If you're anything like me, I want to get the best of what my money can buy.
I set a criteria for the best binoculars under $100 from Vortex, Celestron, and Bushnell.
But I also recommend a couple cheap binos that are worth it - real glass, decent focus, and a good build.
To provide some real input, I also field-tested some of my very own personal cheap binoculars!
8 Best Binoculars Under $100 In 2023
- Nikon Aculon A211 8X42 - Editors Choice
- Celestron Outland X 10X42 - Best All-Round
- Bushnell H20 10X42
- Vortex Raptor 8.5x32
- Bushnell PowerView 10x50
- Celestron SkyMaster 25x70
- Binoteck 10x42 - Best Under $50
- Tasco Essentials 10X25
The Best Cheap Binoculars Under $100
Nikon Aculon A211 8x42
Wide FOV (120 ft @ 1000 yrds)
Lead and arsenic free Eco-Glass
Celestron Outland X 10x42
Waterproof and nitrogen-purged
Better strap & case quality
Water and dust resistant
Very lightweight at 16 oz
Not all binoculars cost several hundred dollars. But not all binoculars will be a one-time, lifetime pair. However, you can still get something that's worth it for daily use for less than $100.
You don't have to compromise for plastic "glass" or generic no-name brands. Vortex, Bushnell, Nikon, and Celestron have quality binoculars in this cost-conscious price range.
Though these budget binoculars don't have industry-level resolution or military-grade toughness, they can get the job done.
For the money, they'll perform for recreational applications, some hunting, and definitely neighborhood spying - oops, I meant, "observation."
With decent to above-average glass and performance, my top 8 binocular picks, including a couple of my own field-tested models, meet my criteria.
|Nikon Aculon A211 8X42||CHECK PRICE|
|Celestron Outland X 10X42||CHECK PRICE|
|Bushnell H20 10X42||CHECK PRICE|
|Vortex Raptor 8.5x32||CHECK PRICE|
|Bushnell PowerView 10x50||CHECK PRICE|
|Celestron SkyMaster 25X70||CHECK PRICE|
|Binoteck 10X42||CHECK PRICE|
|Tasco Essentials 10X25||CHECK PRICE|
Our 8 Top Binoculars Less Than $100
1. Nikon Aculon A211 8x42 - Editors Choice
The Aculon is always priced below $100, no matter what!
With this Nikon hanging from your shoulder, you'll have an extremely wide field of view, fully multi-coated lenses, and aspherical glass elements to help you get the best image quality possible from a cheap binocular.
Even with only 8X power, you can still mount this baby to a tripod. Nikon knows how to jam in quality for the lowest prices possible. It's probably why it's such a popular buy among the hunting community. Are you ready to join the "in" crowd?
2. Celestron Outland X 10x42
Unlike most binoculars in this price range, you're getting a lightweight roof prism bino from the Celestron Outland unit. For under 100 bucks, you'll be set to go without the added weight holding you back.
- BaK4 glass
- Better quality strap
I've had my hands on the Outland X and they were an extremely convenient pair to have for quick glassing and some occasional birding. It's light weight at 23.6 oz - not the lightest out there, but still good for today's standard.
The strap is better quality than what comes with most cheap binoculars - the case is better too. I think its real value will be from its clear glass performance. Though it has only multi-coated lenses versus FMC, it's not unlike similar alternatives from known manufacturers in this price range.
The entire body is fully protected by a rubber armor, and as is typical with roof prisms, it's fully waterproof and has been nitrogen-purged. This is a big deal because most budget binoculars will be weather-resistant at best.
If you're looking for a slimmer binocular versus the bulky builds of the Porros, the Outland is your pick!
3. Bushnell H2O 10X42 Roof
Bushnell knows how to appeal to the cost-conscious buyer. They have a wide inventory of binos priced just right and the H2O is a winning optic among them all.
- Eye relief
- BaK4 glass
- Roof prism
For under 100 bucks, having multi-coated optics is the standard. However, this "standard" paired with roof prisms without the addition of phase or prism-specific coatings does result in a slightly darker image than what you'd expect. It may not be as clear a picture compared to a Porro prism bino with multi-coated optics, but on a good day for being outside, you likely won't notice the difference.
For recreational purposes like observing wildlife while at the lake, casual bird watching, or on a hike, the H2O binos should be just what you need. Because of its roof prism design, it can be made waterproof which it is. It's also lightweight at 25 ounces that is around the standard for a 10x42 bino these days.
Keep your glasses on with this small pair because it has decent eye relief of 17 mm and twist-up eyecups which is a step up from the fold-up or winged kind often seen in this price range. The compact bino comes with the usual: neck strap, nylon carry case with belt loop, looped rubber lens caps, and a hinged eyepiece cover.
As an entry-level bino that has been bought, used, and put through the ringer by several hundred buyers, it's a solid buy.
4. Vortex Raptor 8.5x32
You read this right! There's a Vortex in this price range. It's no gimmick. The Raptor is a high quality binocular that smokes many other Vortex units when it comes to the ratings.
It's extremely popular with the masses, and us, for its wide field of view, fully multi-coated lenses, and weatherproof-ability. Even better, it's more compact and lightweight than its Porro prism bino competitors!
Plus, the warranty on it is practically unbeatable. Technically, this Vortex doesn't belong in this price range, so if you're going to spend less than 100 bucks, you better get it while it's on sale!
5. Bushnell Powerview 10x50
If you're looking for that Mossy Oak finish that compliments every hunters' gear, the Powerview 10X50 more than gets the job done.
It's extremely popular, and it's been built to impress. With large objectives and the InstaFocus system, you'll be glassing past sundown.
It's an impressive, all-purpose binocular that has basic features, but the price can't be beat for the 10X50 platform with the stylish finish. Thanks to the PowerView, you'll have max power for max hunting success!
6. Celestron SkyMaster 25X70
For long-distance viewing in the skies or on the ground, you'll need the long reach of the SkyMaster 25x70 binoculars. With high power and low cost - we'd say Celestron has found the perfect balance in this SkyMaster model.
- High power
- 70 mm aperture
- BaK4 glass
- Porro prism
- Short eye relief
A SkyMaster is no small binocular. It has big expectations to fill and so its large frame is a direct reflection of its capabilities. Weighing a heavy 52 ounces and measuring 8.7 x 4.3 x 11 inches in size, this bino is not meant to be handheld by any means. It's intended to be mounted to a tripod that you'll have to purchase separately, but it does come with an included tripod adapter that'll save you a few bucks.
The large objective lenses that are 70 mm in diameter are directly related to the overall weight of the bino. With those large peepers, it'll allow in as much light as possible to provide a bright, clear picture of celestial bodies or that far-away herd of caribou in the distance.
As a Porro prism bino, it doesn't need any fancy prism coatings - good thing because it doesn't have any. All air-to-glass surfaces are multi-coated, it's water-resistant and not waterproof, and it lacks gas-purged chambers for fog-proof protection - all of which is standard for an optic under 100 bucks.
However, the downer is the short eye relief. For those who don't wear spectacles or sunglasses while using binoculars, the 13 mm should be fine. For everyone else - it may be uncomfortable to use.
This SkyMaster giant is for adventurers on a budget who enjoy seeing stars or wildlife. It's not a professional-grade optic, but it is a fun one the entire family can get hours of enjoyment from.
Best Binoculars Under $50
Yes, I have a couple suggestions for this very low price range. You really can't go cheaper than this if you plan on taking your binoculars seriously. So, here is my recommendation if you have less than $50 to spend.
(By the way, the Bushnell PowerView 10X50 mentioned above is just barely over the $50 price tag. It's also worth considering if you want a full-size binocular and can stretch your budget by just a few dollars more).
7. Binoteck 10X42 - Best Under $50
The Binoteck 10x42 binoculars are surprisingly very good considering its very low price point. With BaK4 glass, fully multi-coated lenses, and a 305 ft FOV, the Binotecks do 'cheap' very, very well.
- FMC coatings
- BaK4 glass
- Adjustable eyecups
- Good focusing
- Tripod adaptable
- Not waterproof
The Binotecks are water and dust-resistant with an IP55 rating, so heavy rain and even accidental submersion must be avoided - you do not want water in the eyepieces. Yes, I did it and they survived, but do as I say not as I do. Though not fog-proof, they did fantastic with moving from a warm truck to freezing temperatures outside.
I really don't have any serious complaints about them. I took them on a December elk hunt in mountain timber a couple years ago. To my surprise, they did well for around 20-100 yards. When I had longer glassing terrain, I couldn't get the sharp resolution I wanted. Though they won't be going for another hunt, the clarity was beyond what I expected for under $50. Don't let the digiscoping fool you - the image quality is much better in person.
The Binotecks have adjustable eyecups, a diopter, and a tripod receiver. I don't think you'll need to mount it since it's exceptionally lightweight at 16 oz. I'm accustomed to 10x42s weighing in over 21 oz and I can feel the difference. Though it has a good rubber armor, the weak points are at the objective and eyepiece bells. I suggest resisting the temptation to peel it back.
I'm happy to report that I could acquire collimation (no double vision) with these cheap Binotecks. I adjusted with the diopter for my vision thus avoiding the need to wear my glasses. I'd say the eye relief is around 15mm. With my glasses on, it's tight - doable but uncomfortable.
Overall, my box only came with the rainguard (eyepiece cap), lens caps, neck strap, and lens cloth. I've been impressed enough with the Binotecks to keep and recommend them as a recreational and convenient pair for quick glassing.
Available at: Amazon
8. Tasco Essential 10X25
Spending bare minimum doesn't mean you have to settle. What it does mean is you can have the Tasco Essentials 10X25 binoculars with the roof prism design, fully multi-coated optics, and a plethora of available color finishes.
They are compact, foldable, and lightweight. Are you landing a quality binocular for a song - oh yeah!
In fact, this Tasco has a surprising number of reviews online, and a very impressive customer satisfaction score considering they will put you back a mere $25. They might not be your lifetime buy, but at this price they will make a great starter binocular.
What to Look for in a Cheap Binocular
Making the most of every penny when you're spending in this price range comes down to knowing a bit about binoculars. Keep it simple by maintaining your sights on quality glass and durability.
While you're not going to get Zeiss or Swarovski glass in this price range, you can still look for the best coatings of what this price category has to offer and that would be fully multi-coated lenses.
Since special coatings for roof prisms are rare on binoculars under $100. You may want to put your money into a Porro prism binocular if you want the best glass performance in this price range. If you don't mind glassing with something a little bulky and heavy, it's likely to be your best buy here.
You'll see a lot of standard configurations, examples: 8x42 and 10x42, in this price range. Going higher in magnification with the glass expected at this price point may result in degraded image quality.
|Binocular||Power||Prism Type||Glass Type|
|Nikon Aculon A211||8x42||Porro Prism||BaK-4|
|Celestron Outland X||10x42||Roof Prism||BaK-4|
|Bushnell H20||10x42||Roof Prism||BaK-4|
|Vortex Raptor||8.5x32||Porro Prism||BaK-4|
|Bushnell PowerView||10x50||Porro Prism||BK-7|
|Celestron SkyMaster||25x70||Porro Prism||BaK-4|
|Tasco Essentials||10x25||Roof Prism||BaK-4|
The eye relief is the distance from your eyes to the eyepiece in which you can acquire a full field of view free of aberrations.
The lower the number, the tighter the eye relief. Physically, this means it brings the lenses closer to your eyes and they can can dig into your brows and the bridge of your nose. The higher the number, the longer and more comfortable it is - especially for those who wear glasses.
|Binocular||Eye Relief||Exit Pupil|
|Nikon Aculon A211||12mm||5.3mm|
|Celestron Outland X||14mm||4.2mm|
*Not disclosed: best guesstimate from personal hands-on experience
Not all binoculars in this price range will be weatherproof - if it is, excellent! Most will be water-resistant at best, but it's common sense to avoid heavy rain and submersion with budget binoculars.
The very best in this price range will not only be waterproof but fogproof too. The barrels are purged of oxygen with an inert dry gas like nitrogen. This keeps mold and fungi from growing on the inside and from internal condensation from fogging up the lenses. Body armor will also help your binoculars last longer.
|Nikon Aculon A211||No||No|
|Celestron Outland X||Yes||Yes|
*Water-resistant - not waterproof
Cheap VS Junk: The Difference
There's a difference to buyer satisfaction when buying low budget binoculars when you're informed. When you don't know what to look for, you are at risk of buying junk - plastic lenses and the lot.
Look for the type of glass the prisms have been made with, what level of coatings they have, if they have a wide FOV, are tripod adaptable for mounting, or if they're water and fogproof. When you know to look for at least a few of these things, you'll know how to make the most of your hard-earned money.
Not all cheap binoculars are bad. These are the gems that are worth the money!
- Bushnell Fusion 1-Mile ARC Rangefinding Binoculars Review (w/ Angle Compensation)
- Celestron Outland X 10x42 Review - Popular Binoculars (Model 71347)
- Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 Binocular Review (Model 71404)
- Bushnell Legend 10x25 Ultra HD Binocular Review - With Compact Roof Prism (Model 190125)
- How to Adjust Binoculars: 4 Essential Adjustments to Master Today