2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – March 2008

March 2008 Essentials Review: Binoculars

by: The Backpacker Editors, Photos by Julia Vandenoever

PAGE 1 2
Nikon Travelite V (10x25)
Nikon Travelite V (10x25)
Pentax UCF WP (10x25)
Pentax UCF WP (10x25)
Brunton LiteTech Mid-size (10x32)
Brunton LiteTech Mid-size (10x32)

Best Buy
Nikon Travelite V (10x25)

At just 9 ounces, these binocs are so light you can wear them around your neck all day. "They didn't bounce against my chest like heavier models," says our tester. Their 10x magnification pulls in far-off terrain details, while coated optics brighten the images. Like all of the models featured in this review, rubber O-rings and nitrogen-filled interiors seal out moisture and prevent fog to make these spotters all-weather capable. The conical body allows for easy gripping, though hikers with huge hands might find them too small. $140; 8.8 oz.;

Pentax UCF WP (10x25)
Capable of withstanding a steady downpour–even a dunking to 3 feet–these scopes sport the same power (10x25) and field of view (261 feet at 1,000 yards) as the Travelite V, but weigh a few ounces more. The weight gain comes from heavier materials and a rubberized armor casing. Still, the compact, well-balanced design makes them easy to hold and carry. Like other binocs we tested, these come with BaK4 glass prisms and fully-coated optics, which allow more light to pass through the lenses. Bonus points: A screw-in mount attaches to tripods and monopods. $140; 12.3 oz.;

REI XR 10x25

These value-priced glasses offer the same moisture-blocking safeguards and light-efficient prisms as more expensive models. What's the catch? They're heavier with no increase in magnification, and despite their double-barrel design, they fold down no smaller than the other compacts. That said, we found that the optics transmitted bright images, even if they showed less detail. $85; 14 oz.;

Brunton LiteTech Mid-size (10x32)

Bigger is generally better when it comes to magnification and sharpness. Indeed, the 32mm lenses in this model provide views that are clearer, brighter, and more detailed than what you get with 25mm glass. Bigger lenses also increase this scope's relative brightness (the amount of light the binocular can gather) to 10.25, which enhances viewing in dim and overcast conditions. Optical advantages like these helped our tester identify a red-tailed hawk hunting prairie dogs a mile away, then pick out a line of cairns on a distant ridge. The LiteTech's 305-foot field of view also allows quick scans of wide swaths of territory, while the relatively low weight makes these binocs easier to carry than comparably sized models. $140; 1 lb. 5 oz.;

REI XR 8x42

Want to see more wildlife, damn the weight? Get these large 8x spotters, which feature 42mm lenses that crank up the relative brightness to 27 (that yields great images even in poor light). In testing, we could pick out climbers on shady parts of Longs Peak from a mile away. Eye relief, which measures the strain on your eyes, is a comfortable 20mm. That translates into a 367-foot field of view at 1,000 yards (see "Get Clarity" for an explanation). Bonus: The XR is tripod-compatible and has a padded neck strap, both of which help soften the extra weight. $160; 1 lb. 8 oz.;

PAGE 1 2

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Feb 01, 2010

Have a pair of Leica 8x42's, and a pair of REI 8x42's. The 6x disparity in price is not reflected in the optics: REI's waterproof 8x42's are clear, bright and rugged. Not as clear and bright as the Leicas, and don't have Leica's "you break, we replace" lifetime warranty, but pretty darn good glass for the money.

Aug 25, 2009

Eye relief doesn't measure strain on your eyes, nor does it translate into field of view.


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Gear you once poo-pooed but now love?
Posted On: Jul 21, 2014
Submitted By: markskor
The Political Arena
Religion confuses children about fact and fiction
Posted On: Jul 21, 2014
Submitted By: GoBlueHiker

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions