You never know when you’re going to need your binoculars. It could be for looking for the safest route, checking on animals or even in an emergency. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that having some binoculars in your backpack is always a good idea.
Apart from being able to see long distances, the best backpacking binoculars also need to be compact, lightweight and durable.
We’ve found the 10 best backpacking binoculars that meet those requirements and have also made a buying guide to give you all the information you need.
Best Backpacking Binoculars
Aurosports 10×25 Folding Binoculars
For compact binoculars, you’ll want a lens diameter of 30mm or less. The 25mm seen here makes them highly portable with exceptional 10x viewing power while still having a good field of view.
Of course, it’s not just the viewing specifications that matter to backpacking binoculars. Durability is vital and that’s what you get here. The lenses are coated and the binoculars are waterproof, as well as having a secure and durable grip.
To add to their portability the binoculars can also be folded. They can easily fit in even small pockets and have a very impressive performance for their size.
Skygenius 8×21 Small Binoculars
These binoculars are even smaller with a lens diameter of just 21mm. They will be able to easily fit in any pocket which helps to make them highly portable.
That is also helped by them being just 175 grams so you’ll hardly feel them in your pocket.
They perform well in low light to make them ideal for a wide variety of different situations. They can also fold up which is a great additional feature with them also being very easy to adjust.
We thought these binoculars were brilliant and their user ratings are a testament to their quality.
When you’ve finished your backpacking trip you can use them for many other situations such as safari, bird watching, and concerts.
Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Binocular
If you’re going to be backpacking in challenging environments then you want to make sure you have backpacking binoculars that can cope. These are incredibly durable and you won’t have to worry about them breaking.
Their level of waterproofing proves that as they are completely resistant to water with their O-ring being completely sealed. Their insides have also been purged of oxygen which is going to prevent any fogging issues.
The finish on the binoculars also means they are easy to grip and will also be resistant to shocks. They have a good 8x magnification and these are the best option for anyone who values durability very highly.
Adorrgon 12×42 Powerful Binoculars
Not looking for your binoculars to be compact? If not, these 12×42 binoculars are going to give you exceptional magnification and field of view.
Their performance is exceptional and will allow you to see far and wide.
What makes them great for backpacking? Along with that performance, they are also lightweight at just 1.1lbs and are also durable.
They have a rubber armor which helps to make them easy to grip but also gives them shock resistance.
The binoculars come with a carry case and also lens protectors. Their wide lens helps to give them impressive low-light performance which will be ideal for those who may well be backpacking early in the morning or in the day.
Aptoyu Compact Binoculars
In contrast to the previous model that we looked at, these binoculars are extremely compact and will easily fit into the palm of your hand. Despite that small size they still have 10x magnification to give you great viewing power.
There are a few great extra features here as the lenses have a green film for great low light performance, a case is included, it has holes to attach a neck strap and it also comes with a cleaning cloth. Added to this is a great set of instructions.
ABS plastic is the material used which has immense strength. The adjustment of the lenses is very easy and you won’t have any problem getting the results you want.
Wingspan Optics FieldView
While the lenses on these binoculars are the smallest we’ve seen, the body of these binoculars helps to make them highly compact.
Those 32mm lenses help to make the images bright and clear while also giving you a wide field of view.
Durability is another area where these backpacking binoculars are able to excel. They have a durable rubber coating for shock resistance but they are also completely waterproof and fog proof.
They only weight 15.2oz making them easy to carry with an 8x magnification that will show everything you need in great detail.
These binoculars are perfect for backpackers who need a clear picture and a great field of view.
POLDR 8×21 Small Compact Lightweight Binoculars
Casting the first glance over these backpacking binoculars and you wouldn’t think they were capable of much.
You could nearly describe them as mini binoculars but their level of performance proves that these are a high-quality option.
They weigh less than most phones while being small enough to fit in any pocket. Their 8x magnification will give you plenty of viewing power and even though they are only 21mm, their lenses are going to let in a lot of light.
Being easy to focus also makes it easy to use in emergency situations. For the ultralight backpacker, they are probably the best option on this list and come at a fantastic price.
Nikon Trailblazer 10×25 ATB
Nikon is a brand name that you should be able to trust and they deliver on that here. The lenses have a premium level of quality and will give you images that are always crystal clear.
That’s despite having a compact 25mm lens. Added to that, the 10x magnification is very impressive and gives them an excellent level of versatility. They can also fold up, making them very easy for any backpacker to carry.
Durability here is also very impressive. They have been filled with nitrogen which prevents them from fogging up and they are completely waterproof.
Those features added to the rubber armored body make them binoculars you can rely on.
Wingspan Optics NatureSport 8X32
Wingspan Optics is another company that has been able to make binoculars with a good-sized lens but still keeps them compact. They weigh just 15.2oz making them easy to carry, even on long backpacking trips.
The viewing power on this model is exceptionally good as you will be able to view up to 1,000 yards away. The easy-turn focus wheel helps you to see whatever you need quickly and efficiently.
Their waterproofing and fog proofing is exceptional and backed by their lifetime guarantee. They also have a non-slip casing that has an impressive level of strength. These are great binoculars with high quality.
SkyGenius Small Compact Lightweight Binoculars
With 8x magnification and a 25mm lens, these binoculars have great specifications for backpacking. The lenses are also high-quality and will be able to give you bright and clear images.
At just 330 grams they are very easy to carry and can also fold up to make them as compact as possible. They are another set of binoculars that are filled with nitrogen to prevent any fog while also being waterproof.
They are very easy to use with simple focusing and also a comfortable eyecup. They’ll be able to serve you well on any backpacking trip and come with a bag, strap, a cleaning cloth, and four lens caps.
Best Backpacking Binoculars Buying Guide
Backpackers are always aware of the size of the items they are carrying as space is always limited. Flashlights, trowels, lighters – everything has to come in small sizes.
You’ll know the amount of room that you usually have in your backpack and this will form your decision on which size of binoculars is the best for you. Some might opt for a monocular, instead, exactly because of the size.
The ability to fold is key to making them easy to carry as this would make them able to be placed in your pocket. All the binoculars we’ve looked at here are fairly compact but it’s best to double-check they are small enough for you.
Field of view
Magnification has a direct impact on the field of view. The further away you look, the narrow it is.
A wide field of view is better for moving objects but can then sacrifice magnification. There are manufacturers who can make up for this with high-quality lenses.
This is essential for backpacking binoculars and there are a few boxes that you’ll want to tick.
Firstly you want them to be waterproof to rain and ideally, resistant to being submerged too. Fog proofing is also an important feature.
Added to that, the body should be tough and this is usually done by making them from high-impact rubber than not only protects them from shocks but will also allow you to have a solid grip.
You see “8×32” but if you’re a novice in binoculars, you won’t know what it means. The first figure refers to its magnification (8 times more than the naked eye) and the second figure refers to the diameter of the lens in millimeters.
The magnification shows you how are you’ll be able to see into the distance and the higher the figure, the better. The second figure shows how big the binoculars are and how much light they let in.
For viewing quality a wider lens is better but this is less important than magnification and if you want your binoculars for backpacking, you don’t want them to be too big.
Some binoculars are a lot easier to adjust than others. There are two adjustment knobs that you need. Firstly is the diopter system which is usually on the eyepiece. This will help you to adjust the balance between your eyes.
Secondly is the wheel to adjust your focus. You want this to be easily placed and convenient to be able to get the perfect focus while you are still looking through the binoculars. Some manufacturers make this a lot easier than others.
The light will be affected by two things, the width of the lens and also the quality of the lens. If you’re using binoculars with a small diameter lens then you’ll want them to be of a high enough quality to be able to make up for it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most important feature of backpacking binoculars?
The answer to this question depends on your needs. It could be durability, magnification, lens quality or size.
What you need to do first is asses your needs first and then get binoculars that fit in with your requirements. Everyone is different and that applies to binoculars.
Why are similar specs different prices?
With binoculars, you need to look beyond the headline specifications.
How easy they are to focus, their durability and the quality of their lenses are all key features that can be factored into their price and are often more important for backpacking.
What makes binoculars fog up?
There is plenty of water vapor in the air. In certain conditions, this will condense and cause fog on lenses.
Making a vacuum requires a lot of pressure and space which is not viable for binoculars. Instead, high-quality lenses will be filled with nitrogen which doesn’t contain any water vapor.
Are bigger specs better?
It’s always tempting to go for the highest levels of specification on any product.
While magnification and lens size is very important but there are other features le which are equally important.
You don’t need huge binoculars and make sure you get ones that suit you. 8×25 binoculars are perfect for most backpackers.
What if I wear glasses?
If you’re a glasses wearer then you need binoculars with high eye relief. This is the distance you can be from the lens to be able to see through them.
Eye relief of 11mm or more will enable you to use the binoculars without taking your glasses off.