Binocular Review - Swarovski CL Companion 8x30


Is small indeed beautiful as the saying goes? We have been testing Swarovski Optik's CL Companion compact 8x30 binoculars to find out!

The CL Companions on the right are much smaller and lighter than the 'full size' SLC binoculars we also have to test from Swarovski Optik. More on them another time!

We love taking our guests out to sea and showing them all the natural treasures to be found in, on and above the rich waters that surround the Hebrides. One of the unique selling points for our Scottish small-boat cruises are the experienced wildlife guides we have on board, and this year they were able to test out some superb high-quality Swarovski Optik binoculars thanks to a new partnership with the Austrian-based company, a recognised leader in the outdoor and birdwatching optics fields with their telescopes and binoculars. This time we will talk about our experience with the compact, but not compromised, Swarovski CL Companion 8x30 binoculars. Over to Muriel Hallé, our lead guide...

"On all the boats I've worked on we have always had binoculars provided to the crew. Some were good and some were pretty bad. So, I was really happy to get to try some new 'bins' out and discover the pros and cons compared to those others that I have tried before. Now, even though the pair of Swarovski CL Companion's I was given is smaller than I am used to (as they are designed to be a packable pair, rather than perhaps a full-time main pair), the brightness and clarity in particular certainly stood out immediately, especially compared to some of the binoculars I have used in the past.

When we were looking for some of our local white-tailed eagles, having such a bright image in the eyepieces certainly made life much easier as we are often searching for these dark brown birds along cliff faces that can be bathed in shadows or in overcast and low light conditions. Having great contrast with the bright image helps spotting our targets so much easier so we can then share and point them out to our guests. 

CL Companion binoculars being used.

Hebridean Adventures' wildlife guide Muriel Hallé using the Swarovski CL Companion 8x30 binoculars at the well-known cetacean shore-watching location of Tiumpan Head on the Isle of Lewis. Ironically on a decent weather day on this occasion!

Similarly, we spend a large amount of our time at sea looking for cetaceans on either rainy/overcast and/or foggy days - we are based in the north-west of Scotland after all. Often all we get initially is a glimpse of a fin or a splash at considerable distance and this is why the guide has their binoculars glued to their eyes most of the time, constantly scanning in an arc around the boat. This is where the amazing clarity of the CL Companion's paid-off big time. It is so easy to confuse a lump of floating debris, or a strangely breaking wave with the true signs of a whale, porpoise or dolphin - we NEED to be able to quickly and accurately see what we are really looking at before engaging our guests, and this is the other huge difference between a quality pair of binoculars like the Swarovski's and an inferior pair.

What amazed me is that all this clarity and brightness comes in a very compact-sized pair of 8x30 binoculars (they also have a 10x30 option if you'd like to extra magnification), which you can store in almost any decent-sized pocket. Because of their size and therefore the reduced weight, they are very comfortable to hold and use for long periods also.

Overall I was really happy with this trial and can definitely recommend the Swarovski CL Companion for all the wildlife lovers out there. Come and give them a try on-board with us next year! "

Fact File

  • The Swarovski CL Companion (from £980) is joined in the CL range of binoculars by the even smaller and fully-foldable CL Pocket binoculars (from £600) that come in 8x25 and 10x25 options.
  • The CL Companions' are fully watertight and dustproof, particularly important for us on the boat, as well as being solidly built for impact resistance should you manage to drop or knock them.
  • Swarovski Optik binoculars come with a 10 year worldwide warranty, and you can expect them to last much longer than that. Like all true exceptional quality items, you really do get what you pay for.
  • Browse the full Swarovski Optik collection on their website at and you can also find them on Social Media.
  • If you come wildlife and activity cruising with us at Hebridean Adventures in 2021, you will be able to try out these binoculars for yourself under real wildlife watching conditions. We will look forward to hearing what you think.
  • Nice touches - we loved the flip-down front lens covers - no more losing loose covers! Also, the CL Companions' are very ergonomic, fitting into your hand nice and snugly with a large and concise focus wheel that your fingers find easily. They just feel rugged too - you instantly know they are a quality instrument and are going to stand up to the test of time across many years in all conditions.