Sitka Mountain Gear
Binoculars
Equipment
Contributors to this thread:
John.Bonez 21-Apr-18
Bou'bound 21-Apr-18
Ned 21-Apr-18
Bowboy 21-Apr-18
COHOYTHUNTER 21-Apr-18
John.Bonez 21-Apr-18
Shawn 21-Apr-18
AZBUGLER 21-Apr-18
Ucsdryder 21-Apr-18
wyobullshooter 22-Apr-18
Treeline 22-Apr-18
LKH 22-Apr-18
lv2bohunt 22-Apr-18
Ermine 22-Apr-18
WapitiBob 22-Apr-18
jims 22-Apr-18
LKH 22-Apr-18
Amoebus 22-Apr-18
ground hunter 22-Apr-18
Treeline 22-Apr-18
SBH 22-Apr-18
ELKMAN 22-Apr-18
Buskill 22-Apr-18
elkster 22-Apr-18
APauls 22-Apr-18
Pigsticker 22-Apr-18
bad karma 22-Apr-18
Tilzbow 22-Apr-18
WV Mountaineer 22-Apr-18
Marj 22-Apr-18
Grubby 23-Apr-18
Ziek 23-Apr-18
John.Bonez 25-Apr-18
Treeline 25-Apr-18
BassBuster 25-Apr-18
mountainman 26-Apr-18
Hoytbowhunter 26-Apr-18
Whocares 26-Apr-18
Lost Arra 26-Apr-18
APauls 26-Apr-18
Ken Moody Safaris 26-Apr-18
Beginner 26-Apr-18
COHOYTHUNTER 26-Apr-18
lv2bohunt 26-Apr-18
Nick Muche 27-Apr-18
Yasla 27-Apr-18
splitlimb13 27-Apr-18
21-Apr-18
Hi Everyone, I'm gearing up for big game hunting in the rockies and one of the big ticket items on my list is binoculars. I've done my research and know the options but what I really want to know is what should your average joe spend on binos? Will the Swarovski glass translate into more bulls on the ground than say Zeiss Conquests or Vortex Razors?

From: Bou'bound
21-Apr-18
not if you can't shoot or get within range of what you will see through them.

From: Ned
21-Apr-18
I wouldn’t spend less than 230 to 250 or you’ll be replacing them. If you can afford the high end, Zeiss is hard to beat. Personally, I had a set of leupold’s 10 power lasted a good 15 to 20 years, never got cross eyed or anything. Replaced those with Vortex, but the leupolds are a better glass IMO.

From: Bowboy
21-Apr-18
I have the Cabela's Euro. There way cheaper than the top end and I couldn't tell any difference.

From: COHOYTHUNTER
21-Apr-18
If it fits your budget, vortex vipers are a good middle of the road bino

21-Apr-18

From: Shawn
21-Apr-18
Steiners, great warranty and very nice glass. You can but a very nice pair of their Predators for under 400 bucks. 10x42's at that! Shawn

From: AZBUGLER
21-Apr-18
Top quality is top quality. I have never looked through anything that compares to a Swarovski. That being said it’s a heck of a lot of money and to answer your question: No. Vortex has a great product line and although the Razors are great, I think the Vipers are a great buy for the money.

From: Ucsdryder
21-Apr-18
Elk are easy to spot. The stick out and in the open can be seen with the naked eye from a couple miles. If you are on a trophy hunt and need to count times and see length I guess the high end glass will help but just to see a shooter bull it doesn’t take 1500-2500 dollar glass.

If you’re looking for a reason to buy Swarovski then go buy them! I wish I had a pair!

22-Apr-18
"Will the Swarovski glass translate into more bulls on the ground than say Zeiss Conquests or Vortex Razors?"

The simple answer is no. Depending on how long you intend to spend glassing , it may be more enjoyable behind a $2500 pair of binocs, but it's certainly not going to be the difference between success and failure.

A lot depends on where you intend to hunt. If it's open country and you can afford them, then by all means go for the high end glass. OTOH, if you hunt thick timber like I do, you'd be better off spending that extra $ elsewhere. I use 10x42 Vortex Vipers for elk, but honestly, my 12x50 Vortex Diamondbacks that I use for turkey's and 3D would do just as well...at half the cost. When elk hunting, 98% of all my glassing is done 100yds and in, so for me, high end glass would be a waste.

From: Treeline
22-Apr-18
Buy top end glass.

From: LKH
22-Apr-18
Over the years I've had Bushnell, Zeiss, Brunton, Leica, Steiner and some I can't even remember. There is no doubt you should buy the best you can afford. Some of the cheap ones will give you the push/pull effect. Like the EDIT button. Remembered the "push/pull" bins, Tasco.

If guys were to be able to do a "Blind Taste Test" where they would only get to look thru binos without knowing which they were using few if any could tell the Leica from the Zeiss or Swarovskis, and maybe a few more.

From: lv2bohunt
22-Apr-18
There is a lot of top end glass out there. Not much difference once you pass the $500 range. The difference is in the warranty and the fact that Swarovski will replace those binos for your grandson for free long after you are gone. Nikon, Vortex, Zeiss and Bushnell Elite all have top end glass in the $500-$1000 range. I use binos everyday all year long and I’ve looked through every brand out there. Swarovski is worth the money but not because the glass is any better than the others mentioned.

From: Ermine
22-Apr-18
Buy once cry once Optics are your friend for western hunting. Buy the best you can afford.

From: WapitiBob
22-Apr-18
I've never needed binos when archery elk hunting but I do use them occasionally. I use them far more when antelope hunting or shooting tournaments. As far as the difference between brands, I have a cpl friends that can see the difference in coatings between their swaros and my leicas. My hunting partner gets 5 minutes longer in the evening with his swaros over his Cabelas Euros. Whether you see a difference will depend on your eyesight.

From: jims
22-Apr-18
I spend an incredible amount of time behind glass. It is worth every penny to buy quality! You'll likely buy several pairs of mediocre pairs of binos while Swaros or Leicas will last a lifetime! They have a lifetime warrantee for a reason!

From: LKH
22-Apr-18
Brother just sent a pair of Zeiss back. Bought them in the 80's. Fixed and back in a week. No charge and they sent him a shipping label.

From: Amoebus
22-Apr-18
Do you use them for other purposes (bird watching, vacations)? Is this discretionary spending or what will you have to give up in the hunt if you buy swaros?

Country you hunt (or will hunt in the future) should be a consideration. Less important in Yaak, more important in Ekalaka.

I enjoy the outdoors all year long so I average ~100 days with them around my neck. They will be 20 years old this year so I gave them a birthday present of a $250 cleaning (Swaro warranty doesn't do everything for free). Total spent ~ $2500 and I haven't regretted it.

Back to your original question, yes. It has helped me get bigger mule deer. I spot all day - sometimes a mile or more away. When deciding which one to go after, a good set if glass can tell if you are looking at a 3x3 or 4x4.

22-Apr-18
Styrkas,,,,, hands down

From: Treeline
22-Apr-18
To your original questions:

1. Your average joe can probably do just fine elk hunting with a pair of binoculars that costs under $200. $500, tops.

2. The brand or quality of glass will not necessarily equate to more bulls on the ground. That takes a lot of technique and knowledge that you have to learn by being around elk and hunting elk.

Good glass will, however, allow you to determine if there is a bull with those cows and if he is worth you busting hump over there to try and get him or not.

Better glass combined with technique will allow you to figure out what is going on around your target animal (of any species) and between you and them. You can then develop an approach plan that will allow you to get closer.

Top end glass combined with technique is critical for effectively spot and stalk hunting mule deer or Coues deer bucks across the majority of their ranges or on any sheep hunt to find them as well as be able to tell if there is a legal ram in the group. There are a number of other species in various states or provinces with minimum point, spread or age requirements that require accurate analysis to ensure legality.

Buy the best glass you can. It will be paid for and the pain of purchase long forgotten after only a few trips out West. You will still be very happy with the performance of that top end glass many years down the road - like 20 or 30 years down the road. It’s an investment. Hell, if you really have to, you can probably sell your top end glass for close or even more than what you paid for it.

From: SBH
22-Apr-18
Ermine X2

From: ELKMAN
22-Apr-18
Maybe not "Bulls" so much, but "Bucks" absolutely it could. Swarovski has no equal, or really even any competition to be honest... There is "Swarovski", and then there is EVERYTHING else.

From: Buskill
22-Apr-18
I’d get the best I can afford . Personally , I use a pair of Zeiss Classic 10x40 that I love . They are like an old friend at this point . My wife got a pair of Swarovski 10x30cl , however, and I think they are the best back country glass I’ve seen . Crazy clear, super light and I really can’t tell that they have less field of view . Usually those are about 1100$ but midway USA has a blemished pair for under 800$ right now . That’s a deal I couldn’t pass up if I was looking .

From: elkster
22-Apr-18
I spent approx. 750 bux 20 yrs. ago on classic Zeiss 7x42. The warranty, and customer service are important considerations. When I mail mine in for cleaning, maintenance they offer a new pair for me to use till mine are returned. I scratched the objective lens one year and they replaced it, cleaned and adjusted all for 130 bux. To you question, no they won't be the difference in bagging an elk vs. another brand necessarily, but you'll likely use them for other needs for the rest of your life.

From: APauls
22-Apr-18
Using great glass is a joy. Using decent glass can leave you wanting which is frustrating. I have a “mediocre” spotting scope and I hate it when it gets close to dark and I can’t see well. I have too end Binos and they are completely different. Don’t forget that high end glass are a comfort in extended glassing sessions. No eye strain etc

From: Pigsticker
22-Apr-18
X2 ermine, my Leupolds are heavy and bulky in my hands. Vortex not as good of glass but average guy who spends little time glassing will not notice much difference.

The guys that live under the glass will make the sacrifice out of the pocket versus in the field.

I just upgraded to a new Sig Sauer rangefinder for this exact reason because I literately range over a hundred animals every year and normally multiple times.

From: bad karma
22-Apr-18
Bass Pro and Paypal have six month same as cash deals, Basspro occasionally and Paypal all the time. You won't regret spending more. My Kahles 10x42 binos are 12 years old, and still fantastic. Then again, the 8x30 Vortex with HD glass are darn good, and considerably less expensive. I'll suggest you spend more than you want to, and no less than about $600.

From: Tilzbow
22-Apr-18
For some reason hunters think Swaros are the best thing ever and I can’t quite figure that out. I think it’s because that’s what their buddies use and the brand has a loyal following based more on that than superior quality. I’ve used Zeiss, Swaro and now Leica and I prefer Leica glass. In 2011 or 2012 I spent several hours on an elk hunt comparing my non HD Leica to Swaro Vision and the difference was minimal if it existed at all. That said my Leica binos are a few years old and I’ve read several birding reviews on the top three and each of the reviews stated all the top three’s top end glass released within the last year is so advanced that there’s really no separation based on testing and it really comes down to an individual’s preference on the ergonomics. Each review recommended buyers try each of the big three and pick the one that feels the best based on balance, fit, feel, grip, etc.

22-Apr-18
Buy the best you can if you intend to spend a lot of time behind them. Also, know that pupil dimensions in humans does more to separate glass distinctions then the names on the bino's. Also, If you are glassing at last light and the extra 5 minutes shows you a bull, you aren't going to get to the bull before dark. That extra five minutes applies to food plot whitetail watching more then most things out west.

Glass is subjective to a point. That is science. Just like there are degrees of glass. Everything is a trade off. And, not all trade off's make SWARK's the best for everyone. So, when it is said buy the best you can, get some time behind different brands. In bino's, my preference is Pentax. In spotters, it is Nightforce. You may or may not feel the same. It's up to you to look through enough find the one that fits your criteria best. God Bless

From: Marj
22-Apr-18
Styrka has the best warranty of any company out there.

From: Grubby
23-Apr-18
I’m very happy with my vortex optics. For me they are perfect

From: Ziek
23-Apr-18
Like many, I bought the "best I could afford" - several times. Or maybe it was just the most I wanted to spend at the time. And always wondered what I might be missing. In the end I spent the $$$ on Swarovskis. We now have 3 pairs; the first I bought 25 years ago, an 8X30, my 10X42 EL, and my wife's 10X42 SLC. I probably wasted as much on glass working up to that first Swarovski than I spent on them. They get used for much more than just hunting. If your a hunter or photographer, or any type of outdoorsman, you will enjoy using binoculars. I never anticipate spending another dollar on them. With Swaros, it's a lifetime one and done expense (unless you just gotta have another pair). Looked at that way, they're a bargain, and you'll never have to wonder if you need something better.

25-Apr-18
Talked to some great hunters and I shed a few tears while burning the money on some 10X42 SLC's. Thanks for the help.

From: Treeline
25-Apr-18
Worth every penny.

You will be glad you went that direction long after you have forgotten how much you spent.

From: BassBuster
25-Apr-18
A lot of good info here. You get what you pay for. One thing to think about is the amount of time you spend looking thru the glass. Eye strain will become a factor your higher end glass will help with that.

From: mountainman
26-Apr-18
I have some Steiner Merlins that would be considered "middle of the road". Cost around 500 when I bought them in 2005. They have been on many rough trips, all over the place. They are still going strong 13 years later.

They worked great for me and my eyes like them. When it come time for new ones, Steiner are the first ones I'll look at. Although, now that I can afford a little more, I will look at the top end ones to see if my eyes can tell a difference.

26-Apr-18
If your looking to spend some money look at Swarovski, maven and leaupold. Do some research, vortex has an amazing warranty. I have multiple vortex rifle scopes and Binos and no complaint what so ever.

From: Whocares
26-Apr-18
I have Steiner Merlin in 8x42 and Leupold Guide Pro in 10x42. Both good. The Leupold in 10x42 is great. Go to Predator Optics on line and he has super prices on many brands.

From: Lost Arra
26-Apr-18
Once you buy alpha-level glass you have more free time for other things rather than reading optics reviews and forum posts about binoculars.

From: APauls
26-Apr-18
You'll love em, congrats.

26-Apr-18
Kahles or Minox

From: Beginner
26-Apr-18
It depends on if you use your binoculars a lot as to the quality you buy. Friend of mine hauls his binoculars around his neck but hardly ever uses them. I use mine a lot when I hunt. I spot way more game then my friend also.

From: COHOYTHUNTER
26-Apr-18
I also hunt lots of dark timber. But spotting elk above timberline or glassing into dark timber from across a drainage or from ridge to ridge, nothing beats a good pair of glass.. let the glass do the walking.. I was told once, when I had the same question, buy the best glass you can afford.. I will pay the coin for good glass and good boots... It makes the difference..

From: lv2bohunt
26-Apr-18
I dont think there is a question between good glass and cheap glass or $100 binos vs $600 binos. The questions come when you compare a $900 Lieca or a $900 Zeiss to a $1800 Swarovski. Once you get beyond $600 things get a bit difficult at seeing the differences. That is where the warranty, ergonomics, finite focus etc. come in and differentiate the models and brands. Just talking glass, $1000 glass and $2000 glass are hard to judge between.

From: Nick Muche
27-Apr-18

Nick Muche's embedded Photo
Nick Muche's embedded Photo
Good enough for them...good enough for me.

From: Yasla
27-Apr-18

Yasla's embedded Photo
These are the elk we were watching, image is not through either binoculars, but through a Canon RF700 video cam at full zoom to show distance. Upper right is the smaller bull.
Yasla's embedded Photo
These are the elk we were watching, image is not through either binoculars, but through a Canon RF700 video cam at full zoom to show distance. Upper right is the smaller bull.
Agree with everyone who says no, they will not help you get more bulls on the ground, but could help on clarifying details. I had some good experience last fall in Colorado which supports: First thing in the morning, we are at camp and spot some elk moving on a far ridgeline, probably 4-500 feet up in elevation from us and my best guess at distance was around a mile +/-, a haze in the air just at first light. In my $200 binocs, i could see cows, calf, and two bulls clearly. I saw one bull had more than the other, but on either bull i could not clearly see tine length, if a tine was broken off etc. For me, one was most likely legal, and the other i couldn't be sure. My friend had Sawrovski's, which i had looked through many times in the backyard/archery shoots etc and never really noticed any significant difference. Well, in those i could make out all the tines much better, and we saw one was pretty sure to be a 5 x 5 and other some kind of 3/4 pt. Did it help-absolutely; was it worth the few thousands dollars, for me no. Seeing that did not convince me that i needed a pair as well. At any longer distance that this, my guess is you would need/want a spotting scope in addition. I am not a trophy hunter, and only have one western trip/year so cant justify the spend.

From: splitlimb13
27-Apr-18
You can get good set of binos from 250- 1500. I've used several different strengths and being a guide and hunter myself i will tell you after putting down the 10×42 and picking up the 12×50's I'll never use anything but for an all around bino. Dispite what others may say. I have diamond backs and viper hd and there's a significant price difference. Personally i don't see a $300 difference in clarity but vortex line is nice and priced fairly! You won't beat the warranty either.

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