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10 best lightweight binoculars +tips on choosing your best pair

Are you looking for new lightweight binoculars? Here we have some of the best lightweight binoculars to suit any situation.

Whether it’s for hiking, bird-watching, star-gazing, or general travel, there are a range of situations that require the use of binoculars.

In many of these situations, a compact, lightweight pair of binoculars can make everything easier and smoother.

However, it is often thought that lightweight binoculars lead to a decrease in quality.

Here we have collected some of the best lightweight binoculars available without compromising on quality.

Wondering how to choose the best lightweight binoculars? Here’s all you need to know to make your selection.

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In a hurry? Here are the best lightweight binoculars

Best Lightweight Binoculars

Weight Magnification FOV Best for Price
Celestron – Nature DX 10×32 Binoculars – Outdoor and Birding Binocular

18oz

10x

465/1000yd

Birdwatching, travel, backpacking, safari, star gazing $$$
Bushnell H2O Roof Prism Binoculars

25oz

10x

306/1000yd

Bird watching, whale watching, hiking, travel, occasional night sky viewing. Great for different face shapes and glasses-wearers $$
Nikon Trailblazer 8×25 ATB Waterproof Black Binoculars

9.9oz

8x

426/1000yd

Backpacking, hiking, hunting, birdwatching $$
Leica Ultravid Robust Waterproof Compact Binocular with AquaDura Lens Coating

8.5 oz

12x

339/1000yd

Travel, hiking, safari, casual use $$$$$$
Steiner Safari UltraSharp Binoculars Compact Lightweight Performance Outdoor Optics

10.5oz

10x

330/1000yd

Safari $$$
Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars

7.2 oz

12x

273/1000yd

Hunting, hiking, travel, people with a small face or children $
Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars with ED Glass

18oz

8x

309/1000yd

Birdwatching, hunting, hiking, glass wearers $$$$
Vortex Optics Vanquish Binoculars

12.7oz

10x

321/1000yd

Travel, hiking birdwatching, wildlife-watching, hunting $$
Leupold BX-1 Rogue Binocular

12.7oz

8x

306/1000yd

Birding, hiking, camping, hunting $$
Orros Lightweight Compact Binoculars, Waterproof/Fogproof

9.9 oz

10x

330/1000yd

Birdwatching, hiking, wildlife-watching, great introductory binoculars $$

Best Lightweight binoculars

Best lightweight binoculars for bird watching

Celestron – Nature DX 10×32 Binoculars – Outdoor and Birding Binocular 

Key Features

  • Magnification: 10x
  • Weight: 18oz
  • FOV: 465/1000yd
  • Best for: birdwatching, travel, backpacking, safari, star gazing
Pros and cons
  • Tripod adaptable
  • Twist-up eye cups
  • Customer service issues
  • Heavier than other binoculars in the category
Conclusion

These Celestron binoculars are built to withstand damage with a thick rubber armor casing and polycarbonate housing.

Previous customers said the eye relief was perfect and needed no adjustment.

The image quality, contrast and color quality is said to be equivalent to that of much more expensive models.

They are lightweight enough to be easily carried and taken on-the-go but with enough weight to cancel out any hand-shaking.

Some customers have had issues with contacting customer service in regards to warranty, replacements and the like. Customer service seems to be slow to respond and unhelpful.

However, the binoculars are said to be durable, easy to use and great for a range of purposes.

They are also great introductory binoculars for beginners to bird-watching or star-gazing.

Many customers said the image quality was immersive and easy to maintain without too much need for adjusting focus.

This makes it great for those who are still learning.

Check prices and availability:
Amazon

Bushnell H2O Roof Prism Binoculars

Key Features
  • Magnification: 10x
  • Weight: 25oz
  • FOV: 306/1000yd
  • Best for: birdwatching, whale watching, hiking, travel, occasional night sky viewing. Great for different faces and glasses-wearers
Pros and cons
  • Large center focus knob
  • O-ring and nitrogen-filled waterproofing
  • Chromatic aberrations
  • Strap, carrying case etc. sold separately
Conclusion

These binoculars from Bushnell have a rubberized casing which makes them comfortable to hold and easy to carry.

This, along with the large focus dial, make them easy to use one-handed or on-the-go.

They have strong waterproofing as they are both nitrogen-filled and have o-ring sealing.

Previous customers mentioned dropping the binoculars in water or leaving them in the rain and the binoculars stayed waterproof and fully functional.

They use roof prisms and have multi-coated lenses to aid light transmission.

They also have a long eye relief which makes them very adjustable for different face shapes and glasses-wearers. They have high image quality and contrast.

However, in some extreme light conditions there is some color blurring and chromatic aberrations.

Previous customers enjoyed these binoculars as convenient, compact travel binoculars as well as for more intense bird-watching or whale watching.

Check prices and availability:
Amazon

Best lightweight Binoculars for backpacking

Nikon Trailblazer 8×25 ATB Waterproof Black Binoculars

Key Features
  • Magnification: 8x
  • Weight: 9.9oz
  • FOV: 426/1000yd
  • Best for: backpacking, birdwatching, hiking, hunting
Pros and cons
  • Waterproof
  • High-contrast image quality
  • Short eye relief
  • Not good in low light
Conclusion

These Nikon Trailblazer binoculars utilize the roof prism technology and are fully-multi-coated to optimize image quality and contrast.

They aim to create crisp, high quality images at an affordable price.

The binoculars are strongly waterproofed, with previous customers reporting using them underwater with no issues.

They are nitrogen-filled with prevents any water from entering the casing. This also prevents condensation in the binoculars.

They are also a great ethical consumption choice as the binoculars use ECO glass and an environmentally friendly prism.

Many customers commented on the usefulness of the size and weight, with some using them as a backup pair of binoculars which can be tossed in any bag, some purchasing them as their children’s first pair of ‘real’ binoculars and others enjoying them for casual use while conducting nature photography or hiking.

Check prices and availability:

Amazon

REI

Best lightweight binoculars for traveling

Leica Ultravid Robust Waterproof Compact Binocular with AquaDura Lens Coating

Key Features
  • Magnification: 8x
  • Weight: 8.5oz
  • FOV: 339/1000yd
  • Best for: travel, hiking, safari, casual use
Pros and cons
  • Great in low light conditions
  • Very lightweight
  • Diopter issues
  • Durability
Conclusion

Leica is a well-known and well-respected brand with a high standard of quality.

However, this also comes with a high price tag.

These binoculars are great option for something truly lightweight, compact and able to be thrown in any bag or pocket.

However, being at such a light weight means they can feel a little flimsy and there are some concessions in terms of durability and damage resistance.

They also don’t come with front lens caps which can also lead to damage.

Some customers had issues with the diopter, which adjusts the focus, and the general focus dial being a little sticky or fiddly to use.

Most customers did enjoy the binoculars for casual use while traveling, hiking or on safari and found the small, compact size and weight to be useful.

Check prices and availability:
Amazon

Best lightweight binoculars for safari

Steiner Safari UltraSharp Binoculars Compact Lightweight Performance Outdoor Optics

Key Features
  • Magnification: 10x
  • Weight: 10.5oz
  • FOV: 330/1000yd
  • Best for: safari
Pros and cons
  • Fast focus
  • Soft eyecups
  • Some durability issues
  • Some aperture issues
Conclusion

These Steiner safari binoculars use a durable polycarbonate housing which makes them great for on-the-go activities and helps to keep them lightweight and compact.

They utilize advanced UV coatings to help with light transmission and high contrast lenses to maintain and improve image quality even in low light conditions.

This is enhanced with the use of roof prism technology. The image clarity and sharpness is high, making it great for observing wildlife.

The width of view is a little low, but this is to be expected from such compact binoculars.

They also have soft eyecups, making them comfortable and easy to use for long periods of time or while moving.

Some customers found issues with durability and some disliked the soft eyecups, describing them as ‘floppy’.

However, for casual use, these are a great option, especially for viewing animals and nature.

Check prices and availability:
Amazon

If you aren’t convinced of the above-mentioned binoculars for safari, check out the following binoculars who are also great for all your safaris.

Best lightweight binoculars for astronomy

These lightweight binoculars are perfect for stargazing:

Best lightweight binoculars for hunting

Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars

Key Features
  • Magnification: 12x
  • Weight: 7.2oz
  • FOV: 273/1000yd
  • Best for: hunting, hiking, travel, people with a small face or children
Pros and cons
  • FMC multilayer coating
  • Great in low light conditions
  • Not fully-multi-coated
  • Size may be too small
Conclusion

These Occer binoculars have both a high field of view and high magnification level, making them great for purposes that need intense vision, like hunting.

They also provide better light transmission, making them able to be used in low light conditions.

These binoculars use BaK4 porro-prism lenses with FMC multilayer broadband green film on the optics.

This helps improve image quality, sharpness and keeps the color representation bright and true.

Some customers complained that the size was too small for their face, but others said it is just more suited to people with a smaller face or children.

There were also some reports of binoculars arriving damaged. However, with the warranty in place, any issues like this should be resolvable.

These binoculars are small and easy to carry with a compact, ergonomic design.

Check prices and availability:
Amazon

If you aren’t convinced of the above-mentioned binoculars, have a look at our selection below which are also great for hunting.

 

Best lightweight binoculars for eyeglass wearers

Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars with ED Glass

Key Features:
  • Magnification: 8x
  • Weight: 18oz
  • FOV: 309/1000yd
  • Best for: birdwatching, hunting, hiking, glass wearers
Pros and cons
  • Long eye relief
  • Wide FOV
  • No anti-glare
  • Difficult to adjust
Conclusion

These Carson binoculars offer a great FOV, meaning they provide better situational awareness and allow you to take in more of a scene while using them.

The wide lenses also make them good for low light conditions as more ambient light can be transmitted.

They use BaK4 roof prisms which further enhance light transmission.

The binoculars are also fully multi-coated, although there are some issues with anti-glare properties. The image quality when using these binoculars is sharp with great contrast and very little blurring.

Many customers praised the high optics and image quality, especially in comparison to more expensive models.

They have a long eye relief which is great for glasses-wearers.

However, some customers mentioned that the eye relief only has two settings, either extended or not extended, which means there is less flexibility for anyone who falls between the two settings.

Not convinced about the above-mentioned binoculars? The Bushnell H2O Roof Prism Binoculars are also great binoculars for eye-glass wearers.

Check prices and availability:
Amazon

Best cheap lightweight binoculars

Vortex Optics Vanquish Binoculars

Key Features
  • Magnification: 10x
  • Weight: 12.7oz
  • FOV: 321/1000yd
  • Best for: travel, hiking birdwatching, wildlife-watching, hunting
Pros and cons
  • Durable
  • Long eye relief
  • Can be difficult to focus
  • Some image blurring
Conclusion

These Vortex binoculars use the more traditional porro-prism design, however, it is a reverse porro-prism that can increase durability.

This means they can be taken into rough conditions without needing to worry about damage.

They are very small and compact which makes them very convenient for travel and hiking.

They have a lifetime warranty, which is useful in case of any damage occurring.

They do compromise somewhat in image sharpness and contrast. This can be difficult to maintain at a lower price bracket.

Many previous customers have compared them to much more expensive models and found them to not quite measure up, but the general conclusion is that they offer great value for the low price point.

The eye relief is long and easily adjustable and so they are flexible for a range of users.

This is a great option if you are looking for a budget option.

Check prices and availability:

Amazon

REI

Leupold BX-1 Rogue Binocular

Key Features:
  • Magnification: 8x
  • Weight: 12.7oz
  • FOV: 306/1000yt
  • Best for: hiking, camping, hunting
Pros and cons
  • Fully-multi-coated
  • Central focusing
  • Doesn’t have variable magnification
  • Issues with the strap
Conclusion

These binoculars from the well-respected brand Leupold are a great mini version for when compact, on-the-go binoculars are needed.

They use reverse porro-prism technology and have great image quality and clarity during daylight conditions. However, in low light, this quality is heavily diminished.

They also don’t have adjustable magnification which can make focusing difficult.

Some customers had issues with the strap either not attaching or breaking, so it may be beneficial to buy a different strap that is compatible.

The body has a rubber casing which makes it impact resistant and it has a great ergonomic design.

They are well waterproofed and durable. This means they can be used in a range of conditions and situations.

The eyepieces have to be extended, which does somewhat reduce the quickness of ability of use, but in most cases, this is not an issue.

Check prices and availability:
Amazon

If you are convinced of the above-mentioned pair, have a look at these other compact lightweight binoculars:

 

Best pocket size binoculars

Orros Lightweight Compact Binoculars, Waterproof/Fogproof

Key Features
  • Magnification: 10x
  • Weight: 9.9oz
  • FOV: 330/1000yd
  • Best for: birdwatching, hiking, wildlife-watching, great introductory binoculars
Pros and cons
  • Bak4 prisms
  • waterproof
  • some image distortion
  • some focus issues
Conclusion

These compact lightweight binoculars are o-ring sealed and nitrogen-filled, meaning they are fully waterproofed and great for use in any potentially wet conditions.

They use Bak4 prisms, which deliver high-quality light transmission and contribute to better image quality.

However, some previous customers did find issues with image distortion around the edges of the field of view and that focus could further distort the image.

The body has a rubberized casing, making it comfortable to hold and easy to carry.

The focus wheel is easy to use and doesn’t have any overreach, which allows for easy focusing. Some people found a few issues with adjusting various settings.

Overall, these are a great set of binoculars for the price point and are hard to match.

They are a great pair of introductory binoculars and are a great tool for learning the best ways to use binoculars.

Check prices and availability:
Amazon

Advantages of lightweight binoculars

Some consumers can be cautious about the use of lightweight binoculars due to the potential loss of image clarity and quality when compared to traditional binoculars.

However, there are many benefits to using lightweight binoculars and a range of situations that are actually more suited to lightweight binoculars.

One of the most obvious benefits is the compact nature of lightweight binoculars. Being low in weight and usually small in size allows them to easily fit in most bags and be easily transported regardless of surroundings.

They are comfortable to carry or wear around the neck and can easily be used one-handed, a clear benefit especially in the context of wildlife observation.

An advantage that may often be overlooked is that of the size being appropriate to certain faces.

For children or people with small faces, lightweight binoculars can actually be significantly better than traditional binoculars due to the shorter distance between the ocular lenses.

The compact nature and wide range of uses make lightweight binoculars a great option for most people, and they are often more budget-friendly than traditional binoculars.

Girl spotting wildlife with binoculars

How to choose the best lightweight binoculars?

Choosing the best lightweight binoculars can be an in-depth and difficult task.

Here we have brought together some of the most relevant information to consider when choosing your lightweight binoculars.

Weight

True to the name, lightweight binoculars are intended to not be heavy.

They are intended to provide an alternative to carrying heavier traditional binoculars.

However, there are aspects to the weight that need to be considered.

Firstly, if you wish to carry your binoculars around your neck, it is important to note a comfortable weight for this purpose.

Most people find over 35oz to be too heavy for comfortable carrying around the neck while less than 30oz is much better.

However, if you do have slightly heavier binoculars, there are binocular harnesses available that can disperse the weight onto your shoulders.

It is also important to remember that lighter does not always equal better. It is possible that some lightweight binoculars save on weight by using low-quality components.

It’s necessary to check all aspects of the binoculars to choose the best weight.

One of the most important aspects of choosing an appropriate weight is balance.

A good pair of binoculars should be well-balanced, rather than too front-heavy or back-heavy. Well-balanced binoculars allow for ease of carrying and use.

Magnification

Magnification refers to how much the binoculars will appear to bring items closer when being used.

This is usually displayed on the focus dial of the binoculars as a AxB measurement, where A is the magnification level and B is the objective lens diameter in millimeters.

Common magnification levels for lightweight binoculars are in the 8x – 12x area, although there some available above and below this. It is commonly thought that 8x – 10x are the best magnification factors for lightweight, handheld binoculars.

12x and above are much more susceptible to picking up the shaking of one’s hand and so are best for use with a tripod. They also limit depth of field and field of view, which may lead you to need to adjust the focus more often.

Binoculars with a magnification of less than 7.5x can be useful for users with shaky hands or who need a wide field of vision to track fast-moving wildlife.

 However, for general use, 8x – 10x is considered the most versatile and easiest to use.

Field of view

Field of view is closely connected to the magnification of binoculars.

It refers to the extent of the scene able to be seen through the binoculars. It is usually described as meters/1000metres or as an angle.

A wide field of view will allow you to see more through the binoculars and to locate the target you wish to observe easier. This is especially true for wildlife and birds.

A high magnification can reduce the field of view while a high objective lens diameter can increase the field of view. Some binoculars also have the option for additional wide-angle eyepieces which can increase the field of view.

While it is good to have a large field of view, it is also important to be able to find what you’re looking for in that field of view and therefore, to not be so large as to reduce image quality.

It is necessary to find a balance between magnification and field of view to suit your needs.

Lens Type And Coating 

Coatings are a type of treatment applied to the lenses and air-to-glass surfaces of binoculars to improve vision quality and reduce issues with the lenses.

There are a few levels of coatings available, from ‘coated’, meaning some, but not all air-to-glass surfaces have been coated through to fully-multi-coated, meaning all air-to-glass surfaces have multiple layers of coating applied.

Obviously, the best to go for is fully multi-coated.

However, there are also different types of coating. The most common is anti-reflective coating. These reduce the amount of light lost and improve light transmission through the binoculars, thereby resulting in better image quality and contrast.

Protective or water-repellant coatings can be applied on the outer lens surface to protect the delicate anti-reflective coatings from damage caused by general wear, cleaning, or abrasion.

There are also mirror coatings, which are only necessary for roof prism designs and also help with light transmission and image quality, and phase-corrected prism coatings which are also only necessary for roof prism style binoculars.

This coating can help with phase-shift and degradation in image quality.

Whale watching with binoculars
Your binoculars must be completely waterproof if you are going to use them on whale watching expeditions

Prism Types

In the previous section we already mentioned roof prism, this is one of the two main prism types in modern binoculars.
The prism type can affect a number of aspects of binoculars, so it is important to choose the best type for your purposes.

The more traditional type is a ‘porro-prism’ and creates the binocular shape which is more familiar – where the eyepiece and the objective lens are not directly in line. This is due to the way the light is bounced through the prisms in the binoculars.

Due to the porro-prism being an older technology, it is possible to get high-quality models at a lower price point. However, they are more susceptible to damage due to their shape.

Roof prism binoculars have a very straight design, with the eyepiece and objective lens directly in line. This makes them smaller, more compact, easier to carry, and more ergonomic.

However, as it is a newer technology it is only just starting to become affordable on the general market and so lower-priced models will suffer from lower image quality.

Eye Relief 

Eye relief refers to the distance between the ocular lens (at the back of the binocular) and the eye of the user.

If the eye relief is too short or too long issues such as blurring, shadowing, or low image quality can occur. It can sometimes also lead to having your eyelid visible when looking through the binoculars, affecting the image.

In some cases, it can also reduce the field of vision and create a form of tunnel vision.

The eyepiece on most binoculars can be adjusted to increase or decrease the eye relief. This is especially important for those who wear glasses.

Usually, people with glasses will need a longer eye relief to create a better image. For most people, an eye relief of around 15-16mm is ideal, but for those with glasses, 17-20mm may be better.

Waterproof

Waterproofing is another important aspect of buying binoculars.

It may seem insignificant but even a tiny bit of moisture getting into the main mechanism of the binoculars will create fogging and damage the lenses, leaving the binoculars unable to be used.

When hiking, bird-watching or just generally being in nature, it is not unusual for there to be water sources – lakes, creeks, streams, waterfalls, wet weather – rain, dew, fog, or even just an accidental drop from a water bottle or the like.

Therefore, it is necessary to make sure the binoculars you buy have a high level of waterproofing and will stay waterproof throughout their use.

This will allow for easier use of the binoculars as well as peace of mind when it rains or you have to go through some water.

Girl using binoculars

Price

Price is, of course, a necessary consideration when buying anything, including binoculars.

Binoculars are precision instruments, which means good binoculars are often quite expensive due to the materials and expertise needed to make them.

Generally, you do get what you pay for, so the most expensive binoculars will actually perform at a much higher level than cheaper versions.

They are also a long-term investment that, with correct care and maintenance, will work perfectly for years.

It is hard to compare to something like technology, in which the rate of development is uncertain. Binoculars will stay functional and precise for a long time.

However, it is also important to consider the value. Buying a pair of binoculars that suits you, not just the most expensive is necessary.

Make sure the binoculars have features that serve your purposes while maintaining a good level of quality.

Conclusion

There are a range of advantages to the use of lightweight binoculars and a variety of situations they can be beneficial for.

Hiking enthusiasts, bird-watchers, hunters, and more can benefit from the compact, easy-to-carry, portable nature of lightweight binoculars.

Here we have compiled some of the best lightweight binoculars on the market and the reasons they might suit you.

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