Looking for the best budget binoculars under $100? Then you are in the right place, we have picked out some pairs that will do a great job without spending a fortune - and we'll even help you find the best price.
Binoculars come in a wide variety of sizes, different types (such as roof or porro prism) – and inevitably at very different prices; the best binoculars (opens in new tab) can cost you hundreds, if not thousands. But not everyone wants to spend a fortune.
Inevitably if you’re hunting a bargain, you might want to cast your eyes over models that have been around for a few years longer than the very latest and greatest examples, which for most intents and purposes function just as well of course. While it’s tempting to cast our eyes towards a few no-brand examples too in the hope of saving a few shekels, fortunately there are enough lower priced examples to be found from reasonably respected names. We’ve detailed them here. A further advantage with buying from a recognized manufacturer is not only the peace of mind that comes with a long lineage but also, typically, warranties of up to 10 years in some cases.
So what do we mean when we talk about budget binoculars? Here we’ve avoided including any product north of US$100 or £100, with many options retailing for a good deal less. In short, even if you’re pockets aren’t particularly deep, we’re helping to provide you with a few options to suit whatever your budget may be.
So without further ado, let’s drill into what we consider the best budget binoculars all round.
Best budget binoculars
Binoculars are a great alternative to a traditional telescope for observing the night sky - as long as they have enough magnification. And these incredibly well-priced Celestron binos have a huge 15x magnification which can help you to observe galaxies, planets and lunar details. In our tests you can just about handhold them, but they are better used with a tripod - and very conveniently they provide you with an adaptor that simplifies attaching them to a three-legged support.
Read our Celestron Skymaster 15x70 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 are about as basic a pair of binoculars as you can get. The Celstron brand makes many different models of binoculars, some exceptionally high-end, but this pair of 10x50’s represent the most affordable available.
Will they suffice or do you need a more expensive pair? That depends on what you're after. Equipped with 10x magnification and 50mm objective lenses, the UpClose G2 10x50 are both powerful and fast, offering plenty of magnification and also able to collect a lot of light.
That makes them theoretically usable in both bright light and in low light conditions, including complete darkness. So why are the UpClose G2 10x50 so affordable? That's partly down to the lack of any niceties, with no quality accessories or coverings.
Read our Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Whilst not quite as cheap as chips, you can grab this pair with a powerful 16x magnification and dual-hinged foldable design for a similar price to a burger meal for a family of four. For that outlay we not only get an aluminum build, multi coated optics and rubberized housing, but one that is water resistant with it.
Claimed as suitable for a wide range of uses, from watching concerts to sports, thumb indents and ridged surface on which to place the fingers reduces the possibility of them slipping from your grasp, while a soft carry case and strap is provided. A high quality build for a very affordable price and with a limited lifetime warranty thrown in to seal the deal – what’s not to like? Though you should note that the high magnifaction means these binos are not easy to hold steady, and are not particularly bright - so are best used in good light.
Read our Celestron Up Close G2 16x32 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Available in regular black, silver or, in some territories even camouflage design, this small yet perfectly formed budget priced roof prism pair are foldable so they’ll slip easily into a pocket. A centrally located focus knob allows for quick and easy adjustment, while a dioptre control is also provided via the right eyepiece to allow our view to be fine-tuned. A 25mm objective lens married to a 10x magnification further ensures these are a usable option for a wide variety of subjects.
OK, so for the entry-level cost you don’t get features found on higher end binos, such as water resistance for one, but many prospective buyers will inevitably find they’re prepared to make certain compromises at this price point. In short, this Nikon example is lightweight, low cost, yet provides decent optical quality with it.(opens in new tab)
This purposeful looking pair of 10x magnification binoculars features an attribute of higher cost options that many budget models don’t – namely a nitrogen purged construction to avoid them inconveniently fogging up in damp conditions. A slim design and a bright images is what is provided here.
Other than that these are the regular porro prism type binos fashioned in black plastic, with a standard central focusing knob and the benefit of a long eye relief for comfortable viewing if you’re wearing spectacles. While this model is not fully waterproof, for those seeking general-purpose binos and who are after a good deal for a relatively low outlay, this Bushnell option is well worth checking out.(opens in new tab)
For when you’re all at sea but want to keep your binos dry comes this compact, mariner-friendly, rugged non-slip rubber surfaced option from Bushnell. It’s 100% waterproof thanks to O-ring seals, fog-proof thanks to being nitrogen purged, plus lightweight with it.
What’s more we get a large central focus knob and twist up eyecups, with high quality BaK-4 prisms and multi-coated optics providing optimum light transmission. Further peace of mind for taking these out in wet conditions comes from the fact that a limited lifetime guarantee provided is provided upon purchase. If you want some all-purpose ‘any weather’ unisex binoculars on the cheap for adventures on the high seas and in the great outdoors, then this example seems hard to beat for the outlay.
What we look for in binoculars
Binoculars have lots of different specs, but there are two key ones that are best to focus on if you want to keep things simple. These are: magnification and lens size.
Most binoculars will list both in their name. When you're browsing for binoculars, you'll quickly notice that their names tend to include something like "10x20" or "6x30". These two numbers refer respectively to the magnification factor, and the size of the lenses. So in this example, we've got binoculars with 10x magnification and 6x magnification. You might think it'd be a matter of picking the binoculars with the largest magnification, but in practicality, it limits your field of view, which can make things harder to spot.
The second number refers to lens size. A larger lens will make the image brighter and clearer, especially in low light, but will also make the binoculars bigger and heavier (and probably more expensive)
This means that for your hobby or subject, it's worth thinking about what the best combination of magnification of objective lens size will work for you.
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