Compact binoculars are one of the most used types of binoculars – if you’re looking for the best backpacking binoculars, you can’t go wrong with them because of their compact size. Even so, the best compact binoculars for you will depend on your needs. You’ll have to find balance between features like lens coating, eye relief, being waterproof and fog proof, ergonomic design and of course, price. We’ll help you find the best binoculars for hiking, travel and backpacking.
The top hiking binoculars have to be durable, lightweight, compact, waterproof, have coated optics and produce a crisp image. But not all compact binoculars for hiking will deliver as promised, especially since there are only a few models that provide premium quality optics in a reasonable lightweight package.
Undoubtedly, a great pair of backpacking binoculars can definitely change the way you enjoy an outing or any activity. Binoculars, in fact, can add a new dimension to animal observation, bird watching, or simply any outdoor activity.
Recommended Product: Possibly the Best Compact Binoculars for All Your Backpacking Needs
You can spend countless hours looking for ideal binoculars on the market, and still, you will face many difficulties when deciding on your ideal pair. But only a few will meet your expectations. The Nikon 16000 PROSTAFF 7S 8X30 are binoculars which you can reliably look up to.
Nikon PROSTAFF 7S are ultralight and compact binoculars. This binocular is a solid optical instrument for a moderate price tag. The most amazing thing about this product is its physical size for which it works better than most other compact binoculars despite its tad smaller objective. With a 30mm front lens and 8x magnification, these binoculars render an excellent sharp image with tremendous clarity.
Though the objective lens diameter may seem bit smaller to you, the front lens is the main key to maintain a lightweight physical structure. Generally, the heaviness depends largely on the size of the objective lens.
Nikon has kept the price tag within the reach of mass buyers. So, when it comes to chromatic aberration, pro users may be a little disappointed. The absence of extra-low dispersion glass (ED glass) leads to minor color fringing, especially at low and very bright light conditions. Yet, considering the price tag, this is very acceptable, since ED glass can typically be found only on significantly more expensive items. Also, you won’t notice blurring until reaching a distance of 90% from the field of view center. In fact, this stat is quite outstanding for such a compact binocular. Most importantly, darkening at the edge of the field of view is quite imperceptible.
The housing of these binoculars is state-of-the-art. These binoculars are small, physically light, and shapely even for the compact 8x30 class. The rubber padding, which sticks out almost near the objective, is of good quality. The eyecups are very good with 4 stops, ensuring comfortable holding and viewing for everyone. Moreover, the focusing is very comfortable with a big central wheel being equipped with rubber ribs. You can move the focus wheel very easily, and they are well damped. Though a ribbed individual ring is situated on the right eyepiece, it’s quite difficult to move accidentally. This binocular effectively uses a good quality BAK4 prism to ensure sharper, brighter, and more brilliant images.
You will get green-purple antireflective coatings on the objectives and eyepieces and green on the prisms. In fact, the standard of the coatings is praiseworthy. You will be getting a 10 years warranty from Nikon, which is awesome for any optical instrument. Lastly, this product is one of the best value products in the backpacking series weighing only 415 grams. Certainly, this binocular is something that you can rely upon for your next hike, biking trip or backpacking expedition.
- Comfortable light casing
- Good color rendition
- Good sharpness
- Excellent quality BAK4 prism.
- Great price for the quality and practicality
- Not the best FOV in class
- A lot of reflection near the exit pupil.
Backpacking Binoculars Buying Guide
Sometimes choosing binoculars can be tiring. However, knowing some of the important specifications of binoculars – like size, magnification, FOV, coatings, and construction will give you an edge over other buyers. In fact, a little knowledge is of great importance to make a well-informed decision. Here is a guide to some of the important aspects of ideal binoculars that you need to take care of.
What are some important features for backpacking binoculars?
Unlike other standard sized binoculars, the best backpacking binoculars are comparatively lightweight and they focus primarily on the sleek design and lightness. Generally, high-performance binoculars that provide a stupendous level of clarity are heavier in weight, and they are often hard to carry all day long.
However, you should look for a decent zoom factor for an ideal backpacking binocular. Usually, 8x magnification works best for most people.
But, the most critical and important aspect is the objective lens diameter because the weight of binoculars mostly depends on the size of the front lens. So, why don’t we stick with a very small one? The trick here, however, is in the light gathering capacity of the binoculars. You definitely want your binoculars to gather light effectively in order to make the image brighter and clearer to you.
32mm works great for any backpacking binoculars without compromising the optical clarity that you crave for. Along with a decently wide field of view, you will want to have some good quality coatings on your binocular which will provide you sharp, clear, crisp, and enhanced images.
Lastly, you’d certainly love to see your binocular withstanding the toughness of the outer environment. Having a durable binocular with excellent quality waterproof and fog proof capabilities can save your day. Make sure you buy hiking binoculars that are waterproof, argon or nitrogen purged and O-ring sealed.
Magnification Power Rating
All binoculars are accompanied by two labeled numbers, of which the first one is the magnification power rating, such as 8 or 10. And, the second number stands for the size of the objective lens. For example, you might notice, “8X25”. For this binocular, it will have an 8 times magnification while the diameter of the front lens will be 25mm. Going above 10 x magnification is not recommended for best backpacking binoculars.
Lens diameter is one of the most important issues of buying the best hiking binoculars, especially if you’re birding. Larger objectives can gather more light easily. As a result, you will get sharper and truer view of the image. Especially in low light conditions, you can notice the difference easily, for example at dawn and dusk. However, the weight of your binoculars will increase greatly with the size of the objective lens. So, if you look for binoculars whose objective lens is 42mm or larger, the weight of the binoculars, however, will certainly exceed your expectation, in a bad way. To balance the weight and the optical quality is really a tough job, even for a professional.
Field of View
Generally, every binocular specifies a field of view, rated at 1000 yards. In fact, the field of view is the idea of how wide the overall area is encompassed in the binoculars’ image. Field view depends mostly on the design of the eyepiece. More power will usually translate into a narrower field of view. However, binoculars with a wider field of view will have shorter eye relief, which can create trouble for eyeglass wearers. Wide field of view basically allows you to capture more of scene in the image – but watch out if you wear glasses.
For any compact binocular, the price heavily depends on the quality of the optics. If you opt for professional quality, then you need to look for some more advanced features like ED glass and special coatings. As a result, the price will definitely go up the ladder. The most important takeaway here is that you won’t get good quality optics cheap.
Best Compact Binoculars to Consider
Here we review some additional products that you can consider in addition to the recommended product above:
Zeiss makes some of the best binoculars out there. The Zeiss 8X25 Terra ED will fit in your pocket thanks to their small objective lens diameter and yet they have some of the best optics around. If you’re okay with the price, these are one the best backpacking binoculars models out there. They’re waterproof, have multi coated optics (hydrophobic coating) and yet are lightweight with an ergonomic design – truly one of the best compact binoculars.
You will get a more powerful magnification with these binoculars, taking the action closer to you with 10x magnification. Nikon uses lead and arsenic-free eco-glass. The front lens is comparatively smaller at 25mm but keeps the optical tube thin enough to deliver an ultra-light binocular. The field of view is 262 ft at 1000 yards. This is a budget option with decent features.
Weighing under 12 oz., this ultra-lightweight binocular is excellent for travel – it features an impressively wide field of view, and standard 8x magnification. The best thing about this compact binocular is that it comes with ED glass that makes the image sharper and clearer, and it can take your hiking and trekking experience to the next level. The phase corrected BAK4 roof prism is meticulously crafted by Wingspan to deliver you a great optical instrument. With an impressive wide FOV of 356 ft and 2-meter close focus, this pair of binoculars is one of the best in class and design. They have a durable construction, absolutely waterproof and fog proof and ready for any weather. However, the only downside of this binocular can be the 25mm front lens. But, this is what has made it possible to make one of the best small binoculars for the price. The product comes with some amazing accessories as well!
Another great product from the already legendary Wingspan Optics is this compact binocular, which is compact and lightweight. These binoculars are almost identical to the previous ones, except they’re more powerful. You will get a larger objective lens of 32mm which can definitely capture enough light to keep you satiated even in low light. The field of view is more impressive, measuring at 362 ft. However, for this pair, you have to spend a bit less since this one doesn’t include ED glass. Thus, you may notice some chromatic aberration in these binoculars, but you have to keep in mind the price also. Other standard features are all included along with excellent accessories.
The Diamondback is the workhorse series from Vortex Optics. This model may not be the best compact binoculars to buy, and not as lightweight as some, but they’re good for most situations. Their main appeal is that they’re less expensive than other models. They have protective rubber armor – perfect for hiking, birding and camping – which also acts as a non-slip grip, plus fully multi coated lenses. The eyecups can be adjusted for specific eye relief. These binoculars are also argon purged. The 25mm objective lenses will not yield images as bright as larger objective lenses, but that’s what you’ll have to accept if you want to fit it in your jacket pocket. Overall, the Vortex Optics Diamondback 8x25 is a very solid pair of compact binoculars.
There’s, in fact, a lot to consider when it comes to buying the best binoculars for backpacking, trekking, hiking, expeditions and such. Backpacking binos are special types of binoculars, so you have to be careful while considering the features of these binoculars. Generally, balancing between the optical quality and portability is a tough decision. Regardless of your personal preference, assess every feature of a binocular and its size and weight before deciding finally. And, do check the aforementioned binoculars thoroughly, they’re all great options.