7 Best Compact Binoculars in 2020

The best compact binocular that we tried was easily the Skygenius 8×21 binoculars. It comes in an extremely budget-friendly price point, while still offering an extremely light form factor, just eight ounces, and the capabilities to perform 8X magnification.

To help you find the best compact binoculars for hiking, birding and related activities, we have tried out a multitude of top models, testing them for magnification capabilities, via high quality lenses, and massive fields of view, so you can be sure to catch a glimpse of your intended target. We also liked items that were light, easy to use and models that featured plenty of zoom. Keep reading to learn more about the Skygenius 8×21 Compact Binoculars and the other models on this list.

Top 7 Best Compact Binoculars

 #1  Skygenius 8×21 Compact Binoculars

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: Budget-friendly model with plenty of high end features, including a decent field of view (69ft/1000yds), an easy-to-use center focus knob and an extremely light and compact form factor.

Pros
  • Best on a budget
  • Decent field of view
  • Extremely light, at just 8 oz
Cons
  • 8X magnification is decent, but some items on list are more powerful
  • Not waterproof
  • Struggles in low light scenarios

These Skygenius 8×21 Compact Binoculars are the best budget compact binoculars that we tried, thanks to coming in at a low price point while still offering high end features, such as a decent 69ft/1000yds field of view and an easy-to-use center focus knob. We also loved that these were lightweight binoculars, weighing just eight ounces, making them easy to stuff in a backpack or even a pocket.

Though the 8X magnification here is great for a wide range of scenarios, there are several more powerful models on this list. Additionally, this is not a waterproof item, so be careful around large bodies of water. If you’re worried about mosquitos in the woods, make sure to bring along the best flying insect spray.

 #2  Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: Roof prism binoculars boasting a fantastic 12X magnification, with a 25mm objective lens, and featuring adjustable eye cups, suiting wearers of eyeglasses, and a fully waterproof design, making this a great product for hiking near large bodies of water.

Pros
  • Best for those who wear glasses
  • Magnification and mm objective lens
  • Waterproof design
Cons
  • Plastic exterior not as durable as some picks
  • Does not include carrying case

These Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars feature one of the higher magnifications that we tried, 12X, and a high quality 25mm objective lens, with comfortable and adjustable eye cups that are perfect for those who wear glasses or those who do not. We also love the waterproof design, making these the best compact binoculars for hiking, particularly near large bodies of water. We also found the packed in strap to be of a high quality.

Though we did love the strap, this item does not come with a carrying case, an accessory that ships with our top pick. Also, the exterior is made from ABS plastic, with no rubberized components, making this slightly less durable than some picks, though it should still last you a long while. Before you head out birdwatching, you might want to pack your best pocket knife into your bag, just in case.

 #3  Sallous 10×25 High Powered Compact Binoculars

Award: MOST PORTABLE

WHY WE LIKE IT: Extremely portable, thanks to a light form factor (6 oz) and a foldable design, with a rubber exterior that is shock-resistant and an included BAK-4 lens which is great in low light situations, making this an ideal choice for concerts.

Pros
  • Excellent shock resistance thanks to rubber housing
  • 10X magnification and 25mm objective lens
  • BAK-4 lens good for low light scenarios
Cons
  • Neck strap is flimsy
  • Eye cups not as adjustable as some picks

These Sallous 10×25 High Powered Compact Binoculars are extremely portable, thanks to a light form factor (6 oz) and a foldable design that easily fits in the pocket. The portability, along with an included BAK-4 lens that excels in low light scenarios, make this the best compact binoculars for concerts that we tried. We also loved the durability on offer, with rubber armor throughout that is resistant to shock and accidental drops.

Though we liked that the package ships with both a neck strap and a carrying case, we found the strap to be somewhat flimsy, so you may want to provide your own. Additionally, we found the eye cups to be not quite as adjustable as some other picks on this list, including our number two pick, so glasses wearers may struggle to get a good fit. If you want to be able to start a fire anywhere, grab a pack of the best all-weather matches.

 #4  iKalula High Powered Compact Binoculars

Award: BEST FOR TRAPPING AND STALKING

WHY WE LIKE IT: Includes an extremely powerful 42mm objective lens, offering 10x magnification with superior optic quality, with built-in anti-fogging technology and a massive 285ft/1000yds field of view, making this an ideal choice for hunting.

Pros
  • Excellent objective lens and anti-fogging technology
  • Large field of view
  • Adjustable eye cups for glasses wearers
Cons
  • Slightly heavier than most picks, at over a lb
  • Not pocket friendly

These iKalula High Powered Compact Binoculars feature the most powerful objective lenses on this list, at 42mm, which translates to high definition visuals even at the maximum magnification of 10X. The BAK4 roof prism helps correct chromatic aberrations in low light and foggy conditions, making these the best compact binoculars for hunting that we tried. We also loved the massive 285ft/1000yds field of view, another high end feature.

Though this product does come with a number of accessories, including a high quality strap and carrying case, it is not quite pocket-friendly, unlike some of our picks. Also, this is a heavier model than most other items on this list, clocking in at over a pound. If you’re interested in survival equipment, take a look at the best emergency blanket too.

 #5  Nikon ACULON A30 10X25 Compact Binoculars

Award: BEST FOR LOW LIGHT

WHY WE LIKE IT: Boasts a multi-coated lens that increases brightness, allowing this product to excel in all light conditions, with a comfortable and ergonomic design that is great for prolonged use.

Pros
  • Ergonomically designed for long-term use
  • Smooth central focus knob
  • Foldable and can fit in some pockets
Cons
  • Included carrying case is fairly thin
  • Not waterproof

These Nikon ACULON A30 10X25 Compact Binoculars feature a multi-coated lens that absolutely excels during low light scenarios, so this product would be great to have on hand during dusk or dawn. We also loved the comfortable and ergonomic design, which is great for prolonged use sessions, and the fact it is foldable and, as such, can slide into larger-sized pockets.

Though the components are of high quality, including the smooth central focus knob, this is not a waterproof product, so be careful around large bodies of water. Additionally, the included carrying case is made of ultra-thin nylon and not too sturdy. We’d recommend a leather case. Before you head out on your next backpacking trip, make sure to pack a pair of your best mens hiking socks.

 #6  Wingspan Optics FieldView Compact Binoculars

Award: BEST NON-SLIP GRIP

WHY WE LIKE IT: Waterproof and fog-proof lenses, with a fantastic non-slip grip that excels with prolonged use and a powerful 32mm objective lens, making this a great choice for bird watching.

Pros
  • Excellent waterproof and fog-proof design
  • Powerful 32mm objective lens
  • Fits in most shirt pockets
Cons
  • Included carrying case is nice but strap is flimsy
  • 8X magnification lower than some picks

These Wingspan Optics FieldView Compact Binoculars feature an advanced non-slip grip, making them excel during prolonged use sessions, in addition to boasting an ultra-powerful 32mm objective lens, helping to deliver high definition visuals at multiple magnifications. These features, along with a foldable design that easily slides into shirt pockets, make this product the best compact binoculars for birding that we tried.

Though the powerful lens provides crisp visuals at any magnification, the product does max out at 8X, which is lower than some picks on this list. Also, we appreciated the mesh nylon carrying case that was packed in to be of a high quality, but found the strap to be relatively thin and flimsy.

 #7  Bushnell H2O Compact Roof Prism Compact Binoculars

Award: BEST ALL WEATHER PROTECTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: Extremely airtight and waterproof, thanks to a nitrogen-sealed O ring, with a shock absorbing rubber exterior and a high quality multi-coated lens, which promotes light transmission for low light scenarios.

Pros
  • Non slip grip and rubber exterior for added durability
  • Large center focus knob for easy focal adjustments
  • Multi-coated lens for excellent light transmission
Cons
  • 8X magnification and 25mm objective lens
  • Included case is soft and thin

These Bushnell H2O Compact Roof Prism Compact Binoculars feature the most effective waterproofing on this list, thanks to a nitrogen sealed O ring, making this an ideal choice for use on a boat or during extreme weather conditions. We also found this to be a highly durable item, thanks to the shock absorbing rubber exterior, and we loved the multi-coated lens, which helped this product excel in low light situations.

Though the 8X magnification and 25mm objective lens are of a high quality and provide great visuals, there are more powerful picks on this list. Additionally, the included carrying case is on the softer side, in addition to being fairly thin, so we’d recommend purchasing a heftier model.

How We Decided

To help narrow down to the above list, we tested each pair of compact binoculars across a wide range of metrics, paying particular attention to magnification capabilities, with a minimum threshold of 8X, which we found was still suitable for most tasks, including bird watching, hiking and hunting.

We also paid special attention to the relative power of the objective lenses on offer, preferring larger lenses that provide high definition visuals, also known as optic clarity, no matter the magnification setting. Field of view was also a concern, choosing pairs of binoculars that offered the ability to scan your entire surroundings in one go.

Each of our picks are easy to focus, typically via a center-placed knob that rolls smoothly, and often shipped with a variety of useful accessories, including carrying cases, straps, cleaning cloths and lens covers, among other items. Finally, we made sure that these items were truly compact, with light form factors and foldable, and often pocket-friendly, designs.

Best Compact Binoculars Buyer’s Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Magnification and Objective Lenses
    You are going to want some decent magnification, of at least 8X, so you can get a good look at birds, musical artists and related objects of interest. We found 8X to be adequate for most tasks but if you are a serious hunter, you may want to go up to 12X. Each of the above pairs of binoculars also include objective lenses, which can provide high definition visuals. To that end, the bigger the lens, the better, with one product on our boasting an absolutely massive 42mm objective lens.
  2. Durability and Waterproofing
    These items are typically taken outdoors and come along for the ride during dangerous hikes on uncertain terrain. To that end, you are going to want to make sure they feature, at bare minimum, some form of water-resistance, to stave off accidental damage during rainstorms. However, you may want to invest in a fully waterproof pair, in case you end up near a large body of water. Additionally, look for items made from durable ABS plastic and ones that feature a rubberized exterior, which can provide ample shock absorption.
  3. Portability
    These are compact binoculars so, with that said, you are going to want to make sure they are portable and can fit into most shirt or pants pockets. Look for a weight of around a half of a pound, or even lighter, and make sure your chosen product boasts a foldable design, which helps it squeeze into tight spaces. If you aren’t wearing pockets, fear not, most of the above items ship with carrying cases and neck straps.

Compact Binoculars FAQs

Are compact binoculars any good?

Yes. Magnification technology has advanced in recent years, making compact binoculars nearly as powerful as their full-sized cousins. You’ll find that each of the above products should suit your bird-watching or hunting needs. They are also typically much lighter than standard-sized binoculars, which can come in useful while camping or hiking.

What are the best inexpensive binoculars?

The most budget-friendly option on our list happens to be our top pick, the Skygenius 8x21 Compact Binoculars. This item offers 8X magnification and a 21mm objective lens, in addition to offering an extremely light form factor, clocking in at just eight ounces.

Who makes the best binoculars for the money?

All of the above manufacturers are known for creating excellent, and decently priced, binoculars. Our top pick is extremely budget-friendly, but most of our picks are the best compact binoculars under $100 you can buy.

What are the best compact binoculars to buy?

All of the above products are excellent choices, but to find the best pairt of compact binoculars for your needs, decide on what you will primarily be using it for. Some of our picks excel with bird watching, while others are best for hiking or for viewing concerts.

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Lawrence Bonk

Lawrence Bonk is a copywriter with a decade of experience in the tech space, with columns appearing in Engadget, Huffington Post and CBS, among others. He has a cat named Cinnamon.

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