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Author: Kent Walton
Anyone who has trekked the gaping, crater-like bowls and towering topography of Colorado’s vast Uncompahgre Mountains in the heat of early archery elk season knows it’s no place to be packing any extra weight on your back.
So it worked out nicely that my weeklong backcountry elk hunt in that unforgiving region coincided with the development of Cabela’s all-new 10 x 42 Outfitter Binoculars.
Being a Nebraska flatlander with legs and lungs acclimated to about half the altitude I’d be hunting at, I knew the weight of my gear was going to a factor in my ability to comfortably cover ground. While my daypack never seemed to be light enough, I can honestly say I rarely noticed the Cabela’s Outfitter Binoculars on my chest. At just 24.6 oz., their weight was never a hindrance. Plus, I outfitted them with a Cabela’s Pro Binocular Harness, so those few ounces were distributed evenly over my shoulders.
It wasn’t all that long ago that "lightweight" was synonymous with poor optical quality when it came to binoculars. But times and manufacturing techniques have changed dramatically in the optics world. In side-by-side tests with a few pairs of high-end European-produced binoculars that my hunting partners had in camp, the Outfitters produced clarity and light-gathering ability that rivaled the other optics in camp.
The Cabela’s Outfitters are equipped with 42mm objective lenses with a high twilight factor that made it easy to identify elk and other game in the low-light conditions deep in the dark timber and at sunrise and sunset. Plus, with a wide 315-ft. field of view at 1,000 yds., it took little effort to quickly scan broad mountainsides and large open parks for any signs of antlers.
The Outfitter’s eye-friendly construction includes .69 inches of eye relief, ergonomic twist-up/twist-down eyecups with fold-down glare-shields on the side. The large center focus knob makes for effortless one-handed focusing, even when wearing a pair of gloves.
As for their durability, the pair I tested was banged against rocks, scuffed against trees and even rained on heavily, and the heavy-duty Long-Life rubber armor and fully water- and fogproof construction kept them looking and performing like new.
So, would I trust the Cabela’s Outfitters on another hunt? Absolutely. Next year I may be sacrificing a few items from my day pack, but you can safely bet I'll be wearing a pair of these binoculars on my next backcountry adventure.