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  • #1257616
    BPL Member


    Locale: So Cal

    Contemplating a monocular….anyone out there use them and if so what brand & reason for use?

    Looking at the Zeiss as it is supposed to have high optics and is very light weight…other brands and suggestions are welcome

    Derek Goffin


    Locale: North of England

    I use a monocular for route spotting. It is the fourth arm of my navigation equipment,( map, compass, altimeter, monocular, GPS) I use a Solus WD820. It is 20mm lense 8 times magnification. Weighs 45 grams and is a tiny prismatic thing. It costs about £13. I originally bought something for about the same price in Jessops 18 x 7 but this is lighter with better optics.

    Greyson Howard


    Locale: Sierra Nevada

    I have a Brunton Echo I picked up from REI, and it's nice enough. I wouldn't say it's a precision piece of optical equipment though – the focal plane is slightly off on mine. Otherwise its light, bright, compact and inexpensive.

    Gregory Topf
    BPL Member


    Locale: PNW / Switzerland

    I heart my 2 oz Brunton Lite-Tech™ 8×22 Waterproof Monocular. Used on many a backcountry packrafting adventure for spotting both water features and charismatic megafauna. $22 at in the USA.

    Michael Cockrell


    Locale: Central Valley, Lodi-Stockton, CA

    I use the REI Z13 10-30 x 25 Monocular ($49.50).

    I looked at the Brunton Echo Pocket Scope 7×18 (29.00).

    My wife liked the zoom ability. This macro/micro feature has a real learning curve on when to use the barrel slide for macro-super macro feature, and the zoom (distance).

    The focus to use either macro or micro feature also takes some learning. However, once figured out, it is nice. Not sure if I would use the macro feature unless looking for tics or slivers.

    The weight is a little high also, but does cut down on the bulk over a compact binocular, and stores easy in pants or other pocket.

    Franco Darioli


    Locale: Gauche, CU.

    Hi Christopher
    I would suggest that you at least try a monocular first as it is very different to a binocular in the way it handles.
    Personally I am not able to find the subject quick enough with one of them.
    Having said that, I have a Zeiss 8×20 that I could sell you. I take Pay Pal.
    Send me a PM if interested.

    Ed Engel


    Locale: West of what you think is west

    I have carried a Bushnell monocular on all my backpacking trips since 1976. I find it a very useful item.

    Bob Gross
    BPL Member


    Locale: Silicon Valley

    Mine is 8×20 also. I think you will find that is a standard compact size.

    BPL Member


    Locale: So Cal

    Thanks for all the feedback….

    I was/am seriously considering the Zeiss 5×10 T MiniQuick Monocular (it's small, light, and has good bright optics – looked through it at a used to be Sportsman's Warehouse).

    I'll see if there is a place to view (REI possibly) the Brunton Echo and Bushnell model as though not as small or light as the Zeiss – they're considerably cheaper.

    Matthew Perry
    BPL Member


    Locale: Hammock-NOT Tarptent!

    This is the smallest/lightest REAL monocular i could find a few years ago. It's been great and does what it is supposed to do. Not bad for 1 ounce and $22.43!

    Mark Hurd
    BPL Member


    Locale: Willamette Valley

    I use the one Matthew uses. Works great. 8 x 10 magnification. Optics are clean and clear and it actually weights 23 grams on my scale ( about 0.8 oz). I don't think you can find anything lighter with decent optics. I was surprised with the quality of the image and the size and weight means I don't have to think about taking it along. Just travels in my pocket so it's very handy. I have key chain fobs that are bigger than this. The one minor drawback is that you generally need reasonably good light to use it given the 10mm opening.
    – Mark

    BPL Member


    Locale: So Cal

    Thanks for all the insight/comments….with reviews expressing good optics and it being especially compact and light, I'll give the Golden-Eye-8X Monocular a try – why not for $25 :-).

    Thanks again

    Rog Tallbloke
    BPL Member


    Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!

    My dad has a 8×20 Zeiss monocular which I have coveted all my life. I have to make do with the 12x mag on the EVF of my canon S2IS camera.

    Ken Larson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Michigan

    Let me just repeat what has been said and what the reviews the web will say….this is a precision instrument and worth the cost. I’ve carried my 8×20 Zeiss monocular for over 20 years and found it to perform excellent in ALL TYPES OF LIGHT.
    Magnification 8x/10x
    Objective Lens Diameter 20 mm
    Field of View 345 feet/1000 yards
    Eye Relief 16 mm
    Close Focus 9.8 feet
    Monocular Weight 2.5ounces (80.8grams)
    Length 4.0 inches
    Weatherproofing Waterproof

    Delmar O’Donnell


    Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio

    I like to ID birds on trips and am a bit of an optics nut, owning 5 pairs of quality birding binoculars. But all my binoculars are too large and heavy to take backpacking. So I’ve been “clever by half” and have been using monoculars.

    After struggling to make my Vanguard 8×25 (4 oz, $55) work for birding, I gave up and ordered the Celestron Outland 6×30 (8 oz). The Vanguard is slim and trim, the sort of device you *want* to work. It has a small 1/2” diameter ocular and eye relief that's so short, it's marginally useable if you wear glasses, even after turning down or removing the eye cup. Marginal if you don’t, too, according to my non-glasses-wearing friends. But the big problem is the very narrow field of view. Monoculars don't "point" as easily as binoculars do, and the Vanguard always had me hunting around to find a bird, as if looking through a long, narrow tube. It takes time, persistence, bright sunshine, and luck to find a bird with the Vanguard. Birds seldom give you that kind of time. Also, only the center half of the view was sharp; the outer half was blurry. Views were low-contrast and dim.

    The Celestron Outland 6×30 arrived several weeks ago, and it’s a different experience. It’s much larger (wider than the grip on your trekking pole, with its big prism making a bump in the cover), and twice as heavy as the Vanguard. That *should* disqualify it for UL backpacking. Except, that it works. The field of view (from both lower magnification and wider FOV) gives me the impression I’m seeing about 200% of what I saw with the Vanguard. Whereas other monoculars are showing FOVs of 6 and 7 degrees, this beast is showing almost 11 degrees. So I’m now spotting birds with relative ease–similar but not quite as good as binoculars. The center 2/3 of view is clear, but the outer 1/3 is fuzzy. Eye relief is very large, easy for glasses wearers. There’s no “find the pinhole and look through the tube” feeling, because the ocular is positively huge for a monocular, 1 full inch across. Views are wide, high-contrast and bright.

    The Celestron and the Vanguard both have that “offshore” feel to them, which to me feels like workers were forced to assemble these against their will. There is no “love” in their construction, as you’d find in a Zeiss or Leica. But the Celestron costs, amazingly, $30, almost half the Vanguard. So once you factor in cost, the Celestron zooms ahead in the comparison, with the Vanguard winning a prize only for smaller size and weight. (The higher magnification is negligible, and in fact increases unsteadiness of view.)

    My big carp about the Celestron is its silly focusing system, a relatively thin ring sitting behind a big adjustable eyecup. The eyecup actually works like a lock-washer for the focusing ring (!!!) so that you must pull the eyecup out, focus, then push the eyecup in (if you’re a glasses wearer). If you don’t go through this silly procedure, the focusing will bind up in one direction and not move. This would irritate me more except that once I’m viewing through the Celestron its faults are forgiven, as it affords a very fine view.

    In my humble opinion, a monocular of x10 or more is not useable for birding, as its views are too narrow and it will magnify shaking. Even 8x takes some conscious breathing control, or using a pole for support to steady the image. I also find the light ingress capacity and max resolution of a 25mm objective to be marginal. Regardless of the brand or coatings, I'd never use a 20 mm objective, just too small/too low resolution.

    peter vacco


    Locale: no. california

    i carry the 8×20 – 10x zeiss. it is "ok". it in not "surperlative" as i was hoping it would be. sometimes if fogs up internally.
    5x magnification seems not enough to get the job done. although i have looked at the weigh savings of the little 5x zeiss, i just can't get it to see far enough out.
    my 10x focus is right at the end of it's range.
    maybe i got a lemon, or it's in need of professional servie, but it centainly could work better.
    in no way does it have the image you get thru high-dollar rifle glass. so i guess it's ok, perhaps even good, but i was somehow expecting more.

    you can point these things at stars, and that seems a good way to compare image quality.

    Franco Darioli


    Locale: Gauche, CU.

    "The Celestron and the Vanguard both have that “offshore” feel to them, which to me feels like workers were forced to assemble these against their will"
    I visited the Leica , Minox (that is where they assembled the Leica binos at the time) and the Vanguard factories .
    I would agree that there was a different atmosphere between the first two and the third..
    At the same time the workers at Vanguard were happy to have a job.
    Vanguard makes binos/telescopes and tripods for many other brands too.

    Delmar O’Donnell


    Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio

    I could never in good conscience carry a Zeiss, Leica, or a Swarovsky on a backpacking trip, because I manage to get everything I carry covered in sand, dirt, and mud, no matter how short the trip, and no matter how often I admonish myself to be careful. So a "nice" monocular is just not in the cards for me, for backpacking.

    Regards magnification: My favorite binoculars are x6, x7, and x8. The 8s start to get a little unsteady, due to magnification. While the 8s show the object closer, and the x6 give a wider field of view, I don't feel the additional magnification is giving me that much more visual information. So I tend to prefer lower magnifications and wider fields of view, and will pay the weight premium for a decently large objective, such as 30mm. I've owned 10x50s and sold them right away; too much magnification for handheld work.

    Kerry Wilson


    Locale: North of Eugene, South of Portland

    I myself am a fan of high end optics, I own both Zeiss and Swaro binoculars and a Fuji spotting scope for hunting so I have a pretty idea what you get for your money.

    My use for some magnification while backpacking is pretty limited to searching for landmarks, keeping an eye on the rest of the top of the food chain and other other mundane tasks. Having absolute color/clarity isn't to high on the list.

    That being said, I recently took an old pair of Tasco 8×21 bino's (the kind they used to give free with new riflescopes and that you can find at yard sales for a couple bucks) but because of the way they are built, they have a real tendency to get out of collimation between the two eye pieces and throw double images. I have two or three pairs of these lying around.

    I wanted something for my backpack that I didn't have to baby on the trail and if they goth thrashed it would not be a big loss.

    I noted that either of the two lens' in the bino's were clear, it was only when I tried to use them as bino's that they were unusable. My solution was to take a hack saw and saw the two sides apart at the frame, then using the side that had the ocular adjustment (the little +/- adj on the rear of the lens to get the two barrels to have the same focus), I have turned an non-usable pair of binoculars into two pretty solid/light/cheap monoculars. Weight when finished 3.6 oz. ea.

    BPL Member


    Can't get much more UL than this…

    .Super ul binos

    Franco Darioli


    Locale: Gauche, CU.

    Are those binos WiFi ?
    (I see that you have a satellite dish built into your head)

    BPL Member


    Well they're definitely Hi Def.

    Dang how'd that satellite dish get there? Well that explains the headache today!

    Eric Osburn
    BPL Member


    The amazon reviews are super uninspiring. I'm mainly interested in monoculars for route finding in areas without trails and where I haven't been before. Most of the reviews for monoculars on amazon seem to say they (the low end ones listed in this thread) are good for bird watching but not long distance. For those of you with the under $60 monoculars, do you find your model decent for viewing a half mile or greater?

    Delmar O’Donnell


    Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio

    > they (the low end ones listed in this thread) are good for bird watching but not long distance. For those of you with the under $60 monoculars, do you find your model decent for viewing a half mile or greater?

    Hey Eric. I think these two very different uses are distinguished by need for speed, vs. need for magnification. Birds require fast acquisition and therefore wide field of view (wider FOV correlating with lower magnification). Route finding on the other hand would place a premium on magnification. Your route isn’t going to fly off in two seconds so you have time to hunt around a bit. Also, you can probably bring your trekking pole into play and use it as a steady rest for a clear image.

    If my goal was route finding rather than birding, I’d probably go back to the smaller, lighter, higher-mag, narrow-view Vanguards.

    The other question to ask is, how often will you want to use a monocular at dusk? If never, then a tiny objective lens of 20 or 25mm is adequate (although: smaller objective lenses translate into lower resolution, too). If you want light-gathering ability and higher resolution, then 30-50mm (although 50mm is darned big/heavy for any UL venture).

    I’ll second Kerry Wilson. I’ve sawed damaged binocs apart to make monoculars. They work great, and they’re worry free.

    PS: Check out the Vortex brand of monoculars. They have good specs on paper. Have not seen in person yet.

    Stephen Murphy
    BPL Member


    Found one of these on Ebay for $75. Weighs less than 3oz and has a very compact form factor. I do not know much about optics, but these seem to be pretty high quality.

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