I believe that there are critical pieces of equipment that preppers should consider when putting together their equipment. A good set of binoculars is one of them. So how do you go about selecting the right binoculars for you?
So why would a prepper want to invest in a good pair of binoculars? The further out you can see trouble coming, the more time and distance you have to deal with it. The ability to observe other people at extended ranges gives you the ability to choose whether to make contact or not. And if you are hunting, they give you the ability to spot game far enough away to plan your stalk. Binoculars are a “Force Multiplier”.
In order to select the right binoculars for our individual preps, there are some important terms and design features you should understand when trying to select appropriate binoculars.
Magnification and Objective Lens
Binoculars are categorized by two numbers separated by an X. An example would be 7×50. The first number, 7, refers to the magnification. In this case, these binos will make an object appear 7 times closer than it is. The second number will refer to the size of the objective, or front, lens. The larger the objective lens, the better the light gathering ability. For general field use, a power of 7 or 8 is generally optimum.
The prism system of a binocular reduces the size needed to contain a long optical path and turns what would be an upside-down image right-side-up. There are two types of prism systems, roof and porro.
Roof Prism System
In roof prism binoculars, the prisms overlap closely, allowing the objective lenses to line up directly with the eyepiece. This means that the lenses and prisms are in a straight line. Roof prism binoculars are less bulky and more rugged than an equivalent porro model.
Porro Prism System
In porro prism binoculars, the objective or front lens is offset from the eyepiece. Porro prism binoculars provide a greater depth perception and generally offer a wider field-of-view.
Field of View
This is the size of an area you can see at any given range. It is usually given by how many feet (meters) in width can be seen at 1,000 yards (1,000 meters). The larger the magnification, the smaller the field of view.
Refers to the size of the circle of light visible at the eyepiece of a binocular. The larger the exit pupil, the brighter the image. To determine the size, divide the objective lens diameter by the power (an 8×32 model has an exit pupil of 4mm).
A focus adjustment ring usually provided around one eyepiece to accommodate for vision differences between the right and left eyes.
Good binos will have a coating on the lenses to assist light transmission. It is important to understand the manufacturer terminology in describing coatings. ‘Coated” means a single layer of coating usually on the front and rear lenses. ‘Fully Coated “means all air to glass surfaces are coated with at least one layer. ‘Multi Coated” means that some lenses, usually front and back, have multiple layers of coating. And “Fully Multi Coated” means that all air to glass surfaces have multiple coatings and is the best. And usually the most expensive.
Some binoculars are O-ring sealed and nitrogen-purged for total waterproof and fogproof protection. These models can withstand complete immersion in water and stay dry inside. The interior optical surfaces won’t fog.
You can buy binos now that have built-in compasses. The problem with these is that you need to ensure the binos are perfectly level to get a good reading. Some expensive binos have laser range finders installed. For the amount extra you will be paying, you can buy an excellent quality stand alone laser range finder. You can also order some models with military reticules. If you understand how to use the mill relation formula (1 mill= 1 meter@ 1,000 meters) you can measure the height or width of any object. This may or may not be useful depending on your perceived needs and budget.
So what does all the above mean when selecting a set of binos as a prepper? Generally, you are going to want a set with 7 or 8 power. You can find models in these magnifications that are lightweight and durable enough for serious field use. Cost is obviously a factor. But as in any other purchase, you will get what you pay for. Select a set of binos from the established brands. Avoid cheap Chinese imports. Brands such as Nikon, Bushnell, Steiner, Zeiss, and Leupold are companies who have established a reputation for quality, and make good binos in a variety of price ranges. Although there are a tremendous number of binocular models on the market usable by the prepper, the following examples are some in various price ranges.
Bushnell 7×50 Marine This is a reasonably prices set of quality binos. The following are stated by the manufacturer.
Hermetically sealed waterproof, corrosion resistant binocular for use in marine environments. Coast Guard recommended 7x magnification by 50-millimeter objective configuration Premium BaK-4 prisms and fully multi-coated optics with UV protectionPorro prism system for a wide field of view Durable non-slip, non-skid rubber armor; limited lifetime warranty.
Nikon has a reputation for quality cameras as well as binoculars. Their 8×42 Aculon is on the lower end of the price scale. Although not
advertised as waterproof, it may be a good beginner or backup set of binos.
Perhaps I am slightly prejudiced towards German products because I am a legal resident there, I am firmly sold on Steiner binoculars. There are extremely well made product and have been adopted by the U.S. Military. My first experience with Steiners was in the Army, and I was highly impressed. One of their products I can recommend you take a
serious look at are the 8×30 Military Marine . Steiner makes a full range of quality binoculars that span price range and features, including one of the better internal compass systems on some models.
Good quality binoculars can be a bit expensive. But I cannot emphasis enough that when it comes to optics, you most certainly do get what you pay for. Remember, in the middle of SHTF or even TEOTWAWKI you are not going to be able to take a cheap pair back to the store or send one in for a warranty repair. Do your research, and buy the best quality that you can afford.
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