Whether it’s a rare bird, a mature buck or marine life, sometimes getting closer for a better view just isn’t an option. This is where a pair of binoculars come in handy. But how much are you willing to spend on a pair of binos.
If you are like me then $300 is probably the most you are willing to spend on a pair of binoculars. Which isn’t a problem since some of the best binoculars out there cost less than $300. That being said, join me as I take a closer look at some of the best binoculars under 300.
What you want to use the binoculars for will obviously matter. Meaning that the best hunting binocular under 300 isn’t necessarily the best birding binocular under 300. So while choosing a binocular is quite easy, there are a few things you need to know first.
Here are my top 8 picks of the best binoculars under 300. Each of these binoculars is suited to different environments and applications. With that in mind, let’s get straight into the reviews.
The Best Binoculars Under 300
Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42 Binocular
The brand behind some of the best cameras on the market is also behind one of the best 8X42 binoculars under $300. But a good reputation doesn’t always equate to a high-quality product. Fortunately, in the case of the Monarch 5, it does.
High-quality ED glass
The term ED glass is one that you will see plastered on the descriptions of most high-end binos. This type of glass helps minimize color fringing that causes images to appear blurry. Thus you can expect a sharp and clear image quality even in high contrast environments.
It is rare to find ED glass in the Monarch 5’s price point. This puts it on a league of its own when compared to other similarly priced products. It also means the picture quality of this binocular is stunning.
Excellent fully multi-coated optics
All the lens and prism surfaces of this binoculars have multiple layers of coating that improve light transmission. The result to more light reaching your eyes, which in turn translates to brighter picture quality. This is another feature that is rare in binoculars under the $300 price point.
Away from its excellent optical performance, the Monarch 5 is also very well built. Its entire body is wrapped in a non-slip rubber material. This means you can use it in any kind of weather and it can also withstand day to day abuse.
- Considering its features it's under $300 price tag is a bargain
- Comes with optical features found in more expensive binos
- It is a compact and lightweight binocular weighing about 21 ounces
- It is 100% waterproof, fog proof and shockproof
- Comes with a strap and a carrying case
- The rear eyepiece covers tend to fall off and don’t stay in place
- Doesn’t have the best field of view
- Fully multi-coated eco-glass lenses
- Central focus knob
- Turn-and-slide rubber eyecups
- 42mm objective lens
- 8X magnification
- Roof prism design
Not many binoculars can give you the kind of value for money offered by this Monarch 5. While it is not without its flaws, it is to be expected given its price tag. And with its 25-year warranty, you can trust the quality of construction.
Vortex Optics Diamondback Roof Prism Binoculars
My search for outdoor adventures and wildlife watching led me to the Vortex Diamondback Roof prism binoculars. I found it to be surprisingly lightweight and compact given its 12x magnification and 50 mm objective lens.
One of the things I love about the Diamondback series of binoculars is how rugged they feel. This pair of binoculars has a rugged rubber armor that protects it from the occasional knocks and bumps. It is also waterproof, fog proof and shockproof.
Fully multi-coated lens surfaces
Objects appear crystal-clear and bright even in low light. This is thanks to the binoculars’ fully-multi-coated optics. With all optics being fully multi-coated you get increased light transmission and thus brighter images.
Smooth turning focus knob
In between the binos’ two eye cups is a central focus knob. This focus knob is quite large and I able to turn it with or without gloves on. More importantly, it has just the right amount of stiffness to keep me from bumping it out of focus.
- Can be used in different weather conditions thanks to its rugged construction
- Being a roof prism it is easier to carry than a traditional porro prism binocular
- It is offered at a relatively affordable price tag given its features
- Included in the package are a carrying case and a padded neck strap
- Has a poor field of view compared to other similarly priced binos
- It is quite bulky compared to other binoculars in the diamondback series
- Phase corrected roof prism
- Fully-multi-coated optics
- O-ring sealed for waterproofing
- Adjustable twist-up eyecups
- A large center focus wheel
- 12x magnification
- 50mm objective lens
The 10X50 variant is the largest binocular in the Diamondback series. And similar to its siblings it offers great value for money. For outdoor enthusiasts, you will love how rugged and durable it feels. Thus, while it doesn’t have a large field of view it is among the most top rated binoculars under $300.
Upland Optics Perception HD 10x42mm Hunting Binoculars
In recent times I have been introduced to a number of new binocular brands one of which is Upland Optics. I got introduced to the company when I had the opportunity to test one of its products, the Perception HD 10x42 hunting binoculars.
Adjustable twist-up eyecups
A lot of cheap binoculars use folding rubber eyecups. However, much to my delight the Perception HD 10x42 is not one of them. They feature twist-up eyecups. In regards to the main eye-piece, it felt almost metallic as opposed to plastic.
The twisting mechanism of the eye-cups feels great with just the right amount of resistance. A 17.2mm eye relief means they are able to accommodate glass-wearers.
Exceptional optical performance
It is not clear whether Upland Optics used fully multi-coated optics on this binocular, but I loved the optical performance. A sharp image quality and relative brightness are what you get. The use of ED glass is something I was impressed with.
As already stated not many binoculars in this price range have ED glass. And being that Upland Optics is a relatively new entrant it’s nice to see them offering quality.
One of the things that makes them suited for hunting is how lightweight they are. Compared to other 10x42mm roof prism binoculars they are quite lightweight. As they weigh about 22.2 ounces.
- They use high-quality Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass
- The lenses feature a reflective coating for improved light transmission
- Weighing 22.2 ounces they are lightweight
- Are fully sealed and thus 100% waterproof
- Are filled with nitrogen to make them fog proof
- They have a rather dull design
- The lens caps are not of the best quality
- 10x optical zoom
- 42mm objective lens
- Extra-low Dispersion glass lens
- 17.2 mm eye relief
- Magnesium chassis
- Soft carry case included
There is little information on this binoculars online. However, based on what I saw it is worth a try. It is offered at a relatively lower price than other similar products. Also, it feels very rugged and has a decent field of view compared to other industry leaders. In particular, its 339 ft field of view is better than that of the Nikon Monarch.
Nikon 7577 MONARCH 5 10x42 Binocular
Slightly pricier than the 8X42 variant the Monarch 5 10x42 has almost the same features as its cheaper brother. A re-imagining of the Monarch ATB, this is newer version has plenty to offer. And maintain some of the things that made the ATB a favorite of many.
Lightweight polycarbonate body
At its price point, we shouldn’t expect an aluminum or magnesium body. Instead what we get is a polycarbonate chassis reinforced with fiberglass. The combination of these two materials creates a sturdy and durable chassis that is also lightweight.
The binoculars weigh about 21 ounces and you are unlikely to experience fatigue due to the lengthy holding of the binocular.
Phase-corrected roof prisms
Being that it is a roof prism bino it features a dielectric coating on its glass surfaces. While its prisms are phase-corrected. This helps reduce reflection of light while improving light transmission. Similar to the other Monarch 5 you get a clear and bright picture quality.
Protective eyecups and lens cups
When you are out and about there is always the danger of water or mud to get sprayed onto your objective lens or eyecups when you have your binoculars hanging from your neck. This is not something to worry about as this bino feature protective one-piece ocular rain guard.
- Has fully multicoated optics which improve light transmission
- Use Extra-low Dispersion glass for improved picture quality
- Weighing 21 ounces it is a lightweight pair of binoculars
- It is eco-friendly as it is lead and arsenic free
- The binocular is waterproof and fog proof
- Has a poor field of view compared to other similar binoculars
- The lens covers tend to be larger than the binocular and may fall off when walking
- Extra-low Dispersion glass
- Fully-multicoated eco-glass lenses
- Smooth turning central focus knob
- Rubber eye-cups
- 10x magnification
- 42mm objective lens
The Nikon Monarchs have always been exceptional optical tools. The features you get from these binoculars are high-end. This Monarch 5 variant has what it takes to be considered one of the best 10x42 binoculars under 300.
Athlon Optics Midas Roof Prism UHD Binoculars
Athlon’s Midas roof prism binoculars are some of the most affordable on the market. But what exactly do these binoculars offer? And why are they so popular. While all binoculars under the Midas brand name are exceptional, there is something extra special about the 8x42 version.
Rugged and lightweight construction
The 8X42 variant costs slightly less than $300. Ideally, you would expect a polycarbonate chassis. However, this is not what you get with the Midas 8X42. Instead, Athlon opted for magnesium as their material of choice.
Magnesium is both lightweight and durable. It is not common to find binoculars within this price range sporting a magnesium body. Which puts the Midas 8x42 on a special class. In terms of weight, it weighs a meager 25 ounces.
Enhanced spectrum prism coating
Being a roof prism binocular the prism surfaces need to be coated. An enhanced spectrum dielectric coating covers the surface of the prism. This coating enhances light transmission for brighter and clearer image quality.
External protective lens coating
To protect the outer surfaces of the lenses from mud, dust, and oil there is an extra protective layer of coating. This protective layer comes in handy when you are using the binoculars outdoors.
- Has fully multicoated optics
- Has a generously wide field of view of 426 ft at 1000 yards
- Comes with a generous eye relief of 17.2mm
- Image brightness is great thanks to the optics being fully multicoated
- Offers great edge to edge image sharpness for its price
- The focus knob is rather stiff and produces a distracting noise on adjustment
- No side strap included with the product
- ESP Dielectric prism multilayer coating
- Fully multicoated lenses
- Argon purged interior
- 17.2mm eye relief
- 42mm objective lens
- 8x magnification
When we talk about the best compact binoculars under $300, the Midas 8X42 should always be on the list. It is very well made and offers features commonly found in pricier models. Also, it is a company binocular, thus is easy to carry.
Steiner Model 575 Marine 7x50 Binoculars
The Steiner Model 575 marine binocular has quite an interesting design. Designed for viewing marine life, it is a fantastic piece of optical hardware. And I am a big fan, and here is why.
Large objective lens
Most binoculars in the under $300 price range sport a 42mm objective lens, not the Steiner Model. The latter comes with a big 50mm objective lens that offers exceptional brightness. I have used this binocular in low light, and its picture quality is awesome.
What makes this binocular ideal for marine life viewing is its sports-auto-focus feature. This keeps it in focus at all times from 20 yards to infinity. What I love most about it is that you can view objects in motion without having to play around with the focus.
Rugged non-slip construction
Polycarbonate housing ensures it can withstand normal abuses. This housing is further reinforced with rubber armor. This rubber exterior absorbs shock and offers a non-slip grip.
- Offers exceptional image clarity and field of vision
- The entire unit is waterproof up to a depth of 10 meters
- Has a rubber exterior for a good non-slip grip
- Comes with an amazing autofocus feature for viewing objects in motion
- Performs well even in low light
- Weighing 36 ounces it is a rather heavy unit
- The unit is also large and comes with a small strap
- 7x magnification
- 50mm objective lens
- Floating prism system with silicone lens mounts
- 100% waterproof up to a depth of 10 meters
- Sports autofocus
- 356ft at 1000 yards field of view
These binoculars are built for marine use. They have all the features you will need for viewing marine life. While they are not the most lightweight, their sports-auto-focus feature makes things a bit easier.
Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars with ED Glass
My first impression of the Carson 3D 10x42 binocular was that it has a design similar to that of the Athlon Midas. Which is always a good start. Similar to the Midas, the Carson 3D is a binocular brand made up of high quality yet affordable binos. The 10x42 variant is one of my favorites.
Extra-low Dispersion glass for detailed images
As already stated ED or Extra-low Dispersion glass is not something you find in most mid-range binoculars. The Carson 3D 10x42 is not like most mid-range binoculars though. With its ED glass, you get a more detailed view of your target with no color fringing.
Extra-low eye relief
The 16mm eye relief of this binocular is standard and allows eyeglass wearers to use it without having to remove their glasses. Thus, those who wear glasses can get the same detailed view the rest of us enjoy.
Unique high-quality case
Most binoculars come with a carrying case to keep your product safe when not in use. The Carson 3D is one of those binoculars. However, the case you get is not your average case. It wraps around the binoculars’ optics.
Thus you can use it while it’s still inside the case.
- Offers sharp and crystal clear images even in low light
- Comes with a tripod adapter for mounting onto a tripod
- Has internal O-rings to prevent moisture for entering
- Thanks to its long eye relief it is comfortable for glass wearers
- Has a unique and easy to secure packaging
- Has neck straps and shoulder harness for easy carrying
- The tripod is sold separately
- Switching between the shoulder harness and the next strap can be difficult
- 42mm objective lens
- 10x magnification
- Extra-low Dispersion glass lens
- Exterior rubber armor
- 16mm eye relief
- 314ft at 1000 yards field of view
- Fully-multicoated optics
One of the best binoculars under 300 pounds has to be the Carson 3D 10x42. With a compact and lightweight body, it makes a great binocular for outdoor enthusiasts. The unique carrying case doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I think it adds a touch of uniqueness to the product.
Celestron 71380 Granite Series 9x33 Roof Prism Binocular
The Celestron Granite 8x42 was crowned the best binocular of 2013. Celestron followed up the success of the 8x42 with the launch of the 9x33. And I was eager to see how the 9x33 compares to the award-winning 8x42 Granite variant.
Magnesium body with rubber armor
Out of the box, the Celestron Granite 9x33 felt very well made. The housing has a rubber material covering it which gives it a cool finish. As far as I can tell the chassis is made of a magnesium alloy. This means it is lightweight while at the same time durable.
Metallic eyepiece and eyecups
It is common to see plastic eye cups on low budget optics. Thankfully for us, Celestron opted for metal instead. The metallic eye-cup housing feels more robust than that of some other offerings on the market. Covering the metal casing is a considerably thick rubber material, which adds to the premium feel of the unit.
Exceptional optical performance
Similar to some of the other entrants on my list, this Celestron model is packed with high-end optical features. For starters, you get tested and proven Extra-low Dispersion glass lens and fully multicoated optics.
These two combine to offer a clear and sharp image quality. Brightness is also enhanced by the fully multicoated optics.
- Weighing 20.1 ounces they are very lightweight
- Phase correction prism coating improves light transmission and thus image brightness
- The binoculars are waterproof
- Use the high-quality Bak-4 prism glass
- Has a decent field of view of 378 ft at 1000 yards
- Comes with fully multi-coated optics
- The 2.5 m close focus distance could be better
- The eye relief is a bit disappointing compared to that of other similarly priced products
- 378ft at 1000 yards field of view
- Fully multi-coated optics
- Phase correction prism coating
- 14.1mm eye relief
- Twist-up eyecups
- 9x magnification
- 33mm objective lens
When it comes to the best binoculars under 300 UK, this Celestron Granite model is right up there with the best. It offers great value for money. And has features common in high-end models. With its excellent field of view, it can be a great companion for a safari or camping.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Which binocular is best for hunting?
Answer: Hunting is an activity that requires you to span a large area for long periods of time. Therefore the best binocular for hunting is one with a wide field of view. In this case, I would have to go with the Athlon Midas 8x42 due to its 412 ft at 1000 yards field of view.
Question: which is the best binocular for birding?
Answer: Birding, on the other hand, is an activity where attention to detail is crucial. You will want to get up close and personal with the birds you are watching. In this regard, I would have to go with the Monarch 5 8x42.
Its optical quality is exceptional and its close focus distance of 2.5m lets you get up close and personal. The Vortex Diamondback 10x50 can also be ideal for birding were it not for its 7ft close focus distance.
Question: which is the best binocular for marine?
Answer: The oddly shaped Steiner model 575 tops my list of the best binocular for marine. It is designed to be used on water bodies thanks to it being waterproof up to 10 meters deep. Its auto-focus feature lets you view objects in motion.
Question: Which is better a Porro or a roof prism binocular?
Answer: Roof prism binoculars tend to be costlier due to them being more compact and lightweight. Also, they have more complex optical systems hence why they are costlier. Porro prism binoculars are simple and cost less to manufacture.
Thus, some of the best binoculars under 100 are Porro prism binoculars. When it comes to affordability, Porro prism binoculars win. But roof prism binos outshine their counterparts in optical performance.
The market is flooded with all kinds of glasses with some being marketed as the best binoculars under 200. And due to manufacturers mass producing them, you can end up with a pair of binoculars that aren’t worth a penny.
The thing to remember when shopping for binoculars is what you intend to use it for. For hunting field of view will be crucial. While for birding a close focus distance will be important. The above-reviewed products fit the needs of birdwatchers, and hunters alike.