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Looking for great hiking binoculars but don't want to carry the extra weight?

When you are climbing all day the last thing you want is the extra pack weight. But what seems unnecessary at the start of your climb will seem much more important when you spot some wildlife, or you would like to zoom in on trail markers when you feel a bit disorientated.

That's why we've found the best lightweight compact binoculars for hiking. You'll be able to spot wildlife and those trail markers with ease, without having to sacrifice quality or performance.

If that sounds good to you, you're in for a treat.

How We Uncover The Best For You

When we do the research for our articles we are careful to see what other hikers have to say. Preparing this article was quite challenging with all the technical specifications, and features like aperture size, objective lens diameter and magnification to assimilate when you are searching for hiking binoculars. And that's before checking they are robust and compact binoculars suited to life on the trail. I am so glad we did though. Now you don't have to spend too much time on that.

We read 1000s of reviews every week to write our reviews and we are so pleased to have found these awesome hiking flashlights for you:  

Best All-Round For Hiking

Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 10x42

A Cracking Choice For Hiking


We Chose This Because

  • Sturdy and Durable
  • Innovative Performance Features
  • Weather Resistant

Things We Love

The Vortex Optics Diamondback HD Binoculars are pretty cool hiking binoculars to own. They just scream quality and come with everything you would expect from a great pair of lenses. With 10x Magnification and 42mm objective lenses, they are well suited to life on the trail for all you animal lovers and trekkers out there.

The 10x magnification means you see wildlife and trail markers clearly and although it is tripod friendly, you could still happily use them tripod-free if you have steady hands. If you're looking for amazing light transmission in your lenses, be sure to check these out as they come with anti-reflective and dielectric multi-coatings. Letting more light in makes for bright and defined images.

Things To Know

These are really well-built, extremely durable binoculars without being too heavy (weight 21.3 oz). The rubber armor supports durability and makes it easy to grip and handle. It also protects against bumps and drops, which is perfect for a day out on the trail.

In addition, the binoculars are filled with Argon, an inert gas, and this together with the O-rings seals make them waterproof and fog proof - perfect for wet weather hiking. With the Vortex Diamondback Binoculars with you on your hike, you will be bringing along our best hiking binoculars all round!

Best For Bird Watching

Nikon 7576 Monarch 5 8x42

A Cracking Choice For Hikers Who Love Birding


We Chose This Because

  • Optimized Viewing
  • Weather Proof
  • Compact and Portable

Things We Love

When you go bird-watching what you want from your binoculars is to be able to see the bird as it flies off. The larger the objective lens diameter the wider the field of vision, and you can scan far easier this way.  

The Nikon Monarch is great for birdwatching as it has a 42mm objective lens, but it has a few additional features that work to optimise clarity. Extra-low dispersion lenses minimize color fringing and deliver truer colors. Multilayer dielectric reflective prism coating creates a high image quality - images with excellent contrast and resolution.

To quickly spot your bird, focus using the smooth focus knob, which is placed centrally for ease of use. It's easy to find and follow your bird this way.

Things To Know

You'll be able to see your birds more clearly with these 8x magnification binoculars with adjustable rubber eyecaps. They allow for comfortable viewing, so you can spend time studying your birds without hurting your eyes.

These binoculars are lightweight with a rubberized coating for water resistance. They are small enough to carry but large enough to see clearly. Thanks to them being both waterproof and fog proof, the Nikon 7576 Monarch 5 hiking binoculars are even good in low light. You'll never have to miss a thing with these!

Best For Backpacking

Leica Ultravid BR 8x20

A Cracking Choice For Compact Lightweight Binoculars


We Chose This Because

  • Lightweight
  • Space Saving Design
  • Sturdy and Durable

Things We Love

You know you will need them, but you also know how much other gear you need to carry on your backpacking adventure. We have a solution for you: the Leica Ultravid BR Binoculars are brilliant for tucking away in your pack.

They are extremely lightweight and compact binoculars and the design allows for easy space-saving portability. Weighing in at 8.5oz means you can happily hang these around your neck so you have fast access to them when you need them, if necessary. As they are lightweight and compact, they are the best binoculars for long days of walking. This makes them ideal for use in backpacking, or trekking when you need to take your belongings with you on your adventure.

Things To Know

Leica Ultravid BR Binoculars have great quality optics. With a magnification of 8x eyesight and a 20mm objective lens diameter, The rubber armored body makes them sturdy and durable, which is perfect for the rigours of the trail.

The well-engineered eyepiece makes them comfortable to use and the smooth central focus knob makes accurate focusing both fast and defined.

Both waterproof and fog-proof, these binoculars are ready for any kind of weather. This means you can take the best binoculars for backpacking, with you wherever you go, no matter the weather forecast. You'll never have to worry about having to sit inside when you could be out exploring nature.

Best For Safaris

Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 15x56

A Cracking Choice For Watching Wildlife


We Chose This Because

  • Tripod Friendly
  • Robust
  • Comfortable Viewing

Things We Love

Ok, we know that sometimes on your safari, you are in fact in a vehicle rather than hiking, but we wanted to offer these as a perfect choice as they offer clear images and so are so good for long-distance viewing of game and wildlife.

With a higher magnification of x15 and 56mm Lenses, even though the binoculars are surprisingly light for functionality, the manufacturers suggest using a tripod may be necessary for hikers with unsteady hands. The higher the magnification, the more noticeable the tremors or shakiness. Which is perfect really if you are on safari, as you probably have windows and surfaces to lean your binoculars on at times.

The rubber armor supports durability. It's also non-slip and easy to handle and grip, which helps keep the binoculars steady. Of course, these factors all contribute to the appeal of the Vortex Optics Diamondback high-definition binoculars.

Things To Know

If you're looking for a great set of lenses, you'll want to check out the  Vortex Diamondback Binoculars. With their anti-reflective, dielectric multi-coated optics, they're perfect for the transmission of light, making bright images that appear sharp and defined.

The argon-filled inert gas and O-ring seals help water and fog-proof performance which makes use in varied weather conditions possible. This product is easy to use and provides a comfortable viewing experience with adjustable eye caps. This makes Vortex Diamondback Binoculars a great choice for anyone who wants to enjoy watching wildlife without having to worry about uncomfortable eye strain.

Best Budget Choice

Celestron – Nature DX 8x42

A Cracking Choice For Hikers On A Budget


We Chose This Because

  • Affordability
  • Great Light Transmission
  • Weather Proof

Things We Love

For those of us who are just starting out and working with a tight budget, the Celestron – Nature DX is a great option. It has a 42mm objective lens and 8x magnification which is really great for seeing birds, and insects in detail. The Bak4 Prism glass lenses enable great light transmission, resulting in crisp and clear images. A great little pair of binoculars for hiking.

Things To Know

The Celestron Nature DX Binoculars have a durable exterior made with rubber and polycarbonate for an extra grip. They are tripod-compatible and water and fog resistant too. The comfortable eyepieces come with rain guard accessories and eyepiece covers, so you can still use them well in inclement weather.

These are the best compact binoculars if you're on a strict budget and are a great option for beginner hikers amongst us. They provide a way to see things from a distance, and can help you spot potential dangers or obstacles on the trail and they do all this with budget in mind!

Best Hiking Binoculars For You?

There are a few things to look out for when buying binoculars. Here is a handy Buyers Guide to help you in your search for a pair of hiking binoculars.

What Should I Look For When Buying Binoculars?

Image Quality

The first is the image quality. You want the best compact binoculars that have a clear image with good brightness.

When looking to buy binoculars, it's important to consider the purpose of the purchase. For example, if you're looking for binoculars to watch birds or wildflowers, you'll want a pair with a higher magnification.

If you are mountaineering look for a pair that are extremely durable. If you're looking for general use, then a good good quality pair of the best compact binoculars with multiple magnification settings, your budget can manage, should do the trick.


It's also worth bearing in mind that if you have unsteady hands you may want to consider using a tripod. At higher magnifications, the littlest tremor can have a dramatic effect.


Check to see if the binoculars are fog proof and waterproof and whether they have multi-coated lenses too.


Another consideration is the construction. You want binoculars that are sturdy, appropriately sized and not too heavy. You'll want something that's comfortable to carry around and is easy to use with one hand, if necessary.


Size is important, generally, even the best compact binoculars have smaller magnification and lens diameters and are suitable for just starting out with your outdoor adventures. Mid-range binoculars are mid-range in terms of features, size, light etc. and full size tend to be heavier, more expensive and come with higher specs ideal for hardcore enthusiasts.

The Best Binoculars For Hiking - Your Questions Answered

I'm sure you have many questions. I know how confusing all these specifications and technical jargon can be. So, let's address that.

We like to include some answers to FAQs about the topic of our reviews. We have included them below to make it easier for you.

Your Answers Are Just A Short Distance Away, Keep Reading!

Are Binoculars Worth It For Hiking?

Binoculars are great for hiking for a few reasons. When you are out in Nature often you will spot a bird in a tree or an animal in the distance that you really wish was up closer to you. If you have your binoculars handy you can focus on them and see the detail and colours clearly. 

Many bird watchers wear their binoculars on a strap around their necks. This means they are ready when a bird darts across into their line of vision.

Another great use for hiking binoculars when you are exploring is to help you get your bearings. It's easy to get lost when you are hiking all day and you start to get fatigued. If you can see trail markers clearly, you can plot your route and see where you will be walking ahead of time.

Bear in mind that if you are looking to buy binoculars to take on your hike, weight and durability are as important as functionality.

What Does 8x42 Mean In Binoculars?

At first glance, the numbers on a pair of binoculars can be confusing. However, the two numbers actually give you a lot of information about the binoculars.

The first number is the magnification, or how much closer the object will appear. For example, if you are looking at an object that is 100 yards away and you are using 8x magnification, it will appear as if the object is only 12.5 yards away.

The second number is the size of the objective lens diameter, which is measured in millimeters. The size of the objective lens determines how much light can enter the binoculars, so a larger lens will result in a brighter image.

In general, 8-10x magnification is standard, but if you have shaky hands you may want to avoid higher magnifications as they can make your target difficult to see. A tripod may also be necessary for high magnifications.

What Does Eye Relief Mean In Binoculars?

Eye relief is the distance you set between your eyes and the rear lenses of your binoculars to correctly see objects.

As it is generally more comfortable to peer through binoculars the longer this distance is, a recommended good setup would be around 10mm with at least 15mm suggested for those who wear glasses.

This will enable you to see objects in focus without having to move your head around too much or experience eye fatigue. Good binoculars will have some sort of adjustment mechanism so that you can customize the eye relief to suit your needs.

Make sure that you experiment with different eye relief distances until you find what works best for you.

Where Are Vortex Binoculars Made?

Vortex binoculars are made in America, specifically in the state of Wisconsin. The company was founded in 1986 by Daniel and Margie Hamilton, and it remains a family-owned business today.

Vortex binoculars are known for their quality construction and reliable performance. The company offers a wide range of the best compact binoculars for birdwatching and other different purposes, including hunting and general use.

All of Vortex's binoculars are backed by a lifetime warranty, so you can be sure that your investment will last for many years to come. Whether you're looking for your first pair of binoculars or upgrading to a higher-quality product, Vortex is a great choice.

Which Is Better 12x50 Or 10x42 Binoculars?

It depends on what you're using them for. 12x50 binoculars offer more magnification, which is great for getting a closer view of objects, but it does mean the size of the lenses is larger which means larger binoculars.

The bigger the objective lens diameter, the more stable your hands need to be so using a tripod with the 12 x 50 pair would be wise.

10x42 binoculars are more compact binoculars, and therefore more lightweight, making them easier to carry around with you.

How Do You Carry Binoculars Hiking?

There are a couple of different ways that you can carry binoculars while hiking. The first way is to simply carry them on you. You can carry them in your hands. This works fine if you don't have too much else to carry, but can get a bit tiring after a while.

If you want to keep them close to you could consider wearing them around your neck. Take care to choose compact binoculars that are not too heavy as the strap will chafe your neck if you have a long hike planned.

The second way is to attach them to your backpack using either the straps or clips that usually come with the binoculars. This will free up your hands for other things but can make it a bit more difficult to access the binoculars when you need them. Just make sure that the binoculars are securely attached so that they don't bounce around too much and end up getting damaged.

If you plan to store your compact binoculars in your backpack, it's probably better to place them inside a pocket with the lens caps secure, to keep them safe.

Are Compact Binoculars Good For Birdwatching?

Yes and no. Generally, with the exception of the high-end models, the smaller the binoculars the smaller the objective lens. This means that the field of vision will be narrower.

When you are bird watching, you have a moving target which may make it difficult to stay trained on the bird if the focus is narrow. So for shorter expeditions where you don't have to carry your binoculars too far, you might want to consider binoculars with a slightly larger objective lens. 42mm is considered standard.

On the other hand, if you are on a long trekking expedition you will have a lot to carry in your backpack. You will be glad not to have heavy, larger binoculars to carry, on top of all the other gear.

In these circumstances, binoculars that are compact may be more appropriate. It will be a bit of a trade-off, but it's about weighing up the options to see what works best for you.

Can I See Planets With Binoculars?

Yes, you can see planets with binoculars! However, don't expect to see them as clearly as you would through a telescope. 

Experts do suggest, however, that binoculars are a great first step to learning about the night sky, before going to the expense of buying a telescope. Binoculars magnify objects, so you'll be able to see the planets bigger so they will appear closer. 

Instead of looking at the planets themselves, try using binoculars to look at their moons! You should be able to see them pretty easily. Have fun exploring the night sky!

Imagine being able to hike anywhere and see everything in stunning detail. With our selection of hiking binoculars, you can do just that. Plus, they're easy to use and perfect for any outdoor activity.

Our Choice For Best All Rounder

Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 10x42

Our Choice For Hikers Who Love Birding

Nikon 7576 Monarch 5 8x42

Our Choice For Trekking and Backpacking

Leica Ultravid BR 8x20

Our Choice For Hikers Who Love Watching Wildlife

Vortex Optics Diamondback HD 15x56

Our Choice For Hikers On A Budget

Celestron – Nature DX 8x42

All clear? Hope this review has helped free up your time so you can focus on having fun! I have tried to lay out as clearly as possible what you need to consider when buying a pair of binoculars. It is a bit overwhelming at first, I felt that way when I started researching.

My tip is to start by thinking carefully about what you plan to do with your binoculars. Once you understand that, have a look and see which one best suits your needs. Soon you will be looking forward to your hike with your shiny new binoculars in hand.

Keep Asking Questions And We Will Keep Finding Answers For You.

Make Your Choice A Cracking One!

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