Choosing Binoculars by Use

Not all binoculars are designed equally and what ever you plan to use your binoculars for, you should choose the best binoculars for that purpose. Even if you are after some general purpose binoculars for a variety of different uses, the ideal optics will have different characteristics to a more specialized binocular.

In each guide below I go through in detail the main features you need to look out for in the ideal binocular for your intended purpose. Hopefully in this way it will make your decision on which binoculars to buy easier.


Birdwatching binocularsBirdwatching binoculars

Whilst you can enjoy birds without them, binoculars along with your bird book are the most essential tools to any bird watcher. But which pair is right for you, In my article I go through which feature to look out for as well as review some of the best, cheapest, lightest, smallest, strongest birding binoculars on the market >> Binoculars for Birding.

Safari binocularsSafari binoculars

Slightly different than pure wildlife binoculars as they will also be designed for travel as well as wildlife viewing and must also be able to hold their own as bird watching binoculars. View my article on how to choose the ideal >> Binoculars for Safaris.

Travel Binoculars

Best Low Cost, All-Round Travel Binoculars - Advice with suggestions on choosing versatile travel binoculars that perform in a wide range of scenarios including safaris, whale watching, cruise ships, kayaking and general wildlife observation.

Bushnell Marine binocularsMarine binoculars

Binoculars that have been specifically designed for on the water need to have specific features, these include being fully waterproof as well as tough, some other features to look out include some that float and others come with a compass and are also rangefinder binoculars. Take a look at the following BBR guides:

Binoculars for Cruise Ship HolidaysBest Binoculars for Cruise Ship Holidays

If you are lucky enough to be going on a cruise, one pice of equipment that I highly recommend you pack in your bag is a good set of bins. In this guide I take a look at the most important features to look out for as well as suggest a few of what I believe to be good cruise ship binoculars based on my tests and reviews.

The Best Binoculars for Kayaking & CanoeingBest Binoculars for Kayaking & Canoeing

In this guide, I go through all the features that make for a good or even the best pair of Canoeing / Kayaking Binoculars as well as offer my recommendations based on my own real-world testing and in-depth reviews.

Whitewater Rafting Binoculars

Slightly different to dedicated marine, canoeing and Kayaking binoculars, in this section I and a few other experts make a few suggestions as to the best compact binoculars to use whilst whitewater rafting.

Rangefinder Binoculars for HuntingHunting Binoculars Home page

The ideal hunting binoculars will vary depending on conditions as well as the type of hunting and your terrain, but common features include the need for them to be tough and have excellent light gathering characteristics.

View my articles on how to choose the ideal:

Survival Binoculars & Binoculars for Preppers

Binoculars for Survival & PreppersIn an survival, evacuation, get home in an emergency or indeed pretty much situation when the SHTF, the right pair of binoculars are one of the most essential pieces of kit as they enable you to:

  • Scout ahead from a safe distance for people, dangerous situations or ambushes.
  • Scan potential routes or possible camping spots without having to go there, saving you time and energy
  • Monitor your surroundings for danger or opportunities, can be very important if you are camped or hunkered down for the night
  • Gather information: on people, game animals, and even supplies in your area

For more info, view the following guides to the:

Night Vision DevicesNight Vision Binoculars & Other Devices

Open up a whole new world after dark. I have used them on safari with incredible results so follow me as I take a look at the difference between night vision glasses and other night vision devices, including binoculars, monoculars and night vision scopes as well as discovering how they work and what features to look out for when deciding which one to buy:

Binoculars for AstronomyBinoculars for Astronomy

Not only telescopes are used for astronomy and you will be amazed what you can see with a normal pair of binoculars as well as those specifically designed for astronomy. Read my guides what too look out for when choosing:

Binoculars for Very Low Light Conditions

Viewing Elephants in the darkIf you understand the concepts and choose the right instrument, you will be surprised just how well a standard, optical only binocular can work in very low light conditions and whilst they cannot work in complete darkness, there are certainly many situations (other than astronomy) where a normal binocular could be a preferable option over a dedicated night vision device.

So for example you may go out viewing wildlife or even birding well before sunrise, or stay out just before/after the sun has set as this is often when a lot of wildlife (including birds) become most active.

Below are a few guides and article that I have written on choosing and using the best binoculars for low light conditions:

  • Best Hand-holdable Low Light Performance Binoculars - In this article, I help a BBR Patreon supporter find an excellent quality, but also good value for money binocular for hand-held use in a variety of situations including hunting, wildlife observation, but which must also have an excellent low light capability.

  • Binoculars for Hunting & Target Shooting in Low Light - Here I answer a question from a long-time BBR Patreon supporter looking for an improved performance at dusk from their current Vortex Diamondback 10x42 binoculars that they most use for long-distance shooting, with a combination of hunting and target.


Binoculars for SportsBinoculars for Sports

If you are lucky enough to have tickets to your favorite sporting event, be it football, soccer, baseball, athletics, golf, tennis, horse racing, motor racing, basketball, cricket, rugby, ice hockey, beach volleyball, watching sailing and many many more, a good pair of binoculars will add to the enjoyment of the occasion. Read my guide to the >> Best Sports Optics.

Binoculars for Horse RacingBinoculars for Horse Racing

No matter if you are going to the Kentucky Derby, the Grand National or just you local meet you really should not leave home without a good pair of horse racing binoculars as they will most definitely improve your enjoyment of the event. But what exactly makes a good pair or binoculars for horse racing? Read my guide to the >> Best Horse Racing Binoculars.

Binoculars for CricketBinoculars for Cricket

No matter if it is a test match between the old rivals, England and Australia, a limited overs one day international, county cricket game, a Twenty20 slog-fest or even just the local club game on the village green, a good pair of binoculars really will add to your enjoyment of the game and I highly recommend taking a pair with you. Read my guide to choosing the >> Best Binoculars for Watching Cricket.

Binoculars for watching SailingBinoculars for Watching Sailing

If you are going to watch sailing, rowing, canoeing, surfing, windsurfing or indeed if you just want to get a better view of any type of boat or ships from the shore.

Boat, Yacht & Ship Watching Binoculars

Many people who are lucky enough to live in a location where they have views over the ocean or a lake purchase binoculars for spotting or watching boats, yachts and ships.

Here the distances tend to be a little greater and you don't need to worry about transporting your instrument, so you can get a larger more powerful device to achieve greater image detail.

Binoculars for CampingBinoculars for Camping

There is so much to see and do in the great outdoors and that is one of the reasons that a good pair of binoculars is so important for that camping trip. But what exactly makes a good camping binocular? As with binoculars, there are many different types of camping, ones where you hike carrying all your equipment were size and weight is vitally important, to a luxury camping trip in your RV, Motor home or camper van. To find the optics that are right for you, read my guide to the >> Best Camping Binoculars.

Binoculars for HikingHiking Binoculars

Please note that I am currently working on my definitive guide to the best binoculars for hiking, which I hope to have finished for you guys soon, but until then, below are some relevant articles, and guides:

Small Binoculars & Spotting Scope for Hiking, Camping, Backpacking & Bikepacking
Why I chose this particular Compact Binocular & Spotting Scope combination for my Backpacking & Bikepacking trips. Also includes alternative options as well as other advice on compact scopes and binoculars.

Best Hiking Binoculars under 100 ($/£)?
However, until then and if you are on a tight budget, I really recommend you take a look at my article on what I think are one of the best binoculars costing less than $100 / 100 for hiking and why I bought the Vortex Vanquish 10x26 binoculars for this purpose.

Theatre BinocularsOpera Binoculars & Theatre Glasses

Whether you are looking for a general use compact binocular that is also suitable to take to the theatre or opera or for specifically designed opera glasses read my guide to the best Opera Binoculars & Theatre Glasses

>> Guide to Opera Glasses & Theatre Binoculars.

Butterfly BinocularsButterfly Binoculars

Binoculars are not always used for viewing objects far away and if you have never looked at a butterfly through a pair of binoculars, you should give it a try. The amount of detail and colors that you see is incredible and all at a distance that does not scare it away.

>> Best Binoculars for Viewing Butterflies through Binoculars.

Vixen SG 2.1x42 Widefield BinocularsTV Binoculars | Binoculars for Watching Television

As far as I know, there aren't any binoculars that have been specifically designed for viewing television, but there are a number of instruments that I have come across that are perfectly suitable and which will offer you a wide view from 3 meters or less. So be it because you have poor eyesight, or just want to get a better view of some small text on the screen and based around a question I receive from a reader, here is my guide to TV binoculars:

>> Best Binoculars for Watching TV.

Whale and Puffin Watching BinocularsWhale and Puffin Watching Binoculars

I recently got an e-mail from someone lucky enough to be going on a trip to Iceland where they planned to do a lot of or Puffin, Whale and Seal Watching and wanted some advice on which binoculars would be best suited for their needs. I thought that my advice to them could also be of use to others and so have decided to publish this guide to bins for watching whales and puffins.

Plane Spotting Binoculars

Binoculars for Plane SpottingThere are two main types of binoculars for plane spotting - high altitude spotting where you use binoculars to identify aircraft at very far distances or binoculars that you would take with you to an air show or next to a runway. Other than them both needing fairly large magnifications, the requirements are fairly different so for some advice on how to choose both take:
Read my guide to the >> Best Binoculars for Plane Spotting.

Airplane Binoculars - In this article we take a look at what features to look out for the best binoculars to use inside an aircraft.

Binoculars for Space Shuttle Launch Binoculars for Space Shuttle Launch

I was recently asked by a reader as to which binoculars I would recommend to him, to take to watch the launch of a space shuttle from Cape Canaveral in Florida. I thought that even though this is a very specific use for a pair of optics, by answer may be useful to others: Read my guide to the
>> Best Binoculars for Space Shuttle Launch.

Binoculars for Skiing and SnowboardingSkiing Binoculars

As well as enabling you to enjoy the fantastic mountain views and see some wildlife, a good pair of binoculars will come in very handy especially if you ski off-piste. This is because before going down it is preferable, even important to "scout" the downhill terrain to determine an optimal path to go down and identify possible dangers ahead. Also for navigation you need to look around. Read my guide to the >> Best Binoculars for Skiing & Snowboarding.

Binoculars for SurfingSurfing Binoculars

These are not binoculars that you use whilst surfing, rather ones that you use to watch people surfing either at competitions or just your friends.

A great pair is similar to a general all purpose sports binocular, but with a few added requirements. These include the obvious need to be waterproof, not only to protect from sea spray, but also from sand and dust.

Nikon SHE Safari Monarch 1036 Womens BinocularsWomen's Binoculars

Most binoculars have a strong masculine look to them, but a few manufacturers have decided to design binoculars with a softer, more feminine look to them.

From safari & birding binoculars, to optics ideal as a functional, stylish accessory to a day at Wimbledon or the races. >> Binoculars for Women.

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