The 5 Best Compact Binoculars: Reviews and Complete Buying Guide

Man looking through a pair of binoculars

It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for comets, a cardinal, or an elk; you want the best compact binoculars possible to help you do the job. Compact binoculars are smaller, but don’t let the size fool you. A good set of compact binoculars can still hang with the full size models. But not all compact binoculars are created equally, and here’s where we help you pick the cream of the crop. So you might wonder, what are the 5 best compact binoculars?

In a Hurry? Here Are Our Top 3 Picks

Top Pick
Vanguard Orros 8x25 Lightweight Compact Binocular, Waterproof/Fogproof
Runner Up
Bushnell 138005 H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Compact Roof Prism Binocular, 8 x 25-mm, Black
Best Budget Pick
Skygenius 8x21 Small Binoculars Compact Lightweight For Concert Theater Opera Mini Pocket Folding Binoculars with Fully Coated Lens For Travel Hiking Bird Watching
Vanguard Orros 8x25 Lightweight Compact Binocular, Waterproof/Fogproof
Bushnell 138005 H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Compact Roof Prism Binocular, 8 x 25-mm, Black
Skygenius 8x21 Small Binoculars Compact Lightweight For Concert Theater Opera Mini Pocket Folding Binoculars with Fully Coated Lens For Travel Hiking Bird Watching
$89.99
$46.06
$12.99
Top Pick
Vanguard Orros 8x25 Lightweight Compact Binocular, Waterproof/Fogproof
Vanguard Orros 8x25 Lightweight Compact Binocular, Waterproof/Fogproof
$89.99
Runner Up
Bushnell 138005 H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Compact Roof Prism Binocular, 8 x 25-mm, Black
Bushnell 138005 H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Compact Roof Prism Binocular, 8 x 25-mm, Black
$46.06
Best Budget Pick
Skygenius 8x21 Small Binoculars Compact Lightweight For Concert Theater Opera Mini Pocket Folding Binoculars with Fully Coated Lens For Travel Hiking Bird Watching
Skygenius 8x21 Small Binoculars Compact Lightweight For Concert Theater Opera Mini Pocket Folding Binoculars with Fully Coated Lens For Travel Hiking Bird Watching
$12.99

Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Reviews of the 5 Best Compact Binoculars

Here’s where we break down the five best compact binoculars and fill you in on what makes them special and the best of the best.

1. Vanguard Orros 8×25 Waterproof/Fogproof Compact Binocular

Vanguard Orros 8x25 Lightweight Compact Binocular, Waterproof/Fogproof
  • Bak4 prisms and multi-coated lenses provide crisp, clear viewing
  • Ultra lightweight and compact design
  • Unique offset focus wheel for convenient one-handed adjustment
  • 100% waterproof and fogproof
  • Non-slip rubber armor

Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Orros compact binoculars from Vanguard are quite simply one of the best compact binoculars that we have ever used. The full feature set including bak4 roof prisms and the full waterproof and fog proof nature compelled us to make these compact binoculars our best overall of the best compact binoculars.

These binoculars have an 8X magnification with a 25 mm objective lens. They offer a large 340 foot field of view at 1000 yards. Additionally, the minimum focal length is an impressive 8.2 feet. The binoculars only weigh 9.9 ounces. The shell is made of aluminum with a rubberized grip and an offset Focus wheel that allows you to use these binoculars one handed.

Using these binoculars is easy and intuitive. The Optics and magnification are extremely powerful and let you look at whatever you want to with ease. Waterproofing and fog proofing work seamlessly, as we use these in the rain and going in and out of heated buildings with zero issue. If you’re looking for a great compact binocular, you really don’t need to look any further than these Vanguards.

Pros:

  • Premium Bak4 prisms with multi-coated lenses for the crispest sight picture
  • Premium Lifetime Warranty
  • Waterproof and Fogproof

Cons:

  • Slightly bulky
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2. Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Compact Binocular

Bushnell 138005 H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Compact Roof Prism Binocular, 8 x 25-mm, Black
  • Magnification x Objective: 8 x 25 millimeter
  • BaK 4 prisms for bright, clear, crisp viewing
  • Multi coated optics for excellent light transmission
  • 100 percent waterproof : O ring sealed and nitrogen purged
  • Non slip rubber armor absorbs shock while providing a firm grip

Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

These Bushnell waterproof and fog proof compact binoculars almost made our selection for best overall. However, a few small design flaws relegated it to the runner-up position. However despite the small issue with the eye relief and the eyepieces, this is still one of the best compact binoculars that you can get.

To begin with, this offers an 8x Zoom with a 25 mm objective lens. It is 100% waterproof and fog proof. The shell is filled with o rings and filled with nitrogen. The outer shell has non-slip rubber armor with a soft texture grip which enhances the tactile feel. Additionally, the quality Optics give you a close Focus distance of only 15 ft.

If you don’t wear glasses, these are almost a perfect set of compact roof prism binoculars. The View through the binoculars is crisp and clear and they are quite frankly a joy to use when bird watching. If you decide not to get the Vanguard compact binoculars this is a great alternate choice.

Pros:

  • Bak4 prisms with multi-coated optics
  • Waterproof and Fogproof
  • 15 foot minimum focal distance

Cons:

  • Eye relief is not very glasses-friendly
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3. Skygenius 8×21 Small Compact Binoculars

Skygenius 8x21 Small Binoculars Compact Lightweight For Concert Theater Opera Mini Pocket Folding Binoculars with Fully Coated Lens For Travel Hiking Bird Watching
  • [ Professional Roof Prism Binoculars ] Designed with 8X power magnification, 21mm objective lens and 369ft/1000yds large field of view, allows you get a wide and clear view from over 1000 yards away
  • [ Pocket Binoculars Mini Size ] The lightest Roof binoculars for only 175g, Lightweight as the phone. Fordable and portable design perfect for taking around anywhere--opera, concert, theater, shows, traveling, hiking, safari, wildlife, bird watching, outdoor sports.
  • [ HD Vision with Quality Optics ] Lens made with Bk7 Roof Prism and FMC muti-coated broadband green film increasing light transmission for a brighter view and sharp images.
  • [ Easy to focus ] Adjust by smooth "center-focus knob" and right eye lens, easy to focus even for kids. Suitable for whole family both adults and kids.
  • [Reliable Warranty] We promise worry-free 12 months warranty and 24/7 customer service. Any time you encounter any problems don't hesitate to contact us. We will present a satisfactory solution for you.

Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

These binoculars are great for their price point. There is a lot of competition for the best budget pick for the best compact binoculars, but the sky genius 8×21 edged out the others. To begin with these are roof prism binoculars with an extremely large field of view of 369 feet at 1000 yards. They also offer an 8x power magnification with a 21 mm objective lens.

Because they use bk7 prisms, these compact binoculars work extremely well even under low light conditions. They also live up to their name of being compact as when not in use, they slim down to just 2.35 inches wide.

These are a great pair of compact binoculars that are suitable for the stage or stick in your pocket for when you’re off hiking and just wants you to take in The View. Using and adjusting them is extremely easy. The center Focus wheel allows you to focus on objects as close as 2 meters.

Pros:

  • Bk7 prisms with multicoated lenses
  • Extremely lightweight, massing only 175 grams
  • 369 foot field of view @ 1000 yards

Cons:

  • Only has a 12 month warranty
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4. Occer 12×25 Compact Waterproof Binoculars

Sale
Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars with Low Light Night Vision, Large Eyepiece Waterproof Binocular for Adults & Kids,High Power Easy Focus Binoculars for Bird Watching,Outdoor Hunting,Travel,Sightseeing
  • 【HIGH-POWERED LARGE EYEPIECE BINOCULARS】 This binoculars has 12x magnification, 25mm objective lens and wide field of view, 273ft/1000yds, letting you look farther and see wider. Coating with FMC Broadband coating and premium BAK4 prism, it ensure imaging verisimilar.
  • 【ADJUSTABLE EYE CUPS FIT EYEGLASS WEARERS OR NOT】The binocs can be pull down the rubber eyepieces and more fit the glasses wearer, getting close to lens and see easily. The long eye relief combined with large eyepiece give you a comfortable viewing while wearing sunglasses or eye glasses. For those who do not wear glasses, will gain more focused slight and feel more easeful through rising eye cups. The compact binoculars has 15mm large eyepieces, can see more clear image than other binoculars.
  • 【FMC BROADBAND COATING TECHNOLOGY】The lightweight cruise binoculars is cover with BAK4 prism texture. The objective lens use optical FMC multilayer broadband green film, and the eyepiece-optical is made of blue FMC coating. All design can can mostly reflect the light to keep a good image and make you have a amazing experience.
  • 【PORTABLE, COMPACT AND SMALL BINOCULARS DESIGN】 One hand can be mastered when you use the birding binoculars for opera,bird watching camping, traveling,wildlife watching,football games,cruise or other outside activity, the low light night vision goggles(Not for completely dark night) is more convenient for using and carrying.
  • 【DURABLE AND LIFE WATERPROOF, COMFORTABLE TOUCH】 The binoculars are made of ABS plastic and it also come with a cruise binocular strap, you can use this item in different situations. And nonslip rubber armor is made for secure grip, shockproof, light water resistant.The pocket size binoculars is not only suitable for men and women,but also suitable for kids.It is wonderful to be a gift on Father's Day and Children's Day.

Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

These compact waterproof binoculars offer a 12 x magnification with a 25 mm objective lens. Using premium bak4 prism and FMC lens Coatings, you can be sure that the image you are seeing is as bright and crisp as if you were standing next to it.

The shell of these binoculars is made of ABS plastic covered with a coating of rubber for drop protection. The binoculars are water resistant and lightly shockproof. These binoculars are great for the theater, Wildlife spotting, or bird watching. The binoculars also have low light night vision which enables you to use the binoculars well into the dusk hours.

These are good binoculars that won’t look out of place no matter what you’re doing. One of the best features of these binoculars is that the eyepieces are able to be rotated out of the way if you wear eyeglasses. These binoculars are a great choice to take with you on a road trip or vacation.

Pros:

  • Bak4 prism with FMC Broadband coatings
  • Fully adjustable eyecups for people with glasses
  • 273 foot field of view @ 1000 feet

Cons:

  • Shell is made of ABS plastic
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5. Hontry 10×25 Compact Binoculars

Sale
Binoculars for Adults and Kids, 10x25 Compact Binoculars for Bird Watching, Theater and Concerts, Hunting and Sport Games
  • 10 magnification with 25mm objective lens provides high definition without a color-changed or blurred image. The 10 magnification boasts a viewing field of 362ft at 1000 yds, so you'll be able to observe a great deal without actually adjusting their position.
  • Fully multi-coated optics provide for a brighter view and sharp images. All glass surfaces have multiple coatings, resulting in light transmission of 96.48% for bright, sharp and contrast images, and non-chromatic aberration. Based on this these binoculars also provide low light night vision.
  • Lightweight, small, compact binoculars. The foldable design and only 0.6lb lightweight make them can be folded into palm-size, so it's ideal for an even broader range of long-distance pursuits. You wish there were binoculars set in your backpack. No need to keep regretting about your trips when get these affordable and compact binoculars.
  • The rubber armor ergonomic design and steady grip allows for accurate focusing, and have shock-resistance, anti-skid features while the design is slim and simple. Rugged construction rubber eye relief provides comfort for spectacle wearers, as do a dioptric adjustment ring and the strap mount.
  • Binoculars for adults and kids. These binoculars are fully competent and able to work for bird watching, hunting, hiking, travel, sports events, theater and concert. Also ideal great gifts for Chrismas, Father's Day and boys girls gifts.

Last update on 2020-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This set of compact binoculars uses porro prisms. It offers a 10x magnification with an objective lens diameter of 25 mm. It has an angular field of view of 6.5 degrees with a 362 foot field of view at 1000 yards. It weighs just 0.6 lb so it is extremely lightweight and easy to carry.

These binoculars are splash-proof and shockproof up to 1 and 1/2 feet. The kit comes with a carrying strap, a carrying case, a cleaning cloth, and the user manual. The internal Optics use a bak4 prism with a full multi-coated lens for Optimum image transmission.

These are a great pair of inexpensive binoculars that you won’t feel nervous about lending to your kids so they can go bird-watching. These binoculars are extremely Compact and fit into the palm of your hand which makes them easy to pack for long distance trips. The outside of the binoculars have stippling so that you can maintain a firm grip while using them.

Pros:

  • Bak4 prisms with FMC multicoated lenses
  • Extremely lightweight at only 0.6 pounds
  • 362 foot field of view at 1000 yards

Cons:

  • Not fully waterproof
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Buying Guide

It doesn’t matter why you want a pair of compact binoculars; you could be stargazing, using them to scout game, or looking for a rare bird to add to your collection. You want the best compact binoculars you can get for your task. That’s what this buying guide is for. We’re going to cover the two primary types of binoculars and why each type is better suited for one task or the other. Then we’ll decipher the mystery of magnification and objective and finally go over some of the terms that are most important to a good set of compact binoculars.

The Two Types of Compact Binoculars

When it comes to compact binoculars or binoculars in general, there are two different ways that they are built. Binoculars uses a series of lenses and prisms to magnify distant objects. When you use two lenses to magnify a distant object, the object is inverted. That means that it appears upside down the way this is corrected in a pair of binoculars is by using a prism. There are two types of prisms that are used in binoculars. The first is called a roof prism and the second is a porro prism.

Roof Prism Binoculars

When you see a roof prism binocular it looks like you expect binoculars to look. The eyepiece and the objective lens are in a straight line.

Porro Prism Binoculars

In a pair of binoculars that uses the porro prism design, you will see that the eyepieces are not in line with the objective lenses. In a standard porro prism binocular, the objective lenses are wider than the eyepieces. In a reverse for a prism, the objective lenses are closer to the center line.

You should know that porro prism binoculars are cheaper to make than roof prism binoculars. So you can get a pair of porro prism binoculars that has a much higher magnification and objective lens size than an equivalent Lee price pair of roof prism binoculars.

What do the Numbers 10×42 Really Mean with Binoculars?

When you see the numbers that describe a pair of binoculars that are separated by an X, this is describing the magnification and the objective lens size of the pair of binoculars. The first set of numbers oh, that is the 10x, describes the magnification of the binoculars. The second numbers describes the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters. Remember that the objective lens is the pair of lenses that are on the side of the binoculars away from your eyeballs and toward whatever you are looking at.

How does this affect you as a shopper? The greater the magnification, the more expensive the binoculars will be. Additionally higher magnifications require larger lenses or larger binoculars. Also, for a pair of binoculars to be considered compact, the objective lens should be smaller than 26 millimeters in diameter.

Common Binocular Terms You Should Know

When you are looking at compact binoculars, or binoculars as a whole, you will hear a bunch of terms that may seem unfamiliar to you. However, it behooves you to learn these terms so that you understand what advertisements and sales people are talking about when they mention them.

  • Exit Pupil – the exit pupil refers to the size of the light that is projected through the eyepiece from the objective lens. This is measured in millimeters. To see what the exit pupil looks like, take your pair of binoculars and look into the eye pieces from arm’s length. You should see a pair of small pinpoints of light inside the eyepieces. Those are the exit pupils. You want those to be larger than the pupil of your eye otherwise it will look as though you are looking at the distant object through a cardboard tube. As we get older, our eyes tend to dilate less, so exit pupil size becomes more important.
  • Eye Relief – the eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece and your eyeball. This describes the focal length where the exit pupil passes through the eyepiece and into your eyes. On most compact binoculars, there will be some sort of eye cups that keep your eyes at the proper distance. However, if you are classes, this can be a challenge because your glasses keep you from having your eyes out the proper distance. To combat this, most binoculars have some method of adjusting the eye relief either through a dioptric adjustment or by allowing you to remove or adjust the eye cups.
  • Field of View – the field of view when referring to binoculars is how wide of an area you can see at 1000 yards or 1000 meters away. In general, when you increase magnification you decrease field of view. This is why High magnification binoculars are generally not used when it comes to bird hunting or spotting game. With high magnification you have such a narrow field of view that you have to constantly scan back and forth to get an accurate picture of what is out there.
  • Focus Distance – Focus distance is essentially how far away your binoculars can bring something into focus. In general there’s usually a minimum Focus distance which can be as close as 6 feet. As you increase the magnification of your binoculars, the minimum Focus distance increases.

Features to think about in your Compact Binoculars

Aside from magnification and objective lens size, as well as the type of prism that your binoculars are constructed from, there are a few other features that you should think about when shopping. These include not only what you’re binoculars are made of but also some additional features that can make your binoculars the best compact binoculars for your usage.

Housing Material – When we talk about the housing material, we’re talking about what the outer shell of the binoculars is made out of. In general, there are three different types of materials that are used to make binoculars.

  • Aluminum – this is the most popular material to form the housing of binoculars. Aluminum is a strong and like metal that is also corrosion-resistant. It’s also extremely inexpensive and easy to form. The combination of these factors plus it’s inherent strength makes it an Easy Choice used for binoculars.
  • Magnesium – in some cases, magnesium is used for high quality binoculars. Magnesium is extremely light, it’s actually lighter than aluminum, and it’s extremely strong for its weight. Magnesium is also corrosion resistant. Magnesium is often used for spider binoculars for the military because they are so lightweight, it does not fatigue someone as much to spend long periods of time holding the binoculars to their eyes.
  • Plastics – Sometimes manufacturers decide to use Plastics and high tech polymers for binoculars because they are strong and lightweight. Gone are the days when something made of plastic what is considered a lesser quality item. Today’s Plastics are stronger, lighter, and cheaper to make than many other equivalent ingredients. One of the key benefits of plastic is that it is thermally inert. If you make the housing out of metal, as it keeps up the metal expands and as it gets cold the metal contracts. After several seasons of expansion and contraction, the internal Optics can be thrown out of whack.

Weather Resistance – You should think about the conditions that you plan on using your compact binoculars in. If you plan to use them Outdoors during inclement weather, you should look into the various waterproofing or water-resistant options available to you. If you plan on being in areas of high humidity or using your binoculars in places where you may be subject to Rapid temperature changes, a pair of fog proof binoculars will save you time and effort.

  • Waterproof – a fully waterproof pair of binoculars will have O-rings to block moisture from infiltrating around the eyepieces and objective lens. These types of binoculars will often have an IP rating to let you know how long they can withstand exposure to moisture. For example, an ipx7 rating indicates that the binoculars can be submerged up to 1 m in water. If you truly need waterproof binoculars, look for something that has at least an ipx5 rating or above.
  • Water Resistant – a water-resistant set of binoculars will employee a smaller O ring or gasket to keep humidity and moisture from infiltrating the Optics. These can have an IP rating as low as ipx2
  • Fog Proof – fog proof binoculars are specially filled with inert gases that have zero moisture content. That means that when you go from a warm environment to a cold environment, the inert gas will not cause condensation on the inside of the Optics. As a reminder, fogproof binoculars are always waterproof, but waterproof binoculars are not always fog proof.

Neat Additions and Upgrades – Some things make binoculars really cool. These are the little things that aren’t really necessary for a pair of binoculars, but make your chosen pair of compact binoculars stand out.

  • Image Stabilization – image stabilization allows the bee binoculars internal Optics to compensate for swaying and movement. Usually the Optics are attached to an internal gyroscope. Discharge scope requires power to provide the stabilization. This type of upgrade is usually reserved for use on the water to combat the nauseating effects of sea c
  • Rangefinders – ring finders in binoculars used a burst of infrared laser to measure distance from the binocular to whatever you are looking at. They can be used to help Hunters measure ranges, or to assist with distance measurements, or even to help golfers judge how far their drive was. Depending on the type of binocular, you can get either a spot reading or even a real time reading that it just as the object you’re looking at moves toward or away from you.
  • Marine Rated Binoculars – a marine binocular is not just waterproof or fog proof. These binoculars are also made to be exceptionally corrosion-resistant for use in environments which have a high concentration of salt water. Some Marine binoculars are designed to float so if you drop them overboard oh, you don’t lose them.
  • Camera Integration – with as advanced as modern digital camera technology has become, and degrading a camera with a microSD card into a compact binocular is Child’s Play. This means that you can now use your binoculars to capture photographs with resolutions up to 13 megapixels. In some cases, you can even use Sea binoculars to capture real-time high-definition video.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about compact binoculars with answers from our panel of experts.

What makes a pair of binoculars compact?

In general, a compact binocular is a pair of binoculars that are small enough to fit in a large pocket. However, being more specific, a compact binocular has a smaller secondary lens. That is the lens that faces the object being looked at. If this lens number is 26 or lower, then the pair of binoculars is considered a pair of compact binoculars.

What is a porro prism?

A porro prism binocular is one of two types of binoculars in general. You can tell that a pair of binoculars uses a porro prism if the eyepieces and the front lenses are not in a straight line. A porro prism is technically more efficient optically thin the roof prism and is also less expensive to build. In a standard porrol prism pair of binoculars, the front lenses will be set wider than the eye pieces. If you have a reverse porro prism pair of binoculars, then the front lenses will be closer to the center than the eye pieces.

What do the numbers mean on a binocular’s magnification?

When you see a set of binoculars, they are usually written with a set of numbers describing them. These numbers take the form of NxM where Nx is the magnification power, and the M refers to the diameter of the front lens in millimeters. That’s a pair of binoculars that is described as a 12×42 would have a magnification of 12 and a front lens diameter of 42 mm.

Can you use binoculars if you wear glasses or contacts?

You can absolutely use binoculars if you wear glasses or contacts. Binoculars will work to magnify whatever you are looking at, and your corrective lenses will help you see that more clearly.

Conclusion

When it comes to the best compact binoculars, our best overall pick rightly belongs to the Vanguard Orros 8 x 25 compact binoculars. With its elegant design, impeccable Optics, and easy one-handed use, it is a great pair of compact binoculars for any person no matter what they choose to use it for. If the Vanguard compact binoculars don’t suit your style, then the Bushnell model as our runner-up among the best compact binoculars is equally as impressive.