The REI XR 8x25 is compact and lightweight enough to go just about anywhere and deliver decent imaging. The REI 8x25 are a good value for what you get, but the performance isn't outstanding. This could be the perfect product for a backpacker or hiker who wants to carry a pair of binoculars with them into the backcountry but doesn't want to shell out too much money. If you want a compact pair of binoculars and want even higher quality, check out our Top Pick winner, the Leica BCR 10x25.
REI XR 8x25 Review
Cons: Lightweight, inexpensive, great close focus
Our Analysis and Test Results
This compact binocular is lightweight, a good value, and very portable. The lack of clarity and brightness makes us hesitate to recommend this pair for most people, but it does excel at close focus, zeroing in on objects only 3.3 feet away.
The clarity of the optics was really good in the center of the field of view, however, there was noticeable defocusing toward the edges. Chromatic aberrations were apparent in purple fringing around the edges of the field of view. We didn't see noticeable distortion in vertical or horizontal lines in the ISO 12233 test. The Leica BCR 10x25 is a compact pair that blows the REI model away in terms of clarity and brightness.
The REI XR 8x25 is one of the lower scoring pairs of binoculars in this category. This pair is not made for low light conditions. The REI XR 8x25 is best used in bright natural lighting. The lenses are fully multi-coated and the prisms are made with BaK4 glass.
Ease of Adjustment
Like several pairs of binoculars in this test, there was a break-in period for the REI XR 8x25.
Field of View and Close Focus Range
The one area the REI XR 8x25 excels is at close focusing. It will focus on objects just 3.3 feet away. This allows you to get a nice close up of flower, butterfly, or any other object that's close by. It is one of our top scorers in the category, tying it with the Vanguard Endeavor ED II 10x42. The field of view is 367 feet and 1000 yards, which puts the REI XR in the middle range of the binoculars we tested.
The rubberized coating makes the REI XR 8x25 easy to hold onto. The eyecups ware made of a soft rubber that is comfortable. As with most compact binoculars, some people find them difficult or awkward to hold.
The build of the REI XR 8x25 feels solid and looks good. No alignment issues could be seen. The outside of the binoculars have a rubber coating for a secure grip. We did have an issue with the objective lens cap coming off. Usually this occurred as you were pulling them out of the carry case.
The REI XR 8x25 is best use in bright conditions where size and weight are important. You can use these on backcountry trips or sea kayaking. They are also good for people who want to use their binoculars to explore items that are closer. The REI XR 8x25 is waterproof and fogproof which makes them great for the various weather conditions you will find in the backcountry.
At the sub $100 mark, these binoculars are a good value. At this price range compromises have to be made, so just don't expect the REI XR 8x25 to perform like a $500 dollar pair of binoculars. (Or almost $800, as is the case with the Leica pair that won our Top Pick award for compact binoculars.)
Though the REI XR 8x25 scored low in our testing, the XR 8x25 is not a bad pair of binoculars. We are actually quite amazed at the quality you can get for around $100. We would probably spend the extra money and get a pair of the Best Buy winning Vortex Diamondback 8x28 seeing as REI has recently changed their replacement policy.
— Max Mutter and Michael Payne