I'm searching for a budget "backpack telescope", meaning a cheap telescope that I can take with me while hiking or travelling with nothing but my backpack.
I've put my eyes on these ones:
- Zhumell Z100: really good one but I have some doubt about its portability in a backpack, personally I think a refractor will be more suitable, furthermore this is not-collimable, and since I will use it as travel telescope it will easy take some bump and unrecoverably loose its collimation
- Meade LightBridge Mini 114 Reflector: according to several websites this seems the best one but, again, I have doubt on reflector's portability, here even more than before since this one is bigger than the Z100
- Meade Infinity 80mm refractor: this one looks pretty portable to me, but it is my understanding that it is not really a versatile telescope since it is more suitable for DSO observation
I can't really speak to the first two, but personally I don't like tabletop scopes. There isn't always a convenient table or other solid surface to set them up on (and if there is a table it's probably under a tree), and if I have to carry around a special table to use it I might as well carry around a lighter, more compact tripod built for that purpose.
The Infinity 80 is a compact scope but the tripod and mount are pretty big. Larger that I would want to carry very far. The mount isn't all that friendly to use (the newer StarPro series scopes are slightly expensive but the extra cost is well worth it) Meade does sell carrying bags for their entry-level scopes, though. They're pretty limited as far as padding goes but work well for keeping everything together and keeping dust off of the scopes in storage or transport.
I personally use an older Meade 70az scope for my light travel scope since it breaks down into surprisingly small components and came with a small carrying satchel. 70mm is, to me, an ideal size: adequate size for seeing things in dark skies while still being usable on a light mount and tripod. Larger scopes usually need a heavier duty mount and that adds weight and bulk. Fine for home use but not so good if you want to carry it several kilometers.
If the planned use is for backpacking and traveling light, I'd suggest looking into something like the Meade Infinity 70 (the StarPro 70 has a better mount but is more expensive). It's a longer scope than the Infinity 80 so it's more well-rounded, equally good for the moon, planets, and DSOs. It has a lighter mount and tripod than the Infinity 80 as well. The carrying case that is marketed for the Infinity 60/70 is a really tight fit for the Infinity 70, so it's not a bad idea to go up a size and get the bag for the Infinity 80/90/102 or the Polaris 70/80/90 bag. The bags have shoulder straps so the scope would be easy to carry hiking and not heavy enough to be fatiguing. The scope comes with modest but adequate eyepieces and a correct image diagonal which makes it useful in the daytime as well for viewing distant scenery (this is very enjoyable when traveling), unlike a reflector which gives upside down images. Best of all, it's inexpensive which leaves more money for accessories like eyepiece upgrades or a book like Turn Left at Orion.
My son has a short tube 70mm scope similar to the Orion and Celestron Travel Scopes. While it's even more lightweight and portable, the mounts on those are a little too light and flimsy and it's very hard to get them to stay still when you point them up. They also have very rough movement at high power, making it hard to track the moon and planets. The short focal length makes high power views blurry as well. Still, it's easy for a small child to carry and set up so we take it places with us, like hiking to the top of Stone Mountain in Georgia where we could set up the scope and enjoy looking at the view all around us. The longer tubed Infinity 70 has none of those problems and is only marginally bulkier and heavier, well worth the trade-off for an adult.
For your budget you *could* get a larger, better, more powerful telescope than the Infinity 70 but it would be harder to transport. To keep the same level of compactness and portability as the Infinity 70, the next step up in quality would be something like an ETX-90 or C90 but unless you can find one used it will probably exceed your budget by a lot.