I was just wondering if anyone can recommend some good binoculars for putting into a bug out bag. Preferably something somewhat compact and that has a belt pouch as well if I decide I want to take them out on a hike without the bag.
I am also somewhat unfamiliar with the meanings of the powers. 4 x 50 means that the minimum magnification is 4 and the maximum is 50 is what I am guessing.
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June 24, 2007, 09:13 PM
First of all, for hunting I carry some Luepold 10 X 40's.
In the diferent bug out packs/car./truck, etc, I toss some cheap 8x20's. Since they are ten bucks I got plenty of them, no biggie if they crap out. the Lupy's (250.00) are for sure, though.
Now a primer on nomenclature:
10X40: the first number is how many times the scope or bino multiplies the image. so an 8 power is not as powerful as a 10 power, and a 12 power is getting close to too hard to hold still.
A 16 power is almost worthless, since you can't hold it still, and it won't focus close up.
The second number (8X30) is how many mm it is across the objective lens (the lens closest to the target). A 30 mm lens is not quite as bright as a 40, and a 50 mm lens is pretty big, and bright.
If you see a number like this: 3-10X50 it means that this is a ZOOM model, that is you can find the target at 3 power, zoom up to 10 power for detail, with a 50 mm Objective lens.
Zooms are inherently slightly to markedly less in quaility. Except the Zwarovski that goes directly from 8-12 power in one click. Those are well made.
Quality: a 39 dollar pair of binos (walmart bushnells 10 X 40) is noticably fuzzier than a 250 dolllar Luepold 10x40.
Go into the 1200 dollar range (Ziess, Leika, and Swarovski especially) and you get absolutely crystaline images, with very close focus, and rapid focus. If you can afford it.
For hunting, bird watching, and warrior use, a 10 power is probably best all around strength.
types: the porro prism is the classic shape, It's the bino with the hips.
the roof prism is more of a straight line shape, more compact, and clearer image. Easier to make a quality bino with that style.
compacts: These are almost always Roof Prism, with 8 to 10 power being most found. Up to about 25 or rarely 30 mm objectives, before you have to jump to larger frame. easy to loop the string (rarely a full neck strap) through a pocket button hole and drop the bino into a pocket. I have a Tasco 12X 25 that I really like.
Exit pupil: this is critical in ease of use: the larger the exit pupil the easier it is to find what you are looking for.
The exit pupil is the dot of light coming outof the lens closest to your eye. If you are too close or too far from it, it looks like a bubble swimming around in front of you. At just the right distance, the entire image opens up into a full field of view in your eyeball. A larger exit pupil is easier to get right fast.
Eye relief. This is what allows you to hold further away, and still get a good picture.
Roll down cups: these are for those who wear glasses. Roll down the cups, and put the binos directly against your glasses, and geta good view.
Diopter adjustment: this is what lets you set one eye diferently from the other, when your eyes don't really match, but you haven't admited you need glasses. OR it allows you to take off your glasses, and adjust to your vision, and get a perfect view.
Physically go to a place like Cabellas, or Sportsmans Wherehouse, and try out several. Look for the clearest picture in the price range you can afford. Then see how close you can focus. A really good one will focus about 6-8 feet from you. How long do you have to twist to focus from your feet, to way across the building? Try to read signs at diffent distances, especially small print or complicated print. That tells you how good the lenses are.
Is it easy to get into a good hold, with a clear single picture?
many inexpensive binos are now water proof, and purged with nitrogen.
Avoid Chinese binos, and you may even pass on Barska (russian?)
I hope this helps, good luck
By the way, they all come with a pouch that you can hook to your belt, I prefer them closer to hand, and use a harness for carrying, so I can keep it off my neck. Walmart, 14 bucks.
June 24, 2007, 10:59 PM
I've used a Nikon Travelite 9x25 for 15 years. I've had them in duck boats and blinds, and at Redskins games. They're clear, not too expensive and small.
Only 9 ounces !!!!
They used to make them in 7x, 8x, 9x and 10x. I think I'd get the 8x next time because it's a little bit of an effort to hold the 9x steady.
Here's one place that sells them, but they're widely available.
I paid $99 for mine, but it looks like they're cheaper now.
June 25, 2007, 01:34 AM
I have heard the small compact Nikons are pretty good. My brother has a pair. I carry the 8x40 Nikon Monach binoculars which run around $300. These are full sized binoculars. 8 power is a good magnification for general use. I'm very pleased with them. I done graduated from the Bushnell $40-$50 binoculars which I have used for many years!!
Go to a store like Bass Pro and spend some time really looking at the various binocular models. It is amazing the number that are available. My sense is that I'd have to step up to the $800-$1000 price range to improve much over the Monachs.
June 25, 2007, 02:03 PM
Many years ago I decided if binoculars would not fit in a large shirt/jacket pocket they are too large.
Since then I have used Bushnell Compact 7X25 binoculars. They have served me well since they first came out. If I were to trophy hunt I would use a small spotting scope.
I used to have a friend who had some GI 7X50s. He was always bragging on how great they were, but when we hunted he left them in the truck or camp.
Some of my hunting involved mountain hunting for sheep or such, and I carried all I would use for a week or so. Every ounce counted. NO WAY would I carry a pair of large binoculars around my neck.
I realize that there are many who tout large powerful binoculars, but I would not carry them if given to me.
So I will continue to carry my small binoculars, although my hunting days are pretty well over, for anything I need binoculars for.
June 26, 2007, 05:02 PM
Thanks for a very thorough primer. I appreciate it!
June 27, 2007, 01:21 PM
Adding to the concepts.
There are specialty binos too.
Opera glasses are for the opera.
Bushnell makes a 4x stadium pair for football stadiums. Really quite cheap.
Try to get tripods for your binos. There are good reasons why big hunting guides have tripods for their binos. They add to stability, cut down on fatigue.
Be ware of buying at Walmart. I have tested some that have the same model number as the internet specials and the Walmart ones were inferior.
The optical quality is good and they have the advantage of variable power.
June 27, 2007, 09:14 PM
Tecumseh, thanks for this thread, I needed this info.
hankpac, you are the man. Thanks a ton for the super post and the time you spent on it. Also, thanks to everyone else for posting what their experience has been.
I (embarassingly) bought a little pair of $8 binos out of one of those tool bins at the harware store (you know the ones where all of the tools are $8). I just wanted something to take to the range so I could see where each shot was going out past 15 yards, nothing more. I tried these POS's out when I got home and almost went cross eyed and threw up at the same time. Lesson learned. Cheap Optics = Oxymoron
Hitting up a Sporting Goods store soon. Thanks again all.
June 27, 2007, 09:49 PM
If your budget allows....
I recently had the opportunity to take a peek through a pair of Binos owned by a local constable. I don't know the brand, but they were image stabilized binoculars, had night vision attachemnts and image intensifier tubes. He said the total investment was about $20,000.00
Your tax dollars at work fellers.
July 6, 2007, 01:20 AM
Someone I know who is into bird watching showed me a set of 15x Canon electronic image stabilized bino's - WOW! But I think they said they were like 2k IIRC though, and pretty heavy to boot.
July 6, 2007, 02:01 AM
The only point I will contribute is power. More is not always better. I have a pair of Minolta 7X and a pair of Bushnell 10X. Both are nice and clear! The 10X never get used...ever! For me, 7X nearly perfect. I would suggest about 6X for me.
July 6, 2007, 04:35 PM
Doc, what do you use yours for? I'm looking to get a pair that will show my hits on paper at 400 yds. I'd also like to use some for surveillance if needed.
Do need less than 10X?
July 6, 2007, 05:39 PM
A couple things I'd like to expand on from hankpacs nice write up.
***A 30 mm lens is not quite as bright as a 40, and a 50 mm lens is pretty big, and bright.***
True when staying with the same magnification power but, when the power changes, it's more complicated. The two limitations light must pass through before the image registers in the brain is the exit pupil of the bino and the eye pupil of the user.
Exit pupil of a bino is determined by dividing the obj. size by power mag. A 10x32 bino will have a 3.2mm exit pupil. A 7x42 will have 6mm. A 12x50 will have 4.1.
Eye pupils range from 4-7mm. We'll say the user has a 5mm eye pupil.
In a low light condition, the user will get more light with the 7x42 due to the limitation of the smaller exit pupil of the 10x32 and 12x50.
***types: the porro prism is the classic shape, It's the bino with the hips.
the roof prism is more of a straight line shape, more compact, and clearer image. Easier to make a quality bino with that style***
It's been my understanding that due to prism design and the need of phase coating, the roof binos are harder and more expensive to build. They tend to be smaller,lighter,more durable and easier to waterproof. The market said that's what they wanted and the manu. gave it but, at the cost of more $$$$$.
July 7, 2007, 01:18 AM
Even the 10X would not be enough for 400 yard rifle targets. I use my Minoltas for hunting, hiking, camping, and just general "looking around", etc. Have you ever looked at the moon with a nice pair of 7X? Nice!
Dunhams has a 100X spotting scope, yes, I typed it properly...100X! :rolleyes:
July 7, 2007, 01:25 AM
12X50 Pentax is what I use.
July 7, 2007, 01:45 PM
....I'm looking to get a pair that will show my hits on paper at 400 yds. I'd also like to use some for surveillance if needed.
400 yards is a long ways out there. Bought the Swarovski 10X42 SLC's and added a "doubler", screws into the eye piece of the bino to make it 20X. It's not the same as a spotting scope, but does a good job bringing objects in close for not much money and very compact.