When packing your bags for the next great adventure one key item that is always included is a pair of compact binoculars. Binoculars are handy when you are trying to get a closer look at distant landscape features or wildlife. All outdoor enthusiasts agree that wherever you can shed weight is best when hiking, this is where compact binoculars begin to fit into your bag. When you start shopping for your first or even a new pair of binocular the amount of pairs on the market can become overwhelming. Along with the shear number of binoculars out there each pair has a slight difference in specifications compared to the next. Here are the Best Compact Binoculars available for 2020.

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National Park Obsessed’s Quick Guide Best Compact Binoculars

Best Compact Binoculars – Carl Zeiss ED 8×25 – Buy NOW

Best Compact Binoculars for Hiking – Nikon ProStaff 7s 10×30 – Buy NOW

Best Backpacking Binoculars – Pentax U-Series Papillio II 8.5×21 – Buy NOW

Best Compact binoculars under $100 – Nikon TrailBlazer ATB Waterproof 8×25 – Buy NOW

Best Lightweight Binoculars – Nikon TrailBlazer ATB Waterproof 8×25 – Buy NOW

Best Compact Binoculars for Birding – Steiner Safari UltraSharp 10×26 – Buy NOW

Comparison Table for Best Compact Binoculars

  • Wingspan Optics FieldView 8×32
  • Power: 8x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 32mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 4mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 14.8mm
  • Field of View: 362ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 3m
  • Weight: 15.2oz
  • Features: Waterproof, Fog Proof, Tripod Mount, Lifetime Warranty (non-transferable)
  • Carl Zeiss Terra ED 8×25
  • Power: 8x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 25mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 3.1mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 16mm
  • Field of View: 390ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 1.9m
  • Weight: 10.9oz
  • Features: Waterproof, Fog Proof, LotuTec coating to prevent lens water drops
  • Pentax U-Series Papillio II 8.5x21
  • Power: 8.5x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 21mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 2.5mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 15mm
  • Field of View: 315ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 0.5m
  • Weight: 10.2oz
  • Features: Tripod Mount, Aspherical optical elements (edge-to-edge sharpness)
  • Steiner Safari Ultrasharp 10x26
  • Power: 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 26mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 2.6mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 11mm
  • Field of View: 302ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 3m
  • Weight: 10.5oz
  • Features: Durable Rubber Armor, Waterproof, Fog Proof, Advanced UV Coatings, ”ClicLoc” Neck strap attachment, Profiled Eye Cups
  • Nikon Aculon T11 Zoom 8-24x25
  • Power: 8-24x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 25mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 1-3.1mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 13mm
  • Field of View: 241ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 4m
  • Weight: 10.8oz
  • Features: Zoom Capability, Multicoated Optics, Slip-resistant palm pads
  • Bushnell H20 10x25
  • Power: 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 25mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 4mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 12mm
  • Field of View: 362ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 5m
  • Weight: 15.2oz
  • Features: Waterproof, Fog Proof, Multicoated Optics, Non-slip Rubber Armor
  • Wingspan Optics NatureSport 8x32
  • Power: 8x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 32mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 4mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 13mm
  • Field of View: 362ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 3m
  • Weight: 15.5oz
  • Features: Waterproof, Fog Proof, Tripod Mount, Ergo-Tank Casing, Non-Slip Grip, Lifetime Warranty
  • Vortex Optics Vanquish 10x26
  • Power: 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 26mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 2.6mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 16mm
  • Field of View: 294ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 3m
  • Weight: 12.7oz
  • Features: Waterproof, Fog Proof, Multicoated Lens, Twist & Lock eye cups, Full Rubber Armor
  • Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x25
  • Power: 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 25mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 2.5mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 15.5mm
  • Field of View: 284ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 2m
  • Weight: 8.1oz
  • Features: Waterproof, Fog Proof, ED Glass, Magnesium Chassis, Locking Diopter for individualized viewing comfort
  • Nikon Trailblazer ATB Waterproof 8x25
  • Power: 8x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 25mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 3.1mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 10mm
  • Field of View: 429ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 3m
  • Weight: 9.9oz
  • Features: Waterproof, Fog Proof, Multicoated Lens, Nikon Eco-Glass, Turn-and-slide Eye Cups, Full Rubber Armor
  • Nikon Prostaff 7s 10x30
  • Power: 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 30mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 3mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 15.4mm
  • Field of View: 315/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 3m
  • Weight: 14.8oz
  • Features: Waterproof, Fog Proof, Full Rubber Armor, Advanced Optical System, Turn-and-Slide Eye Cups

How to Choose the Best Compact Binoculars

Magnification and Objective Lens Diameter (Aperture)

The two most common magnifications you will be deciding between is 8 or 10. An 8x magnification yields a wider field of view compared to the more detailed and narrow 10x magnification. Along with magnification, another big deciding factor is Objective Lens Diameter. The most important thing to remember is the larger the Objective Lens Diameter the more light is gathered by the binoculars. However, along with that the larger the Objective Lens Diameter the larger the binoculars become.

Exit Pupil Diameter

The exit pupil diameter effects how much light is allowed to enter the binoculars in low-light situations. For exit pupil diameter the larger the number the more light will be allowed to enter. For low-light situations a number of 5 or more is ideal while for daylight viewing a number of 2 or less is ideal.

Field of View

The field of view for a pair of binoculars is based on the magnification and eyepiece design. The feature that effects the field of view the most is the overall magnification of the binoculars. The field of view is commonly read as a distance in feet divided by 1000yds. The value is understood as the width in feet that you can observe when you are 1000yds away from where you are standing. Having a narrower field of view can create difficult situations when locating smaller wildlife. Along with making it difficult to locate wildlife, less light is allowed to enter with a narrower field of view.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is measured as the distance between your eye and the eyepiece when the binoculars are at the widest available field of view. Eye relief is the most important spec if you wear eye glasses. Many modern binoculars feature twisting eye caps that allow the eye relief to be adjusted; however, the spec stated is the lowest value. Eye Relief is also referred to as Exit Pupil Distance. If you commonly wear glasses, an eye relief of 11mm or more is preferred while a value around 15 is otherwise preferred.

Lens Coating

Lens coating and optics is the area that will set a high-end pair of binoculars apart from the rest. The design of the glass and coating used in the binoculars will effect how much reflection is reduced and the overall clarity of the image. The best way to determine the difference in lens coating is to visually test a few pair of binoculars. However, many times this is not possible and the next best thing to refer to is previous buyers reviews.

Fog and Water Proofing

Fog and Water Proofing are key features to be on the lookout if you plan to take your new pair of binoculars on the water or in harsh conditions. When comparing binoculars the feature to look for is Waterproof or Water-resistant. If the binoculars are Waterproof they are sealed with O-Rings and filled with nitrogen to prevent fogging. However, water-resistant binoculars are sealed to handle light rain and not submersion.

Reviews – Best Compact Binoculars

Wingspan Optics FieldView 8×32

The Wingspan Optics FieldView 8×32 are pocket-size binoculars that are perfect for someone looking for their first pair of binoculars. Even though they have a cheaper price tag compared to other binoculars found on this list, these binoculars are not short of many premium features. The body of the binoculars is sealed and filled with nitrogen to help prevent fogging of the lens, even when dropped in water. With a lightweight design, non-slip grip, and wide field of view these are the perfect entry-level pair of binoculars.

Wingspan Optics FieldView 8x32 - Best Compact Binoculars

Specifications

  • Power: 8x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 32mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 4mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 14.8mm
  • Field of View: 362ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 3m
  • Weight 15.2oz

Features

  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • Tripod Mount
  • Lifetime Warranty (non-transferable)

Pros

  • Tripod Mount
  • Price
  • Wide Field of View

Cons

  • Lower Quality Materials
  • Minimum Focal Length
  • Lower Quality Waterproof/Fog Proofing
Wingspan Optics FieldView 8x32 - Best Compact Binoculars

Carl Zeiss Terra ED 8×25

The Carl Zeiss Terra ED 8×25 are the perfect pair of binoculars for someone who is looking for a high-end pair. These binoculars are the most expensive on the list and have many high-end premium features. This pair of binoculars allows 88% light transmission, this allows users to operate in darker conditions. The Zeiss T* Coating on the lens creates high-contrast images which transmit maximum detail to the user. One of the best features of the Terra ED is the LotuTec Coating which provides an unhindered view in wet weather. With these high-end features, these are the perfect pair of binoculars for someone who is looking for the best pair currently on the market.

Specifications

  • Power: 8x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 25mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 3.1mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 16mm
  • Field of View: 390ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 1.9m
  • Weight 10.9oz

Features

  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • LotuTec coating to prevent lens water drops

Pros

  • LotuTec Coating
  • 88% Light Transmission
  • Premium Build Quality

Cons

  • Price
  • Lower Magnification
  • Large Exit Pupil distance for glasses users

Pentax U-Series Papillio II 8.5×21

The Pentax U-Series Papillio II 8.5×21 is one of the best pair of binoculars for everyday use. They feature one of the smallest minimum focal lengths at roughly 2ft. While they do not have any waterproofing or fog proofing they make up for it in portability. This is one of the most compact pair of binoculars for the price. With excellent portability and comfort these are perfect for short range wildlife viewing.

Specifications

  • Power: 8.5x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 21mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 2.5mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 15mm
  • Field of View: 315ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 0.5m
  • Weight 10.2oz

Features

  • Tripod Mount
  • Aspherical optical elements (edge-to-edge sharpness)

Pros

  • Short Minimum Focal Length
  • Aspherical Optical Elements
  • Tripod Mount

Cons

  • Not Waterproof
  • Not Fog Proof
  • Not very powerful for distant subjects

Steiner Safari Ultrasharp 10×26

The Steiner Safari Ultrasharp 10×26 are the perfect binoculars for any traveler. With premium image quality, color, and exceptional low-light ability they are the perfect all around pair of binoculars. The extended magnification compared to many other compact binoculars get you closer to the wildlife on the other side of the lens.

Specifications

  • Power: 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 26mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 2.6mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 11mm
  • Field of View: 302ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 3m
  • Weight 10.5oz

Features

  • Durable Rubber Armor
  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • Advanced UV Coatings
  • ”ClicLoc” Neck strap attachment
  • Profiled Eye Cups

Pros

  • Profiled Eye Cups
  • Field of View
  • Sharp Image

Cons

  • Eye Relief is below average comfort
  • Far Minimum Focal Length
  • 10x Magnification can be difficult to locate smaller wildlife

Nikon Aculon T11 Zoom 8-24×25

The Nikon Aculon T11 Zoom 8-24×25 is the most compact pair of zoom binoculars on the market. When looking to purchase a pair of binoculars it can be hard to determine the best magnification power to purchase, Nikon solved this by building in a variable magnification. The small design ensures they are not a burden to carry along on your next hike.

Specifications

  • Power: 8-24x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 25mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 1-3.1mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 13mm
  • Field of View: 241ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 4m
  • Weight 10.8oz

Features

  • Zoom Capability
  • Multicoated Optics
  • Slip-resistant palm pads

Pros

  • Adjustable Zoom Range
  • Lightweight
  • Smallest Zoom Binoculars

Cons

  • Not Waterproof
  • Not Fog Proof
  • Lower Quality Optics

Bushnell H20 10×25

The Bushnell H20 10×25 are the best general use binoculars on the market. With 100% waterproof protection and a very low price tag they will outperform their expectation. The 10x magnification will get you closer to your subject, but lengthens the minimum focal length to 15ft. These binoculars are excellent for birdwatching and general wildlife viewing.

Specifications

  • Power: 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 25mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 4mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 12mm
  • Field of View: 362ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 5m
  • Weight 15.2oz

Features

  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • Multicoated Optics
  • Non-slip Rubber Armor

Pros

  • Price
  • Waterproof / Fog Proof
  • 10x Magnification

Cons

  • Lower Quality Optics
  • Lower Quality included strap
  • Eye Relief is below average

Wingspan Optics NatureSport 8×32

The Wingspan Optics NatureSport 8×32 are perfects binoculars for on the go people. Sporting one of the lowest price tags on this list is perfect for activities where your gear might get damaged. The ultra-light and rugged design ensures you can spot the wildlife no matter the conditions. These are the perfect pair of binoculars for wildlife viewing on a smaller budget without comprising your enjoyment.

Specifications

  • Power: 8x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 32mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 4mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 13mm
  • Field of View: 362ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 3m
  • Weight 15.5oz

Features

  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • Tripod Mount
  • Ergo-Tank Casing
  • Non-Slip Grip
  • Lifetime Warranty

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • Lifetime Warranty

Cons

  • Lower Build Quality
  • Below average exit pupil distance
  • Lower Quality Optics

Vortex Optics Vanquish 10×26

The Vortex Optics Vanquish 10×26 is the perfect pair of binoculars for on-the-go individuals. The compact design packs high-end optics and key waterproof features. The high-end optics ensure the image on the other side is going to be crisp and bright. The wide field of view is directed towards general landscape viewing rather than small wildlife viewing. The compact and lightweight design is perfect for individuals looking for a pair of high-quality binoculars for hiking.

Specifications

  • Power: 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 26mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 2.6mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 16mm
  • Field of View: 294ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 3m
  • Weight 12.7oz

Features

  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • Multicoated Lens
  • Twist & Lock eye cups
  • Full Rubber Armor

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • Full Rubber Armor

Cons

  • Narrow Field of View
  • No Lens Rain Protectant
  • 10x Magnification can be difficult to locate smaller wildlife

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×25

The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×25 is a high-performing pair of binoculars. These binoculars tend to fall in the middle ground compared to other options. They feature many premium features like a high quality build, RainGuard lens coating, and optimal viewing resolution. These binoculars are perfect as either a starting pair or an upgrade for an experienced user. The lightweight and compact design is perfect for wildlife viewing on the trail.

Specifications

  • Power: 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 25mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 2.5mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 15.5mm
  • Field of View: 284ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 2m
  • Weight 8.1oz

Features

  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • ED Glass
  • Magnesium Chassis
  • Locking Diopter for individualized viewing comfort

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • RainGuard Lens Coating

Cons

  • Far minimum focal length
  • Older visual design
  • No rubber shell

Nikon Trailblazer ATB Waterproof 8×25

The Nikon Trailblazer ATB Waterproof 8×25 is one of the lightest pair of binoculars on this list. Any outdoor enthusiast knows that anywhere you can save weight is key. With the lightweight design and build these binoculars are perfect for use of the trail. The short magnification makes them perfect for up-close bird watching or wildlife viewing. Included in the design is waterproofing, fog proofing, and a semi-protective rubber armor system. The Trailblazer ATB is one of the best pairs of binocular to take out on the trail hiking with you.

Specifications

  • Power: 8x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 25mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 3.1mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 10mm
  • Field of View: 429ft/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 3m
  • Weight 9.9oz

Features

  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • Multicoated Lens
  • Nikon Eco-Glass
  • Turn-and-slide Eye Cups
  • Full Rubber Armor

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Below average Eye Relief
  • Average Optic Quality
  • Minimal Rubber Armor

Nikon Prostaff 7s 10×30

The Nikon ProStaff 7s 10×30 are one of the more popular pair of binoculars on the market. These binoculars boast premium build quality, optics, and waterproofing compared to other compact binoculars. Along with the premium features follows a higher price tag and larger size compared to other binoculars found on this list. The Nikon ProStaff 7s are the perfect binoculars for all around use no matter what is on the other side of the lens.

Specifications

  • Power: 10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 30mm
  • Type of Prism: Roof
  • Exit Pupil Diameter: 3mm
  • Exit Pupil Distance: 15.4mm
  • Field of View: 315/1000yds
  • Minimum Focal Length: 3m
  • Weight 14.8oz

Features

  • Waterproof
  • Fog Proof
  • Full Rubber Armor
  • Advanced Optical System
  • Turn-and-Slide Eye Cups

Pros

  • Premium Quality
  • Premium Waterproofing
  • Premium Optical System

Cons

  • Large for Compact Binoculars
  • Price
  • Heavy

Final Thoughts on Best Compact Binoculars

Thanks for reading all about the best compact binoculars. Be sure to check out some of our other gear and national park guides:

Pin for Later: Best Compact Binoculars

Brian is an Eagle Scout and currently studying Architecture/Sustainability at Clemson University. He is an outdoor enthusiast who has visited 19 of the 62 US National Parks. Brian enjoys hiking, backpacking, photography and kayaking. Brian loves to share his passion for the outdoors and help others venture into the wild.

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