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What do amateur birders and opera enthusiasts have in common? The need for a good pair of pocket binoculars. Pocket binoculars do just what full-sized binoculars do (if slightly less powerful), but are small enough to tuck into a pocket or small bag, making them more convenient to carry around.
Binoculars can get extremely fancy, but you most likely don’t need all the power and features of the really high-ticket types. You just need something with decent magnification and field of vision that won’t be a pain lug around.
What Makes a Good Pair of Binoculars?
Whether you’re taking them to a sporting event, concert or for travel, here are the most important things to consider when buying the best compact binoculars.
Prism Type: Binoculars come in two basic prism styles: roof and Porro. Porro binoculars are the wide-set type you’re probably most familiar with, and can offer wider field of vision. The roof style, alternatively, is more streamlined and easier to hold.
Magnification: While binoculars come in a wide range of magnification strengths, an 8 or 10 magnification (the ability to see objects from eight or ten feet away) is pretty standard. While greater magnification does give you the ability to see farther distances, lower magnification offers a wider field of vision.
Field of Vision: Magnification refers to how far away you can see using the binoculars, and field of vision refers to the width of the magnified area. For activities like birding, where you want to be able to spot small objects in your periphery, a wider field of vision is more useful.
Eye Relief: This is the distance between your eyeball and the eyepiece with the whole field of vision in view. This is particularly important for glasses-wearers.
Lens Coating: Many binocular lenses are coated with helpful features to improve vision and function. Coating can help reduce glare and brightness as well as improve color and clarity. Basic lenses will include at least one coating, but many layer several coatings on top of one another.
1. Skygenius Small Binoculars
These Skygenius binoculars hit all the right notes: 8x power magnification, wide field of view, and multi-coated lenses for brighter and sharper images. We also like how easy it is to focus correctly without causing eye strain. They’re super lightweight and foldable too, making them convenient to tuck away in a bag or large jacket pocket.
2. POLDR Small Pocket Binoculars
Most compact binoculars stay around 8 or 10x magnification, which is why we were so pleasantly surprised by this POLDR pair, which boasts an impressive 12x magnification. People were also pleased by the color quality — while many lens coatings produce a slight tint to reduce glare, these show colors more naturally, letting you easily pick out a red robin, from a Blue Jay.
3. Aurosports Folding High-Powered Compact Binoculars
Many people find the shape of these Porro prism binoculars a little more comfortable to handle than slimmer models, thanks to a grippy, non-slip exterior. We also like the 25mm objective lens, which gives the binoculars superior light-gathering power. This brightens the image when you’re using the binoculars in low light settings, making for a night vision-style feature.
4. Sallous Compact Lightweight Binoculars
These Sallous binoculars have 8x magnification, but its the high definition clarity and large field of view that makes this pair our pick for outings like sporting events or concerts. Plus, when folded up, they’re small enough to fit in your palm, perfect for carrying around all day.