Of course, not all glasses with the raw same numbers ARE the same. Glass quality, coatings, construction - all those combine to give you a wide range of prices and sharpness. Still, for under $100 you can get a pretty good pair of binocs, such as Pentax's 8X24 UCF WR. These in fact ARE armored and water-resistant, so you can have your cake and eat it, too. They're about $85, street price. I also like Minolta's 8X25 Activa binoculars, which go for right around $100 and are basically same design as the Pentax's. You'd want to heft a pair of each and look at something with the glasses side by side to figure out what seems best.
There are some bargains on high-end glasses to be found, too. Sierra Trading Post, for example, has several Steiner binoculars on closeout. These include the beautifully made 8X24 Rocky binoculars for $260, and slightly lesser 8X22 Compact Safari glasses for $99. I got a pair of the Compact Safari glasses not long ago for backpacking and like them very much
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Filed To: Binoculars and Telescopes