Well, a decision by just me. If you have read one of my last couple of binocular blogs, you know that I've been on the hunt for a new compact binocular to replace my really old pocket model "Jason". This little bino has ridden many miles in my pocket and around my neck for lots of years, but things change – primarily my eyes, not to mention technology. As I mentioned, my search was focused on a good quality, pocket bino, but after a bit more investigation, I changed direction.
Suddenly, like a bolt of lightning from above, I realized that I'm not as young as I used to be and my eyesight isn't either. I also asked myself if I really "needed" a pocket model binocular since my hunting and glassing habits have changed in recent years, so I started to think about a true compact alternative with big binocular features.
Recently, my co-worker Mark wrote about our visit with the great folks at Vortex Optics in Middleton, WI and the great day we had. We learned a lot about the company and products, had a great lunch downtown, disposed of copious amounts of ammunition at the range and most importantly bonded with our friends – Shamus, Jeff, Joe as well as everyone else we met that day. The bonus for me, was being able to examine almost the entire line of Vortex binoculars which helped me make my decision. Realizing that my eyes have aged somewhat, I found that the compact 8×32 Viper HD gave me a solid 4.0mm exit pupil as opposed to the smaller 10×28 pocket Viper, that I has originally been looking at, which offered just a 2.8mm exit pupil. A noticeable difference to my aging eyes! If you hold your binocular away from your eyes, toward the sky or a bright window, you see the exit pupil as that little circle of light coming out of the eyepiece. That’s the light your eye will receive when you look through the binocular. As we age, it’s normal for the maximum pupil size of our eyes to shrink, so it's important to get as much light as possible to your eyes through the optic.
Next, I needed to determine if the slightly larger overall size and weight was going to be an issue. In my hands, the 8×32 Viper felt great and offered a bright crisp image. In addition, it had all of the features on their larger full-size binos, including HD glass, locking diopter, rubber armored body, large center wheel focus and tripod adaptability! The insignificant addition of physical size is far surpassed by the performance of this little binocular. And, with the Vortex "VIP Warranty", it's a "no-brainer". So with the help of Shamus, who faciliated a deal that I couldn't refuse, I now own this great binocular that I plan to use quite often. One of it's first "duties" will be to accompany my wife and I to a Chicago Blackhawks hockey game next week. I just hope that she lets me use MY new binocular for a little while.