Best binoculars for kids 2024: Small and lightweight binos for younger users

A pair of the best binoculars for kids may be a good investment if you have a youngster with an obsession for space or a keen interest in nature watching. Binoculars come in all different shapes and sizes, and in this guide, we've focused on pairs that aren't necessarily toys but are small and lightweight enough for children to easily and comfortably use.

If you use binoculars yourself, there's a good chance your own pair is too heavy or bulky for your child to hold by themselves. Binoculars designed especially for children tend to be cheaply made items that are more of a novelty toy than a fully functional scientific instrument, so finding a good pair that will satisfy a curious mind can be tough. 

Finding a pair of the best binoculars for kids is no easy task: we fully understand the struggle. It's important to note that most of the pairs we've featured here are binoculars that have been designed for adults, but are perfectly suited to be used by smaller users. For more ideas of lightweight and portable binoculars, you can give our best compact binoculars guide a read. And if you aren't sure what makes for a good pair for youngsters, we've put a handy best binoculars for kids FAQ together at the bottom of this guide.

Each and every set of binoculars we've featured here has been fully tested by the Space.com experts (and, in this case, their families). We wouldn't recommend an item we haven't tested ourselves, after all. We've focused on binoculars that are durable, smaller in size and lighter to hold, and we've also selected pairs of binoculars covering the full gamut of budgets. You'll find pocket-money sets here going all the way up to high-end.

Looking for binoculars for the rest of the family? For night owls, we've rated the best binoculars overall and the best night vision binoculars to keep you company after the little ones go to bed. Or, if you want binoculars that measure distances, try our comprehensive rangefinder binoculars guide, tried and tested by the Space.com team.

Jamie Carter
Jamie Carter

Jamie is an experienced science, technology and travel journalist and stargazer who writes about exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses, moon-gazing, astro-travel, astronomy and space exploration. He is the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and author of A Stargazing Program For Beginnersand is a senior contributor at Forbes. His special skill is turning tech-babble into plain English.

The quick list

Best binoculars for kids that we recommend 2024

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Best overall

Best overall: With in-built image stabilization, view the stars and birds without the wobble

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 42mm
Angular field of view: 6.5-degrees
Optical design: Porro II prism
Glass: BaK-4
Eye relief: 14.5mm
Weight: 39.2 oz (1.1 kg)
Guarantee: Limited warranty

Reasons to buy

+
Steady views
+
Excellent, high-quality optics
+
Generous eye relief

Reasons to avoid

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Price is more suited for serious binos users
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Quite heavy for smaller kids
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IS requires a lot of batteries
Buy if:

You can afford to: Chances are if you're looking for 'kid-specific' binoculars, you won't want to spend a lot. But if you're lucky enough to have the budget to get the best of the best, you won't be disappointed. 

Your child will benefit from built-in image stabilization: These are the only binoculars on this list with built-in image stabilization — view the stars, wildlife, sports events and concerts without any wobble!

Don't buy if:

Your child won't use them often: They are a big investment, so if your child won't get much use from them, opt for a much cheaper pair.

Your child wants to use binoculars unsupervised: We strongly recommend these binoculars are used under supervision and with the neck strap attached to prevent drops and breakages.

The bottom line:

🔎 Canon 10x42L IS WP Binocular: Pricey but almost perfect for hand-held astronomy. In a market saturated with low-priced astronomy-centric binoculars, some clear, sharp and high-resolution optics and image stabilization wizardry make the waterproof Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars expensive but worth it. ★★★★★

It is difficult for anyone to remain absolutely still. And when using binoculars with large magnification, it means keeping a subject in your view can be quite the challenge — unless you use the support of a tripod. It's hard enough for adults, but for children? It's even more challenging.

Here's where the waterproof Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars step in. Yes, they are far, far more expensive than any other best binoculars for kids but they're also in a league of their own. Strong, easy to carry and utterly irresistible, using these binoculars completely transforms the experience of looking at the stars (or watching nature). They're the only set on this list to have built-in image stabilization (IS) — the same technology you'll find in Canon's expensive camera lenses, in fact.

There's a reason we gave these binos five stars in our Canon 10x42L IS WP review. Lots of reasons, in fact. We'd go as far to say that anyone who uses them, kids or adults, will be amazed by their capabilities. But since this is a specialist (and therefore expensive) piece of technology, we wouldn't recommend children use them without supervision. We'd also recommend a neck strap is used at all times to prevent accidental drops.

As for the actual technology supporting the Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars, you've got gyroscopic sensors on-board to detect any wobbling or shaking. If there is any wobble detected, actuators around the lenses of the binoculars move the lens in such a way to counteract the wobble. This stabilization (which requires two AAA batteries, just so you know) is just one of the reasons why these binoculars produce pin-sharp images. 

Whether you're looking at the moon, Jupiter or star clusters, you and your family are going to be treated to genuinely incredible views. It's not just the image stabilization you're paying for — inside are the ultra-low dispersion glass lens elements and 'Super Spectra' lens coatings.

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Canon 10x42L IS WP Binocular
AttributesNotes
DesignWaterproof design
PerformanceBright and colorful images
FunctionalityImage stabilization provides steady views

Best for detail

Best for seeing detail: Suited to older kids who are interested in detailed observations

Specifications

Magnification: 12x
Objective lens diameter: 60mm
Angular field of view: 5.3-degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: BaK-4
Eye relief: 17mm
Weight: 39.2 oz (1.1 kg)
Guarantee: Limited lifetime

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent light transmission
+
Deep sky astronomy is possible
+
Generous eye relief for glasses wearers

Reasons to avoid

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Very heavy
-
Tripod is required for comfortable use
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The supplied neckstrap is poor (thin)
Buy if:

You want to stargaze with them: The huge aperture drinks in loads of light and can be used for deep sky astronomy.

Your child wears spectacles: The eye relief is a generous 17mm so these are comfortable for glasses wearers.

Don't buy if:

You don't want to buy a tripod: The amount of wobble caused by the 12x magnification is too big to enjoy the views for any length of time without leaning them on something. In reality, this means purchasing a tripod.

You want something lightweight and portable: These binos weigh over 2.2 lb / 1kg.

The bottom line:

🔎 Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 Binocular: Great value for an excellent pair of low-light-friendly binoculars with fantastic specs and a quality design. The tripod adapter is especially welcome given the high magnification. ★★★★½

Weighing more than a kilogram, the Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 is one of the heaviest sets of binoculars on this list, and because of that they may not be suited to really young children. They are, however, a great choice for kids who may have outgrown smaller, lower-power binos and want something with a larger magnification. 

This is a powerful and capable set of binoculars which makes viewing deep-sky objects such as the Andromeda Galaxy a joy — and so if you have an older kid who's a keen stargazer, these will make an excellent choice. Especially considering their affordable price point, typically available around $70.

Built around a Porro Prism design featuring BaK-4 glass and boasting multi-coated optics for bright and detailed views, the objective lenses of 60mm let in heaps of light. Thanks to the 12x magnification, these binoculars are perfect for spotting moon craters and resolving individual stars in clusters like the Pleiades and Hyades — but we wouldn't recommend purchasing them unless you have (or purchase) a tripod

In our Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 binoculars review, we talked about how much we appreciated having the extra stability of a tripod. It's something we'd call an absolute must for younger users — without a tripod, that 12x magnification can be endlessly frustrating, bordering on almost impossible if you're hoping to watch the night sky. The great thing about setting up a tripod, too, is that views can be shared between siblings or groups of children without having to adjust each time.

We're fans of the tough rubber coating found on the Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 binoculars: It's a must-have for children, essentially shielding these binos from any accidental bumps or knocks. Even better, they come with a carrying case and lens caps, so when they're not in use they're safely packed away.

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Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 Binocular
AttributesNotes
DesignExcellent build quality
PerformanceExcellent light transmission
FunctionalityGenerous 17mm eye relief

Best for all-weather use

Best for all-weather use: These binoculars are also lightweight and won't break the bank

Specifications

Magnification: 8x
Objective lens diameter: 25mm
Angular field of view: 6.2-degrees
Optical design: Roof prism
Glass: BaK-4
Eye relief: 15mm
Weight: 9.2 oz (260g)
Guarantee: 3 years

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight and portable
+
Dual-hinge folding design
+
Water and fog proof

Reasons to avoid

-
Specs aren't perfect for stargazing
-
Neck strap needs an upgrade
-
Roof‑prism
Buy if:

You're likely to use them in inclement weather: They are nitrogen purged with aids with waterproofing, fog proofing and dirt-proofing.

You're looking for a reasonably priced but good-quality all-round user pair: They sit at a price point of around $70 — that's a great price for top-quality optics and excellent build quality.

You want something pocketable: They weigh just 260g and have a dual-hinge design to fold them neatly away and pop them in your pocket.