A good pair of best compact binoculars can add so much to the outdoor adventure experience. Whether you’re going on a hike to a beautiful valley surrounded by towering trees, or you’re just planning a small getaway into the woods, your binoculars will be a handy buddy in helping you get a better view almost everywhere.
However, if you’re traveling light, you will find that full-size binoculars are on the heavier side. A set of compact binoculars is the best option for hikers, travelers, hunters, bird-watchers, and almost anyone who needs to walk a considerable distance.
Almost every large optic company produces its own set of compact binoculars. All these options can be confusing for the average buyer.
So, after much reviewing and testing, we have narrowed down our top picks for best compact binoculars in 2020 for everyone looking to purchase a great pair which will be worth the investment.
Overview: Best Compact Binoculars
Zeiss Terra 8x25 Compact Binoculars
8X magnification with field of view at 1000m – 119 m
Resistant to very low or high temperatures
SCHOTT ED glass and hydrophobic multi-coating giving perfect images
Steiner Tactical 10x28 Compact Binocular
Roof prism design; lightweight and compact
HD optics; highest light transmission for brighter viewing
Focusing is super-fast and requires minimal central wheel rotation
Nikon 16000 PROSTAFF 7S Compact Binoculars
Turn and slide rubber eyecups for eye-relief
Waterproof and fog proof
Ergonomic, rubber built body
Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Roof Prism Binocular
O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged; 100% waterproof
Better grip with Non-slip rubber armor & Soft Texture Grip
Limited lifetime warranty
Vortex Optics Vanquish Binoculars
Reverse porro prism design for crisp and bright images
Adjustable Twist and lock eye cups
Fully rubber armored, extremely durable
Celestron 71330 Nature DX Compact Binoculars
BaK-4 prisms with phase coating providing high contrast and clarity
Durable and tough polycarbonate frame
Twist-up eye cups
Wingspan Optics FieldView 8x32 Compact Binoculars
Massive 8X32 magnification
Waterproof and fog-proof
Wide field of view; clear images up to 1000 yards
Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars
12x magnification, 25mm objective lens, and huge eyepiece for a wide view
Durable and life waterproof
Foldable at the center
Adorrgon 12x42 Powerful Binoculars
18 mm large eyepiece; 2.25 times the image size of 12 mm eyepiece
Large 16.5mm BAK4 Prism for HD optics
Clear vision in weak lighting condition; best for night time
Bushnell Powerview 8x25 Porro Binocular
Fold-down eye cups
BaK-7 prisms and multi-coated optics for amazing image clarity
Non-slip rubber armor for a firm grip
Top 10 Best Compact Binoculars (Review)
1. Zeiss Terra 8x25 Compact Binoculars
This German company has been in the game from the 1860s, which makes it a brand you can rely on. The Terra ED is one of the most compact binoculars you will find in the market now, but it makes a powerful punch.
You wouldn’t believe the superior resolution and clarity it provided for an 8x25 magnification. The product features some of the best quality glass available in the industry.
Produced with ED (extra-low dispersion) glass paired with a patented hydrophobic multi-coating, this particular binocular promises crisp and sharp images under any viewing conditions. It’s still hard for us to accept that you will be able to grab these for less than $500.
Zeiss Terra binos have a classic and sleek appearance, fiberglass reinforced body, and an ergonomic design with an easily maneuverable focus wheel. They are not the most rugged pair you can find out there, but they are waterproof and fog-proof, so we’d not recommend using these as roughly as you would a field binocular.
2. Steiner Tactical 10x28 Compact Binocular
Steiner will never disappoint with their line of quality, reliable and tough binoculars that they have been putting out in the market for more than 70 years.
A tad bit larger than your average pair of compact binoculars, the Steiner Tactical 10x28 still boasts a 10x magnification with a great field of view and impeccable optical quality. The durability, ergonomics, and visual excellence are unparalleled.
Magnification isn’t the most prominent feature of this model, but it contains a “Fast-Close-Quick” feature which allows the central focusing wheel to rotate quickly with minimal rotation.
The multi-coated glass, lenses, and prism in the body are top-class; giving you sharp, bright images with little eye fatigue. The ClicLoc system makes it more convenient to attach and release a neck strap or button with a single push button, so you’re action-ready at all times!
The Steiner Tactical provides performance and power you will rarely find in any other binocular. Completely rubberized and nitrogen pursed body guarantee that even if you were to drop this multiple times, it would still deliver amazingly.
3. Nikon 16000 PROSTAFF 7S Compact Binoculars
Japanese brand Nikon has been known to bring their A-game when it concerns optic quality and customer satisfaction; you will almost always be happy with their products. Anything concerning lenses, they make it of premium grade. Their PROSTAFF series is the best proof of this.
The Nikon 16000 PROSTAFF 7S Compact Binoculars bring advanced color enhancement and sharpness of the object to the table. If you’re spectacled, they cover you with the turn-and-slide rubber eyecups which allow anyone to fix the space between the binocular’s eyepiece and their eye, confirming the best and most comfortable viewing experience every time.
You will realize with every experience that you are getting your money’s worth. These 10x magnification binoculars will not weigh you down and are perfect for on-the-go use. Stuff them in the bottom of your carrier, and they’ll still survive the blow!
4. Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Roof Prism Binocular
American brand Bushnell has earned a reputation in the industry from producing budget-friendly binoculars which also provide great service.
Weighing in under a pound, they’ll fit in comfortably into your backpack, vest, or even the back pockets of your pants. The magnifying range is sufficient and it can focus on objects as far as 12ft away.
Even if the images aren’t the best provided by other models in the market, the value this particular set delivers is hard to beat. Find another pair of binoculars with that price point which will be unaffected even if it’s fully immersed in water. This model is more for the people who are out on an adventure and prefer something tough.
A solid pair of compact binoculars made to be portable and sport-friendly, the Bushnell H2O waterproof makes it on the list due to its ferocious toughness.
Value for Money
5. Vortex Optics Vanquish Binoculars
Vortex produces various good models well equipped to handle the rigors of outdoor use, rough handling, and hiking. It’s surprising how Vortex managed to pack all these amazing features into such a small set of binoculars and even sell it at that low a price. It’s safe to say that this particular pair is better than some of its contemporaries being priced twice as high.
The porro prism technology significantly improves the optic quality in this model. Similar to all other Vortex models, this one also has the signature glass (one word: fantastic), and the multi-coated insides and outers.
The close focus stands at 7.6 feet and the brightness level is maximized thanks to the multi-coating. Adjust the twist-and-lock eye cups for a more personalized feel and comfortable viewing; if you’re wearing glasses, you’ll secretly love this pair because it won’t make you take them off.
With remarkable quality, the 10x magnification, and its ruggedness, this is a top contender on our list.
Suitable for Every Adventure
6. Celestron 71330 Nature DX Compact Binoculars
Best known for creating telescopes, when Celestron aced the binocular production test with flying colors, we weren’t the tiniest bit surprised.
The Celestron 71330 Nature DX might be a budget binocular, but its specs will make you doubt it. Including completely multi-coated optics, 8x magnification, and a 6.5-foot close center on top of phase-coated BaK-4 rooftop prisms, this optics perform well over their group.
If you’re relying on eyeglasses, the twist-up eye cups will add some comfort and relief to your vision. The binos are armored with extra tough polycarbonate housing and an O-ring sealed and nitrogen body so it can stick by you even in the harshest weather. Tackle rain and fog without having to worry about your lenses acting up!
Opt for these to gift yourself a wide range of outdoor glassing activities without breaking the bank. If you’re going to sit peacefully in some part of a forest doing some bird-watching, the Celestron 71330 Nature DX will fit you well.
Best Budget Pick
7. Wingspan Optics FieldView 8x32 Compact Binoculars
They may be new in the industry, but Wingspan is establishing that they’re here to stay. While you won’t exactly find a pair of binoculars providing the most amazing optical quality, Wingspan has got you set with binos as rugged as they come and for a price that will have you staring at the screen.
The glass and the prism in itself are high quality, but the multi-coating provided by other brands is missing. The BaK-4 roof prism optics with fully coated optics ensures glare free viewing.
The overall performance and quality is great, so you can skip splurging on some big-budget binos while Wingspan Optics FieldView 8x32 is offering very close specs at a fraction of the price. With their nitrogen purged bodies, these binos have the ability to take some large hits.
At this point, if you’re not sold on this model, we would like to weigh in that the company does provide a lifetime warranty. That means, if you break them, they replace it. What more could you ask from a budget binocular?
8. Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars
Occer relies heavily on sales through its online stores and third-party retailers like eBay, Amazon, and Alibaba. The reason this particular model is on the list is the cost and the adjacent specifications.
Occer 12x25 will give you 12X magnification, but be careful, as the higher the magnification, the less stable the image might be. The lens is capable of covering a vast area of almost 273 ft.
A unique feature of these would be the ability they possess to be folded at the center, offering increased adjustability to the separation between each eye-piece. The large eye-piece also adds to the comfortable experience with maximized eye-relief for the spectacled users.
They’re highly durable as well. The ABS plastic cover with non-slip rubber armor guards the lens and prevents it from breaking easily, so they’re pretty child-friendly as well. Another amazing budget buy, the Occer 12x25 Compact binoculars has a decent optical view, water resistance, and robustness.
9. Adorrgon 12x42 Powerful Binoculars
Adorrgon one of the more known brands, but this particular set of compact binoculars is an impressive addition to the list of best compact binoculars for under $100.
With a 12x magnification and a noteworthy 367 feet or 1000-yard field of view, the Adorrgon 12x42 offers a high-powered view range and produces sharp images at a considerable distance. The clarity it provides enables you to check out the distinct features of an object.
Everything around is visible with razor-edge sharpness and satisfactory contrast. Made with both a multi-coated lens and 16.5mm BaK-4 prism in each eyepiece, that design gives you clear images that you can depend on. Thanks to its intuitive design, you can use it much comfortably even in low light.
However, there’s no “night vision” for complete visibility in pitch darkness. It focuses itself quickly which is a necessity in animal observation. The binocular is equipped with durable, odorless rubber coating for shock-resistance and anti-slip grip. A plus for this would be the set of accessories it comes up, including lens covers, a carrying case, a cleaning cloth, and a strap to wear them around your neck.
The company will provide a 23-year warranty apart from the 24 hours customer service. All in all, it’s worth every penny.
10. Bushnell Powerview 8x25 Porro Binocular
The second Bushnell model on the list, the Powerview 8x25 features a porro prism system to enhance the field of view. This model is designed to provide durability and good-quality optics at an extremely affordable price.
It features some of the most recent and developed technology and contains the latest features: well-constructed with a rugged, shock-absorbing rubber armor for a non-slip experience and ability to handle a good beating, BaK-7 prism glass for better visual performance, 8x magnification, and a 25 mm objective lens. The company claims that the optics is fully-coated for brighter images.
This model’s design is sleek and we must recommend the brand on producing a binocular containing a lot of great features without sacrificing on the aesthetics anywhere. The resolution is solid and clarity is there.
We also like how compact it is, foldable at the center. One common problem the users do face is the malfunctioning eyecups (they don’t fit that well), which has proven to be a hindrance for people wearing eyeglasses.
Best Compact Binoculars Buying Guide
The single most crucial thing to keep in mind when shopping for binoculars is the purpose they will be serving. How do you plan on using it and where are the first and foremost questions you should be asking yourself.
You need to find a set that fits well within your budget while providing the key specifications you were searching for. To save you from the struggle of sitting down, researching, and making an entire checklist, we have prepared one for you.
Weight and Size
If you're opting for compact binoculars, the weight and size is one of the larger determining factors. Some models come light-weight and portable (weighing 5 to 6 ounces), while some are on the bulkier side. The difference isn't exactly staggering but the little changes make all the difference.
The whole point of buying binoculars is the magnification it promises to deliver. With that being said, you won't be using it to view one mountain range while standing on top of another.
We would opt for something 8x and 12x, giving enough detail to everything you see but also a great field of view. Pay attention to the binocular sizing. Binoculars come classified by a set of numbers like 8x25 or 12x35.
The first number stands for the magnification and the latter for the size of the optical lens. The bigger the second number, the more light passes through it i.e., brighter images.
You could live with a pair of binos giving you just satisfactory optical quality but it's still better to look for ones that feature multi-coated lenses and a reputation of fine craftsmanship. Without getting into much technical knowledge, the glasses that are used play a big part in how the lenses will behave.
Well-constructed models will last you almost an entire lifetime. Look for models designed for the conditions you will be using them under. If you'll be looking at birds from the comforts of your backyard, then you don't have use for something extra tough and durable.
Weather and Waterproofing
If there are chances you'll take your binoculars out under rain or fear dropping them into water, the waterproofing feature is quite common in most of the better binoculars. Some can even resist the worst of temperatures (-4°C to a mid-100°C).
Emphasize on the place you will use your binos.
The time is gone when you'd have to sacrifice an arm and a leg to afford a pair of quality binos. Many budget-friendly models ruling the market which will do the task better than a lot of the high-end ones.
After all the reviews, we have concluded that the Zeiss 8×25 Terra ED Compact Pocket binoculars snatched the place for Top Pick. They checked all the major boxes and are the flag bearers for “best compact binoculars” in 2020.
A major takeaway is that you could never properly measure the appropriateness of a binocular for yourself without going through each and every specification meticulously.
Hopefully, after going through this article, you will have a clear idea about what you are leaning towards and what might be the best choice.