BackpackGearTest.org – Clothing. Just spent a great week in Alaska. More on that later. But one thing Ilearned is that you need the right kind of gear really matters. ONly used 10% of what we brought, but the right stuff if important. Less is more. Some good reviews of stuff here.
Well, the last thing we need for our big trip in the outdoors are great binoculars to look at all the wildlife. Some great resources about this, but its been a little confusing because there doesn’t seem to be a definitive source and there are *lots* of brands. The main conclusion is that an midrange 8×32 is the best in terms of overall usefulness and an 8×20 makes a great compact binocular to take anywhere. The top brands seem to be Leica, Nikon, Zeiss and Bruntun, Swift and Swarovski. Here were the best of the bunch:
# Nikon Premier LX 8×20 ($350). Also called the Venturer LX. It was top rated in Outdoor 2003 and 2004 Buyers Guide and got a rave from Better View Desired (probably the best of the online sites).
# Nikon Venturer LX 8×32 ($700). This seems to be the choice of many folks for a mid-size binocular in terms of quality and optics.
Here are the sources used in order of usefulness.
* “Outside Best of 2004”:http://outside.away.com/outside/gear/buyers-guide-2004.tcl?Gear=Binoculars&v=15. A great review of binoculars. They liked the Leupold Wind River Katmai $400 list as the best value. The Nikon Premier LX 8×20 (“$290”:http://www.hotbuyselectronics.com/item_detail.php?item_id=105022) also scored well, but didn’t get a check mark for some reason. NOw all of these are roof prism, nitrogen filled (so no fogging) and multicoated so no flare. Pretty amazing. The cutting edge is which are phase coatest in the prism.
* “Outside Best of 2003”:http://outside.away.com/outside/gear/bg2003_2.html (registration required and doesn’t have the full review anymore). From last year, there is another list of great binoculars. Top ones to look at include Pentax UCF X 8×25 ($99) cheap and decent, only issue is that it isn’t waterproof. Here again, the Nikon Venturer 8×20 LX was a winner
* “Better View Desired”:http://betterviewdesired.com/RefSet.html. Similar opinion which is that the Bausch & Lomb Custom 7×26 is the best compact for the money, althought they love the Zeiss Victory 8×20 and the Nikon Venturer LX “8×20”:http://betterviewdesired.com/compacts/index.html. If you want the very best mid-sized, its the Nikon “Venturer 8×32”:http://www.epinions.com/Nikon_8_X_32_Venturer_LX_Binoculars__Binoculars_7436?zip=98112&x=7&y=13#wtb LX 8×32 ($700).
* “Birdingwatching.com”:http://www.birdwatching.com/optics.html. A good overall survey. They have “reviews”:http://www.birdwatching.com/optics/binocsbwd2000reviews.html where they end up liking the b&l custom like the others as well as the Nikon Venturer LX 8×42 fullsized. They also very much like the Swarovski SLC 8×30 ($865!)
* “Consumer Search”:http://www.consumersearch.com/www/sports_and_leisure/binoculars/. A good meta review site that covers Consumer Reports, Outside Magazine and the NJ Audubon Society of all things. They like the Bausch & Lomb “Custom”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00005AXHY/104-8858311-7452763?v=glance 7×26 ($225), Nikon Venturer LX 8×32 ($700) for midsized
* “Optics4Birding Review Sites”:http://www.optics4birding.com/users.aspx. A good list of sites reviewing on the Internet.
* Desperately Seeking Binos. A good overview of what to look for. The basic notes are spend as much as you can afford. Get roof prism. This is an older review from 1999, but the conclusions are Bausch and Lomb Custom 7×26 $276 was great a compact
* “Homestead”:http://www.homestead-products.com/binocs.htm. They have some great prices and also are super friendly with good advice. While he likes the Leupold Wind River “Katmai”:http://www.homestead-products.com/binocs.htm 8×32, thinks the Alden Apex “492”:http://www.homestead-products.com/alpen.htm#apex is probably better for a slightly higher price. Apparently, it uses BAK4 glass which is better and it is phase coated (so they are brighter. Alden just started making binoculars in 1997
Leupold Wind River Katmai Binoculars. We’ll be headed out to Alaska pretty soon this summer so time to get some equipment to really enjoy it.
We had a cheap set of compact binoculars but lost them. Also have a nice image stabilized set for boating. In looking at Outside Magazine, they rated these Katmai’s as super good.
Weight a pound, but a super high quality. Here are some places to buy them:
Scouting Resources – Camping – Tents. So, what if someone has an accident in your tent. What do you do? Well, apparently, you can wash these, just make sure to use a non-detergent soap. You can get this as Nikwax Techwash which is non-detergent and won’t destroy the waterproofing.
Now what do you do about your thermarest’s? Can’t wash these, so “Thermarest”:http://www.cascadedesigns.com/customer_service/faqs.asp?Action=ThermaRest#clean recommends that ou use soap, water and a soft bristle. For tough stains use Citrasolv (citrus-based degreaser).