One of the indispensable non-photographic tools for outdoorsmen is a good set of binoculars.  Determining what defines a “good set” is as much a compromise as any other tool choice.  Narrowing the purpose, then deciding which factors are most important to you will help reach a prudent decision.

Without a doubt there are some exceptionally fine binoculars on the market.  Brands like Swarovski, Zeiss, and Leica are renowned, with the price of top-of-the-line models approaching $3,000.  Numerous other brands cover the range at much lower cost, some with quality that’s hard to distinguish from the high-flyers.

I’ve had considerable personal experience with Pentax optics, both top-model binoculars and an 80mm spotting scope.  One of the most important binocular choice factors for me (since I wear glasses) is eye relief—the distance from the last surface of an eyepiece within which the user’s eye can obtain the full viewing angle.  Pentax’s ED and WP models have 22mm eye relief, more than any other quality binocular I’m aware of.  That may not be an important factor for you, but it’s a deal-maker for me.  While using two different pairs of top-end Pentax roof prism units for a decade and a half I’ve found the optical quality superb, weight less than most other top-end units, and cost less than half of the rarefied European brands.  Everything is a compromise, but this is a compromise that’s worked very well for me.  See the Pentax ZD 8×43 ED here.

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