We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

binoculars recommendation

philadelphia
Level Contributor
218 posts
80 reviews
Save Topic
binoculars recommendation

Hello. Last year, we purchased our first pair of binoculars for a trip to Yellowstone. We bought: Bushnell, 8x42, prism, waterproof. It was great to have them on the trip and allowed us to enjoy wildlife far in the distance at both Lamar and Hayden. However, my husband wants a better pair. In his opinion, the bears in the distance were not much more than black, furry, balls :)

We are headed to Glacier and Yellowstone this August. I would like to get him a better pair for his birthday. Given that our current pair has been used only once in a year and the same will, most likely, hold true with a future pair, I cannot imagine investing too much money - maybe $400.

Any recommendations? Thanks much!

Bucks County...
Level Contributor
458 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: binoculars recommendation

Here's some valuable information from a TripAdvisor article entitled "Yellowstone National Park: Binoculars, Spotting Scopes and Cameras" that I added to my trip folder for future reference a while back: tripadvisor.com/Travel-g60999-c96653/Yellows…

And here's a site with info on renting binoculars and spotting scopes: www.tetonadventuregear.com/optic_rentals They have stores in West Yellowstone, Jackson, and Cody. We're planning to rent bear spray from the West Yellowstone store, but I'm also starting to think about renting the binoculars since mine aren't waterproof and will add weight to my suitcase.

Houston
Level Contributor
241 posts
49 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: binoculars recommendation

Wow, I would think for $400 you should be able to get some pretty nice binoculars. I really like the Nikon binoculars--we have Nikon 8x40 Extreme Action binoculars and they have served us very well so far. On my wish list would be one of the Nikon Monarch binoculars which are more expensive but get very high ratings.

Bemidji, Minnesota
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
2,623 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: binoculars recommendation

You need to arrange your trip so that the bears are right next to the road. :^)

I have a rather inexpensive pair of 7 to 15X variable binoculars that I use for the long distances but I have to have somewhere to steady them at the higher power as I cannot hold them steady enough in my hands. For the animals that are far away you really need a spotting scope and tripod.

Mahtomedi, Minnesota
Destination Expert
for Glacier National Park
Level Contributor
2,051 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: binoculars recommendation

I think there are places in Gardiner that you can rent spotting scopes.

Houston, Texas
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
3,103 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: binoculars recommendation

Being optics you can spend from under $10 to over $10,000. No specific recommendation but two options that can make the experience better. Image stabilization or having a tripod mount.

Cinnaminson, New...
Level Contributor
500 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: binoculars recommendation

I guess it depends on how heavy you want them. Our first trip to Yellowstone we had a pair of 8x42's and I was disappointed because I wanted a better zoom. Last trip I had a pair of borrowed Bushnell 10x50's, which were better but not quite what I wanted. I did buy a 20-60x60 scope but used the binoculars quite a bit.

For this year's trip, I bought a pair of the Bushnell 12x50 Powerview series which is rubber-wrapped and weigh about a pound and a half. I've used them quite a bit so far and am very happy. I will also have my scope, which I strongly recommend.

I got the binoculars for about $60, and they are very sharp.

Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
Level Contributor
18,001 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: binoculars recommendation

I wrote the article with help from another DE who is into photography in a big way in YNP. If folks were to compare, side by side, binoculars at significantly different prices, the quality would become, well, clear. Read the article, post back with questions (or PM me if you wish), and consider 8 x 42 or, if users have fairly steady hands, 10 x 42, waterproof, roof prism, binos. More than 10x will be affected by hand shake - and the binos will be heavier and a more a burden than hellpful by different users

Objective lenses more than 42 allow more light but, for optical reasons, it won't make much difference. I've never had luck with zoom binos, the quality is not there plus the issue of hand shake - and the more you zoom, the worse the "picture". Ditto, image stabilization; in some cases, for some people, they are a wonderful technology, but in trying them, I was disappointed.

As noted in the article, if possible, try binos on "for size"; comfort, weight, clarity, etc. Look at the article's list of vendors (I have my favorite but cannot repeat it in a forum; they are ethical, knowledgeable, offer fair prices).

You might consider renting a spotting scope with tripod. But most of us with scopes will be pleased to allow you to use it.

Edited: 05 May 2012, 22:01
Green Valley...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park, Seattle
Level Contributor
18,001 posts
60 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: binoculars recommendation

PS IS binoculars are heavy. I do know how to spell "helpful". You can get decent binos for $400. If the binos are to be used more than at YNP, consider them a lifetime investment; you really do get what you pay for. If you have good binos, you'll tend to use them elsewhere, so take up "birding". :)

philadelphia
Level Contributor
218 posts
80 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: binoculars recommendation

Thanks everyone! Really appreciate your feedback. You've given me a lot to think about and research....

Yellowstone Nat...
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
Level Contributor
2,216 posts
19 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: binoculars recommendation

Like most of the other posters, I consider 8x42 waterproof just right for YNP, so you're already there. If I were to step up from that, it would be to a good spotting scope.