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Best Travel Binoculars

Updated November 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 65 Models Considered
  • 7 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 156 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best travel binoculars

    Last Updated November 2018

    When you’re taking in beautiful outdoor scenery, it helps to have a good pair of binoculars to get a closer view of all the sights. When you’re traveling, though, you don’t want a heavy, bulky pair that’s going to weigh you down and make packing more difficult. Travel binoculars may be smaller than traditional models, but they’re lightweight, compact, and still allow you to observe every detail of the great outdoors.

    Choosing a pair of travel binoculars can be difficult, though, because there are so many options to choose from. You have to decide on the best size, magnification, and other features to find the right travel binoculars for your viewing needs. Sorting through all those choices can definitely get overwhelming.

    At BestReviews, we’re committed to making shopping as simple as possible with our top recommendations and in-depth shopping guides. Ready to buy a pair of travel binoculars? Continue reading for all the tips you need to find the perfect pair for your next outdoor adventure.

    If you want to use binoculars for stargazing, a travel pair is often the best type to begin with.

    What are travel binoculars?

    As their name implies, travel binoculars are designed specifically for use when you’re on the go. They are lightweight and compact, so you can easily fit them in a backpack or other travel bag without it feeling too heavy.

    But travel binoculars don’t necessarily sacrifice performance because they’re smaller than traditional binoculars. A good pair of travel binoculars still provides effective magnification, which allows you to pick up every detail of far-off flora and fauna.

    Travel binoculars can come in handy for a variety of activities, including road trips, camping trips, hunting, hiking, whale watching, bird watching, and safaris.

    Powerful, clear magnification

    The Wingspan Optics Spectator 8x32 Compact Binoculars offer a strong eight-times magnification, which offers bright, clear views that provide vivid details. These travel binoculars also have a non-slip grip that’s ideal for outdoor use because you don’t have to worry about dropping and damaging them. We also love that they come with a lifetime warranty.

    Features to consider for travel binoculars

    Size and weight

    When you’re shopping for travel binoculars, size is usually the most important consideration. A good pair of travel binoculars should be lightweight and compact, so you can easily keep them in your backpack or other travel bag – or wear them around your neck when you’re on the go.

    Most travel binoculars have lenses with a diameter between 21 and 30 millimeters to maintain a compact size. Many models are foldable, so they are more compact for packing.

    Keep the weight of the binoculars in mind, too. Ideally, travel models should weigh less than a pound to make sure that they don’t weigh down your bag or strain your neck.

    Magnification

    No matter what type of binoculars you’re shopping for, magnification power is a key feature. Binoculars are rated with two numbers, such as 8x25. The first number refers to magnification power, while the second number refers to lens diameter. Most travel binoculars have a magnification power of eight or 10, which means that an object will appear eight or 10 times closer when viewed through the binoculars.

    Eye relief

    Eye relief refers to the distance between the binoculars’ eyepiece and your eyes for effective viewing. All binoculars have eyecups of some type that keep your eyes at the proper distance to see clearly. For travel binoculars, look for a pair with eye relief of at least 12 mm.

    Waterproof

    Travel binoculars that you’re taking on the go should be durable enough to hold up to the elements. That’s especially true if you plan to take your binoculars with you when you go boating or fishing.

    Choose a pair of travel binoculars that are waterproof so you don’t have to worry about them getting damaged in the rain or splashed with water. Binoculars that are rated IXP8 can be submerged in up to three feet of water without experiencing any damage, while those that are rated IPX0 aren’t waterproof at all. For the best results, opt for a pair of travel binoculars that’s rated IPX4 or above.

    Fog-proof

    If the lenses of your travel binoculars fog up due to weather conditions, you’ll have a tough time seeing the sights – and it can be difficult to clear the fog away. While you’ll pay a little more, it can be worth it to invest in a pair of fog-proof travel binoculars, especially if you frequently travel to humid climates.

    Lens coating

    For the highest-quality and most durable travel binoculars, look for a pair that has some type of lens coating. These models will hold up better to wear and tear, so you can continue to see clearly for years to come. A lens coating can also help reduce glare and provide sharper images. For the best results, you may want to invest in travel binoculars with fully multi-coated lenses that limit reflections and boost image quality.

    Carrying strap

    Some travel binoculars come with a carrying strap to make it easy to carry them around. You can find binoculars with straps that are only long enough to carry by hand, as well as models with straps that are long enough to wear around your neck. For the most comfortable option, choose a pair of travel binoculars with a padded, adjustable strap.

    EXPERT TIP

    Don’t use your fingers to brush away dirt or debris from the lenses of your travel binoculars, as you may scratch them. Instead, use a soft microfiber cloth.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Individuals with larger hands often find the compact design of travel binoculars harder to use. Look for a pair that falls on the larger end of travel sizes if you have large hands.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Avoid leaving travel binoculars out in the sun for prolonged periods of time. The heat can soften the lenses.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Prices for travel binoculars

    Travel binoculars vary in price based on their magnification power and size. In general, though, they usually run from $7 to $450.

    Travel binoculars with a magnification power below eight and a lens diameter between 20 and 30 mm usually cost between $7 and $25.

    Travel binoculars with a magnification power of eight and a lens diameter between 20 and 32 mm usually cost between $25 and $130.

    Travel binoculars with a magnification power between eight and 10 and a lens diameter between 32 and 42 mm usually cost between $130 and $450.

    Ideal travel binoculars for glasses wearers

    Anyone who has to wear eyeglasses when using their travel binoculars will love the Bushnell Powerview 16x32 Compact Folding Roof Prism Binoculars. That’s because they have fold-down eyecups to guarantee a comfortable viewing distance with your glasses in place. We also love the durability of these travel binoculars. The non-slip rubber armor is shock-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about damage due to falls.

    Tips

    • When you’re packing travel binoculars in a backpack or other travel bag, it’s a good idea to keep them in a case to prevent damage.

    • Always use a non-abrasive microfiber cloth to clean the lenses of travel binoculars. Rougher materials may scratch the lenses.

    • If you’re trying to look at something small like a bird with travel binoculars, it often helps to focus on a distinctive item like a bright flower that’s nearby. The bright flower can help you locate the bird once you’re looking through the binoculars.

    Fog-proof travel binoculars are always waterproof. However, not all waterproof travel models are fog-proof.

    FAQ

    Q. What features should I look for in travel binoculars if I wear glasses?

    A. If you need to wear your glasses when you use travel binoculars, it’s important to pay attention to the eye relief. Because your glasses will increase the distance between your eyes and the eyepiece, you should choose binoculars with an eye relief that falls between 16 and 20 mm, so you’re able to see the full view even with your glasses on. Some travel binoculars even have eyecups that fold down, which makes them even easier to use with glasses.

    Q. Can I use travel binoculars with a tripod?

    A. Unlike full-size binoculars, travel models don’t feature built-in tripod mounts. If you want to use your travel binoculars with a tripod, you’ll need a tripod adapter to connect the binoculars to the tripod. Most travel binoculars don’t come with an adapter, so you’ll need to purchase it separately.

    Q. Do travel binoculars usually come with warranty protection?

    A. Most mid-range and high-end travel binoculars come with some type of warranty protection. Some models offer one to three years of warranty coverage, while others provide a lifetime warranty. However, be sure to read the terms of the warranty carefully to determine what type of damage is covered. Many warranties don’t cover wear and tear.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Kailey
      Kailey
      Writer
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer

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