Monday, February 21, 2011

Optics for backpacking?

Q, from Tim: I am planning to do some extensive backpacking this year and would like to take a pair of binoculars or a monocular. I am looking for quality optics, but lightweight is the biggest factor in my decision. I would prefer binoculars, but am considering a monocular since the weight savings will be significant.

Whatever optic I purchase will be used for bird and animal watching as well as to the horizon viewing. 7 to 8 power is fine. I'm an eyeglass wearer, but I have no problem taking my glasses off to use the optic.

Please send me some recommendations (or give me a call) and include model weights.

A: Thanks for your questions, Tim.

There are some great monoculars out there, but personally, I would prefer binoculars on a backpacking trip to have the freedom to look through them as much as I liked. Monoculars are meant for quick peeks, but aren't as good for extended viewing. Check out this blog article about monoculars.
You didn't mention your budget, but I can highly recommend the Zeiss Victory 8x20. Regular price is $649; we have a demo for $549. The glass is excellent, it practically folds in on itself with an offest center hinge, and it is super lightweight at 7.9 ounces.
Swarovski and Leica also have nice double-hinged compacts. If you are looking for something less expensive, I like the Vortex Viper at $319.99.
If you want to spend around $100, try the Nikon Prostaff.

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