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Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42 Review

While these binoculars are good, many competitors in the same price range are better
Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42
Photo: Celestron
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Price:  $330 List | $236.51 at Amazon
Pros:  Relatively good clarity, easy to focus
Cons:  Relatively dim, rubber feels a bit sticky
Manufacturer:   Celestron
By Max Mutter ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 8, 2021
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 15
  • Clarity - 25% 7
  • Brightness - 20% 8
  • Ease of Adjustment - 15% 8
  • Construction Quality - 15% 8
  • Comfort - 10% 7
  • Close Focus Range - 7.5% 8
  • Field of View - 7.5% 9

Our Verdict

In our opinion, the Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42 is a good but not great pair of binoculars. 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.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $330 List
$236.51 at Amazon
$270 List
$219.00 at Amazon
$280 List
$289.95 at REI
$150 List
$139.95 at Amazon
$190 List
$135.12 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Relatively good clarity, easy to focusExcellent brightness, great clarity, comfortableGood clarity and brightness, smooth focus knobInexpensive, good clarity and brightnessGood clarity, small and lightweight, relatively comfortable
Cons Relatively dim, rubber feels a bit stickySlightly heavy for backpackingMediocre close focus range, mediocre field of viewAverage construction quality, mediocre low-light performancePoor low-light performance
Bottom Line While these binoculars are good, many competitors in the same price range are betterAn excellent balance of price and all-around performance with particularly impressive brightnessThe best pair of binoculars for the price, these offer a smooth focus knob and decent brightness and clarityThe most budget-friendly option we've found that offers a good introduction to birdwatchingAn 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...
Clarity (25%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Brightness (20%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Ease Of Adjustment (15%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Construction Quality (15%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
Comfort (10%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Close Focus Range (7.5%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Field Of View (7.5%)
9.0
8.0
5.0
8.0
5.0
Specs Celestron TrailSeek... Vortex Diamondback... Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 Celestron Nature DX... Vortex Diamondback...
Glass Type ED HD ED ED HD
Multi - Coating FMC FMC FMC FMC FMC
Magnification 8 8 8 8 8
Field of View (ft/yards) 426/1000 393/1000 330/1000 388/1000 332/1000
Close Focus 6.5 ft 5.0 ft 7.8 ft 6.5 ft 6.0 ft
Eye Relief 17.2 mm 17 mm 19.5 mm 17.5 mm 18 mm
Prism Roof Roof Roof Roof Roof
Waterproof/Fogproof? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
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 20.8 oz 22.2 oz 14.0 oz

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42 is one of many models 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.

Performance Comparison


Photo: Max Mutter

Clarity


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.

These binoculars produce good images, but they lack a bit of clarity...
These binoculars produce good images, but they lack a bit of clarity and brightness when compared to some of their main competitors.
Photo: Max Mutter

While we've mostly been nitpicking the downsides of the TrailSeeker ED 8x42's clarity, it isn't all that bad; it just isn't up to snuff with that of some comparable models. We don't think anyone will be disappointed with the clarity; it's just possible to get something better for the same price.

Brightness


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. Particularly 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.

The glass in these binoculars is good, but not best of class.
The glass in these binoculars is good, but not best of class.
Photo: Max Mutter

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.

We had no complaints with the focus nor diopter adjustemnts.
We had no complaints with the focus nor diopter adjustemnts.
Photo: Max Mutter

Comfort


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.

We wish these bins had some thumb indents, but they're not terribly...
We wish these bins had some thumb indents, but they're not terribly uncomfortable to hold.
Photo: Max Mutter

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.

Accessories


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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Value


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.

Showing all of the accessories included with the Trailseeker.
Showing all of the accessories included with the Trailseeker.
Photo: Max Mutter

Conclusion


The Celestron TrailSeeker ED 8x42 offers a good overall experience but just can't hang with the best models in an overly competitive price range. 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.

Max Mutter

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