Whether you are a beginner hunter or birdwatcher or just on a budget, you want to get binoculars that give you bang for your buck. We decided to compose this list of best cheap binoculars to help you out. Binoculars are an essential accessory to any hunter, birdwatcher or just observer and you shouldn’t settle with anything less than great.
However, getting the right pair of binoculars is not an easy task. If you are looking at the lower price range, it’s even more difficult. There are a lot of low quality products out there and you don’t want to waste your money. We rated these binoculars based on all the factors that we consider important. In our hands-on reviews, we looked at zoom levels, lens sizes, lens coatings, waterproof qualities and fog resistance. Another thing we looked at was the quantity of accessories offered and we also took weight and build quality into consideration. With all the key aspects covered, we are confident that you can find a suitable pair from our list of the best cheap binoculars. Before choosing, we also suggest looking at our buyer’s guide below the list.
Top 5 Best Cheap Binoculars
Vortex Diamondback 10×42
The Vortex Diamondback 10×42 is our favorite in the low-mid price range. Offering an amazingly clear image for the low price and having exceptional build quality is something we like. The Diamondback 10×42 has very positive reviews on Amazon and we can see why. The superb warranty system is something we appreciate as well.
Nikon Monarch 5 10×42
The Nikon Monarch 5 10×42 is great companion on hunting trips. Nikon’s proven quality is all there and the image quality is nice and crisp on this one. Nikon has also made great efforts to improve low-light visibility and it has paid off. With 10x zoom there is plenty to go around.
Nikon Monarch 5 8×42
The Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 is a viable option if you’re looking for a lightweight binocular with a wider field of view. Perfect for medium distances and activities like birdwatching. Nikon’s 42mm lenses offer plenty of light in dim situations. With 79% 5-star ratings on Amazon, this is a solid entry in the best cheap binoculars list.
Vortex Vulture HD 15×56
The Vortex Vulture HD 15×56 is the only 15x zoom binocular in our list. Vortex delivers big zoom at a reasonable price and we like it! Great build quality and a clear image is also in the package. This unit is pricier than the rest however, costing around $500. However, if you need to cover a lot of distance, you can’t do it cheap.
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD
The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD is the cheapest binocular in our list. This is the breaking point between price and quality. Some compromises by the manufacturer are starting to show here. Nevertheless, it’s a decent pair of binoculars for the price. The image is decent and a beginner could work with these.
How to choose the best cheap binoculars?
Whether you’re looking for the best cheap binoculars or high-end binoculars, the key aspects are the same. You want to choose a pair that best suits your needs. Start by thinking about what you will do with them. While hunters prefer a higher zoom level, birdwatchers might prefer a wider field of view. If you love going outdoors during dusk or dawn, you need to consider light exposure. Color reproduction is something that is more important to birdwatchers as they want to observe their targets in their full beauty.
Typical zoom levels range from 8x to 15x. 10x is the perfect compromise in most situations. However, your needs depend on your target and the distance between you. In our list of the best cheap binoculars we brought out units from each of the zoom levels stated above so start your selection by narrowing it down with that.
The next big thing is the lens size. The standard size is 42mm for this price range but we also have one 56mm unit on our list. The size of the lens determines how well the binoculars work in low light situations. More surface area means that more light can enter the lens.
Lens coating is something that helps with glare. If you look at water when the sun is shining, you can see glare coming off it. Multicoated lenses help to battle this phenomenon. If it’s often sunny when you go outdoors, you might want to consider choosing a pair with multicoated lenses.
We think that binoculars that are not waterproof or lack fog resistance are obsolete these days. Hunting often happens in rainy conditions and lacking these features would render your binoculars useless. That’s why we excluded binoculars that don’t have these features from our top 5 best cheap binoculars list.
Still haven’t got it narrowed down to one binocular? The last thing to look at is the list of accessories that come with the package. Good things to have are rainguards, comfortable eyecups and straps for your neck and belt. Finally, the quality of the carry case is something to look at. Some models also offer rubber armoring and scratchproof coating which are nice to have.
We’ve included only trusted brands in our list. The biggest name is of course Nikon. They have produced binoculars, cameras and other optic devices for a long time. This is a brand that everybody knows and trusts.
A less known but also great manufacturer is Vortex. They are equal with Nikon when it comes to binoculars. They also have one of the best warranty systems out there. Most binoculars come with a lifetime warranty with unconditional replacements.
There are certainly more trustworthy brands out there but these are the favorites of OutdoorGearPal so far.
While looking at the lower price range binoculars you need to realize that you will not get a perfect product. However, we have taken the trouble of seeking out the best cheap binoculars for you. If you feel that you are not quite ready to shell out big bucks for your binoculars, this list should be sufficient for you. We believe that a beginner hunter or birdwatcher would be happy with any of the choices in this list. However, make sure you pick the binoculars that best suit your needs.
Price doesn’t always mean quality but be aware that higher end binoculars have more features. A serious hunter needs a rangefinder and clearer optics so if that’s something you are looking for, take a look at our best high quality binoculars as well.