Gear Shed

Q:

The Best Affordable Spotting Scopes: Vortex Recon

I really want to see birds and other animals up close. What are the most powerful binoculars I can get?

Recon.     Photo: Courtesy of Vortex

A:The Recon is a shrunken, lightweight version of a full spotting scope, but it’s one of the best tradeoffs between optics and packability in this group. Made by Middleton, Wisconsin-based Vortex, the $549 scope weighs under a pound and offers 15x magnification and a huge 50 millimeter lens. To protect it in the wild, the lens is scratch-resistant, the housing is waterproof, and the exterior is covered in grippy rubber.

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