Going to the races? There’s nothing like a good pair of binoculars to get you up close to the action. This guide covers the most important features to look for when choosing the best pair of race binoculars. We’ve also listed our top 3 binoculars for watching the races.
What Do The Numbers Mean?
Two numbers always represent binoculars. The first number being the magnification also referred to as the power or zoom, and the second number being the lens size. 7×35, for example, means 7x magnification and 35mm lenses.
How Much Zoom Do I Need?
Obviously the more magnification (zoom) you have the further and more detail you will be able to see. Unfortunately, high magnification binoculars are too hard to stabilise handheld, especially standing up in the races. Every small shake of your hand will be magnified resulting in an unstable image. High magnification also comes with a narrower field of view; this means not being able to spot and follow the fast moving horses. For watching a race, you will be better off with lower magnification yet a wider field of view binoculars. 6x, 7x or 8x magnification is perfect for horse racing binoculars. Any more magnification than that is not recommended.
What is the Best Lens Size?
Big lenses in binoculars are designed to gather more light. This helps you achieve a brighter image, which means you can use the binoculars in low-light conditions such as dusk, fog or even nighttime. Since races are viewed in daytime, with relatively good light around, you don’t need to go overboard with big lenses. Big lenses also make the binoculars bulkier and heavier, something you really don’t want in horse racing binoculars. So compact to mid-sized lenses would work best as they are lighter and easier to carry around. Recommended lens size would be between 20mm to 36mm. These are definitely large enough for any daytime use.
What is a Good Size and Weight?
When watching horse races, you are often standing up so lighter and more compact binoculars are an advantage. Binoculars of around 600-700g or less are considered lightweight and will be very easy to hold, stabilise and follow the race.
Which Brand and How Much to Spend?
There are plenty of good binocular brands around. Basically, it all comes down to the price and quality of the optics. Leading in high-end binoculars are European manufacturers such as Zeiss and Swarovski. Nikon, Olympus, Vortex and Fujifilm are also well known for their great quality optics. In the low range, there are of course many other brands such as Tasco, Barska and others. For good quality racing binoculars, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $1000.
For watching the races, it is recommended to have 6x to 8x magnification. The ideal lens size is 20mm to 36mm. Compact to mid-sized binoculars, which are no more than 700g, are best. It is important to have a wide field of view to follow the fast moving horses. The cost for good quality binoculars can range from $150 to $1000 depending on the brand and quality of the optics. Below is a list of our best-selling horse racing binoculars that we believe are also the best bang for your money:
Our Top 3 Horse Racing / Sports Viewing Binoculars for 2017
** Note: All 3 binoculars recommended below are suitable for eyeglasses users **