Spotting Scope vs Binoculars

If you’re in the outdoors, then getting the right kind of equipment is essential. It doesn’t matter whether you’re hunting or birding, the likelihood is you’re going to be out for a long day, and the last thing you want to do is carry more stuff around with you than you’re going to need.

And when you’re out on the wilderness, you want to ensure that you’ve got the right tool for the job. Both binoculars and spotting scopes essentially perform the same task – to try and view something far away, up close. But, is one of these items a better choice for each activity, or does it not really matter?

Well, lets take a look at some of the things you’ll want to consider if you’re going to be deciding between a set of binoculars or a spotting scope.

Spotting Scope vs Binoculars

Depending on what you’re looking for, a spotting scope or a set of binoculars might be the better choice. So, lets have a look at them separately, then we’ll look at the advantages of each different option.

Spotting Scopes

Spotting scopes are essentially portable monoscopes that you can use for a variety of outdoors activities, primarily hunting and birding. The majority of spotting scopes are designed with the outdoors in mind – this means that they’re rugged and long lasting, so you don’t need to worry about them breaking. They can be a good investment, and spotting scopes aren’t that expensive either.

Advantages of Spotting Scopes

  • Higher magnification and therefore better for long distances – If you’re looking for something that works well over long distances, then a spotting scope tends to be a better option. This is considering that both are the same price and quality, because some expensive binoculars have great long range viewing as well.
  • Monocular design – For some people, a monocular design will be far better than a binocular design for viewing. There’s a difference between the two (check if you want to know more about the difference between monoculars and binoculars), with some people preferring a monocular design for long distance viewing especially.
  • Better in mountainous terrain – Although binoculars tend to be better in close up situations, this isn’t the case for spotting scopes. Whilst they struggle in tree and forest environments, spotting scopes are a much better choice over long distances and in mountainous terrains.


We all know what binoculars are, but why are they better than spotting scopes? Well, there are some advantages to binoculars (which I’ll get to in a minute). Binoculars can be used for hunting and birding too, but you’ll also find some good astronomy binoculars. Whilst binoculars don’t tend to have the greatest magnification, they can be extremely useful for getting a wide view of the landscape. So, combining them with a longer viewing scope is usually a good idea.

Advantages of Binoculars

  • Better for short range – A lot of hunters and birders prefer binoculars, mainly because they feel like at close ranges, binoculars are the far better choice. If you’re within a close distance from what you’re looking at, then binoculars are likely to be a better choice.
  • Wide view – Of course, because spotting scopes are design to view things far away in the distance, then they tend to have a narrower point of view. With binoculars, you’ll get a good wide view of the landscape in front of you, even if it isn’t as magnified.
  • Binoculars – Although spotting scopes are coming in more and more compact options, they tend to be larger and more difficult to carry around. A compact set of binoculars can be perfect if you’re looking for something that’s easily portable and you won’t need to worry about carrying them around in your pocket or backpack.


Overall, both of these options provide something slightly different to each other. For close range viewing, then binoculars are undoubtedly the better options of the two. But for mid-to-long range, then a spotting scope is likely to be a better choice, though you’ll likely want to pick up a tripod with your scope too. For most people and beginners, then a pair of binoculars might be the best place to start – you can look at brands like Vortex or Bushnell for some excellent binoculars. You don’t need a tripod for these, and for short ranges they are ideal.

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