Rick is a former news reporter who decided that the corporate world wasn't for him and took off to travel the world. He's been to every continent (yes, even Antarctica!) and has tried out a multitude of outdoor gear along the way. From tents to hiking boots, he's probably tested it all. Now, he's one of our full-time product testers and experts.
Bryan is one of our leading experts since he's got a vast expertise in practically everything connected to the outdoors. He's been hiking since he was a young boy, was an organizer of kayaking tours which later led to another passion of his - kayak fishing. Now, he's a part-time expert consultant involved in our multiple product tests and topic research.
Last updated: March 17, 2022
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Who says that binoculars have to be expensive? The market offers an extensive range of products, and that includes middle-range options for everyone. If you don’t want to splash your cash, we prepared a detailed list of the best binoculars under $100.
Our team browsed the internet up and down and reviewed 54 products in this category. We unanimously agree that our top pick is Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 8×42. The binoculars come from a reliable manufacturer, and they are very durable and ensure fantastic image quality. The field of view matches all expectations and allows you to enjoy the surroundings without readjusting the product frequently. We also singled out nine other binoculars in case these are not your favorite.
The statistics indicate that we spent more than 60 hours reviewing and learning more about these products. We consulted existing users, experts on binoculars, and other relevant sources. Our review focus on crucial features of these products, such as physical factors like weight and dimensions. They can be important if you are carrying the product around for hours. The performance is a priority, however, which is why singled out various objective diameters and magnification. We also focused on the field of view and eye relief, which can be crucial if you wear glasses. Feel free to read out detailed reviews with the advantages and drawbacks of each product below. Before you do that, take a look at our comparison table for a quick overview of the listed device. Finally, make sure to focus on our buying guide since it can help you pick the ideal unit easily!
Nikon is a famous name in the industry, and their 8245 ACULON A211 seems like an impressive product. The manufacturer used eco-glass lenses with multiple coating. That way, the binoculars ensure a high-quality image in various conditions. Even if you observe the surroundings when the lighting is low, your images will still be clear and bright. The magnification could be better, but 8x will do the trick in most cases. That is especially true because the field of view is fantastic. It makes this pair one of the best bird watching binoculars under $100 on our list.
The rubber eyecups are made to ensure optimal extension and comfort when using the binoculars for a long time. The ergonomic design and the rubber armor ensure a smooth and secure grip that minimizes the risk of dropping the device. If you order a new device, it might have a slight odor once you receive it. Fortunately, it will go away quickly. The product is suitable for beginners and has a limited learning curve.
What makes it stand out?
Rubber eyecups are comfortable
Ergonomic design and secure grip
Eco-glass lenses for an optimal image quality
A fantastic field of view
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Magnification is not as impressive as in similar units
The product might have a slight odor out of the box
More features: waterproof and fog proof, twist-up eyecups, protective rubber covering, multi-coated optics, BAK-4 prisms
Celestron has a great candidate for the title of the best compact binoculars under $100. The Outland X 10×42 delivers excellent value for money, and the manufacturer does a lot of things right to ensure that.
For starters, the binoculars come with BAK-4 prisms and multi-coated optics. Thanks to that, you will receive a high-quality image with optimal contrast. You can use the focus dial to adjust the image to your preference. The only problem is the sensitivity of the focus, and it takes a while to get used to it. On the other hand, the eyecups have a twist-up feature to make them suitable for eyeglasses wearers as well.
The manufacturer picked dry nitrogen gas to ensure optimal fog-resistance. The lenses won’t be blurred, which is important when the weather conditions aren’t ideal. At the same time, the construction is of high quality and suitable to resist water.
The product is suitable to use with a tripod. However, it is a shame that it comes without an instruction manual as it could clear dilemmas about using and maintaining the device.
More features: O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, waterproof and fog proof, non-slip rubber armor, shock prevention
Bushnell designed H20 binoculars with an intent to offer amazing water resistance. The name hints that, and it’s nice to see that the manufacturer did a great job. They added nitrogen purging and sealed O-rings to ensure excellent resistance against water. All that makes this high-quality device one of the best waterproof binoculars under $100 on our list.
The product also promises fog resistance, but it doesn’t really deliver that according to several customer reports. However, other people said that the product met their expectations.
The good news is that the product delivers admirable image quality. You will be surprised by the exceptional resolution. It makes the product a great choice for bird watching or safari but also hunting and other outdoor uses. The eye relief is impressive, but a small downside is that chromatic aberration could be a problem on some occasions.
The binoculars feature an ergonomic design and a rubber armor to prevent slipping from your hands. That will make it easy to hold the binoculars in all situations. They are fairly lightweight, which means you can use them for hours.
What do we love it for?
Image quality is fantastic
Excellent waterproof rating
The eye relief is quite generous
Easy to hold the binoculars due to ergonomic design
More features: pocket size, turn-and-slide rubber eyecups, flip-down lens caps, designed for low-light conditions and extreme use
Are you looking for binoculars that could easily fit anywhere? Eyeskey might have designed the best small binoculars under $100 out there. Their compact size makes them perfect for traveling. However, that is also a downside since the product might be inconvenient for large hands.
The device features durable construction for a compact-sized product. Apart from high-quality components, you also get a rugged rubber armor and multiple user-friendly details. The rubber cups come with a turn-and-slide feature and lens caps that are easy to flip down.
The central knob serves to focus on objects. The product has a decent 10x magnification, but its compact 32mm objective diameter makes it less suitable for large distances.
The good news is that Eyeskey packed the binoculars with high-quality optics. That secures high resolution and impressive image in all situations. That includes sunsets and night conditions with low light. Overall, these are binoculars that deliver excellent value for money and are a great choice if you are traveling.
What makes it stand out?
Very sturdy for small binoculars
An excellent choice for traveling
Packed with user-friendly features
Suitable for low-light conditions
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
The compact size might be inconvenient for large hands
More features: water and fog proof, rugged rubber armor absorbs shock, twist-up eyecups, Porro prism system, multi-coated optics
Bushnell Legacy WP comes in multiple variations, with the magnification going up to 10x. The manufacturer used wide-angle magnification for impressive image quality and combined that with a 50mm objective diameter. Therefore, the field of view is reasonably big, but eye relief is the standout feature. The maximum relief is 18mm, which increases the versatility of the product. However, it is a shame that the eyepieces are not that durable. They wear off quicker than other parts and might need replacing after a while.
The rest of the construction is very rugged and strong. The rubber armor is convenient, prevents slipping, and increases resistance to possible damages. Although the secure grip makes it hard to drop the binoculars, you don’t have to worry about damaging them even if you do.
The lens coating is impressive, and the product has BAK-4 prisms and multi-coated optics. Thanks to that, you will get a clear image in all outdoor conditions. The twist-up eyecups are another useful feature for wearers of eyeglasses.
Why did it make our list?
A large objective diameter and field of view
Rugged construction for excellent durability
High-quality lens coatings
A limited lifetime warranty
What is not ideal about it?
The eyepieces might wear off quicker than other components
The binoculars might have a slight odor out of the box
More features: UV-protection, anti-reflective lens coating, distortion-free view
The Olympus Trooper could be the best hunting binoculars under $100. They come with a large 50mm diameter and 10x magnification. Thanks to that, you can use the device at large distances.
The focusing shouldn’t be a problem. You have a big knob at the center that is easy to use. Unfortunately, the product isn’t the most comfortable to hold. It doesn’t have a 100% secure grip, and it also weighs 1.88 pounds. That puts it among the heaviest models on our list.
The good news is that it also means the unit is sturdy and durable. The image quality is also impressive, especially since the binoculars have UV resistance. It will protect them against sun rays while anti-reflective coatings ensure optimal brightness. That is also critical for keeping your eyes safe from glare that could be damaging. The product features a wide-angle field of view that enables following animals easily.
You can also buy these binoculars in a package with a neck strap. It won’t change the price significantly, which makes it a wise investment.
What do we love it for?
UV protection keeps the eyes safe from sun rays
The lens coating is anti-reflective
The generous field of view ensures a panoramic view
More features: rubber armor, multi-coated lenses, twist-up eyecups, shock absorption, comes with a complete binocular accessory set
Could these be the best 10×42 binoculars under $100 for you? We don’t know about that, but they come quite close. The product has a powerful, magnificent, and fairly wide objective diameter. Multiple coatings ensure impressive light transmission, optimal brightness, and clarity of the image. HD resolution delivers crisp and clear images at all times. The eye relief is decent, and the twist-down eyecups should make the binoculars suitable for people wearing eyeglasses.
Apart from high-quality optics, Gosky also used durable components for the construction. Add to that the rubber armor, and you have binoculars that have a long lifespan. They are not only resistant to damage but also can withstand tough weather conditions. However, be careful not to drop it into the water because waterproofness levels are not that impressive.
You can attach these binoculars to your smartphone for impressive photographs with a special adapter. However, it takes practice to set everything properly. If you are patient, the product will exceed all your expectations. The device is a great choice for large distances and adequate to use in low-light conditions.
More features: multi-coating, phase correction, anti-slip rubber coating, waterproof, nitrogen-filled
Eschenbach Optik designed this model in several sizes, but we picked this one for a reason. It is different than the most because its objective diameter is only 25mm. It is something you will either like or not. Some people will be thrilled while other users will find the diameter too small.
Either way, you are in for extremely durable binoculars. The German manufacturer has a long tradition of making high-quality and long-lasting products. They carefully selected all components and design binoculars that suit various preferences.
The first thing that you notice is that you get a neck strap and case as accessories with this device. The case is convenient for carrying around, especially if you consider the lightness of the binoculars. The protective dust caps will keep the outer side of the lens safe from debris. The optics are fully coated, and the product features BAK-4 prisms and UV reduction. That makes the product eye-friendly and allows you to keep your glasses on while using it.
The device is both fog and waterproof because of the nitrogen purging. The focus knob offers adjustment, but it can be quite tricky to use.
What makes it stand out?
Impressive German quality
It comes with a neck strap and carrying bag
Nitrogen-purged for waterproofness and fog resistance
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
The objective diameter could be too small for some users
More features: multi-coated lenses, twist-up eyecups, rubber armor, waterproof and fog proof
Vortex designed these binoculars with Porro prisms, so the product ensures optimal viewing and image quality. At the same time, fully multi-coated optics provide crisp and bright images with optimal contrast.
The device performs particularly well at close focus, which works at 15 feet. The field of view is 390 feet at 1,000 yards. It should be enough for following the surroundings without having to readjust the focus. Consider this among the best binoculars for birding under $100.
The product is suitable for glass wearers since it comes with twist-up eyecups for customization. The eye relief is quite generous, but the 8.5x magnification might not be enough for some users.
The construction is durable and sturdy. The rubber armor ensures that you can easily take the binoculars in your hands without being afraid of dropping it. Moreover, the binoculars are light and nitrogen-purged for optimal fog-resistance. They are also resistant to water, and the lens caps protect them from the dust. However, the caps can fall off easily, which requires extra care.
More features: O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, multi-coated, rubber waterproof housing, comes with useful accessories
Here we have another pair of binoculars with Porro prisms for fans of this product type. The manufacturer used multi-coated optics, and the binoculars do a good job of transmitting light and ensuring optimal brightness.
The housing comes in an attractive marine blue color, which gives a distinctive look to the device. Additionally, the rubber housing is combined with nitrogen-purging and O-rings on the inside. They ensure the product is fog and waterproof in all situations, including harsh weather conditions.
Despite that, it seems that the product’s lifespan could be better. They are not the most long-lasting binoculars on the market. Once you grab them in your hands, you will notice that they are quite heavy for compact binoculars.
On the plus side, the manufacturer included all the accessories you might need for the device. The product comes with a strap that makes it suitable for birding. The case protects it from damage when not using it, and the cleaning cloth makes it easy to clean the lenses.
What stands out?
Excellent waterproof rating
Comes with useful accessories
Porro prism design
Attractive housing color
What cons did we manage to find?
Could be much lighter
The lifespan could be better
Things to Consider
Are you ready to learn more about affordable binoculars? In our buying guide, we are focusing on the crucial features of these products. While doing that, we keep in mind the entry-level price range and specifics of these units. Our guide will start with vital factors to consider during the selection process. Once we are done with that, we will answer the most common questions you might have about these binoculars.
What is the difference between binoculars under $100 and pricier options?
In the world of binoculars, paying up to $100 is a very affordable deal. These are usually entry-level binoculars, but what is their difference compared to pricier options?
Here are some observations on the differences between the two groups:
Beginners VS professionals – binoculars under $100 are usually reserved for beginners and those entering this world. They are great for testing and seeing if you are attracted to observing the surroundings via binoculars for any reason. Once you figure out your specific needs, you can move to pricier options.
Image quality – the resolution of the image might not be as high as in pricey binoculars. The same applies to the crispness and brightness of the image. However, that also varies on the unit’s specifics.
Durability – the general rule is that low-priced binoculars are not as durable as expensive options. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t last as long as pricey products, and you will need a replacement sooner.
Ultimately, affordable binoculars are still worth purchasing. They deliver plenty of bang for the buck. If you choose carefully, you can get a product that meets all your expectations and serves you for a long time.
How to pick the best binoculars under $100?
Although you need to be aware of a couple of limitations, affordable binoculars can be a wise investment. If you don’t plan to use them frequently, or you are not an expert, these products will meet and exceed your needs. What about the factors that should affect your selection process? You need to consider a wide range of features to ensure you find suitable binoculars. Here are the main factors to look at while choosing.
The objective diameter is a crucial feature of binoculars. It can be as low as 20mm or go to 50mm or higher. You should choose this based on your personal preference and how you plan to use the product.
A large objective diameter affects how much of the surroundings you will see. Although that also depends on other settings, a larger diameter can help the observer to see more things in the distance.
The magnification is a quite self-explanatory feature. Imagine yourself as a passionate bird watcher who doesn’t want to disturb nature. You stand at a safe distance and use your binoculars to observe. The magnification will affect how far you can stand and be able to see clearly. It also influences how much you can zoom into animals or objects without making the image unclear.
Magnification should be at least 8x to be useful. If you want to take things to the next level, pick 10x magnification. Although binoculars with 12x magnification also exist, it is hard to find them at this price range.
You usually adjust the focus by using a central knob. The knob is turned until you find optimal settings. Make sure that the knob is user-friendly and easy to use since some of them are too sensitive.
Field of view and angle
The next thing we will discuss is the field of view. The manufacturers show it per 1,000 yards, and it can vary anywhere from 200 to 400 feet or more. The bigger the field of view, the more you can see with your binoculars.
The Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 8×42 is unmatchable when it comes to the field of view. This product is also convenient if you are observing moving animals. For example, if a deer goes ten feet to the left, you might still be able to watch it without even having to move the binoculars.
You also need to consider whether you need a wide or regular-angle field of view. A wide-angle ensures that you see even more of the image, and an excellent example is the Bushnell Legacy WP. However, a wide-angle might be inconvenient for some users. If you have the option, try both preferences and see which one fits you.
There is a reason why this feature is called “eye relief.” It serves so that you can observe the surroundings without putting too much strain on your eyes. The manufacturers describe this measure in millimeters, and it varies anywhere from 10 to 20mm or more.
The ideal eye relief adjustment is individual. The crucial thing to ensure is that you can see the image effortlessly. If you are too far, you might need to strain your eyes, and that can be a problem when observing for a long time. Apart from fatigue, you can compromise your eyesight if doing that frequently.
The Bushnell Legacy WP offers impressive eye relief of 18mm. You might not necessarily need that much, which is why you should consider your personal requirements.
The size of the binoculars can affect the convenience of using the product in multiple ways. For starters, if you plan on traveling large distances, pocket-sized products like the Eschenbach Arena F+ 10×25 Binoculars are easy to carry around. It is easier to put a smaller unit in your backpack than a big one.
Additionally, large binoculars might be tougher to grab. That might compromise your grip, and you risk dropping the product on the ground. It might also be hard to keep it stable and focus on an object.
If portability is important, go for a small model, but if you don’t mind a couple of extra inches, it could improve the experience of using the binoculars.
The maximum weight of the binoculars usually doesn’t exceed 2-3 pounds. You might think this makes the weight irrelevant, but you are wrong. It is easy to use a heavy unit for a couple of minutes, but what if you plan to be outside the entire day? As time passes, the fatigue increases and ruins your experience.
In some cases, heaviness can improve the control and stability of the binoculars. If you are used to carrying a lot with you, that justifies going with a heavy and sturdy unit. The Tasco Off Shore 10x42mm is an excellent example of rugged and stable construction. But if you want to minimize the weight, you cannot go wrong with lighter options like the Eschenbach Arena F+ 10×25 Binoculars.
Did you know that the durability of the binoculars depends on many different features? For starters, the product needs to be resistant to shock and various forms of damage. If you accidentally drop it, you should rest assured there will be no breakage, unless it is an extreme fall. That is why most manufacturers use rubber coating.
A durable frame combined with a rubber armor ensures resistance to impacts.
You should also consider performance in extreme weather conditions, such as fog and rain. Only the most waterproof products can handle heavy rainfalls. When it comes to fog, resistance to it ensures that the condensation doesn’t affect your experience. Most manufacturers resolve this by adding O-ring seals to ensure their product is watertight. They also use the nitrogen-purging technique to deal with condensation.
Apart from the binoculars, the package might include additional features. Here is a list of the most common accessories you will find:
Carrying case – it is very convenient for storing binoculars when not using it. It prevents accidental damage during transportation and increases the product’s portability.
Neck strap – if you are a bird watcher, you need to act quickly. A neck strap will allow grabbing your binoculars in seconds.
Cleaning cloth – this cloth makes cleaning the lenses effortless, and simplifies the maintenance process.
Protective dust caps – they serve to protect the lenses from dust and other debris.
Smartphone holder – these accessories allow you to attach the smartphone to the binoculars to make beautiful photos.
Tripod – tripods are a great choice to improve the stability of your binoculars when you need the image to be still.
Even if you stay under the $100 price tag, you can still choose between various prices of binoculars. If you want to keep your investment as low as possible, go with the Celestron – Outland X 10×42 Binoculars. They are among the units available for around $50, and they can deliver a fine value for that money.
Beginners can also consider average-quality binoculars from $50 to $75. For that price, you can expect a decent performance from products like the Olympus Trooper 10×50 DPS I Binoculars. Apart from optimal image quality, these units can protect your eyes from sun rays.
Finally, if you want to be close to the $100 limit, you can get a reliable model like the Eyeskey 10×32 Professional Waterproof Binoculars. These offer admirable water resistance while maintaining a portable size suitable for carrying them around for hours.
Yes, glass wearers can use binoculars. That means you can even wear sunglasses while observing the surroundings. If you want to find optimal binoculars for glasses, two features become your priority. The first one is eye relief, which should be at least 10mm. However, for optimal performance, it would be great if it is around 15mm. Apart from that, the binoculars should also have adjustable eyecups. Most popular products use twist-up eyecups, which are easy to adjust. Ultimately, the important thing is that you can adjust them, and the way of adjusting is up to your preference.
If you want to adjust your binoculars properly, start with eye caps. Their task is to ensure the optimal distance between the lenses and your eyes. Glass wearers should twist these eye caps down. If it is possible, adjust the distance between two eyepieces to an optimal range. Make sure to test all these settings to confirm you set them properly. You might also have dioptric settings on your binoculars, but if you don’t, skip to focus on an object in the distance. Use the focus knob in the center to ensure that you can see the image without your eyes making an effort. Try to look for some ground to keep the binoculars most stable. You can consider a wall or any other surface, or even use a tripod.
There are no reasons why affordable binoculars aren’t able to withstand harsh weather conditions. However, you will need to pick the product carefully to ensure optimal performance. You want to begin with durable housing and rubber armor. These are resistant to damage and provide a secure grip. That way, you don’t have to worry about dropping the binoculars. Another crucial feature is fog and water resistance. It is critical that the product is both fog and waterproof. That ensures the lenses remain free from condensation, and the inner part keeps water away. Apart from that, protective dust caps can help to keep the binoculars safe.
Now that we’ve reached the end of our roundup, we can only confirm that the Nikon 8245 ACULON A211 8×42. You get a fine balance of all features, including a wide-angle field of view. That makes the product suitable for all types of outdoor uses, including bird watching, hunting, camping, and more.
The Celestron – Outland X 10×42 Binoculars is another fine pick if you are looking for genuine bargain deals. You won’t find many products that are cheaper and offer advanced features like BAK-4 prisms and multi-coated optics. The product is also fog and waterproof, and even suitable to use with a tripod.
Nevertheless, if you are looking for the ultimate performance, you can’t go wrong with the Bushnell H20. These are a viable candidate for the best binoculars under $100 because of their water resistance and durability. They will last for a long time while providing optimal image quality consistently.