You really do not need a lot of equipment to get started exploring with a microscope. This page has descriptions of all of the essentials.
Click on the product pictures below to get full descriptions and the latest pricing on the items shown.
Making your own collection of permanent slides is a lot of fun. It can be a little tricky, depending upon the specimen, but things like butterfly wings, pollen grains, mold, hair and fibers, all mount very easily.
You can use clear nail polish, clear model cement, or the really expensive stuff Cytoseal 60 to make your permanent slides. Click on the below options for pricing.
Staining specimens is done with chemical dyes. CAUTION: These dyes are toxic and hazardous. I do not recommend you buying them unless you are an adult and there are no children that can get anywhere near these chemicals. The bottles have no safety tops and should never be placed anywhere near where children or pets could have access. Unless you are experienced handling toxic chemicals, do not buy these stains. The ones shown below are the most reasonably priced and seem to be in small enough quantities to be manageable. Click on the below items for latest pricing.
A compound microscope will give you excellent magnification of tardigrades, once you have them on a slide. The compound microscope allows you to see all sorts of micro-organisms, and a variety of inorganic specimens at high magnifications.
The dissecting microscope is the best tool to actually hunt and find tardigrades. By placing a petri dish on the base, you can have a wide field of view and spot tardigrades by lighting the dish from the side and having a black background underneath.
This dissecting scope is not absolutely necessary to find tardigrades, but it does make finding them a lot easier than using a compound microscope. The reason is because of the distance from the stage to the objective lens. There is very little maneuvering room on a compound microscope, yet on a dissecting scope, the objective lens is quite a distance away from the base.
Actual techniques using both scopes can be found in my book here.
And that’s it. Only a dozen or so items are all you need to get started, and a bit of searching will show that all of these things can be found to fit within most budgets.