I’m looking for a modestly priced but decent quality compact, waterproof (or, at least, water resistant) binocular in the 6x to 8x range. I would be carrying them in a dry bag on the deck of my kayak or on a strap around my neck. Anyone have experience with compact binos in the $100 range?

Not in that range

– Last Updated: Jan-27-14 10:42 AM EST –

As a birder I want the best view that I can afford, which is important enough to me to spend a bit more. There are some compacts out there in your range, but with optics you get what you pay for. I had some Bushnells for awhile and eventually the pivot wore or stressed to the point that they wouldn't line up properly. The image became distorted and the binocs were useless. Light gathering, optics coatings, lense quality and instrument construction really make a difference in how long you want to look through them.

Edit: My go-to compacts are Steiner in 10 X 28. I paid around $300 for them, on sale, over a decade ago and have been very pleased with them all around. 10 power is the limit of how much shake I want to deal with. If I rest them on a walking stick or pinch them against the brim of my hat they are quite steady.

link …

– Last Updated: Jan-27-14 11:37 AM EST –

here,s a link to Cabela's web page of bino's under $100..i have a 8X42 pair Cabela bino's, that I bought eons ago and they are darn good. You get what you pay for in binoculars. Cheap is really not the way to go. browse around reviews when possible. If you wear glasses/ sunglasses ....there are models available with " long eye relief" for eyeglass wearers. good luck

I have decent quality Nikon bins but they’re neither compact nor waterproof, qualities I think would be essential for sea kayaking. I have read some favorable reviews for the Leupold Yosemite 6x30 and the more compact Rogue 8x25. Both are waterproof/fogproof with at least a 15mm eye relief. The Yosemite focuses down to 10 feet but isn’t really compact and I don’t know if 6x will be adequate. They’re both bargain priced at less than $100. Perhaps a monocular would be a better choice for paddling.

Check the articles section
Tamia (In the Same Boat column) has written 4 articles on optics. Here’s a link to one:

Lots of good information.

This is the website to study
My binocs are not that compact and they’re above your stated price range. (I love 'em.) But I got the info to help me choose what brand and model from the same overall website.

For compacts:

Consider a monocular instead
Monoculars are much more compact and you get better optics for a given price range. They also work better one-handed.

Like this?

I have had many,and for canoe use to much power is a handycap due to the boat motion. 6x is probibly the best max. I accidentally stumbled onto a great binoc for app 25$! Olympus 7X21 PC III. They are reverse porro prisms,small,real lite, and optically unbelivable for the price. They are not waterproof,but I carryed expensive,heavy waterproof binocs for years and never got them wet-I decided ,considering the low cost to play the odds and take these. I liked then so much I ordered 4 more-one for a spare and the rest I gave away as gifts.


Oh no, jpc!
Not to step on no heels or nuthin’, but that looks like it’ll give ya a bad case of that there Planter’s fascia, Mr. Peanut.

I found that I went more often to a Brunton monocular model I had (I think it was an 8X Lite-Tech model) than the Steiner Marine binos I carry in small drybag while canoeing, both at the expansive salt marshes of Assateague National Seashore, and especially when on some twisty creeks and rivers around home here, when a curious sparrow-form presents itself within the bank thickets. The little mono was always quickly and easily drawn from within pfd pocket, and, for the most part, seemed fairly impervious to the occasional wet-exit faux pas or thunder shower that I’d find myself in.

They did fog up quite terribly, perhaps after a year of use, on an occasion when I left them in my pfd pocket as it hung beneath a tarp during a 2+ hour deluge at Raystown. Later, the eyepiece lens just rotated right off the barrel one day - I guess the gasket seal and/or crimp-stops had worn down. Well, disappointing though it was, the Lite-Tech model had only run me about $22 when I’d purchased it, so at about $11/yr. I wasn’t too offended. Just gave me reason to consider purchasing a more reliable model the next time. (It’s been three years, and I’m still sans monocular - I’ve just squinted more at bank birdies, lately.)

But, if I were to get back into more frequent and serious spotting of oyster catchers and errantly migrated water ouzels, I beleive a quality monocular - especially if it possessed some style of slide-style focus to facilitate one-handed use whilst the other hand clings to a bracing or bank-clamping paddle - would definitely be on my purchase order. Till then, I’m a slow draw with those optically excellent Steiners.

Minox BF or BV 8X25
Check out the Minox line of binoculars. I have their 8X25–small, lightweight, waterproof. About $130. I also have an old waterproof Brunton monocular, 6X30. Both are excellent for on-water kayak use.

Also the Minox Monocular
is great. And has the slide focus that CWDH was talking about. Its my take along when I’m too lazy to pack the little compacts. (Now that’s lazy, right?)

A monocular might work
I’ve found a couple of inexpensive models that would fit nicely into the pocket of my PFD: the Vortex Solo 8x25 has 15mm eye relief but only focuses down to 16 feet; the Celestron 8x25 Outland has a 14mm eye relief but can be focused as close as 6.5 feet. The Vortex cost $50, the Celestron is only $30 which makes me wonder about its quality.

Good choice
I always had binocs for years until I went blind in one eye a couple of years ago. I bought a waterproof monocular after that, and have found all the benefits mentioned above - easier to use, more compact, and better quality at the same price.

No complaints here.

You are wise to stick to lower powers, because above 8X in a kaynoe is extremely hard to hold still enough to see anything.

I got a pair of Bushnell H20 8x25s last year and I’m very happy with them. They are not the world’s best optics, but they are tough as horseshoes, waterproof, cheap, and good enough for my needs afloat. Under or about $50 in most places.

I’d cry crocogator tears if I dropped my Zeiss 8x40s overboard. I’d shrug if I dropped these Bushnells.

Deja vu
Those Bushnells look like a pair that I left in a rental car years ago — B&H has them for a song (less than I paid in 1991), it may be time to finally replace them. I have some very nice Birding binocs, but I’d NEVER take those in a kayak, they’re just too sweet to risk.

The Bushnell H2O
Looks like a good casual glass for kayaking except for the 13.5 eye relief which is barely adequate for anyone wearing glasses/sunglasses. My Nikon birding bins have 15mm eye relief and I think that’s about what I’d consider minimal.

I found a very small and lite monocular I now always carry in my thwart bag. It is an Audubon 6X16.It is optically good,and unlike my expensive,heavy binoculars,I always have it with me. My big heavy optics gather dust on the shelf. It is not waterprof,but inexpensive if ruined. It has been on countless paddles with me and stayed dry.


Binoc and monocs…
I would join the chorus recommending you check out a monocular for paddling for all the reasons cited. I appreciate the Vortex models and recommend Eagle Optics as a source. Here’s a link:

It is handy to watch wildlife and identify landmarks. On open water, they are handy for keeping track of companions. I like the inexpensive rubber armored pairs that are fairly small for paddling like Nikon.