If you’re in a rush and just want to know what the best compact binocular for hiking is, we recommend the Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars as our #1 pick.
If you are heading out on a day hike it’s a good idea to take a reliable pair of binoculars with you.
There are dozens of ways you can use them.
You can get a closer look at an interesting bird. Or use them to take in the beauty of the natural landscape from a lookout. When you’re done, you should be able to slide them back into your bag and get back to hiking.
But with so many compact binoculars to choose from, it can be hard to know what you should be looking for.
To help you narrow down which option is best for you, let’s look at some of the best options on the market and some of the factors to consider when choosing the right one for you.
- Best Overall: Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars
- Best Budget Pick: C-eagleeye Compact Binoculars 12×32
- Best for Kids: Living Squad Kids Binoculars 8×21
- Best for Weight: Zeiss 8×25 Terra ED
- Best Premium: Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 10×42
- Best Zoom: Bushnell Legacy WP
Still confused? Compare all compact binoculars for hiking.
What Are The Best Compact Binoculars for Hiking?
Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars
If you are looking for a high-quality pair of binoculars, but are on a tight budget, the Vortex Optics Diamondback HD might be the right choice for you. Like the other binoculars on this list, they have multi-coated lenses for clearer vision.
They are easy to adjust, using a central wheel. Plus, it comes with a diopter, so you can make adjustments to each eye separately. Furthermore, you can twist the eyepieces for adjustable eye relief. This makes them a good choice for people who wear glasses.
However, you’ll need to think about the conditions that you plan on using them. If you are using them in low-light areas, they might struggle.
The good news is that they are durable, so you don’t need to worry about them taking on a few bumps along the way. They have O-rings, stopping dust from getting into the binoculars. If something does go wrong, you can use the lifetime warranty to get the issue fixed. When considering the low price, this is a great deal.
- Can be mounted on a tripod
- Lightweight at only 13.5 ounces
- Each eye adjusts seperately
- Great for those wearing glasses
- Lifetime Warranty
- They will struggle in low-light areas
Best for: hikers looking for a lightweight and overall great option.
Celestron – Nature DX 8×32 Binoculars
Weight: 18 oz | Magnification: 8x | Eye Relief: 17 mm | Objective Lens (mm): 32 mm| Field of View: 388 feet at 1000 yards
If you are looking for a beginner-friendly model, the Celestron Nature DX 8×32 is a good choice.
It includes everything that you need to get started. There is a neck strap, lens cloth, carrying case, and an eyepiece rain guard. You’ll even get an instruction manual that talks you through the basics of using binoculars.
The optics are impressive. The lenses are coated. This allows you to get more contrast and help brighten images. The eight times magnification will offer an impressive resolution.
Plus, you won’t need to pay a fortune for these binoculars.
Despite the low price tag, they will be able to handle the rigors of hiking. The body will be watertight so you don’t need to worry about it getting wet. The lens cloth makes it easy to protect your binoculars from dust.
But no binoculars are perfect. The Celestron Nature DX 8×32 is no exception. At 18 ounces, these binoculars can be a little heavy, especially if you are going on a long hike.
Plus, it is rubber coated. This gives you a good grip, but it can be a little sticky. They lack shock resistance, so you’ll need to be careful to avoid dropping them.
- Great bang for your buck
- Watertight body
- A wide field of view, allowing you to quickly scan subjects
- Twist-up eyecups to help correct positioning for viewing with or without eyeglasses
- Weighs over a pound
Best for: Beginners looking to hike with an affordable and quality pair of binoculars.
Bushnell Legacy WP
Weight: 34 oz | Magnification: 22x | Eye Relief: 14 mm | Objective Lens (mm): 50 mm| Field of View: 199 feet at 1000 yards
The Bushnell Legacy WP is considered one of the best binoculars on the market. It has an impressive 22 times magnification. This makes it a good choice for birdwatching, allowing you to watch the animals from a distance without the chance of spooking them. The optics are fully multi-coated, so you’ll be able to enjoy a clear view, even in dark conditions.
Plus, Bushnell has been building high-quality binoculars for years, becoming one of the most trusted brands in this space. Because of this extensive experience, they have learned how to make highly durable binoculars. They are waterproof and fog proof. You can fully submerge them in water and they will be able to survive. Plus, they are shockproof. Because of this, they come with a limited lifetime warranty.
There are a few other premium features that you can expect with the Bushnell Legacy WP. These include; twist-up eyecups and a central focusing system. Plus, when you get to your campsite, you’ll be able to use it with a tripod. It comes with a case, neck strap, and lens covers.
However, these binoculars will be a bit heavy and bulky, weighing in at 34 ounces. Plus, it might be a little stiff turning the adjustment wheel. But if you’re looking for something tough with excellent clarity, the Bushnell Legacy WP will be fairly tough to beat.
- Impressive 22 times magnification allows you to see objects from farther away
- Sturdy and Shockproof offering a limited lifetime warranty
- Fully multi-coated optics allowing for a clear view
- Weighs 34 ounces which is much heavier than some other compact binoculars
Best for: The best zoom in compact binoculars.
Bushnell Marine 7×50
Weight: 37 oz | Magnification: 7x | Eye Relief: 7.1 mm | Objective Lens (mm): 50 mm| Field of View: 350 feet at 1000 yards
If you are looking for a more high-tech version of the Bushnell Legacy WP, the Bushnell Marine 7×50 might be a good option. This comes with fully multi-coated lenses and BaK-4 prisms. Because of this, you can expect exceptional clarity.
Because these are marine binoculars, they are built to withstand harsh seas. They are fully waterproof; you’ll be able to submerge them in water and they’ll keep working. Plus, the binoculars have a rubber coating, so you’ll be able to keep a firm grip even if it’s raining.
However, two of the most unique features are the built-in compass and rangefinder. This can come in useful on a hiking trip, allowing you to navigate by map. The downside, though, is that the strap can be a little uncomfortable, particularly if you are planning on using it on a long hiking trip.
- Built-in compass and rangefinder
- Lens have been nitrogen-purged to prevent fogging
- Fully waterproof
- The heaviest of the options on this list
Best for: those expecting rainy and wet conditions.
Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 10×42
The Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 10×42 has been built to deliver a high-quality image. Because of this, they will use extra-low dispersion (ED). This has been designed to reduce chromatic aberration, which is what causes objects to appear like they have blurry edges. Plus, it’s multi-coated, so the colors will appear true to life.
These binoculars have been built to last for a long time. They are waterproof and won’t be damaged if you use them on a foggy day. Plus, it has a rubber body, so it can survive a few falls.
While they offer premium-quality vision, they are also good for beginners to use. For example, there is a slide wheel, so you can focus within seconds. Plus, you can adjust the rubber eyecups to get a better comfortable viewing position.
The only downside is that these quality binoculars come at a price. You’ll need to pay $326. But they are built to last for a lifetime.
- Waterproof and rubber coated
- Premium-quality optics with 10x magnification
- Designed to reduce chromatic aberration (no blurry edges)!
- One of the more expensive options
Best for: Those looking for premium optics.
Zeiss 8×25 Terra ED
One of the biggest reasons to purchase the Zeiss 8×25 Terra ED is how compact it is.
It weighs just 11 ounces and is just four and a half inches long. Because of this, it will be the perfect size to slide into your pocket. Plus, they come with a case to protect the lenses from getting scratched. With a central focus wheel, you’ll be able to whip it out and be looking at interesting objects within a few minutes.
Despite its compactness, you’ll still be able to get exceptional clarity through the binoculars. They offer multi-coating. So, you won’t have any issues using these binoculars in low-light conditions. Plus, they feature Hydrophobic Multi-layer Anti Reflective Coating. This ensures that you’ll be able to enjoy using these binoculars, even when it’s wet.
Like many of the binoculars on this list, Zeiss has designed their binoculars to be able to take a beating. It will be waterproof and able to survive a few knocks and drops. The only downside to this model is the price. It is a little expensive. But these binoculars will be able to last for years.
- Extremely lightweight at 11 ounces.
- Perfectly fits into your pocket
- Waterproof and shockproof
- A great field of view at 390 feet
- The most expensive binoculars on the list
Best for: A high quality and lightweight option.
Living Squad Kids Binoculars 8×21
Weight: 7.5 oz | Magnification: 8x | Eye Relief: 28 mm | Objective Lens (mm): 21 mm| Field of View: 366 feet at 1000 yards
Adults aren’t the only ones who love to use binoculars to learn more about nature on hiking trips. Kids will also love to get a new perspective on the world around them. If this is the case, they might love to use the Living Squad Kids 8×21 pair of binoculars.
It has been designed with children in mind. It has a rubber coating, to make them easier to hold. Plus, there is a strap that will go around their necks. It’s wide, so it won’t snap, and will be fairly comfortable to wear. But if they do drop the binoculars, it won’t be a major problem. They are shockproof.
They are also fairly easy to use. The eyecups are larger than many of the competitors. This helps make the binoculars more comfortable for children to use. Plus, there is a simple focus wheel. The smaller size means that it will be easier for them to hold the binoculars in their hands.
But don’t let the bright colors fool you. These are a powerful pair of binoculars. They have a Bak-4 coating and impressive magnification. While the images might not be as clear as adult binoculars, they will be ideal for children who are just getting started. Even better, the price tag means that they are affordable as a gift.
- Comes with plenty of attachments including; straps, carabiner for the carrying case, a cleaning cloth, and a download of a bird e-calendar
- Shockproof (as expected) for kids binos
- Come in various fun colors
- Tremendously budget friendly!
- Not the best optics
Best for: kids who want to explore!
C-eagleeye Compact Binoculars 12×32
Weight: 16 oz | Magnification: 12x | Eye Relief: 20 mm | Objective Lens (mm): 32 mm| Field of View: 282 feet at 1000 yards
There are many reasons why you might want to take a pair of binoculars on a hiking trip.
Sometimes, you might want to get a closer look at landmarks from lookouts. Or you might want to use it for birdwatching. But if you want to take pictures to remember your trip, the C-eagleeye Compact Binoculars 12×32 might be the ideal choice for you. This is because it comes with a phone adaptor. Simply attach your phone and adjust the focus on the binoculars. This will allow you to get the perfect shot.
Of course, you don’t need to have a phone attachment to take pictures with your smartphone. This article describes how you can make one with household items.
It should be noted that you don’t always need to take the pictures yourself. You can use a drone to get aerial shots. As long as you set the GPS data, it will fly along the path. If this sounds like a cool way to record your hiking experiences, check out this list of GPS drones.
There are a few ways that these binoculars can offer a clear view while you are hiking. It has fully multi-coated lenses and bak4 glass lenses. This allows you to use it in low-light conditions. If the moon is bright enough you might even be able to use it at night.
These binoculars will be easy for you to get set up. You’ll be able to adjust the eyepieces. This is good for people who wear glasses. The central wheel makes focusing easier. The eyepiece cover is attached to the binoculars, so there’s no risk that it will get lost.
The durability is also impressive. It can be dropped into up to one meter of water and survive. It should be able to handle a few bumps and knocks along your hiking adventure. If there are any problems, it comes with a 30-year warranty, so the manufacturer will be able to fix any defects.
But there is a big potential downside, its weight. At one pound, it’s a little bulky to be carrying on a hike.
- Includes phone adapter and neck strap
- Tremendously affordable
- Shockproof and waterproof up to 1 meter of water
- Compact design
- A bit of an odd shape.
Best for: Those who want an entry level budget binocular.
Best Compact Hiking Binoculars – Compared
How Do You Choose Hiking Binoculars?
There are a few things to keep in mind when you are shopping for hiking binoculars.
You’ll want to look at the magnification, objective lens, field of view, eye relief, durability, cost and most of all weight!
Let’s start by looking at the magnification. This is a measure of how much larger objects will appear.
For example, if something has a magnification of two times, the object will be twice as big.
Typically, binoculars will be able to deliver at least eight times magnification. Though some of the binoculars on this list will be able to go up to 12 times magnification.
It should be noted that bigger isn’t always better. Above eight times magnification, you’ll often need to use a tripod to steady the image. On a longer trek, you don’t want to be weighing down your pack with tripods.
If you want to be able to see objects in close detail, you might want to consider using zoom binoculars. They have been designed to combine impressive magnification and clarity with stability. For more details, check out this rundown of the best zoom binoculars.
The next thing to consider is the size of the objective lens. This refers to the amount of light that will be coming into the binocular lenses. Generally, the higher the number, the more light it will be able to gather. As a result, you’ll be able to enjoy clearer images.
Like magnification, though, this can come with a downside. The bigger the objective lens, the larger and heavier the binoculars have to be. Because of this, they can become too difficult to carry with you when you are hiking.
Field of View
The next thing to consider is the field of view. This is the amount of the landscape that you will be able to see. Usually, this will be affected by the amount of magnification you are using. The more magnification you are using, the less you will be able to see.
Often, whether you want a wider or narrower field of view will depend on what you are using the binoculars for.
As an example, if you are a birdwatcher you might want to narrow in on a particular species. On the other hand, if you are admiring the view, you might want a wider field of vision, to take in more of the landscape.
The next thing to consider is the amount of eye relief.
This is the distance between your eyes and the eyepiece.
This is most important to consider if you are wearing glasses. In this case, you’ll need to get a larger eye relief.
It can also be helpful to get binoculars that allow you to adjust the eye relief.
You must consider how much your hiking binoculars will weigh.
You don’t want to get anything that will weigh you down on a long trip.
It’s also important to think about how much space it will be taking up in your hiking backpack. Ideally, it will be fairly compact.
There are a few basic features that you should expect from a pair of hiking binoculars.
First, it’s important to have a way of adjusting the focus. This will usually be done through a central focusing wheel.
It can also help to have a strap and carrying case. This will help protect the binoculars from damage. While they might be durable enough to survive a few falls, you still don’t want to get the lenses scratched. In many cases, these elements will come with the binoculars. Though, for some models, you might need to purchase them separately.
Though some binoculars will come with other features, like the Bushnell Marine 7×50. This will come with a compass and sight. Some hikers will appreciate this type of high-tech gadgetry. Though for others, it will be a needlessly complex and expensive addition.
There is a range of price points you can explore, depending on what you are looking for. Though some binoculars, like the Bushnell Legacy WP and the Celestron Nature DX 8×32, might be a little pricy. But as long as you care for them, they will be able to last for many years to come.
This article will talk you through proper binocular care.
In most cases, you should be able to find an excellent pair of compact binoculars for less than $200. If you are on a budget, you should be able to find a good pair for around $75 to $150.
Finally, the world of hiking can be tough.
You will get wet. The binoculars can slip from your hands and land on the ground or hit a rock.
You need binoculars that will be durable enough to survive the outdoors. In this area, there are a few things that you should be looking for.
It’s a good idea to get something that will offer some protection against water and fog.
It’s also a good idea to get something that has a rubber coating. This will help you keep a firm grip on your binoculars. If you do drop them, the rubber will offer some protection, helping to soften the impact.
Choose binoculars that offer a warranty.
How do you carry binoculars while hiking?
Carrying binoculars for hiking should be as simple as carrying them around your neck via the neck strap. This way they are accessible at all times on the trail.
You never know when you may see a wild animal in the distance or a bird in a tree.
Having quick access is the best way to ensure you’ll be able to view the wildlife before it inevitably disappears again.
Are binoculars worth it for hiking?
I would say without a doubt, yes! Of course you’ll want to take the weight of your binoculars into consideration.
Carrying water, snacks, extra layers, and binoculars will all add to your load. This is why it makes the most sense to cary a small compact pair of binoculars on a hike rather than a bulky, heavy pair.
Are binoculars good for hiking?
Binoculars are great for hiking! Depending on the type of hike you are taking, you of course may want to leave them at home.
But if you expect to see a lot of wildlife, birds, and other neat geographic features, binoculars are perfect for assisting you in enjoying your hike.
Good binoculars are essential for hikes.
There are dozens of hiking binoculars on the market, but we recommend the Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars.
Not only are they extremely compact, but they are also lightweight and have great optics.