Hands-on Gear Review

Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 ATB Review

Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 ATB
By: Stephanie Bennett ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 7, 2014
Price:  $80 List  |  $69.00 at Amazon - 14% Off
Pros:  Lightweight, compact, easy to focus and adjust, images are crisp and clear
Cons:  Easy to lose lens caps, image is shaky at times
Manufacturer:   Nikon
81
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Magnification - 20% 7
  • Clarity - 50% 8
  • Ease of Adjustment - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 9
  • Portability - 10% 10
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Our Verdict

If you are budget conscious and looking to purchase your first pair of binoculars, the Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 is the pair for you. Heck, even if you aren't on a budget, this is likely the right choice for you. This binocular is an all-around good investment with excellent image quality and the ability to focus quickly and easily on any stationary or moving object. Fitting into the size of your palm, it is incredibly compact and lightweight at 9.9 ounces, making it easy to take with you anywhere. Most importantly, for under $100, it is a great deal! Throughout testing, no one could believe that the Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 was on the market for less than $100 due to the high-quality of the image being viewed and intuitive ease of use. All of these features add up to earning the Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 OutdoorGearLab's Best Buy Award.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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An inexpensive and compact binocular with high image quality, the Nikon Trailblazer is perfect for a first pair or for the casual user.

Performance Comparison


John and Sakeus scoping lines on nearby Bear Paw Mountain with the packable yet powerful Nikon Trailblazer.
John and Sakeus scoping lines on nearby Bear Paw Mountain with the packable yet powerful Nikon Trailblazer.

Clarity


Nearly a half-mile away from our objective, out lead tester's ski partner took the Nikon Trailblazers out of the pack, and was able to see a faint skin track in the distance. The light was incredibly flat, and it was starting to rain. Impressive results! The clarity of the Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 is comparable to binoculars twice its size, and twice its value. For under $100, you can't find a better deal on a pair of binoculars that perform in variable lighting situations. Also, one key point to also note, is that the Trailblazer has the second widest field of view of any of the models we tested at 429 ft /1000 yards. Only one foot narrower than the much larger Bushnell Legacy 8x42 and actually wider than the wide-angle Olympus Trooper 10x50 DPS. We should also mention that the Bushnell Legacy weighs almost 1.25 pounds more then the Trailblazer as well. We can't rave enough about the punch this little binocular throws…. And did we mention it's under $100?

The compact Trailblazer in action. Here you can see how this small sized binocular fits against the face.
The compact Trailblazer in action. Here you can see how this small sized binocular fits against the face.

Magnification


The Nikon Trailblazer has a magnifying power of 8x, which is the same power as the Nikon Monarch 3 8x42 ATB, but less than our Editors' Choice winner, the Nikon Monarch 7 10x30. As mentioned in our How to Choose Binoculars article, binoculars with a magnification of 10 or higher can have a shaky image, due to amplifying your own hand movement. The beauty with 8x binoculars is that this shakiness sometimes can be avoided. It hits the sweet spot of high magnification with the most possible clarity. The Trailblazer holds a steady image, even when your hands are a little cold from the outdoors.

Ease of Adjustment


The focus knob on the Trailblazer.
The focus knob on the Trailblazer.
Out of all of the binoculars tested, the Trailblazer was one of the easiest to use. With its intuitive central focusing knob and the barrels on a central hinge point, anyone can easily adjust them to fit their face and focus in on an object instantly. Over the course of our testing period, this particular pair fell into the hands of over ten separate graduate students, five skiing touring partners, one parent, and one ten year old. Each tester had zero issues with intuitively focusing the binoculars and then fitting them into their face. At one point, during a comparison test with the Bushnell NatureView 6x30, one tester demanded the Trailblazers back since they were easier to focus and adjust! Once again, for the price you pay, this binocular is far superior to others tested that are two and even three times the price of the Trailblazer.

Durability


Durability is the one testing criteria where the trailblazer fell short. Potentially as a cost-saving measure, Nikon includes cheap and flimsy lens covers that are not attached. With binoculars being pulled out of bags, passed around, stored, moved, and packed back into packs, it's incredibly easy and inevitable that the lens caps will be lost. If you do end up with this pair in your tool kit, we highy recommend going the MacGyver route and fashioning a way for the lens caps to stay put on the binoculars; dental floss or duct tape are always possibilities.

Portability


The high-performing Nikon Trailblazer comes in a surprisingly small package! Its unique shape contributes to its light weight and portability.
The high-performing Nikon Trailblazer comes in a surprisingly small package! Its unique shape contributes to its light weight and portability.
At 4 inches wide by 4 inches long, this little binocular is about as compact as they come. At a little over half a pound, you barely remember that you even packed your binoculars in the first place. During testing, the Trailblazers traveled in a purse, backpack, overnight pack, and the center console of the car; barely ever taking up too much space. If you are looking for a portable pair but want slightly more magnification, try the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10x25. Not to keep coming back to this point, but for less than $100, you couldn't ask for a better sidekick!

Best Application


The Nikon Trailblazer can be used for a wide variety of activities; boating, hiking, birding, wildlife viewing, and hunting. Even though you may not get the same clarity as our slightly larger Editors' Choice model, the Nikon Monarch, you make up for in price and size. This is a great pair for a first-time buyer regardless of the activity. Over the next year or so, you can see what you like and do not like about binoculars and check-in with what your friends are using while out birding or on the hunt. You may just find that you scored the best binoculars you will ever need for under $100.

Value


Have we mentioned that they're under $100?! The Trailblazer is an amazing value for the stunning clarity, magnification, and ease of use that is rolled up into this 4 inch masterpiece. All of these key attributes combined are why it earns OutdoorGearLabs Best Buy Award!

Conclusion


We recommend this piece to anyone, regardless of activity. It is high performing and wallet friendly. Only if you are a frequent user in need of slightly more fine-tuned functions would we steer you elsewhere. Most customers will be happy with the Trailblazer.

Stephanie Bennett

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Most recent review: July 7, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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5 star: 100%  (1)
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