by David McBryan
Plus 9 Technical Specs You HAVE to Know Before Buying
If you love woodsball or MilSim-style games on huge fields, adding binoculars to your arsenal can make a world of difference.
But the last thing you want to do is lug around more gear, so portability is a must.
That's where we come in.
This roundup of the best compact binoculars is the most accurate and complete guide you'll find.
(Without overwhelming you with tons of technical specs you just don't need.)
Instead, we'll hit on everything you need to know to choose the binoculars that are best for you:
You're a busy person, so let's kick things off with some quick picks.
5 Best Compact Binoculars
There's no single "best" pair of compact binoculars because they can be used in a variety of situations.
Take these 5, for example:
You'll need a different type of binoculars to watch a fast-paced sporting event from 100 yards away than to view stationary stars from 100 trillion miles away (at night).
Consider these 5 aspects of a typical day on the field:
Now we know the type of binoculars we're looking for.
But how do we evaluate the specific models that meet our needs?
We turn to the specs!
There are dozens of technical specs that manufacturers list for each pair of binoculars, but these 9 are the most important for us:
Now let's take a look at our roundup of the 11 best compact binoculars in a side-by-side comparison table.
Note: To keep things simple, I've abbreviated column headings using the shorthand from each bullet point above. I've also combined Magnification and Objective Lens Diameter into the MxD column because this is the most common way you'll see binoculars described.
|Rk||Model||MxD||FoV @ 1,000||AAoV||ER||Wgt||Dimensions||WP||FR|
|1||Carson 3D Series HD||8x32||392'||60°||19.5 mm||19 oz||2.1"H x 5.1"W x 5.1"L||Yes||Yes|
|2||Leupold BX-1 Yosemite||10x30||351'||67°||15.5 mm||17 oz||2.7"H x 7.8"W x 6.8"L||Yes||Yes|
|3||Leica Ultravid BR||10x25||273'||52°||14.6 mm||9 oz||1.5"H x 4.4"W x 4.4"L||Yes||Yes|
|4||Celestron Nature DX||8x32||388'||59°||17.5 mm||18 oz||1.8"H x 4.9"W x 5.0"L||Yes||Yes|
|5||Zeiss Terra ED||8x25||357'||52°||16 mm||11 oz||2.6"H x 4.4"W x 4.5"L||Yes||Yes|
|6||Bushnell H2O||8x42||410'||62°||17 mm||27 oz||3.0"H x 7.9"W x 6.0"L||Yes||Yes|
|7||Steiner Safari||10x26||312'||59°||15 mm||10 oz||1.8"H x 4.0"W x 4.4"L||Yes||Yes|
|8||Kowa YF II||6x30||420'||48°||20 mm||17 oz||1.9"H x 6.3"W x 4.5"L||Yes||Yes|
|9||Nikon Trailblazer ATB||10x25||342'||59°||10 mm||10 oz||1.7"H x 4.1"W x 4.5"L||Yes||Yes|
|10||Nikon ProStaff 7S||8x30||341'||49°||15.4 mm||15 oz||1.9"H x 5.1"W x 5.1"L||Yes||Yes|
|11||Celestron Outland X||8x42||357'||54°||18 mm||22 oz||2.1"H x 5.0"W x 5.8"L||Yes||Yes|
As you're evaluating these specs to find the best compact binoculars for you, keep 6 things in mind:
Enough background. Let's dive deeper into each of those 11 models, starting with our pick for the best compact binoculars for paintball and airsoft.
The Carson 3D Series HD 8x32 compact binoculars are great for just about any situation on the field. Their 8x power is ideal for almost all field sizes, their 32 mm objective lenses are larger than most others on this list, delivering bright images, and their 392-foot field of vision at 1,000 feet is only bested by two models in our rankings:
Frankly, no other pair of compact binoculars has the combination of power, wide-angle vision, and clarity that these Carson 3D Series HD binoculars do.
Toss in their rubberized black armor coating for rugged durability, textured grips and thumb grooves for comfort, and low-dispersion glass that puts the "HD" in their name, and there's just no beating them.
Their price point is a little higher than others on this list without being crazy-high, making them an exceptional value in addition to being the best compact binoculars for our purposes.
The Leupold BX-1 Yosemite 10x30 compact binoculars have the best Apparent Angle of View of any model on this list, meaning their combination of power and field of vision can't be beaten. That makes them ideal for long-distance scoping on large fields, giving you the ability to perceive objects 10x closer than they are with an impressive field of vision to keep moving targets in your sights.
They also come with a proprietary Twilight Management System that helps extend your viewing time in fading twilight conditions.
Unfortunately, these BX-1 Yosemites are just about the widest binoculars featured here, spanning 7.8", which makes them more challenging to store. But again, their best use is for distance scoping and surveillance, and they'd be a great tool in your arsenal if you enjoy sniping.
If that's the case, check out of rankings of the 11 Best Airsoft Sniper Rifles.
Leica is an iconic brand name, and these Ultravid BR 10x25 binoculars live up to the hype.
Objectively, these are the best compact binoculars on this list, bar none.
I knocked them down to 3rd because we're talking about paintball/airsoft applications, and their 273-foot Field of Vision at 1,000 Yards is by far the worst on this list. That means moving objects will be harder to keep in your sights.
On the plus side, these binoculars are the definition of compact, weighing just 9 oz with a 1.5" vertical profile that blows everything else on this list out of the water. Component-wise, these Leica Ultravid BR 10x25 binoculars have the best internal components for the sharpest image, best durability, and even fingerprint-resistant lenses!
Our top pick for Best Compact Binoculars for the Money, the Celestron Nature DX 8x32s have an immersive 59° Apparent Angle of View and tiny profile that fits in almost any pocket. But despite their small size, they have a little heft at 18 oz. That weight comes from their heavy-duty, fully-weatherproof construction with the high-quality, phase-correcting, anti-distortion lenses you'd expect from a pair of binoculars in their price range.
Zeiss is an industry leader in optics, and it shows with their Terra ED 8x25 compact binoculars. The 8x magnification is just about perfect for our uses, and you get a surprisingly bright, crisp image from their small 25 mm objective lenses.
The biggest downside I see with these binoculars is their dimensions. At 2.6" thick, they're the 3rd-thickest model on this list behind these two:
Unsurprisingly, both of those binoculars have larger objective lenses, but what's stunning to me is these Zeiss binoculars are almost as thick as those two despite weighing just 11 oz!
Still, technical specs can't always indicate image quality, and that's one area where these Zeiss ED binoculars really shine.
The Bushnell H2Os are one of just two binoculars on this list with wide, 42 mm objective lenses
Why choose something that big? Two reasons:
If you care most about surveying the entire field and keeping everything in your sights, these are the binoculars for you.
The Steiner Safari 10x26 compact binoculars make the list because they have solid wide-angle stats, led by a 59° Apparent Angle of View, in what might be the smallest overall package of any pair.
(The 3rd-ranked Leica Ultravid BR 10x25 binoculars are a hair thinner, but these aren't quite as wide.)
Steiner is a well-known brand that manufactures their binoculars in Germany, so you can be confident you'll be getting quality optics. And when you see the price, they'll immediately make your shortlist.
The lowest-power binoculars on this list, these Kowa YF II offer just 6x magnification, but that gives them a big advantage: the best Field of Vision at 1,000 Yards of any pair of binoculars on this list.
They also have the most Eye Relief of any pair here (20 mm) with a thin 1.9"H profile measuring just 4.5"L.
I wouldn't recommend these binoculars for anyone prioritizing magnification, but if you want to blow up the widest area of the field, these will be great. And when you think about it, if enemy combatants are outside the range of these binoculars, you're outside their firing range!
Lightweight and low-profile for 10x magnification, these Nikon Trailblazer ATB 10x25 binoculars rival the 3rd-ranked Leica Ultravid BRs in terms of ounce-for-ounce power.
Unfortunately, they find themselves 9th on our list of the best compact binoculars because of their worst-in-class 10 mm Eye Relief. If you're looking for a pair of binoculars that you really need to press your face into, these are for you. Me? I prefer 15 mm or more, which puts these behind the similarly-spec'd Safari Steiner 10x26 (15 mm Eye Relief) and obviously behind the Leicas.
Back-to-back Nikons as their ProStaff 7S 8x30 binoculars come in 10th on our list.
Compared to the 9th-ranked Nikon Trailblazer ATB 10x25, these binoculars have less power and larger objective lenses for brighter images, and both have similar Fields of Vision at 1,000 Yards (though these lose points for their lower Apparent Angle of View).
The ProStaff 7S binoculars are also a touch heavier and larger thanks to their wider objective lenses, though they're still relatively lightweight at just 15 oz and their 15.4 mm Eye Relief is much more comfortable.
Interestingly, these happen to be the only 8x30 binoculars on our list, which puts them in a league all their own and definitely makes them worth considering. Their price point is notably higher than the 10x25 Nikon Trailblazer ATBs above but less than the similar 8x25 Zeiss Terra EDs.
However, if I were looking for a pair of compact binoculars with similar specs, I'd go with the 4th-ranked Celestron Nature DX 8x32 with the same power, wider objective lenses for brighter images, more Eye Relief, much better wide-angle viewing, and smaller dimensions in what's usually a lower price range.
Speaking of Celestron, who I just recommended in the review above, our 11th and final pair of compact binoculars on this roundup are the Celestron Outland X 8x42.
Along with the 6th-ranked Bushnell H2O, these are our largest objective lens binoculars at 42 mm, giving you tons of brightness but more weight.
These Outland X binoculars do have a big advantage over those Bushnell H2Os, though: much smaller dimensions. They're just 2.1"H x 5.0"W x 5.8"L compared to Bushnell's 3.0"H x 7.9"W x 6.0"L while saving you 5 oz (nearly 20% lighter).
Inferior Field of Vision lands them at the bottom, though. Ultimately, I wouldn't necessarily call these binoculars compact (not when we have so many truly compact models above), so why go with anything other than the Bushnell H2Os if you want a 42 mm objective lens?
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