Best budget binoculars 2024: Cheap but high-quality models

With a pair of the best budget binoculars, you can dip your toe into new hobbies like stargazing or wildlife watching without breaking the bank in the process. If you have a limited budget, it can be hard to know which models will offer quality at a lower price point, so our reviewers have scoured the market for budget binoculars that truly offer a bang for your buck. All the models on our list come in at under $200 and some can be purchased for as little as $40, meaning that there's something on here for everyone.

Binoculars can be used for amateur astronomy, observing nature, sightseeing or getting a closer view of sporting events. The binoculars on this list have been tried and tested by our experts to assess the quality of view they offer in a range of different situations, as well as important features like build quality and comfort, so you can be sure you're buying a quality product.  

If you have a little more money at your disposal and are looking to upgrade, we also have a guide to the best binoculars on the market today, and if you're looking for a lightweight pair for carrying around with you, check out our list of the best compact binoculars to find the most travel-friendly options. Those looking to focus specifically on stargazing may also want to look at our guides to the best telescopes and best budget telescopes.

The quick list

Best budget binoculars we recommend in 2024

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Best overall

Lightweight and affordable — especially good for astronomy , and they are tripod adaptable too

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 50mm
Angular field of view: 6.8 degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: Bk7
Eye relief: 12 mm
Weight: 27 oz
Guarantee: 2 years

Reasons to buy

+
Great for astronomy
+
Lightweight
+
Tripod adaptable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not good for spectacle wearers
-
Poor objective lens caps
-
Bk7 glass
Buy if:

You're a beginner astronomer: If you've already owned a pair of binoculars these won't be impressive, but they're great for newcomers.

You want to share views: The UpClose G2 are tripod adaptable, lock on to your target and share the view with friends or children.

Don't buy if:

You want something mainly for astro: If you want something for astronomy specifically, you'll likely want a better quality pair that will give better views.

You wear spectacles: The 12mm eye-relief is not suitable for glasses wearers.

The bottom line:

🔎 Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 Binocular: Great for a entry-level pair, they would be a good choice for astronomy groups on a budget ★★★★½

We've crowned the Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 binoculars as the best budget binoculars overall thanks to their fantastic optics, which are ideal for newcomers to astronomy. Their 10x magnification is perfect for offering a wide field of view for scanning the star clusters of the Milky Way, and the 50mm objective lenses let in enough light to make night-time viewing a truly enjoyable experience.

The optical system is made up of Porro prisms and multi-coated lenses, and in our Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 binoculars review we were very impressed by the bright images and lack of chromatic aberration. We think you'd be hard pushed to find a better pair of binoculars for stargazing at this price point. In our tests, we were able to get excellent views of the Pleiades star cluster, along with Jupiter and its giant moons, and even the planet Uranus. If you've never stargazed through binoculars before, we think this pair will definitely give you the 'wow' factor.

Of course, as a budget pair, some compromises have been made. They have a fairly basic build of aluminum with a matte rubber covering, making them water-resistant and able to withstand light rain showers, but they lack the nitrogen purging that you'll find on more expensive models. The static eyecups also only offer 12mm of eye relief, so they're not ideal for glasses-wearers. But if you're in the market for an entry-level pair, we still think these are an excellent option for beginner stargazers.

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AttributesNotes
DesignBasic no-frills design
PerformanceA pleasingly low amount of chromatic aberration
FunctionalityA good entry-level pair for general use

Best for detail

Best for seeing detail: The huge magnification and large objective make them a great choice for astronomy newcomers

Specifications

Magnification: 12x
Objective lens diameter: 60mm
Angular field of view: 5.3-degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: BaK-4
Eye relief: 17mm
Weight: 39.2 oz (1.1 kg)
Guarantee: Limited lifetime

Reasons to buy

+
Great light transmission
+
Deep sky astronomy is possible
+
Suitable for glasses wearers

Reasons to avoid

-
Large and heavy
-
Tripod is required
-
The supplied neckstrap is poor (thin)
Buy if:

You want to stargaze with them: The huge aperture drinks in loads of light and can be used for deep sky astronomy.

You wear spectacles: The generous 17mm eye relief is comfortable for glasses wearers.

Don't buy if:

You don't want to buy a tripod: The 12x magnification will also magnify any wobble by that amount, you'll need a tripod to enjoy still views.

You want something lightweight: These binos are huge and weigh over 2.2 lb / 1kg.

The bottom line:

🔎 Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 Binocular: A great value pair of astronomy-friendly binoculars. The tripod adapter is especially welcome given the high magnification. ★★★★½

If you're a glasses-wearer or able to spend a little bit more, the Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 offer many advantages and would be a worthy upgrade for anyone looking to enter into the world of stargazing or observe birds and other wildlife. The optics are made up of high-quality BaK-4 glass, which is an improvement on the BK-7 glass found in many cheaper pairs, and offer clear and bright views thanks to the multi-coating. They also have a generous 17mm of eye relief with fold-up eyecups, so they're easily compatible with spectacles.

In our Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 review we were very impressed by the build quality on these binoculars. They come with a rubber coating that has pimples where your hands rest to aid with grip. The only downside is that they are a bit big and heavy for carrying around with you, but you can mount them to a tripod to set yourself up for longer viewing sessions — something we'd strongly advise since the large 12x magnification will increase the effect of shakes when using them handheld.

The advantage of this level of magnification is that they offer very detailed views and work extremely well for astronomy. We were able to view Jupiter and the four moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. The color rendition is generally very accurate, with little in the way of chromatic aberration, and the 60mm lenses allow them to soak in lots of light for night-time viewing. If you're looking for binoculars that can offer a high level of detail, then we have no trouble recommending these as they offer excellent specs for the money.

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Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 Binocular
AttributesNotes
DesignExcellent build quality
PerformanceSuitable for astronomy
FunctionalityGenerous 17mm eye relief, tripod mount

Best for stargazing

Best for handheld stargazing: This inexpensive pair of binoculars are great for viewing the stars without a tripod

Specifications

Magnification: 7x
Objective lens diameter: 50mm
Angular field of view: 6.8-degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: BK7
Eye relief: 13mm
Weight: 27.3 oz (774 g)
Guarantee: Limited lifetime

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money
+
Wide exit pupil

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof
-
Less desirable, BK7 glass
-
Just 13mm eye-relief
Buy if:

You're on a tight budget: For a full-sized pair of binos, you won't find much cheaper than this pair.

You don't need anything fancy: These binos will get you closer to the action; if that is all you need them for, they are a perfectly reasonable option.

Don't buy if:

You want the best quality glass: This pair uses the inferior BK7 glass that means the edges will appear more blurred than if BaK-4 glass was used, though for the price, we can't complain.

You will use them around water: They are water resistant, so fine in light rain, but nothing more.

The bottom line:

🔎 Celestron Cometron 7x50 Binocular: If you are looking for a very inexpensive way to enjoy skywatching, you can't argue with the Celestron's Cometron 7x50. ★★★★

In our Celestron Cometron 7x50 review, we called these binoculars 'remarkable value for money'. It's two years since our review, but we still stand by that — and there's been little movement in the market that makes these binos any less of a bargain.

The Celestron Cometron 7x50 binoculars have large 50mm objective lenses and sport a 7x magnification. Granted, it's not the largest magnification on this list, but it's large enough to provide excellent views of wildlife and events — even for stargazing, it's a fantastic introduction. The benefit of these binoculars not being too overpowered is that you won't need a tripod to get steady, wobble-free views, either.

The Celestron Cometron 7x50 binoculars have a Porro Prism design, which is perfect for astronomy — although you can, of course, use these binos in the daytime too, whether you're spotting wildlife or getting closer to sporting action. 

The downside is that the Cometron binoculars use BK7 glass rather than the superior BaK-4. This is not surprising given the budget price point, but it does mean you might get a slightly fuzzier edge on your images rather than a perfectly shaped disk of light.

Still, the glass is multicoated, offering reductions in reflections and sharp images, and the binoculars are water-resistant, which will protect them against the odd splash or light rainfall. (We should note that they are not waterproof, however, so we wouldn't recommend using these near a body of water where they might fall in). 

Overall, the Celestron Cometron 7x50 binoculars aren't perfect, but their price point makes them the ideal budget pair, whether you're a beginner or just watching the purse strings. 

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Celestron Cometron 7x50
AttributesNotes
DesignBasic, porro-prism
PerformanceGood for celestial and terrestrial viewing
FunctionalityWide FOV, short eye-relief

Best for portability

Best pocketable binos: The Occers offer optics that perform surprisingly well considering their small size and price

Specifications

Magnification: 12x
Objective lens diameter: 25mm
Angular field of view: 273-degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: BaK-4
Eye relief: 15mm
Weight: 8.8 oz (249g)
Guarantee: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Foldable eyecups
+
Wide field of view
+
Feels robust in the hand

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof
-
No lens caps
-
Short eye relief
Buy if:

You want a pocketable pair: This pair weighs only 249g and fits perfectly in your hand, making them easy to carry on walks, to sporting events, and to concerts, so you never miss a moment.

You want a wide field of view: Great for covering large areas such as fields or savannas.

Don't buy if:

You need something waterproof: These binoculars are fine for use in light showers but not for heavier rain.

You want something for astro: The 25mm objective lens diameter is half what we'd recommend for astronomy.

The bottom line:

🔎 Occer 12x25 compact binoculars: Ideal for keeping in your pocket day-to-day. They're surprisingly good quality and provide great views given the low price. ★★★½

For beginners who care about portability, the Occer 12x25 binoculars are a great choice. Without breaking the bank, they offer a high-quality experience and will hardly take up any space. They're perfect for traveling with or simply slipping in your bag when you're out and about.

The Occer 12x25 binoculars sport high-quality BaK-4 multi-coated lenses, which give users sharp images and beautiful, accurate colors. In our Occer 12x25 compact binoculars review we praised their image quality: Notably, they had less chromatic aberration (i.e. color fringing) than the Celestron Outland X 10x42 which are almost double the price.

The Occer 12x25 binoculars are great to hold, too, thanks to their non-slip rubber coating. They're comfortable to grip, even for larger hands, which is great given their small size.

We've found the focus wheel, neatly in the center of the Occer 12x25 binoculars to be very easy to use. Focusing is a breeze, and we've been able to find our target quickly and comfortably. The eye cups are very comfortable — they're made of soft rubber and are foldable, allowing you to adjust them to your needs or preferences. 

Adding extra value, you'll get a neck strap bundled with the Occer 12x25 binoculars. As basic as it sounds, it's a very useful addition that protects them when in use, stopping accidental drops. There's also a carry pouch to keep them safe when they're not in use, but we should note that there are no lens caps included.

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Occer 12x25 compact binoculars
AttributesNotes
Design Lots of grip, portable
PerformanceBright and colorful views, minimal chromatic aberration
FunctionalityWide FOV, pocketable

Best for young observers

Best for young observers: The Opticron Adventurer's are tough, durable, waterproof

Specifications

Magnification: 8x
Objective lens diameter: 42mm
Angular field of view: 7.5-degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: BaK-4
Eye relief: 18mm
Weight: 22 oz (623 g)
Guarantee: 2 years

Reasons to buy

+
Great value binoculars
+
BaK-4 glass
+
Waterproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Reasonably heavy
-
Poor close focus
Buy if:

You want top-quality glass: They utilize top-quality BaK-4 glass that is fully multi-coated.

You wear spectacles: These binos have a generous 18mm eye relief, allowing glasses wearers to enjoy the entire field of view.

Don't buy if:

You want something to use in your garden: The close 5m focus is below par for backyard bird and bug watching.

You want the 'wow' factor: Though there's nothing particularly 'wrong' with them, they are an average pair of binos.

The bottom line:

🔎 Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x42: A good choice as a general-purpose binocular, and perform well for astronomy ★★★

We've chosen the Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x42 binoculars specifically as the best budget binoculars for younger users. Normally, we'd recommend the 10x50 alternatives, but the 8x42 specification makes these binos lighter and smaller while still providing great magnification and a good amount of light-gathering power.

That's not to say they're not worth purchasing if you're an adult: No matter your age, this is a solid pair of binoculars that makes a great starting point if you're on a budget. In our Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x42 review we praised their value for money, whether you're using these binoculars for spotting wildlife or observing the night sky.

Given the price point of the Opticron Adventurer binos, they have some great specifications. They have a Porro prism design, high-quality BaK-4 glass, and fully multi-coated lenses. Even better, they're waterproof, resistant to dew, and wrapped with protective rubber armor — perfect for children who are prone to dropping and knocking them. They also come with a neck strap, lens covers, and a carrying case to keep them safe when they're not in use. 

These binoculars are a particularly good choice for astronomy, although they're versatile enough to be used in the daytime, too. Given their price and wealth of features, they're a great choice for children — but also great for adult beginners on a budget.

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Opticron Adventurer T WP 8x42 Binocular
AttributesNotes
DesignDurable coating
PerformanceGood for astronomy, not great for nearby subjects
FunctionalityNarrow FOV, long eye-relief

Best for newcomers

Best for newcomers — a great choice if you're starting your stargazing journey

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 50mm
Angular field of view: 6.5 degrees
Optical design: Porro prism
Glass: BaK-4
Eye relief: 11.8mm
Weight: 31.7 oz / 899g
Guarantee: Lifetime warranty

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money
+
Good optics
+
Wide field of view

Reasons to avoid

-
Not good for spectacle wearers
-
Some chromatic aberration
-
Not clear across entire field of view
Buy if:

You want an affordable means of stargazing: If you want to get a closer look at the night sky from home without breaking the bank, these will serve you well.

You want to share views: They are tripod adaptable so more than one person can see the same view without re-finding and focusing.

Don't buy if:

You wear glasses: The eye relief is just 11.8mm so glasses wearers would really struggle to see the entire field of view.

There's very limited space in your backpack: The porro prism design takes up more room than a roof prism pair.

The bottom line:

🔎 Nikon 10x50 Aculon A211: These are a good option if you're just looking for a basic pair of binoculars that you won't expect too much from ★★★

While there are one or two downsides, the Nikon Aculon A211 offers fantastic value, and we think they'd make excellent binoculars for a beginner. Their 10x magnification is ideal for astronomy (as long as you can keep them stable), and with excellent performance, they provide some great views of the night sky.

If you're a regular user of binoculars, you'll likely notice some of the shortfalls of the Nikon Aculon A211s, or at the very least where shortcuts have been made to keep the price down. But if you're fairly new to observing the night sky or wildlife watching through binoculars, you're unlikely to notice. Casual users will find these binoculars to be very comfortable to use, and almost all users will find their views to be pleasing.

Nikon has opted to use top-quality BaK-4 glass in these binos, which is great. The 50mm objective lenses let in a lot of light at night. The 6.5-degree field of view is ideal for observing starfields and nebula, though expect to see some image blur at the outer edge.

If you're planning on taking your binoculars out on hikes, you'll probably want to consider a roof prism pair. This porro prism design, despite being better for creating a brighter image, will take up more room in your backpack.

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Nikon 10x50 Aculon A211
AttributesNotes
DesignNicely designed with a few quality shortcuts
PerformanceFine if you don't expect too much
FunctionalityNo good for glasses wearers

Best for adventurers

Vortex Optics Copperhead HD Binoculars

Best for outdoor adventures — they are waterproof, shockproof and fogproof

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 42 mm
Angular field of view: 6.4-degrees
Optical design: Roof prism
Glass: HD glass (no rating)
Eye relief: 17mm
Weight: 22.9oz / 649g
Guarantee: Lifetime warranty

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money
+
Good optics
+
Wide field of view

Reasons to avoid

-
Some chromatic aberration
-
Not clear across entire field of view
Buy if:

You will take them across adventurous terrains: They are designed to withstand the highest impacts

You like getting value for money: Impressive specs coupled with a lifetime warranty is attractive

Don't buy if:

You don't want to buy from a company associated with hunting: The company's focus is very much on hunting and shooting

You want only the best image: Though we have yet to complete a full review, there have been user reports of blurred edges and some chromatic aberration.

The bottom line:

🔎 Vortex Optics Copperhead HD 10x42: Great if you need a rugged and reliable pair out in the field ★★★★

Costing in the region of $150, the specs of the Vortex Optics Copperhead HD binoculars are seriously impressive. They've been designed to be used in the outdoors and have been made to withstand all types of terrains and conditions. If you're the type of person who goes exploring off the beaten path a lot, these binoculars are worth your consideration.

They have tough rubber armor to provide users with a secure and non-slip grip, though should an accident happen, they have been designed to withstand high impact. They are also waterproof (though we can't find their waterproof rating) and nitrogen-purged to prevent fogging. In other words, you can use them in all temperatures without waiting for the lenses to clear.

We've not yet been able to review the Copperhead HD 10x42 binoculars properly, but their 10x magnification combined with a 42mm lens diameter is more than adequate for gazing at the stars. We're not sure we'd call them a dedicated pair of astronomy binoculars, though: More of a solid all-rounder. 

So whether you're viewing nature, watching wildlife or gazing at the moon, these binoculars would be a good buy that shouldn't disappoint for their price point.

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Vortex Optics Copperhead HD 10x42
AttributesNotes
DesignRoof prism, compact
PerformanceGood for general observers
FunctionalityWaterproof, shockproof, nitrogen purged

Best lightweight durable pair

Bushnell H2O product photo

The Bushnell H20 are built with aircraft-grade aluminum.  (Image credit: Amazon)

Bushnell H2O 10x42

Best lightweight and durable pair — aircraft grade aluminum and protective rubber protect the quality optics

Specifications

Magnification: 10x
Objective lens diameter: 42 mm
Angular field of view: 6.4-degrees
Optical design: Roof prism
Glass: BaK-4
Eye relief: 17mm
Weight: 22.2 oz / 629 g
Guarantee: 20-year warranty

Reasons to buy

+
Durable design
+
Waterproof
+
Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Image quality isn't great
-
Not ideal for astronomy
Buy if:

You'll use them around water: Accidents happen, but with the Bushnell H2O range you can rest easy knowing they are IPX7-rated.

You're buying for a child: These binos are very durable and will withstand knocks and drops; they're light, too.

Don't buy if:

Your main discipline is astrophotography: These are best for terrestrial observing.

You want outstanding image quality: Though durable, the image quality isn't the best; if you're looking for amazing optics, you'll be disappointed.

The bottom line:

🔎 Bushnell H2O 10x42 are a lightweight but hardy pair of binoculars that produce good images thanks to the high quality glass and fully-multicoated lenses.

You can really put the Bushnell H2O through its paces if you want to. This hardy pair of binoculars boasts an IPX7 waterproof rating (hence the 'H2O' in its name) and can withstand submersion in water up to one meter deep for up to 30 minutes without getting damaged. You can also rest assured that they'll survive in foggy conditions and harsh weather.

Their lightweight aluminum body makes them light to hold while also giving them highly protective armor, and, coupled with the non-slip rubber texture, they offer a secure grip to their user, too. They're seriously comfortable to hold, and as a result, they are amongst the lightest pairs of binoculars on this list.

But it's not just their comfort and durability that make the Bushnell H2O binoculars stand out. They feature BAK-4 glass, and the lenses are fully multi-coated to enhance the contrast and provide the user with true-to-life color. The minimum focusing distance is 11.18 feet (3.6 m), which might be short enough to use in your backyard to watch birds and bugs, depending on the size of your garden. The image isn't amazing, but 'good enough' for getting closer to the action.

Bushnell believes in this product so much that they offer a 20-year product warranty, where they will repair or replace the binoculars if they should fail.

It's worth pointing out that we've seen these binoculars with a discount of around 50% at special deal events like Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday, so if you're considering buying them it might be worth waiting for a sale.

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Bushnell H2O 10x42
AttributesNotes
DesignPorro prism, rugged exterior
PerformanceTop optics for true-to-color views
FunctionalityLightweight, waterproof

Best budget binoculars: Frequently Asked Questions

Which are the best budget binoculars?

We think the Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 binoculars are great for those on a budget; you will struggle to find a different pair that strikes the balance between quality and affordability as these do. Though they don't have the best glass, the large objective lenses and 10x magnification make them a great choice for budding astronomers. They are a perfect entry-level pair from a trusted optics brand.

Who makes the best cheap binoculars?

We think Celestron make the best cheap binoculars because they have such a wide range of binoculars at different price points. That makes it appealing for observers no matter your budget.

What is the best binocular under $200?

If you're happy to spend a bit more we think the Nikon 10x50 Aculon A211 are a fantastic pair of binoculars under $200. However, if you wear eyeglasses then try them out before buying because they don't have a huge amount of eye relief.

What is the best binocular under $100?

We recommend the Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 as the best binocular under $100 and the best budget binocular overall due to their low price, light weight and their surprising stargazing ability. 

I struggle to hold binoculars steady, what should I do?

1. Get a comfortable, firm grip on the binoculars
2. Tuck your elbows into your body, preferably against the ribcage or place them on something stationary like a wall or fence.
3. Use a tripod with a binocular mount for prolonged use with heavier binoculars (check the binoculars are tripod-compatible before purchase). On this list, the Celestron UpClose G2 10x50 and the Celestron SkyMaster 12x60 are both tripod compatible.

We also have a full guide on How to Hold Binoculars Steady.
 

What features should I look for in budget binocular?

A few key features to look for in budget binoculars are:

1. Balance affordability and quality.

2. Magnifications of 7x to 10x are generally the best for skywatching. Objective lenses should be 50mm and larger for astronomy.

3. Porro prisms and BaK-4 glass are best for stargazing. 

4. Check binoculars are tripod adaptable if you suffer from shakey views.

5. If you wear spectacles, you'll need something with long eye-relief, 17mm or above.

How we test the best budget binoculars

To guarantee you're getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best binoculars for kids to buy here at Space.com we make sure to put every binocular through a rigorous review to fully test each instrument. Each binocular designed for kids is reviewed based on a multitude of aspects, from its construction and design, to how well it functions as an optical instrument and its performance in the field.

Each pair of binoculars is carefully tested by either our expert staff or knowledgeable freelance contributors who know their subject areas in depth. This ensures fair reviewing is backed by personal, hands-on experience with each binocular and is judged based on its price point, class and destined use.

We look at how easy they are to operate, whether eye relief can be adjusted for spectacles wearer if a binocular comes with appropriate accessories or carry bags and also make suggestions if a particular set of binos would benefit from any additional kit to give you the best viewing experience possible.

With complete editorial independence, Space.com are here to ensure you get the best buying advice on binoculars for kids, whether you should purchase an instrument or not, making our buying guides and reviews reliable and transparent.