Don’t get me wrong: stargazing with our eyes is great. Nothing has the same effect on our mental state as starlight entering our eyes after billions of miles of light-speed travel across the galaxy. But there is something special about unlocking a deeper level of the night sky with equipment like binoculars or a telescope.
That’s why I’ve been working on a series about the best telescopes and binoculars for every budget, and in this post I’ll be highlighting the best binoculars under $300. (You can see the rest of the series here.)
But aren’t there more than just five great astronomy binoculars under $300, you ask? You’re right – there are. I also have lists of the best astronomy binoculars under $100 and under $200. Together this gives you lots of options to find the right pair of binoculars for you under the $300 mark.
If you’re not familiar with how binoculars work, there are two numbers provided for each product. The first is the magnification offered by the binoculars; the second refers to the size of the objective lens in millimeters. So for 7×50 binoculars – for example – they offer 7x magnification, and the objective lens is 50mm in diameter. The larger the objective lens, the more light is let into the lens – creating brighter and potentially clearer views. However, larger lenses weigh more which can be uncomfortable when stargazing – that’s something to keep in mind as you choose a pair of astronomy binoculars under $100 from this list.
Short on Time?
The best binoculars under $300 are the Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 Binoculars
Ready to see the best astronomy binoculars between $200-$300 – that sweet spot when you’re ready to upgrade but don’t have the budget for a more expensive pair yet? Read on for the best options.
Note: Lens and binocular prices have been very volatile in the past two years due to supply chain issues. Note that prices might vary widely from the prices I reported when this post was last updated in February 2022.
This post was originally published in November 2021, and was re-ranked and updated in February 2022.
The Best Binoculars under $300 (Ranked)
When it comes to choosing astronomy binoculars, you want to keep a number of factors in mind, including price, (magnification) power, binocular style, and quality. This can be hard to compare on your own, so I put together a ranked list. To come up with this ranking, I considered price, popularity, and review scores from Amazon.com. Here’s the list of the best astronomy binoculars under $300, using updated data for 2022.
|1||Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 Binoculars||~$250||Link|
|2||Vortex Optics Diamondback Roof Prism Binoculars 10×28||~$220||Link|
|3||Pentax SP 20×60 WP Binoculars||~$220||Link|
|4||Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars||~$280||Link|
|5||Orion Mini Giant 15×63 Astronomy Binoculars||~$230||Link|
If these all sound interesting, you can read on to discover more of the details about each one and choose the pair of binoculars under $300 that’s best for you.
1. Nikon Monarch 5 8×42 Binoculars
- Type: Roof Prism
- Price: ~$250
Another from the Nikon family, the Monarch 5 8×42 Binoculars is worth considering when looking for mid-range priced binoculars. The highlight of these binoculars by far is their image brightness. The Monarch 5’s lenses gather more light than other models in this price range. They also come with fully multi-coated eco glass lenses to provide sharper and clearer images.
Despite being lightweight, the Monarch 5 has durable materials. The exterior design features rubber coating and a smooth focus knob. The main disadvantages you’ll find in the Monarch 5 is their limited close focus range at 7.8 feet and field of view at 1000 yards 330 feet.
2. Vortex Optics Diamondback Roof Prism Binoculars 10×28
- Type: Roof Prism
- Price: ~$220
The Diamondback from Vortex Optics is a must for stargazers who are frequent travelers or campers and like to take their binoculars with them. They are one of the smallest binoculars in the series, making them highly portable.
Needless to say, the price-performance ratio is astounding. These binoculars feature high-quality materials, deliver exceptional performance day and night, and they are only $149.
The Vortex features an HD optical system with select glass elements that deliver exceptional resolution, color fidelity, edge-to-edge sharpness, light transmission, and reduced chromatic aberration. They are also hand-friendly, waterproof, fog-proof, and have incredible optical features. The fully multi-coated 28mm objective lenses offer excellent clarity and superior low-light performance.
They also have an ultra-wide field of view, which efficiently covers the ground and acquires subjects easily.
Note: Between research and writing, these became unavailable on Amazon. They may be available at the time of reading, so double-check and let me know if not in the comments!
3. Pentax SP 20×60 WP Binoculars
- Type: Porro Prism
- Price: ~$220
Another of the best binoculars under $300, the Pentax SP 20×60 WP is an update of the 20×60 PCF II. They are almost the same as their predecessor, except for their slightly heavier body and improved light transmission.
The brand has specially designed the new Pentax SP 20×60 WP for stargazers and birdwatchers so all the binoculars’ features cater to their viewing needs. It has large 60mm lenses with excellent light-gathering capacity, even in the darkest night. Their collimation is perfect, providing clear sky images to stargazers. They also applied multiple layers of coating to minimize light pollution and reduce reflection within the binoculars.
These binoculars also provide crisp magnification in most weather and lighting conditions, thanks to their high-contrast optics and light optimization.
4. Carson 3D Series High Definition Waterproof Binoculars
- Type: Roof Prism
- Price: ~$280
The Carson 3D Series has a legion of fans who rave about their quality and optics. Just take a look at the Amazon reviews. They come in various sizes, with the 8×42 and 10×42 being their most popular and versatile ones. Carson 3D binoculars stand out among other astronomy binoculars under $500, thanks to the stunning images they provide in low-light conditions.
The company has designed its own blend of E.D. glasses, which, combined with their dielectric prism coating technology, help reduce chromatic aberration and provide the brightest and clearest image possible. These binoculars feature a rubberized armor coating, making them waterproof and shockproof. They are a bit on the heavy side, but their extra weight is worth it, considering the superior optics.
5. Orion Mini Giant 15×63 Astronomy Binoculars
- Type: Porro Prism
- Price: ~$230
Despite their funny name, the Orion Mini Giant astronomy binoculars hit the spot when it comes to budget-friendly astronomy binoculars. These are an excellent pair of binoculars and a great place to start before buying your first telescope.
The Orion has powerful 63mm diameter objectives to grab more light and excel at astronomical and daytime viewing. Their multicoated lenses and BAK-4 prisms provide exceptional light transmission and bright images. The aluminum barrels are internally glare-threaded to eliminate ghosting and ensure rich contrast. Their lightweight structure is what sets them apart from many other binoculars in the “giant” category.
At 2.6 pounds, the Orion is the lightest and most easily hand-held among the binoculars of its category. Still, stargazers will get better viewing if they use a tripod. Stabilizing can be tricky due to the power of the optics.
Which of these great astronomy binoculars will you be investing in? Let me know any questions, comments, or feedback on these binoculars in the comments.