Apart from birdwatching, there probably aren’t many instances you can think of that require a pair of binoculars. But there are many more (legal) use cases than you think. Going to the races for the day? They’ll come in handy if you want to watch the horse you backed make it across the finish line.
The best binoculars can enhance your enjoyment of the great outdoors hugely; a bad pair can put you off for life. But how do you tell the difference? And are cheap binoculars always a bad move?
To help you make the right decision, we’ve put together a list of the best small binoculars uk you can buy, from the bargain basement to the very best on the market. And if you don’t know your objective lenses from your Porro prisms, scroll down to get the full lowdown on what features you should be looking for in our handy buying guide.
Top 10 the Best Small Binoculars UK 2021
THE BEST SMALL BINOCULARS UK TO BUY RIGHT NOW
1. Celestron Outland X 8×42
Something of a bargain, this pair of Celestron BaK-4 prism binos boasts 8x magnification and multi coated optics to prevent anything from marring your view. This isn’t the only size – you can get these Outland X binoculars in other magnifications and sizes too.
Suitable for outdoor use by birders and wildlife watchers, thanks not only to said magnification but also a sturdy polycarbonate build and waterproofing, the decent-sized 42mm objective lenses on offer here will aid light gathering, making these binoculars suitable for use in low light as well as regular daylight.
A large smooth-feel focus wheel aids operation and a long 18mm eye relief delivers viewing comfort. Capable of being tripod mounted if desired, a strap, lens cloth and carry case comes as standard, plus a limited lifetime warranty.
2. Levenhuk Rainbow 8×25 Binoculars
Once again the double hinges on these Levenhuk Rainbow compacts permit them to fold up into a tiny shape, but like the others on this page, it also gives them a very wide IPD range and thus they can adjust to fit the faces of those with close or even far set eyes.
As they come in a wide range of bright colours as well as having a really wide field of view, I envisage them as a good choice for those wanting to make a style statement at sports events like horse racing, cricket and tennis.
3. Nikon Monarch 7
These binoculars are more solidly built and put together than the Trailseekers with a smoother focus ring that’s easier to adjust with just one finger. The sculpted, rubbery body of the Monarch 7 feels better made, too, and they’re more comfortable to grip than the Opticron Discovery. Naturally, at this price, they’re also waterproof and nitrogen filled to help mitigate fogging.
Close focusing at 2.5m isn’t quite up to the same standards as the Trailseeker and you don’t get as many accessories in the box, either – only a wide nylon strap, front and rear lens caps and a fairly basic padded pouch.
My only criticism is that, in bright conditions, there’s noticeable purple fringing visible around the edges of some objects against blue sky. These binoculars are solid value for money for anyone seeking the very best in image quality.
4. Zeiss Terra 8×25 Compact Binoculars
If you want to know what to look for in some of the best small and lightweight binoculars for birding, hiking, backpacking, and more, take a close look at what the Zeiss 8×25 Terra ED Compact Pocket binoculars offer. It got our Top Pick because it packs optimal performance into a lightweight frame that you can carry all day without getting fatigued.
Your top priority with any binoculars is the imaging, and the Zeiss 8×25 multi-coated lenses made from extra-low dispersion glass produce crystal clear images without any color blurring. The body is weatherproofed to operate in extreme temperatures and through any kind of exposure to moisture, from merely humid air to torrential downpours.
They’re also easy-to-adjust and fold down into a compact case and weighs just over a pound. The one thing you might not like about these is the price. These are very expensive compared to the other binoculars we reviewed. But if you’re willing to spend the money, these are a great investment.
5. Canon 12 X 36 IS III binoculars
Canon is a reputable brand, renowned for its cameras but now carrying that knowledge and technology over into their binocular range.
This is one of the most expensive pairs on our list but for those looking for something special, you don’t need to search much further.
If you’ve never used image stabilisation (IS) before, prepare for some optical wizardry. In comparison to non-IS binoculars, the contrast is like day and night. Canon’s powerful optical image stabiliser counteracts your movement to deliver a stable steady view of distant objects and animals, even from a moving vehicle.
The focus control position takes a bit of getting used to but apart from that it’s an excellent product. Although no instruction manual is included, they are intuitive to use and if you decide you want a manual you can download one from Canon’s website.
Our main gripe (aside from the lack of water resistance) was that at this price, Canon could have supplied it with a better case and rubber front covers.
6. Hawke nature trek 8×32
A good option for more general usage, or if you’re just getting into birdwatching or other kinds of wildlife field work. This pair gave a good, clear field of view and were comfortable to look through for extended periods, with twisting eyecups that can be closed down if you’re wearing glasses and raised if you’re not.
For the price, the image quality, colour and sharpness is impressive and the British manufacturer has hit a sweet spot when it comes to weight, as they’re not so heavy as to cause arm ache and not so light that they can’t be held still.
7. Avalon 8X32 Mini HD Binoculars
Despite being compact these binoculars from Avalon offer up impressive high definition, long distance images, ideal for both bird watching and butterfly spotting.
They have a comfortable grip and also come with a carry case and strap. They can easily fit into your jacket pocket or a handbag, and are both fog and waterproof. One of the best compact binoculars you can find.
8. OLYMPUS 10X25 WP II
Aimed at outdoor enthusiasts who prize portability over everything else, these handily foldable compact binoculars offer a decent 10x magnification and a 25mm objective lens. Add to that some waterproofing and it ensures they can be used whether at sea or at the races on dry land.
Relatively lightweight, unfussy and reliable, the Olympus 10×25 WP II are binoculars you can pick up out of the box and get using straight away, with added peace of mind provided by a generous 25-year warranty. See how they compare to another excellent pair of wildlife binoculars in our Olympus 10×25 WP II vs Nikon Monarch 5 20×56 showdown.
9. Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10X25
This product is lightweight, rugged magnesium chassis with an ergonomic design and a double-hinged closed bridge. Has a close focus of 6.0. It has exception optics with ED Prime Glass, 10x magnification Bak4- prisms, Rainguard HD lens coating for water repellence.
It has a 10x magnification and objective compact prisms of 25mm. It has a soft-touch grip and is fog-proof and water-proof. It consists of an ultra-wideband of anti-reflective lens coating. It optimizes light and boosts brightness.
Product has superior class- dominating optics, an ultra-compact format for easy pocket traveling. The product has a double-hinged and closed bridge, which affords it a fine optic trim profile.
With these binoculars, you can rest assured of years of dependable use. The ED glass lenses offer an exceptional viewing performance and provide fantastic color rendition, vivid contrast, and enhanced resolution.
10. Carson 3D Series High
These binoculars are an excellent choice for hiking, they’ll also be great for the birder out for a stroll. The Carson HD compact binoculars are sporting tons of high end features like ED Glass (Extra-low Dispersion) and Phase-Corrected Prisms, you are guaranteed excellent resolution and contrast.
If you want to use them for birding or wildlife viewing, they are tripod mountable and if you wear glasses you will appreciate the extra long eye relief.
The Carson HD binoculars are fully waterproof, though Carson doesn’t tell us what the IPX rating is. They have been ergonically designed to be comfortable to hold for hours with texturing and thumb grooves.
The Carson 3D Series come with a convienent neck strap and shoulder harness giving you options on how to carry them and a perfect choice for hiking.The padded carry case keeps them secure when traveling with your binoculars in the car or in the backpack.
How to choose the best compact binoculars?
When we consider miniature binoculars, the focus remains on the small size and lower power. However, this does not call for compromise on quality, weather-proofed, and FOV.
If you desire the best quality for money, be brand specific, but most importantly, determine what particular design, power, aperture, and platform will suit your needs the best. Size is irrelevant when everything else you want is present.
Consider the weight of a binocular before you buy it. Verify if prolonged use will tire you. Most compact binoculars should weigh at half kg or a pound or less. Larger ones may weigh from 3 pounds to more.
Aperture is the front width of a binocular or objective lens in millimeters. It is necessary as it gathers light to make objects viewable. General use binoculars should have an aperture of 7x to 10x.
The power of magnification directly affects the field of view. Most binoculars have a field of view between 6 to 7.5 degrees. Most good quality models have a FOV of 300 to 375 feet at 1000 yards.
Lens coatings and make up on the glass minimize reflection and increase brightness and clarity. Most binoculars have the concave eyepiece and a convex objective lens. There are also multi-coatings on the inside and outside of the glasses to reduce reflections.
The best eye relief in a binocular is 16 mm, although some models have a 15 mm or even less eye relief at times.
The best weatherproofing in binoculars is done with hermetical sealing and nitrogen filling.
The binoculars featured in this review will all help you when out searching for birds and butterflies, and we’ve included some of the best small binoculars around.
Our favourites include the RSPB HD Binocular, which is ideal to use in poor light, but comes in at a hefty £519. On the more affordable end is the Nikon Aculon A30, which is compact enough to carry around without getting too heavy.