The best compact binoculars provide a lightweight and highly portable alternative to full-sized binoculars. Perfect for tucking into your pocket or backpack during hikes and wildlife watching, these binoculars are also compact and handy for traveling, sightseeing, sporting events or a casual bit of stargazing.
With Black Friday over but Cyber Monday here in it's place, we're already finding some great deals coming up on compact binoculars, so there's never been a better time to add this handy piece of equipment to your kit. Keep an eye on our binoculars deals page to make sure you're getting the best price.
Our team of expert reviewers has thoroughly tested each pair of binoculars on this list in real-world conditions. We've evaluated them based on factors like weight, size, portability, features, and most importantly, optical quality. Take a look to find the best options that suit your needs and budget.
If portability isn't your main concern and you're looking for something more heavy-duty, then check out our guides to the best binoculars and best telescopes. We also have guides to the best binoculars for kids if you're planning to take your little ones on your adventures, and if you're keen on late-night wildlife watching, then our list of the best night vision binoculars may be just the thing you need to get you started.
Jase Parnell-Brookes is an award-winning photographer, educator and writer based in the UK. They won the Gold Prize award in the Nikon Photo Contest 2018/19 and was named Digital Photographer of the Year in 2014. After completing their Masters Jase has spent a good chunk of two decades studying and working in photography and optics shooting and writing all over the world for big-name brands and media outlets. Now the Channel Editor for Cameras and Skywatching at Space.com their speciality is in low light optics and camera systems.
The quick list
For casual skywatchers, the portable Olympus 8x25 WP II boasts an excellent optical system for clear views of the moon and bright targets with superb contrast.
Best for portability
Best for portability
These small and stylish binoculars bring a model from a quality brand into the affordable range. They are easy to tuck into a pocket at just 3.4 x 4.1-inches in size.
Best build quality
Best build quality
While the Minox are on the pricey side they're durable and built to last. They're IPX7-rated waterproof, fogproof and have 16mm of eye relief.
These 10x binoculars perform better than their 8x counterpart due to their better twilight factor — 15.8 instead of 13.0 for better low-light results.
Best budget option
Best budget option
More than suitable for multi-purpose daytime use and some astronomy viewing, these pocket-sized binoculars are compact and well-made.
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Best waterproof model
Best waterproof model
With Multi-coated optics and a waterproof and fog-proof design these compact binoculars from Bushnell feature BaK-4 glass and multi-coated optics.
We love the design, colors, and light weight of these Pentax UD compact binoculars. They're fully multi-coated, too.
Best for travel
Best for travel
Tiny but still offer fantastic clarity and performance to compete with the big-name brands, they have plenty of grip for use in all weathers.
Best for high magnification
Best for high magnification
Sunagor packs an ambitious 18x magnification into their Mini Pocket binoculars but spectacle wearers may need to look elsewhere.
Best compact binoculars we recommend in 2023
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✅ You're a keen wildlife observer: They'd be a great purchase for anyone who loves nothing more than observing wildlife and taking in the surroundings while trekking.
✅ You wear glasses: They have very good eye relief, making them easy and comfortable to use if you wear glasses.
❌ You want to do some stargazing: They lack the light-gathering prowess needed for dedicated skywatching, so we'd recommend opting for a more suitable option.
🔎 Olympus WP II 8x25 The Olympus 8x25 WP II's seamless housing and exquisite optical system offer small but clear, crisp views of bright targets with stunning contrast. ★★★★½
The Olympus 8x25 WP II binoculars are a fantastic all-rounder, ideal for anyone who's looking for something for hiking, viewing wildlife or dabbling in a bit of casual stargazing.
They have a lightweight but reassuringly sturdy design and are fully waterproof for when the weather catches you out. In our Olympus 8x25 WP II binocular review they withstood torrential rain with no leaking whatsoever, and the nitrogen filling effectively prevented any fog on the lenses even when darting indoors and back out again.
The 8x magnification and relatively small aperture of 25mm means that they're not ideal if stargazing is your main endeavor, but we couldn't fault the optics on these binoculars. We were able to get small but very detailed views of the craters of the moon and Orion's Belt. We were pleased to see no color-fringing even towards the edge of the view, and we thought they had excellent contrast, clarity and color fidelity.
This model includes a user-friendly focusing wheel and easily adjustable twistable eyecups (although be careful not to misplace them as they aren't attached). The neck strap material felt a bit rough unless worn over the collar, but it's adjustable. The fully multi-coated lenses contribute to the binoculars' durability, making them an excellent all-around choice with impressive optics.
- Read our full Olympus 8x25 WP II review
|Design||Lightweight, portable design.|
|Performance||Small, crystal clear views with good contrast.|
|Functionality||Low light-gathering prowess.|
Best for portability
✅ You want to travel with them: These binoculars are small and lightweight, so they're extremely easy to carry around with you.
❌ You want something for all weathers: They are not waterproof, so if you want to use them outside in any weather, consider another pair.
❌ You need to wear your glasses when using binoculars: The 10.3mm eye relief isn't very glasses-friendly, so a different model would be better.
🔎 Nikon Aculon T02 8x21 Despite minor flaws, their attractive design, high portability and good optics make them worth considering. ★★★★½
Coming in at a slightly lower price point than the Olympus pair, the Nikon Aculon T02 8x21 also makes a great multi-purpose pair of binoculars. They are extremely compact, measuring 3.4 x 4.1 inches (8.6 x 10.4cm) and weighing only 6.9 oz (196g), so they'll slip into your pocket just as easily as your smartphone. Their smooth and lightweight build also comes in a choice of different colors and they're comfortable to grip for long observing sessions. We think their size and durability make them a fantastic option for kids too.
The optics impressed us in our Nikon Aculon T02 8x21 review, giving pin-sharp views of the moon with just a little chromatic aberration along the lunar limb which was barely noticeable. The focuser is very accurate and allows for minute movements to get your object of interest perfectly in focus, and they also have excellent color fidelity.
There were a couple of small downsides to the design. The Nikon Aculon only comes with a 10.3mm eye relief, meaning they're not ideal for people who need to wear their glasses when using binoculars. They also may not be the best choice if your main interest is stargazing because they lack the light-gathering capabilities required to view fainter deep-sky objects and they don't feature BaK-4 prisms, unlike of their some competitors.
While not waterproof, these binoculars showed resistance to light drizzle, and the nitrogen filling prevented fogging during rapid temperature changes. Their portability and user-friendly features make them suitable for anyone looking for a versatile and lightweight pair for various activities. However, they may not be the ideal choice for those requiring full waterproofing or a larger aperture specifically for skywatching.
- Read our full Nikon Aculon T02 8x21 review
|Design||Lightweight and pocketable.|
|Performance||Good optics and accurate focuser.|
|Functionality||Not waterproof, bad for heavy downpours.|
Best build quality
✅ You do a range of activities: They are perfect for all outdoor activities, whether hiking, traveling, bird watching or stargazing.
❌ You want something super lightweight: While they're not super heavy, they certainly aren't the lightest pair of compact binos.
🔎 Minox X-Lite 8x26 The X-Lite range is versatile and perfect for all outdoor activities, whether hiking, traveling, bird watching or stargazing. These optics are the go-to for all your needs. ★★★★½
The Minox X-Lite 8x26 are more affordable than the binoculars in Minox’s X-Active range, but they still offer great performance and a very impressive build quality. The optics on these binoculars give good color rendition and contrast since they're made from high-quality K9 glass with roof prisms and phase correction coating. You also get a surprisingly wide field of view for an 8x pair of compact binoculars, covering 6.8 degrees and 358 feet at 1000 yards.
While these compact binoculars are a bit heavier at 10 oz (289g), we loved their sturdy construction and practical design. Housed in a textured material and featuring an open bridge design, they offer a larger grip surface, ensuring better stability during prolonged use. The adjustable twist-up eyecups with a 16mm eye relief also make them a comfortable choice for those who need to wear glasses.
With nitrogen-filled optics to prevent fogging and an IPX7 waterproof rating, these binoculars would make an excellent choice for any outdoor pursuits like hiking or wildlife watching. They can withstand submersion in water for up to 30 minutes, so they're safe to take with you on rivers, lakes, beaches or fishing trips. If they're within your budget, we think the durable build of the Minox X-Lite 8x26 means that they would last you for years.
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|Design||Quite heavy in the hand but good eye relief.|
|Performance||Wide 6.8-degree field of view.|
|Functionality||Fog proof and IPX7 waterproofing.|
✅ You want to do some stargazing: They give great low light results thanks to their higher twilight factor.
❌ You want the highest specs: Budget binoculars don't tend to have the best specs — if that's what you want, you're going to have to part with more cash.
🔎 Celestron UpClose G2 10x25 Not the highest spec compared with models on this list — you will get partially multi-coated lenses and BK-7 glass roof prisms. Still, they are well-priced and come with the reassurance of a limited lifetime guarantee. ★★★★½
We're used to finding Celestron in our lists since the company is known for its high-quality telescopes and binoculars. But we felt their UpClose G2 binoculars were particularly worthy of note for offering a great range of features at an affordable sub-$30 price point.
These binoculars have a neat and compact design at only 76mm x 51mm x 114mm (3.0" x 2.2" x 4.5"), so they're very easy to slip into your pocket when you're out and about. Glasses-wearers will also appreciate the fold-up eyecup design, which lets you simply fold the eyecups down and out of the way whenever you're wearing your glasses.
The robust rubber coating enhances grip and provides basic resistance to the elements. We recommend the UpClose G2 10x25 over the UpClose G2 8x21 due to their higher twilight factor (15.8 instead of 13.0). This enables better performance in low-light conditions, making them a preferable choice for stargazing. With 10x magnification and a close focus capability of just 15 feet, these binoculars are perfect for detailed views of various subjects and are particularly handy for spotting wildlife when you're out hiking.
The Celestron UpClose G2 10x25 may not boast the most advanced specifications on our list. The lenses are only partially multi-coated (as opposed to fully multi-coated), and they utilize BK-7 glass roof prisms instead of the superior BaK-4 glass found in some other models. However, given their affordable price, we still believe they're an excellent option for beginners, budget-conscious individuals, or anyone seeking a highly compact and portable alternative to more robust binoculars.
We haven't reviewed the 10x25 yet, but we have reviewed the Celestron UpClose G2 10x50, which we loved for astronomy.
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|Design||Compact with fold-up eyecups.|
|Performance||Good in low-light conditions.|
|Functionality||Economy BK-7 glass but 10x magnification.|
Best budget option
✅ You're a casual viewer: For a decent grab-and-go pair that will serve you well for casual day and nighttime viewing, these are a good option.
❌ You're a serious skywatcher: If you want to take your stargazing to the next level, you'll likely outgrow them quickly.
🔎 Nikon Travelite EX 8x25 These pocket-sized binoculars are compact, well made and lightweight, making them a handy accessory, but unfortunately — due to their small 25mm aperture — we could not see much celestial detail. ★★★★
The Nikon Travelite EX 8x25 binoculars are compact yet exceptionally robust and durable. With a rubberized coating and effective waterproofing, they are designed to withstand immersion in water up to two meters deep for up to five minutes. This makes them an excellent option for various outdoor activities such as nature walks, wildlife observation, sporting events and some casual stargazing.
We were impressed with the contrast provided by these binoculars, especially when observing the illuminated side of the moon. Their lightweight design meant we hardly felt their weight and experienced minimal shaking, which can impact the view with heavier models. If your main focus is on closer celestial objects, these binoculars will certainly give you a beautiful view, but for more dedicated astronomers, a more powerful option may be better.
These binoculars come with a carry case that can be attached to your belt, but they will equally fit into your coat pocket. They're also a decent option for glasses-wearers with their 15.5mm eye relief that can be smoothly adjusted. The O-ring seals and nitrogen gas included in the optical system give added protection against fogging in cold and wet weather.
While the small aperture of 25mm means that they can't gather enough light for more detailed skywatching, the optics will still perform well for anyone who wants to do casual observing. In our Nikon Travelite EX 8x25 review, we were able to get pleasing views of the lunar craters, as well as stars in the constellations of Taurus and Orion.
- Read our full Nikon Travelite EX 8x25 binoculars review
|Design||Sturdy and durable, with a rubberized coating.|
|Performance||Very good contrast when observing bright objects.|
|Functionality||Lacks great light-gathering power but has decent night-sky views.|
✅ You wear glasses: The 16mm eye relief makes them comfortable for anyone who wears glasses.
❌ You're on a budget: They aren't the cheapest model on this list, so if you're on a budget you might want to look at other options.
🔎 Opticron Aspheric 3 10x25 They may not be the smallest pair in this list, but their classic design is perfect for users with larger hands who still want a relatively compact model. ★★★★
The Opticron Aspheric 3 10x25 is a great compromise for those with larger hands who still need a compact model. While not the smallest pair on our list at 10.9 x 10.6 x 3.3cm and weighing 300g, they remain easily pocketable and can be tucked away neatly into your backpack.
The aspheric lenses on this pair provide clear images with minimal distortion, fully coated to reduce glare and reflections for an improved optical experience. While the field of view is slightly narrower than typical for 10x magnification at five degrees, the close focus of 6.6ft/2m is handy for detailed observations of wildlife.
We enjoyed using the twist-up rubber eyecups on these binoculars as they make them very comfortable to use for longer viewing sessions. The 16mm eye relief is also a good length for those who need to wear glasses.
The Opticron Aspheric 3s come with a 10-year warranty, which is a testament to how well-built they are, so they should last you for years. They're water-resistant and nitrogen-filled to ensure the lenses don't get fogged up, and they come with rubber objective lens covers for added protection. If you're looking for a pair that will feel like your regular binoculars but at a compact size and weight for carrying around with you, these may just be the ones for you.
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|Design||Comfortable twist-up rubber eyecups.|
|Performance||Clear images and close focus of 6.6ft/2m.|
|Functionality||Water and fog resistant with 10-year warranty.|
Best waterproof model
✅ You use them in all weathers: These binos are hardy and water and fog-proof, so you can rely on them in any weather.
❌ You wear glasses: The eye relief on these binos isn't the best, so if you wear glasses, there are better options.
❌ You want something pocketable: While they're fine for tossing into your bag, they're probably a little large to fit into your pocket.
🔎 Bushnell H20 8x25 Impressive specifications for a very reasonable price, including multi-coating (though not fully multi-coated) and BaK-4 roof prisms. ★★★½
We think these Bushnell H2O binoculars have impressive specifications for a very reasonable price, including multi-coating (though not fully multi-coated) and BaK-4 roof prisms.
We particularly like the large, easy-to-grip center-focus knob that allows for adjustments on chilly evenings without needing to remove gloves. The 6.9-degree field of view is also quite good, in our opinion.
While they're not quite pocket-sized at 127 x 101.6 x 69.5mm, they are still compact enough to toss into your backpack when you're heading on an outdoor camping trip, and you won't feel their weight. These binoculars are waterproof and nitrogen-purged to prevent fogging, plus Bushnell provides a manufacturer's guarantee for added peace of mind.
With an eye relief of 12mm, the Bushnell H20 8x25 might not be the best choice for those who wear glasses. However, they come with a rubberized, textured coating for protection against knocks and to enhance hand grip.
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|Design||Hardy and waterproof.|
|Performance||Multi-coated and BAK4 glass.|
|Functionality||Eye relief a bit short for glasses.|
✅ You want something small: These binos are tiny and lightweight, so will serve you well when traveling.
❌ You want high magnification: While they aren't bad in terms of magnification, there are certainly better options out there if that's what you're after.
🔎 Pentax UD 9x21 If you're struggling to choose between the easier-to-hold 8x magnification or 10x magnification for closer views (especially noticeable on the moon and planets), then here's a compromise — 9x magnification, offering most of the benefits of both. ★★★½
The Pentax UD 9x21 offer a great middle ground between 8x magnification, which can be easier to hold, and 10x magnification, which offers a more detailed view of the moon and planets. The 9x magnification on these binoculars gives users the best of both worlds, and they come with high-quality optics that are fully multi-coated as well.
These binoculars are an excellent option if you want something very lightweight. To reduce weight, they're crafted with a plastic chassis instead of metal, and instead of rubber armor, they feature two small thumb rests for grip. This design choice results in a weight of only 195g, and with dimensions of 10.8 x 8.7 x 3.8 cm, they're incredibly portable and can easily fit in your pocket.
Despite their lightweight construction, we were impressed with their handling. The large focus wheel was easy to use, requiring just two rotations to cover the entire focus range. It's worth noting that these compact binoculars come with a tripod mount, but you'll need to purchase a separate, inexpensive adapter if you want to use it.
At six degrees, the field of view isn't as large as some of the Pentax UD's competitors, but they do come in a range of attractive colors, including grey and orange, lime green and hot pink. This makes them easy to spot in amongst your kit or if you set them down somewhere and will also make them appealing to kids.
It's worth noting that although the Pentax UD also comes in a 10x21 version, we think these 9x21 are the better buy since they have better eye relief, a wider exit pupil and multi-coated lenses. Offering a decent compromise on optics, we think these make a fun and easily pocketable pair of binoculars.
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|Design||Lightweight plastic build with fun colors.|
|Performance||Large and accurate focus wheel.|
|Functionality||Includes a tripod mount.|