Staying Small: The Best Compact Binoculars

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Binoculars are simple tools used to make far-off scenes appear as though they’re directly in front of you. There are almost endless varieties because the applications of binoculars can suit almost any different hobby or situation, whether you’re looking out at planets in the night sky or are visiting the opera but your seats just aren’t close enough for you to spy all the action. Because their uses vary widely, many binoculars differ from one another significantly; this difference is due to the roles that they play and your reason for using them. They often have a tendency to be large and cumbersome (big lenses weigh a lot), so it’s only natural to want to find the best compact binoculars when you plan to use your pair for an activity that requires you to be more mobile. This article discusses some of your best, most portable options, but before you check them out, learn what makes a set great.

First Choice  

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x 42mm Roof Prism Binocular, Realtree AP Camo

  Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x 42mm Roof Prism Binocular, Realtree AP Camo $$ 4.6/5
Second Choice   

Nikon 7483 PROSTAFF 8x25 Waterproof All-Terrain Binocular

  Nikon 7483 PROSTAFF 8x25 Waterproof All-Terrain Binocular $$ 4.3/5
Third Choice   

Wildlife Pro 10.5 X 28 Steiner

 Wildlife Pro 10.5 X 28 Steiner $$$ 5/5
Fourth Choice  

KOWA BD 10x25 Compact Binoculars, Green (BD25-10GR)

  KOWA BD 10x25 Compact Binoculars, Green (BD25-10GR) $$$ 5/5

For each function, the binoculars may have different specifications. These different properties make them more efficient in their functions. Such characteristics must be kept in mind when you’re purchasing a pair, because these qualities are what define how well you’ll be able to use them. The fundamental features include:

  • Magnification
  • Field of view
  • Lenses used
  • Weight
  • Eye relief

The cost of the binoculars also plays a significant role; your budget and the value for money can be the difference in a pair that works well and one you might not love. With these factors in mind, have a look at some of the best options available for compact binoculars that are easy to hold, portable, and great for a variety of uses.

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x 42mm Roof Prism Binocular, Realtree AP Camo


The Bushnell Legend Ultra HDs are compact and portable for hunting and cost about $225. Features include:

  • 10x magnification, 42mm objective lenses
  • Exceptional optics with ED Prime Glass
  • Ultra-wide band coatings (for anti reflection)
  • RainGuard HD water-repellent lens coating
  • Ultra wide field-of-view with long eye relief
  • Locking diopters
  • Lightweight magnesium housing to keep weight low
  • 4 x 6.9-inch size
  • Soft-touch rubber grips


  • Super-sharp image quality
  • Focusing wheel adjusts smoothly
  • Nice for hunting and bird watching


  • A bit heavier weight than some other compact models at 1.5 pounds

The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD binoculars are lightweight, waterproof, and fog-proof. These work perfectly for hunting, especially due to the neat camouflage print that’s available on the outside. They provide ideal magnification and have an ultra wide field of view; this is needed for increased efficacy in tracking your prey efficiently. You might be a bit put off by the higher weight and larger measurements, so if you’re looking for something smaller that meets your budget better, these might not be the most ideal set for your needs.

Nikon ProStaff ATB


Nikon 7483 PROSTAFF 8x25 Waterproof All-Terrain Binocular


These sports-oriented binoculars cost about $130. Features include:

  • 10x magnification with a field of view of 262 feet at 1000 yards
  • 25mm objective lens diameter
  • Weighs 12.8 ounces
  • Poly-carbonate body with rubber armor
  • 100-percent waterproof and fog-proof
  • 4 x 4-inch size


  • Highly portable small size
  • Comes with a protective case and neck strap
  • Smooth and solid mechanical action


  • Eyepieces each unscrew about 180 degrees when the binoculars are used, which can allow dust and humidity to enter

The Nikon ProStaff ATB binoculars are waterproof, so they’re ideal for all kinds of outdoor activities, from white-water rafting to bird watching in the rain. They’re also fog-proof to function efficiently in humid conditions. They have a low magnification and hence a large field of view, which is great for checking out sporting fields and making sure you stay current with all the action to never miss a play. The price on these is relatively affordable, too.

Kowa BD 10x25 Compact Binoculars


KOWA BD 10x25 Compact Binoculars, Green (BD25-10GR)


These sleek, green binoculars cost about $250. Features include:

  • 8x magnification and 25mm lens diameter
  • Waterproof and fog-proof with nitrogen purging
  • Close-focus distance of 6 feet
  • Fully multi-coated for maximum light transmission
  • 11-ounce weight
  • 2 x 4.3-inch size


  • Super light and portable without sacrificing optics quality
  • Easy-to-use for people who wear glasses
  • Durable armor keeps these protected


  • Rubber coating is almost too smooth, making these hard to grip well

The body of the Kowa BD binoculars is covered in a hard, yet fairly tactile, green rubber armor that looks great and will help to protect your optics. They weigh 11.3oz (320g), which is a little heavier than the best in their price range. These work best for outside sports, including horse riding. With a small magnification and large field of view, fast moving objects can be easily seen. The price is a little high for what these deliver as well.

Known for being compact, durable and high performing binocular, we included a video that further discusses about the wellness of the product – Compact Binoculars by KOWA.

It may look small but it can highly compete and do the task of large scale hunting binoculars.

Steiner Wildlife Pro

Wildlife Pro 10.5 X 28 Steiner


These safari-oriented binoculars cost about $470. Features include:

  • Robust, water-resistant case
  • High-quality lenses to block glare, haze, and UV light
  • Profiled wraparound eyecups block distracting side light to keep you focused on your subject
  • Extended eye relief
  • Light 9-ounce weight
  • Eyecups fold down to accommodate eyeglass wearers
  • Available in 8×22, 8×30, and 10×26 magnifications
  • 3 x 5-inch size


  • Wonderful clarity
  • Very comfortable on the eyes, especially with the soft eyecups
  • Highly powerful
  • Very easy to grip due to the textured rubber sides


  • Doesn’t come with lens caps
  • Supplied carrying case is too small

The first thing that you may notice is the slightly different body design of these compared to the other binoculars. This is partly due to the increased magnification from the other binoculars of this size. The rubberized coating makes for a comfortable grip, which in turn helps you keep a steady hand even in wet conditions, which is important when you use them for long periods when viewing animals. There aren’t any downsides to the binoculars themselves; it’s mainly the price and the accessories that don’t deliver.


The ideal compact binoculars must be able to serve their purpose well and be portable enough that you can stash them in a pocket when needed. With that said, the Nikons are likely your best choice. They’re priced right, pretty tiny, and have stable optics that won’t blur or shake.

The Steiner models are a close second; they’re impeccable in terms of quality, but the price is a major deterrent. In third place are the Bushnells; they’re a bit large to be pocket-ready, but their image quality is nothing to laugh at.



About the author

VB Team

Vision Binoculars Team is a team of individuals dedicated to providing the most up to date information on Binoculars and other optic's related items.

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