Gift Guide - The best binoculars for children
If your a keen outdoor enthusiast who loves enjoying all things nature related, then your children probably are too. Kids learn by copying others, and if you’re a parent who frequently spends time bird and nature watching, then it’s likely that you children have at least occasionally showed an interest and wanted to join in too.
Knowing that your children are on the road to sharing your passion is exciting and rewarding and their interest should be supported and nurtured as they grow up. Encouraging them to join in with your hobbies is a great idea, but if those hobbies include using specialist, often expensive equipment, then you may want to think twice before letting them loose with your favourite binoculars or spotting scope, and buy them their very own optics to learn with.
For children with a passion for animals, nature and the world around them, a pair of binoculars makes an excellent present for any occasion. Whether you yourself are a keen birder or nature observer, or whether your child has developed an interest all of their own, having their very own binoculars will make all the difference in further developing their interest.
If you want them to make the most of their present, then it’s vital to choose binoculars that are fit for purpose, easy and comfortable for them to use, and are in the right price bracket for you, to ensure that they are of a good quality but haven’t cost you the earth. Your child should understand the value of their binoculars and how to care for them, but not be too scared to use them because they cost too much money.
The following guide takes all of these important factors into account and recommends the best binoculars for you to give to your kids for their birthday or at Christmas.
We know that life is busy, so we’ll keep things short and sweet. If you want to read about any of the information below in more detail, then hop over to our full buyers guide for children's binoculars to get a deeper understanding.
The main factors to look out for and consider:
Opt for binoculars with a magnification on the lower end of the range. We’d suggest those with a 7x or 8x magnification.
Binoculars that produce highly magnified images are much more susceptible to produce blurred images, as even the smallest movement of the hands has a great effect. Blurred images are no fun to look at and your child is likely to loose interest in their binoculars quickly if they can’t keep them still enough to get a good view.
Binoculars with a lower magnification are great for getting the widest view possible, as their field of view is wider. This means that you children will be able to see more of the landscape, sky or animal they are looking at than they would if they were stood in the same location with binoculars with a higher magnification.
Wide field of view
Choose binoculars with a wide field of view so your child can see more of the world around them at one time.
We’ve mentioned it already, but try and choose binoculars that have a large field of view. The larger your child's view of the field is, the more of it they will be able to see and the easier they’ll find it to figure out which part of the landscape they are looking it and locate the animal/bird/landmark they were trying to find. A larger field of view is also great for watching fast moving targets such as birds, planes or even the ball at a cricket match.
In general, binoculars with a lower magnification have a wider field of view, but if you’re choosing between two binoculars of the same magnification, always take the time to check out how wide the field of view that they produce is and use this to guide your decision.
Small minimum interpupilary distance
Keep an eye on the minimum interpupillary distance shown for the binoculars that you are considering buying and opt for those with the smallest distance. Usually binoculars with a minimum interpupillary distance of around 51mm - 53mm should fit an older child’s face comfortably.
In general, kids have smaller heads and faces than adults. In turn, their eyes are closer together than yours are, meaning that any binoculars that they use have to be adjusted to comfortably fit the size of their face, and the eye cups lined up to ensure that they can actually see through them!
The distance between the eye cups of a set of binoculars is called the interpupillary distance. In many binoculars, the interpupillary distance can be adjusted by moving the barrels of the binoculars closer together or further apart thanks to a central hinge in the binoculars body. Some but not all binoculars will provide you with the maximum and minimum distance that eye cups can move apart, so that you can assess whether you think that this distance will be suitable for yours or your children face.
Binoculars that are especially for children are designed with the size of an average child’s face in mind, but if you decide to opt for normal binoculars, make sure that the binocular barrels can be adjusted to match the width between the centres of the pupils in each eye of your child.
Light weight and small in size
Choose light weight, compact binoculars that are easy for your children to hold and carry. They need to be able to get their hands comfortably around each barrel of the binoculars and hold them up to their face for a reasonable enough time to enjoy the view. We’d recommend compact or mid sized binocular models with lenses of between 25mm and 30mm in diameter.
In general, binoculars with larger lenses of 42mm or above are bigger and heavier. Binoculars with larger lenses do produce brighter images then those with more compact and smaller 25mm - 30mm objective lenses, but for children who are learning to use binoculars, ease and comfort of use far outweighs the benefits of having slightly brighter images and being able to use them in lower light situations.
We all have our own ideas about what’s expensive and what’s not, but in general, we’d always advise customers who are buying a present for their children to opt for a product that is about mid range in their price bracket. We don’t want you to spend the earth, but often, you get what you pay for with binoculars, and we wouldn't recommend opting for the cheapest pair available as they’re likely to end up being hard and frustrating for your children to use and may, in the end put them off pursuing their new hobby all together.
Below we’ve recommended our top children's binoculars for 2015. These recommendations combine binoculars designed especially for children, and others that are for all ages but are more than suitable for children to use and enjoy.
- Jodi Markham