I was given the opportunity to field test the prototype pair for the fall 2007 hunting season, which was highlighted by a Saskatchewan waterfowl hunt and a New Mexico elk hunt. I've used many brands and grades of optics over the years, and have found the most useful binos are the ones available when you need them, be it in a dusty truck cab or a rain-soaked daypack.
The first thing I noticed about the Alphas was the way they fit solidly in my hands. Raising them to the eyes came naturally, and the open bridge pivoted for perfect vision alignment. The rubber armoring is just thick enough to provide shock protection and a positive grip, yet adds minimal weight and maintains the sleek roof-prism lines.
Clarity was good for the Alpha's exceptional retail price. The edges were as clear as the center, and brightness was sufficient for low-light vision, critical while watching groups of mallards and pintails heading out to feed after sunset.
The focus dial turned freely, yet the Alphas stayed in focus through hours of driving over pothole-laced farm roads and rocky mountain trails. The twist-up eyecups offered excellent vision and eye relief, even when I kept my sunglasses on.
My Alphas became coated in mud twice and briefly submerged in a roadside ditch once (by accident, I swear). They bounced around the front seat of my pickup all season, experiencing temperature extremes from sun-baked hot to coffee-freezing cold. The Alphas remained intact and watertight through the gauntlet, providing the same respectable level of clarity whenever it was needed.
After using the Alphas over the course of my hunting season, I was generally pleased with their performance. Though there are clearer, brighter optics available, the Alpha's economical price tag and rugged construction will meet the budget and needs of most hunters in the market for quality binoculars.