PackHacks: Looking for Great Travel Binoculars

With binoculars it would have been easier to see the baby red deer during our train ride on the West Highland Line.

So often on our adventures we find ourselves straining to see something off in the distance. Whether its the intricate details of a mural on a church ceiling or the wildlife outside our train window as we roll past, it seems like something is always just out of sight. Instead of squinting our way through Europe again, we have decided that its time to purchase a pair of binoculars. We are not birders and we are not going to be hiking off into the wilderness (at least not this trip), so we do not need the best pair on the market. Rather, we are looking for something lightweight, compact and affordable; a pair that easily tucks into our day bag or fits in a jacket pocket. Here are a few pairs of binoculars we are looking at purchasing. 

 National Geographic 8x21 Mini-Binoculars

National Geographic 8x21 Mini-Binoculars

The first pair we are looking at are the National Geographic 8x21 Mini-Binoculars. These are the smallest  binoculars on our list, both in size and magnification, and seem like the perfect "starter" pair. At less than $30, these binoculars are water-resistant and rubber coated to help protect them when you are out in the elements. They also focus on objects as close as 15 feet so they are great for seeing extreme detail up close. The only drawback with this pair is the very thin neck strap that can cause some discomfort if worn against bare skin. This is not an issue if wearing the strap under a shirt collar or a scarf. 

 Bushnell Powerveiw Series

Bushnell Powerveiw Series

The next pair we are looking at comes from the Bushnell Powerview Series. These 10x25 binoculars have a bit more magnification then the National Geographic pair but they are not water-resistant. If you are planning on traveling to a wet climate or plan on spending a significant amount of time outdoors, a waterproof pair would probably suit you better. What these do have though are fully coated optical lenses, which give them a brighter and more vivid view. Depending on the options you choose, the price is slightly lower, at around $20, so you don't have to sacrifice quality for price with the Bushnells. The price includes a carrying pouch and neck strap. Plus, they come in a brown camo color which I think is awesome. 

 Zhumell 10x42 Short Barrel Waterproof Binoculars

Zhumell 10x42 Short Barrel Waterproof Binoculars

The pair I would love to buy, but wont because of the price, are the Zhumell 10x42 Short Barrel Waterproof Binoculars. These were voted best binoculars of 2014 in its class. Fully waterproof and nitrogen-purged and filled to prevent fogging, these binoculars are made for the outdoors. From birding and hunting to sporting events and sightseeing, these binoculars can handle anything. Not only are they great at seeing long distance they can also focus on objects as close as 6.5 feet so they are perfect for up close viewing of butterflies or insects. At a normal asking price of close to $400, these binoculars are not for everyone. However, I was able to find this pair at close to 65% off so if you are interested, check them out here. A nice feature on these are the flip-up eye pieces so users with glasses don't have to take them off before using them. They come with front and rear lens covers, neck strap and a carrying case with shoulder strap. They also come with a 25 year no-fault warranty so if anything does break, they will replace them for you. 

For our first pair of binoculars, I think we will go with one of the less expensive options.However, I can definitely see a pair of Zhumells in our future. If you have a suggestion for a great pair of travel binoculars we would love to hear about them. Let us know in the comment section below or try us on Facebook or Twitter