How to Choose a Pair of Binoculars for Camping
People like camping for many reasons, but perhaps the most common ones are breathtaking scenery, nature and wildlife all around you. For an amazing experience outdoors, therefore, you need a nice pair of binoculars. What makes a pair of binoculars suitable for camping? What are the features you should be looking for? I’ll try to help you pick the best optics for your own needs and preferences.
First of all, it’s important to decide what you are going to be use your binoculars for. This will give you better guidance when looking for the features that are important for specific activities. Finally, try to find a pair of binoculars with most or even all the features you can afford.
In case your main interest is, for instance, stargazing, opt for a pair of binoculars for stargazing. But, if you go camping to enjoy both stars and fantastic scenery, you should consider buying all round optics. Basically, a good pair of binoculars for camping should enable you to scan terrains and observe wildlife, but it must be capable of handling the conditions outdoors.
Ideal size and weight – The size of binoculars for camping depends primarily on the type of camping you usually do. In case you’re a backpacker, you should by all means pick compact lightweight optics. On the other hand, if you’re more of a “RV camper”, size shouldn’t be your number one priority. Although compact binoculars are more convenient and easier to carry around compared to a full-size pair of binoculars, they don’t work very well in poor light conditions because of their small exit pupil. Talking about exit pupil, the minimum should be 2.5, but the more the merrier.
Magnification and field of view – The larger the better? Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple. Getting closer to what you want to take a look at is number one reason for buying optics, of course, but the more powerful binoculars are, the harder they are to hold steady. In addition, great magnification means a narrow field of view and not so apparent focus depth. A magnification of 7x to 10x is probably the best choice for camping binoculars. Once you decide on magnification, choose as wide field of view as possible for the chosen magnification.
Water and Fog-Proof – Waterproofing is a nice feature, but whether you should put on the top of your priority list depends largely on the type of camping you usually do. In general, good quality binoculars work well in light humidity and rain. Water and fog-proof binoculars are also perfect for dry dust places, because they help preventing dust, sand and smaller debris from getting in the system. If you’re camping by the sea or in the Scottish Highlands, marine binoculars will perfectly meet your needs.
Eye Relief – This feature is especially important for people who use glasses. In essence, eye relief is the distance behind the ocular lenses where the image’s in focus. In case someone’s wearing glasses, they cannot get their eyes as close to the lenses as others who aren’t. So, if you (or others who are camping with you) wear glasses, look for an eye relief of 15 mm minimum.
Balance – Well balanced binoculars would sit nicely in your hands and it’s easy to hold them steady. Nevertheless, this feature isn’t something one can compare without trying them themselves. Fortunately, a good quality pair of binoculars is usually well balanced too, so chances are you won’t go wrong here. A badly balanced pair strains muscles and makes using binoculars for long periods rather difficult and these binoculars are hard to keep steady. Well balanced pair, on the other hand, puts very little stress on hands, wrists and arms, thus it’s more convenient to hold up the binoculars to the face.