Best Compact Binocular – Buyer’s Guide and Tips

small binoculars 2017

Binoculars are one of the coolest inventions used for hobbies today. A pair of binoculars is a small device made of two telescopes mounted to each other's sides. This design allows a person to look through them with both eyes to see objects in the distance. Best Compact binoculars, in particular, are smaller and able to be stored and carried easily.

These small telescope devices can be used for hiking and viewing wildlife, traveling, and even basic stargazing. Anybody who plans on looking at things at a distance could benefit from purchasing a pair of compact binoculars. Choosing the right one is important depending on what you plan on using the binoculars for. You'll want to make sure the pair you purchase can accomplish the things you are looking to do.​

Top 10 Best Small Binoculars 2018

ImageModelDimensionsLens DiameterField Of ViewPrice 
Wingspan Optics Spectator 8x32 (Editor’s Pick)1.75 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches32 mm356 feet$$ Check Price
Celestron 71332 Nature DX 8x42 (User's Choice)2.64 x 2.64 x 2.95 inches42 mm388 feet$$ Check Price
Nikon 8252 ACULON A211 10-22x504.25 x 4.25 x 8.58 inches50 mm395 feet$$$ Check Price
Bushnell Powerview Compact Folding Roof Prism Binoculars3.07 x 3.07 x 4.33 inch21 mm378 feet$ Check Price
Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 8x424.13 x 4.13 x 8.07 inches42 mm420 feet$$ Check Price
Bushnell 1380052.4 x 5.2 x 7.2 inches25 mm370 feet$$ Check Price
Nikon 8246 ACULON A211 10x424.13 x 4.13 x 8.1 inches42 mm314 feet$$ Check Price
Carson 3D Series Waterproof Binocular2 x 5.5 x 4.8 inches42 mm314 feet$$$ Check Price
Bushnell Powerview Surveillance Binoculars8.2 x 8.5 x 3.5 inches50 mm330 feet$ Check Price
Bushnell 1334508.2 x 9.3 x 4.2 inches50mm300 feet$ Check Price

Featured Best compact binoculars Reviews

1. Wingspan Optics Spectator 8x32 – Best Pair for Bird Watching

Wingspan Optics designed the 8x32 millimeter Spectator binoculars with the purpose of bird watching in mind. Advertised as a pair of high definition binoculars that won't compromise detail, clarity or brightness, the Spectators are made for those who love nature, sports or even concerts.

Each pair delivers high-quality detail at one thousand yards and has an extra wide field of view for optimum viewing ability. The wide field of view allows great ease in finding your target before using the zoom feature to lock on for a clearer view.

Wingspan Optics Spectator binoculars are equipped with many great features, both physical and service-based. All pairs are waterproof and fog-proof which means you can take them out to any place at any temperature or during any weather conditions and not worry about sacrificing quality of sight. When you purchase a pair of Spectators, you also receive a thirty-day money back guarantee and a lifetime warranty, possibly making this pair one of the most secure binoculars you could buy.

These binoculars might be a good choice for anyone who plans to go outside often in varying conditions. The ergonomic, no-slip grip allows for use over long periods of time. This could be ideal for bird watchers or people who use binoculars during other outdoor events.


  • Waterproof and fog-proof
  • Ergonomic no-slip grip
  • 30-day money back guarantee


  • Not able to be fully submerged in water
  • Are slightly larger than pocket-sized, making them slightly harder to carry easily

2. Celestron 71332 Nature DX 8x42 – Best Compact Binoculars Under $200

binoculars for alaska cruise

As Wingspan Optics designed the Spectators with bird watching in mind, Celestron designed the Nature DX with outdoor adventures of all kinds in mind. The Nature DX's purpose is to provide a quality pair of binoculars with high-end features for a price that won't break customers' wallets.

Selling at approximately one hundred dollars, some people might not necessarily consider this to be an inexpensive choice. However, high-end binoculars often run for more than two hundred dollars, making the Celestron 71332 Nature DX a good compromise between price and quality.

The binoculars are durable, made from reliable rubber and polycarbonate. They certainly are made for the outdoors as they are waterproof, fog-proof and nitrogen purged to withstand any and all elements. The views are bright and can distinguish detailed features easily. This makes it a popular option among bird watchers.


  • Made from rubber and polycarbonate for extra durability
  • Able to withstand the elements


  • Made for customers on a budget but still over $100

3. Nikon 8252 ACULON A211 10-22x50 – Best Pair for Durability

The Nikon 8252 ACULON A211 is one version of many in this series. Built to be multifunctional and lightweight, these binoculars might be perfect for anyone looking to have an easy to carry pair optimized for outdoor use. The incredible zoom features all you to be as close to the action as possible while still being a large distance away.

Although not necessarily designed with the intention of being budget-friendly, the Nikon 8252 ACULON A211 still gives you many high-end features for much less than what you would pay otherwise. Keep this in mind when considering which pair to purchase.


  • Durable, lasting more than ten years for some users
  • Designed for outdoor use


  • Pricey, although still a good deal compared to other high-end prices

Bushnell is a leading brand that delivers binoculars designed for sport. If you're looking for a quality pair of binoculars designed by a brand with reliable and trustworthy history, these Bushnell Powerview Compact Folding Roof Prism Binoculars might be a great choice for you. Every pair is held to the high standards Bushnell customers have grown to expect.

Each pair is designed with roof-type prism B7 glass for sights of the clearest quality. They are also designed with fold-down eye cups optimized for users with eye glasses. The incredible zoom features allow you to see even the smallest of objects at distances of up to one thousand yards.


  • Reliable company
  • High-quality glass for crisp and bright sights


  • Can cost up to $200 depending on the seller

5. Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 8x42 – Best Binoculars Under $100

The Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 is similar to the Nikon 8252. It is made from durable rubber designed to help stop your grip from slipping when used in outdoor conditions. It is also lightweight at approximately two pounds, making it easy to be worn around the neck of the user.

Be careful when researching specific models within the ACULON A211, as the models are often bundled together and difficult to separate from each other when looking up specific specifications. A big difference with the Nikon 8245 is that it is much less expensive than the others in the series.


  • Budget friendly, less than $100
  • Great for outdoor use


  • Difficult to separate from other models in the ACUON A211 series

6. Bushnell 138005  – Best Choice for Under $50

Best small binocular for Under $50

The 138005 H20 Waterproof/Fog-proof Compact Roof Prism Binoculars are another great pair delivered to us by Bushnell, one of the top leading brands in the market. The Bushnell H20 is a great compromise between reliability and price as these binoculars can be found for under fifty dollars.

The binoculars are made with BaK-4 roof prism glass. Each pair has optics that are partially multi-coated, meaning one surface of the glass is covered with layers of anti-reflective coating. This provides great views during a sunny day; however, shadier conditions may not show as well. With that said, the binoculars do still show high-quality reviews regardless of conditions.


  • Waterproof
  • Budget friendly
  • Small


  • Not ideal for shadier weather

7. Nikon 8246 ACULON A211 10x42 – Best Pair for Outdoor Use

Nikon 8246

The Nikon 8246 ACULON A211 is another good model from the series. However, it is still very similar to the Nikon 8245 and the Nikon 8252. This option is still rather budget-friendly, costing less than one hundred dollars but more than fifty dollars, which is right between the Nikon 8245 and the Nikon 8252.

These binoculars are still very good quality but are extremely similar to the other models in the ACULON series. This can make it difficult to research the specification for this specific model. The reviews are all positive. However, it has been mentioned that the Nikon 8246 ACULON A211 is not very small or lightweight. If you can see this pair in person before purchasing, you might be able to make a more informed decision.


  • Budget friendly
  • Reliable brand


  • Very similar in specifications to other models in the series

8. Carson 3D Series Waterproof Binocular – Best High-End Pair

The Carson 3D Series HD Waterproof Binoculars with ED Glass are high-end binoculars made for people who are prepared to spend a lot of money for a quality piece of equipment. The optical elements are fully multi-coated, making this pair provide good views in any weather condition.

Instead of an open-hinge bridge between the two telescopes that make up the binoculars, these High Definition Waterproof Binoculars made with ED glass use a traditional solid bridge. They are also some of the lightest binoculars on the market.

The body of the binoculars is armed with a layer of rubber to increase durability, along with small bumps for better grip support. There is also an indentation on the bottom of each side to guide the hands into a proper grip.


  • High-quality views regardless of the weather
  • Guided grip support
  • Quality materials
  • Lightweight


  • Over $200
  • Made with a solid bridge rather than an open-hinge bridge

Here is another high-end Bushnell product, made with the quality a reliable company like Bushnell guarantees. Although this pair is not under fifty dollars like the other Bushnell pair is, you can find the Bushnell Powerview Surveillance Binoculars for under one hundred dollars depending on the seller and magnification amount.

With that said, the Powerview comes in three magnification amounts: ten times, twenty times and fifty times. However, the size of the field of view does decrease as the magnification increases. All optical elements in each option are fully multi-coated for crisp, clear sights. With all of these different features on the Bushnell Powerview, you would be able to choose the perfect pair of binoculars for your specific need.


  • Budget friendly
  • Fully multi-coated for crisp views
  • Comes in different magnification sizes


  • Several reviews report troubles with focusing

10. Bushnell 133450 Falcon 10x50 – Best Wide-Angle Binoculars

binoculars hunting

The last pair we have on the list is another well-qualified Bushnell piece. The 133450 Falcon Wide Angle Binoculars are a solid choice for people on a budget. Like other Bushnell pairs, this one can be found for under fifty dollars.

The Bushnell Falcon is equipped with an extra wide field of view for optimum viewing ability. It also uses Bushnell's signature InstaFocus technology which allows a user to focus easily by tilting a lever. The lever is much easier to use than the traditional focus wheel, which enables you to keep your target in your line of view while you focus. The wide field of view is great for hunting as you can easily see objects move quickly across a wide area.

The Bushnell Falcon binoculars can even be used for stargazing. The Falcon's high magnification and large lenses allow for a clean focus on the moon and stars. Even in heavily light-polluted areas, you would be able to use these binoculars to see the stars. With that said, the Bushnell Falcon could be a great option for anyone who might be interested in astronomy.


  • Can be used for stargazing
  • Budget friendly
  • Extra wide field of view
  • High-quality magnification


  • Might not be ideal for bird watching due to the close focus of 25 feet
  • Some reviewers complain about durability

Best Compact Binoculars - Buyer's Guide

When preparing to purchase a pair of compact binoculars for any use, you should always do your research. Your purpose for binoculars will determine the specifications you will need to look for. However, for those with no prior knowledge of compact binoculars, this can be a difficult task. This is why research is so important.

Compact binoculars can come in different styles. The most popular style is the roof prism. In these pairs, the barrels have eye pieces and front lenses that are laid in a straight line. A higher quality type of roof prism is the phase corrected roof prism. This body design may be more expensive depending on the model, brand and seller, but the performance will be well worth the money.

Roof prism body designs could also differ in the way that they fold. The most common fold design is called the double hinge design. With the double hinge design, each side connected to the middle bridge folds inward. While this allows for easier storage, it can be awkward when getting ready to use. A single hinge bridge, however, is more traditional and does not allow for such compact closure. With that said, single hinge binoculars are easier and quicker to open, making them better for things like bird watching or surveillance where your viewing needs to be quick.

Porro prism body designs, on the other hand, have eye pieces and lenses that are not laid in a straight line. This results in an angular design where either the front lenses or the eyepieces sit out wider than the other. These body designs can usually be found at a better value than roof prism binoculars, often giving you high-quality views for less money.

Why should you get a pair of compact binoculars, though? Wouldn't a full size be better? You might be surprised, but that is not always the case. Compact binoculars are often produced at a higher quality than full-size binoculars are. Because the lenses are smaller, they cost less to produce at high optical standards. In most cases, purchasing a pair of compact binoculars would be much better.

A pair of compact binoculars can do a lot for you. In fact, it might be a good idea to get a well-rounded pair even if you don't expect to use it anytime soon. You never know when the opportunity might come up where you could use a pair of compact binoculars.

Last minute travel trips or spontaneous hikes could both benefit from already having a pair of binoculars on hand. If you already have a pair of compact binoculars, you can use them to greatly improve the quality of your trip.

For example, if you're going on a hike, you could use your premium compact binoculars to watch various wildlife from a safe distance. While traveling, you could use binoculars to view sights you might otherwise not be able to get close enough to see in person. You could also use your binoculars in a spur-of-the-moment surveillance situation. You never know when emergencies might happen, and your binoculars could help you spot details that could help you later.

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