best budget binoculars in 2020
A pair of binoculars is one of the most important gears to carry with you whenever you are going outdoors. The versatility and portability of these tools make them indispensable in many situations. From serious hunters to bird watchers, binoculars offer great help when in the woods or jungle.
If you are buying them for the first time and will only be using them less frequently, then you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of binoculars.
We have done a thorough research and analyzed tens of affordable, quality binoculars from trusted binocular brands in the market, and we settled for the five best budget binoculars that had favorable ratings and great reviews from both experts and customers.
And for those who are choosing binoculars for the first time, we have a great guide to help you understand more about these devices and to help you make a decision fast.
Top 3 Best Budget Binoculars- Our Picks
Before we delve into in-depth reviews, which includes links to where you can get the products on a bargain price, here is a quick preview of the top three that stood out based on their overall features, customer satisfaction, quality, and value for the money.
|Bushnell H2O 10×42||Celestron 71008 SkyMaster||Celestron Outland X 10×42 Binoculars|
|Prism system||Roof||BaK-4 prisms||BaK4|
|Field of view||325 ft.||141ft.||294ft.|
Bushnell H2O 10×42
If you have to pass through different terrains where you face rough waters, the Bushnell H2O is built for you. They are built to last with O-ring seals that make them waterproof and fog proof. The Bushnell provides a high grip so that they don’t fall when you need them the most. Besides, most customers are impressed with the stunning HD clarity lightweight design.
The model offers an impressive 10x magnification that’s enough for most bird and wildlife watchers. The roof style Bak-4 prism offers better light transmission and clarity in the day or night and equates a wide field of view of 102 feet at 1000 yards away. This lets you view distant objects close enough to see detailed images.
42 mm objective lens
Besides the higher magnification, the 42 mm objective lenses allow you to move far and wide on the landscape to watch your moving target. The binoculars feature a generous 2mm aperture to provide detailed images even in dim light.
17 mm eye relief
The Bushnell H20 offers an eye relief of 17mm that ensures a clear field of view. The center focus knob is large enough for easy adjustment and comes with adjustable twist-up eyecups that most bespectacled watchers will appreciate.
These binoculars are built with durable material that features O-ring seals and nitrogen-purged lenses to make it water and fog-resistant. The Bushnell also features a rubber armor that not only makes them more waterproof but also absorbs shock when they fall or when you bump into things along the way.
- 10x Magnification
- 42mm objective lenses
- 17mm eye relief
- O-ring seals
- Rubberized surface
- Offers clear and bright images
- They are lightweight at 25 ounces
- Completely waterproof
- Lifetime warranty
- You need to adjust them regularly to get the focus right
Tip: Suitable for bird watching during cold seasons
Bushnell H20 8X42
Like the previous model, the Bushnell H2O 8×42 is also waterproof for those early morning adventures. It is designed with anti-reflective coatings to offer a crisper view for its users. Most customers praise the durable construction of this model, and the quality of the lenses impressed almost everyone.
This model offers 8x magnification thanks to the quality lenses that offer clear and crisp images. The 42 mm objective lens enables these binoculars to have a 2.6 exit pupil that works well in varying lighting conditions making it an ideal choice for adventures in the wood.
The two barrels feature a hinge and a large center focus knob to adjust to any face size. Also, the compact nature of this model allows for easy focus and adjustment using one hand.
The Bushnell H20 shines when it comes to durability, starting with the thick rubber coating that can absorb shock in case of impacts. The outer coating of these binoculars has been ribbed, which adds grip even when they are wet. They weigh 13.6 ounces, making them portable to carry around effortlessly.
- Bak-4 Prisms
- 100% waterproof
- 8x Magnification
- 42 mm optical lenses
- Twist-up eyecups
- Offers close focusing viewing
- They are lightweight
- Has a durable built
- They offer a secure grip
- The carrying case of the binoculars is quite small
Tip: Suitable for bird/wildlife watching
Celestron 71008 SkyMaster
The SkyMaster, as the name suggests, could do well if you like to shoot stars or stalk the skies at night. What makes them unique is the high magnification factor and its amazing capabilities in gathering light at its price. These are affordable precision binoculars that should meet the expectations of individuals looking to bring objects from far away into a larger and detailed image.
The main body of this model features the traditional porro prism design that features polycarbonate and aluminum for durability and portability. With a large knob located in between the thin bridges, the design should be easy to adjust even for those with gloved hands
The design of the barrels sits comfortably on the hands, and you can use the binoculars over long periods. Stargazers will also benefit from the tripod stand included for increased stability. The only downside here is they are heavy and bulky.
Objective lenses and magnification
The large 25x magnification lets you bring extremely distant objects into clarity. The SkyMaster features a 70 mm diameter of the objective lenses provides a large field of view of 141 feet at 1000 yards.
They also produce a large exit pupil of 2.8mm to enhance the view in dim light for a clear image. Most stargazers prefer these over traditional telescopes due to their ability to gather sufficient light, even at night.
It has a 13mm eye relief with rubber eyecups that you can roll down to adjust the distance between your eyes and the lens.
Every good binoculars offer a diopter adjustment to adjust any variations in optical power. These binoculars come with a tripod adaptable in case you need a stable platform that doesn’t shake.
- 25x Magnification
- 70mm diameter objective lens
- Field of view: 141 feet for every 1000 yards
- Rubber covering for ultra-grip
- 13 mm eye relief
- Offers sharp images
- Has a durable build
- Offers numerous accessories
- They are relatively heavy and bulky
Tip: suitable for astronomy
Celestron Outland X 10×42 Binoculars
The Celestron is a top-notch brand that was established in 1960 and has made a name for producing high-quality binoculars that offer clear and crisper images. The company provides a limited lifetime warranty for these binoculars, which shows quality. The Celestron Outland X is one of its flagship models that offer enhanced color fidelity and detailed views.
But what makes this product exceptional? Let’s have a look!
10X magnification and 42mm field of view
Featuring 10X Magnification, this product offers a clear image from far away. With a field view of 294 feet at 1000 yards, you won’t miss any moment of your background target. The large objective lenses aid with its light-gathering capabilities, making them useful in regular daylight as well as night. The lenses have attached cups to protect the delicate part when not in use.
Multi-coated optics and Bak-4 Glass Prism
This model offers high-resolution images and contrast views thanks to the Bak-4 prism glass that’s multi-coated. The high-quality prism to enjoy crisp, detailed images with improved light transmission.
With easy to adjust eyecups, you can rotate the Outland X series in all directions and extend it outwards. It also comes with a 14mm eye relief to help you obtain a full field of view for maximum comfort. The large focus wheel is convenient when you want to readjust on moving targets. Glass wearers can fold up the cups for a comfortable position.
This model is designed with adjustable straps to hang around your neck for convenient carrying. The rubber covering on the sturdy polycarbonate build safeguards your binoculars against impacts and offers an anti-slip grip. To prevent internal fogging from the lenses, it is filled with dry nitrogen gas for protection.
- 10X Magnification
- 42mm objective lens
- Multicolored-coated optics
- Bak-4 Prism design
- Twistable eyecups
- Provides crystal clear images
- It is 100% waterproof
- It has a high-quality built
- It is Lightweight
- Eye relief may not be ideal for glass wearers
Tip- Suitable for bird watchers
Celestron Outland X 8x 42 Binoculars
Weighing shy of 800g, these are the kind you need for long-range outdoor adventures. The Celestron Outland X is more comfortable to handle and offers sharp on-axis views at a pocket-friendly price. They come with the Bak-4 prisms and multi-coated optics for high-resolution viewing. Here are the features that make this product exceptional.
To obtain a clear view, this model has twistable eyecups that are easy to adjust and set. The broad focus knobs allow for precise views and easier stalking of your prey when hunting. Besides, it provides an eye relief of 18mm for a comfortable view for anyone, including glass wearers.
This pair of binoculars features nitrogen purged lenses to use in all weather conditions, from rainy to foggy environments. They have been o-ringed to ensure more protection against fogging.
This design features a rugged exterior to protect your binoculars from all outdoor activities. The rubber covering provides a secure grip that is non-slippery to make it easy to watch without dropping the pair.
To make them ready for use, the binoculars are pre-attached with decent quality straps that are comfortable on the neck. The carry case is also a nice addition as it provides moisture resistance featuring neoprene.
- 8x Magnification
- 42mm objective lens
- 18mm eye relief
- Bk-4 prism glass
- Multi-coated optics
- It is lightweight
- Provides high-quality images
- It is all-weather friendly
- It is durable with a protective rubber covering
- A few customers complained about the eyecups being a bit stiff.
Tip- It is suitable for bird watchers
Our Top 3 Recommendations
Celestron 71008 SkyMaster
For celestial and terrestrial enthusiasts, the SkyMaster 25X70mm is designed for long-distance viewing. With its multi-coated optics, it’s easier to get bright and sharp images even in low light. The optics are amazing at this price point. They also come with a tripod adapter for a shake-free experience of the sky.
Bushnell H20 10X42
This is a great pair for those who explore the wet and tough environments, especially in the wild. The top is a rugged rubber armor that absorbs shock and makes the binoculars waterproof. For those with glasses, it’s easy to fold up the eyecups to get a comfortable view. They are also built to last with a unique lifetime warranty.
Celestron Outland X 10X42
Are you looking for unmatched optics? This model has multi-colored optics that can help you obtain high contrast views and dependable performance. They have a waterproof roof prism design, and the glasses have been purged with nitrogen to resist diffusion.
They are great for bird watching with their rubberized exterior that offers impressive grip. Apart from getting a limited lifetime warranty, you also get access to unlimited support from the US-based brand.
Best Budget Binoculars Buying Guide
This section is meant to help you understand what to look for in a binocular. We will just be covering the basics of buying the best binoculars for the money.
How to Choose a Good Pair of Binoculars
Whether you want to buy the best budget binoculars for hunting or bird watching or nature spotting, there a few important consideration you need to keep in mind;
This is one of the main factors you need to consider when buying any type of binoculars. Magnification helps you to see your prey or object in a better, clearer way. However, it is important to mention that you don’t always need to go for binoculars with the highest magnification. This is because higher magnification comes at a disadvantage. If your object makes a slight movement, the results get distorted.
For bird watching and hunting, we can recommend that you go for binoculars with magnifications of either 8X or 10X. In fact, the ideal magnification for general-purpose binoculars meant for handheld usage should be between 6X and 10X.
Size of the objective lens
Another thing to check on a pair of binoculars is the diameter of the objective lens. This is indicated in mm. For instance, a 10X50mm has a front lens diameter of 50mm.
When it comes to lenses, the bigger it is, the better since the work of the lens is to allow in more light. However, remember to factor in the portability nature of the binocular. A pair of binoculars with bigger lenses tend to be heavier. Lightweight and compact binoculars tend to have smaller lenses. Therefore, in most cases, you are forced to trade in one factor for the other. However, if you will be using your device majorly during the day, a bigger lens will not be a major consideration.
It is important to also check the material a binocular is made from. It should be not only solid but also versatile for different weather environments. We would recommend that you go for a material that has anti-fogging and waterproofing capabilities. This is because you are likely to encounter different kinds of weather when you are hunting, birding, or enjoying nature.
It is also important to check on the type of coating a binocular has. This is because it determines the ability to gather light and brightness of the image. Most of the binoculars we have reviewed here are multi-coated.
Binocular’s physical size doesn’t always indicate the quality of the images. Most quality binoculars come in compact sizes. Look for a binocular that is easy to carry and lightweight. You are likely to encounter recommendations of getting larger, full-sized binoculars, but it is important that you don’t shop with this mentality. You don’t want something that will weigh you down when you are hunting or exploring nature.
This is another consideration to make. You need to consider why you need a pair of binoculars so that to get the right one. For instance, a birdwatcher should not go for binoculars meant for hunting expeditions and vice-versa. Different binoculars are designed for different purposes, and thus you should buy one that suits your needs.
Type of prism- roof prism vs. Porro prism
Even though prisms are internal elements of your binoculars, you can quickly tell what kind it is from the outside. For instance, roof prism binoculars come with barrels that have almost the same width from end to end. On the other hand, binoculars with Porro prism have a narrower side on the eye end while the objective lens is wider, making them look like a cone.
Roof prism binoculars tend to be more lightweight and compact and are more likely to be 100% waterproof. However, on the downside, the roof system allows light to go through six reflections, as compared to only four that Porro system has, which means that there is some light loss with every bounce.
In terms of price, binoculars with Porro prism tend to be cheaper, which is why most lower-end binoculars have a Porro prism system.
However, due to advanced research, you can now find decent quality binoculars with roof prism for under $100.
These are the most crucial things to consider when buying binoculars. Of course, there are many more features, but the more quality and superior features a binocular has, the more you are likely to pay.
Additional Information- Types of Binoculars
Binoculars come in different sizes and specifications to cater to different needs. Here are the three main types of binoculars;
A pair of full-sized binoculars majorly have 40mm lenses or larger. Such binoculars allow more light in and perform well in environments with dim light as compared to those with smaller variations.
Their ability to capture more light makes them provide a larger field of view and clearer images. However, their larger size makes them not ideal for backpacking, which means they are great for wildlife viewing or ocean viewing from the boats.
These are smaller as compared to full-sized binoculars and comes with an objective lens of 30-39mm. They are ideal for wildlife viewing and sports activities. However, they, too, are slightly heavier for backpacking. They provide great viewing quality and above-average light transmission.
These have the smallest variations when it comes to the size of objective lenses as they have a lens with lower than 30mm. They are ideal for hunting expedition and bird watching in the wild as they can fit in a backpack. They work effectively during outdoor adventures during the day.
These are the main types of binoculars you can find in the market today!
FAQ About Best Budget Binoculars
What is the best binoculars for the money?
The fact is that there are many great binoculars you can get at an affordable price, but the five we have reviewed here are the best for your money. After comparing many different brands and models, the above five emerged as the best.
What is the best binoculars to buy?
Again, we can say that all the above binoculars are the best. We selected them based on expert analysis and customer reviews as well as ratings. We have selected the best among the top five best. You can see our comparison table above.
What are the best mid-priced binoculars?
We can term Bushnell H2O Roof Prism Binocular as the best mid-priced binoculars. This is because it has a good balance of features and price for anyone looking for a pair to use in the wild.
What is a good set of binoculars?
A good set of binoculars is one that offers ideal magnification, is solidly built, has waterproofing qualities, and one that is a suitable size of the objective lens. All the models above are good sets of binoculars.
Which is the best magnification for binoculars?
For general use, a magnification of 7X to 10X will be ideal. These will give you great magnification for different activities, and the view will not be distorted even if you slightly shake your hands.
Which is better 8×42 or 10×42 binoculars?
While 8X42 binoculars feature a larger exit pupil than 10X42, the former has a better twilight factor. The twilight factor gives you better clarity in low light. This makes 10X42 a better shot when you are in a dim area.
What is the best magnification for bird watching binoculars?
In general, we can say that the best magnification for a binocular meant for distance birding is 10X. However, this normally means you get a narrower field of view and a slightly darker result, especially when you are viewing them in low light. Therefore, we can say that if you are watching birds from a distance and in low light, we can recommend a binocular with 10X magnification. For birds that are nearby, a magnification of 8X will be great.
How much does a good set of binoculars cost?
This is a question that varies from an individual to another. Usually, $100 is considered a reasonable budget for a decent pair, especially if you are not looking for binoculars with complex features. For bird watching and close-range hunting, you can go for any of the models we have reviewed here.
We have come to the end of our guide, and we do hope that all the information we have provided here has helped you pick the best budget binoculars.
All of the above models are great and are popular. If you check the reviews and ratings they have received, you will see that they are quality and great in terms of functionality. Therefore, if you are looking for the best budget binoculars for hunting or best binoculars for the money, any of the above choices will not disappoint.