Nikon trailblazer 10×25 atb waterproof black binoculars
Our top pick for binoculars is great for near–home hikes, but for travel, we’re willing to sacrifice some clarity and stabilization for a body that’s lighter and more compact. After talking to several hunting and outdoor experts, we reviewed many models for less than $200, seeking a versatile, durable pair with a good warrantry for viewing wildlife. We asked Milan G. Bull, Senior Director of Science and Conservation of the Connecticut Audubon Society, to take our top two models out for a spin. He compared field of view, clarity, and brightness by observing water birds along the shore, in patches of grass, and in darkened areas of the forest.
We recommend the $80 Nikon Trailblazer 8×25 binoculars. These are waterproof, so they won’t get permafogged, and have a wide field of view of 429 feet at 1000 yards. They are roof prism, which are generally not recommended at this price point, but Bull found them “okay in low light conditions” and brighter than our other recommended top model. And the Trailblazers are super easy to pack at only 4.1 by 4.5 inches and only 10 ounces. They come with a case, a strap, and a limited lifetime warranty in case you get a dud.
If you’re looking for something with more clarity and don’t mind a narrower field of view and a bit more bulk, the $105 Pentax Papilio 6.5×21 came highly recommended by Wayne Mones, former Vice President of the National Audubon Society. “They are great for looking at architectural details, sporting events, concerts, and scenery. They were designed for observing butterflies and have a close focus of 1.6 feet which makes them like a pocket microscope,” he told us. Bull found them slightly crisper than the Nikons. These come with their own strap, lens cap, and case. While they aren’t waterproof, they do come with the Pentax “Worry–Free” Warranty, which allows for repair or replacement (even with at–fault damage) for $20 to cover shipping and handling.