For hikers, choosing a pair of binoculars requires balancing the need for powerful magnification and the desire for a light weight so that hiking with them is comfortable. Additional features, like coated lenses and waterproof/fogproof glass, may also require consideration depending on the climate in which you will be hiking. Numbers are used to describe the magnification and diameter of the lenses; the first number is the magnification, and the second is the diameter; larger numbers usually offer brighter images.
Leica Ultravid 10x25
The Leica Ultravid 10x25 ($749, 2010 prices) offers stunning optical clarity through its six phase-coated aspherical glass lens elements. The binoculars are built with a waterproof and fogproof housing. The Leicas have a 5.2-degree field of view, which equates to 273 feet at a distance of 1,000 yards, and a close focus distance of 10.2 feet. Weighing only 9.6 oz., the 10x25s are light enough that even hikers who minimize weight down to ounces will be comfortable carrying them, and they measure a compact 2.4 inches wide, 4.5 inches deep and 1.4 inches high.
Swarovski 8x20 B Pocket Binocular
The Swarovski 8x20 B Pocket Binocular ($679, 2010 prices) uses a 16-lens system to create bright images and a wide 6.6-degree angle of view, reaching 345 feet at 1,000 yards. The minimum focus distance is 13.12 feet. The lenses are fully coated and are housed in a waterproof and fogproof casing. The two lens tubes fold in on two axes so that they can fit in a shirt pocket. The Swarovskis, which are made in Austria, weigh 7.58 oz. and measure 3.66 inches wide, 1.5 inches high and 3.98 inches deep.
Steiner 12x30 Wildlife Pro
The Steiner 12x30 Wildlife Pro ($355, 2010 prices) offers an excellent level of magnification in a compact binocular that weighs 13 oz. and measures 4.21 inches wide, 1.85 high and 5.91 inches deep. A 4.2-degree angle of view gives a viewing field of 220 feet at 1,000 yards, while the binocular has a close focus distance of 11.48 feet. The Steiner's coated lenses are in a waterproof and fogproof casing that has a neutral brown color that blends in better with the surrounding scenery.