September 23, 2010
Many years ago, I was in Colorado on my first elk hunt, sneaking through a patch of relatively open timber on a frosty morning, when I spotted a patch of tan about 50 yards away. I raised my cheap binoculars, only to discover they were completely fogged internally. After that day I swore I would pay more attention to my binocular purchases.
Since then I've had the opportunity to hunt with nearly every make of binocular on the market, and I've learned two things: You do get what you pay for, but it's not imperative to always pay top dollar.
On a Colorado elk hunt last fall, I carried a pair of Nitrex 10x42s, which retail for about $300. I could give you the specs, but you can look those up for yourself at nitrexoptics.com. What I will give you is my experience with them.
We hiked hard, glassed first light to last, hunted in cold rain and on freezing mornings that gave way to warm afternoons. The Nitrex 10x42s were thrown unceremoniously into vehicles, dropped on the ground, banged against trees. They came through it all without a hitch.
The ergonomics are good, the adjustments have the right amount of tension, and the 1.5-pound weight is what you want when you're going to be on the go all day. They were acceptably sharp for the job at hand, with only the slightest distortion at the edges. Glassing a herd on a shady, snowy hillside I did notice the image in the right barrel had a slight bluish cast to it--no big deal. I thought the binoculars had great light transmission, enabling me to spot a bull 400 yards away in heavy cover just as shooting light ended.
These are not the binoculars I'd take on a big-time trophy hunt where I'd be trying to determine the exact length of a G3 tine from a couple hundred yards away, but for everyday, "let's go huntin'" binoculars, they're a good choice at a good price. And if for some reason the binoculars do fail, they come with a lifetime warranty for the original owner, plus a direct over-the-counter exchange if something goes wrong within a year of purchase (so save your receipt).