You have several options here. The first is how much power you want. Ideal for good pull" is a ten-power binocular (such as a binocular labeled 10X50Ill get to the second number momentarily). But ten-power glasses can sometimes be tricky to hold for long periods of timeyou magnify shaky hands as well as the moose youre looking at, so the image can be unstable. So for a little easier all-around viewing, glasses that are seven- or eight-power are fine. As for the second number, thats the lens diameter and relates to how much light goes through to your eyes. The higher the number, the wider the diameter, and the brighter the image.
Im not wild about zoom binoculars. Unless you spend a lot of money, the image quality isnt that good.
The other big decision is whether to get compact or full-sized binoculars. Obviously, the issue is whether you want to carry something big, or a little smaller. The trade-off is that larger ones are easier to hold.
So, which binocular? In a standard model, Nikons 7X50 Action Porro Prism binoculars (www.nikonsportoptics.com) offer a lot of bang for the buckthey can be had for about $70. Youll get good optics and a bright image, and theyre comfortable to hold. For more power try some of Pentaxs 10X50 XCF binoculars ($90; www.pentax.com). I use a pair for bird-watching from my office, and they work well.
In a compact, Steiners 8X22 Safari ($100; www.steiner-binoculars.com) is an excellent pair of binoculars with very sharp optics. And although the lens diameter isnt that great, theyre fine for daytime viewing. I carry a pair in a backpack and like them very much. Bruntons new Echo 8X25 Compact binoculars ($100; www.brunton.com), which are waterproof, also are worth a look.
Ideally, you visit a store that has several models so you can peak through them and see what is most comfortable to hold and look through. And you can easily discern better optics by focusing on the same object and then looking at it through several pairs.
Have a great trip!
Check out this years more than 400 must-have gear items, including a comprehensive binoculars section, in the 2006 Buyers Guide.