Binoculars can be used in a lot of different ways and applications. They are used by the military to scout the enemy position, travelers, sailors, bird watchers, hikers, and even by sports fans during games.
All of us are aware that binoculars come in a lot of different sizes, each of which is designed for different uses. Every single one of us has in one way, or the other used a binocular. But not everyone goes to the extent of owning it unless it is needed. And because of this, a lot of people find it hard when they’re buying their first binoculars.
If you’re an outdoor person who is always ready to take on a new adventure, you realize the importance of having a pair of the best compact binoculars. With the right equipment, you will have a much better experience. Whether you want to have a better look at nature’s beauty, or you want to watch some exotic birds or animals, binoculars are an awesome accessory to have.
Before the days of the internet, there was less access to the information regarding the product you want to buy. The only reliable sources were magazines and the products’ instruction manuals. Thankfully, those days are gone; you no longer have to go to the stores and listen to everything the salesperson has to say about a particular product.
In this post, you will learn how to select the best binoculars for hiking, what type of optics you will need, and how you can find the best deal.
We have also done extensive research and picked the five best binoculars for hiking. Each product on our list was selected after considering all the essential factors, price, and we even made sure that they have good reviews.
The Best 10×42 Binoculars
When it comes to optics, Vortex is, without a doubt, amongst the best in the world. The Vortex Diamondback comes with a powerful 10 x magnification and 42 mm diameter objective lens.
The lens is made of high quality, super durable material that has multiple coatings to deliver a fantastic performance. What makes this binocular more special is that it is waterproof, it has fog protection, a rain-guard, and it also comes with a lens cover and a comfortable neck strap. Its field of view is 365 feet at 1000 yards (6.6 degrees), which is absolutely incredible.
The Diamondback is by no means cheap. But considering its quality and its features, it’s a solid investment which you won’t regret
Best Low-Light Binoculars Under $200
If you’re looking for affordable, high performance, compact binoculars, this model is what you should check out. The Nikon Prostaff 3S is perfect for hunting, hiking, bird watching, camping, and many more. It is designed to offer long eye relief, which means you don’t have to strain your eyes watching the wildlife for a long time.
The body is made out of lightweight and durable material composed of polycarbonate resin reinforced with fiberglass, which makes it extremely durable. The lens is made of eco glass, which has multiple layers of coatings, which is scratch-resistant and provides bright and clear images.
The Prosftaff 3S also performs very well in low-light conditions. This is mainly thanks to its 42mm objective lens diameter.
In addition, it has a rubber-armored coating that offers excellent grip and shock protection. This model has 10x magnification and 42 mm objective lenses.
It also comes with lots of accessories, including Nikon lens cap, neck strap, carry case, lumintrail keychain light, Nikon cleaning cloth, and a lens cap or cover.
Best Compact Binoculars Under $100
This is another awesome compact vortex binocular that is perfect for any outdoor activities including hiking, bird watching, or watching the wildlife. Since it is rated for outdoors, you can expect it to have essential features such as rain-guard eyepiece covers, waterproofing, and fog-proof.
In fact, this model is filled with gas to prevent the lenses from fogging up on the inside. Whether you’re in a hot, cold, or wet environment, you’ll always get to enjoy a crystal clear view with your trusted vortex binoculars.
Another awesome feature of the Vortex Vanquish is that it is extremely easy to use and easy to clean. A rubber coating provides an anti-slip grip and acts as shock protection. The Vortex Vanquish has 8x magnification and 26mm objective lens. Its FoV is 352 feet at 1000 yards.
Best Budget Binoculars
In terms of budget, the Celestron Outland compact hiking binoculars is the best one on our list. It has all the essential features which are expected in any outdoor binoculars. Although these are the best cheap binoculars, their build quality is anything but cheap.
They are waterproof, fog-proof, and they have a rubber coating and exterior, which offers impact protection and prevents dust and debris from entering the binocular. It has multi-coated optics, which enhances light transmission to provide better brightness and clearer picture.
This model has 10x magnification and 25 mm objective lens. Its FoV is 330 feet at 1000 yards.
This compact binocular is covered under a no-fault lifetime warranty, which means in case of damage, Celestron will repair or replace the parts without any questions.
Best 8×42 Binoculars
This model has already proven to be outstanding in a wide range of outdoor activities, thanks to its 8x magnification and 42mm objective lens. The lens is made of lead and arsenic-free multi-coated Eco Glass, which provides high quality and crystal clear image even in poor lighting conditions.
They operate very smoothly, and they’re very easy to use. Equipped with turn and slide rubber eyecups, the Nikon Aculon provides for very comfortable viewing for longer duration without causing eye strain. This binocular’s FoV is 420 feet at 1000 yards.
The first thing you need to consider is why do you want to buy the binoculars in the first place. If you’re planning to carry them while hiking, it is recommended that you look for compact binoculars. Here are some reasons why.
This is an important thing to look for in a binocular. It is typically indicated with a number followed by x. What it means is that, if a binocular has 10x magnification, it has the power to magnify the subject ten times.
In other words, if you’re looking at an object that is 1000 meters away, you’ll see the object ten times nearer or closer. The best hiking binoculars should have 7x to 12x magnification. If it is more powerful than that, you’ll need a tripod in order to get a stable and clear view.
- Diameter of the objective lens.
The objective lens is the larger lens which is located on the opposite side of the eyepiece. The amount of light that enters binoculars is directly proportional to the diameter of the lens. This will allow you to see more clearly even in poor lighting. If the binocular is a 10×40, it means that the magnification power is 10, whereas the objective lens is 40 millimeters in diameter.
- FoV or Field of View.
FoV is the total area view you get by looking through the lenses. As you zoom in, or increase the magnification, the field of view becomes narrower or reduced. Binoculars with larger field of view provide larger view even at longer distances.
If you want to watch the birds, choose a wider field of view. But if you want to view stationary objects, a binocular with a narrow FoV provides better clarity and higher detail.
- Quality of lens.
The diameter of the objective lens is not the only factor that determines how much light enters the binoculars. If the quality of the lens is good, there will be less reflection, and the better your binoculars will perform in low light conditions. Even if the objective lens diameter is more than 30 mm or more, you can’t expect a good view if the lens is not good.
Many brands nowadays use a plastic lens, which has its merits and demerits. While it may reduce the weight and offer more damage resistance (in case it is dropped), it is more prone to scratches. Also, a good quality lens comes with multiple coatings to provide more protection and minimize reflection.
It is hard to accurately predict the weather even with the most advanced weather apps. If you are backpacking over multiple days, it gets even harder. Give this, it’s simply not possible for hikers to keep their equipment dry at all times. Although they’re not totally waterproof, the best binoculars have a certain degree of waterproofing, which means it won’t be damaged if it is submerged in shallow waters for a few minutes.
- Fog proof.
Manufacturers fill up the inside of the binoculars with inert gas to prevent the lens from fogging up. Some manufacturers make use of fog-resistant materials which are applied to the lens as a special coating. It is important to look for this feature, regardless of the methods used in the construction. Some low-quality binoculars may easily fog up in a hot, humid climate, and you don’t want that.
- Eye strain and weight.
A low-quality binocular can cause eye strain, headaches, and may even make you feel dizzy. This is due to the low-quality lenses or the misalignment between the two lenses. To avoid this, always make sure that the binocular you buy is manufactured by a well-reputed brand, and don’t always look for the cheapest model. Also, as discussed above, try to look for a compact and lightweight model.
- Compact binoculars vs regular binoculars.
Backpackers and hikers know exactly how important it is to reduce weight while packing. To them, even a quarter of a pound matters a lot. This is why they avoid carrying anything that adds unnecessary weight to their backpack.
In other words, they carry only the most essential items or equipment. It will make a lot more sense if you’ve experienced hiking or backpacking at least once. So, if you’re looking for a pair of binoculars to enhance the clarity of your environment, make sure that it’s not bulky.
There are certain models that are big and heavy that will not only take up a lot of space in your backpack, but also make it very inconvenient and uncomfortable to walk around all day with heavy binoculars around your neck.
The old popular belief that a bigger binocular with a bigger lens is always best is not totally true. Well, it may be partially true because the bigger equipment has more room for accommodating a bigger and thicker lens, which results in better magnification.
If you’re still not convinced and you’re interested in looking for a large pair of binoculars, consider this. Large and heavy binoculars are not possible to use for longer duration without an additional support. Your arms may not allow you to do that, which is why many heavier binoculars come with a tripod or a bipod. And you definitely don’t want the trouble of carrying that heavy equipment.
This is not the case with the compact binoculars. The best compact binoculars have a smaller lens and are smaller in size. But they offer incredible clarity and magnification. And they are also lightweight so you will have no problem using it all day.