Optics do have some big quality difference as you go up the chain, not just in optical quality, but durability. In your price range, I'd look for closeouts on last year's model from any reputable company: Vortex, Leupold, Nikon, etc. The other thing to decide is what size you're looking for. A good all around, yet still compact, size is 8x32. In full size, I'd go 10x42. I would stay away from most pocket models especially cheaper ones, and definitely stay away from zooms. Vortex Diamondbacks are good for the money, but pushing your budget depending on the model and where you get them.I guess that this is going to be the best place for this question.
I am looking for a good cheaper(not cheap, but not $200-$300 either) binoculars that I can carry for scouting, wild life watching, just general all around binocular use.
Any input is much appreciated!