When I began backpacking, I always carried a small pair of binoculars (everybody did - probably because Colin Fletcher did. I saw many pairs dangling from the tops of external frame packs.) I also found I used them frequently, even though I hike only in the forests of the eastern U.S. I couldn't see very far, but it was kind of neat to get out onto a ridge in the Red River Gorge and zoom in on the hikers on the next ridge over. I also enjoyed looking at birds in the trees, or wildlife a hundred feet away.
Then came enlightenment, in the form of ultralight backpacking. Since it wasn't essential to have them (no route-scouting or other truly distant looking in those forests), I devolved from binoculars, to a monocular, to nothing.
How many of you still carry binoculars? How much does it relate to the openness of the country you hike in?
I have binos that I use bird watching mostly on day hikes. I haven't ever brought them backpacking. I also steadfastly refuse to spend time trying to identify little flits (the million tiny finch and swallow species that true birders get really excited about.)
I have a pair of Tasco 10x25 binoculars I like to carry. They're actually pretty decent, though fairly cheap. 10.5 ounces.
Although I don't use them a lot, I do enjoy them. I even managed to photograph some mountain goats with them.
For some reason, I stopped carrying them on my daily walks, but when I did, I recall seeing ospreys, cooper's hawks, and a flock of hummingbirds up close. I didn't even know that hummingbirds flocked, but apparently they do.
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead
Used to take them, used to not use them. Now I am used to not taking them, unless it's a dayhike with some spectacular wildlife possibities...
Pretty much the same for me. Did manage to find a pair of extremely tiny Minolta 6xsomethingorothers that are no hassle to carry but always lose out to a camera on backpacks. I have nicer ones occasionally toted on dayhikes.
I usually have either small binoculars or a monocular in my daypack, though seldom use them. But it has been nice to have on occasion and I'm not too concerned about weight in a daypack.
I don't think I've ever taken either backpacking. I am approaching retirement and hope to hike the AT when I do. Whether to carry a monocular has been one of my internal debates (smile). If I can find one that conveniently fits my iPhone for photo use it may push me in that direction.
To be honest i find they are unnecesarry. You carry them and either the thing you wished to look at is long gone, or what ever you point them at is just a bit closer. A bit of land over there is pretty much like a bit of land next to you, if the scenery you can see becomes 10 times closer, it really has very little benefit.used to carry them, but found them of very little benefit. If you want that bit of scenery a bit closer, try walking there and spending some time there ! Thats the beauty of being a backwoods hobo ! Spend some time observing where you are rather than wizzing by in a car, go to another bit explore and abide in the scenery, not just taking a viewport experience ! I think wildlife is the only time i wish i had eyeglasses, im far too noisy and smelly when multi-daying to see it for long enough.
Loc: West Virginia
Actually went the other way. Didn't use to carry them and now do. I have a pair of Zeiss 8x25 Terra ED's that are great. I'm often on ridgetops trying to figure out what I'm seeing and plot out locations so they are great and weigh very little. And, yes, I was inspired originally by Colin Fletcher.
I agree with OregonMouse. I usually take a fairly lightweight camera with a great telephoto lens so I can photograph those distant objects rather than just look at them. Saves on having some redundant equipment. As with binoculars you just have to hope your subject stays still long enough to get them in your sights.
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