The simple reality is that if you can’t see the animal you are hunting, then you aren’t really hunting. You may as well be wandering around the woods yelling at the top of your lungs, “Here Elk! Here Elk!” and hope they come running. If that doesn’t sound like a strategy for success then the other option is finding them from far away with a great set of binoculars.
Many hunters are successful every year using this strategy and the top end optics companies have taken note that every class of hunter is looking for the best binoculars that fit their budget. Sometimes a budget is a few years of saving or working an overtime shift or two to cover the expense. Zeiss in particular has made an effort to offer the economic Terra line, the mid-range Conquest line and the top end Victory series.
This past summer and fall I had the chance to use the Zeiss Conquest HD 10×42 binoculars. Before I started working here, these binoculars were on my short list to try and were within the budget I was planning to spend. Let’s face it, $999 is a lot of money to spend on anything, especially a hunting tool. If I was going to spend that much, I wanted to know that I would be satisfied for years with their performance. I don’t think that I am alone in this desire and long-term satisfaction for a set of binoculars priced at $1000 is a must. I dare say for many, this would be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase!
The rubber coating is tough, durable and above all else stood up to the abuse I put it through all over the Wyoming high country. If I am going to drop that kind of money on binoculars they better be tough. This pair saw 200 trail miles this season in all sorts of conditions and I never worried about whether or not they would work when I needed them.
The LotuTec lense coating proved valuable on a four day backpack hunting trip for mule deer that was way more rain than shine. As hard as I tried, there was no way to prevent my lenses from the occasional drop of rain. Especially when waiting out fog above 10,000 feet for a shooting lane at a great buck for four straight hours. I had no choice but to pick apart the areas in less than ideal conditions. The water beaded up on the lenses and drained off to the edges where it was easy to clean and drain. After a quick wipe I was able to see where I was looking and could pick apart the small patches of trees the buck was hiding in.
A friend of mine came on that trip and he had been eyeing new binoculars for awhile. His $300 pair (not Zeiss brand) has worked well for a few years and will continue while he saves enough cash to move up to the next tier. He wants to take the next step and after seeing how clear the Conquests were at long distance he is significantly more motivated to buy. This sold him on moving from the lower end optics up the ladder to the Conquest. He had looked through others at the store but never put them side by side with the HD’s.
The best part for me was finally being able to kick the “high-country headache” to the curb. A “high-country headache” comes from looking through a pair of binoculars or spotting scope for hours on end. A high quality piece of glass won’t strain the eye nearly as much and therefore prevents the headaches. In the past, I have gotten headaches on a regular basis from six hour glassing sessions, but not this year.
In the long run it really comes down to how clear you want to see at long distances. Is it worth it to save a little more for the next step up in binocular quality? If you are looking at the Conquest HD 10×42 model, I would say yes.