Binoculars are a great option to turn your hike into an interesting experience. Whether you are trekking on the mounts, hiking between the rivers or even traveling to other countries and particularly Africa for Safari, Binoculars must take a considerable place inside your pack. These small magical tools allow you to discover mesmerizing landscapes from far away and observe animals practicing their daily habits. Photographers use binos too to locate their targets especially if it is in the wild. In other words, binoculars are versatile and convenient products that can be useful in various daily activities and specifically in hiking and traveling.
In this article, I will give you an idea about the best compact binoculars with good magnification available on the market and enlighten you with some of the most valuable tips in the world of binoculars. Before going deep into this, let’s take a quick look at our recommended product that has made it on top of the list.
Nikon PROSTAFF 7S 10x30
This product is a combination of creativity, innovation, perfection and precision. It has all what a binocular needs to become an ultimate tool for hiking.
The 10X30 is also a powerful configuration for a convenient bino like the PROSTAFF 7S. 10X magnification and 30mm wide objective lens are totally sufficient to zoom in at a tiny bird which is 100 yards away without losing any detail on the background thanks to the wide field of view it provides with its compact size.
The Nikon PROSTAFF 7S is useful under rough weather conditions and it makes you beat the fog with its wide objective lens that allows a huge quantity of light to pass inside the body and provides clear and crisp images.
The fully multilayer coated lenses and phase correction roof prisms are the most important asset of this bino since they help you get a perfect resolution thanks to their capacity of improving the light transmission as well as a stunning contrast.
In addition to all that, I must mention the compactness of this product and the comfort of holding it. It weighs only 420 grams and comes with a neck strap.
- Convincing performance under low brightness and dark situations thanks to the wide objective lens.
- Quality of glass used on this product is top-notch which makes the resolution perfect.
- The body of the PROSTAFF 7S is rubber armored so it is fully protected from shocks and useful in wet conditions.
- Compact size (weighs only 420 grams).
- Comes with a case, lens covers and a neck strap that are necessary in long hikes.
- Lens caps are useless since they have a loose fitting and they don’t really secure the lenses.
- The quality decreases after few years of use and chromatic aberrations start to appear.
After reviewing our first product, it is time to know more about binoculars that are useful for hiking and traveling and I have prepared a great set of tips that you will need to apply during the use of your binos.
Why would one want a small powerful binocular for hiking/travel?
A small powerful binocular has become a necessity for our trips and walks inside the woods. Nature is full of beauties ranging from tiny animals to gigantic landscapes and nobody wants to miss a single detail about it. Therefore, a useful binocular is the ultimate solution to this problem since it makes you admire the treasures of nature without putting yourself in danger or frightening your game.
Binoculars are useful for many activities such as hunting, fishing, birding, wildlife observing, investigating… That’s what makes it versatile and its compact size which is significantly more comfortable than other gears like spotting scopes gives it the privilege of easy portability without the need of a special case.
Whether you are a beginner who is willing to make his first purchase or a professional user in the field of optics, there are many features to know about and other things to be aware of. Generally, descriptions of binoculars are easily interpreted and do not have a lot of complicated technical terms. I am here to tell you about every feature you need to know about.
What features to look for on a binocular?
This feature defines the power of your binocular: if you have a bino with a high magnification power you will get virtually closer to game from a long distance while if you have a low magnification power then your product will be only useful from close distances.
Generally, magnification power ranges between 4 and 16. It is true that this is not as important as the spotting scope’s magnification, well that’s because a binocular cannot get a very wide objective lens like a spotting scope therefore the field of view will get extremely narrow on the bino and you will lose a lot of details on the background as well as not being able to follow a moving target.
Field of view
This item tells if the bino is worth purchasing or not, I mean what’s the need of this tool if won’t allow you to see a wide magnified image?
The FOV is very sensitive on binoculars; it gets affected by many factors such as magnification power which is responsible for the wideness of FOV (bigger magnification means narrower FOV) and front lenses diameters (binoculars cannot support very wide lenses, that’s why the FOV is relatively small).
Field of view is usually ranging between 6° (around 300 feet at 1000 yards) and 8° (420 feet at 1000 yards). So it is always recommended to get the widest field of view possible for a fixed magnification.
Objective lens size
On the description of the product, you will find two numbers mentioned with ‘X’ separating them, the first is magnification power and the second is the diameter of objective lens. Well, you may wonder about the relevance of this feature. In fact, it is not just relevant; it is responsible for how clear you can see. Images delivered to you through the exit pupil are brighter if the quantity of light that gets in through the objective lens is higher.
Generally, sizes differ from a product to another within the range of 12 to 50mm. We recommend the 42mm wide objective lens as it will keep the compact size and the high quality.
Weight, size and portability considerations
Binoculars are small and have compact sizes that make them all easily portable, but sometimes, you may find a big bino that weighs more than 1 kilogram which makes it a struggle even if it is attached to a neck strap. You must avoid heavy and uncomfortable sizes especially if you want to have fun during your hike without hurting your neck.
Tradeoff between high power and size
One important thing that sums up all the features and is necessary to know about is the tradeoff between high power and size. In other terms, high power affects size and vice versa due to several parameters.
If you want better quality, then you have to buy better optics which are big and heavy. In addition to that, the length of the objective tube is important since it is responsible for the magnification, which means higher magnification is equal to longer tube. Moreover, the exit pupil is also important in this case as it controls the brightness of the photo seen by you. Actually, your iris receives light through the exit pupil, the lower it is, the more light gets collected in the center and goes through your iris.
Briefly, if high power is a top priority for you, then you should get used to the pain of holding 2 kilograms on your hands all day. If comfort is what you are looking for, then you will lack high magnification.
After gathering a lot of useful information, it is time to check what is waiting for you on the review list, I have reviewed three of the best and top rated affordable products below.
Celestron TrailSeeker 10x32
Celestron always satisfies us with its interesting products, especially this stunning binocular that has a 10X magnification and 32mm wide objective lens. Personally, I find this product is largely convenient considering its affordable price since it will help you a lot on your trips thanks to the great features it has including a smooth dual focusing system.
- BaK-4 prisms that correct colors and reduce chromatic aberrations
- Multicoated optics for perfect resolution
- Epic clos-range focus (8.2 feet)
- Water and fog proof
- Tripod adaptable
- Twist-up technique that makes the eye cups comfortable for eyeglass wearers.
- Totally comfortable for holding (weighs only 450 grams)
- The inter-pupillary distance is not suitable for some people so be sure to check this feature without buying a pair.
Celestron Nature DX 10x32
Issued by the same brand – Celestron – this binocular must have the same spectacular aspects of the previous one. In fact, the Nature DX has the same 10X32 configuration as the trailseeker. Anyway, this item also has many pros and few cons.
- BaK-4 prisms and phase coating to improve contrast and enhance light transmission
- Fully multi-coated optics for better resolution
- 5 feet close focus distance
- Long eye relief for eyeglass wearers
- Tripod adaptable
- Easy twist-up system on the eyecup to satisfy the different needs of users.
- Relatively narrow field of view (only 300 feet at 1000 yards).
- Material used in construction is not durable
- In some particular cases, lenses get out of alignment.
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x25mm
For a small powerful binocular, this one is the perfect fit for many users. Actually, it has a completely compact size and convincing performance regarding its low price and small shape.
With only 25mm objective lenses, this bino is able to perform well under dark and rough weather conditions.
- Highest quality optics: BaK-4 prisms as well as ED prime glass and rainguard HD water repellent coatings. All of this is put on this product to provide you with the best resolution and the greatest contrast.
- Clos-range focusing is great (only 6 feet)
- Includes a carry case, neck strap and lens cloth.
- Magnesium body that keeps compactness and provides total protection from shocks.
- Very light weight (only 230 grams)
- 100% water and fog proof
- Does not include lens covers therefore you may think to purchase some
- Eye relief is too short
- Cheaply built which makes it not durable at all.
At the end of this interesting article, I want to say that it is hard to find small binoculars that perform well in the field. I found some of the greatest tiny products that include astonishing features. You may also find other interesting items on the market; just keep in mind to check the description carefully and to ensure the availability of all our recommendations. Good luck!