Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /var/www/html/wp-content/plugins/gp-premium/elements/class-block-elements.php on line 785

Best Binoculars for Sightseeing and Travel: Distance Is Just a Number

binoculars on a stone
» Binoculars » Best Binoculars for Sightseeing and Travel: Distance Is Just a Number

When you go sightseeing, you often can’t come close to the objects you want to observe. Some of them are too remote, some too dangerous, and some are easy to scare off. What helps you see them better? Binoculars will be the answer. So, how do you choose the best binoculars for sightseeing and travel? First, by choosing what’s the most important.

Do you prefer to just look at the objects, or is it crucial to take pictures? Do you wear glasses? Does the price matter? Do natural or cultural objects attract you more? Anyway, there’s a model for you.

What Are the Best Binoculars for Sightseeing and Travel?

I hope it won’t come as a surprise that a relatively unknown brand Occer somehow managed to make one of the best portable binocular models available now. You will probably succeed if you devote all your effort to just one thing. Yet other models may suit your particular needs better.


Top 7 Best Binoculars for Sightseeing and Travel Reviewed

  1. Nikon 10x42 ProStaff 3S — Best Overall
  2. Occer 12x25 Compact Binoculars — Best Price
  3. USCAMEL 12x42 Binoculars — Best Waterproof Travel Binocular
  4. Adasion 12x42 HD Binoculars — Best Lightweight Binoculars for Travel
  5. Olympus Roamer 10x21 DPC I — Best by Review
  6. Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof Porro Prism Binocular
  7. Adorrgon 12x42 HD Binoculars

1. Nikon 10×42 ProStaff 3S: Reviewers’ Favorite/Best Overall

Nikon is famous for its cameras and Travelite binoculars, and this one feels just as Japanese as they do. Premium plastic, top-notch glass, high protection level, and attention to each detail. How do you like joint lens caps, so you can’t lose one? Or a brush instead of the cloth the others have? Let alone the quality of the case and the strap: they are well above every other product here. And the size and the weight are great for both adults and kids.

The magnification is a bit lower than the others offer: just 10x. But for most situations, this is quite enough. Instead, we get a multi-layered coating providing the best image quality of all the binoculars here. These are roof prism binoculars, not Porro ones like all the previous ones. It also contributes to the price because of its more sophisticated style but better quality, other things being equal. It’s compatible with eyeglasses, and the O-ring is sealed and filled with nitrogen for fog-proof performance.

The quality comes for a price: if you find this model under $150, you may feel lucky.

Key characteristics

  • Magnification: 10x
  • Near focal distance: 3 m
  • Lens diameter: 42 mm
  • Field of view: 367 ft
  • Weight: 1 lb
  • Premium quality;
  • Pro-class lenses;
  • Great accessories;
  • Lightweight;
  • Decent support and warranty.
  • Expensive;
  • The magnification is lower.

2. Occer 12×25 Compact Binoculars: Best Price

The company named occer has a bizarre website devoted to one model of binoculars – the one we see here. It’s a compact waterproof 12×25 model, easy to hold with one hand, and adjustable to suit kids and adults. It’s the only product by the company (I couldn’t find others after trying this; I definitely wanted to).

It has everything simple binoculars would need. The adjustment wheel is between the eyepieces; each is adjustable separately to compensate for the parallax effect. The rubber eyepieces are detachable; comfortable for the naked eyes. They are better off when you’re wearing glasses. It comes with a case and a strap.

As for the optics, the picture is clear, and the colors are true due to special filters used to clarify the image. The 12” magnification is enough for various activities, like birdwatching, enjoying sports, viewing rooftops or mountain peaks, etc. The price is under $50.

Key characteristics

  • Magnification: 12x
  • Near focal distance: 5 m
  • Lens diameter: 25 mm
  • Field of view: 273 ft
  • Weight: 0.65 lb
  • Compact;
  • Well adjustable;
  • Decent optics;
  • Waterproof (to some extent);
  • Reasonable price.
  • Not for heavy rain;
  • Support may be poor.

3. USCAMEL 12×42 Binoculars: Top Model Among the Best Waterproof Travel Binoculars

USCAMEL is a brand by a manufacturer named Guangzhou Wenmai, specializing in sports optics for decades. The one by USCAMEL has the same basic characteristics as Bushnell’s: 12×42. Still, this model is much more compact and not made for harsh environments.

What’s great about these binoculars is wide FOV, about 10% more than previous models. It’s good when you follow moving objects like birdwatching or watching sports. The BAK4 prism keeps the image sharp; if not, you can adjust your eyepieces to get the sharpness right for your eyesight. In the low light, it’s far from shining.

The price of this model is about $70, which is above the one by occer. Yet the package contains a lot of accessories, from lens covers, a strap, and a cloth to a smartphone adapter that lets you use it as the ultimate zooming solution.

Key characteristics

  • Magnification: 12x
  • Near focal distance: 5 m
  • Lens diameter: 42 mm
  • Field of view: 305 ft
  • Weight: 1.18 lbs
  • Decent optics;
  • Wide field of view;
  • Lightweight;
  • Weather-resistant;
  • Nice price.
  • Not for low light;
  • The overall quality may be a bit loose.

4. Adasion 12×42 HD Binoculars: Best Lightweight Binoculars for Travel

This binoculars kit has everything you might want! Along with the binoculars, it has lens covers, a carrying case, a strap, a smartphone adapter, and a tripod with a table mount! That’s impressive, but what about the device itself?

It’s the greatest option for watching moving objects, from birds and clouds to trains and persons (no stalking encouraged here). This makes it the best binoculars for long distances, despite the magnification itself being the same 12x as the others offer.

It’s lightweight at about 1.25 lbs. The body is made of plastic, and covered with anti-slip rubber. The protection level is only IP55, but it’s quite enough in most situations.

As for its optical capacities, they are decent. It boasts 18 mm eyepieces, and another great feature is rotating eyecups that allow for finer adjusting. Its price is about $70.

Key characteristics

  • Magnification: 12x
  • Near focal distance: 5 m
  • Lens diameter: 42 mm
  • Field of view: 367 ft
  • Weight: 1.25 lbs
  • Decent optics;
  • Very wild field of view;
  • Rich kit;
  • Affordable;
  • Fine adjustments
  • Not the best for kids;
  • The brand is not so well-known.

5. Olympus Roamer 10×21 DPC I: Great Ultra-Compact Device

Here comes another Japanese model by Olympus, also known once for its compact cameras. This one is also a consumer model, looking like a gadget, so you expect it to be stuffed with electronic enhancements. Indeed, it’s a regular optical model, compact enough due to its 10×21 formula.

What it lacks in distance, it gains in quality. The “optical material” it uses (read: not glass) is enhanced with various coatings that reduce UV and improve image quality. It also has dioptric adjustments and easy focusing. The image quality may be behind professional models, and some distortion is noticeable. But it performs well if you use it in bright light and at small/medium distances. Despite certain compromises, it may still be recommended as the best small binoculars for sightseeing.

These binoculars lack water resistance, limiting their use to good weather and non-risky ventures. On the other hand, it’s lightweight.

The price is under $70, and it suits you if you prefer good quality and premium features.

Key characteristics

  • Magnification: 10x
  • Near focal distance: 3 m
  • Lens diameter: 21 mm
  • Field of view: 262.5 ft
  • Weight: 1 lb
  • Compact and lightweight;
  • Easily adjustable;
  • Decent quality and service;
  • Good for kids;
  • Very affordable for this brand.
  • Non-protected;
  • Narrow field of view.

6. Bushnell H2O Porro Prism Binocular: One of the Best Compact Binoculars

This manufacturer boasts a wider range of products, including trail cameras, riflescopes, rangefinders, and other tactical things that survivalists and hunters love even more than the military do. So, what would you expect from hunters’ beloved manufacturer? These binoculars boast premium quality and protection. I recommend this as the best binoculars for Alaska cruise or venture into harsher conditions.

Optically, it’s 12×42 mm, much larger than the one by occer, and definitely not for kids. The rugged surface grants solid grip, and the materials used are said to be IPX7, 100% waterproof (and they feel just like that, though I didn’t check it in the rain). There are also special anti-fog protection and optical solutions that grant nearly perfect light transmission.

It also comes with a bag, covers for lenses and eyepieces, a strap, and a cloth. The eyecups are easy to adjust; so is the knob in the middle. This model is also glasses-friendly, no matter if these are prescription or sunglasses. The price is slightly above $100, which seems reasonable for such a professional product.

Key characteristics

  • Magnification: 12x
  • Near focal distance: 4.6 m
  • Lens diameter: 42 mm
  • Field of view: 267 ft
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs
  • Decent manufacturer, good support;
  • Clear vision;
  • IPX7 protection level;
  • Tripod-adjustable;
  • Reasonable price.
  • Not for kids.

7. Adorrgon 12×42 HD Binoculars

Adorrgon also has in its roster just one model of binoculars and nothing else. Still, it’s quite popular on Amazon, a decent affordable bino.

It shares most optical characteristics with most of its class. The main formula is 12×42, and the FOV is the same 367 ft (no, binos by Adorrgon and Adasion are not the same model). The picture is clear, and where this one really shines is twilight. Its optical system with FMC coating makes the image clear even when the light is insufficient.

As for the package contents, it also has what Adasion one offers: a tripod, a table holder for it, and a mobile phone adapter. Everything for a mobile photo is right here.

This model is under $50, which makes it an excellent choice for amateurs just tasting birdwatching or national park holidays for the first time.

Key characteristics

  • Magnification: 12x
  • Near focal distance: 5 m
  • Lens diameter: 42 mm
  • Field of view: 367 ft
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs
  • Good optical performance;
  • Sturdy build;
  • Rich package;
  • Performs well under low light;
  • Affordable price.
  • Narrow adjustment options.

Binoculars for Sightseeing/Travel Buyer’s Guide

binoculars against the green trees

So, how do you choose the best binoculars for your travel and sightseeing? The keyword is “your”: various models have different properties that are for the better in some situations but useless in others. So, let’s see which ones you’ll benefit from the most.

Best binoculars for sightseeing and travel

If you travel (no matter if it’s old cities with high city councils and cathedrals or national parks with mountains and rare animals), you’d like to see as many sights as possible. With binoculars, it’s always better. That’s why the best travel binoculars should be rather lightweight and protected. It’s a great bonus if you can use it for mobile photography.

[table id=14 /]

Why are there many different models? Because they vary in requirements, for example:

  • Binoculars for Alaska cruises should be well protected from cold and mechanical impact. The anti-fog protection is essential because of potential quick temperature changes.
  • Binoculars for safari, on the contrary, should be well adapted for heat (including anti-fog measures).
  • Binoculars for birdwatching and tracking animals benefit from a wide field of view because moving objects are easier to keep track of.
  • Binoculars for viewing stationary objects (mountains, waterfalls, canyons, etc.) benefit from stronger magnification.

Use during daylight or also at dusk

It does matter because some events you’d like to see closer may happen in the dark or at least in the twilight. If you come to see nature, you stay here 24/7, and every time of the day has its enchantment. But even in the theater, where it’s much darker, you might want to see the stage closer; it’s an ancient tradition.

How do I choose compact travel binoculars?

Here are the parameters you should consider when choosing the best sightseeing binoculars. Of course, you may keep narrower purposes in mind, which makes a choice easier.

binoculars on the beach

  • Magnification. Many consider it the main parameter for binoculars. Yet, as you see, 10x ones may perform better than 12x.
  • Lens diameter/coating. It defines the brightness of the binoculars and the quality of an image. Modern binoculars use special coatings for UV filtration or reflection reduction.
  • Eye relief. It’s the distance between the eyepiece lens and the pupil as you watch. It should be long enough if you wear eyeglasses. Otherwise, you’ll lose the edges of the picture.
  • Field of view. The wider it is, the larger area you can observe at a certain distance (usually, it’s measured for 1,000 yards). If you watch moving objects, it’s easier to keep an eye on them if the field of view is wider, and for outdoor and birding binoculars, it usually is.
  • Anti-fog treatment. It prevents your binoculars from fogging down.
  • Size. No need to explain that compact binoculars may lack the power of their bigger counterparts, yet you can take them with you anywhere.
  • Water/Weatherproof. It’s the first parameter to consider when choosing the best compact binoculars for sightseeing in snow.
  • Weight. Especially important if you travel on foot or by plane.

Where to use binoculars?

So, where in the U.S. can you see how your vacation benefits from using binoculars? Here are some places that are better to observe from a distance but watch closer.

  • Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware. The perfect place for birdwatching.
  • Multnomah Falls, Oregon. It’s not the best idea to chase waterfalls, but with binoculars, it’s much better.
  • Everglades National Park, Florida. Its fauna is rich but also often dangerous, so there is a reason to watch alligators or Burmese pythons from a distance.
  • Bryce Canyon, Utah. The shapes of the rocks are so various and exquisite that you just can’t help focusing your binoculars on any other rock top.
  • Grand Canyon, Arizona. Enough said.

girl admiring the mountain scenery

Okay, all these places are natural wonders, but when it comes to sports, theater, or urban landscapes, there’s no need to search: everything is better from a closer view.

FAQ on Travel Binoculars

Any more questions? Welcome to the comments, and so far, we have addressed these.

How many miles can you see with binoculars?

It depends on magnification, a field of view, and the size of the object you observe. If the object is one mile away, and you use 12x binoculars on it, it will appear like it’s just about 150 yards away. Of course, if it’s large enough to be noticed from such a distance.

What should I look for in travel binoculars?

First of all, it’s compactness, then good optics. It’s the binoculars you should afford to take with you. They all come with straps and cases, but some also have adapters and tripods for mobile photography. Protection is more important in the wild and less in the city.

Can binoculars see 10 miles far?

Well, if you look at an object 10 miles away through binoculars that magnify objects by 10 times, the objects will seem just one mile away. It’s okay if you’re looking at something big, like a mountain top, but it’s a tougher job to do with a bird or a deer.

What does 10×50 mean in binoculars?

It means that the magnification level of the binocular is 10x, and the diameter of the main lens is 50 mm. Among our best lightweight binoculars for travel, none has a 50 mm lens: for compact ones, it’s usually smaller.

What is a good binocular magnification?

For compact models, this is 12x or 10x. Some users are great with 8x sightseeing binoculars. As for models with higher magnification, these can’t be qualified as the best lightweight travel binoculars – simply for not being lightweight.

black binoculars on the table

So, What’s in the Field of View?

Still recommending the only model by occer as the best compact binoculars, I emphasize that other models may be better for certain purposes. Say, when it comes to the best waterproof travel binoculars, I’d consider Bushnell, and the best binoculars for sightseeing in an urban environment may be Nikon or Olympus.

Which ones of these do you consider the best budget travel binoculars? Would you prefer to have the best protected, the most magnifying, or the most compact binoculars for your travels? If you have a question or want to share your experience, welcome to the comments!

Also read:

About Valery Johnson

Hi, I am Valery and I love nature, the universe and the starry sky. Together with my friend Michael we share our practical knowledge in the field of astronomy and nature observation. We also test different optical instruments to see the strengths and weaknesses of different models. Very often we travel around our country, so we have the opportunity to test optics in different conditions and different seasons. Welcome to Michael's and my blog and we hope you find useful and practical information for yourself.

Leave a Comment