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Trail optics.

I kind of have a thing for optics.  I think it may be, partly, because my eyesight isn't good, even with glasses, so being able to see distant objects with clarity is like magic to me.  So, I've managed to collect a ridiculous number of scopes and binoculars.

When I'm canoeing, I keep a pair of binoculars around my neck at all times, but I hardly ever take binoculars on hikes because of the weight and bulk.  So, I've decided to do something about that.  I've ordered some compact binoculars, to see if I'll actually take them on a hike.  What I ended up ordering are some Nikon Travelite 12x25 binoculars.  Not super high quality, but pretty good.

You can buy really tiny binoculars that fold down small enough to fit in a shirt pocket but, to me, those aren't really functional binoculars. I wanted something good enough that I could/would take them bird watching, and you need pretty good optics for that.

The model I ordered is available in 8x, 10x and the 12x I ordered.  More power isn't necessarily better.  The higher the power (all else being equal), the darker the image, the narrower the field of view, and the harder it is to hold steady.  A good argument could be made for 8x25 being the best option.  On the other hand, if it's a bright sunny day and I'm seated on a hill or summit, with my elbows propped on my legs, I could see 12x being pretty fun and helpful. 

I used to carry these: Vivitar CS-1025 Binocular but haven't used them for a while now. They were OK, but not great and weighed around 12oz. If I'm carrying my Sony camera I'll use the zoom function these days which can be helpful or annoying depending on what I'm trying to see.

I have a pair of nice 8X25s that I used to take along on hikes.  Very rarely used them, and the weight was unnecessary.  I also love astronomy--for car camping I have a set of 12X100s that are huge and weigh a ton, but they really show the night sky!

While really useful for pursuits like bird watching, optics are generally not worth carrying.  Even in SAR, binoculars were not really all that useful.

For certain types of trips with route finding, binoculars are worth carrying.  I like to look at birds when I am out there.  Christmas Bird Counts are taking place now.   I am going on Jan. 5.  Who else is going?

I’ve carried my Simmons 20-60X spotting scope and a full height lightweight camera tripod up several moderate mountains, the weight wasn’t too bad but without an SLR adapter to take pics, or an SLR camera, it wasn’t really worth it except for the one time my young nephew came along. He was maybe 11 at the time and enjoyed seeing the mountains close up. If I was to bring any optics along now it’d most likely be a small monocular. 

i'll bring them on day hikes or if i expect wildlife that i might want to see at a distance. have owned and used the same pair of nikon travelite binoculars (9x25) for over 20 years.  compact, easy to use, sturdy enough. 

August 9, 2020
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