For easy handholding and easy traveling, hiking, or backpacking, I would recommend a pair of Vortex Diamondback HD 8x42 roofs. They have a nice moderately wide (7.5°) field, sharp optics, robust waterproof construction, and compact configuration. They are perfect for hiking and travel and can do double duty for star gazing and bird watching. I got started with a pair of Hunters 8x40 porro prism binoculars in the Fall of 1964 and I have loved binoculars ever since. With a 5mm exit pupil they will be nice and bright at night and not excessively so during the day. They’re $239 at Amazon so close to your budgetary needs.
Keeping with the 5mm exit pupil, 10x50s are still handhelds and give you a bit more magnification and light grasp. While the 8x42s are perfect for general purpose binoculars, 10x50s are even better for Astronomy. I bought my older daughter a pair of the 10x50 Oberwerk Deluxe binos a few years ago and she loves them. She’s a professional film maker so she appreciates sharp, bright optics and she also enjoys hiking and camping. I’ve heard nothing but praise from here about these binoculars. They have a 6.5° FOV and weigh in at 2.5 pounds. They are porro prism binoculars so they won’t break the bank and can be purchased new for $189.95.
Lastly, if you want to go a bit bigger, I recommend the Oberwerk LightWeight 12x60s, also porro prism binos and also with the 5mm exit pupil; they have a 5.7° FOV. I’ve had a pair of these now for 20 years and they are still in perfect condition, even tho they are my ‘go-with-me’ whenever I go to one of my astronomy dark sites in the field away from home. They stay in their case in a laundry basked, along with my eyepiece case, flashlight, star atlases etc, ready to load in my vehicle. They are great binos, and still quite handy to hold or mount on a light weight photo tripod (only 2.6 pounds). They’re the cheapest of the three at $109.95 brand new and produce sharp, bright images. I think they are the best binocular bargain out there.
Edited by Terra Nova, 21 May 2022 - 10:50 AM.