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Best Binoculars For Hiking & Backpacking 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

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hiking and backpacking

Hiking has many advantages besides physical exercise. Taking in a beautiful view or spotting a hawk in flight are moments that many people miss if they are not willing to make the trek. Although missing nature’s gifts altogether is sad, it does not come close to the agony of being there and not being able to see the view because it is too far away.

Therefore, having a set of binoculars on backpacking adventures is a necessity. Whether you are birdwatching or admiring the view, a set of these specs can make a world of difference. Not only that, but having a handy pair available can help you get a better look at your favorite sports teams, or help you watch the action on stage.

Regardless of why you may need them, the sheer number of options may hold you back from acquiring a set. It can be frustrating trying to choose which pair will be right for you. To help solve this issue, we have reviewed the ten best binoculars available for hiking and backpacking.

We will break down magnification, objective diameter, lens coating, and all the other aspects important to know. Also, for those of you who are new to the world of binoculars, we have provided a buyer’s guide to break down all the important specifications and what you should look for in a set.

A Quick Look at Our Favorites (updated in 2020)

ModelPriceMagnificationOur Rating
Wingspan EagleScout
Wingspan 4331882573 Optics EagleScout
(Best Overall)

Check Price
10x424.8/5
Sallous 10x25 Compact
Sallous Small Compact
(Best Value)

Check Price
10x254.65/5
Nikon PROSTAFF 7S
(Premium Choice)

Check Price
10x304.55/5
Cayzor
Cayzor 3216582932

Check Price
12x424.3/5
Aurosports Folding
Aurosports Folding High Powered

Check Price
12x254.1/5

The 10 Best Binoculars For Hiking

1. Wingspan Optics EagleScout Binoculars – Best Overall

Wingspan 4331882573 Optics EagleScout Binoculars

If you are looking for a powerful yet lightweight set of binoculars, this is your best option. The Wingspan’s 10X42 magnification gives you a clear and crisp view. You can take advantage of this model during any type of weather conditions, as the multi-coated lenses are waterproof and fog proof.

These binoculars are great for hiking, bird watching, sports events, concerts and the theater. Low light is also not an issue with the 42 mm lens diameter, plus you will have a 283-foot/1,000-yard field of view. The range of motion fits adults and kids, not to mention, the anti-slip drop-proof grip. You won’t have to worry about them being dropped.

BaK-4 prisms will allow you to see everything you want in a clear and colorful optics without detracting from the light. Check out the overall stats:

Power 10X
Objective Lens Diameter 42 mm
Prism BaK-4
Field of View 283 ft/1,000 yds
Minimum Focal Length           3 m
Diopter System Right eye
Diopter Comp +3
Interpupillary Distance 56 mm – 74 mm

These binoculars are handy to have for any situation or location where you want to get a closer look. They are a decent weight at 1 pound and have a convenient center-focus knob that is easy to use. Plus, you can focus in on anything as close as 3 meters. Overall, this option is the best set of binoculars available.

Pros
  • 10X42
  • Water and fog proof
  • 283/1,000
  • Slip-resistant
  • Multi-coated lens
  • Multi-use
Cons
  • Not a one!

2. Sallous 10X25 Hiking Binoculars – Best Value

Sallous 10X25 Small Compact Binoculars

If you want to start with a less costly option, the Sallous is the best hiking and backpacking binoculars for the money. The 10X magnification and 25 mm objective lens will give you a clear and crisp view of the scenery. The small design allows you to stick this set in your pocket and will be great for entertainment like sporting events or the opera where you don’t want to carry anything bulky.

This option has BaK-4 prisms with a multi-coated lens that allows up to 98.74 percent of natural light to stream through. You will also be able to see clearly through light rain and fog. Take a look at the specifics:

Power 10X
Objective Lens Diameter 25 mm
Prism BaK-4
Field of View 98 ft/1,000 yds
Minimum Focal Angle 6 degrees
Diopter System Right eye
Exit Pupil 2.5 mm
Eye Relief 11 mm

Both kids and adults can use this model. It has an anti-skid shock-resistant frame and weighs 0.6 pounds. This set has non-chromatic aberration, a center focus knob, and HD vision. The only drawback is this option is not recommended for heavy rainstorms, and it does not have a wide field of view like our number one choice.

Pros
  • 10X25
  • Multi-use
  • Compact
  • Rain & fog-resistant
  • Adult and kid use
  • Multi-coated lens
Cons
  • Narrow field of view

3. Nikon 16001 Compact Binoculars – Premium Choice

Nikon 16001 PROSTAFF 75 Compact Binocular

If you are a fan of Nikon cameras, you will be pleased to know they make a great set of binoculars, too. Though more expensive than other models, this pair of high-quality specs will give you a view with excellent color and clarity. The 10X30 design comes with multi-coated lenses that are water and fog proof. Take a look at the details:

Power 10X
Objective Lens Diameter 30 mm
Prism Phase Correction Coated Roof
Field of View 105 ft/1,000 yds
Minimum Focal Length 2.5 m
Diopter System Right eye
Eye Relief 15.4
Interpupillary Distance 56 mm – 74 mm

This model has turn-and-slide rubber eyecups, and a rubber body for durability. The phase correction coated roof prisms, while not as sharp as BaK-4, are still designed to provide you with a clear picture without the loss of light. You can use this option while hiking, birdwatching,  or at sporting events and low light entertainment.

One important aspect is this binocular set is meant for adult use only. On the other hand, you have a lot of magnification power in the 14.9-ounce set, and you can zoom into objects as close as 2.5 meters. Overall, these are the best premium choice on the market today.

Pros
  • 10X30
  • Multi-use
  • Water and Fog proof
  • Multi-coated lens
  • Durable rubber body
  • Great minimum focal length
Cons
  • Adults only
  • Does not have BaK-4 prisms

4. Cayzor Compact Hiking Binoculars

Cayzor 3216582932 Binoculars

This next set of binoculars will be a great addition to your backpacking ensemble. The super-powerful 12X magnification will allow you to zoom in on birds, sports action from nosebleed seats, and distant objects in the nighttime sky. The 42-mm lens diameter delivers clear and sharp images, and they are great for lower light settings.

As a bonus feature, this set has a phone mount so you can easily attach your cell phone to take breathtaking pictures. At 1.6 pounds, this is a lightweight option for the power, although a tripod is recommended. Luckily, this option has a connection you can use for just that purpose.

You can also use this model in light rain as the multi-coated lenses keep the water at bay. Heavy rain or moisture is not a good idea though, plus the fog resistance is not up to par. The crisp view expected of BaK-4 prisms does not fail here, and the dual right and left eye focus is a plus. The durable rubber body is slip-resistant and great for adult use. The specs are as follows:

Power 12X
Objective Lens Diameter 42 mm
Prism BaK-4
Field of View 374 ft/1,000 yds
Minimum Focal Length 5 m
Diopter System Left and right eye
Exit Pupil 10 mm

Another great aspect of this set is the 374/1000 field of view, though you can only focus on sites 5m or farther. If you are looking for a pair of binoculars that will give you a lot of magnification, this is a great choice.

Pros
  • 12X42
  • Multi-use
  • Multi-coated lens
  • Phone mount
  • Water-resistant
  • Dual eye adjustments
Cons
  • Not for heavy rain
  • Not fog-resistant
  • Tripod recommended

5. Aurosports Folding High Powered Binoculars

Aurosports 4336304350 Folding High Powered Binoculars

If you are in the market for a middle of the road set of binoculars, the Aurosports is a solid option. This model has 10X magnification and a 25 mm lens diameter. While these are great for hiking, bird watching, and outdoor sporting events, they are not quite powerful enough for precise high-powered use such as stargazing.

That being said, there are plenty of benefits to this pair. First, let’s look at the specifications:

Power 10X
Objective Lens Diameter 25 mm
Prism BaK-4
Field of View 362 ft/1,000 yds
Minimum Focal Length 3 m
Diopter System Right eye and center
Weight 12 oz

The BaK-4 prisms use HD green film and have a light transmittance up to 99.5 percent making this a great option for concerts, theater, or any weak light viewing. This is especially true as they fold up small enough to fit in your pocket, purse, or even the palm of your hand.

Kids and adults will have a great time with these 12-ounce lightweight binoculars. Be mindful of the fact that there is no rubber grip, though. They are made of ABS plastic, therefore, they can be slippery when wet. Speaking of moisture, this option is waterproof.

On the other hand, the multi-coated lenses are great for a clear view, but not foggy weather conditions. Although, there is some fog-resistance, it will not be 100 percent protected. Alternately, you have a 362/1,000-yard field of view. Be advised, however, you will not be able to adjust this option if you wear glasses.

Pros
  • 10X25
  • Multi-coated lens
  • Waterproof
  • Great in weak light
  • Compact
Cons
  • Little fog resistance
  • Not adjustable for glasses
  • Not powerful enough for stargazing

6. Bushnell H20 Waterproof Compact Binoculars

Bushnell BN130105 H20 Waterproof Compact Roof Prism Binoculars

In the number six spot, we have another model with 10X magnification and a 25mm objective lens diameter. This compact set is 10.2 ounces and boasts a 100 percent waterproof design. The soft rubber grip handle also makes this a great option for boating and fishing along with camping, hiking, and any other outdoor activity. Although this option is not great for low light, the multi-coated lens provides a great image quality.

The BaK-4 prisms will let you see clear and bright landscapes plus sharp and crisp objects. This set features a 342/1,000-yard field of view, twist-up eyecups, and fog-free lenses. One drawback to this model, while you can use it for spotting a whale 1,000 yards out, you can only focus on sites approximately 15-feet or closer.

As provided with the other picks, here is a list of the specifications:

Power 10X
Objective Lens Diameter 25 mm
Prism BaK-4 Roof
Field of View 342 ft/1,000 yds
Minimum Focal Length 4.6 m
Diopter System Right eye
Eye Relief 13.5 mm
Exit Pupil 2.5 mm

Meant for adult use only, there is a large center focus knob that is easy to use. Beyond that, be advised that any views that require high powered magnification such as stargazing are outside this model’s capabilities.

Pros
  • 10X25
  • Waterproof
  • Multi-coated lens
  • Fog proof
  • A good field of view
Cons
  • Adult use only
  • Not for low light
  • Minimum focus length
  • Not powerful enough for stargazing

7. Carson Scout Series Compact Binoculars

Carson Scout Series JD-025 Compact Binoculars

For this next set of binoculars, we are going to hop right into the stats:

Power 10X
Objective Lens Diameter 25 mm
Prism BK-7
Field of View 283 ft/1,000 yds
Minimum Focal Length 10.5 m
Diopter System Right eye
Eye Relief 9.5 mm
Weight 9.9. oz

This 10X25 set features a very compact design with fully coated lenses that provide crisp and clear optics for hiking, backpacking, bird watching, and other outdoor activities. Unfortunately, as the lenses are not multi-coated, there is no water or fog resistance for water activities.

This model has a good 342/1,000-yard field of view which is great for the size, but the BK-7 older prism technology does not make this the greatest option for low-light use. On the other hand, the optic adjustment is done with an easy-to-use center focus knob. Furthermore, the small size will accommodate adults and children.

With a 10.5-foot focus length, the depth of view is not as sharp as some other options. Also, be aware that this model is difficult to use for those who wear glasses. Otherwise, the 9.9-ounce weight makes these binoculars easy to slip in your pocket, although adults with larger hands could have some difficulty with the focus.

Pros
  • 10×25
  • Compact
  • Adults and children
  • A good field of view
Cons
  • No water or fog-resistance
  • Older BK-7 technology
  • No multi-coated lens
  • Harder for large hands

8. Whew Binoculars

Whew 3216577853 Binoculars

The Whew binoculars feature fully multi-coated lenses, BaK-4 prisms, and a water -and fog-proof design. The 10X magnification and 42-mm lens diameter allow you to view crisp and clear optics in low light settings. On the other hand, the 307/1000 small field of vision will limit your viewing range.

Ultimately, you can use this pair of specs for any outdoor activities, sporting events, or low light entertainment. Also, while they claim to be water-proof and fog-resistant, heavy rain or boat use is not recommended. Also note, they are heavy and bulky for indoor amusements.

Another drawback to this set is the optics can be monochromatic in some light. What’s more, they are only meant for adult use, especially as the rubber body is not as slip-resistant as advertised. For a better idea of the overall performance, check out the details:

Power 10X
Objective Lens Diameter 42 mm
Prism BaK-4
Field of View 307 ft/1,000 yds
Minimum Focal Length 6 m
Diopter System Right eye and center
Weight 1.17 lbs

As mentioned, the 1.17-pound weight makes this model heavier than others, and a tripod is recommended. Furthermore, the center focus knob is hard to adjust.

Pros
  • 10X42
  • Fully multi-coated
  • Multi-use
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • Heavy and bulky
  • Monochromatic color
  • Not slip-resistant
  • Low field of vision
  • Difficult focus knob

9. Carson Compact Waterproof Binoculars

Carson VP-250 Compact Waterproof High Definition Binoculars

In the second to last spot is another Carson binocular set which features a high powered 12X magnification. First off, take a look at the specifications:

Power 12X
Objective Lens Diameter 50 mm
Prism BaK-4
Field of View 241 ft/1,000 yds
Minimum Focal Length 13.2 ft
Diopter System Right eye
Eye Relief 18.2 mm

This option has fully multi-coated lenses and BaK-4 prisms for clear optics. Unfortunately, the 50-mm lens diameter causes this pair to be blurry; specifically, if you are trying to focus on close objects. On the other hand, you can use this option for all outdoor adventures including bird-watching, hiking, backpacking, sporting events, and even stargazing.

That being said, the water and fog-resistances is restricted to the body of the model, and not protective of the lenses, so any water activity including rain is not recommended. Concerts or theater are also not applicable because of the weight of this set, plus the low minimum focus range.

Additionally, the 241/1000 field of view is small for binoculars of this strength. On a brighter note, the phase correcting prisms improve the contrast of the view. Finally, be advised that eyeglass wearers will have difficulty focusing. Also, a tripod is recommended, but you will have to purchase the adapter separately.

Pros
  • 12X50
  • Fully multi-coated lens
  • Phase correcting prisms
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Blurry site
  • Not for low light
  • Not water or fog-resistant
  • Tripod attachment sold separately

10. Alatino AL035 Binoculars

Alatino AL035 Binoculars

The Alatino is the last option on our list, and a bit of a conundrum. The binoculars feature 12X magnification, but only has an objective lens diameter of 25 mm. You will be able to use these to see at great length, yet they will not be good in low light settings or for events where you want to see specific objects.

For adult use only, you get a decent 362/1,000-yard field of view. Unfortunately, the optics are not as sharp as you would like them to be. Also, be aware that the rubber grip has some slip, and they are not as durable as some other options.

This model has BaK-4 prism technology. Here are some more details for a better idea of the characteristics:

Power 12X
Objective Lens Diameter 25 mm
Prism BaK-4
Field of View 362 ft/1,000 yds
Minimum Focal Length 13.2 ft
Diopter System Right eye
Eye relief 18.2 mm
Weight 12 oz

The fully multi-coated lenses do not allow as much light as they should. Any boating activities or using these in the rain is also not recommended as the water and fog-resistance does not keep moisture out.

Finally, the center focus knob is difficult to use, and not useful for anyone wearing glasses. At 12 ounces, though they are not the heaviest, these binoculars are not meant for consistent use. All in all, you may be better off with one of the options above.

Pros
  • Fully multi-coated lens
  • A good field of view
Cons
  • 12X25
  • Not water or fog-resistant
  • Blurry unclear view
  • Not for low light
  • Difficult focus knob
  • Not as durable as other options

Buyer’s Guide

Important Things To Know Before Purchasing Binoculars

If you are brand new to the world of binoculars, you may be confused by the specifications or jargon used to describe each model. To help remedy that problem, we have outlined below a few key terms to know.

  • Power and Objective Lens Diameter: These two terms are typically used together in either the name or description of the binoculars. For example, you may see a model that says 10X25. The first number is always the magnification power. In this case, you will see an object 10 times closer than you would with the naked eye. The second number is the objective lens diameter, which is the size of the front lens and determines how much light is let into the view. So, this model would have a lens diameter of 25 mm.
  • Field of View: This next specification is also a grouping of two numbers, and it will generally look something like 362/1000. These two numbers measure the amount of space you will view while looking through the binoculars. The first number is the width measured in feet while the second number is the length in yards. In this example, you can view a scene 362-feet wide and 1,000 yards back. Keep in mind, some brands use meters rather than feet. Also, 1,000 yards is the typical amount for a standard set.
  • Minimum Focal Length: This number is going to measure the distance between yourself and the closest object you will see clearly through the binoculars. Depending on the brand, it can be measured in either feet or meters. Another tip, some brands prefer to use a minimum focal angle which measures the closet angle in degrees.

woman holding binocular

  • Diopter System: This simply means how you will focus the binoculars. Most models are right eye focused. In that case, you would shut your left eye while using the turn knob to focus the right eye. Some brands have both left and right focusing options, as well as center.
  • Eye Relief: This is a good spec to look out for if you wear glasses. This is the length from the last surface of an eyepiece in which you can obtain the full view. The stronger the magnification, the lower the eye relief will be.
  • Interpupillary Distance: This last measurement is the distance between the pupils of your eyes. When a brand gives this measurement, you will determine whether the binoculars will be too big or too small for you to use comfortably.

Conclusion:

We hope the reviews above have helped you narrow down the search of which binoculars are right for you. To give you a few more quick tips; remember that the bigger the objective lens diameter, the better it will be in low light. Also, the bigger the magnification and lens diameter, the heavier and bulkier the model will be to use.

Keep in mind, as well, that multi-coated lenses have four jobs; they provide water and fog resistance, create sharp clear images, and provide colorful views. Finally, you want to consider the prisms. BaK-4 is the newest and best optic technology, but older models can also work quite well if the other specifications are in line with your needs.

If you are ready to purchase your new set, and you don’t want to bother with browsing the selections, go with our number one choice. The Wingspan 4331882573 Optics EagleScout Binoculars are the best set available. If you are just getting started and want something more affordable, try the Sallous 10X25 Small Compact Binoculars which are the best option for the money.


Featured image: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay