The best binoculars under $100 you can buy

Finding the right pair of binoculars isn't the easiest task, especially when you're limited to $100 or less. While having a budget in mind is definitely helpful, there are still many factors to consider. For many shoppers, the binoculars will serve a certain purpose. You might be looking for the best binoculars for birding or astronomy, or maybe you're looking to pick up an affordable pair for kids.

Having a purpose in mind can make it easier to zero in on the right pair of binoculars. If you plan to use one for an extended amount of time, like birdwatching, you'll want something lightweight and compact. However, the opposite is true for astronomy, as you'll want higher magnification to see farther into the night sky. Generally speaking, binoculars with higher magnifications are heavier, and often require a tripod for stability.

For less than $100, we tend to keep expectations low when it comes to features, but a low price doesn't mean the binoculars are strictly barebones. One product on this list has a unique mounting adapter that lets you attach a smartphone to shoot photos or videos. Some binoculars come with neck straps and carrying pouches, making them a worthwhile deal if you don't already have those extras.

Of course, these are not professional-level binoculars, but they will suit hobbyists and casual users just fine.

Here are the best binoculars under $100 you can buy:

Keep scrolling to read more about our top picks.

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The best overall

The best overall
The Nikon Aculon A211 10 x 50 binoculars suit a wide range of purposes, from birding to travel and sporting events, and are lightweight enough to bring along for the day.

The Nikon Aculon A211 10x50 binoculars sneak in just under the $100 price mark. If you're willing to max out your budget, you can't beat the blend of quality and affordability for the price.

These binoculars are lightweight and ergonomic, which means you can carry it around all day. A smooth-turning focus knob lets you quickly and accurately find a clear view of your subject. The rubberized coating provides a strong grip.

These binoculars are 10 x 50, which means 10x magnification with a 50mm objective diameter. They also have a 5mm exit pupil. In short, these binoculars work just as well for birding and other outdoor activities, as they do for viewing the night sky. That's because 10 x 50 binoculars have a wider aperture, which is better for seeing distant objects, even at night.

In terms of the exit pupil, binoculars with at least 4mm are suitable for most conditions, even low light. One owner appreciates notes the overall clarity in an Amazon customer review: "I am a hunter, so even in a low-light situation or at night in a full moon it's almost like you're looking out in daylight with these."

Weight is another big factor. These binoculars weigh 31.7 ounces, or approximately 2 pounds. While they're not the most lightweight binoculars out there, many users find them easy to carry around. "Just lightweight enough to hold, but also sturdy," wrote one Amazon customer who used it for whale watching. Another adds, " I don't find them too heavy for use in bird watching and star gazing."

However, some customers note that the binoculars can feel a bit heavy as the day goes on, especially if you're carrying other equipment.

The lenses deliver clarity and brightness, helped by a special coating that is applied. Like Nikon's cameras lenses, which Insider Picks Guides Editor Les Shu has experience with, these are high-quality optics (Nikon is renowned for its glass and build quality). The rubber eyecups keep peepers positioned at the correct point and makes the binoculars more comfortable to use over an extended period.

Unfortunately, the binoculars are not weatherproof, so you'd need to take care when using them in certain environments. But it's a tradeoff we are willing to make for a quality product that's less than $100.

Pros: Ideal for general use, ergonomic, many user-friendly features

Cons: Long-distance images may appear wavy, not weatherproof, protective lens caps fall off easily

Buy the Nikon 8248 Aculon A211 10x50 Binocular on Amazon for $96.95

The best value

The best value
The ZoomX X-007 Binoculars with Smartphone Adapter is waterproof and works with a smartphone to capture images and videos digitally.

Instead of excelling in a single area, the X-007 10 x 42 binoculars from ZoomX are suitable for a wide range of outdoor activities, whether it is birdwatching or a game at the stadium They also use BAK-4 prisms, which tend to be denser and transmit more light. Combined with fully multi-coated lenses, the result is optimal contrast and clear images, even when the weather is less than ideal.

Speaking of foul weather, these binoculars have an IPX 7 rating, which means they are waterproof and can be temporarily immersed in water up to approximately 5 feet. Nitrogen filling also helps reduce fogging.

One owner says the binoculars are "wide and transparent ... zoom-in is excellent and you can see everything from a long distance." Weight is also important. At 1.24 pounds these binoculars are lighter than our overall pick, and they will fit into most backpacks or carrying cases. A rubberized body prevents the binoculars from slipping out of your hand.

The X-007 has a feature that I find really handy. Say, you have an amazing up-close look at an exotic bird, unique animal, or a memorable moment in a sporting event. Wouldn't it be great if you could capture it and share with others? With a smartphone attachment, the X-007 lets you do just that.

Essentially, the mount places your phone's camera over one of the eyecups. With the 10x-magnified image on your phone's screen, you can take photos or shoot videos of what you see. The images are then stored in your camera roll, which you can share to social media. (Note: You can find similar accessories to use with other binoculars.)

One owner says the attachment "works very well but will require a tripod to hold it steady enough for a clear picture," adding, "It easily holds my iPhone 6 plus with the cover on."

Pros: Water resistant, nitrogen filling prevents fogging, smartphone adapter

Cons: Some find the smartphone adapter a bit awkward, neck strap isn't the best

Buy the ZoomX X-007 Binoculars with Smartphone Adapter at Amazon for $81.99

The best budget binoculars

The best budget binoculars
Despite the name, these economical Bushnell Falcon 133410 binoculars come in handy for more than just bird watching.

Bushnell is one of the bigger names when it comes to outdoor goods, including binoculars. This 7 x 35 model is a solid choice if you're looking for a budget pair with decent image picture. The 1.3-pound Bushnell Falcon 133410 has a 20-foot close-focusing distance, 12mm eye relief, and a 5mm exit pupil. According to Strathspey, a Scottish binoculars retailer, most generally have an eye relief of 8-13mm. For best results, you'll want an optimal balance between the field of view and magnification.

Image quality doesn't have to be compromised when shopping on a budget. Aside from certain specifications, various features can enhance your viewing experience. For example, these binoculars use a Porro prism along with coated lenses to ensure sharp image viewing. Fold-down eyecups accommodate sunglasses and eyeglasses while protecting against scratching. An instant-focus lever allows you to easily fine-tune magnification for precise feedback.

On Amazon, one birder compared these binoculars to a friend's much more expensive pair, saying, "The depth of focus is greater in [the Bushnell], as is the ease of focusing thanks to the lever," he explains. "The image clarity and color resolution, to my unsophisticated eye, is the same."

Another customer says, "As an engineer with optics experience ... they are well worth the money. I was able to read 2-inch-high numbers on a utility pole a thousand feet away as if they were 20 feet away."

Pros: Users can fine-tune magnification, eyecups protect lenses, comes with storage case and straps

Cons: Not water resistant, case and straps aren't the highest quality, lens caps fall off easily

Buy the Bushnell Falcon 133410 Binoculars on Amazon for $27.14

The best for kids

The best for kids
The Kidwinz Shock Proof 8 x 21 Kids Binoculars are durable and rugged, yet come with optics so crisp and clear, even some adults are surprised.

Kids like to explore. However, they're also a bit more accident prone. If you're going to buy a pair of binoculars for kids, you want one that's durable and sturdy enough to withstand outdoor adventures. This pair from Kidwinz has a rubber coating that absorbs impact. The eyepieces are surrounded by a rubber coating, as well, to help protect the lenses. Several Amazon customers noted the durability positively.

These binoculars stand out for more than just their rugged design, although that's certainly a big draw for kids who love the outdoors. BAK-4 (a type of Porro) prisms produce sharp images. The daughter of one Amazon customer "went for a bird-watch tour with her school and came home describing very excitedly and in details the beautiful birds she was able to spot with her binoculars." Another writes, "My family had very high-quality binoculars available on our last trip and there was not as much difference between [those] and these."

These 8 x 21 binoculars magnify objects up to eight times, which is plenty for kids who want to explore. They're also designed for fast and even focusing, even when used by children. For even better viewing, the binoculars can be folded to match the eye distance of the child.

Pros: Rugged, sharp images, extra rubber coating adds durability

Cons: Strap doesn't break away for safety, focus can be hard to adjust

Buy the Kidwinz Shock Proof 8x21 Kids Binoculars at Amazon for $26.99

The best for astronomy

The best for astronomy
These binoculars are well suited for watching the night sky, with their Porro prism optics, large objective lenses, and easy-to-focus knob.

Even the best astronomy binoculars can't match the optics of a telescope, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy clear views of celestial objects such as planets and stars. These 25 x 70 binoculars have enhanced magnification and larger objective lenses. According to Skytech Lasers, the larger the objective lens, the brighter the image. That's because larger lenses can draw in more light.

Magnification is also key for proper viewing. While some binoculars start at 10x, images appear even larger with 25x magnification, naturally. One Amazon customer says, "You will see spectacular views of the moon and larger deep-sky objects like the Andromeda galaxy and the Orion nebula. These are a better entry to the world of astronomy than a telescope due to their portability and ease of use."

When it comes to specifications, some astronomers want to know all the details. These binoculars have a linear field of view of 141 feet (47 meters) and a 2.8mm exit pupil. There's also 13mm eye relief and a 75-foot close focus. An article by Gary Seronik, an astronomy expert, explores the advantages of smaller exit pupils in more powerful binoculars such as these. Smaller exit pupils, such as the 2.8mm in these binoculars, results in a darker sky background and enhanced contrast among stars.

One Amazon customer says, "Views of large deep sky objects like the Orion nebula are really beautiful. The contrast is very good." Another noticed that "aiming the binoculars in an area that seems void of stars when viewed with the naked eye reveals even more stars."

Usability is another concern. While these binoculars are designed to be versatile, you're probably going to spend the majority of your time looking up at the sky when using them. That's one reason why many astronomers are willing to put up with the relatively hefty 3.25-pound weight. Such an intense magnification also essentially requires a tripod to ensure images are as still as possible.

As one customer points out, "Trying to accurately aim the binoculars without the aid of a 'finding scope,' especially at very distant objects, is challenging." A few astronomers note that adjusting these binoculars isn't the most intuitive or fastest process.

Pros: Ideal for sky and land viewing, long eye-relief ideal for those who wear glasses, powerful magnification

Cons: Needs a tripod for stable images, heavy, focusing can be tedious

Buy the Celestron 71008 SkyMaster 25 x 70 Binoculars on Amazon for $65.64
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