7 Best Binoculars for Hiking/Backpacking | Compact & Premium

It’s always a search for better equipment that can assist nature enthusiasts in becoming as close to nature as possible. You can’t beat a compact binocular that fits in your pocket and allows you to view nature up close at any time.

best binoculars for hiking

With so many binoculars on the market from so many brands, how can one be sure they are choosing the right pair? That’s why we’re here to help!

In this article, we compared a number of products and compiled a list of the 7 best compact binoculars for hiking. In addition, we have included a complete buyers’ guide for you to better understand the features you should look for when buying one.

Best Binoculars For Hiking – Our Top 3 Picks

Editor’s Choice

Leica Ultravid BR 10x25 Robust Waterproof Compact Binocular

Leica Ultravid BR 10×25 Robust Waterproof Compact Binocular
Best Midrange

Nikon 7579 MONARCH 7 8x30 Binocular

Nikon 7579 MONARCH 7 8×30 Binocular
Best Budget

Celestron – Nature DX 8x32 Binoculars

Celestron – Nature DX 8×32 Binoculars

The 7 Best Binoculars For Hiking Reviews

1. Leica Ultravid 10×25 BCR Compact Binoculars

A compact, lightweight, and foldable piece of outstanding craftsmanship boasting even more impressive optics, the Leica Ultravid 10×25 BCR binoculars deserve to be at the top of our list of the best compact binoculars for birding and hiking.

Featuring a lightweight aluminum body with a rubber coating for a comfortable hold, these binoculars get lost in your palms when you’re enjoying the view through the P40 coated and HighLux-System HLS roof prism optics.

The top-grade optics and specially crafted eyepieces in these binoculars offer a sharp outlook without any aberrations or color fringing no matter which corner of the image you look at.

Highlighted Features

  1. Roof prism with phase correcting coating P40 and HighLux-System HLS™
  2. Aluminum body with rubber coating
  3. Waterproof up to a depth of 16.5 feet
  4. Single knob diopter correction
  5. Nitrogen purged fog-proof body

Product Specifications

Product dimensions: 4.4 x 4.4 x 1.9 inches

Weight: 9.4 oz

Close distance focus: 10.5 Feet

Magnification: 10x

Field of View: 273 feet/ 1000 yards

Special features: Waterproof, fog proof, and lifetime warranty

  • Lightweight and comfortable to hold
  • Foldable and portable
  • Waterproof
  • Outstanding optical performance
  • Quite expensive

Our Verdict on Leica Ultravid 10×25 BCR Binoculars

With 10x magnification power and an easily foldable double-hinge design, these binoculars are the perfect pair for bird watching and hiking adventures. However, these binos are quite expensive because of the mechanical and optical performance they offer.

2.  Nikon MONARCH 7 8×30 Binocular

Nikon Monarch 7 8×30 binoculars feature a compact body packed with premium features that enhance your viewing experience. 

Monarch 7 uses Nikon’s legendary Extra-low dispersion glass lenses that offer minimum chromatic aberrations and provide super contrasty and high-resolution images. They also feature dielectric high-reflective multi-layer prism coatings to produce brighter and more color-accurate images.

With an extremely wide field of view of 435 feet at 1000 yards, the Monarch 7 captures a whole lot in just a single frame while maintaining a close focus distance of 7.8 feet. 

Highlighted Features

  1. Dielectric high-reflective multilayer prism coatings
  2. Extra-low dispersion glass lenses
  3. 435 feet field of view
  4. Turn-and-slide rubber eyecups
  5. Fully multi-coated Eco glass lenses

Product Specifications

Product dimensions: 4.6 x 4.8 x 1.96 inches

Weight: 15.3 oz

Close distance focus: 7.8 Feet

Magnification: 8x

Field of View: 435 feet/ 1000 yards

Special features: Waterproof, fog proof, and lifetime warranty

  • Superior optics quality
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Great warranty
  • Wide field of view
  • Slightly expensive

Our Verdict on Nikon MONARCH 7 8×30 Binoculars

One of Nikon’s best offerings, the Monarch 7 is a spectacular piece of hardware. It features compare with $1000 binoculars yet come at a much cheaper price. And with that lifetime warranty Nikon offers, these binoculars will last you a lifetime for sure.

3. Celestron Nature DX 8×32 Binoculars

Named as one of the best binoculars under $200 the binocular guide by Audubon magazine, the Celestron Nature DX 8×32 binoculars are compact, rugged, and optically impressive.

Unlike any other entry on our list, the Celestron Nature DX 8×32 binoculars have a close focus distance of 6.5 feet and a field of view of 388 feet at 1000 yards. That’s pretty impressive for a compact binocular and therefore very suited for birding and hiking activities. 

Designed with superior phase-coated BaK-4 lenses, these binoculars are capable of producing higher contrast and higher resolution images. 

Highlighted Features

  1. Phase coated BaK-4 lenses
  2. Fully multi-coated optics
  3. 6.5 feet close distance focus 
  4. Twist-up eyecups with multiple stops
  5. Compact and rugged design

Product Specifications

Product dimensions: 5.3 x 4.9 x 2 inches

Weight: 22.2 oz

Close distance focus: 6.5 Feet

Magnification: 8x

Field of View: 388 feet/ 1000 yards

Special features: Waterproof and lifetime warranty

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Affordable
  • Great warranty
  • Not fog proof

Our Verdict on Celestron Nature DX 8×32 Binoculars

Although it only has a magnification power of 8x, the Celestron Nature DX offers great visual quality, very small close focus distance, and a pretty wide field of view at an impressively compact and rugged body. 

4. Zeiss Terra ED Pocket 8×25 Binoculars

The Zeiss Terra ED 8×25 binoculars are among the best-in-class compact binoculars for birding and hiking. These binoculars feature not just a compact and lightweight but also a foldable aluminum build.

Fitted with hydrophobic Zeiss multi-coated optics, these binoculars provide clear and precise views in every situation. Also, the LotuTec Coating allows less moisture to remain on the surface of the lenses to provide a better viewing experience in wet weather. 

Although slightly pricier, the Zeiss Terra ED Pocket binoculars still outperform many binoculars of the same price point thanks to Its Zeiss T* Coating that offers brighter, high-contrasty, and color-accurate images. 

Highlighted Features

  1. Compact and lightweight
  2. Hydrophobic Zeiss multi-coated lenses 
  3. LotuTec coating for better viewing in wet weather
  4. ZEISS T* Coating 
  5. Robust and foldable build

Product Specifications

Product dimensions: 4.5 x 4.4 x 6.5 inches

Weight: 10.9 oz

Close distance focus: 6.2 Feet

Magnification: 8x

Field of View: 357 feet/ 1000 yards

Special features: Waterproof, fog proof, and lifetime warranty

  • Exceptional quality optics
  • Extremely compact and portable
  • Very small close distance focus
  • A little pricey

Our Verdict on Zeiss Terra ED Pocket 8×25 Binoculars

Bringing exceptional quality optics down to a pocketable and comfortable to hold design is what Zeiss Terra ED Pocket 8×25 binoculars are all about. They’re robust, waterproof, nitrogen-purged for fog proofing, and outperform other competitors around the same price point.

5. Swarovski EL 8×32 Binoculars

Swarovski EL 8×32 Binoculars are state-of-the-art binoculars with best-in-class optical as well as mechanical performance. With an impressive 423 feet at 1000 yards field of vision and a close focusing distance of 6.2 feet, you won’t miss a thing through these lenses.

Featuring an ergonomic design that eliminates all discomfort while holding and an extremely lightweight build to enable long hours of viewing, the Swarovski EL just disappears in your hands. 

Swarovski guarantees that these binoculars produce maximum color fidelity at a high light transmission level thanks to the enhanced lens and prism coatings such as Swarobright, Swarotop, and Swarodur.  

Highlighted Features

  1. Ergonomic Design
  2. Swarovision and Swarobright
  3. Fluoride-containing HD lenses
  4. 423 feet Field of View
  5. Extremely lightweight

Product Specifications

Product dimensions: 5.3 x 5.0 x 2.2 inches

Weight: 21 oz

Close distance focus: 6.2 Feet

Magnification: 8x

Field of View: 423 feet/ 1000 yards

Special features: Waterproof, fog proof, and lifetime warranty

  • Unparalleled optical performance
  • Wide field of view
  • Comfortable to hold
  • All-weather proof
  • Very expensive

Our Verdict on Swarovski EL 8×32 Binoculars

These Swarovski EL binoculars are the very best you can find for birding and hiking purposes. The only reason they’re in the 7th position is because of how expensive they are. But if you’re a nature fanatic and want the best you can get for an immeasurable viewing experience then these are for you.

6. Bushnell H2O 8×42 Binoculars

Packing full features of high-end binoculars in a compact form factor, the Bushnell H2O 8×42 binoculars offer the best value for money.

They’re crafted with BaK-4 prisms that offer spectacular visual performance, sharper and more color-accurate images than the BaK-7 prisms that most binos at this price point often use. And the lenses are multi-coated to reflect any UV-light and increase light transmission.

The H2O 8×42 binoculars are O-ring sealed to provide full waterproofing even when completely submerged in water and nitrogen filled to provide internal fog proofing no matter the weather you’re in. 

Highlighted Features

  1. BaK 4 prisms 
  2. Multi-coated lenses
  3. O-ring sealed and nitrogen filled
  4. Soft and non-slip rubber armor
  5. Twist-up eyecups

Product Specifications

Product dimensions: 7.4 x 5.5 x 1.96 inches

Weight: 25 oz

Close distance focus: 18 Feet

Magnification: 8x

Field of View: 325 feet/ 1000 yards

Special features: Waterproof, fog proof, and lifetime warranty

  • Easy to use
  • Highly durable
  • Great value
  • Not as impressive optics as Leica Ultravid

Our Verdict on Bushnell H2O 8×42 Binoculars

Priced under $100, the Bushnell H2O 8×42 binoculars are the best of what you can get at this price range. They’re compact, lightweight, easy to operate, durable, and waterproof: ideal for wildlife viewing at an affordable price.

7. Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars

With impressive optical performance, a compact design, and an incredibly affordable price tag, the Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars are great for birding and hiking activities for both adults and kids. 

Featuring BaK-4 Porro prisms and fully multi-layer broadband green film, the Occer 12×25 binoculars offer a great viewing experience with brighter and color-accurate images. And thanks to the night vision feature, you can use these binos in low light situations such as early mornings and evenings as well.

The non-slip grippy rubber exterior of these binoculars makes them easy to hold and resistant to drop damage. 

Highlighted Features

  1. BaK-4 Porro prisms
  2. Fully Multi-Layer Broadband Green Film
  3. Compact and lightweight design
  4. Low-light vision
  5. Adjustable eyecups

Product Specifications

Product dimensions: 4 x 4.4 x 1.9 inches

Weight: 10.4 oz

Close distance focus: 16.4 Feet

Magnification: 12x

Field of View: 273 feet/ 1000 yards

Special features: Night Vision, Life Waterproof

  • Great value
  • High magnification
  • Low-light vision capable
  • Low-quality optics
  • Not fully waterproof

Our Verdict on Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars 

Although not the best optics on the market, the Occer 12×25 compact binoculars offer impressive features and optical performance at a fraction of what the premium ones do. The rugged rubber exterior and Life Waterproofing also provide basic protection from minor drops and water damage.

How To Choose The Best Binoculars For Hiking

There are countless different binoculars available on the market, and each with its own unique features and attributes. It often confuses a newcomer which type of binoculars are suited for their needs. That’s why we’ve explained here a few things that you should consider before clicking that buy button.


New users often believe that magnification power is what defines the functionality of a binocular. But the actuality is not that simple.  

The magnification power not just magnifies the view but also magnifies all your hand movements and shakes, so the higher is the magnification, the less stable the image becomes. And the more your view through the lens moves, the less you can properly see. Shaking and moving images make it difficult for your brain to interpret the view, making you tired very quickly. With increasing magnification, brightness, and field of view of the image also decline. That is why too much magnification in a handheld magnification can render it useless.

Therefore, our recommendation is that you go for a binocular with 7x, 8x, or 10x magnifications for your birding and hiking needs.

Field of View

Activities such as bird watching, hunting, hiking, and marine scouting all require a wide field of vision to scout a larger area. However, a super-wide field of view means that the magnification takes a hit. Conversely, a super-high magnification binocular has a narrow field of view. That is why choosing the right magnification and field of view is essential for your needs.

We’d recommend going for a binocular around 300-400 feet at 1000 yards.

Size and Weight

Size and weight are two other crucial factors of a binocular that matter when hiking and watching birds. When you’re bird watching or wildlife watching, you’re bound to be holding your binoculars for an extensive period of time. If they’re too heavy, your hands will start to ache and shake and you won’t be able to focus on your view. Similarly, if your binos are too big then it’ll take up too much space in your backpack which could be used otherwise in a hiking trip. 

While a mounting stand can help you with the shakiness and weight of the binoculars, using a stand isn’t as comfortable as using your own hands. But it’s also worth noting that too small in size means sacrificing the quality of the optical performance itself. Therefore, go with something that’s compact-sized but doesn’t cut corners.


Binoculars are known to be quite durable and to prove those durability claims, manufacturers often provide lifetime warranties. A lifetime warranty means that if you take your damaged binocular to a certified repair shop then they’ll repair it for you for no extra costs for up to 30 years. This warranty scheme is also one factor in extending the longevity of your binoculars

While most brands do offer lifetime warranties, some brands may only offer one to three years of warranty. Although binoculars with lifetime warranties do tend to be a little more expensive than the latter, it’s better to just spend a little extra because it’s going to pay off in a long-term perspective.

Special Features

You can find binoculars that include additional features to better your viewing experience. While some might have extra layers of lens coating to brighten and sharpen the image, others might have rugged rubber armors for better drop protection. 

Features like waterproofing and fog proofing are however very important if you use your binoculars mostly outdoors where it can rain any time of the day.

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