There are few better all-rounders than the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars. One of the best value and most versatile mid-range binoculars available, these roof prism binoculars impress in almost every regard. For our money, they're some of the best binoculars on the market right now – as well as ranking amongst the best birdwatching binoculars, specifically.
A waterproof, fog-free single-bridged design with barrels that are easy to hold steadily, the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 boasts 8x magnification and 42mm objectives that prove the right balance for both image quality and portability.
Affordable yet just as impressive as much more expensive binoculars, the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 boasts an solid magnesium alloy build quality while multi-coated optics BaK-4 glass let as much light in as possible.
First launched in 2014, these binoculars are joined in the TrailSeeker line-up by 8x32, 10x32 and 10x42 variants, though a much pricer version of each is available with Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass, which eliminates chromatic aberration, something the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 does have a slight issue with when used at night.
- Binoculars vs telescope: which is better for stargazing?
- Monoculars vs binoculars: which is right for you?
Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars review: design
At 23.1oz/655g and measuring 5.5x5.1x2 inches/141x130x51mm, the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars are surprisingly lightweight and compact considering their magnesium alloy build and the size of their 42mm objective lenses. The barrels themselves are fairly standard in size, but the bridge linking them is slimmer and quite close to the eyepieces. Given that all binoculars are best held close to the end of the barrels, it makes the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 a little easier than similarly sized binoculars to handle and keep steady.
Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars review: features
Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 specs
Objective lens diameter: 42mm
The TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars come with almost every feature you could expect for the price. They possess a roof prism optical system that allows for high magnification power and a brighter image. That's not unusual, but as well as claiming a close focus feature they also include premium BaK-4 glass. That means even more light passes through, which is great news for using in low-light and for stargazing, with the multi-coated lenses helping out in that regard, too.
Although you don't really need to mount the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 on a tripod, it is possible thanks to a standard tripod adaptor thread on the bridge between the objective lenses.
Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars review: performance
The Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 gives consistently crisp, colourful views with plenty of detail and contrast. We particularly liked the ability to focus on close objects just 6.5ft. from us, which proved very useful in both an animal sanctuary and while bird-watching in a local wetlands reserve.
Thanks to its lens coatings the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 also works reasonably well in low-light and at night, in our test creating contrast-heavy views of the Pleiades star cluster, the Orion Nebula and the Moon. However, we did notice some slight purple colour fringing around the bright Moon. The only way to solve that is to upgrade to the 'ED' version of these binoculars, but given its much lower price the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 remains really hard to beat on all-round optical quality.
One thing we didn't like about the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 is the lens caps. In theory, the flip-down design is useful, making them difficult to lose and easy to place back over the lenses at a moment's notice. However, the ring that attaches these lenses to the objective lenses is rather loose; during our review they fell off a few times.
Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars review: extras
The Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 comes with some handy extra gear in the box. Its stout carrying case is particularly impressive, boasting both padding at the zip pocket inside. However, the pièce de résistance is a harness strap, which is worn across the shoulders and takes the weight of the binoculars off the neck. It's easy to use and comes in a small stuff sack that, slightly confusingly, is slightly padded. It's worth wearing before going out in the field.
Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars review: verdict
All binoculars are something of a compromise of optical quality and size, but few are more impressive compromises than the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42. Waterproof, fog-free and easy to travel with, these roof prism binoculars make use of high-end BaK-4 glass to create awesome close-ups of wildlife, landscapes and celestial objects by night. However, it's the affordability of these step-up binoculars and the good quality extras in the box that make them hard to resist.
Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars review: alternatives to consider
Rather similar to the Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 are the Nikon Prostaff 3s binoculars, which also come in the 8x42 flavour. They're also roof prism binoculars with a waterproof and lightweight design. A step-up choice would be the Olympus 10x42 PRO, which can focus on objects just 1.5 away and has a coating that reduces flares and ghosting. If you can splash even more cash then head straight for the Canon 10x42L IS WP binoculars, which boast ultra-low dispersion (UD) lens elements for edge-to-edge sharpness and unique image stabilisation that cleverley cancels-out any shakiness in your arms.