by Brad Nelson 2/18/15
I recently upgraded my binoculars from an old pair of Halco 7 x 35 (pictured at bottom) to the Bushnell (10 x 42) Trophy XLT which can be purchased at Amazon for about $107.00.
I was spurred to action to upgrade the other day while out hiking. I took along the Halcos to a favorite mountain top which has a glorious panoramic view of the Northwest, including Seattle on one side and the Olympic Mountains on the other. The sun was shinning and it was a good day for taking in the view.
The problem was, the old Halcos (passed down from my father who likely bought them in the 70’s) fog up so badly. And they are rather bulky as well, although I could have lived with that. I don’t take binoculars with me every hike, although I might start doing so now with these more portable ones.
These Bushnell binoculars are smaller, but about the same weight (all that glass). However, they are waterproof and completely sealed (and de-humidified) so that they do not fog up.
Plus, these are 10-power lenses instead of the Halco’s 7-power which is a significant upgrade. The light gathering capability (the “42” of the “10 x 42”) is adequate. More expensive pairs will get you 50 or better.
I tried them out today for the first time. I took a hike to my favorite mountain top. The weather wasn’t quite as clear, but the sun peeked through here and there. At one moment it spot-lighted
downtown Seattle’s skyscrapers and made a very pretty picture. And it was a good test for these binoculars which were clear and easy to focus. It takes some practice to hold a ten-power set of binoculars still, but I got better at it, learning to lower my heart beat somewhat like a Kung Fu master.
I also took them outside last night when the sky was clear. Man, I should have bought these a long time ago. It really brings out the stars. Orion’s belt is far gaudier when you see a lot of the background stars. If I remain a stargazing enthusiast I might even spring for these popular and fairly highly-rated Celestron SkyMaster 15 x 70 binoculars to get a little more magnification and light gathering power. But the Bushnells will do fine for now until I figure out how much stargazing I’ll do. A good companion book for this is apparently Nightwatch which I have purchased from Amazon and it’s on its way.
With a special adapter you can attach the Trophy XLTs it to a tripod or monopod to steady your view. These are fully-coated optics (the good stuff) and the housing is coated with rubber for a good, non-slip feel. The build feels solid. The eye cups are adjustable for use with eyeglasses if desired.
What I especially like about this is that focus is smooth and precise. It’s got a very good feel to it. They come with a functional (if not fancy) lanyard. My only
complaint is one shared by many others: The rubber lens caps do not fit very tightly and tend to come off. I understand that one can buy replacements, although I’m going to try to modify the stock ones a little first, perhaps putting one turn of black electrical tape inside the caps to make a tighter fit.
I used to regularly fool around with a pair of binoculars when I was a kid. But I’ve never, until now, owned a good pair. Who knows? Maybe a little bird watching could be in my future.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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