My Daughter copying daddy with her Homemade Binoculars!

Kids Binoculars

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Childrens BinocularsChildren's Binoculars
Getting your kids interested in what you are interested in is always a rewarding experience, especially if it is educational as well. Think about it, what could be better than having your child outdoors, learning about and enjoying the wonders of nature.

If your kids are anything like my daughter (main image above), they will want to join in and do whatever it is you are doing, even if as it was in this case just copying dad by pretending to use binoculars using a couple of toilet rolls!

But there will be times when pretend toilet roll bins are not enough and the equipment that you are using may not be ideally suited to small, sticky hands!

The best alternative to having your kids use your expensive optics is to get them a pair that is not only less painful for you should they drop them, but ones that are actually designed to be better suited for a child so that they can get the full use and enjoyment out of them.

There are many "children's binoculars" on the market, many of which are very cheap toys that do little more than blur the image when you look through them! With a pair of these don't be surprised if their interest is very short lived. So in this article, I hope to point out some of the features to look out for in a binocular for a child, as well as take a look at some of the best ones available.

Important Features

Below are the most important features and aspects to keep in mind when looking for a good pair of binoculars for kids:

Magnification
Try to keep the magnification down and I would say that your maximum should be 8x.

Whilst a high powered binocular sound like a great idea at first, there are many downsides to this that have an even greater impact when younger eyes are using the device:

  • A highly magnified image is much harder to keep still and shake free and therefore it becomes harder to get a good view of what you are trying to look at. As you know kids find it hard to stay still at the best of times and they tend to have less stable hands than adults, so if they only see a blurry, shaky image when looking through their bins, it won't be long until they get bored of using them.
  • Another advantage of keeping the magnification down is that lower powered bins tend to have wider views (see field of view below)
  • A lower powered binocular will produce a larger exit pupil than one with the same size lenses, but a higher magnification. This means it will not only produce a brighter image in poor light, but makes it much easier to line up your eyes with the shaft of light exiting the eyepiece of the binocular. This in turn makes it easier for your child to actually use them and helps to make sure they see the full image without any dark rings forming on the edges of the view.

Field of View (FOV)
A wide field of view (the width of the image that you see through your optics) will make it much easier for your child to locate what it is they are looking for through their optics. It will also make it easier for them to follow fast moving or erratic objects like birds for example.

So if you have a choice between two binoculars that are very similar in all other aspects, take a look at their FOV's and go for the one that is wider.

Tip: Binoculars with higher magnifications tend to have a more zoomed in and much narrower field of view, so to make sure you get a wide view, keep the magnification to under 8x and possibly look for bins with a 7x or even 6x power.

Size & Weight
Binoculars with large objective lenses take in more light and therefore in general will produce a brighter image which is optimal. The down side to this is obviously that the binoculars become larger and heavier.

So even tough they may not perform as well in lower light, I would still opt for pocket or compact binoculars that will make it much easier not only for you child to carry, but also hold up to their face and keep steady.

The two images below are of my two and a half year old daughter showing off that she "can use my binoculars" and even one handed! However whilst these Hawke Nature-Trek 8x42 Open Hinge binoculars are particularly lightweight, I would not suggest getting them specifically for your child. What these pics do not show is how long she could hold them for or how steadily she was holding them!

My Daughter using the Hawke Nature-Trek Open Hinge 8x42 Binoculars
My Daughter using the Hawke Nature-Trek Open Hinge 8x42 Binoculars

Interpupillary Distance (IPD)
If you do decide to get a binocular that has not been specifically designed for a child, something to look out for as well as the binoculars physical size and weight is the minimum Interpupillary Distance (IPD).

Most manufacturers advertise the maximum and minimum IPD distances that you can adjust their binoculars to, so you just need to make sure that the binocular barrels can be adjusted to match the width between the centers of the pupils in each eye of your child.

To be 100% sure, just measure the distance between the centers of your child's eyes, but for older children a binocular with a minimum IPD of around 5.1cm - 5.3cm should easily accommodate their smaller faces.

Price
This is a personal and I suppose relative option as what may be expensive to you and me will be considered cheap to someone like Bill Gates! I would however like to recommend that you don't go for the very cheapest binoculars in any class as they will usually only end up frustrating your child and eventually put them off using them.

Recommended Binoculars for Children

So now we know the most important features to look for, we still have a couple options available depending on your budget, what the age and interests of your child are:

  1. Binoculars specifically designed for children - usually more suited to younger kids
  2. Standard binoculars suitable children - often a better solution for older children or teenagers and should last for many years

Binoculars Specifically Designed for Kids

A pair of binocular that has been specifically designed with children in mind should have all of the features listed above. This however is sadly not always the case.

Children's binoculars come in a few guises: ones that are little more than toys and are really not suitable for anything other than pretending to look through them. Then there are a few ones that are actually pretty decent binoculars and with many of the features that we are looking for and then are just a couple that are truly great.

Sure you have to pay a little more, but you can be sure that not only are you getting an instrument that is designed with kids in mind, but also uses the same optics and features as that of the adult versions.

Top Choice for Older Children (7+ Years)

Below is my top recommended choice, it is a little more expensive than most others, but as you will see, the level of these is much higher than the others and is in my opinion well worth the investment for an older child who has a genuine interest in birding, wildlife, the outdoors or indeed for watching sporting events:

Kowa YF 6x30 Binoculars

These Kowa's are excellent low cost binoculars designed for children, but in my opinion are also great for adults as well!

When I tested and reviewed the bigger brother, the Kowa YF 8x30 binoculars some years back, I was super impressed. In fact they won my award as the best low cost binocular for that year.

Designed for Smaller Hands & Faces
The great news is not only does the 6x30 version costs even less, but it is more lightweight (16.5ozs / 470g) and still has all the same optical features and components:

The mid-size, traditional porro prism shapes makes for a very comfortable end ergonomic shape to hold onto, especially for those with smaller hands. They also have a very large and easy to use focus wheel.

Unlike the others on this page, these are also fully sealed and thus waterproof as well as fogproof as the interior has been filled nitrogen gas.

This more traditional shape also means that the eye-pieces are closer together than the objective lenses, which is ideal for younger ones or anyone who has more close set eyes.

Kowa YF Binoculars

Low 6x Magnification & Very Wide View
As we have already discussed the low 6x power makes it much easier for more unsteady hands to keep the image still, but this also means that you get a much wider view, which in turn makes it far easier for anyone, but especially a child to lock onto whatever they want to view through the instrument.

  • VERY Wide Field of View: 420ft at 1,000 yards (140m @ 1000m)

High "Adult" Quality Optics

All these features above are great, but where the Kowa 6x30 beats just about any other kids binocular is in the quality of their optics. Here you are getting exactly the same optical system as the adults version which includes:

Lens CoatingsFully Multi-Coated Optics
All the others on this page either don't mention the coatings (which means they are nothing special and probably single or none at all) or at best they only have multi-coated (so not all lenses are coated). Being Fully Multi-Coated plays a very important role in ensuring that a bright, high quality image is produced and the difference is clearly visible when you compare them.

External Protective Lens Coatings
Kowa have also added a material to the outer lens surfaces that protects them from dirt and dust and also makes it easier to remove the inevitable fingerprints form the glass. This is important because the easier it is to clean a lens, the far less chance you have of damaging them when doing so. Note coatings like these are only commonly found on mid to high end optics, so to see them here is impressive and a sure sign that Kowa have paid particular attention to designing a very child friendly instrument.

Kowa YF 6x30 Binoculars

BaK-4 Porro Prisms
Unlike most other child binos, these have porro and not roof prisms. The advantage here is this design of prism does not require expensive mirror coatings or phase correction coatings to achieve the same optical performance level.

As all the roof prism ones below are very inexpensive, you can be sure that none of them use these coatings and so will never achieve the same optical performance as this or any other porro prism instrument.

On top of this the prism on this Kowa is make from high quality BaK-4 glass, which is superior than the BK-7 glass used by almost any other in this category.

Ideal for
Backyard & general birding & wildlife observation. Camping, hiking, holidays (including safaris), outdoor sporting events.

Buy & Compare Prices for these Kowa YF Binoculars

At around $85 / £80, sure they do cost more than the much cheaper, more plastic binoculars below. But in my opinion, for older kids and as long as they can look after them, then the quality of the optics and the resultant much higher quality view you get through these will enhance their enjoyment and make for a much better experience and hopefully a hobby that they can get into for life.

So if you can afford it and you want a "real" quality binocular for your child that is truly as good as an adult version, then these are the way to go:


Other Similar Options:

If you can't find the Kowa, or just want to take a look at a few other similar instruments then these are also worth investigating:

Opticron Savanna WP 6x30 Binoculars

  • Low 6x Magnification
  • BaK-4 Porro Prism Design - Same as the Kowa above
  • Fully multi-coated Optics
  • Close Minimum Eye-cup distance of 50mm - ideal for children 7+ years
  • Waterproof & Fog proof construction
  • Low Weight: 485g
  • Field of View: 420ft @ 1000 yards

Lower Cost Options

These instruments are more suited to younger children or for those looking for a less serious and cheaper pair of optics. I have chosen pairs that still perform remarkably well and are still MUCH better than many of the toys that you find on the web:

Carson Hawk Kids 5x30 Binoculars

Levenhuk LabZZ B2 6x21 BinocularsOf all the child specific binoculars currently on the market, the Carson HU-530 Hawk is one of my favorites for slightly older kids who are not quite yet ready for standard optics and here is why:

What I Really Like:

Larger Lenses
One of the main reasons for this is unlike the more compact kids binos that you commonly find (like the ones below with 21mm lenses) this Carson Kids binocular uses larger 30mm objective lenses, yet it is still small and lightweight enough for a young person with small hands to steadily hold onto.

There are a number of very important advantages to this which cannot be understated:

  • Firstly these larger lenses are able to capture and let in more light. This helps ensure that a better quality and brighter image is created.
  • Next, the larger lenses also combine with the 5x power to produce a nice large 6mm (30÷5) exit pupil. This not only ensures that more than enough light goes through the instrument and on to the eyes of your child for them to perceive a bright image, but this wide tube of light also makes it MUCH easier for them to line their eyes up with these shafts of light and so see the full image without dark rings on the sides.

Carson Hawk Kids 5x30 Binoculars

5x Power
As already mentioned, a low magnification is what you want for your children and at 5x, I think that Carson have got it spot on here.

This makes sure that the field of view is nice and wide (312 ft. at 1000 yards) which makes it easier for them to find the object that they are looking for and you get far less image shake. This it is easier for Children, who as we know can't keep still to get a nice steady image for a better view.

Carson have used real optical glass on these binoculars (not plastic like some toys have ) and the prisms use BK-7 glass, which is fine, but not as good as the BaK-4 glass used in the Kowa above..

Age Range
The age on the case states that these are suitable for children of 6 years and older.

Price Range
These have a MSRP of $23 in the US, but are now readily available on-line for under $15. In the UK, I have seen them on offer for around £20:



Levenhuk LabZZ B2 Binoculars

Levenhuk LabZZ B2 6x21 BinocularsWhilst the LabZZ B2 binocular may be bright and colorful, it is not a toy, rather a fully functional roof prism compact binocular and they have an optical performance that matches a standard binocular at the same sort of level and is my top pic for younger children:

What I Like:
As we have already discussed, the 6x magnification is ideal for children, helping them to keep the image shake free and ensuring a wide view to make finding their intended subject easy:

At 360ft wide at 1000yds, the width of view is indeed nice and wide which is great news as I know from my daughter that one of the biggest things that younger kids struggle with is actually finding what they want to look at.

The shape is very compact and thus ideal for small hands. They also have a large centrally located focus wheel that is easy to reach and adjust. The LabZZ B2 binocular is also very lightweight, so once again ideal for youngsters.

I also like the tough housing: The main chassis is made from a polycarbonate plastic and the exterior is rubber armored to withstand the inevitable knocks and bumps. In fact

As well as the (amazing) lifetime guarantee, these instruments come with a soft carry pouch, wrist strap and cleaning cloth, just like Mum and Dads!

The optical glass that Levenhuk use in these is coated with an anti-reflective coating for a brighter and better quality image than what you get on the many imitation kids binoculars that don't have any coatings and which are now available.

Diopter adjustment on the Levenhuk LabZZ B2 6x21 BinocularsJust like standard binoculars, these have a diopter adjustment ring to calibrate them to cater for any differences in vision between the left and right eyes.

Age Range
Levenhuk suggest that these are suitable for children of 4 years and above, however I know from experience that my daughter was capable of using these from around 3 years old.

As for a maximum age, a lot depends on their previous exposure to optics, but these should be perfectly fine for kids of about 9 to 10 years old. For older or more experienced kids, take a look at some of the standard compact binoculars that I suggest below.

One last thing to mention is that these have an IPD range of 5cm to 6.5cm. So, once again perfect for smaller faces with closer set eyes.

Price Range
Absolutely perfect for younger kids and the best bit is you can buy them direct from Levenhuk to save money. Currently they have them on offer for $15 in the US, 15 € in Germany and Europe and £14.95 (now reduced to £10.46) in the UK!


Bresser ExploreOne 6x21 Junior Compact Binoculars

Bresser 6x21 Junior Compact BinocularsProduced by Bresser, these 6x21 Junior Compacts are very similar to the Levenhuk's above.

They come with Bk-7 prisms and has a fully coated optical system that delivers crisp, colorful images to the eyepieces.

The body of the binocular is rubber armored to withstand plenty of punishment.

Bresser Junior Compacts come with a five year guarantee. Also included is a neat carrying case and small wrist strap.

Read full Review - Read my full review of these binoculars.

Price Range
These great little binoculars are available for approx $20 in the US and £20 in the UK:



Plane Spotting Binoculars for Airshows

Standard Binoculars for Older Kids

7-15 Years Old

The binoculars below are my top recommendations for older children, teenagers and even adults with smaller hands and faces. Here I think the same principals that we have already discussed remain valid, but instead of opting for a "kids" specific device we can look for the ideal standard bino:

Levenhuk Rainbow 8x25 BinocularsLevenhuk Rainbow Binoculars

The Rainbow series consists of seven very colorful, low cost compact binoculars that whilst not specifically designed for kids, are perfect for them and make what I believe an ideal introduction into the world of optics. Indeed as you can see from the photo below, my 5 year old daughter has and uses a pair.

Optical features include the use of BaK-4 Roof Prisms and Multi-Coated Optics.

The chassis are completely sealed and filled with nitrogen gas making them water and fog proof. They also feature twist-up eyecups, something that is fairly rare at this price level on a compact.

However the biggest highlight for me is their double hinge design, which allows them to be folded up into a tiny package when not in use - these are true pocket binoculars and once again makes a big difference for those with small hands and pockets.

Available Models:

There are currently 7 models within the Rainbow series, all of which are identical apart from the colors. Colors available are White Snow, Red Berry, Orange, Lime, Lemon, Blue Wave and Amethyst.

Levenhuk Rainbow binoculars - available in 7 bright colors

Shopping Basket IconPrices & Where to Buy

These cheap compact binoculars retail for about $60 in the US and £55 in the UK:

 
 

More Binoculars Suitable for Older Children

Below are some more examples of standard binoculars that I believe are most suitable for older children that I have fully reviewed:

They are either all lightweight, reasonably compact, have a magnification of 8x or less and are fairly inexpensive and where known I have limited their minimum IPD (Interpupillary Distance) to being 5.2cm or less and so should be able to adjust to fit their smaller faces:

 

Opticron Discovery WP PC 8x32 Binoculars Review

For a mid-sized binocular, the 8x32 Opticron Discovery is ultra compact and lightweight, has a very wide field of view and extremely minimum close focus.

Add to this good quality optics and a mid range price point and you have an instrument that is ideal in a very wide range of uses and thus will appeal to a huge selection of users.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 80%
Outstanding
Body Stats: 10/10
Optical Quality: 8/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 8/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

 

Kabuki Glasses Review

Originally designed for the theater, the high quality Japanese made Kabuki Glasses are also ideal for many other hands free uses like the opera, ballet, concerts and both outdoor and indoor sporting events.

Price: (3/6) Mid Priced Binoculars
 

Levenhuk Energy PLUS 8x25 Binoculars Review

Low costing compact binocular from Levenhuk that comes with a number of higher end features including a water and fog proof shell that protects fully multi-coated optics within.

Highlights also include a very wide field of view and a close minimum focusing distance.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 70%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 9/10
Image Quality 7/10
Extras & Details: 5/10

 

Opticron Savanna R 8x33 Binoculars Review

A more than capable, great looking, low cost, mid sized binocular that covers all the most important areas well and thus makes for a very versatile instrument that competes well within their price bracket.

Highlights include a waterproof aluminium & polycarbonate shell that protects full multi-coated optics and aluminium coated BaK-4 roof prisms.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 68%
Very Good
Body Stats: 8/10
Optical Quality: 6/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 7/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

 

Levenhuk Rainbow 8x25 Binoculars Review

Available in 7 different bright colors, these low cost Levenhuk Rainbow binoculars also feature a very compact double hinge design, fully water and fog proof shell, BaK-4 roof prisms, twist-up eye-cups and multi-coated optics.

Add to this a very wide field of view, then these and their other features combine to make a compact ideal for general use, travel, hiking and especially for viewing outdoor sports like horse racing, tennis or cricket, where I can see their colors really making them stand out from the crowd. They also make great kids binoculars.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 6/10 63%
Very Good
Body Stats: 9/10
Optical Quality: 5/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 6/10
Extras & Details: 5/10

 

Kowa 8x30 YF Binoculars Review

This 8x30 Kowa YF Series binocular is great low cost mid-sized porro prism binocular with fully multi-coated optics that produce an excellent quality image.

The body is tough, fully waterproof, fog proof and very lightweight.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 7/10 70%
Excellent
Body Stats: 7/10
Optical Quality: 7/10
Optical Stats: 8/10
Image Quality 7/10
Extras & Details: 6/10

 

Opticron 8x25 Taiga Binoculars Review

Budget compact porro prism binoculars that come with fully coated optics, long eye relief and a tough and ergonomic exterior. Overall I would say that they have an excellent performance to price ratio.

Price: (2/6) Low Cost Binoculars
BBR Ratings:
Body Quality: 5/10 58%
Above Average
Body Stats: 6/10
Optical Quality: 5/10
Optical Stats: 7/10
Image Quality 7/10
Extras & Details: 5/10

 

Pentax 8x21 UCF R Binoculars Review

The Pentax UCF R Binoculars are ideal cheap take anywhere compact porro prism binoculars and come with excellent quality BaK4 prisms and feature a tough exterior.

Price: (1/6) Cheap Binoculars
 
 

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