Even though I’ve worked in the industry and been on many safaris, I still find it an exciting time when it comes to planning and putting together what I am going to take on my next travel adventure.
One of the main considerations that I always take into account is weight and size because one thing that can really ruin a trip is having to lug about bulky and heavy bags.
Best Binoculars for Safari
So whilst I would argue that the most important piece of gear that you can take on safari is a good pair of binoculars, they can be one of the heavier and sometimes most bulky pieces of kit that you take.
However you will notice that I placed an emphasis on the word good for my safari binoculars in the paragraph above.
This is because a good or even great safari/travel binocular not only has to perform well optically, but should be small enough to easily pack and carry about, tough enough to handle the inevitable bumps and knocks whilst travelling, but at the same time also be lightweight:
Over recent years, airlines have become more and more strict about their weight limits which is unfortunate, but at the same time can be looked as a blessing as they are doing their bit to help to ensure that you don’t over pack and thus ruin your holiday by having to carry about too much heavy luggage!
Whilst on Safari
No matter if all your wildlife viewing whilst on safari is conducted in a vehicle or if your going on a walking safari, it is really important that you don’t get to weighed down with gear. This is especially important to keep in mind if you will also have a camera and possibly a guide book with you as well.
Low Light Performance – Lightweight not Full Compact
Whilst a full compact binocular will be smaller and usually more lightweight, you sacrifice optical performance and especially how well they will work in low light, which when you consider that whilst on safari you will probably be going out very early in the morning and late afternoon and into the evening when most wildlife becomes more active, this is a very important feature.
So in this guide to lightweight binoculars for safari and travel, I have decided to focus on lightweight, but mid sized binoculars as I will assume that you’re going on a more conventional safari with suitcases and thus can take just a little more gear.
However for some like backpackers or those going on a hiking or walking safari then a full compact binocular may be the best option.
Lightweight Safari Binoculars
So if you already have a pair of binoculars, but they are not heavy or if you are still to get yours, here is my guide to the best lightweight binoculars for safari and travel. I have also arranged them in price and thus you should find one to suit your budget:
1. Low Cost Option (Under £150 / $130)
Opticron Savanna R 8×33 Binoculars
Great Low Cost & Lightweight Safari Binoculars: Opticron Savanna R 8×33
Not only are these nice and compact for a mid-sized 33mm binocular, but the at only 428g (15.1ozs), they are really lightweight as well.
What is also impressive, especially at this low cost price range is that their chassis is made from a combination polycarbonate to keep the weight and price down, but they have also used aluminium in places where additional strength is necessary. I like this as many lightweight, but cheap binoculars will simply use polycarbonate for all the body and it’s components.
More Details – Read the Full Opticron Savanna R 8×33 Binoculars Review on BBR
2. Mid Range Choices
Hawke Endurance ED 8×32 Binoculars
Using these Hawke Endurance ED 8×32 Binoculars whilst on Safari in Zimbabwe
Weight: 13.8oz (391g)
I took these cracking, super lightweight mid sized and mid priced Opticron binoculars with me on safari a few years ago and are a pair that I highly recommend.
As well as a super high quality and lightweight magnesium chassis, the optical performance is superb and these feature most of the high end features like ED glass usually only found on much more expensive instruments
Read the Full Review: Hawke Endurance ED 8×32 Binocular Review
Cost & Where to Buy: Seriously, these high quality safari bins, should cost more! At about £170 / $170 the are a lot of binocular for the price:
UK: Hawke Endurance ED 8×32 Binoculars on Amazon.co.uk
USA: Hawke Endurance ED 8×32 Binoculars on Amazon.com
3. Mid to High End
Celestron Granite 9×33 Binoculars
Stepping up a level: Celestron Granite 9×33 Binoculars
Weight: 20.1ozs (570g)
A little heavier than the others, but still no heavyweight and for safaris I really love the 9x magnification on these as you get just that little bit closer to the action than you would with an 8x binocular, but at the same time still maintain a nice wide field of view (often a shortfall of 10x binoculars), so great for scanning wide open areas and spotting the birds as well as the bigger wildlife.
As well as this, highlights include ED glass in the lenses, Phase Correction and Dielectric Coatings on the prisms for the best quality images possible
Best Binocular Review: Celestron Granite 9×33 Binocular Review
4. The Very Best Travel & Safari Binocular
Swarovski CL Companion 8×30 Binoculars
Simply The Best: Swarovski CL 8×30 Binoculars
Weight: 500g (17.6oz)
This is the pro’s choice and a pair for those where nothing but the best lightweight binocular will do.
Make no mistake these come with the highest quality components, features glass and coatings, that all combine together to provide what could be the ultimate lightweight travel and safari binocular and is my choice as the pro level safari guide binocular.
Review on BBR: Swarovski CL Companion 8×30 Review
Cost & Where to Buy: To get the very best you do have to splash out a bit, but even so at about £750 / $750 these are super high end binoculars that cost way less than many alpha type instruments out there:
UK: Swarovski CL Companion Binoculars on Amazon.co.uk
USA: Swarovski CL Companion Binoculars on Amazon.com