Top 10 Best Binoculars for Hiking Backpacking 2018 (Reviews & Guide)
Just as a hunter needs the best binocular for hunting, so does a hiker need the best binoculars for hiking. As an avid hiker, you obviously love the outdoors due to the outstanding views and memorable experiences you derive from exploring all the amazing features nature offers.
However, the experience can be made even better if you buy a befitting binocular. While finding the right binocular for hiking can present a great deal of stress, we have made that task a lot easier by doing all the necessary research to bring you detailed reviews of ten of the best binoculars for this cool activity.
Hiking is a physically demanding activity and the last thing you need is a bulky binocular to wear you down the more. So, important criteria to look out for when shopping for one of the best binocular for hiking should include the weight, compactness, image quality and the ruggedness of the device.
Price is just as important as any of the features mentioned above. So, keep reading to discover all you need to know about the best binoculars for a light backpack.
Things to be Considered Before Buying Best Binoculars for Hiking
Unlike other activities, the weight of the binoculars is very important here. The hiker will be careful to choose light binoculars so that he doesn’t overweight his backpack.
For choosing a suitable weight, the diameter of the eyepieces must be taken into account. This is the second number displayed on most binoculars.
For example, on 8×32 binoculars, the number 8 corresponds to the magnification factor, while the number 32 refers to the diameter of the lenses.
The hiker must, therefore, ensure that this diameter is not too high because the thicker it is, the heavier the binoculars will be. If your activity requires that the least gram counts, I will advise you not to exceed 36 mm in diameter.
High-performance binoculars are quite expensive. But it is better to have a budget and to buy good quality binoculars than to buy binoculars at low prices that will ultimately have no use. The reference marks, guaranteeing an optical quality almost irreproachable.
You can go for Leica, Zeiss, and Swarovski for the high-end. Bushnell or Nikon can be used in mid-range.
Compactness and Water Tightness
It is essential for the hiker to have compact binoculars. The more compact they are, the easier they are to store in a pocket or backpack. If you want to observe the animals, it is better to wear your binoculars to the belt, so that you can quickly grasp them before the object of your observation runs away! There are many binoculars that are foldable. Thus, they take as little space as possible.
The best hiking binoculars must be waterproof as you are going hiking in the rain or snow. Be aware that the full body of the binoculars is mostly waterproof.
Your Hiking Profile
Choosing the best binoculars for hiking also depends on how your hiking profile is. If you practice hiking in a rather soft way like walking in nature, you can choose 10×42 binoculars, a little heavy (600 to 800 grams) but they will offer you a great comfort of observation.
If your trick is you hiking in the mountains, then you will have to make a compromise between the comfort of grip and weight of the instrument. You will, therefore, opt for 8×32 binoculars or lower.
There are many different binocular models with different prices. But the price of your binoculars will greatly depend on the quality of the optics; Indeed, the high technicality used to develop high-quality glasses is very expensive!
The low-priced binoculars will have little interest for the hiker, as they will be virtually useless for observation in the natural environment, due to the poor quality of glasses.
The binoculars of the average range offered by Nikon or Bushnell (at less than $500 ) are starting to be interesting and have a good price ratio.
Beyond $500, the quality of the binoculars increase. When you try Leica or Zeiss, you will quickly understand the difference!
Keep in mind that the binoculars you buy should accompany you throughout your life. A prize that you will find high at first will ultimately prove to be rather low if you calculate this price with the number of years that the device will serve you. Most hikers keep the same binoculars for decades, which is why it is necessary to make the right choice from the beginning.
Top 10 Recommended Best Hiking Binoculars
1. ZEISS Conquest HD Binoculars 10×42
This jewel embodies the LotuTec technology, a special treatment of the glasses preventing the water from accumulating and are anti-scratch. The design of the optics is a pure marvel.
The important criterion about the binoculars that it has a perfect weight. At around 1.75 lbs, they will prove ideal for prolonged use.
More compact than the Zeiss Victory FL Series, this model is too much suitable for the spectacle wearers.
Note that the field of view of these binoculars is vast and the transmission of colors is excellent. These binoculars are the best hiking binoculars at the price.
- HD-lens system
- Robust and precise
- Optimal ergonomics
- Innovative lens coating
- Extra-wide field of view
- Precision at close quarters
2. Leica Ultravid 10×32 HD Binoculars
With their excellent optical quality, these ultra-compact binoculars are the perfect way to accompany you wherever you go, and they can be forgotten when you do not use them because of their weight of 565 g that is a real asset for your walks. The perfect reproduction of colors of Leica is one of the points that make its great notoriety.
Leica is a brand that has always combined high technical and optical quality, but with the “HD” series, the bar has been placed even higher with more than 200 improvements compared to previous versions.
One of the crucial innovations is that the lenses of these binoculars are now equipped with a hydrophobic coating to be waterproof and dirt resistant.
This “AquaDura” coating is reminiscent of the “LotuTec” technology developed by Zeiss, which makes it possible to use these binoculars comfortable in rainy and dusty environments.
These special coatings are a real plus point to the cleaning of glasses and eliminate fingerprints and other dirt.
The Leica Ultravid HD binoculars are equipped with a focus system using Teflon disks, which makes it very easy to focus, even under extreme conditions, with temperatures down to -25° C. And this system is also very reliable at scorching temperatures.
These binoculars are perfectly suited for hiking, travel, and sports, and will suit eyeglass wearers. I think this is the best binoculars for backpacking for the money.
- Aqua-Dura coating for water and dirt proof even under adverse conditions.
- Twist-up eyecups for comfortable viewing.
- Fluorite glass containing fluoride for the premium glass quality.
- High contrast and natural color.
3. Swarovski Optik CL 8×30 Companion Binoculars
If you have a high budget and look for small binoculars with incredible optical quality, look no further as the Swarovski Optik CL 8×30 Companion Binoculars are probably made for you.
Unlike many other manufacturers, Swarovski uses a magnesium-based alloy to design their binoculars. This results in lightweight, robust, stronger binoculars that are generally better than most other binoculars made of aluminum or polycarbonate.
The focus adjustment that is located on an inner wheel works in a very easy way: the adjustment wheel allows to make two complete turns. This allows an exact focus, but it can take longer than on other models of binoculars.
Locating at the same place as the focus, the diopter adjustment is extremely well thought out. It allows the lock to be locked so that it remains in the right place. Also, an encrypted ruler indicates the selected setting, which means that in the case of a loan or for any other reason, if your setting is modified, you simply need to reset the previous parameters easily.
The optics of these binoculars use brand-specific processing techniques that represent a mix of components and technologies that combine the best in this field.
The prisms in the roof of these binoculars give them a better and more compact design. When the light reflects on the glasses of the prisms in the roof, it diverges in two out-of-phase rays. This results in loss of contrast and a loss of resolution. However, this can be solved by a phase correction method.
The image provides by these binoculars is of exceptional depth, and has the impression that very contrasted objects such as the birds in the trees arise before you. And these great images look really natural, without the shadow of an artificial hue.
- Bright and high-contrast images.
- Shortest focusing distance.
- Phase-corrected coating.
- Non-slip, easy-to-handle focusing wheel.
- Individually adjustable twist-in eyecups.
- Dirt-proof, dustproof, waterproof and fogproof.
- Ergonomic body designed.
4. Leica Trinovid 8×20 BCA Binoculars – Best Lightweight Binoculars for Hiking
If you are looking for very effective binoculars, tiny and light, this Leica Trinovid binocular should suit you.
Featuring a weight of 235 grams on the scale, these binoculars with excellent optics are ultra-compact. This is one of the best lightweight binoculars for hiking.
To give you an idea of the size we can say that when folded, they could almost hide behind a credit card! They are ideal for slipping into any pocket.
Like other manufacturers such as Swarovski, these binoculars have no plastic parts: their coating is made of magnesium, which gives them exceptional strength and lightness.
Regardless of the weather conditions of your observations the device is totally waterproof (up to 5 meters deep), they are also perfectly antifog (nitrogen has replaced the air inside the binoculars).
A new system of glass on the roof prisms of these binoculars allows increasing the transmission of light in a very significant way (99.5%), which enhances the clarity of the images.
To summarize the quality, Leica has a quite affordable price. Whether hiking or traveling, this little wonder can accompany you everywhere and it is considered one of the best binoculars for hiking backpacking.
- Compact and very lightweight.
- Wide field of view for observing objects in motion.
- Water-resistant, rubber armor and rugged metal housing for extra durability.
- Easily portable pocket size for use anywhere and anytime.
5. ZEISS Victory Compact Binoculars 8×20 – Best Compact Binoculars for Hiking
ZEISS Victory is a Small, lightweight, compact and robust device. These binoculars also impress with their high optical performance. They are foldable. They will accompany you everywhere, with their weight of just 225 grams. This binocular consider as one of the best compact binoculars for hiking.
Like other brands, these binoculars are filled with nitrogen to prevent fogging inside.
The optics of these binoculars give a high-quality image sharpness, especially in daylight. When the darkness comes, they transmit less light than lenses with a diameter of 42 mm, but it is still perfect.
The design of these binoculars is asymmetrical. The system for folding them is positioned to the right, just like the focus adjustment wheel. This may sound curious, but in reality, this asymmetrical system makes it easier to adjust the focus with the right index finger.
Note that some people wearing glasses may have difficulty using these binoculars. I recommend the binoculars to the people who do not wear glasses.
These binoculars are highly suitable for hiking and traveling enthusiasts because Zeiss is a sure bet, they can not leave anyone indifferent. To try them is to adopt them.
- Handy and compact.
- Impressive optics.
- Robust and waterproof.
- Low light lenses thanks to Carl Zeiss T* multi-layer coating.
- Innovative lens coating.
- Award-winning high performing binoculars.
6. Swarovski CL 8×30 Traveler Binocular
With the most attractive design, these small Swarovski binoculars allow the hiker to enjoy a lens without reproach, combined with a very soft grip.
Their small dimensions enable you to take them everywhere. They make the most of your observations with a bright, sharp and contrasting image.
These binoculars offer a very comfortable grip, even for small hands, which makes them very pleasant to handle. The body of these binoculars is made of a mixture of aluminum and polycarbonate, which keeps the price relatively low.
Many other models are made of magnesium, a more robust and lightweight materials, but that is done with a higher manufacturing cost.
These binoculars are perfectly waterproof in up to 4 meters deep. They are also resistant to all dust, which can be very important if you observe in dusty environments.
The inside of these binoculars is filled with nitrogen, which makes them completely fog resistant that could settle down during a sudden change in temperature. This also prevents corrosion or the appearance of mold, which guarantees a very long service life.
These binoculars have a focus adjustment wheel that turns very smoothly and precisely. Its accurate positioning makes it possible to reach it very quickly.
The adjustment of the diopter is in the middle of this adjustment wheel, like many other models.
Displaying 500 grams on balance, these binoculars are rather light for 8×30. Their dimensions are perfect to hold in a pocket and will delight those who do not like to have a strap around the neck.
Note that these binoculars have roof prisms with a high-performing optics.
The brightness of these binoculars is excellent in environments where the light is rather weak, which is a perfect point.
The chromatic aberration is reduced to the maximum. It is possible to note a very slight purple fringe when we observe the edge of the objects, and we point the binoculars in the direction of the sun, but it is not problematic at all.
These binoculars are ideal for hiking, safari or mountaineering, as they are a bit smaller than their competitors, making it actually a model of choice. Above all, it is another best hiking binoculars.
7. Celestron Trailseeker 8×42 Binoculars
Celestron, a newcomer to the world of binoculars, is well known in the field of astronomy, with several ranges of telescopes device whose optical quality is very high. We are going to tell you about these binoculars because they are offered at a very affordable price for high-quality optics.
Producing a quality instrument at a low price is a very difficult undertaking, and this requires the manufacturer to compromise, which can sometimes be detrimental to the overall quality of the product. We will see that this is far from being the case.
It is surprising to note that these binoculars are made of magnesium, a material rather used in the very high end. At this price level, we expected a plastic chassis, but it is not!
These binoculars are supposed to be perfectly waterproof, but there is no indication of the depth of water in which they can be dipped. They will be quite usable in rainy weather but do not try to drown them in a pool.
Another great advantage of these binoculars is that all the air inside has been removed and then replaced by nitrogen, which makes them fog resistant and guarantees them a very long life. Indeed, the nitrogen gas makes it possible to avoid the formation of molds inside the binoculars.
As for the weight, these binoculars are rather light compared to their competitors: only 1.45 lbs. This makes it a nice instrument to use.
The optics of these binoculars apparently do not use ED technology (Extra Low Dispersion). Otherwise, Celestron would not hesitate to talk about it in its technical specifications! This technology is costly, and it seems that this is what Celestron has decided to save money to be able to offer a low-priced product.
To summarize, it can be said that Celestron has made it very strong by designing binoculars having many features in common while guaranteeing a relatively low price for binoculars of this quality.
These binoculars will prove ideal for hiking backpacking.
- Magnesium Alloy Body.
- Extremely Wide Field of View.
- BaK-4 Prisms with Phase and Dielectric Coatings.
- Fully Multi-Coated Optics.
- Metal Twist Up Eyecups.
- 6.5′ Close Focus.
- Tripod Adaptable.
- Limited Lifetime Warranty.
8. Minox Comfort Bridge BL 10×44 HD Binoculars
When one discovers these binoculars for the first time, he will be immediately surprised by the beauty of their design. And when you take them in hand, you can feel that it is a high-quality instrument.
These binoculars are made of polycarbonate (not mentioned in their specifications), which is a lightweight material, but less durable than the high-end, which uses aluminum or magnesium, costly materials.
Minox has therefore chosen a less luxurious body, but this does not detract from the quality of optical performance. Besides, these binoculars are so well designed that it would be difficult to differentiate between polycarbonate or aluminum.
Perfectly waterproof, these binoculars prove their waterproof feature in up to 5 meters deep. The body is not only beneficial for water, but also for all other types of particles such as dust, which can not enter as these binoculars are hermetically sealed.
Like many other competitors, these binoculars are filled with nitrogen, to protect them from 100% of the mold or the mist that could come to cause damage inside. The binoculars are therefore perfectly protected from the inside, which gives them an exceptional lifetime.
The image that these binoculars provide is very bright, the color rendering excellent, and the contrast excellent. This quality is due to the 44 mm lenses which are above average.
Another fact is that these binoculars can prove a bit heavy with their 1.63 lbs weight. These binoculars prove to be particularly effective for bird watching.
- New dynamic ergonomic design.
- Designed & Made in Germany.
- Fully Waterproof and Nitrogen Purged.
- HD Extra-Low Dispersion glass.
- Fully Multi-Coated Optics.
- Phase Coated Roof Prisms.
- Lightweight polycarbonate body.
- Improved lens coatings.
9. Olympus Trooper 10×50 DPS I Binocular.
If you need high-performing endurance and 10x optical power bino, then you can consider the Olympus 10×50 DPS. This standard binocular brings sports lovers to their game with easily focused, ultra wide-angle views that are perfect for tracking and keeping up with fast-moving objects. It provides UV ray protection so that you never have to anxious about the sun.
This model available at a reduced price of less than $70 is the cheapest one. It will suit the small budget without too much skimping on the quality.
Despite the lack of multilayer processing, the rendering remains largely acceptable for a hike. Its large diameter of 50 will allow you to learn about astronomy. It offers UV protection to protect against solar radiation and its rubber coating allows a good grip.
If you do not have the means to go on the more expensive models you will not have any regrets. If you want to observe animals, insects, scenes rich and faithful, prefer the previous models more precise.
- Aspherical optics guarantee a plasticity and distortion-free view
- Large center focus knob for fast, easy focusing.
- Large, Center-focus knob for fast and easy focusing.
- Wide-angle field of view.
- UV protection to guard eyes against the sun’s harmful rays.
- Anti-reflective lens coating for better image brightness.
- Rugged Grip rubber coating.
10. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 Binoculars
For some time now, these twins have had a dazzling success. Lots of online articles praise it, and by word of mouth they have become a bestseller for all-haired observers.
We spoke at length about this article dedicated to the Bushnell brand, which I invite you to discover.
These binoculars are equipped with ED technology, and their lenses feature the latest innovations in optical quality.
Without competing with high-end like Leica or Zeiss, these binoculars are a perfect compromise if you have a low budget.
- Rain guard waterproof HD lens coating.
- Lightweight and magnesium chassis.
- Waterproof & fog proof.
- Includes a carrying bag, soft carrying case, and neck strap.
- Exceptional ED Prime Glass optics.
- Ultra-wide FOV (field-of-view).
- Long eye-relief.
- Includes soft case and neck strap.
Without doubt, selecting the right binocular would amplify the satisfaction you get from the great outdoors while hiking. All of the binoculars reviewed above are of great quality. Regardless of the difference in their prices, features, quality and design, each one of them has recorded fantastic feedbacks and reviews on various platforms on the internet. Of course, they wouldn’t have made our list if they hadn’t.
We’ve discussed all of the features to look out for in a binocular for hiking and the only question we that might be lingering in your mind is “which is the best for me?” Well, if you’ve read the reviews above then we believe you can find the answer to that yourself. Just consider your needs and chose the perfect fit from the above list of the best binoculars for hiking.