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Low-priced tickets sometimes mean you can’t clearly make out the action on the field. However, a good pair of binoculars can transform those tickets into a great experience, without paying hundreds of dollars for a better seat.
Our reviews of the best binoculars for sporting events cover each one from lens to eyepiece, so you can find the model that’s right for you. We discuss the best and worst features and give you some tips on getting great value. If you’re looking for a good deal in addition to finding a great pair of binoculars, make sure you consult this guide.
|Best Overall||Nikon ACULON A211||
|Hawke Sport Optics Endurance ED||
|Bushnell Spectator Extra-Wide||
|OutNowTech Compact Folding||
The Nikon 8252 ACULON A211 10-22×50 Zoom Binocular has some of the best potential of any binoculars on the market when it comes to viewing sporting events. They have variable magnification, which you can use in its widest configuration to catch the whole play or zoom in for incredible detail. That makes them useful in midfield or nosebleed seats, and you should be able to get a great view with these, no matter where you’re sitting. They come with a simple lever for adjusting magnification and a knob for adjusting focus.
They have huge, 50-millimeter lenses, which means they capture a ton of light, and produce extremely vivid images. For clarity and brightness, these are the best binoculars on our list. The one thing we don’t like is the inferior lens caps, which sometimes fall off on their own. That makes dropping this set potentially more damaging than other binoculars. Still, if you’re looking for a pair of binoculars that will enhance your experience no matter where your seats are, you’ll be very happy with what these can do for you.
The Binoteck 12×42 Binoculars are another set that we love a lot for watching sports. The 12x magnification allows you to see everything that takes place at a sporting event, no matter how good or bad your seats are. They also have a smartphone adapter, so you can do something with this set that you can do with few others. With your smartphone, you can share the view with people around you, letting everyone benefit from your binoculars. This model is shockproof and waterproof, which makes it great for outdoor stadiums, and makes them more resistant to hard concrete if you drop them.
However, the thing we like most is the low price. It costs just a fraction of what you would end up paying for the top set on our list, but in many ways, it’s a better choice for sporting events. The one thing we don’t like is the diopter focusing, which is slower than other methods and may not always be convenient at fast-paced sporting events. Overall, these are the best binoculars for sporting events for the money that we have covered.
There’s a lot to like about the Hawke Sport Optics 8×42 Endurance ED Binocular when it comes to using them at sporting events. They have ED, or “extra-low dispersion,” glass. This lens type helps reduce chromatic aberration and produces truly high-quality images. These binoculars have adjustable eyecups so you can use them with or without glasses, and you can hold them at the most comfortable distance from your face. They’re also waterproof and fogproof, so you won’t have to worry about using them when the weather turns inclement, or about them getting foggy in humid weather.
The 8x magnification isn’t as great as that found on other models, but it leaves you with a very wide field of view. If you want to get a better view of a whole team, this set is a good choice, even if the magnification isn’t the best available. Note that you’ll be paying a high price for these, and a lot of that is due to a premium levied by most companies for ED glass. This isn’t a terrible choice, but some people will want to get better value for their money.
The Bushnell Spectator 4x30mm Extra-Wide Compact Binoculars are a good choice for some sporting events and a poor choice for others. They’re fairly compact, especially compared to binoculars with greater magnification. They also don’t require you to focus them, so you won’t have to spend time worrying about keeping things clear. Since they only have 4x magnification, they provide a very wide field of view. This makes them good for watching sports like soccer or football, where the action takes place over an extended area.
However, they lack any eye relief. That makes them an especially poor choice for glasses wearers, since they must take their glasses off to use them. Additionally, the lack of focusing means you can’t adjust these binoculars to differences in your vision in each eye, which makes them doubly bad for those with less than perfect vision. They’re also sometimes out of focus along the edges. If your seats are far from the action, they may not have enough magnification. Overall, these binoculars are useful in a very specific set of circumstances, but if you fall outside those, there’s no way you’ll be happy with them.
The OutNowTech 10×25 Compact Folding Binoculars is a set many people choose when they’re looking for something portable with good magnification. The 10x magnification lets you see the action no matter where you are in the stadium, and getting that at this model’s consistently low price is quite the steal. They fold down very compactly, which makes them great for travel. For many people, they’re small enough to keep in a pocket. Plus, they’re waterproof, so you won’t have to worry about getting caught in a storm when you’re using these.
However, they only have 25-millimeter lenses. That’s half the size of the largest pair on our list, so the light collection isn’t nearly as good. If you’re looking for the best visual quality, you’ll probably need to spring for a bigger pair. The neck strap is uncomfortable, which can be a problem for someone spending hours at a sporting event. If you really value compactness and a low price, you can get good value out of these binoculars. If you want great optical performance with bright, vivid images, you’ll probably be happier with a different pair.
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The Nikon 8252 ACULON A211 10-22×50 Zoom Binocular is our favorite model for sporting events due to its variable magnification, easy focus and magnification control, and large lenses. The Binoteck 12×42 Binoculars have good magnification, are waterproof and shockproof, and include a smartphone adapter. Their low price earns them the title of “best value for the money” on our list.
In third is the Hawke Sport Optics 8×42 Endurance ED Binocular. It comes with ED glass, adjustable eye relief, and a wide field of view, but its high price costs it a few places. The Bushnell Spectator 4x30mm Extra-Wide Compact Binoculars earn the fourth place with a compact frame and wide field of view, but their poor eye relief and lack of focusing hurt their value. The OutNowTech 10×25 Compact Folding Binoculars have excellent magnification, and the compact and waterproof frame is a big plus, but the small lenses and uncomfortable neck strap put them in the last place.
We know it’s not always easy to spot the deals you’re looking for when shopping online, but we hope these reviews have helped you find the best set of binoculars for you.
Header image by Andy Witchger from Flickrr
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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