Last Updated on October 1, 2020
Whether you’re an avid bird watcher or just like a nice nature walk, a pair of binoculars can improve any outdoor experience.
You don’t have to break the bank to get a good pair. I know that a lot of people swear by their super expensive binoculars but some of these budget picks are giving professional options a run for their money.
Let’s take a look at the best binoculars under $100…
- 1. Bushnell Falcon 10×50 Wide Angle – Best Overall
- 2. Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 8×42 – Best Budget Buy
- 3. Wingspan Optics EagleScout 10×42 – Best Value Buy
- 4. Celestron Skymaster 25×70 – Biggest Lenses
- 5. Leupold BX-1 Rogue Binocular – Most Compact
- Why Do I Need Binoculars?
- What To Look For In A Good Pair Of Budget Binoculars
- Which Are The Best Budget Binoculars For Me?
1. Bushnell Falcon 10×50 Wide Angle – Best Overall
Bushnell is pretty good at providing professional quality binoculars at a reasonable price and these are no exception. With a 50mm objective lens diameter, these binoculars are comparable to professional options at a fraction of the price making them the best overall binoculars on a budget.
With 10 times magnification, you’ll be able to comfortably spot birds and animals from a distance without too much shake to blur the image. The durable rubber exterior is also abrasion-resistant.
The Porro prism and coated lens are great for sharp image, light, and clarity. The InstaFocus lever makes focusing easy and smooth, as you don’t have to spin the eyecups to adjust them, and the impressive field of view is 420 feet at 1000 yards.
The 9mm eye relief is reasonable for most people but not great if you wear glasses as you might need a little more space. But the rubber fold-down eyecups are pretty comfy and cover your eyes from any extraneous light. You can also roll down the eyecups to provide a little more room for glasses.
- High objective lens diameter
- Great field of view
- Easy focus with lever
- Clear and sharp images
- Shorter eye relief, not great for glasses wearers
These budget binoculars have all you could want from a professional pair at a very reasonable price. The only issue we can see is the eye relief which makes them harder to use for people with glasses.
2. Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 8×42 – Best Budget Buy
On the pricier end of the under $100 category, the Nikon 8245 is another impressive pick. This is one of the best cheap binoculars because of the design which lets in as much light as possible.
You can easily adjust this with a twist of the rubber eyecups which moves the smooth central focus knob. The multi-coated eco-glass lenses provide bright and clear images in most lighting conditions, but of course, you can’t expect to get as good a view at night with these budget binoculars than with a professional pair.
The durable rubber armor coating is also non-slip so you don’t have to worry about accidental drops. With 8 times magnification, this budget binoculars live up to more expensive pairs and the objective lens diameter is 42mm, which means decent light exposure.
The field of view is decent at 341 feet at 1000 yards, making this a great option for landscapes, and the eye relief is 11.8mm. Weighing less than 2lbs, you can take these binoculars anywhere, even on longer walks, making these some of the best compact binoculars under $100.
There are several options for this model in terms of objective lens diameter and magnification but we feel this is the best value option for buying binoculars on a budget.
- Great field of view for landscapes
- Good objective lens diameter
- Eye relief
- Not the best for low lighting
If you are looking for a high-quality option that is still budget-friendly, these binoculars are sure to live up to your expectations.
3. Wingspan Optics EagleScout 10×42 – Best Value Buy
With multi-coated lenses for brighter and clearer bird watching, the Wingspan Optics EagleScout 10×42 are the best 10×42 binoculars under $100.
They can take on any weather conditions. Thanks to the waterproof, fog proof, and even drop-proof protective anti-slip exterior grip which makes these budget binoculars very durable. What’s more, they even come with a lifetime warranty so really you don’t have to worry about taking them out in rough conditions.
Despite the large 42mm lens diameter, these binoculars are relatively lightweight weighing just 1.75lbs and the Bak-4 prism makes them even more compact. The 14.8mm eye relief is also ideal for glasses wearers and reduces the strain on your eyes during long walks. Furthermore, the 10 times magnification is great for long distances.
Lastly, the field of view is pretty decent for a cheap pair of binoculars at 283 feet/1000 yards. The only issue customers have had is that they are quite difficult to adjust and focus, meaning that you sometimes experience double vision. If you are bird watching this can be a real pain as you’ll want to get your focus spot on as soon as possible.
- Durable waterproof and fog proof
- Good objective lens diameter
- 10 times magnification
- 14.8mm eye relief, great for glasses wearers
- Tricky to get focus right
These are certainly one of the best 10×42 binoculars under $100. The only issue customers have had is with the tricky focus but the good news is the lifetime warranty means you can always get them repaired or replaced.
4. Celestron Skymaster 25×70 – Biggest Lenses
Pushing the under $100 limit to the max, these professional-quality binoculars are worth the extra money with 25 times magnification and a Porro prism. The multi-colored optics also provide crisp, sharp images.
The huge 70mm objective lens offers maximum image brightness in any light condition. It’s hard to find such huge lenses in this price category, but the question is, does the quality of these binoculars live up to the professional features?
The ultra-sharp focus is pretty impressive with a field of view of 141 feet/1000 yards. The eye relief is also a very decent 13mm which should suit most glasses wearers. The protective rubber covering provides an ultra-firm grip which is just what you’ll need for these heavier 3.25lb binoculars.
The huge 25 times magnification lets you see objects much further away than other binoculars in this review but it is hard to maintain focus at this magnification so you might need to invest in a tripod as well. The magnification makes these the best budget binoculars for stargazing and long-distances.
They are also some of the best cheap binoculars for low lighting thanks to those huge 70mm lenses. The only issue is they are not waterproof so you’ll have to be careful in the rain.
- Huge objective lens diameter for low lighting
- Great magnification for long distances
- Good eye relief
- Not waterproof
- Need a tripod to stabilize magnification
This is one of the biggest lenses you can get in this price range so if you want to look like you’ve got some impressive binoculars for a fraction of the price these are the best pick. The only issue is they are quite heavy and will require a tripod to make the most of that massive magnification.
5. Leupold BX-1 Rogue Binocular – Most Compact
These are another one of the best compact binoculars under $100. These palm-sized binoculars have an inverted Porro prism design, which is smaller and more lightweight than other binoculars with this kind of prism, for easy walks and bird watching without the hassle of carrying around a huge pair of binoculars.
With the small size of the Leupold BX-1 Rogue, the objective lens diameter is also a bit smaller at 25mm which means less light exposure so these aren’t the best binoculars for low light conditions.
However, the multi-coated lens system provides more brightness for clarity and contrast and the twilight light management system helps these cheap binoculars to tackle low lighting.
They are also waterproof and come with a lifetime warranty so you don’t have to worry about them getting damaged on more adventurous treks. The diopter focus paddle is also easy to use and gives a precise focus. The twist-up eyecup provides more eye relief although some customers did find these eyecups a little uncomfortable.
For such small binoculars, they also have a decent magnification at 8 times which is perfect for maintaining focus without the images becoming too shaky. Although they don’t look like professional quality binoculars, this compact option has really impressed customers.
- Lightweight compact design
- Waterproof and durable
- Lifetime warranty
- Lower objective lens diameter
- Some customers found the eyecups to be uncomfortable
If you are looking for a super-compact pair of binoculars that you’ll barely notice in your pocket, these are the best compact binoculars under $100.
Why Do I Need Binoculars?
If you are looking for budget binoculars you might also be debating whether you need to spend your hard-earned cash on binoculars at all. For me, binoculars are certainly worth the investment especially when they cost you less than $100.
With up to 25 times magnification, the binoculars in this review are budget-friendly but still powerful enough to give you an up-close view of your favorite birds and animals. As well as bird watching and getting the most out of your nature walks, these binoculars are powerful enough for sports and other events when you might be too far away to see all the action.
What To Look For In A Good Pair Of Budget Binoculars
The trouble with picking the best binoculars on a budget is that it’s hard to tell which are poor quality and which are just a great deal. Here are a few things that you will need to check when buying any pair of binoculars. They are also the things that we looked out for when picking the best budget binoculars for this review.
Aside from what’s in here, I’d like to suggest that you see some important details in our birding binoculars reviews. I’m sure you’ll find valuable information there that can be useful in finding your good pair of budget binos.
Now, if you’d like to go a little bit more fancy and powerful, then go with what your heart tells you and see what binoculars under $300 made it to its price tag.
Most people think that the greater the magnification the better the binoculars. But this isn’t always true. Although some binoculars can have an impressive 25 times magnification, the focus is very important for clear images. At maximum magnification, the image could be super blurry if you’re binoculars don’t have high-quality lenses and good focus which is why we look for quality construction over magnification.
Most binoculars have 8- or 10-times magnification which is enough to see over a long distance without the image being too shaky. If you do want to use a higher magnification, a tripod can help to reduce shake.
Field of view
The field of view is the area that you can see through the binoculars. Obviously the greater the field of view the more you’ll be able to see and the less likely you are to miss something in your peripheral. A large field of view is ideal for bird watching as you’ll want to see the bird fly and a narrow field of you makes it easy to miss or lose the bird as it moves quickly.
Objective Lens Diameter
The next thing to think about is the objective lens diameter which is just how big the lenses are. Of course, if you want a compact pair of binoculars, a smaller lens diameter would be preferable but for clearer images and better performance in low lighting, a greater lens diameter is best.
The greater the lenses the more they will be able to take in light so if you know you’ll be using your binoculars in low lighting, a big lens is a must. Even with these budget binoculars, it is easy to find a pair with a decent objective lens diameter and most have around 42mm which is similar to professional quality binoculars.
The eye relief of binoculars is measured by the greatest distance that you can hold the binoculars away from your eye and still see the full field of view. Having a higher eye relief is important for glasses wearers as you’ll want to be able to see the full image without having to take off your glasses and hold the binoculars to your eye.
Even if you don’t wear glasses, having a higher eye relief is great for long walks and hours of bird watching as it gives your eyes a bit of a break. Some of the cheap binoculars in this review still have impressive eye relief at as much as 14.8mm although some glasses wearers find that they need closer to 16mm, but this will depend on the glasses you wear.
Seeing as these budget binoculars are great for a range of purposes, you’ll have to think about how durable you need yours to be. Many options in this review are waterproof, fog-proof and come with anti-slip exteriors. If you know you’ll be out in the wind and rain or other adverse climates, make sure you get waterproof and durable binoculars.
Despite the low price tag, the best budget binoculars are still pretty sturdy and you’ll find that they last longer than you would expect for such low prices.
Which Are The Best Budget Binoculars For Me?
Once you’ve checked out all these features, you might still have trouble choosing the best cheap binoculars for you when all the options are so impressive.
Best Compact Binoculars Under $100
It’s not hard to find compact binoculars for this price, but it is hard to find a quality pair. The best compact binoculars under $100, for me, have to be Leupold BX-1 Rogue Binocular which fits in the palm of your hand. The smaller 25mm lenses are still high quality and the twilight light management system helps with low light when most lenses this size wouldn’t be great in low lighting.
Best 10×42 Binoculars Under $100
If you are looking for a specific magnification and objective lens diameter, the best 10×42 binoculars under $100 are the Wingspan Optics EagleScout 10X42. The lens diameter and magnification are comparable to that of professional quality binoculars and the eye relief is pretty good as well.
Best Cheap Binoculars For Low Lighting
Compared to other binoculars in this review, the massive 70mm lenses on the Celestron SkyMaster 25×70 binoculars aren’t usually seen on budget binoculars. This makes them the best pick for anyone who knows they will be using binoculars in low lighting as they are able to gather the light more effectively.
No matter what you are looking for in a budget pair of binoculars, you don’t have to spend a lot to get the best. Although professional bird watchers will swear by their expensive binoculars, in my opinion, some of these budget picks are just as good.
For me, the best budget binoculars overall have to be the Bushnell Falcon 10×50 wide-angle binoculars because of their impressive build and image quality. These cheap binoculars suit most purposes that are durable, and easy to focus.
Whether you are looking for your first pair of binoculars or are already an avid bird watcher and are just looking to try something new, you won’t be let down by these budget binoculars.