We Love These Affordable, No-Frills Binoculars For Birding and Trail Spotting

We’ve talked to people like Steven Rinella, America’s hunter, who use binoculars professionally about what to look for in a good pair of binocs, but what about those of us who just want a pair to knock ’round in our backpacks, glove compartment, and on front porches, for, like, $100 bucks?

For the last six months, I’ve been enjoying the heck out of the Celestron Nature DX 8×42 binoculars. You can find them for around $100 if you look hard enough, which, to this untrained eye, is an incredible bargain.

If you’re coming from binoculars that just sorta fell into your lap, small, weakly-hinged, with cloudy and shaky imagery, this set will blow your hair back. Views are crisp, clean, and stable. This pair is waterproof, fogproof, and coated in a thick, protective rubber. They’re meant to get dirty, to be used outdoors, to be excitedly grabbed and whoops, dropped, when a bird swings into view.

Rinella told me that 8x magnification is the sweet spot for general use—any more and you tend to get images that swim around a bit. The 42mm lenses give a nice, wide field of view without being too big and bulky. They have adjustable eye cups, which allows for a bit of customization, depending on your own uniquely dysfunctional eyeballs. I also like that you can focus on things only 6.5 feet away, for birding or bug-watching in close quarters.

These are the first binoculars I remember ever actually researching and spending money on, rather than simply relying on hand me downs. The Audubon Society recommended them highly, and I do too.

BUY • $120

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