What are the Best Binoculars for Backpacking: Reviews and Tips

Binoculars are one of the most used optical instruments throughout the globe. However, the nature of binocular use varies wildly from one person to another. And, the biggest challenge for a bino user is to balance between the need for high-quality optics and a lightweight instrument.

The challenge gets even more complicated since your ideal pair of binoculars have to survive the toughness of the outdoors, and everyone faces this challenge while looking for a durable but compact binocular. But the crux of the matter is not all the binoculars will not deliver as promised, especially since there are only a few binoculars that provide premium quality optics in a reasonable lightweight package.

Nowadays, the need for backpacking binoculars is rising astronomically since more people are trying to keep a reliable companion with them for their every outing. Undoubtedly, a great pair of binoculars can definitely change the way how you enjoy an outing or any activity. Binoculars, in fact, can add a new dimension to any sporting event, wildlife observation, bird watching, or simply any outdoor activity.

Recommended Product: A Great Affordable Option for All Your Backpacking Needs

Well, you can spend countless hours looking for an ideal binocular in the current market, and still, you will face many difficulties when deciding on your ideal pair. This happens because a large number of binoculars are available in the market, all with different features and quality. But only a few will meet your expectation. The Nikon 16000 PROSTAFF 7S 8X30 is one binocular which you can reliably look up to.

Nikon PROSTAFF 7S is an ultralight and compact binocular. 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, this binocular renders 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 this binocular is state-of-the-art. This binocular is small, physically light, and shapely even for the compact 8×30 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 trip or expedition.

Pros:

  • Comfortable light casing
  • Good color rendition
  • Good sharpness
  • Excellent quality BAK4 prism.
  • Great price for the quality and practicality

Cons:

  • Not the best FOV in class
  • A lot of reflection near the exit pupil.

Backpacking Binocular Buying Guide

Sometimes choosing binos can be tiring. However, knowing some of the important specifications of a binocular – 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 are some important aspects of an ideal binocular 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 heaviness of a binocular 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 binocular. You definitely want your binocular to gather light effectively in order to make the image brighter and clearer to you.

32mm works great for any backpacking binocular 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 water and fogproofing can save your day.

Magnification Power Rating

All binoculars are accompanied by two labeled numbers, of which the first one is the magnification power rating. And, the second number stands for the size of the objective lens. For example, you might notice, “8X25”. Luckily, you know how to decipher these mysterious numbers easily. For this binocular, it will have an 8-times magnification while the diameter of the front lens will be 25mm.

Lens diameter is one of the most important issues of buying a binocular. 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 binocular will increase greatly with the size of the objective lens. So, if you look for a binocular whose objective lens is 42mm or larger, the weight of the binocular, 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 binocular’s image. Field view depends mostly on the design of the eyepiece. More power will usually translate into a narrower field of view. However, a binocular 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.

Pricing In

For any optical instrument, the price heavily depends on the quality of the optics. And, binoculars are no exception. 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.

Some Additional Products to Consider

Here are some additional products that you can consider in addition to the recommended product above:

Weighing under 12 oz., this ultra-lightweight binocular features an impressively wide field of view, and not to mention the standard 8x magnification. The best thing about this 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, these binos are one of the best in class and design. They’re durable, 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 have such an ultra-lightweight binocular. The product comes with some amazing accessories as well!


 

Another great product from the already legendary Wingspan Optics is this binocular, which is compact and lightweight. This binocular is almost identical to the previous one, except it’s 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 this binocular, but you have to keep in mind the price also. Other standard features are all included along with excellent accessories.


 

You will get a more powerful magnification with this binocular, 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.


Final Thoughts

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.