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Last updated: June 27, 2022
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Is it possible to find the best binoculars under $100? The short answer is yes. But there are plenty of them that sport a price tag that is affordable for most budgets. Yet, what separates one pair from another can be the difference in features. You may have a personal preference in terms of different sizes, magnification levels, or whether or not you want it to be easily carried in your pocket.
When looking for a pair of binoculars, it’s always a good idea to know what some of the features are and why they are important. For example, the objective is something you want to look at. Its chief responsibility is to gather enough light for you to see through them. Magnification will allow you to look closely at an object of interest. However, the more magnification you need, your angle of view may narrow (which is key for spotting target objects). Here, we look at budget-friendly binoculars suitable for different tasks.
More features: fogproof and waterproof design; 19 mm eye relief; roof prism and multicoated lenses; protective rubber covering
On paper, these binoculars are by far one of the best looking in terms of design. But their overall performance is what really makes these bad boys stand out. To start, the lenses are multi-coated and really do a good job providing you with the best image clarity.
The design allows you to see your images without them fogging up. Plus, they are waterproof so you can be able to use these in adverse weather conditions like snow or rain. These are perfect if you are hunting, hiking, or just exploring the outdoors.
The binoculars have large knobs, which makes it easier for you to adjust the focus and other settings when needed to ensure that you can see clearly. You can also adjust the magnification up to 8x so the objects that appear far away appear closer. All it takes are just a couple turns of the knob.
You get a pair of lens covers so you can keep the binoculars protected from any dust, dirt, debris, and anything else when they are not in use. While they can be difficult to clean without damaging them, the lens cap can lessen the likelihood of cleaning them often. Aside from the lens cover, you also have some additional accessories such as a carrying patch and a binocular strap.
If you are looking for a pair of binoculars that can really prove itself useful to outdoor enthusiasts, the Outland X binoculars will definitely be the best choice for even the pickiest of budget shoppers.
More features: roof-prism design; anti-reflection fully coated optics; twist-up rubber eyecups; 16 mm eye relief
Tasco is another name that has gained quite a following over the years. They are one of the most recognizable names in all things optics. They are also known for being quite reliable. If reliability is one of your “make or break” qualities, the Tasco Essentials could be high above your list of favorites.
This pair of binoculars comes in your choice or roof or porro prisms. Either way, they deliver excellent image quality and have a large objective giving you plenty of light and a good field of view when you are looking through them. These will work perfectly for any outdoor enthusiast. These can cover a good amount of real estate, so you won’t miss anything like you would if the angle of view was a bit narrower.
At 8x magnification, you can be able to adjust the levels easily with the knobs available. Even at some of the levels of magnification, the image quality won’t blur as much unlike some binoculars. These can be a really good pair of binoculars assuming you want something that will actually give you a better chance at identifying something off in the distance. Whether it’s an animal or a nearby mountain, you’ll get a clear unobstructed view regardless of what nature throws your way.
The Tasco Essentials binoculars are no doubt the safe bet if you want something that isn’t too cheap or expensive. They are easily adjustable, allows you plenty of clear images, and can be useful in hunting, hiking, or walking applications. It’s what you want in a pair of binoculars that you can take just about anywhere.
More features: Porro BAK4 prism and multilayer-coated lenses; water-resistant design; large aperture; 18 mm eye relief
To wrap up our list portion of the review, we’ll be taking a look at the Celestron SkyMaster Large Aperture Binoculars. These binoculars have the largest objective diameter on the list. So what you’ll expect is excellent image quality and plenty of light gathering so you can see these images better, even in low-light settings (like dawn or dusk). If you are looking for the best binoculars for astronomy under $100, these might be your go-to option if you want to do some stargazing when the sun goes down.
This also has a firm rubber grip that you can rely on for no-slip holds. These are definitely a must-have when you want to use these and it’s raining like crazy. On hot days when your hands tend to sweat, you can still be able to maintain a good hold on them. Plus, they are water resistant so it will keep the water out of your binoculars and prevent leaks from happening.
Want more of a hands-free operation? No problem. You can attach this to most compatible tripods. That way, you can use your hands for other tasks while you’re hiking, hunting, or spending quality time in the outdoors with your camera in hand.
If you are looking for a pair of high-quality binoculars that can work in your favor no matter if it’s broad daylight or sunset, the Celestron SkyMaster Large Aperture Binoculars are a really good pair to invest in, especially when they are affordable in price and give you more bang for your buck.
More features: BAK4 prism and fully multicoated optics; fold down eyecups; shock-absorbing rubber armor; 18–15.5 mm eye relief
If you are looking for some pretty tough binoculars, the Barska Level Zoom Binoculars could be exactly what you’re looking for. The outer housing will make shock absorption quite easy. We know how things can happen like dropping a pair of binoculars on the ground. Rest assured, you won’t break a lens nor will they be rendered useless if you drop a pair of binoculars like this. You can pick them up, look through them and it will be as if nothing happened.
The optics are fully-coated and made from high-quality glass. When you hear words like that, obviously you know that the image quality will be pretty good. They are fogproof and waterproof, so it can hang with what nature can throw your way. In fact, we can probably declare these the best waterproof binoculars under $100. For the price that it’s going for, you’d be hard-pressed to find a pair like these. You could be paying more for the same pair of binoculars.
What you’ll get with these binoculars is excellent gripping ability. By the way, you also get an ergonomically friendly design so you can hold onto these for a long time. You don’t want to miss what’s in front of you (or that big game target you’ve been eyeing for the last ten minutes). Whether it’s rain, shine, or in between the two…these binoculars are reliable and will definitely give you the best performance possible. Why settle for anything less than what these pair of sub $100 binoculars can offer?
More features: roof BAK4 prism; waterproof design; multicoated Ego-Glass lenses; 10.6 mm eye relief
Nikon is known for making some pretty killer optics. You may have used their rifle scopes before and notice how awesome the overall image quality is. But can you get the same from a pair of binoculars? The answer is yes.
Believe it or not, you can still get excellent image quality from this pair of binoculars even at some of the higher magnification levels (which goes up to 10x). This also has a large knob that is easy to turn and will make things easily adjustable. If it appears a little out of focus, all it takes is a few clicks.
If you are looking for a pair that is easy to take with you, the compact design is worth noting. It’s not some huge pair of binoculars that you’ll need to carry around your neck. But they are small enough to fit in large pockets like a windbreaker.
Sometimes, it can be really uncomfortable to hold on to a pair of binoculars for longer periods. Luckily, Nikon thought it would be best to make the design a bit more ergonomically friendly (which they did). Plus, it will give you a chance to look at what’s in front of you and really marvel at the wonders of nature.
With multi-coated lenses that prevent scratches and the ability to resist fog and water, the Nikon ACULON binoculars could be the go-to pair for those who want excellent quality in one pair of binoculars. They are lightweight, easily portable, and are built tough.
More features: Porro BAK4 prism; 15 mm eye relief; multicoated optics; waterproof design
This will be the first of two Bushnell binoculars on the list. First, we’ll be taking a look at the Spectator Sport Porro Permafocus Binoculars. These binoculars are super tough and are likely to take a beating if you somehow drop these on the hard pavement. They’ll continue to work as if nothing happened.
One other thing that you might like is the waterproof design. This means you can be able to use these even when it’s raining cats and dogs outside. No water will leak through the binoculars and they won’t be rendered useless. These are the best birding binoculars under $100, so if you want to maximize your bird watching experience, there is no other pair of binoculars that can get the job done quite like these.
The lenses are multi-coated, which will give you the best image quality without any smudges, scratches, or dirt left behind. You can easily clean these with a camel hair brush and leave nothing behind. But nevertheless, they still give you the best quality when looking at your favorite birds. It’s never been easier to spot cardinals, chickadees, blue jays, and so many others with ease using magnification levels of up to 10x.
If you are a fan of bird watching and need a pair of binoculars that will be perfect for you in terms of image quality and your budget, the Bushnell Spectator Sport will no doubt prove its worth. It’s a pair of binoculars made exactly for those outdoor explorations.
More features: Porro BAK4 prism and multilayer-coated lenses; 11.8 mm eye relief; rubber coating
We return to the Nikon brand for a look at another pair of binoculars that will fail to disappoint most people. The only difference is that these are not as compact in size as the Aculon binoculars that we’ve reviewed earlier. These are a bit larger in size, but quite easy to take with you in terms of portability. And they are lighter in weight as well.
The glass lens is excellent in quality and has that multi-coating added on to ensure that you get the best images each time you look through the binoculars (even when they are slightly away from your face). The glass is free of lead and arsenic, thus making it really safe to use. It’s also lightweight, further adding onto the ability of making these easy to carry. Just because they are not compact, doesn’t mean they can’t be portable.
If you want better focus, you can be able to adjust it with ease thanks to the easy to turn knob. In fact, all of the adjustment knobs included are easy to turn. So you can make the adjustments you want and fast so you can keep your eyes on the prize, whatever it might be.
The optics on a pair of Nikon binoculars are guaranteed to amaze you. Whether you use these during a hike or while you are sitting in the nosebleeds of an outdoor concert, you will get the best views as if you were watching them on an HD television. You do not want to miss part of the action with binoculars like these.
More features: 10 mm eye relief; BK-7 Porro prism and multicoated lenses; non-slip rubber armor
Now, we’ll take a look at the second Bushnell binoculars on the list. These are the PowerView WA Porro Prism Binoculars. For a pair of binoculars that are under $100, these are by far one of the best in construction and quality. In fact, we dare say that these are the best hunting binoculars under $100. Since they have a camo finish, you can see your targets without them seeing you.
The lenses are made from high-quality glass and are multi-coated for better quality. You can get excellent image quality and be able to clean these with ease without leaving any scratches. If there is one thing that anyone with binoculars don’t want, it’s a scratched lens. This also has a durable housing that will protect them from any kind of shock that can be produced from hard surface impact. It’s also rubberized so it allows you to maintain your grip and prevent slippage.
Because of its ergonomic design, you can be able to hold on to them for longer periods of time without any discomfort. Better for you if the last thing you want is to take your eyes off an object of interest for just one second. Plus, you can make adjustments fairly easily without having to remove the binoculars from your face.
If you want the perfect package in one pair of binoculars, then you might want to consider investing in a pair of Bushnell PowerView binoculars. These could be the highly preferred choice for those hunting those big game targets like deer, elk, or moose.
What are our favorite features?
Perfect for hunting
Excellent grip ability
Easy to adjust when needed
High-quality lenses produce excellent images
What could be better?
Binocular clips feels cheap
Things to Consider
If you are having a hard time choosing a pair of binoculars that are under $100, then this buyer’s guide will help you out. It’s important to know which features will stand out as a deciding factor. Some of them are based on needs or personal preferences.
Below is a list of things you’ll want to consider while looking for binoculars (along with some frequently asked questions). Let’s dive in!
What to expect from budget binoculars?
Budget binoculars may have some differences compared to those that are much more expensive. But what can you expect from them? For one, you can expect them to be lighter in weight. Some of the higher-quality binoculars will often be a little heavier since they may contain some parts that are proven to be less breakable.
But can you expect budget binoculars to be cheap in quality? Not always. But it can depend on the model and brand. Budget binoculars that are reasonably priced will always be decent in quality. However, if you feel that a pair of binoculars seem too low of a price, you’d be better off looking for a different pair.
Budget binoculars are easy to use and have easy adjustments. They will not have any kind of tech-like features like night vision, though.
Binoculars by activity type
There are binoculars that are designed for various activities. While some are useful for just about anything, it’s important to pay close attention to some of the features that makes a pair fitting for one purpose or another. Let’s take a look at some examples of these specific activities
Birdwatching is one of the best outdoor activities where a reliable pair of binoculars can come into play. The objective size you might want to look for is small enough to gather in plenty of light during the day. You can get away with a pair that is compact and can fit in your pockets with ease.
If you are a hunter, you’ll need a pair of binoculars that will help you keep your eyes on the target if it’s far enough away. The sizes may vary from compact to midsize. The objective doesn’t have to be large in size. But you could be conflicted between magnification and angle of view. If you don’t want to miss anything in front of you, you’ll need a wider angle of view rather than more magnification.
Astronomy usually happens during the night when the sun goes down or early in the morning at dawn. Either way, there is little light. However, a pair of binoculars with a large size objective will work to your advantage. The larger the objective, the more light can be gathered so you can see something of interest better than binoculars of a smaller size.
Choose the best binoculars under $100 by the following features
Below are a list of features that are considered the most important when finding the best binoculars for under $100. Keep in mind that each of the features do differ from one pair of binoculars to the next. These are the following features to look for:
The objective lens has the ability to gather light so the image is illuminated whenever you look through a pair of binoculars. The larger the lenses, the more light can be gathered. If you are using binoculars in the daytime, a smaller objective lens might work to your advantage. However, if you are looking for binoculars that can be used in a low-light environment, opt for a larger size objective lens.
Angle of view
The angle of view (or field of view) is what you’ll see in front of you with a pair of binoculars. The size of the angle always correlates with the magnification levels. A pair of binoculars with a maximum magnification of 10x will have a narrower field of view compared to a pair that has 6x max magnification.
Also, the higher the angle, the more you’ll see when looking through a pair of binoculars. If you are looking for a pair of binoculars that are intended for birdwatching or hunting, it may be wise to find one that will give you a wider angle since it will allow you to see more in front of you.
While magnification is designed to help you see something far away closely, it may also affect your field of view. You can be able to see something up close without any additional assistance up to a certain level of magnification. As for the purpose, if you are birdwatching or hunting, you may want to settle for a maximum magnification level of 8x, like the Tasco 8X42 Essentials on our list. If you intend to use them for activities like whale watching or stargazing, you can get away with something that is 10x or higher.
At this point, you might already have a good idea of which pair of binoculars can be useful in your intended use. However, there are some other features to look out for beyond magnification and field of view.
There are two prism systems of binoculars: porro and roof prisms. What’s the difference between the two? For one, it’s the routes that the light takes to help illuminate the image in front of you. Porro images are not always aligned with the eyepiece. Therefore, the light will not always be straightforward. With roof prisms, the eyepieces are aligned and will give the light a straighter path. Keep in mind that smaller binoculars will always have a roof prism while the porro prisms will always associate themselves with binoculars that are larger in size, like the Bushnell 10X50 Spectator Sport binoculars.
Guarantees are also one thing to keep in mind when choosing a pair of binoculars. What kind of warranty is it? Lifetime? Three years? Things can happen to your binoculars to the point where they may need to be repaired or replaced.
Some brands will have a lifetime warranty and others may not. Choosing a guarantee that works for you will depend on your financial situation. A lifetime warranty may save you money in the long run compared to time-limited warranties.
Compact or not?
The choice of whether or not compact is good for you or not will depend on your intent. If you are using it for hunting, birdwatching or hiking, then a compact pair of binoculars, like our Editor’s Choice Celestron Outland, will do a better job on your end since you can fit them in most pockets.
A pair of compact binoculars, however, may not serve you well in the long run if you intend to use them for stargazing or if you are looking to spot certain objects way out in the distance (i.e, whale watching).
Eye relief is the ability to look through a pair of binoculars while your eyes are farther away from the eyepiece itself. If you wear glasses, eye relief will play an important role since you may not be able to see through a pair of binoculars without the use of prescription eyewear.
If there is one quality or feature that you should never compromise on, it’s durability. You want a pair of binoculars to last you a long time. Not to mention, you can have a pair of binoculars that have the ability to work normally after you accidentally drop them on the ground. Pay attention to the housing and the materials that it’s made from. Typically, a rubber housing will absorb plenty of shock that can be produced from hard surface impact.
If you want binoculars that will give you the ability to customize certain features, see if you are able to do so. For example, look for different levels of magnification. Also, there are certain adjustable knobs that will help you easily customize your binoculars to work a certain way. You can customize the level of magnification and overall focus.
If you are looking for additional accessories, you can find them separately or included with the binoculars of your choice. Since you are looking at binoculars with the idea of staying within a certain budget, it’s better to have the accessories included. If you need to purchase them separately, there are just three accessories in particular to look for: a lanyard, a carrying case, and a lens cap.
Also, you may need a cleaning kit so you can be able to clean the binoculars (especially the lenses) on a regular basis.
One way to clean your binoculars is by acquiring a camel hair brush. What you need to do here is gently brush on and around the lenses of your binoculars. You can also spray cleaning solutions and gently rub off any smudges, dirt, or debris with a microfiber cloth. Never spray any cleaning solution on any other part of the binoculars.
If you wear eyeglasses, you’ll need to find a pair of binoculars that have adjustable eyecaps. That way, you can be able to bring them closer to you while wearing your glasses. Hold the binoculars like normal and look through them.
Yes. You can use budget binoculars while it rains. Most of them will have the ability to resist water or even be fully waterproof.
While the eight binoculars listed above are excellent choices, we have three that we highly suggest. First off, we suggest the Celestron Outland Waterproof Binoculars. They are durable, waterproof, and are the perfect all-weather choice for almost any application.
Second, we love the Tasco Essentials binoculars because they give you an excellent view at a very reasonable price. Their also weather-resistant, which makes them perfect for outdoors. Roof prisms in these are also smaller in size and perfect for applications like hunting or birdwatching.
Finally, the Celestron SkyMaster Large Aperture binoculars are another great selection for the best binoculars under $100. That’s because they have a larger objective and have the ability to work very well outdoors even when there is little light to work with. Whether it’s dawn or dusk, you won’t be disappointed by the image quality of this pair of binoculars.
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