OutdoorGearLab Tests and Reviews The Best Binoculars of 2016
After exhaustive product testing, Editors' Choice, Top Pick and Best Buy honors are awarded to stand-out products.
The winners are as follows:
Editors' Choice Award - Vortex Viper HD 8x42
The Viper earned the Editors' Choice award for skimming the top of the scoreboard in all categories apart from field of view, while retaining a reasonable price tag. The model line features multi-coated lenses, HD glass and even comes with a lifetime warranty. Particulars, such as the locking diopter, demonstrate the attention to detail that runs throughout this product. This pair is comfortable to hold and use all day with a stretchy rubber neck strap, indentations for thumb placements and a soft coating on the barrels. Lead tester Michael Payne found that, "Ultimately it was how the Viper felt in our hands, the clarity of image, and the smooth operation that won testers over."
Top Pick Award for Birding and Wildlife Viewing - Swarovski EL 8.5x42
The Swarovski EL 8.5x42 rightfully earned Top Pick for excelling at birding and wildlife viewing. This product just missed the boat on earning the revered Editors' Choice award due to its high price tag, but holds its own in all other categories (even earning the overall highest score for performance)
Top Pick Award for Travel and Hiking - Leica 10x25 Ultravid BCR
When it comes to traveling and hiking, the Leica 10x25 Ultravid BCR easily takes home the Top Pick honor. Packing down to 4.4 x 2.4 inches and weighing in at a mere 9.4 oz, it's the most compact product reviewed. In fact, due to its travel-ability factor, it was the first product most testers reached for during the assessment process. Reviewer Payne notes that, "The Leica BCR does use multi-coated surfaces on all lenses, and even with a small 25mm objective lens it is one of the top scorers in the brightness category." These quality features, alongside solid construction and compact stature, make this pair stand out for this award.
Best Buy Award - Vortex Diamondback 8x28
The Best Buy award is awarded to the Vortex DiamondBack 8x28 for its bargain price. There's a lot of pack in the punch of this small and inexpensive item with its phase correction coating and fully multi-coated lenses. Reviewers were surprised to find that, "The clarity was good for non-ED glass and the brightness scored well for having a smaller objective lens and a lower cost coating." In order to maintain the extremely low price of $200, this product does make compromises on some of the features but it still manages to hold its own across the variety of testing categories. The bottom line is that this is a decent product for a downright bargain.
OutdoorGearLab, LLC, operating out of Cheyenne, Wyoming, is a free resource committed to helping consumers make informed purchasing decisions about outdoor gear when shopping online. The website, www.outdoorgearlab.com, publishes detailed comparison reviews of outdoor apparel and equipment as well as complementary articles such as buying advice guides for each category. Reviewers perform gear testing by comparing products against one another in real world applications and then share their findings in written essays. Products are scored across a range of weighted metrics and awards are allocated to commendable models. From backpacking and camping to cycling and climbing, readers can use this resource to find the best possible product with minimal time invested in personal research.