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Swarovski EL Binocular Review at Cabela's

Swarovski EL Binocular Review

Author: Mike Schoby

Few hunts require as much glassing as locating bears in evergreen clear-cuts and I was glad I had brought the best optics available. I knew I would be using binoculars non-stop on this hunt and I also knew the conditions were going to be less than favorable. After careful deliberation I chose to bring a set of 10x42 Swarovski EL's.

Brad Saalsaa glassing for bears.

The rain pelted down on my face. Not the nice drizzle of an early spring day that pitters delicately through the leaves and refreshes the world, but a serious downpour. This was a rain that soaks through your hat, drips down your neck, saturates your clothes and splatters against your face, making it feel like you are inhaling more water than air with every breath. I hadn't seen rain in Nebraska for the better part of six months. However, I was no longer in Nebraska, but Southeast Alaska and this torrential downpour (by my standards) was just another day afield during a spring bear hunt. I lifted the binoculars from my chest and flipped open the factory supplied protective objective lens caps and removed the ocular lens covers. The image through the glass was sharp and clear despite the rain that darkened the surrounding timber and painted the whole countryside a slate gray.

Few hunts require as much glassing as locating bears in evergreen clear-cuts and I was glad I had brought the best optics available. I knew I would be using binoculars non-stop on this hunt and I also knew the conditions were going to be less than favorable. After careful deliberation I chose to bring a set of 10x42 Swarovski EL's.

Recently released by Swarovski, these high-tech binoculars turned out to be ideal for this hunt. As I stated, glassing was a major part of the daily regime and only the best optics in the world would suffice. I have used lesser quality optics before, for these extended vigils, and have found out the hard way that they leave a lot to be desired. First, eye fatigue sets in, followed by a bit of overall blurriness and finally, after an hour or so, you are faced with one of two options - either glass with one eye shut (to relieve your pounding headache) or simply not glass at all. Needless to say, neither situation is an effective way to hunt! Since I was on a hunt of a lifetime for a trophy bear, I couldn't afford to let inadequate equipment hinder me in any way. I used the EL's all day, every day, from sun up till dark and I never experienced any eye fatigue or discomfort.

Author, Mike Schoby with the Alaskan bear he shot. The Swarovski EL binoculars were ideal for this hunt.

In addition to the comfort and usability factor, the quality of the glass was outstanding. This was no surprise as excellent glass has always been the hallmark of Swarovski optics. I have owned and used their rifle scopes and binoculars for several years on many different hunts and have always been extremely satisfied, but the new technology incorporated into the EL's has set a new standard even for them. While the quality and cut of glass is always vital to the overall performance of any set of optics another key to the bright image and great contrast of these Swarovski's is in their patented, optical coatings, Swarotop and Swarodur, applied to the lenses and prisms. The prisms are additionally coated with a "P" and "Broadband" mirror coating. All these coatings cut light loss to a miniscule .2% compared to the normal light loss of up to 6% without coatings. For those that are not paying attention - that is an improvement in light transmission of 30 times!

Ergonomically Designed
Good binoculars are made with good glass but truly great binoculars are designed from the ground up with more than optical perfection in mind and the EL's are no exception to this rule. They are designed with all day comfort in mind. Their split-yoke design is not only extremely strong, but allows for one handed use, which is nice for quick surveys of an area when you are carrying a rifle or otherwise have one hand occupied. The ergonomically designed thumb indentations on the underside of the body fit my hands perfectly and provided a solid hand position for long range glassing. The center-focusing wheel was smooth and easy to reach with either hand and thanks to the grooved surface was very manageable even while wearing gloves.

The EL's are covered in the characteristic soft green rubber used on other Swarovski binoculars. This rubber coating serves several purposes. It protects the binoculars from bumps, dings and scratches and keeps them looking new. It also provides a secure grip that is also warmer to the touch than bare metal. Finally it keeps them quiet as they rub against jacket zippers or bump the side of your rifle.

The 10 x 42 EL.

Light Weight
Another big advantage of the EL's really came into play once the stalking began. We were hunting in steep mountain clearcuts covered by slash piles and head-high regrowth. While the bears seemed to have no trouble negotiating the tough terrain - I on the other hand did. The hikes were often long and arduous and every ounce felt like a pound. The bad part about most high-end optics is that they often weigh a ton. To make a lighter binocular, many manufacturers skimp on the quality of glass; Swarovski took a different approach. By redesigning the shape of the body while using aerospace grade magnesium, they whittled these full sized 10x42's down to 27.5 ounces.

Cost vs. Return
Here is where the rubber hits the road...are the Swarovski EL's worth their considerable price tag? If you are a dedicated hunter, I feel they are worth every cent. If you hunt whitetails one weekend every season, their cost may be hard to justify, but if you hunt a lot for a variety of animals, their clarity, quality and lifetime of reliability will more than make up for their price. One question to ask yourself is how many lesser quality binoculars will you replace in a lifetime?

Peering through the Swarovskis, the crystal clear image of a big bear popped out of the dark timber. His ears looked far apart and small in relation to his head, his legs looked short and there was not a single rub mark on his coal black hide. Lowering the binoculars, I knew this was the bear I traveled so far to get. By starting off this hunt with the right optics, my chance for success had already increased. Tucking the Swarovski's back inside my jacket I began my stalk.

For more information on Swarovski EL Binoculars click here.