Definition: What is a Pocket Binocular?

In the world of binoculars one can clearly distinguish between binoculars of normal size and binoculars known as “compact binoculars”. These are distinctions recognized and applied by the manufacturers, but among users of binoculars a third category has emerged, known as “pocket binoculars”.  Even though this denotation has become very popular, manufacturers have been rather slow in incorporating it in their terminology as part of the name of a special kind of compact binocular. As a matter of fact, only five models with the word “pocket” as part of the name are available at Amazon, whereas close to 100 have the name “compact” included in the name.

Are all compact binoculars pocket binoculars?
Many people think so. Not at all. First of all many compact binoculars are simply too big to fit into your pocket, even though they are called “compact” binoculars. Furthermore, many compact binoculars are simply too heavy, weighing more than 20 ounces – even though they might be small enough to fit into your pocket.

However,  the good news is that you will get many compact binoculars which fit the definition of “pocket binoculars”, being small enough as well as light enough, even though there’s nothing in the name suggesting it.

So you have a lot more options as it seems. Stick with us and we’ll help you with that!

So what is meant by a “pocket binocular”? When does a binocular qualify to be called a “pocket binocular”?

There are two obvious requirements:

1. They have to be  small enough to fit into a shirt pocket or anything similar. The length of the barrels could be 6 inches  (153 millimeters)(it’s not that issue if they can stick out at the top of your pocket) and the height should be around 3 inches (77 millimeters). The width is the crucial dimension.  Four inches (101 millimeters) should be fine. My pocket takes a 4.5 inches one. Clearly one should not be put off by a few millimeters, as long as the weight does not become an issue. The sizes of shirt pockets differ in any case.

2. On top of this, they also have to be light-weight enough not to bother the viewer when carried in his pocket. Generally speaking, a truly typical pocket binocular should not weigh more than 12 ounces. (340 grams). An excellent example is the Steiner 10×26 Safari Binocular, weighing only 9.7 ounces (275 grams). However, if this requirement is strictly applied, a special category of compact binoculars, known as “reverse porro binoculars”,  will have to be excluded, even though some of them should be regarded as pocket binoculars.  If you fancy them, you will have to go a little higher – say to 16 ounces. An excellent example is the one-of-a-kind and very popular Pentax Papilio 6.5x21mm Super-Close Focus Binoculars (also available in 8.5×21), which is a reverse porro design, small enough to fit into your shirt pocket with dimensions of 4.5 x 4.3 x 2.2 inches, but weighs 16 ounces.

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