Choosing Travel Binoculars: A Buying Guide

Optics That Go the Distance

Heading out? Get a better view by taking along travel binoculars. These binoculars are characterized by smaller housings, smaller objective lenses, and high magnification relative to size. They're great for sticking in a purse or backpack and whipping out at the perfect moment. A travel binocular is generally defined as something that isn't too bulky or directed toward special use, so there are a lot of options out there.

Many of the best travel binoculars, we've found, come from Steiner, Vortex, Nikon, and Bushnell. Of course, we stand behind all of our brands, and each offers a good selection of binoculars appropriate for travel use. Be sure to look around and compare before making your trip.

Get Your Views "To-Go"

Hikers, sightseers, casual outdoorsmen, and tourists benefit great from a set of travel binoculars. Just look at what happens when somebody pulls out a pair of binoculars - right away someone else wants to have a look. Some of our highest-rated binoculars are so great, they can be positively hard to hold on to. It's a great tool to have on hand to make friends while traveling and to show people things they've never seen before.

Features for Frequent Flyers

Travel binoculars may not be waterproof, encased in an extra durable housing, or have any of the stabilizing perks of other specialized binoculars. What sets them apart is their ease of use, ergonomic designs, and that they provide greater magnification for their size. This assumes that days will be fairly clear wherever you are vacationing, as the exit pupil will be a bit smaller on these binoculars. If you simply can't sacrifice size for convenience, there are a number of mid size and full size travel binoculars made by some of our favorite manufacturers.

All this suggests that travel binoculars are geared toward amateurs who are not interested in investing much in their optics. Not so. Top-flight brands like Swarovski, Zeiss, and Leica all produce premium, compact binoculars for travel that are the best in terms of light transmission, weight distribution, eye relief, and general comfort. If you are serious about your sightseeing and like to travel with a compact set of binoculars, you can't get better than these brands.