Recommendations for binoculars

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Colorado13
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Recommendations for binoculars

Post by Colorado13 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:34 pm

I am seeking affordable/cheap binoculars that would be decent for hiking and concert attendance. I don't need high quality for birding or anything similar, but also don't want junk. What do you recommend?

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Sandtrap
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:52 pm

This compact zoom from Pentax has served me well for many years. Clarity is outstanding.
There is an updated unit.
Pentax 8-16X21 Zoom.
https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00 ... UTF8&psc=1
Last edited by Sandtrap on Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by vineviz » Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:10 pm

Colorado13 wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:34 pm
I am seeking affordable/cheap binoculars that would be decent for hiking and concert attendance. I don't need high quality for birding or anything similar, but also don't want junk. What do you recommend?
I'm a big fan of Nikon binoculars. For general use, something like an 8x25 is probably ideal as a hiking binocular because of the light weight. E.g. Nikon Trailblazer ATB Waterproof 8 x 25. They'd probably be great for daytime concerts (i.e. outdoor festivals).

For night-time or indoor concerts I might want something a little brighter, maybe the Nikon Prostaff 3S 8 x 42. They are a bit heavier, but probably much more comfortable to view in low light.
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by 7eight9 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:36 pm

These may be more than you are looking to pay but the Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 is a very good binocular that you can pick up for around $240.

Amazon link --- https://www.amazon.com/Nikon-7576-MONAR ... B00C66C950
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by jebmke » Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:40 pm

7eight9 wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:36 pm
These may be more than you are looking to pay but the Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 is a very good binocular that you can pick up for around $240.

Amazon link --- https://www.amazon.com/Nikon-7576-MONAR ... B00C66C950
Those are good value. For hiking, to save on weight and bulk, I'd look at 8x25 or 8x30 [not sure what Nikon sells in the smaller objective range].

OP - it would help if you had a budget range in mind.
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by jrbdmb » Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:47 pm

If you don't want to spend a ton for binoculars with IS (image stabilization) you are best served sticking to 8.5x magnification or lower. All of the above recommendations are good, I've had good luck with Vanguard Endeavor binoculars (mine is 8x42) and may cost less than comparable Pentax and Nikon glass. (But I notice the current Amazon price is much higher than I paid for mine.)

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by TierArtz » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:01 pm

I've been pleased with all Vortex Optics purchased (binoculars, rife scopes, range finder, and spotting scope). I'm estimating their binoculars range from $150 to $1500, and I think all come with a lifetime warranty. Visit any big-box sporting goods store and they'd likely have plenty of choices to peek through. I love my Vortex Viper HD 10X42 binoculars (middle of that price range). With something to rest against I can pick out Jupiter's Galilean moons with them (four very tiny points of light). I should point my 27-65 X 85 spotting scope at them sometime.

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by funktor » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:33 pm

7eight9 wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:36 pm
These may be more than you are looking to pay but the Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 is a very good binocular that you can pick up for around $240.

Amazon link --- https://www.amazon.com/Nikon-7576-MONAR ... B00C66C950
I have these binoculars and they're great. Probably would have went with a set from Vortex if I was looking to spend more.
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Colorado13
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by Colorado13 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:10 pm

Thanks for the suggestions! It's helpful to narrow down the many options that exist...

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queso
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by queso » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:20 pm

I have some Vortex Diamondbacks and I have been very happy with them.

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by Elric » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:10 pm

Friends have Nikon 8x25 Travelite binoculars (https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... cular.html). DW and I tried them out at a recent concert and they worked great. DW added them to her birthday wish list. They also get great reviews. We have more expensive heavier and bulkier binocularss with greater light gathering ones that are nice for their purpose, but these give good results at really low weight and size.
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by rj342 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:35 pm

re: binox
Took two pairs to Alaska a few weeks ago (7 day cruise then 4 days on land)

Celestron Skymaster (from Amazon a year ago) and Nikon Acculon (from Academy for trip).
IIRC 10x and 8x. No problem with steadiness for intermittently viewing.

Great for longer distance on landscapes and some wildlife - passing island full of sea lions, etc.
However I didn't expect how difficult it would be to use them -- or take photos w zoom for that matter -- when whale watching.
Issue of looking right place at right time.

Do love my bigger Celestron Skymaster 15x75s but you really need to prop them on something (if not use tripod adapter).
With those can see moons of Jupiter and see rings of Saturn (small but sharp), and the Moon goes BOOM.

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by jebmke » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:40 pm

Just an additional piece of advice. Different manufacturers have different design criteria for things like eye relief and inter-pulillary distance. These differences can mean the difference between one pair being unusable and one being excellent -- even though both are the same quality of binocular. For example, although Vortex makes a very good binocular, I can't use them because of blacking. When I looked at buying a spotting scope, one of the best made (Swarovsky) was unusable for me because of the eye relief.

You need to try them out before you commit to a pair of binoculars (or have full return privileges).
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by rj342 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:46 pm

jebmke wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:40 pm
Just an additional piece of advice. Different manufacturers have different design criteria for things like eye relief and inter-pulillary distance. These differences can mean the difference between one pair being unusable and one being excellent -- even though both are the same quality of binocular. For example, although Vortex makes a very good binocular, I can't use them because of blacking. When I looked at buying a spotting scope, one of the best made (Swarovsky) was unusable for me because of the eye relief.

You need to try them out before you commit to a pair of binoculars (or have full return privileges).
Yes. If you have glasses in particular. Some have longer eye relief, other let you fold down the rubber eyecups to make room for glasses. Also see if you can take off glasses and see ok just using the overall focus in conjunction with the right eye diopter adjustment (ring on that eyepiece). Bad astigmatism might make that unworkable.

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by jabberwockOG » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:21 pm

Vortex has decent optics and great warranty and make good binoculars at a couple of different price points. I have 10x42 Vortex Viper HD and they are outstanding but might be more than you want to spend. I love high quality gear so I figure pay once, cry once, when it comes to acquiring quality personal gear for the long haul.

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by bowest » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:32 pm

Took a shot with Celestron TrailSeeker 8x42 binoculars based on Wirecutter reviews (see link below). All-in cost about $200.

I'm off to Yellowstone in a few weeks so wanted a decent pair. Haven't tried them in wild yet but view from window has been pretty cool and happy with what I'm seeing out of them so far.

Wirecutter lists a few in the review (cheaper and more expensive).
https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-best-binoculars/

{edit to add that these would be fine for hiking (and come with a strap) but may be a bit big for a concert unless it's a stadium. my primary use will be hiking, nature, and race track]

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by Sconie » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:00 pm

Another vote for the Nikon Travelites----small, compact and handy, they are a joy to carry around. I have an extra pair that I keep in the glove compartment of my car. All for around $100, if not a bit less.
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by Smoke » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:12 pm

Celestron 71346 Outland X 8x42 Binoculars (Black) amazon 59.99
Super eye relief (for glass wearers) 18 mm
Colorado13 wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:34 pm
I am seeking affordable/cheap binoculars that would be decent for hiking and concert attendance. I don't need high quality for birding or anything similar, but also don't want junk. What do you recommend?
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by hicabob » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:30 pm

funktor wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:33 pm
7eight9 wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:36 pm
These may be more than you are looking to pay but the Nikon Monarch 5 8x42 is a very good binocular that you can pick up for around $240.

Amazon link --- https://www.amazon.com/Nikon-7576-MONAR ... B00C66C950
I have these binoculars and they're great. Probably would have went with a set from Vortex if I was looking to spend more.
As a binocular neophyte (but very used to pro hi-def video lenses) I bought a pair of Monarchs and was a bit disappointed with the glass. They have quite noticeable artifacts but then I'm comparing the image to lenses that cost 15-150k .

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by jebmke » Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:02 pm

hicabob wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:30 pm
As a binocular neophyte (but very used to pro hi-def video lenses) I bought a pair of Monarchs and was a bit disappointed with the glass.
If you try the Monarchs and then try a high end like Swarovsky, Leica, Zeitz the difference is quite noticeable. Monarch isn't bad for general purpose but it does have some issues with the glass. There is a quite noticeable yellow tint when you compare it to higher end glass - or even one of the mid-range products like Vortex or Leupold. The tint would not be noticeable in general use but for my purposes (birding) it would be distorting.

I ended up with Leupold when I was just starting out birding. Leupold has acceptable glass quality and had some other good specs like short close-focus and a very fast focusing system. I suspect the latter is a function of their experience in rifle scopes. By the time we bought a spotting scope we ended up paying up for Leica.
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by funktor » Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:39 pm

jebmke wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:02 pm
hicabob wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:30 pm
As a binocular neophyte (but very used to pro hi-def video lenses) I bought a pair of Monarchs and was a bit disappointed with the glass.
If you try the Monarchs and then try a high end like Swarovsky, Leica, Zeitz the difference is quite noticeable. Monarch isn't bad for general purpose but it does have some issues with the glass. There is a quite noticeable yellow tint when you compare it to higher end glass - or even one of the mid-range products like Vortex or Leupold. The tint would not be noticeable in general use but for my purposes (birding) it would be distorting.

I ended up with Leupold when I was just starting out birding. Leupold has acceptable glass quality and had some other good specs like short close-focus and a very fast focusing system. I suspect the latter is a function of their experience in rifle scopes. By the time we bought a spotting scope we ended up paying up for Leica.
Well said. It's definitely true that there is a significant jump in quality with the higher end glass, but I think for the OP binoculars like Monarchs would be more than sufficient, maybe even overkill. I own the Monarchs but my use case is for hunting - identifying the sex of a turkey, counting antlers on a deer, that sort of thing, and not at particularly long distance either. If I was birding or even hunting different terrain I would definitely consider mid-range glass at a minimum.
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by jebmke » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:00 pm

funktor wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:39 pm
but I think for the OP binoculars like Monarchs would be more than sufficient, maybe even overkill.
Agree completely. I've been thinking of picking up a pair (Monarch or similar) in the 8x25-8x30 range to keep in the car and/or for hiking (when birding isn't primary goal). Even though Leupold is fairly light-weight, the 8x42s are can start to feel heavy on long treks. Nikon is generally a very good value.

The value of short close-focus didn't really sink in until we started looking at butterflies when the birding was slow.
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by Rattlesnake » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:23 pm

I like the Vortex Diamondback 10x42 binoculars we received as a gift a few years ago...
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by LifeOfRiley » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:20 pm

I've been pleased with the Vortex Viper HD 8x42 purchased a couple years ago.

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by psy1 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:01 am

I use binoculars for birding and travel. the best are generally Leica, Zeiss, and Svarovski but that is not what you are looking for.

I suggest you go with Nikon or Pentax. They are reliable and relatively inexpensive with numerous models.

I would get compact binoculars such as 8x25-30. Otherwise they will be large and obtrusive. Don't be put off by discussion about compact binoculars being worse in low light. They are but not by much and you are not trying to find birds at dusk in a rainforest.

8x40, 10x42 are relatively huge and not something you would take to a concert. Compact binoculars can fit (or almost fit) into a pocket and are much more versatile for travel and casual use like concerts/theater.

An example of what I recommend is something like the Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 https://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Trailblaze ... ursuits-20

Also, unless you are going to outdoor concerts in the rain, you don't really need rubber coated, nitrogen filled binos. That adds cost and bulk but those features are almost ubiquitous.

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by PSUSteve » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:01 am

psy1 wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:01 am
I use binoculars for birding and travel. the best are generally Leica, Zeiss, and Svarovski but that is not what you are looking for.

I suggest you go with Nikon or Pentax. They are reliable and relatively inexpensive with numerous models.

I would get compact binoculars such as 8x25-30. Otherwise they will be large and obtrusive. Don't be put off by discussion about compact binoculars being worse in low light. They are but not by much and you are not trying to find birds at dusk in a rainforest.

8x40, 10x42 are relatively huge and not something you would take to a concert. Compact binoculars can fit (or almost fit) into a pocket and are much more versatile for travel and casual use like concerts/theater.

An example of what I recommend is something like the Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 https://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Trailblaze ... ursuits-20

Also, unless you are going to outdoor concerts in the rain, you don't really need rubber coated, nitrogen filled binos. That adds cost and bulk but those features are almost ubiquitous.
What binoculars would you recommend for birding?

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by jebmke » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:04 am

PSUSteve wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:01 am
psy1 wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:01 am
I use binoculars for birding and travel. the best are generally Leica, Zeiss, and Svarovski but that is not what you are looking for.

I suggest you go with Nikon or Pentax. They are reliable and relatively inexpensive with numerous models.

I would get compact binoculars such as 8x25-30. Otherwise they will be large and obtrusive. Don't be put off by discussion about compact binoculars being worse in low light. They are but not by much and you are not trying to find birds at dusk in a rainforest.

8x40, 10x42 are relatively huge and not something you would take to a concert. Compact binoculars can fit (or almost fit) into a pocket and are much more versatile for travel and casual use like concerts/theater.

An example of what I recommend is something like the Nikon Trailblazer 8x25 https://www.amazon.com/Nikon-Trailblaze ... ursuits-20

Also, unless you are going to outdoor concerts in the rain, you don't really need rubber coated, nitrogen filled binos. That adds cost and bulk but those features are almost ubiquitous.
What binoculars would you recommend for birding?
Without knowing your budget, this is a tough question.

Absent budget restrictions, I'd suggest looking at Swarovsky, Leica and maybe Zeiss. Plan to spend $2,500-3,000 for a top rated pair.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by psy1 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:08 am

PSUSteve wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:01 am
psy1 wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:01 am
...
What binoculars would you recommend for birding?
My wife and I travel all over the place. Most birders like 10x40 Leica/Zeiss/Swarovski. However, they are large and pretty heavy. We birdwatch s a pastime when we travel as oppose to traveling just to birdwatch. So small and light are more important to us.

I had an old pair of Leica Trinovid 10x25 binoculars that I bought in the 90's. My wife had a pair of Zeiss 8x20's. I found the Leica to be significantly better in terms of sharpness and contrast. However, this past year I bought her an updated pair of compact Zeiss binoculars - wow. Much better than my old Leica to the point that I would try to use hers when I could get away with it. Razor sharp and contrasty. If I replace mine, I will get the Zeiss and they are probably less expensive now than they were in the 90's:

Zeiss Terra ED 8x25 compact binoculars.

Sorry, I keep editing this post. We have the smaller 8x25 Terra ED binoculars. They also have 8x32 which are larger.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... mpact.html
Last edited by psy1 on Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:22 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by jebmke » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:13 am

8x42 seems to be the sweet spot although I know some people have found that 8x32 with high end glass like Zeiss and Leica can be as effective as the 42s. Some of my friends who are real hardcore also carry 10x in their car (plus a scope) for looking at shorebirds and waterfowl which tend to be larger but farther away. I struggle trying to spot warblers and other small "tweety birds" with 10x glasses.
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by psy1 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:20 am

If you are new to birding, it is a good exercise to practice finding things with your binoculars. Describing where a bird is to someone using binoculars is not so simple, especially if the person is not skilled using binoculars. Best to describe the location and have the person find it with his eye, and then apply the binoculars. That is another exercise - train your eye on a distant object and then find it quickly through the binoculars. You have memorize which way to turn the dial for farther/closer. A simple task but one which most people don't commit to memory. You and your partner need to establish a system for describing objects: the rightmost green foliage of the tree, 2 o'clock on the outer edge of the bulging foliage, and then in the mid ground of the branches, backlit - for example. The language needs to be unambiguous so the person looks with his eyes and then the binoculars. At least that works for us. The point is to find a system.

I prefer 10X binoculars and close focus is a good feature. But 8X are easier to use and work just fine.

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by knightrider » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:33 am

Nikon has a good model around $70-80. I would avoid anything under $50. While they may perform fine, eventually they could get out of collimation if you drop them ( see double vision ).. This happened to one of my cheaper Bushnells. Although they sent me a new one when I wrote to them about it.. I think they had a lifetime warranty, not sure..

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by PSUSteve » Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:13 pm

psy1 wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:08 am
PSUSteve wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:01 am
psy1 wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:01 am
...
What binoculars would you recommend for birding?
My wife and I travel all over the place. Most birders like 10x40 Leica/Zeiss/Swarovski. However, they are large and pretty heavy. We birdwatch s a pastime when we travel as oppose to traveling just to birdwatch. So small and light are more important to us.

I had an old pair of Leica Trinovid 10x25 binoculars that I bought in the 90's. My wife had a pair of Zeiss 8x20's. I found the Leica to be significantly better in terms of sharpness and contrast. However, this past year I bought her an updated pair of compact Zeiss binoculars - wow. Much better than my old Leica to the point that I would try to use hers when I could get away with it. Razor sharp and contrasty. If I replace mine, I will get the Zeiss and they are probably less expensive now than they were in the 90's:

Zeiss Terra ED 8x25 compact binoculars.

Sorry, I keep editing this post. We have the smaller 8x25 Terra ED binoculars. They also have 8x32 which are larger.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... mpact.html
Thanks

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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by GerryL » Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:33 pm

Two years ago, before going on a nature-viewing cruise on the Amazon, I shopped intently for a new, smaller pair of binoculars that I could easily pack. After visits to many sports stores, I chose Nikon ProStaff 10x25. Very compact and almost as good a view as my klunky old Bushnell 10x42 model. The Nikons fit easily in carry-on bag and are comfortable around the neck. I can't recall what I paid, but I seem to recall that my upper limit was $150, and I think I paid less than that.
This appears to be the ones I have: https://www.amazon.com/Nikon-7485-Water ... B0007M6GG8

Regarding the klunky Bushnell: I once went on a driving trip with a bird-watching friend. She had a little pair of binoculars (harnessed to her chest) that cost $1200. She was mortified that my Bushnell (bought 20+ years ago for ~$70) were better for bird viewing.

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Colorado13
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by Colorado13 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:09 pm

Thanks again for the great advice! I have never owned binoculars so everyone's advice is very helpful at narrowing down the options.

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WestUniversity
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Re: Recommendations for binoculars

Post by WestUniversity » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:08 pm

I have some inexpensive compact folding binoculars like these. They fit great in my pants pocket and quite easily into any pocket in my backpack. No need to hang them around my neck or use a bulky carrying case. For as little as I use them this is all the quality I need to buy...

Skygenius 8x21 Small Compact Lightweight Binoculars For Concert Theater Opera .Min... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071Z2WHPR/re ... jDbQGNMPPX

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