The best travel binocular
When you're on vacation, a pair of travel binoculars makes it much easier to take in the beautiful sights and scenery surrounding you. They work just like any pair of binoculars, but travel models are designed to be lightweight and compact so you can easily pack them without weighing down your bag.
If you're not sure what to look for, check out our shopping guide, which has all the tips you need to find the best pair of travel binoculars for your next trip. Our top pick from Wingspan Optics features a convenient neck strap for easy access and comes with a microfiber cleansing cloth so your view is always crystal clear.
Considerations when choosing travel binoculars
Size and weight
The size and weight of travel binoculars determines how simple they are to pack and carry with you. Most pairs feature lenses that are between 21 and 30 millimeters in diameter to give them a compact design. You can also find foldable travel binoculars that become even smaller for packing. To make sure that your binoculars don't weigh down your bag, choose a pair that weigh a pound or less.
Most travel binoculars offer eight or 10 times magnification, so when you look through the binoculars, items appear eight or 10 times closer than they actually are. Both options are effective for allowing you to take in details from a distance, but opt for 10 times magnification if you need to see extremely close details for activities like bird-watching.
If you plan to use your travel binoculars for rugged outdoor activities like fishing and boating, it helps to choose a waterproof pair -- that way you don't have to worry if you get caught in the rain or splashed with water. Binoculars are rated from IPX0, meaning they aren't waterproof to any depth, to IPX8, which means they're waterproof up to three feet. For most people, travel binoculars that are rated IPX4 or above work well.
Having lenses fog up when you're trying to take in scenery can be an issue in certain weather conditions or climates. Some models are actually fog-proof so you never have to wipe away the fog if you're stuck in humid conditions.
Travel binoculars should be able to take a beating, so it helps to choose a pair with some type of lens coating for added durability. Not only can a coating help cut down on glare, it also helps prevent scratches so the images you see through the binoculars are always clear.
To make it easier to carry your travel binoculars, many pairs feature a strap. Some even have straps long enough to wear around your neck for hands-free carrying. Look for a padded, adjustable strap to make sure it's as comfortable as possible.
Travel binoculars prices
Travel binoculars range from $7 to $450. Pairs with the smallest lens diameter and only eight times magnification usually range from $7 to $25. For pairs with a mid-size lens diameter and eight times magnification, you pay between $25 and $130. For travel binoculars with a large lens diameter and 10 times magnification, you can expect to spend between $130 and $450.
Q. What's the best way to clean travel binoculars?
A. It's best to blow off any dust, dirt, or debris from your binoculars' lenses rather than rubbing it away. If you can't remove all the dirt that way, use a lens cleaning cloth or tissue to wipe it away. Never use your shirt, a regular tissue, or paper towel to clean your binoculars -- you can scratch the lenses that way.
Q. What can I use travel binoculars for?
A. In addition to sightseeing when you're on vacation, travel binoculars work well for bird-watching, hunting, fishing, boating, stargazing, sporting events, and even concerts.
Travel binoculars we recommend
Best of the best: Wingspan Optics EagleScout 10x42 High-Powered Binoculars
Our take: Travel binoculars that provide impressive overall durability and image clarity while still costing less than models with similar features.
What we like: Magnifies up to 10x and provides clear images. Able to maintain color purity and brightness. Can be used in any weather -- waterproof and fog-proof. Can withstand drops. Comes with a neck strap to make it easy to take them on the go.
What we dislike: Aren't quite as compact as some outdoor enthusiasts would like.
Our take: Binoculars slim and lightweight enough to fit in your pocket. Very affordable price point.
What we like: Foldable design makes them extremely easy to pack. Features non-slip grips and durable design. Includes a carrying case and a neck strap to keep your hands free. Lenses are fully coated.
What we dislike: Some find that focusing the binoculars is difficult so images aren't always clear.
Choice 3: Vanguard Endeavor ED 8x42 Binoculars
Our take: Comfortable, easy-to-use binoculars that work well for a variety of outdoor settings, including low light.
What we like: Features attached lens covers. Waterproof and fog-proof design. Includes a carrying strap and case. Focuses simply to provide clear views. Sturdy enough to hold up to most wear and tear.
What we dislike: Some people complain that images are blurred or feature noticeable colored edges.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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