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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Urban Survival Gear – Binoculars

Although we left Binoculars off the Urban Survivalist’s Bug Out Bag list, we think Binoculars are such a good tool as to do an post on various types of binoculars in moderate price ranges.

We use many various Steiner Binoculars on the job, ranging from 8x30 Military Marine Model (shown in this post) to the large 20x80 models for long standoff observation.

The aspiring Urban Survivalist should probably first ensure his Bug Out Bag is stocked and packed, and that the withdrawal plan to a safe location has been prepared and studied before Binoculars are included in his general kit, however since we were asked,……

Binoculars obviously provide observation magnification so that terrain or people can be studied at ranges exceeding the ability of the un-aided human eye.
Considerations, besides price when selecting binoculars include necessary magnification, how big you want the objective lens, needed field of view (FOV) at maximum observation distances, and, size-weight considerations. The numbers assigned to a particular binocular, such as 8x30, refer first to the magnification 8 which is 8 power or roughly equal to a 400mm camera lens, then the second number which is the size of the objective lens, in this case 30. FOV is the width that you can see at a certain distance.

Generally the closer or tighter the magnification to objective lens ratio, the narrower the FOV and the less light gathering capability the binocular has- although lens quality and coating has a lot to do with this capability. Therefore an 8x30 binocular, with a magnification to objective ratio of approx 1:3.7, has less FOV and light gathering capability than a 7x50 binocular at approximately a 1:7.1 ratio. Having said that, you may or may not be able to actually tell that difference unless you have been behind binos or scopes a lot in your life.

Steiner 8x30 Military/Marine are a armor coated, rugged binocular that gives plenty of magnification at 8 power. Even though Steiners are tough, they have a 10 year warranty. However you are going to pay for quality. The model depicted here, the 8x30 Military Marine is at the lower end of the Steiner cost spectrum and will still set you back approximately $210. Good buy and plenty of quality, but you can find a better buy for your money if you are going to seldom use the binoculars and take care of them.

Nikon Action 7x35mm Ultrawide are a good tradeshow for quality considering price. At approximately $60 these are affordable and come with a lifetime warranty from Nikon. The center focus dial is useable and the binocular is adjustable for people with extra space between their eyes like cavemen and hillbillies. At around 1.5 lbs these binoculars will not over burden the Survivor with weight. Also available in an 8x40 model.

Leupold 6x30 Yosemite binocular are our hands down favorite for a smaller binocular but are a bit more expensive than the Nikon’s at approximately $80. These also come in a tan color body. Leupold has a good rep for rifle scopes and spotting scopes which will certainly expand to their binocular line in time. The Yosemite model are advertised as water proof with a lifetime limited warranty and are a few ounces lighter than the Nikon.

The bottom line on binoculars,……buy a reasonable quality binocular, maybe saving some money for a companion ultra compact cheaper set like Tasco or Bushnell. Each of us in the Survival Cadre possess at least three pair of binoculars with one guy owning six, so we evidently think they are necessary handy Survival gear.