In our opinion, the Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42 is a good but not great pair of binocular. Considering their price range, they provide a fairly good optical experience and are well made. The problem comes with the competition. We’ve found multiple pairs of bins priced very similarly that are noticeably clearer and brighter. If you already have a pair of these binoculars or manage to find them heavily discounted, we think the quality is more than good enough to stoke a budding bird-watching hobby. However, if you’re starting from scratch and paying retail price, your money can likely go substantially further elsewhere.Editor's Note: This product review was published in November 2021 and updated again on January 11, 2022 to compare competing products and make recommendations on what to purchase.
Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42 Review
Cons: Relatively dim, rubber feels a bit sticky
Compare to Similar Products
Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42
$274.95 at Amazon
|Check Price at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$286.95 at Amazon|
Compare at 2 sellers
$141.46 at Amazon
$119.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Relatively good clarity, easy to focus||Excellent brightness, great clarity, comfortable||Good clarity and brightness, smooth focus knob||Inexpensive, good clarity and brightness||Good clarity, small and lightweight, relatively comfortable|
|Cons||Relatively dim, rubber feels a bit sticky||Slightly heavy for backpacking||Mediocre close focus range, mediocre field of view||Average construction quality, mediocre low-light performance||Poor low-light performance|
|Bottom Line||While these binoculars are good, many competitors in the same price range are better||An excellent balance of price and all-around performance with particularly impressive brightness||These perform well for the price, offering a smooth focus knob and decent brightness and clarity||The most budget-friendly option we've found that offers a good introduction to birdwatching||An inexpensive, small, and packable model that offers surprisingly good optics|
|Rating Categories||Celestron TrailSeek...||Vortex Diamondback...||Nikon Monarch 5 8x42||Celestron Nature DX...||Vortex Diamondback...|
|Ease of Adjustment (15%)|
|Construction Quality (15%)|
|Close Focus Range (7.5%)|
|Field of View (7.5%)|
|Specs||Celestron TrailSeek...||Vortex Diamondback...||Nikon Monarch 5 8x42||Celestron Nature DX...||Vortex Diamondback...|
|Multi - Coating||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC||FMC|
|Field of View (at 1000 yards)||426 ft||393 ft||335 ft||388 ft||332 ft|
|Close Focus||6.5 ft||5.0 ft||8.2 ft||6.5 ft||6.0 ft|
|Eye Relief||17.2 mm||17 mm||19.5 mm||17.5 mm||18 mm|
|Size (Length x Width)||5.5 x 4.9 in||5.7 x 5.1 in||5.7 x 5.1 in||5.3 x 4.9 in||4.6 x 4.5 in|
|Weight||23.5 oz||21.8 oz||22.2 oz||22.2 oz||14.0 oz|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42 is one of many binoculars with good optical quality and decent construction but falls short of other similarly priced models. This is a common plight in this very competitive price range.
We'd classify the clarity of the TrailSeeker ED 8x42 as above average but not fantastic, a perennial B that gets outshined by a handful of straight-A students.
The images produced by the TrailSeeker ED 8x42 are quite good, with minor details looking relatively clear. However, when compared side-by-side with those of some other similarly priced models, it's apparent that these bins miss some of the minor details. Tufts of feathers can lose some of their definition, dense foliage can get a bit muddled at a distance, and blades of grass can blend together. Also, the images start to lose some clarity about midway between the center and the edge of the frame. The difference is minor, but this makes the image feel a bit flatter and less immersive. Other models in this price range manage to create a more 3D feeling image that draws you in more.
While we've mostly been nitpicking the downsides of the TrailSeeker ED 8x42's clarity, it isn't all that bad; it just doesn't stand out in a crowd. We don't think anyone will be disappointed with the clarity; it's just possible to get something better for the same price.
The TrailSeeker ED 8x42's brightness is quite good but again falls short of some of its competitors. In most situations, this model provides a very bright image. Even in the shade, it offers enough brightness to make out subtle color differences. Low light situations, like early dawn and late dusk, are where it starts to struggle. In such instances, its images turn into silhouettes significantly earlier than some of its main rivals. If you tend to be birdwatching when the light gets low, these may not be the bins for you.
Ease of Adjustment
We had no major complaints when adjusting the Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42. The focus knob is supple, and the diopter budges when you want it to and stays put when you don't. Some of the more expensive models sport focus knobs that feel a bit more fine-tuned, but overall we don't think anyone will have trouble adjusting these bins.
Overall the TrailSeeker ED 8x42 is quite comfortable to hold, but the lack of features holds it back. This model is generally the right size and shape for comfortable holding — our hands didn't get overly fatigued when using them for multiple hours. However, thumb indents on the bottom of the barrels would make them significantly more ergonomic. Additionally, the rubber feels slightly sticky. Particularly on hot days, this can feel a bit odd.
Close Focus Range And Field of View
The Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42's close focus range is 6.5 feet. This is close enough that you'll likely be able to get even close-by insects in focus. Some other models allow you to get even your own toes in focus, but these binoculars fall short of that mark.
The field of view of 426 feet at 1000 yards is one of the best in its class. However, it doesn't beat its competitors by a wide enough margin to be especially noticeable in normal use.
While we don't usually talk about binocular accessories because of the near-identical group of neck-straps and carrying cases on offer, the Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42 throws a unique bonus item into the mix. The double shoulder strap that comes in the box both holds the binoculars more securely on your body than a standard neck strap and gives you something to lean against when you raise the binoculars to your eyes. If adjusted correctly, leaning against the straps can reduce hand shake significantly. Particularly for the coffee addicts amongst us, this can vastly improve the overall quality of the image. Our one complaint with these straps is the large footprint they present on your back, which can get in the way of hoods and whatnot. However, they are low profile and fit well under most backpacks.
Should You Buy the Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42?
While the Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42 performs relatively well and doesn't cost all that much in the grand scheme of things, other models cost the same and offer noticeably better performance. For this reason, it missed out on an award and wouldn't be our top recommendation for anyone buying a new pair of bins at retail price.
What Other Binoculars Should You Consider?
The Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42 offers a good overall experience but just doesn't stand out in an overly competitive field. For a top-notch user experience, we recommend the Vortex Viper HD 8x42, which offers performance on par with pairs that cost much more. We also love the more affordable Vortex Diamondback HD 8x42, which uses the same HD glass as the Viper for a fraction of the cost.
— Max Mutter
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More