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Thread: Binoculars that are hike friendly

  1. #1
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    Binoculars that are hike friendly


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    I own a pair of Nikon Action EX 7x35 porro prism binoculars and I love them to death, but they're bricks and they're left behind at home or camp more often than not. I'm looking for something a bit lighter and possibly (but not necessarily) a bit smaller,for under $300. The lightness obviously dictates a roof prism model. I was looking at:

    Nikon Monarch 5 8x42
    Pentax DCF CS 8x42
    Leupold Cascades 8x42
    And for something a little different (and very difficult to find nowadays) - Leupold 6x32

    Looking to use it for general observation and some (not obsessive) birding.

    Any thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses between all of these?

  2. #2
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    I would choose smaller object diameter for your purpose, maybe 30 or 32mm.
    If you think 35mm is too big and heavy, going 42mm will not solve your problem even if you choose roof prism product.

    I'm using 30mm for 20 years and I take them almost everywhere I go.

    Just my opinion.

  3. #3
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    Thank you for the insight.

    On that note, I've added a couple more options to the mix:

    Vortex Viper (non-HD) 6x32
    Meopta MeoPro 6.5x32

  4. #4
    Pentax provides GREAT bang for the buck in my opinion. They're only a 25mm objective, but my favorite hiking binocs are the Pentax Papilios. They can focus as close as 1.5 ft in front of the objective lenses so you can use them like a microscope to look at bugs or plants in addition to stuff that's far away.


    Baryonyx Knife Co. ~Condors, Moras, Deluxe Tramontinas, and More!

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  5. #5
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    I've had a pair of Pentax 8x42mm for about 15 years. They're good bino's, but are on the heavy side. I don't know how light you're wanting to keep things, but good optics are hefty.

  6. #6
    They make 'em pretty light now. Lots of developments over 15 years.


    Baryonyx Knife Co. ~Condors, Moras, Deluxe Tramontinas, and More!

    "To live at all is miracle enough."
    — Mervyn Peake

  7. #7
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    None of the hiking binos that I was going to suggest are even produced anymore.

    My favorite pair is a Japanese made Orion Otter WP 8x24 6.3 deg roof prism, aluminum frame, that weighs 8 oz.
    Not cheap, but the sharpest compact binos I've ever used.

    I think they are still made but under a different brand.

    Second is a Nikon 8x25 Mountaineer II; bright for compacts,
    and superior edge performance to the Pentax's IMO.


    "Cataloguing my virtues won't work either... I hold them to a minimum so they're easy to keep track of." -Jim Rockford

  8. #8
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    You might try the Steiner Rocky or the preditor models I have both and like them. They fit in a grande pouch that I have on my
    sling bag.

    Bryan

  9. #9
    Leupold BX-3 Mojave are awesome!! I have the now discontinued Gold Ring High Def Leupold binos and these little Mojave keep up with the HDs nicely. For the money I couldn't be happier. The low light or in the shadows contrast is amazing.

  10. #10
    The glass in Leupolds is great. I find the ergonomics of their housings to be pretty poor though.


    Baryonyx Knife Co. ~Condors, Moras, Deluxe Tramontinas, and More!

    "To live at all is miracle enough."
    — Mervyn Peake

  11. #11
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    Not mentioned but one I really like and runs about $100 > $120 a pair... Leupold Yosemite 6x30. They are waterproof and pretty small for a traditional design. I take them with me in the woods hunting, on the river kayaking or canoeing, and keep them in my truck most of the time for general use. I really like these and they are a very good value.

  12. #12
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    I've had great luck with these, for 5 years of use: Alpen Optics Shasta Ridge 8 x 42 Binoculars. Reasonably priced for decent optics IMHO too ... Under $150.

  13. #13
    Nikon Travelites waterproofs for me. Good bang for the buck


  14. #14
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    I also have a pair of 10x28mm (i think....) Praktica bino's i bought while in Russia a few years back that are pretty nice, but have nowhere near the resolution/acuity of my Pentax's.

    Yes, they have made a few improvements in optics, but mostly in optical coatings (ie apochromatic, extra-low-dispersion and fluoride glass compounds). Actual advances in optical "design" are much more difficult (the law of physic's governing optics just don't change much....).

  15. #15
    I've got the Monarch 8x42, but those are all great choices. However, the real difference you will see is if you buy a harness that goes over the shoulders. Leopold makes the best, imho, and it makes carrying the binoculars 100x more comfortable.


  16. #16
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    Here's what I'm using. FUJINON FMTR 8x30




    And a shot taken through it, a male Peregrine falcon

  17. #17
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    One of my issues with the less expensivie binocs is the ability to adjust the eye piece properly. My aging eyes result in issues sometimes and one of the first things I look at with binocs is the ability to get a very sharp focus. In stores, I like to try to sight on something at a distance with text to see how well I can discorn the printing without it getting fuzzy.

    I also have a pair of the 8x42 Nikon Monarch's which I really like as well. I feel they are a good value. They are bigger than the Yosemite's, but are still carryable when hiking. The higher power would be helpful for birding, but certainly not anything approaching what many of the birding folks carry when they are focused on birds and not scoping a deer.

  18. #18
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    I've had a pair of Steiner 8x30G for 15 or 20 years. Catalog weight is (I think) 17 ounces; I've never actually weighed them. Individual focus, if that matters. I've had them hanging from my neck from before sunrise till after dark and never noticed the weight. Steiner makes several models on this pattern now that weren't available when I bought mine.

  19. #19
    I would check out Minox. An oft over-looked gem of the bino market at a very good price. There is a real gap between the pocket sized bino (8x20, 10x25) and the entry level full sized. This is especially true for the difference in weight and bulk. Swarovski and Leica make the best pocket sized but the price is a killer for many (7-800 USD). You are paying a third of that price for the warranty. A look at the "grey market", or non-US warranty, will confirm the price variation.

  20. #20
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    My thoughts in no particular order:

    1) Dollar for dollar, roofs will give you more chromatic abberation than porros. You need to get into the ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass in a roof to be free from the CA.
    2) You're sacrificing True Field of View (TFoV) going to an 8 x 42.
    3) In my opinion, a 7 x 35 porro is an ideal woods glass. You don't need a lot of mag and a narrow field of view in the woods. Lower mag and WIDE field are your friends. If you're shore birding however, go with a 10 X porro and spotting scope.
    4) The birding "pros" all seem to love 8 x 42 roofs, but they all use European glass such as the Leica. You probably don't want to spend $2K though.
    5) Always consider the exit pupil of the binocs. Divide the objective diameter (in mm) by the magnification. Ex., 35mm / 7 power = 5mm exit pupil. This greatly influences the "brightness" of the glass. Larger your exit pupil, the brighter the image. Particularly helpful in low light.

    That said, my two primary binocs are a Leupold 8 x 30 and a Pentax 10 x 50 (both porro). When I bird, I'm not lugging optics far from the car. I also have a small Nikon Travelite for tossing in the day-hike pack.

    Good luck.

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