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 the 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.
Our Quick Pick
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 or for even more information, check out our article All About Binoculars – A Definitive Guide.
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.
Our Rating 97/100
- Roof prism full-size 10x42 binoculars provide 10x magnification through a 42mm objective lens.
- VIP Unconditional Lifetime Warranty means Vortex Optics will fix or repair at no cost to the customer, no questions asked.
- Multi-coated optics and phase corrected prisms
- Waterproof and fogproof protection
- Rainguard, tethered objective lens covers, comfort neck strap, and deluxe custom-molded carry case included in the box. Field of View: 345 feet/1000 yards|6.6 degrees
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.
Our Rating 94/100
- All Monarch 5 binoculars are now built with Nikon's premium ED (Extra-low dispersion); Glass for a sharper, clearer and more brilliant field of view.
- Almost an ounce lighter than its predecessor, the new Monarch 5 is even easier to bring along on your next adventure.
- Fully multicoated eco-glass lenses provide a high light transmittance across the entire visible light spectrum. Apparent FOV: 51.3°
- It is equipped with user-friendly features such as turn-and-slide rubber eyecups, a smooth central focus knob and flip down lens caps.
- Built for extreme use, the Monarch 5 is waterproof, fog proof and has a rubber armored body for strengthened durability.
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.
Our Rating 88/100
- All Monarch 5 binoculars are now built with Nikon's premium ED (Extra low dispersion); Glass for a sharper, clearer and more brilliant field of view
- Almost an ounce lighter than its predecessor, the new Monarch 5 is even easier to bring along on your next adventure
- Fully multicoated eco glass lenses provide a high light transmittance across the entire visible light spectrum
- It is equipped with user friendly features such as turn and slide rubber eyecups, a smooth central focus knob and flip down lens caps
- Built for extreme use, the Monarch 5 is waterproof, fog proof and has a rubber armored body for strengthened durability
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.
Our Rating 86/100
- 15x magnification and 56mm objective lenses, the Vulture HD uses high density extra-low dispersion glass and XR fully multi-coated lenses, you get super bright images that are sharp and clear from edge to edge.
- Rugged, rubber armor and ultra-hard, scratch resistant armortek coating on all exterior lenses creates a durable binocular able to withstand any conditions.
- Argon purged and o-ring sealed barrels ensure fogproof and waterproof performance.
- A center diopter allows you to adjust for focal differences between your eyes. Twist eyecups allow for comfortable viewing with or without glasses.
- When glassing in the early or late hours of the day when game is most active, you need to have the right tools which is where the Vulture HD binocular comes in. Field of View: 226 feet/1000 yards|4.3 degrees
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.
Our Rating 79/100
- Rain guard HD water repellent lens coating
- Lightweight, magnesium chassis
- Waterproof and fog proof
- Includes a soft carrying case, Microfiber carry bag and neck strap
- Never look directly at the sun wih your binocular ,as it may cause serious damage to your eyes
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 Compulsive Outdoors so far.
Best Cheap Binoculars – Our Final Verdict
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 more than happy with any of the choices in this list.
However, make sure you pick the binoculars that best suit your needs and budget.
Price doesn’t always mean quality but be aware that higher end binoculars have more features and typically better optics. 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.