Best Compact Binoculars: A Pocket-Size Wildlife Viewing

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For today’s travel gear, compactness and ergonomy are just as crucial as functionality. When traveling, many people are opting for minimal luggage to be more mobile. This motto applies to safari tourism as well, as you are always on the move, chasing lions and zebras. That’s why you need to emphasize the best compact binoculars out there.

Binoculars are becoming more of a necessity as viewing wildlife in large safari parks can be strenuous. There are plenty of products offering superb image quality and focus, but the massive full-size binoculars and the heavy material are the thorns of the rose.

A recent emergence in binocular technology is compact binocular, intending to shrink the size with the minimal sacrifice on the quality. In this article, we have reviewed the best small binoculars for you.

Our Top 10 Picks For Best Compact Binoculars

Here, we present the cutting-edge compact binoculars for safari and various other travel activities.

Wingspan Optics NaturePro HD 8X42

Despite being relatively younger than some of its opponents, Wingspan keeps launching some ground-breaking products. NaturePro HD merges a wide lens diameter of 42 mm with an incredibly wide field of view of 430 ft/1000 yards – one of the widest amongst compact binoculars. This is coupled with a Crystal View Phase Correction that presents the picture in its real color tones while eliminating chromatic aberrations.

wingspan optics

The 17.2 mm long eye relief exceeds the expectations from a binocular of such a small size. Being waterproof and fog proof makes NaturePro feasible for humid and rainy weather.

Pros

  • Excellent range of view
  • Image quality
  • Durability in wet conditions

Cons

  • Heavier than an average compact binocular

Zeiss Terra 8×25 Compact Binoculars – Waterproof Best Compact Binoculars

Zeiss is one of the pioneering companies for manufacturing compact binoculars, often designing some of the smallest and best lightweight binoculars out there. Terra 8×25 is often nicknamed a pocket binocular, as it only weighs 300 g.

best compact binoculars zeiss terra

Its exceptional image quality comes from the special SCHOTT ED glass that contains a hydrophobic multi-coating on the lens. This particular lens technology creates an incredible optical precision for sharp images and bright colors.

The ring seals’ weatherproof material helps to maintain the image quality in extreme weather conditions like moisture. If you want optimal performance in an easy-to-carry binocular, Terra 8×25 is one of the best compact binoculars for hiking, birding, and safari.

Pros 

  • optical precision for sharp images and clear color
  • long eye relief
  • weatherproof material
  • lightweight.

Cons 

  • Terra 8×25 is one of the most expensive compact binoculars.

Celestron Nature DX 12×56 

Celestron’s signature product Nature DX excels in both magnification and lowlight viewing. Although bringing in increased overall weight, Celestron’s 56mm lens is the best in terms of collecting light transmission beams to help to view in utter darkness. The phase-coated BAK-4 prisms contribute to the contrast and resolution, generating perfectly crisp images at any time of the day.

celestron nature

Despite its heavy material, the experience is a smooth one when it comes to quickly adjust the focus.

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Pros

  •  stupendous resolution and sharpness even in the dark

Cons

  • it is much heavier than a regular compact binocular; some even say that it would require a tripod. 

Steiner Tactical 10×28 Compact Binocular – Durable Best Compact Binoculars

With 75 years of dedication, Steiner is one of those companies that keeps renovating itself. So, the company’s entry into the compact binocular business was inevitable. Tactical 10×28 is one of their signature products due to its super-wide range of view and 10x magnification.

best compact binoculars steiner tactical

Steiner’s optical technology is a world-renowned one that serves even in the military. They are one of the first to use an N2 Injection system, where nitrogen and helium are compressed to increase strength and durability.

Blending in various minerals and earth metals into their coating, Steiner’s team has created outstanding sharpness and clarity with a comfortable focus adjustment. 

Pros 

  • Outstanding image quality 
  • Tough material resistant to impact
  • user-friendly interface.

Cons

  • With a length above 5″, it is slightly larger than an average compact binocular.

Nikon ProStaff 7S – Best Compact Binoculars Offering Easy Grip

Nikon is proving to be one of the leaders not only in cameras but also in binocular manufacturing. The 8×42 Prostaff 16000 7S will fit your hand like a key into the lock while showing off its impressive optical system.

best compact binoculars nikon prostaff

You can find the latest optical technology in its multicoated eco-glass lens, as well as the roof prism with splendid phase correction. The rubber-armored body provides durability and ease of grip with its non-slippery surface.

To top it all, it can last ideally under humidity, fog, and rain. For tracking fast and distant mammals and birds, with smooth and easy-grip, Nikon Prostaff 7S should be one of your top three choices.

Pros

  • Excellent ergonomy
  • adjustable eye relief 
  • 100% waterproof

Cons

  • It doesn’t retain the same sharpness throughout the diameter of the lens.

Nikon 8-24×25 Aculon Zoom Binoculars

Nikon’s recent model Aculon may not have the most advanced optics, but it certainly has the most original design that makes it look like a miniature spacecraft. Unlike some of the items on our list, Aculon is more on the ergonomy side, yet it has some decent upgrades.

nikon

One of them is the variable zoom wheel to change the magnification from 8x through to 24x. This novel feature makes it feasible for many more occasions compared to regular binoculars.

Being waterproof, Aculon offers uninterrupted views as you zoom in and out as you wish. Its simplicity makes it much more affordable compared to other compact binoculars. Given that the product comes with 25 years of warranty, we can’t think of a better investment for safari trips than Nikon’s joker in the pack.

Pentax 8.5×21 U-Series Papilio II

Many compact binoculars focus on the clarity of the distant objects, so they are often deficient in concentrating on the objects slightly closer. Pentax’s U series turned the attention to a better viewing in the narrow range, due to its minimum narrow focus of 0.5 meters. That’s why it’s like a knife through butter to shift your focus from a distant object to another one nearby without your view blurring out.

best compact binoculars pentax

This makes Pentax one of the best for close-ups into the animals next to you. The multi-coated lens and the integrated Porro-prism bring out the details even further. Weighing only 290 g, this lightweight binocular is one of the most popular for bird-watching, viewing plants, reptiles, and small insects.

Pros

  • Excellent minimum close focus –
  • small size and lightweight material
  • 15 mm eye relief
  • affordable

Cons

  • It loses sharpness and clarity for distant objects.

Vortex Optics Diamondback

If you are going on a hunting safari, you will need a binocular with a larger objective lens diameter to catch sharp glimpses at long distances. The downside is that such a binocular will be slightly bulkier than a small regular one. Vortex Diamondback is the most portable among the best compact binoculars for hunting.

best compact binoculars vortex optics

The 32 mm lens comes with 10x magnification and has a dielectric multi-coating for enhanced sharpness in low light conditions. Another highlight of Vortex Diameter is the adjustable eyecups that you can use to alter the range of your view and your eye relief. It especially helps to make up for focal differences between your eyes.

300*252

Pros

  • Image quality 
  • Range of view
  • adjustable eyecups
  • waterproofing.

Cons

  • Slightly bigger than an average compact binocular.

Swarovski CL Pocket 8×25 

Swarovski’s CL Pocket is perhaps the most aesthetically-pleasing and smallest binocular on this list. While it doesn’t have the wide lens diameter of some other items on our list, it offers superior eye relief, as well as a delicate multicoating design for ultra-sharp views. 

best compact binoculars swarovski

The aluminum housing on the outer surface makes CL pocket durable and resistant to shaking. Finally, the hypoallergenic eyecups make viewing enjoyable, even for the most sensitive eyes. Many users prefer this binocular, particularly for bird-watching.

Pros 

  • Easy handling 
  • small size
  • high-quality coating
  • durable outer materials

Cons

  • Lack of lens covers makes the lens more vulnerable to impact.

Leupold BX-1

Finding an affordable compact binocular is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but Leupold BX-1 is one of those models that will put a smile on budget travelers’ faces. Surprisingly, it doesn’t compromise much on quality and is even superior to some of the expensive binoculars.

best compact binoculars leupold bx-1

The 12x magnification is ideal for capturing small details in distant objects. Also, its integrated Twilight Light Management System provides extra glassing light in the dark.

On the outer surface, the aluminum housing embedded within the rubber-coated armor covering feels like you are holding cotton candy despite the durable material.

Pros

  • High optics, excellent low-light viewing, durable and robust material, value for money

Cons

  • 8″ length can be deemed too long for a compact binocular.

Best Compact Binoculars Buyers Guide

Are you still confused? Here are some factors that can help you determine the best compact binoculars you want.

  • Magnification: The first digit of the specification “an x b,” simply indicates how much you can magnify into the objects. The bigger the value of a` the better magnification you have. Most compact binoculars will have 8x to 12x.
  • Lens diameter: The second digit of the specification an x b. With an immense value of “b,” your binocular can collect more light and perform better under low light. You need at least 25 mm for splendid views. 40-60 mm is excellent for viewing in utter darkness, but this improvement comes with increased size and weight.
  • Multi-coating in lenses: This feature is essential for perfect sharpness and clarity.
  • Field of View: Indicates how wide your range of view is at a unit distance.
  • Prism type: Most compact binoculars have roof prisms that are in perfect alignment with the lens. If you find a compact binocular with a Porro prism, chances are it will be on the heavy side.
  • Ruggedness through rubber armor coating.
  • Waterproof and foolproof material

Conclusion

There is no right or wrong when it comes to compact binoculars, and the absolute best product differs from one person to another. When making a decision, you should determine whether your priority is the ergonomy or the functionality.

You can indeed find both qualities in one product, but the size of a binocular mostly increases with improved lens and prism qualities. The same increase applies to the price, so you should allocate a budget for your purchase to narrow down the options.

Last but not least, don’t forget to read compact binoculars’ reviews on famous sites like Amazon. That way, you can find out if there is a common complaint about a particular product or how each product stands out.

For advice on buying cameras, consider reading our post on the best camera for safari. To know which other items to bring along your trip to Africa, check out our packing list posts on different African countries:

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