I’m a wildlife biologist and an avid birder but can’t always pack my regular binoculars due to space, weight, etc. while travelling/backpacking. I’m looking for a compact pair of binos that do not sacrifice too much light or clarity due to small size. I absolutely love my Swarovski 10x42s but have also owned and liked Bausch and Lomb 8x36 and Eagle Optic Rangers 10x50. A few different options in price range would be great. Since I already have Swarovski 10x42s, I don’t think I can justify spending $700-800 on a “travel pair” but it’s always good to know what else is out there.
Here are some recommendations for good, compact binoculars:
Bushnell Elite 7x26
Super nice optics at a good price: $219.99. The downside is that they are not the most compact of binoculars due to their design.
Vortex Viper 8x28
This sells for $320. Probably my favorite of the compacts outside of the “super-premium” models. It’s compact, bright, and has the feel/operation of larger binoculars. Easy to use with one hand and very well suited for eye-glass wearers.
Nikon Premiere 8x20
This sells for $430. This is the best deal of the “top-shelf” options. Optics comparable to the Swarovski’s and Leica’s but they run on average $200 less than the European models. Very small when closed up and in its case. Not as easy to use as the Viper but it’s smaller.
Minox 8x24 BV BR
Sells for $150 and the best option for a budget compact. If you are used to using Swarovski’s, I’d be willing to bet that you would find the view not so satisfying, but it’s the best in this price range.