By quality binoculars I mean something that I can take to glass for elk, deer, pronghorn or even bear that may be several hundred yards away in the next valley. Obviously, they needed to be fogproof and waterproof. They had to be lightweight enough to take on my week-long hunts and camping excursions to some of Colorado and Wyoming's most remote backcountry. Great optical clarity and light transmission also were must-have features for those early-morning spot-and-stalk situations or near-dusk last-chance glances. In the event I had to step outside real quick and check for varmints or identify the animals crossing my property, they would have to be durable enough to take the beating they'd get leaving them by the front door. Lastly, I didn't want to throw down the amount of cash on binoculars that I'd expect to pay to buy a decent used fishing boat.
The Great Binocular Challenge
So, therein lay the challenge: Could I find a pair of European-made binoculars that did it all for under $1,000 or more. The results may surprise or even startle a few of you.
I've only had two pairs of binoculars over the years. The first pair of binoculars I bought were Russian-made, military-issue binocs that I picked up for $50 at a bazaar in Poland. They looked high tech enough with rubber armor and a ranged reticle, but after about 10 years they either corroded or just turned out to be what I paid for…cheap European knockoffs. The others were a small pair of Bushnell binocs that I usually take camping and hunting, but those just don't have the powerful magnification I need for the animals I'm hunting.
Prairie Dragons: The final straw
After moving into an old farmhouse on the Eastern Plains of Colorado, I've had to live under less than desirable conditions. One of them being that half of my worldly possessions are still unpacked in an outbuilding, including my old, worthless Russian-made binoculars. To add insult to injury, both of my hunting dogs got sprayed by a skunk, which I saw playing with one of my dogs but couldn't positively identify at first from a distance. I dubbed the animal a prairie dragon, because I couldn't figure out what kept changing shapes and disappearing into the ground until one day they both came home smelling like burnt truck brake pads with freshly chopped onions. Not once, not twice, but now one of them has been sprayed a total of three times. Three deskunking procedures was all the provocation I needed to justify purchasing some new binoculars. Matters like these simply require results in the form of deadly ammo. And, it certainly wouldn't hurt to have good binoculars to sit and glass for prairie dragons. I was lucky enough to spot one skunk with my bare eyes, but I knew after shooting the first prairie dragon and a second skunk-spraying incident, I'd need binoculars to do some remote patrolling to get the situation under control.
The Final Countdown
Two finalists vied for the coveted Homeward Bound honors: the Steiner Predator Pro and another popular pair of European-made binoculars. Both have 10x models and 1,000-yard field of view at 300 ft. The Steiner's weigh a mere 24 oz., which is a big factor to me because I often trek into the backcountry. The other pair has a more elite European housing design. The Steiner's are made with a rugged, rubber armouring that doesn't slip in your hands. Both have dual-eye ocular adjustment focusing. Basically, it was a real toss up for me because I felt I could get the same performance from either pair. So, I went with the Steiner's because of the price tag.
Post Purchase Report
After buying the Steiner Predator Pro binoculars I knew I made a great choice. I'm happy to report they've exceeded my performance expectations. They have incredible lenses that really help separate greens from colors that matter. For instance, they helped me pick out flashes of darker hues like browns, reds and blacks over a sea of verdant pasture grass. The images out to 1,000 yards are stunning and crystal clear. They're super easy to focus too. I also think it's worth mentioning my three favorite features of the Predator Pros: 1. The easy-on-and-off straps, so your binocs can hang in front when you're on the prowl. 2. The drop-down lens covers, so I don't have to go looking for where I left them. 3. I really like the ergonomically designed eyecups that help shield out unwanted sidelight.
So far, I've used these binoculars on nearly a nightly basis to glass for prairie dragons and cackling pheasants in the evening. The light transmission is so good on these binoculars that I've actually glassed pheasants with great clarity out to 400 or 500 yards at dusk, and I can't wait to take them elk, antelope and deer hunting too.
Click here to view Steiner Predator Pro Binoculars