Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Ultralight binoculars or monoculars
Display Avatars Sort By:
Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Ultralight binoculars or monoculars on 12/30/2008 19:30:20 MST Print View

I'm thinking about taking a pair of very light binoculars or maybe a monocular on my PCT thru-hike next summer. These would be mostly for watching birds and wildlife. Does anyone have any suggestions for something very light but with good or excellent optics?

My standards for optics are high--my regular binoculars are a fantastic set of Leicas (but they weigh 2 lbs.!). On the AT a couple of years ago, I used "compact" binoculars from Zeiss that weighed 1 lb. The optics were decent, but the weight is too much for my PCT kit. Is there anything lighter that still has nice optics?

Joseph Reeves

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Re: Binoculars and monoculars on 12/30/2008 19:57:37 MST Print View

I have a pair of Zeiss Victory Compact binoculars 10x25 that weigh 8 oz. Wonderful optics, but not always worth the weight. Also have a Minox 8x16 monocular that weighs 2.5 oz. It comes along on all hiking and kayaking trips. The optics are good. The Minox cost about $150, the Zeiss about $500.

I've used Brunton's monocular and have not been impressed.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Ultralight binoculars or monoculars on 12/31/2008 04:39:19 MST Print View

I have 8x25 Olympus Tracker PC I
They weigh 11.0 oz. and cost only $56 online. They are not weatherproof.

I am very pleased with the optical quality, especially considering the price. I read a lot of online reviews before purchasing & they had favorable reviews. Birding sites are a good source.

I only take them when going on hikes to mountain peaks when the weather is clear. This is due to the weight & the fact that they are not weatherproof: but if the weather isn't clear, I won't see anything anyway. They fit easily into a quart size freezer bag with their protective soft case or squeeze into a sandwich ziplock without the case.

Jeff Antig

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Pocket scope on 12/31/2008 06:34:00 MST Print View

If 7x18 is sufficient enough for what you're doing, the Brunton Pocket Scope is in the 1.5-1.8 oz. range. But be forewarned, it probably does not meet your expectations if you want great optics.

Edited by Antig on 12/31/2008 06:35:12 MST.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Ultralight binoculars or monoculars on 12/31/2008 07:36:28 MST Print View

Check out the Zeiss 5 x 10 (0.8 oz.) miniquick monocular. I use the cheaper Brunton waterproof monocular (8x22; ~2.9 oz.) or one half of a Vortex Twister binocs (7x18; 2.4 oz.) that I chopped up.

Edited by jshann on 12/31/2008 08:00:28 MST.

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Binoculars choice on 03/11/2009 11:31:57 MDT Print View

A belated thanks to everyone for the tips. I ended up getting a pair of Zeiss 8x20 Conquest Binoculars (sometimes these are also called the Classic). The optics are nice, and they're ridiculously small. They fold up smaller than a deck of cards and weigh 6.5 oz. The price wasn't too bad either.

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
[x] on 03/02/2012 09:42:41 MST Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 05/21/2013 15:09:51 MDT.

Dale Caldwell
(dalemc) - F

Locale: Coastal Georgia
under $300 on 03/03/2012 11:34:58 MST Print View

Scott - Are you talking about the ones that are $600 on Amazon?? If so, I'd consider that very pricey!

I too am in the market for lightweight binoculars. Looking for something under $300....

Does anyone have more input?

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Binoculars and monoculars on 03/03/2012 13:27:12 MST Print View

This is revisting an old thread, but I'll concur with Joseph about the Minox MD6x16E that it is the best monocular that I've ever owned or tried and I've tried a lot because I love the concept but hate most implementations.

$150 sounds like MSRP. I stocked up a few years ago when Sierra Trading Post had them at something like 40% and then used coupons to knock another 20-25% off. They are, of course, not as bright or as wide a field as anyone's $99 binocs, but for the weight - I weigh them as 2.25 ounces with integral shoelace-sized neck band - and size, they're the best I've found. It also is a useable (but very small field) magnifier when used backwards at close range for examining bugs or leaf details or maybe assess an embedded splinter.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Ultralight binoculars or monoculars on 03/03/2012 14:43:30 MST Print View

With monoculars and binoculars I STRONGLY suggest to look through them before buying them.
The reason is very simple : we see with different eyes..
That has to do with our vision (IE how you can read an eye-chart with either eye) as well as what we expect to see.
For example I have a Zeiss monocular that optically is good (for the size, 8x20, half of the bino discussed above ) however it is useless to me because I cannot spot a bird or something moving with it .
So in my case a bino works better and having spent 30 years selling them I cannot put up with crappy optics.
There are now several relatively light and decent binos of the Porro prism variety (that is the offset type ,not those roof prism ,the straight tube type) for example the Bushnell 7x26.
Aim for an exit pupil of at least 2.5mm , however the wider (bigger) the circle the better it will be in low light (up to 7mm )
Exit pupil is the cirle of light you see if you look through them holding them at a distance.
You get that by dividing the size of the front element (26mm) by the magnification (7x) so that 7x26 has an EP of 3.7 much better than the typical 8x20 (2.5)
Note as you increase the magnification, you need bigger lenses (10x25= 2.5 mm exit pupil, same as 8x20)

Scott S
(sschloss1) - F

Locale: New England
Zeiss on 03/03/2012 15:04:37 MST Print View

Dale, I'm not sure what you were looking at, but I have the Zeiss 8x20 Conquest ($394 on Amazon). Mine are still in great shape after a PCT thru-hike, and the optics are as good as you'll get in a cheap-ish compact.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Ultralight binoculars or monoculars on 03/03/2012 16:14:52 MST Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/19/2015 07:34:18 MDT.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Zeiss 6x18 Monocular on 03/03/2012 16:54:29 MST Print View

I have a Zeiss 6x18 monocular I am very happy with. I usually have it in a hipbelt pocket, or on a cord around my neck if there seem to be a number of birds about. Very nice optics. Very light (forget the exact weight). Focus is by push-pull, which can be imprecise, but using a twisting push or pull motion allows very fine focus.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Ultralight binoculars or monoculars on 03/03/2012 17:32:56 MST Print View

I am a birder so spend a lot of time using binoculars. At home I use a 7x42 Chinon (not the highest quality, but does the job), but it is just too big and heavy for hiking. REcently I bought a 10x21 5ยบ Pentax UCF-R and it works great. It's got enough magnification and is steady enough that I can keep track of the birds without too much jiggle. Does the job for me.

Michael Schwartz
(greenwalk) - MLife

Locale: PA & Ireland
Ultralight binoculars or monoculars on 03/04/2012 05:55:28 MST Print View

Not sure if it is still available or up to your standards; however, you or anyone else interested might want to check out the Little Mak 10x3 monocular (Made in Russia by Lomo). I like it.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Ultralight binoculars or monoculars on 03/04/2012 16:25:37 MST Print View

The Lomo factory was originally In Petrograd, then in Leningrad and now is in St Petersburg.
Oddly it was all done without moving...

Alright, alright...
I sold some Lomo stuff, mostly very similar to the pre WW2 Jena (Carl Zeiss) optics .
(so a bit dated but nice optics for the price)
However never seen that monocular, an odd design indeed.

Edited by Franco on 03/04/2012 18:52:26 MST.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Ultralight binoculars or monoculars on 03/04/2012 18:33:10 MST Print View

The Lomo factory was originally In Petrograd, then in Leningrad and now is in St Petersburg.
Oddly it was all done without moving...

*Cough, cough*

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Barska 10X40 monocular on 03/04/2012 18:43:56 MST Print View

I got my 9yo son a Barska 10X40 monocular, on the recommendation of another BPL'er by the name of Stargazer (haven't seen him around lately). Can be had on Amazon for $40. Not sure what it weighs cause I know if I weigh it I'll consider leaving it behind. But, first clear night we had, he was able to find the Orion Nebula (M42). Shows up as small blur, but clearly discernible as a nebula. I was pretty surprised for a relatively light, $40 piece of optics. I look forward to taking it out this season.

Amazon says it's 9oz - sounds about right:

Edited by Kieran on 03/04/2012 18:45:19 MST.

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: Barska 10X40 monocular on 03/04/2012 20:12:51 MST Print View

Whoa. Looks pretty large. I have a problem holding 10x steady. I would have to LeAnn on something.

What did happen to yogi?

Steve Martell
(Steve) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Washington
Re: Quality ultralight binoculars/monoculars on 03/04/2012 20:31:12 MST Print View

A better choice is this:

Always try to find the widest exit pupil up to 7mm (7mm= a fully dilated pupil) and fully multicoated optics.