There are two pieces of advice to live by when it comes to getting a great set of binoculars for outdoor activities like hunting, fishing, and hiking. The first one is to get a set with great imaging. The second is to get a set that it won’t break your heart to replace.
Great imaging speaks for itself. No matter what you’re doing, seeing details at a distance is pretty important. That goes for helping to spot deer hiding in the bush, figuring out whether an upstream ripple is a submerged rock or a fat trout, or seeing whether the flat space you’re scouting for a campsite is dry or is a shallow wetland caused by last night’s rain.
What you don’t want to do is spend a ton of money getting the best binoculars you can find, because those outdoor activities will stress your binoculars. Depending on how rugged you like things, there’s always the chance you’ll lose them.
In reviewing Upland Optics’ Perception 10×42 binoculars set, we used three basic criteria related to all that. We asked ourselves what kind of images it produces, whether it’s rugged enough to withstand the rigors of heavy outdoor use, and whether these features come at a price that makes it a worthwhile purchase.
The Perception 10×42 is a middle-ground set of binoculars in just about every sense of the word. It’s best used as mid-distance binoculars. Depending on the time of day and ambient humidity, you can use it to pick out detailed images out to maybe 1,000 or 1,500 yards. Out to 1,000 yards, the field of vision — the amount of horizontal space you can take in — is listed as 339 feet. That makes it suitable for every outdoor activity, including birding.
It’s a bit on the heavy side, but we frankly didn’t mind. The weight doesn’t feel empty, but rather like these binoculars are solidly built.
When it comes to price, it’s also middle-of-the-road. You can find mid-range binoculars for much less with fewer features and duller images. You can also buy much more expensive binoculars loaded with extras.
The Perception 10×42 produces some of the clearest, sharpest images of binoculars in its class. It competes favorably with pricier models from better-known brands.
It’s not “pick out the color of the gnat’s eye at two miles” clear, but at 50 feet we were able to spot a grasshopper that would have otherwise been camouflaged to the naked eye. At 500 feet, we were able to make out contours and shadows on a fire detector sitting on the neighbor’s porch. At 1,200 feet, we were able to identify a maple tree in a local park by the shape and color of the leaves.
We dropped our Perception 10x42s off a six-foot ladder twice, once onto the bare ground and once into a bucket of water. While we were tempted to drop them off a tall building for a much more dramatic test, we felt these simulated what is most likely to happen out in the field: a clumsy hunter dropping them out of a tree blind or into a creek.
They passed both tests. Not only were they not damaged in both falls, but they weren’t knocked out of adjustment. They also maintained their watertight integrity despite being left in the water for about a minute. These weren’t the most extreme tests possible, and we’re not sure at what point the structural integrity would be compromised, but the rugged construction gives us a lot of confidence that these binoculars can withstand routine wear and tear. It also ought to be noted that they weren’t slippery when pulled out of the water.
We took a spin through reviews available online. There was some grousing that the knobs used to adjust it were a bit tough to move. Like the heft of it, this was something we liked. On weaker binoculars, those get knocked out of alignment all the time. On these, the adjustments stayed put, even after we dropped them from the ladder twice.
It has a comfortable neck strap. Do you care? You probably will if you wear the things around your neck all day. It isn’t a make-or-break thing when it comes to purchasing it, however. We don’t typically wear our binoculars around the neck, because if the strap gets caught in a tree branch, it’s a problem.
We also didn’t like the fold-down lens covers. Like the neck strap, this isn’t a big deal. We haven’t come across any lens caps that we’ve ever liked and prefer to not use them when out in the field.
One thing to note is that the central pivot rod is covered, so mounting it to some tripod systems is either impossible or pretty difficult. That’s not a big deal for a mid-range set of binoculars, but it might be helpful to know.
When it gets right down to the basics, Upland Optics’ Perception 10×42 delivers. It’s a solidly constructed mid-range set of binoculars that creates crisp images and allows you to pick out important details out to 1,500 yards. It’s made for hunters, so its design and construction allow it to withstand the wear and tear of a day spent outside. It’s perfect for putting in a kit bag and pulling out right when you need it.
The biggest flaws are its lens caps and that it doesn’t mount easily to a tripod. Those are things that you can get past easily enough when stacked up against the performance of these binoculars.
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