compact binoculars.
Typical issues with compact binoculars
Small Binoculars tend to have a narrower field of view compared to the regular ones. The field of view narrows down further when you choose a compact binocular with even higher magnification.
Therefore, the key to choosing a good compact binocular is striking the perfect balance between the magnification power and the field of view. If your intention is to watch fast moving wildlife, a large field of view is essential.
Since compact binoculars are generally designed to be compact, they are less likely to feature an adjustable eyepiece to allow more eye relief for those who wear glasses.
Also, there are only a few compact binoculars that are built to withstand extreme weather conditions. Some could be dust and fog proof while others are absolutely NOT at all waterproof.
What to consider when purchasing compact binoculars
There are several things to take into account when purchasing compact binoculars and we’ll talk you through each, one by one.
Affordability is a big consideration - you want to get value for your money. Binoculars come in a wide range of prices, from under $50 for a basic or children’s binocular, and going up to over $8000 for ones with special features such as image stabilization, night vision, rangefinder binoculars, recording binoculars etc.
Once you have determined exactly what features you’re looking for you can start deciding on your budget.
Obviously the higher the magnification power the better. With compact binoculars however, the objective lens, the lense on the outer end, only goes to a maximum of 30mm. That rules out magnifications of 10x50 or 8x42. Instead you’re looking at an ideal of 10x25 for general use, or other options include 8x25 or 10x28.
The magnification process in binoculars comes down to the prism it uses inside. There are two main types of binocular prism, the Porro prism and the roof prism. A Porro prism consists of two right-angled prisms facing each other, to provide the magnification effect.
Roof prisms, a more modern binocular prism, on the other hand have a more complex light path, but despite this, the design makes it look as though the light travels straight through.
This feature generally makes the binoculars lighter and more compact than the Porro prism counterparts. Thus most compact binoculars sport a roof prism, but there are occasional exceptions to the rule.
In order to get a good picture in low light, such as at dawn, dusk, during fog or with dense foliage cover, you need binoculars that meet the bar for clarity and to do this they need a large exit pupil diameter of 5mm or more.
Exit pupil refers to the optical length of the binoculars divided by its magnification.
When choosing your compact binoculars, you may be working with a narrower field of view, but that doesn’t mean you have to forego any of the other fancy features when it comes to binocular materials! Here are some things to look out for:
On the ocular lens of the binoculars, the lens closest to the eye you can get a variety of coatings, such as fully multi coated, multi coated, or simply coated. Fully multi coated lenses decrease surface reflectivity and therefore allow greater optical through-put across the entire visible light spectrum, so fully multi coated lenses are the ones to go for.
There are also two main types of glass you can get for the internal prisms, BaK-4 and BK-7. The BK7 prism usually found in lower priced binoculars produces an exit pupil with shaded, blurred edges, whereas the BAK4 prism has a perfectly round exit pupil, so BaK-4 is definitely the one to go for.
You also need a binocular with a sturdy non slip outer shell. Rubberized plastic will be your best bet for this, since it helps you keep a firm grip and is nice and light. The rubberized plastic tends to make them shock resistant to, so if you did drop it you’d be unlikely to have to take it to a repair shop.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are compact binoculars any good?
There are some disadvantages with compact binoculars compared with traditional binoculars which we cover in depth in our buying guide. But that’s not to say that compact binoculars aren’t any good - we came up with a fantastic Top 5 that even includes binoculars you can use in low light.
On the whole compact binoculars are generally cheaper than traditional binoculars, but that’s not always the case. Our advice is to first determine your needs, and allow that to determine your budget.
Affordability isn’t the only advantage of compact binoculars, they are hands down easier to carry around than traditional binoculars, and are often small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, or even a trouser or jacket pocket.
What do the numbers mean that describe binoculars?
Binoculars’ magnifying power is described as a pair of numbers - for example 8x42. The 8 represents the magnification, so in this instance, the view through the binocular is 8 times magnified.
The second number is the diameter of the lenses in millimeters, so in this example, the lenses are each 42 millimeters in diameter.
What strength of binoculars do I need?
As you might expect, different activities require different binocular magnifications. For general use, such as hiking, you’re best off with compact and wide angle binoculars with 7x to 10x magnification ranges.
We would also recommend 7x to 10 times for hunting, with the exception of long range shooting, where a 12x to 16x magnification will suit you much better.
The standard binocular for bird watching is an 8x42 binocular, but slightly higher won’t hurt.
For theater or concert performances you won’t need as much magnification, 4x to 7x will do, but you’ll have to ensure the binoculars are suited to low light.