Full-size binoculars have their advantages, but they're not always the most practical choice to take out with your if you're travelling or you've got a long day ahead of you. That's where a pair of compact binoculars like the Viking Badger 8x25s can really come in handy, as they're a bit more pocket-friendly. The quality of compacts has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, so many of them are just as good as their full-size siblings. But how do these compact Badgers compare? Let's take a look!
The Badger series is one of our favourites in Viking's line-up of binoculars, as they offer great value for money while still being good quality. They make them in all different sizes, from the largest 10x50s, to medium options like 10x42s and 8x32s, and now the 8x25s. Even with the next size up, there's quite a bit of size difference between these. So if you wanted some binoculars that you could just pop in your bag and always have handy, these would be a great option.
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Design & build
In terms of build quality, we've been really impressed with Viking binoculars in the past, and the 8x25 Badgers are no different. They've got this nice rubber armour coating, which means they're really easy to grip even in wet conditions and they're not going to get easily damaged or knocked out of focus if you're a bit rough with them. They're also fully waterproof and nitrogen-purged as well, so they won't fog up on you in the rain.
The Badger 8x25s have a polycarbonate body, rather than the magnesium alloy one that you tend to get with more expensive binoculars. That's to be expected, though, given the price and size of them. They're also pretty lightweight at 298g, so they're not going to weigh you down while you're carrying them about, but they still feel nice and solid.
The focus wheel is well-placed so it's really easy to adjust the focus while you're using the binoculars, even if you're just using them one-handed. It's also ridged as you can see, which means it's easy to adjust even if you've got gloves on as well.
As with most binoculars, the Badger 8x25s come with a nylon carry case. It isn't the most advanced we've ever seen, but considering it comes free with the binoculars, it's still good quality. It has a belt clip on the back so that you easily carry it about with you, and it holds its shape nicely so the binoculars aren't going to get damaged.
The binoculars themselves come with a rainguard and removable lens caps. Not all compact binoculars that we've seen at this price point comes with the rainguard so it's good to see as it'll help keep the lenses nice and clean and stop them getting scratched. There's also a strap for the binoculars themselves in there which you can easily put on. It's a little bit fiddly to get on the first time, but once that's on you probably won't need to take it off.
Finally, it's worth mentioning that the Badger 8x25s come with a 5-year warranty for added peace of mind.
Quality of optics
So, onto the optics. The Badger 8x25 binoculars come with multicoated lenses. They're not fully multicoated, but again that's pretty standard for compact binoculars. They've got BAK-4 prisms which means you get a nice clear image all the way to the edge of the lens, unlike BAK-7 prisms where you tend to get the corners of the image cropped off a little bit.
They've got a field-of-view of 6.8 degrees, which in practise means if you're looking at something a kilometre away, you'd get a field-of-view of 120m. And they have a close focus of 2m as well, so they're good for looking at stuff close up too.
They've got twist-down eyecups with minimum eye relief of 13mm, which is just enough to get that full field-of-view if you're using these with glasses. One thing to mention, though, is that the eyecups weren't quite as sturdy in place as some of the other Badgers we've tested. If you put any amount of force on them then they do sometimes push back down again a little. However, we've found with smaller binoculars like these that you don't need to push them all the way up against your eyes to get the full field of view. If you've got long eyelashes, then you may need to hold them a little bit away from your eyes anyway.
So, that's all the facts and figures. But what are the Badger 8x25s actually like to use? In practise, we found these to be a really good pair of compact binoculars, especially given the price (about £75 at the time of writing). The field of view is just about the sweet spot for what you want from compact binoculars. It's wide enough to easily track things in movement, but it still gives you a nice good image of whatever it is you're looking at. If you'd prefer more powerful magnification then there's also a 10x25 version available, but we found the 8x25s to be just about right. Since they make it easy to track objects in movement, they'd be good for sporting events as well as birdwatching.
In terms of the optics quality, they meet the same high standard we've come to expect from Viking. There was a little bit of chromatic aberration at times- where you get a sort of halo around objects you're looking at- but it wasn't too noticeable, and it's not much of a drop down from more expensive Badgers like the 8x42s.
Some users have reported some pincushion distortion when using these, where objects look like they're bulging towards you slightly. We have to say, though, that we didn't find that to be the case during our testing. All in all, the Badger 8x25s pair of compact binoculars and ones that I was very happy with.
Viking Badger 8x25: The Verdict
So there we have it, the Viking Badger 8x25s, a really solid pair of compact binoculars that offer excellent value for money. With superb performance for such an affordable model, we can't recommend them enough for anyone considering picking up a pair of compact binoculars.