For those who want an inexpensive pair of lightweight binoculars, reviewers say the Nikon Travelite binoculars are a good choice. The most recent model in this series is the Nikon Travelite VI 10x25. These compact binoculars weigh just over 9 ounces and have a rubberized design for a more comfortable grip. The 262-foot field of view is matched with 11.1 mm eye relief and an adjustable diopter. The Nikon Travelite VI 10x25 are porro-prism binoculars, so they have good optical quality for the price. In one comparative test, the Nikon binoculars post the third-best scores for optical quality -- beating out other binoculars that cost hundreds of dollars more. Users also appreciate the lightweight design and recommend them for general use or travel. On a negative note, the Nikon Travelite VI 10x25 are not waterproof, and the short eye relief (only 11.1 mm) can contribute to eyestrain when the binoculars are used for long periods. If you can afford to spend a bit more, reviewers say the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x42 (*Est. $300) are a great value. These binoculars are not compact, but they have longer eye relief and excellent image quality.
Most reviewers test the predecessor to the Nikon Travelite VI 10x25, the Nikon Travelite V 10x25. The two binoculars are nearly identical; the only change is to the exterior, which has been updated to improve ergonomics and grip, according to Nikon. The optics remain the same. The best review comes from Outdoor Life magazine, which subjects 23 pairs of binoculars to a comprehensive test. Binoculars are rated on a variety of criteria, including optical quality and value. Backpacker magazine also has a useful test-based review, but it's several years older than the Outdoor Life review. We also found at plenty of user reviews at Amazon.com and Buzzillions.com.
1. Outdoor Life
Outdoor Life magazine tests 23 pairs of binoculars in this comprehensive test. Binoculars are rated on optical quality, image, design and value. The Nikon Travelite 10x25 binoculars earn a 3-star rating (out of 4) and are ranked third for optical quality in their category. Image resolution is good overall, but editors note the small exit pupil contributes to eye fatigue.
Review: Nikon Travelite 10x25, Editors of Outdoor Life, May 26, 2010
The Nikon Travelite V 10x25 scores a Best Buy rating from Backpacker magazine. Testers are impressed with the lightweight design and bright images. They also find the binoculars comfortable to hold for long periods, except for those with very large hands.
Review: March 2008 Essentials Review: Binoculars, Editors of Backpacker, March 2008
More than 30 reviewers give the Nikon Travelite V binoculars an above-average rating at Amazon.com. Users like that the binoculars are so small, and most say the binoculars are built more solidly than their price tag would suggest.
Review: Nikon 7510 Travelite 10 x 25 mm V Binoculars, Contributors to Amazon.com
The Nikon Travelite V series also gets high marks at Buzzillions.com, where 35 reviewers give the binoculars a 4.3-star rating. The compact design and good optical quality are high points, but some wish the binoculars were waterproof.
Review: Nikon Travelite 12x25 V Binoculars, Contributors to Buzzillions.com
ConsumerGuide.com reviews the 9x25 version of the Nikon Travelite V binoculars in this older review. Like some other reviewers, editors think the binoculars are "often too small to hold comfortably," but they say the Travelite is a good choice for travel, concerts or sporting events.
Review: Expert Review: Nikon Travelite V 9x25 Binoculars 7471, Editors of ConsumerGuide.com, March 7, 2006