May 25, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
The “Around the Campfire” blog a few weeks back on how to adjust the diopter setting on binoculars generated some good response, probably because anything one can do to get more value from a substantial investment like a pair of hunting binoculars is welcome advice. So here are some more tips about making binoculars more useful, comfortable and versatile.
Keep Them Clean – Cleaning the lenses of a set of binoculars is not difficult. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to scratch the coatings on the lens surfaces by grinding dust into them. Nothing will shorten the life of good glass faster than this. So when you go to clean the lenses, use a three step process:
- use canned air (preferred) or a very soft, natural bristled brush to remove all visible dust from the lens surface.
- use the edge of lens paper or a soft, lint-free cloth dampened slightly in lens cleaning solution (preferred) or clean water to pull any additional dust off the lens surface.
- moisten the lens with a couple drops of lens cleaning solution, then wipe with lens tissue or a soft, lint-free cloth and polish.
Great, self-contained lens cleaning kits are available from most optics companies. Follow the directions that come with them, and your binocular lenses should last you a lifetime or more.
Carry Them Comfortably – High-quality 10×40 or 10×42 hunting binoculars are not light. They can’t be and still contain the top end glass and rugged construction that the rigors of hunting demand. Yet nearly all of them come with only a simple neck strap as the means of carrying them in the field. Even if a neck strap is made of neoprene to offer shock absorption and grip, carrying binoculars around your neck all day is fatiguing.
In my estimation, the best system to carry binoculars is the harness system that uses elastic straps and padding around your shoulders to bear the weight of the optics. This system creates far less “pain in the neck” and keeps the binoculars at the ready right in the middle of your chest. Nearly every optics maker private labels a version of this kind of system, but if you get the choice look for a harness that features secure snaps that allow you to remove the binoculars, but keep the harness on your shoulders. This style is really convenient.
Don’t Hold Them If You Don’t Have To – In many hunting situations you are using your binoculars for very short periods of time simply to check out that flash of movement you saw in the cover or the location of a landmark to keep you on track during a stalk. But at times, you’ll be glassing for extended sessions, trying to pick apart a mountainside looking for animals. This is when holding binoculars to your eyes gets fatiguing.
The solution is to rest binoculars on your monopod, shooting sticks or tripod. This can be done simply by holding them in place, but fatigue can be reduced even more by actually attaching the binoculars to a tripod. High-powered binoculars of 12x and up usually come with a universal stud hole that allows attachment. But for binocs that don’t have this feature, accessories makers like BOG-Gear make attachment systems that can be fitted to tripods, shooting sticks and the like allowing you to lay back and glass in real comfort.
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