free counter
Science And Nature

Best binoculars for kids: A close-up view of the cosmos for smaller hands and eyes

Best binoculars for kids: Image shows boy looking through binoculars



(Image credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

In an ideal world, our children would be excited about astronomy by simply pointing our existing pair of binoculars at the night sky, but not all binoculars are suitable for children. This could make for a frustrating experience that can quickly get boring and lead them to give up, that’s the last thing we want.

Binoculars are generally designed for adult hands and faces and can be heavy, not ideal for a child to use for stargazing. Many top manufacturers introduced models tailored especially for kids, including Celestron, Nikon and Olympus. But just what are the best binoculars for kids and what influences this decision?

Size and weight should be the first factors to consider. You could mount a larger pair on a tripod for kids to peer through, but having one light and comfortable enough that they can hold and sweep across the sky themselves is much more inclusive and enjoyable. 

Binoculars with rubber grips are often more comfortable and more manageable for smaller hands to hold. You can find out more about that in our best compact binoculars guide. Be sure to check out our guide to the best binoculars for stargazing or seeing in the dark with one from our roundup of the best night vision binoculars

Quick tips on choosing binoculars for kids

1. Make sure the binoculars aren’t too heavy or bulky for a child to hold steady.

2. Magnifications of 7x or 10x are generally the best for skywatching.

3. Porro prisms and BAK4 glass are best for stargazing. 

4. Foldable designs are convenient and portable.

Because magnification exaggerates movement, binoculars with more magnification are harder to hold steady, and youngsters may quickly get frustrated and lose their grip. Lower magnification binoculars of 7x or 8x are better to introduce the kids to astronomy. See our tricks for holding binoculars steady, which you can pass on to them from the off.

It’s worth checking how much you can physically adjust the binoculars. Binoculars have a degree of flex to better fit individual faces, particularly the distance between the eyes. The more flex, the more likely they will fit a smaller face comfortably.

Larger objective lenses mean brighter images, so aim for at least 30mm diameter. The best binoculars will have fully multi-coated optics and BAK-4 glass prisms. There are cheaper instruments available, which will still give enthralling views of the heavens, but you won’t be getting the absolute best image possible.

If you want to further your research into what’s available or if you want to consider telescopes for an even more powerful look at the night sky, then be sure to check out our binoculars deals or best telescopes guides. Otherwise, if you want to check out the best binoculars for kids, read on. 


Best value for money

Celestron Cometron 7x50

(Image credit: Celestron)

An inexpensive option to experience to the joy of binocular skywatching

Specifications

Magnification: 7x

Objective lens diameter: 1.97″ (50 mm)

Angular field of view: 6.8 degrees

Optical design: Porro prism

Glass: BK7

Eye relief: 0.51″ (13 mm)

Weight: 27.3 oz (774 g)

Guarantee: Limited lifetime

Reasons to buy

+

Great value for money

+

Wide exit pupil

Reasons to avoid

Not waterproof

Cheaper, BK7 glass

Because of anatomical differences (not because of surplus carrots), children can see better in the dark than adults. Their pupils can dilate wider, increasing their light-gathering power and improving their night vision. This means it is possible to give a child smaller binoculars that are easier to carry and hold, but that allow less light in than yours, and they will still see a glistening night sky, whereas, with the same pair, it might not look as impressive for you. You also can go for a pair of binoculars like the Celestron Cometron, which are both reasonably lightweight and let in a lot of light.

With 7x magnification and 50mm objective lenses, the Celestron Cometron is an ideal size for a beginner’s introduction to stargazing. What’s more, their optics are multi-coated and include a stargazing-centric Porro prism. They also have a large exit pupil, guaranteeing maximum light at night and dawn/dusk. As a bonus, they can easily adjust to suit smaller faces. 

There are a couple of downsides to consider. They utilize step-down BK7 glass (not the preferred BAK-4), the aluminum-cased Celestron Cometrons are not waterproof, and their covering lacks a premium feel. However, parents care about such things more than children do, and the Celestron Cometron are such good value that it probably doesn’t matter if they eventually get left out in the rain or accidentally dropped and break. 

Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x42

(Image credit: Opticron)

Best for durability

Tough, durable, waterproof and glasses friendly

Specifications

Magnification: 8x

Objective lens diameter: 1.65″ (43 mm)

Angular field of view: 7.5 degrees

Optical design: Porro prism

Glass: BAK4

Eye relief: 0.7″ (18 mm)

Weight: 22 oz (625 g)

Guarantee: 2 years

Reasons to buy

+

Great value binoculars

+

BAK4 glass

Reasons to avoid

Limited to older kids or adults

Reasonably heavy

Those binoculars with an 8x magnification and a 42mm objective lens are ideal for kids to view the night sky. This is lower than the 10×50 specification that is generally recommended for adults. It means they have a lighter and smaller body but still have enough magnification and light-gathering power. The Opticron Adventurer T WP 8×42 is an excellent value example. 

The specs are good: you get a Porro prism design using BAK4 glass prisms with fully multi-coated lenses, water and dew-proofing, all coated in protective rubber-like armor. A soft case, neck strap, and rubber objective lens covers are in the box. They also feature long eye relief eyepieces for kids who wear glasses.

All these factors help to make night sky viewing easy and enjoyable. Opticron Adventurer T WP 8×42 binoculars are an ideal entry-level option for kids with a serious interest in astronomy, but they’re just as good during the day for wildlife and landscapes. They’re also available in specifications including 6.5×32 (opens in new tab), 8×32 (opens in new tab), 10×42 (opens in new tab), 10×50 (opens in new tab)and 12×50 (opens in new tab).

Best for the whole family

Product photo of the Nikon Prostaff P3 8x42

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Nikon Prostaff 3P 8×42

Great for the whole family with all important shock resistance and waterproofing

Specifications

Magnification: 8x

Objective lens diameter: 42 mm

Angular field of view: 7.2 degrees

Optical design: Roof prism

Glass: BAK4

Eye relief: 42mm

Weight: 20.2 oz

Guarantee: 7 year warranty

Reasons to buy

+

Lightweight and waterproof 

+

Long eye relief design

Reasons to avoid

One of the more expensive options

Average quality lens caps

Not everyone can justify buying binoculars solely for their kids to use. Instead, you might want to find a quality pair that the whole family can share. If that is the case, look no further than Nikon, a photography and optics brand you will have definitely heard of. These mid-range binoculars are beginner-friendly, well suited to use by kids but also anyone else who finds holding binos their face a tiring experience.

Covered in non-slip rubber for easy grip and all-important shock resistance in case of drops, Nikon Prostaff P3 binoculars are guaranteed to be fog-free and waterproof (up to 1 m/3.3 ft for 10 minutes). They are slim, compact and lightweight considering their size, making holding them for long periods of star gazing easy.

The view is sharp, clear and bright thanks to their multi-coated lenses and high-reflectivity silver-alloy mirror-coated prisms. A long eye relief design also means a clear field of view for glasses wearers.

As mentioned before, 8x magnification with a 42mm objective lens is perfect for kids’ binoculars, and this pair from Nikon is just that – perfect for light-gathering and stargazing. Nikon Prostaff P3  binoculars are also available in 10×30, 10×42 and 8×30.

Best for detailed images

Celestron Skymaster 12x60

(Image credit: Celestron)

4. Celestron SkyMaster 12×60 Binocular

A sizeable option for older kids interested in getting extra detail out of the night sky

Specifications

Magnification: 12x

Objective lens diameter: 2.36″ (60 mm)

Angular field of view: 5.3 degrees

Optical design: Porro prism

Glass: BAK4

Eye relief: 0.67″ (17 mm)

Weight: 39.2 oz (1.1 kg)

Guarantee: Limited lifetime

Reasons to buy

+

Excellent light transmission

+

Deep sky astronomy

Reasons to avoid

Very heavy

Tripod required for comfortable use

Though quite large and heavy (at over 1kg), Celestron SkyMaster 12×60 binoculars are a great choice for any child who has outgrown lower-power binoculars and wants to get close-ups of deep-sky objects such as the Andromeda Galaxy without moving into telescope territory.

With 12x magnification, it’s perfect for spotting moon craters and resolving individual stars in clusters like the Pleiades and Hyades. However, at 8.25 x 8.1 x 2.8 inches (210 x 206 x 72 mm) and weighing in at 39.2 oz (1.1 kg), we recommend purchasing them alongside a tripod or finding something sturdy to rest them on if the child will use them for any extended period.

Built around a Porro Prism design featuring BAK4 glass and boasting multi-coated optics for bright and detailed views, the objective lenses of 60mm let in a lot of light. The Celestron SkyMaster 12×60 has an ultra-firm rubber coating on its barrels that’s easy to hold and helps protect them from bumps. A carry case and lens caps are included to provide protection when not in use or when in transit.

Best for reducing wobble

National Geographic 6x21 Children's Binoculars by Bresser

(Image credit: Bresser)

5. National Geographic 6×21 Children’s Binocular

Bold and bright with optics not to be sniffed at

Specifications

Magnification: 6x

Objective lens diameter: 0.82″ (21 mm)

Angular field of view: 6.6 degrees

Optical design: Roof prism

Glass: BK7

Weight: 6.49 oz (184 g)

Guarantee: 5 years warranty

Reasons to buy

+

Rugged design

+

Very affordable

Reasons to avoid

Short eye relief

Will only work for moon observations

Rugged, compact, and portable, these garish yellow or green (hard to lose) binoculars scream “my first binoculars”.

Designed with very young children in mind, and with a tough polycarbonate housing, these roof prism binoculars with BK7 glass come with a small case and a foolproof wrist strap. That’s important because they are pretty small. Featuring only 6x magnification and with just 21mm objective lenses they’re only useful for looking for the Moon, as they lack the light-gathering abilities of superior astronomy-specific binoculars.

Since kids tend to be less good at holding still than adults, that small amount of magnification can help everything seem more stable. The higher the magnification, the more noticeable the wobble. Reduced wobble makes finding and focusing on things like the Moon easier. Don’t mistake them for a throwaway novelty, though, as inside, you’ll find surprisingly good optics and anti-reflective coatings that brighten the image. They lack substantial eye relief, so we wouldn’t recommend them for kids who wear glasses. 

If you can put up with their shortcomings, these are a neat cost-effective option as an introductory pair of binoculars, ideal for getting young children interested in stargazing.

Best all-rounder

Celestron Nature DX 8x32

(Image credit: Celestron)

6. Celestron Nature DX 8×32 Binocular

Affordable all rounders without skimping on glass

Specifications

Magnification: 8x

Objective lens diameter: 1.26″ (32 mm)

Angular field of view: 7.4 degrees

Optical design: Roof prism

Glass: BAK4

Eye relief: 0.68″ (17.5 mm)

Weight: 17.98 oz (510 g)

Guarantee: Limited lifetime

Reasons to buy

+

Versatile for day and night

+

Waterproof

Reasons to avoid

Pricey pair for kids

Not designed specially for skywatching

Want to keep it small and light for your child? If so, consider investing in smaller, general-purpose binoculars like the Celestron Nature DX 8×32.

The 32 mm objective lenses and 8x magnification certainly keep the weight down, and the waterproof outer covering makes them non-slip and can probably withstand a few knocks, although this isn’t the sort of thing we regularly test. Inside are BAK4 prisms with a phase coating to maximize contrast and sharpness, and they also have multi-coated optics that maximize light transmission for brighter images in the dark. Unusually for such small binoculars, you also get a built-in tripod mount to aid stability if desired.

Both portable and highly versatile, the Celestron Nature DX 8×32 are perfect for beginners, but perhaps best suited to older kids. They also come in an 8×42 design (opens in new tab).  

Best for a wide angle view

Vixen SG 2.1x42

(Image credit: Vixen)

Get an amazing wide-angle view of the night sky with this stylish pair

Specifications

Magnification: 2.1x

Objective lens diameter: 1.65″ (42 mm)

Angular field of view: 25 degrees

Optical design: Galilean

Glass: Multi-coated

Eye relief: 0.33″ (8.4 mm)

Weight: 14.5 oz (410 g)

Guarantee: 5 years

Reasons to buy

+

Amazing 3D constellations

+

Very stable image

Reasons to avoid

Low magnification

Blurry at field of view’s edge

These are among the most impressive or unusual binoculars available for children and adults who wish to view the night sky in full 3D.

Specifically designed for wide-field observation of the stars and the Milky Way, Vixen SG 2.1×42 binoculars use lenses composed of five multi-coated elements to help star clusters like the Pleiades, Hyades and the Perseus Double Cluster really stand out against a dark sky. The stereoscopic depth is incredible, and the light-gathering power is remarkable, though the nature of the optics means that there is a distinct ring of blur around the edges of the field of view. 

Made in Japan and supplied with a soft case and neck strap, the Vixen SG 2.1×42 are easy to use and boasts excellent build quality. It can be a little fiddly to focus both lenses individually, but because of the wide field of view, the user gets a very steady image. This, and the solid yet lightweight construction make it suitable for kids. One drawback is that the lens caps are easy to lose, but that’s a small detail on these pocket-sized, unique binoculars that skywatchers will love. 

Best with built in image stabilization

Canon 10x42L IS WP

(Image credit: Canon)

With in-built image stablization, view the stars without the wobble

Specifications

Magnification: 10x

Objective lens diameter: 1.65″ (42 mm)

Angular field of view: 6.5 degrees

Optical design: Porro II prism

Glass: BAK-4

Eye relief: 0.57″ (14.5 mm)

Weight: 39.2 oz (1.1 kg)

Guarantee: Limited warranty

Reasons to buy

+

Steady views

+

Excellent, high-quality optics

Reasons to avoid

Cost is more suited for serious binos users

Quite heavy for smaller kids

It is difficult for humans to stay completely still. Throw magnification into the mix, and the upshot is that it’s hard for anyone using binoculars to keep their subject steady in their field of view without using some sort of external support mechanism like a tripod.

Cue the waterproof Canon 10x42L IS WP, a powerful, portable, expensive but utterly irresistible pair of binoculars that change the stargazing game. They can help the user keep objects completely still using the same built-in image stabilization (IS) tech seen in Canon’s wallet-melting camera lenses. Capable of instantly impressing a child — or anyone else, for that matter. 

Inside, gyro sensors detect the amount of wobble created by the holder and use actuators around the barrels to move floating lens elements to compensate for that movement. It’s a battery-powered system that is engaged simply by pressing a button on the top of the binoculars. Two AAA batteries give about two hours’ worth of image stabilization.

The stillness of these binoculars helps to produce images pin-sharp, so star clusters, the Moon and even Jupiter and its moons become genuinely incredible to look at. It’s not just the image stabilization you’re paying for. Inside are the ultra-low dispersion glass lens elements and ‘Super Spectra’ lens coatings. The lens caps however are a surprisingly poor fit and very easy to lose, something which shouldn’t be seen at this price point.

This is a specialist purchase and shouldn’t be used by children without supervision and a neck strap. They do represent the most enjoyable and impressive binoculars for skywatching yet. Who needs a telescope

Best for spectacle wearers

Olympus 10x25 WP II

(Image credit: Olympus)

9. Olympus 10×25 WP II Binocular

A powerful and lightweight pair that won’t break the bank

Specifications

Magnification: 10x

Objective lens diameter: 0.98″ (25 mm)

Angular field of view: 6.5 degrees

Optical design: Roof prism

Glass: BAK-4

Eye relief: 0.47 (12 mm)

Weight: 0.60 lbs (270 g)

Guarantee: 25 years

Reasons to buy

+

Lightweight and portable

+

Dual-hinge folding design

Reasons to avoid

Specs aren’t perfect for stargazing

Roof‑prism

On paper, its 10x magnification and 25 mm objective lenses make the Olympus 10×25 WP II appear less than ideal for stargazing in anyone’s hands. They just don’t have the appropriate light-gathering power to produce bright images. However, when you’re buying a pair of binoculars for a child, you have to think about weight and size as well as image quality. If you wanted the ultimate binoculars for night-time skywatching, you wouldn’t choose a pair like this, but in practice, for children, the size of a pair of skywatching binoculars is as important as the glass inside them.

Inside these roof‑prism binoculars, is high-quality optical glass, which helps create a bright image. They are also well adapted for smaller faces. Boasting a dual-hinge design, they’re simple to adjust to fit the user’s face, with a focus knob in easy reach for sharpening. There’s also a dioptric adjuster for matching the lenses to a user’s specific eyesight, this makes them a stand-out optical instrument. The Olympus 10×25 WP II binoculars have nitrogen-filled bodies, which aids with waterproofing, fog-proofing and dirt-proofing. They’re protected by a rubber coating that is tactile and grippy. 

They are easy to fold up and carry in a pocket, and the paltry 260g weight is a fraction of many skywatching-specific binoculars, and ideally suited to smaller hands.


What to look for when buying binoculars for kids

Binoculars can be a great starting point for budding young astronomers and nature watchers, yet there are some things worth considering before purchasing one for children. Above all, be wary of ‘toy binoculars’. They are much cheaper and generally more visually appealing to children, but their performance will not be anything like the standards of ‘proper binoculars’ and will therefore affect enjoyment and learning. 

Weight

Binoculars can tire even grownup users with repeated use, so it’s important to factor in weight when letting children handle them. Children can struggle to keep an image steady with even mid-weight binoculars, so we recommend pairs that weigh less than 10oz (283g) for very young children (4-7 years). Teenagers can generally handle standard-sized binoculars well but can still benefit from more lightweight binoculars with a lower magnification. 

Magnification

If the weight of your binoculars can cause image shake and affect the stability of your view, so too can magnification. High-powered binoculars with a magnification above 8x can make it tough for smaller hands to keep the view steady, as any movement of the hands gets multiplied by the magnification. Since a shaky image can prove frustrating and eventually bore younger users, having low-powered, stable binoculars can enhance their enjoyment.

Lower-magnification binoculars also produce a wider field of view than high-powered/higher magnification binoculars, with several benefits for all users, especially children. High-powered binoculars zoom in closer to the object you’re looking at, but low-powered binoculars, with a wider field of view, make finding objects quickly much easier. They also help locate fast-moving objects such as birds and can significantly improve a beginner’s coordination and accuracy.

Aperture

The aperture of binoculars refers to the diameter of the front lenses and affects the amount of light that reaches the rear lenses. It is the second number after the magnification and denotes millimeters. So, a pair of binoculars that are rated at 7×30 offers a magnification of x7 and a diameter of 30mm.

That aperture can make a big difference to the experience of using binoculars, especially in low-light and at night, so we recommend using a pair of binoculars with a 40mm or above aperture to let in more light, especially for night-time stargazing.

Durability

 Anything can happen when you’re out in the field, so to prolong the life of your binoculars and ensure the best possible user experience for as long as possible, it’s sensible to purchase the most durable pair. This doesn’t have to mean the most expensive, as many, including those above, come with some form of protective rubber coating, and some are even waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof. Anything that prevents accidents and damage can only reduce your worry and add to your child’s enjoyment of binoculars and the incredible views of nature and the sky above that binoculars can open up.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Jamie Carter

Jamie is an experienced science, technology and travel journalist and stargazer who writes about exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses, moon-gazing, astro-travel, astronomy and space exploration. He is the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com (opens in new tab) and author of A Stargazing Program For Beginners (opens in new tab), and is a senior contributor at Forbes. His special skill is turning tech-babble into plain English.

Read More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker