The best binoculars for birds, nature and the outdoors in 2021
the Athlon Optics Midas ED The 8×42, along with almost all of the other binoculars we’ve tested, are the beneficiaries of an optical quality revolution caused by falling costs for precision manufacturing and optical processing. For a little over $ 300, you can get a pair of binoculars that matches (i.e. matches, not nearly) products that cost hundreds, if not thousands, more. The Athlon Midas ED pair’s optics aren’t its only strong point – they’re exceptionally durable binoculars that easily withstood the humid, dusty and harsh environment of the Mexican rainforest and the harsh sun of the California desert. And their focus dial reliably and smoothly adjusts over a wide range of depths, making it easy to focus on what you’re trying to see, no matter where it is.
These binoculars follow the Athlons closely, with equally clear optics, solid construction, and easy-to-use focus. They also have a slightly smaller grip than the more rugged Athlons.
If you prefer a slightly smaller grip or the Athlon Optics Midas ED pair is out of stock, the very similar Celestron Trailseeker ED 8×42 Binoculars are a sharp and easy-to-use choice. After the Athlons, these are the binoculars that I have most often caught while trying to see a new bird. Like the Athlon set, the Celestron Trailseeker features crystal-clear optics (even at the edges of the field of view), comfortable ergonomics, and predictable focus, all in a slightly smaller body.
If you are on a very tight budget and are willing to see fewer scenes at once, you can get the Vice President Carson 8×42 for about half the price of the Athlons and get almost all the performance, with only a slight compromise in the field of view (how much scenery you will see through the binoculars).
The low cost Pentax AD 8 x 25 WP are ideal for day hikes or air travel, where you want good quality optics in a small package. Everything worked: The eyecups were strong and comfortable, the hinges weren’t too loose, and the focus was quick and surprisingly precise at any distance. Of course, this is not the pair for serious birding, stargazing, or anything that requires exceptional detail. But if you want cheap and super compact binoculars, this is the pair for you.