Best Binoculars for Sports

What’s worse than hearing a cheer at a game, and not having any idea what it’s for? When you’re confined to the distant seats, action seems to pass you by. Cheers and hollers echo, and you still don’t know what’s going on.

Following a sport can be expensive. While there’s nothing like the atmosphere of the cheap seats, the view can leave something to be desired. If you want to be a part of it, you need something that can get you closer – without security taking you away.

Binoculars provide you with the best seats in the house. The right pair of sports binoculars get you close, show you detail, and ensure you never miss a thing. This guide can help you find the perfect pair, and tell you everything you need to be looking for.

The 5 Best Binoculars for Sports

Best Overall: Nikon Aculon 8252 Zoom Binoculars

There is an expectation of quality built-in to the Nikon name, and the Aculon Zoom binoculars are no exception. Everyone expects Nikon to have knocked it out of the park once again.

And, wow, do the Aculons live up to expectation. These binoculars are so good that even the cheap seats feel like the front row. Perfect for any sports occasion, the super zoom make these an adaptable pair for almost anything.

We’ll start with the obvious: the zoom. With magnification of 10-22, the Aculons can get you right up close to the action, and pull back when things get going. The massive 50 mm lens means at any magnification there’s no loss of quality, letting in a huge amount of light. Bright images are maintained through light changes thanks to the lens multicoating.

While you may assume this makes them heavy and cumbersome, the Nikon Aculon is surprisingly light. The eco-glass used in the lenses makes for crisp clarity, without any excess weight.

For adjustments, Nikon has kept things as simple as possible. The central focus knob is within easy fingertip range, and allows for smooth focusing. If you want to zoom, the eye piece mounted lever is fast and intuitive. Perfect for keeping up with a tense match. You may even find yourself catching plays before the ref does (or umpire, or whatever sport you follow).

Turn-and-slide multiclick rubber eye pieces allow adjustable eye relief for total comfort and a customizable experience. The whole thing is finished with a rubber armored coating, giving a non-slip grip that can handle bad weather. 

If you’re sick of missing even a second of action, the Nikon Aculon Zoom binoculars ensure you feel in the thick of it, no matter how far away.

Pros

  • 50 mm lens – Lets in extra light, for clear images.
  • 10 – 22 magnifying zoom – Easily adjusts to suit any type of play.
  • Eco-glass – Incredibly quality, no matter the light.

Cons

  • Lens Caps – It seems odd that Nikon have done so well elsewhere only to drop the ball on such a minor detail. However, the lens caps are poor quality, and many report they fall off too easily.

Best Compact: Wingspan Optics FieldView 8×32 Compact Binoculars

Let’s be honest, what we look for in a pair of sporting binoculars isn’t always the crisp detail. While we may enjoy having images as clear as possible, what we need is something more adaptable. Binoculars for sports need to keep up with the game, stand up to heavy usage, and not weigh us down. This is where the wingspan optics come in.

At only 15.2 ounces in weight, these are binoculars that can be slipped into a pocket. Ideal for slow-going games, when you only need them on occasion. The ergonomic non-slip grip makes them perfect for outdoor events. They’ll stay in your hand no matter how rowdy the crowd gets. For days with bad weather, the waterproof and fog-proof coating keeps the binoculars safe, and the lenses clear.

Despite the compact size, Wingspan has incorporated an impressive field of view. Encompassing 362 feet, it allows you to see an entire pitch with greater detail. While a high magnification is useful for sports, the field of view is really where it’s at. You don’t have to miss anything when you’re swinging your binoculars about.

While compact and durable may be the biggest points, Wingspan have balanced this with high quality details. In fact, Wingspan Optics have fit in some remarkable clarity for such a light pair of binoculars. The BaK-4 roof prism directs the light for vivid imagery without any added weight. 8 times magnification gets you close, even from a distance. The coated lens adapts to different lights, keeping it bright when long events stretch into the evening.

The Wingspan Optics are incredibly easy to use, without compromising on the quality. A must for any game day, they also work well for indoor concerts and outdoor birdwatching. 

Pros

  • 362 feet field of view – Encompasses the entire game, in just one glance.
  • 14.8 mm eye relief – Comfortable watching for long days.
  • Non-slip coating – Won’t fall from your grip, no matter the crowd or weather.

Cons

  • Mediocre close focus – Some report having issues with the close focus.

Best for Football: Bushnell Spectator Extra Wide Compact Binoculars

The Bushnell Spectator Binoculars are all about the field of view. At a massive 900ft, that’s 3 times what you can expect to find on a pair of standard binoculars. What does that mean for sports? Essentially, that you don’t have to miss a single thing. A wide field of view lets you see everything, as it happens. 

The Spectator binoculars have a 30 mm objective lens, allowing in a decent amount of light for fairly clear images. The fully multicoated optics help with the brightness, and ensure the lenses adjust to changes in light.

To accommodate for the gigantic field of view, there has to be a sacrifice with the magnification. Bushnell only has 4 times magnification, which means you can’t see details. For sports, this shouldn’t be a problem, but it does limit the usage of the binoculars.

Bushnell has installed autofocus, which comes with pros and cons. For a large field of view, it can be incredibly helpful. It adjusts to movement, keeps everything clear, and you don’t lose time fiddling to get it right. The problem is that autofocus is almost never a perfect system. There will be times when the focus is off, and you’ll be wishing you can adjust.

Bushnell uses the traditional Porro prism system, which does give a greater clarity of image. The problem with Porro is the simple design has a tendency to make the binoculars clunky, and these don’t fit in your hand well. However, they are only 14.5 ounces, so they’re very light.

The Bushnell Spectator binoculars are ideal for some circumstances, less good for others. For football and soccer games, the wide field of view allows you to see all the action. For other occasions, these are best left at home.

Pros

  • 900 feet field of view – Covers an entire pitch, so you miss nothing.
  • Autofocus – Adapts easily to keep up with the action.
  • Lightweight – Easy to carry, despite the shape.

Cons

  • 10 mm eye relief – No good for those who need glasses, and can become uncomfortable for extended use.
  • No manual focus – Auto focus is useful until it isn’t. Occasionally these lenses do fall out of focus, and there’s little you can do.

Best for Families: Aurosports 10×25 Folding Compact Binoculars

Sports watching can be a family activity, but the day can be soured by terrible seats. Children like to be a part of everything, and hate feeling like they’re missing out on something exciting. That’s one of the reasons binoculars are so useful – they let you see things you otherwise would have missed.

While we all love our children, there are some items they probably shouldn’t be trusted with. A pair of several hundred dollar binoculars is one of them. What every parent needs is high-quality binoculars, with a low-quality price tag. Thankfully, Aurosports have that covered. 

What is it that makes these binoculars so good for children? For a start, they’re incredibly lightweight and compact. At only 0.5lbs, even small children won’t complain having to carry these around all day. Even left hanging from the adaptable straps, they won’t weigh small necks down. And they can be left hanging from the straps, because the skidproof and shockproof covering mean they can take a light bashing. Everyone knows care goes out the window when a game gets exciting, and the Aurosports shouldn’t break from an accidental drop.

Kids will also appreciate how easy to use these are. The minimal dial is effective and intuitive, quick to adapt to fast play. And they’re waterproof, a must-have for rainy game days.

It isn’t just children who’ll enjoy using these. Adults can appreciate the 10 times magnification, which delivers clear imagery even from a distance. The fully multi-coated lens gives a greater transmission of light, for vivid colors and details. Despite the decent magnification, it still has a 362-foot field of view. So you can see everything happening, that much better.

Pros

  • Skidproof and shockproof – The delicate engineering won’t break easily.
  • 10 x magnification – Surprisingly high magnification, without a lack of quality.
  • Low-night-level vision – Adapts when the light starts to change, for continuing use.

Cons

  • Lower clarity – Images aren’t as sharp as they are with more expensive options.
  • Slow focus – Focusing can be slow, and inexact.

Most Adaptable: Gosky Roof Prism Binoculars

We’re all complex people with multiple interests, and we need binoculars that keep up. And while some binoculars may be perfect for sports, the Gosky Roof Prism Binoculars work for just about everything. From a lazy day birdwatching to a non-stop baseball match, these binoculars will provide the clear imagery you need.

With a 10 times magnification and a 42 mm lens, the Gosky binoculars let you get close without losing clarity. Large lenses let in a superb amount of light, for bright, crisp details. Coated with multiguard FMC focus, these lenses are anti-reflective, and allow for optimum light transmission. And with a 307 feet field of view, you can see every part of the action. While they don’t cover the extensive field of view of sports-focused binoculars, what they do cover is pretty good. You’re unlikely to miss anything with these in your bag.

The complex engineering isn’t delicate, either. The rubber armor is shock absorbing and weatherproof, letting you use them freely. While they won’t survive total submersion, a rainy day presents no problems at all.

If you’re someone who loves to share, then you’ll be excited by the smartphone adaptor that’s included by Gosky. This simple device allows you to set up your smartphone on the lens, to take pictures and videos with fantastic detail. While some have found it difficult to set up, it’s worth the effort for the impressive images you can show off.

Pros

  • Smartphone adaptor – Use the binoculars with your phone, for crisp pictures.
  • Adjustable eye cups – Long eye relief can be accommodated with the comfortable cups.
  • Multiguard FMC focus – Incredible clarity, even at a high magnification.

Cons

  • Limited field of view – Doesn’t cover the same range as sports-specific binoculars.

Buyers guide

There are a lot of binoculars out there, with differing specifications to accommodate a range of uses. Before buying binoculars for sports watching, you need to understand what’s a useful feature – and what’s a wasted expense.

Magnification

It may come as a surprise, but if you’re after binoculars for sports, magnification isn’t that important. Yes, you want to be able to get a closer view of what’s happening. However, you don’t need to get as close as you would for a hobby like birdwatching.

If you’re sick of being so far back that players look like ants, even a lower magnification can still provide a better experience. A large magnification actually has a distinct downside – shake. This is normally counteracted with tripods, which we can all agree aren’t particularly useful for sports.

Field of View

Where magnification falters, field of view stays strong. This is the most important factor when buying binoculars for sports. Field of view refers to everything you can see through the binoculars – and you can see more when you’re at a lower magnification. While this isn’t much use for some other hobbies, it’s essential for sports. A large field of view lets you see everything that’s happening, all at the same time.

Eye relief

Eye relief is the distance the eye can be from the eye cup, while still seeing the whole field of view. For glasses wearers, this is a particularly important feature. Many good binoculars come with an adjustable eye relief, which is comfortable as well as convenient. A lower eye relief is bad for those with glasses.

Size and Weight

Sports are physical events, even for the spectators. A pair of binoculars needs to be light enough to carry, and comfortable to hold for an extended period of time. Compact binoculars have an objective lens of 30 mm or less – lower quality, but lightweight. For sports, this can be perfect. Images are still clear, but your arm won’t start hurting before the game is halfway through.

Image clarity

Image clarity is vitally important, and difficult to know. In fact, the best way to establish image quality is to use the binoculars. If you can, try before you buy. Stores will often provide a test chart, so you can properly assess how well the binoculars work.

Weatherproofing

It would be lovely if every game day came with sunshine, but this rarely seems to happen. Check for binoculars that are waterproof or weatherproof. Waterproof has a higher resistance, but weatherproof will do in a shower. Fog proof is good as well – this prevents the lenses fogging up when the temperature changes. 

Durability

Good sports binoculars come with shockproof coating, for extra durability. While they still need to be taken care of, this makes them less likely to break after a quick drop. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why buy binoculars for sports watching?

Good sports binoculars help you see more of the action, in better detail. Seats at sporting events can be expensive, and when you get stuck at the back, it can feel like you’re missing out. Binoculars bring everything closer, while keeping details clear.

What should I look for when buying binoculars for sports?

The field of view is the most important feature. This refers to what can be seen directly through the lens. A wide field of vision means more of the action can be seen in one go. Clarity of image, magnification, lens size, weight, and waterproofing are other important features.

Why are some binoculars much more expensive than others?

Sometimes, binoculars with similar specifications are vastly different prices. The reason for this is the clarity of image. A tough to convey feature, the clarity of image is how clear and crisp what you see is. The best way to find out is by testing binoculars, and comparing what you see.