Best Binoculars Under 300 – Ranked and Reviewed (Nikon, Vanguard, Bushnell, Vortex)


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Are you searching for the best binoculars under 300? This is a budget-friendly price range so it might seem extraordinarily tough to find the best unit for your needs. There are so many factors to consider like the magnification, field of view, and water-resistance.

We’ll help you sort things out so you can choose wisely. This is through objective reviews that include features, pros, and cons of some of the top models on the market. We’ll also share some key features to take up when buying new binoculars.  

Product Name
Celestron 71380 Granite Series 9x33
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD M-Series ED Binocular
Best Choice
Nikon Monarch 5
Vanguard Endeavor ED
Vortex Optics Diamondback
Preview
Celestron 71380 Granite Series 9x33 Roof Prism Binocular (Black)
Bushnell Legend M Series 10x42 Binoculars, Black
Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42 Binocular (Black)
VANGUARD Endeavor ED 10x42 Binocular, ED Glass, Waterproof/Fogproof, Black (ENDEAVOR ED 1042)
Vortex Optics Diamondback Roof Prism Binoculars 10x42
Weight
32 Oz
16 Oz
48 Oz
26 Oz
22 Oz
Magnification
9x33
10x42
8x42
10x42
10x42
Lens
ED glass
RainGuard HD coating
Fully Multicoated Eco-Glass Lenses
ED glass
Dialectic, fully multi-coated
FOV
378 ft
340 ft
330 ft
340 ft
330 ft
Water Resistance
Product Name
Celestron 71380 Granite Series 9x33
Preview
Celestron 71380 Granite Series 9x33 Roof Prism Binocular (Black)
Weight
32 Oz
Magnification
9x33
Lens
ED glass
FOV
378 ft
Water Resistance
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Product Name
Bushnell Legend Ultra HD M-Series ED Binocular
Preview
Bushnell Legend M Series 10x42 Binoculars, Black
Weight
16 Oz
Magnification
10x42
Lens
RainGuard HD coating
FOV
340 ft
Water Resistance
Buy Now
Best Choice
Product Name
Nikon Monarch 5
Preview
Nikon 7576 MONARCH 5 8x42 Binocular (Black)
Weight
48 Oz
Magnification
8x42
Lens
Fully Multicoated Eco-Glass Lenses
FOV
330 ft
Water Resistance
Buy Now
Product Name
Vanguard Endeavor ED
Preview
VANGUARD Endeavor ED 10x42 Binocular, ED Glass, Waterproof/Fogproof, Black (ENDEAVOR ED 1042)
Weight
26 Oz
Magnification
10x42
Lens
ED glass
FOV
340 ft
Water Resistance
Buy Now
Product Name
Vortex Optics Diamondback
Preview
Vortex Optics Diamondback Roof Prism Binoculars 10x42
Weight
22 Oz
Magnification
10x42
Lens
Dialectic, fully multi-coated
FOV
330 ft
Water Resistance
Buy Now

Best Binoculars Under 300 Product Reviews

Product Features

Durability/Materials

The 71380 is rubber armored for increased durability.

Lenses

Multi-coated lenses offer better light transmission with high contrast. You get high-level color fidelity and color saturation with the in-house Broadband coating. This is even in low-light environments. 

True color rendition is provided by extra-low dispersion (ED) Glass objective lenses. This helps to reduce something called “chromatic aberration.”

The BaK-4 Prisms include coatings with Dielectric high reflectivity. These types of prisms provide better reflectivity with sky-high values of 99.99% in a small range of wavelengths.

Waterproof/Fogproof

These under-$300 binoculars are nitrogen purged. This process creates a dry environment for better waterproof functionality.

Ergonomics

The binoculars’ ergonomics are increased by finger ridges and thumb indentations. These features help to prevent the unit from slipping.

Features/Extras

Some key features include Twist-Up Eyecups, Diopter Ring, and Metal Focus Knob. They provide more durability and precise operation.

The Celestron 71380 includes:

  • Carrying Case
  • Carrying Harness
  • Eyepiece Rainguard
  • Instruction Manual
  • Lens Cloth
  • Neck Strap
  • Objective Lens Caps

PROS

  • Excellent value for price
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    Good size and value
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    Focus is easy and clear
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    Quality camera lens
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    Alternative between 8x32 & 10x42

CONS

  • Doesn’t have high-end quality
  • Soft on edge
  • Very small sweet spot

Product Features

Durability/Materials
These Bushnell binoculars are constructed using lightweight magnesium. The multi-coated optics provide excellent light transmission.

Lenses
The lenses include a Dielectric coating. The thin layers provide high color production and 90%+ light transmission. This coating uses light interference to provide high reflectivity across the full range of visible light.

There’s also an anti-reflection coating that’s customized for each lens’ element within the optical path. This provides maximum light from the front glass to back of the eyepiece. The result is true color and high brightness over the full light spectrum.

Waterproof/Fogproof
The Legend M-series includes Bushnell’s RainGuard HD coating. This makes the units more waterproof/fogproof and prevents moisture from the elements like rain, snow, and condensation from beading up or scattering less light. The result is a view that’s clear and bright.

PROS

  • Good quality glass and Rainguard
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    One-handed use due to design and ergonomics
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    30% rebate offered by Bushnell
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    Good choice for bird watching/hunting
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    Clear lens and lens covers stay attached

CONS

  • Shipping/wrong product
  • Racking/focusing wheel needs ¾ turns
  • Dust covers fall off unit easily

Product Features

Durability/Materials
The Monarch 5 is nearly 1 ounce lighter than the Monarch 4. This makes the binoculars more portable and easier to carry with you for outdoor activities like hunting and birdwatching.

Monarch 5 binoculars are now constructed with the company’s in-house ED Glass. This provides a sharp/clear view and wider field of view. That’s because of correct chromatic aberrations over the extreme ends of visible light.

In fact, even when you view the extremes of visible light like white/black, the images still maintain high-quality contrast/resolution. This is all due to the ED glass lenses.

The unit also includes a rubber armored body to boost the durability/strength of the binoculars. This protects the unit during extreme usage.

Lenses
The Eco-Glass Lenses offer high light transmitting over the whole spectrum of visible light.

Meanwhile, the ED glass lenses have improved their overall functionality. It makes images look more natural.

The field of view is clear due to the high-eyepoint design. This is even the case for eyeglass wearers. There’s enough space between the user’s eyebrow and binoculars’ eyecups.

The multi-layer coatings offer bright light transmittance over the whole light spectrum. This reduces loss of light because of reflection, which provides a better view. 

The lenses include high-reflection multi-layer prism coating. This coating is added to all lenses/prism surfaces. The result is a naked eye-like brightness and accurate color reproduction.

Waterproof/Fogproof
These Nikon binoculars are waterproof and fogproof.

Ergonomics
Since this unit is nearly one ounce lighter versus the past units, it’s much easier to carry the Monarch 5 with you for various activities. The binoculars aren’t just lightweight ubt also include an easy-to-grip design.

The Monarch 5 includes various features that boost its ease of use and ergonomics. They include Turn/Slide Rubber eyecups, Flip Down Lens Caps and Central Focus Knob.

The turn/slide eyecups let users tweak the eye relief for a customized fit. This offers a full field of view and high-end comfort during long time periods.

The central focus knob is smooth. This basic/intuitive design makes it a piece of cake to bring objects into focus.

PROS

  • Provide clear and bright view
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    Good option for day/night use
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    Clear up quickly after dew/fog
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    Good value for the price point
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    Lightweight and non-slip use

CONS

  • Can be difficult to adjust
  • Problems related to customer service
  • Shipping/packaging

Product Features

Durability/Materials
Ed Glass lowers color dispersion to deliver high-resolution colors/clarity. There’s also Bak4 phase-coated prisms that are based on a German company’s optical glass. Its refractive index is higher than BK7 glass. 

Lenses
The binoculars include wide field of view.

The MultiGuard coating provides several layers of anti-reflective materials. This produces optimized light transmission and super-clear field of view.

Waterproof/Fogproof
The unit is 100% waterproof/fogproof. The high-end lens coatings provide improved light transmission even when used in low-light conditions.

The waterproof feature is due to factors including O-ring sealed and nitrogen-charged. This helps to keep substances like dust, debris, and moisture from getting into the optics. That, iin turn, provides the user with a clear view in different environments.

Ergonomics
The unit includes 3-stage twist-out eyecups w/ long eye relief. There’s also an open bridge body w/ big focus wheel. These features all improve the binoculars’ ergonomics. 

Features/Extras
The unit’s features include locking diopter ring. The diopter is used for compensating for variances between your two eyes.

The locking diopter allows the user to tweak the focus. This accounts for differences between the two eyes. Locking in the diopter rings prevents the need to make the same adjustments each time you use the binoculars. 

The Endeavor is protected by a lifetime warranty when shipped/sold from an authorized reseller. The company will replace/repair the unit for free when damage is broken/damaged. 

PROS

  • Good design and mechanics
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    Functions nearly as well as $2000+ binoculars
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    Very easy to use
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    Image is bright and clear
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    Good option for special purpose binoculars

CONS

  • Many fine-tuning features not available
  • Relatively heavy vs. similar binoculars
  • Might have a lot of chromatic aberration

Product Features

Lenses
The binoculars offer 44mm objective lenses and 10x magnification. The field of view is one of the biggest in this class of binoculars. This makes it easier for you to view your environment and see the target. 

Lenses are dielectric/multi-coated. This helps to boost light transmittance and provide images that are clearer/brighter.

Waterproof/Fogproof
These binoculars are more waterproof/fogproof due to the rubber armor and Argon purging. This improves the functionality in extreme weather.

Ergonomics
The unit’s ergonomics are improved with thumb indentations and rubber armor. This makes it easier to grip and hold on to the binoculars.

The multi-position eyecups can twist up to tweak eye relief. This provides for easy adjustment if you’re an eyeglasses wearer.

Meanwhile, the eye diopter allows for differences in your eyes’ focus.

PROS

  • Good value for the price
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    Good alternatives vs. high-end models
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    Few chromatic aberrations
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    Accurate and easy to operate
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    Excellent for bird watching

CONS

  • Some focusing issues
  • Shipping/broken
  • Vortex not written on binoculars or box

Key Features of under-$300 Binoculars

When searching for the best binoculars under 300 here are some of the most important features to consider:

Weight

In many cases, the difference in two under-$300 binoculars might seem small. However, you should take into account how long you’ll typically be using the unit during a session. If you’ll be holding the binoculars all day then an extra pound can seem like a ton.

Magnification

The magnification of binoculars is the number that’s written before the x (e.g. 10x). This is the maximum number of times the unit can magnify a subject.

For example, 10x magnification means deer that’s 1,000 meters away from you will look like it’s only 100 meters away when seen with the naked eye. 

Conventional wisdom is that a higher magnification is always better. That’s not quite the case. If you want to avoid using a tripod then you should look for units with magnification from 7x to 12x.

Chassis Material

The most popular material is easily aluminum alloy. This material is inexpensive yet also light and strong. It’s also corrosion-resistant, which is another plus when using binoculars outdoors.

Magnesium is another metal alloy that’s often used due to the high ratio in terms of strength-to-weight. This material is significantly lighter than aluminum, which can help to prevent fatigue when gripping the binoculars all day. Magnesium is also sturdy and corrosion-resistant.

Finally, there’s polycarbonate, which is a type of polymer resin. It includes features including strength, corrosion-proof and affordability.

The big plus is polycarbonate is temperature-resistant. So, if you’re planning to use the binoculars in extreme weather like cold temperatures then this is a good option versus other options. 

Housing Design

This involves the various types of housing designs used for binoculars. Two of the main options are open and closed bridge. This refers to the middle area that connects a pair of optical tubes located on roof prism-type binoculars.

First there’s closed bridge binoculars, which keep your hands from wrapping completely around the housing. This usually includes the focus component near the eyepiece and a stabilizing area close to the objectives.

In the case of open bridges the middle area is open. An open bridge reduces the optic’s overall weight and provides a grip with a full-wraparound design.

Accessories

The basic accessories that are bundled with binoculars include adjustable straps and carry bags. These are just a couple of extras but still provide extra value.

When selecting binoculars make sure to focus on the units themselves. It’s a plus if you get several accessories with them. However, it’s more important for the binoculars themselves to be quality in terms of durability, optics, comfort, etc.

Eye Relief

This is the ideal distance from your eye to the ocular lens (eyepiece) where light passes through. When shopping for binoculars, you’ll see something called “eyecups” installed on the eyepieces.

This puts the person’s eyes at the right distance from the eyepiece. The main types of eyecups are twist in/out and fold-back.

One feature to consider is “dioptric adjustments.” What’s it all about? This allows users to tweak focusing based on their glasses prescription so they can use the binoculars minuses their spectacles.

Warranty

In this price range it will be tough to find a comprehensive warranty. You’ll likely be offered a limited warranty. For example, this might just cover damage due to manufacturing or shipping.

Another key issue is how long the warranty is valid. Sometimes you’re offered a lifetime warranty, but in the under-$300 price range it’s more likely you’ll have coverage for X years.

Finally, there’s a caveat. Sometimes it can be tough to get a company to honor its warranty.

This is one of the main reasons to consider an established company since the overall customer service is generally better. If it doesn’t have a homepage, email, and phone then watch out!

Field of View

The FOV is easily one of the most critical factors to weigh when picking new binoculars. What’s it all about? The FOV is the diameter of the region you see when looking into the eyepiece and it’s indicated in degrees. A bigger field of view means you can see a wide area.

Lens Quality

It goes without saying that this is one of the most critical components to weigh when picking a pair of binoculars. It starts with the material itself. Make sure to select a quality glass to boost the lens’ longevity.

This is related to the lens’ overall quality. Look for factors like color contrast and fewer aberrations. While some aberration is to be expected, it should be relatively low so you’ll get a better viewing experience.

Another issue is whether the lenses can work in low-light conditions. This is especially true if you’re planning to do activities like late-afternoon hunting or birdwatching. Make sure to check how much light the lenses can transmit since it will keep the image crisp and clear.

Eye Strain

This factor is greatly related to the price tag of the unit. So, if you’re looking for an under-$300 unit then it will be tougher to find binoculars that are easier on the eyes.

However, when possible try out the unit to find out how much eye strain it causes. It could become an issue if you’ll be using the binoculars for several hours.

Exit Pupil

This is an image that’s formed on the unit’s eyepiece for the pupil to see. If you want to do the math, it’s: (lens diameter/magnification).

Here’s a guideline to follow. If you’ll be using the binoculars in dark environments and twilight, then you should look for a 7mm exit pupil since it provides maximum light for a dilated eye.

Waterproof/Fogproof

If you’re going to use the binoculars in extreme weather conditions then you should certainly consider how waterproof/fogproof a particular unit is.

This can make a big difference when the lenses contact rain, snow, fog, dew, etc. That’s in terms of the unit’s functionality and longevity.

One issue you should certainly watch out for is the difference between “waterproof” and “water-resistant.” These terms are often used interchangeably, which makes it tough to determine how well a pair of binoculars can withstand water.

The solution is to look for models that are certified waterproof. This is the only objective way to verify that it’s indeed waterproof. For example, truly waterproof units can be safely submerged in a certain water depth for X minutes.

Objective Lens

Make sure to research the diameter of the binoculars’ objective lens. This is the lens that’s opposite the unit’s eyepiece. The lens’ diameter is important since it affects how much light enters the unit.

The amount of environmental light is important. If you’re in a low-light area then you’ll see clearer images if the objective lens’ diameter is larger.

What should you look for? If you see something like “8x25” the number after the “x” is the lens size and the number before it is the magnification. If you want a crisper and brighter image than look for larger objective lenses.  

Lens Coating

You’ll find a wide range of different lens coating on the market. This often includes a manufacturer’s in-house tech so make sure to research the details. Giving the lens coating a catchy name doesn’t make it durable and effective per se.

What’s the big deal about the lens coating? This helps to reduce light reflection and maximize light transmission into the lens. Both of these factors are important to provide a better/clearer view when looking into the binoculars.

Brand

If you want better quality and customer service you should definitely consider brands like Nikon, Bushnell, and Zeiss. For example, companies like Nikon have over a century of know-how and experience in the industry.

You also have many off brands and generic brands you could pick from. The problem with this option is you’d likely make sacrifices in terms of product quality and customer service. The binoculars aren’t made to last so you’ll likely end up with buyer’s remorse.

Price

You can find several quality binoculars in the under-$300 category. Take note this isn’t the price range of top-notch binoculars so you shouldn’t expect the best quality. However, they’re also cheaper than Leica’s $3,200+ Duovid 10+15×50.

When doing price comparisons make sure to consider the value you’re getting. This includes the binocular model’s material, lenses/prisms, ergonomics, etc. As always if you consider a model that’s a few years old you can save some money versus a company’s latest and (maybe) greatest model.

You should also look for online discounts, sales, and promotions. Sometimes manufacturers and retailers offer big discounts like 50%. Shipping is another way save money like through Amazon Prime.

Conclusion - Which is the Best Binoculars Under $300?

We’re ready to announce our pick for the best binoculars under 300: 7576 MONARCH 5 Binocular (8x42) by Nikon.  Let’s start with the company itself. Nikon is a Japanese corporation with over a century of industry experience. Its first products were optical lenses.

The Monarch 5 is a durable unit. It features a rubber armored body and is waterproof/fogproof. Meanwhile, it’s still lighter than the Monarch 4.

The Monarch 5 binoculars include the Nikon’s in-house ED glass to provide a crisp and clear image and bright field of view. The unit is also user-friendly with features like Flip Down Lens Caps and Smooth Central Focus Knob.

Finally, the icing on the cake is an adjustable strap and carry case that boost the unit’s portability. The Monarch 5 takes the binocular series to new heights!

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