Q:

Can you recommend some bombproof spotting scopes?

After straining our eyes for years (and believe me, the years have gotten to me) my wife and I have decided to consider a spotting scope for our field trips. I new to scopes and confused at to the benefits between a straight versus angled lens and as to what optical power is most beneficial for nature viewing. Can you recommend a few bombproof spotting scopes (we take our fair share of spills and falls on the trail) with quality optics to view and appreciate nature with. Mr. Magoo Galveston, Texas

Sep 18, 2003
Outside
Outside Magazine
A: Glad to help. The first part of the question—regarding straight-through versus dogleg-style scopes—is an easy one. By "folding" the optics, a scope maker can fit more power in a shorter package. There are no advantages in terms of optical quality; it's simply that a straight-through model of equal power will be longer.

The power question really is a matter of your intended purpose. Most spotting scopes have zoom lenses, rather than the fixed-focal length lenses of most binoculars. For typical nature viewing—bird-watching, scenic vistas, climbers on a Yosemite wall, that sort of thing—anything from 15-30x to 20-60x range should be more than adequate (15-45x is very common). The smaller and more distant the object, the more power you want. Keep in mind that higher-power scopes also will magnify any shake in the system, so get a solid tripod to go with it.

You can spend as much or as little as you want. Bushnell makes a perfectly adequate scope called the Sportview Zoom 15-45x, which sells for about $100. A step up might be the Leupold Wind River 15-45x, which offers a little brighter viewing then the Sportview, sharper optics, and better protection against bumps for about $275. Or, take a look at Bausch & Lomb's Elite 15-45x for about $750. A very nice scope, with bright viewing and excellent sharpness.

Bausch & Lomb's Master Tripod ($70) would stabilize any of these scopes nicely, as would the Slik Mini-Pro Tripod ($70).

More at Outside

Not Now

Need a Gear Fix?

Open email. Get latest gear. Repeat.

Thank you!