Binocular accessories are the icing on the optics cake, making your viewing experience not only clear and crisp but comfortable too. You can choose from a wide range of options to personalize your binoculars for your needs, including lens caps, maintenance kits, cases, straps, tripods, and other types of mounts too. We’ve covered the three basic tripod designs and two binocular mount designs, so you can choose the one that works for you. Read on to find even more tips on choosing the perfect accessories for your binoculars.
Binoculars come with an array of accessories, most of which are produced by the same companies that make binoculars. When you buy binoculars, you are never buying only scopes in a barrel. You will certainly need lens caps, and you are likely going to lose lens caps over the years. To avoid this, we recommend you purchase tethered lens caps. You may also lose other parts of the binoculars, like the eyepieces.
A binocular maintenance kit is always a worthwhile idea. One of these might include either an anti-static cloth, or lens tissue to wipe dust off the lens without scratching the glass. Many prefer disposable lens tissue because it won’t get dirty, worn out, or clogged up from previous cleanings. You might also want a small bottle of cleaning solution. Don’t use Windex or anything similar. If you trust names like Zeiss andBrunton, count on them to make a fine lens cleaner.
One of the handiest items to look for in one of these kits is a pair of plastic tweezers. These are perfect for picking larger specks of sand and grit off the lens without doing any harm. You might think this is picky, but the one time you set your binoculars in sand or dirt and come up with grit all over the lens, you’ll regret not having these.
All of this should come in a sturdy (if plastic) kit box.
You may discover it is advantageous to get other accessories such as a case, tripod, or mount for your binoculars. Even though we go into great detail concerning binocular cases, it’s also possible (and likely much easier on the pocketbook) to get yourself a bino bag. These are versatile in size and not nearly as expensive.
Binocular cases are easy to lose and critical to replace. Most people buy a binocular case when they buy their binoculars. In some cases (no pun intended), you may buy a pair of binoculars and later realize the need for a binocular case. In either case (no more apologies) a binocular case can be a costly purchase.
If you want to work around this expense, measure the size of your binoculars then find a slightly larger, cheaper binocular case that will accommodate them. You can take your binoculars to your local electronics or optics shop to match them up. For the best price, though, shop around the Internet.
The obvious safe bet is to get the exact case that matches the binoculars you have purchased. Depending on the brand and model, the binocular case can cost anywhere from $20 to $1000. The Fujinon aluminum carrying case runs at just under $1,000. The case can be critical for field work or hunting, in order to protect high-powered or military binoculars. As a general rule, the more expensive the binoculars, the more expensive the binocular case will be.
The binocular case you choose will really depend on the compromise between your needs and budget. The advantage of a hardy binocular case is that it will protect your binoculars in all situations. Even the most cautious people are not always mindful of their binoculars when they are climbing steep hills or rushing to catch sight of a running buck or a rare bird.
You’ve lost your strap, or it’s become damaged in some way. When it’s time to get a new strap, there are a number of interesting options to consider. The binocular strap is an easy thing to overlook when you are looking for binoculars. When you are out in the field for an hour or more, you become more aware of the importance of comfort. A factor such as durability will become more noticeable as well.
Binocular straps can be affected by a number of issues:
- Bouncing can be alleviated by a strap with adequate density.
- Chafing and strain can be lessened if you have a strap with the right thickness, or one reinforced with cushioning.
- Pulling can be affected by whether or not the strap attaches to the sides or center of the binoculars.
There are three popular styles of straps:
- Standard binocular straps – attach to the sides of the binoculars (so they, in fact, have their own bifurcation).
- Rangefinder straps – attach to the middle of a pair of binoculars or rangefinders. They are thinner, and can restrict bouncing and the damage that may occur from bouncing.
- Harnesses – attaches around your back. These distribute the weight of the binoculars to your shoulders, and can also have elastic straps for added flexibility. These are the most secure type of straps, but their restrictiveness takes time to get used to. Those with heavy binoculars find harnesses useful once they do get used to them.
When purchasing binoculars, there’s no need to feel saddled with the straps that come with the model you purchased. Look around the Internet to find the straps that will make your viewing experience that much easier and more pleasurable.
A pair of high-magnification or
giant binocularswouldn’t be very useful without something to hold them steady.
Binocular tripodsare necessary equipment for a steady view. Tripods are available in lightweight, tabletop, compact, monopod, and heavy duty models, and range in price from about $22 to over $500.
Lightweight, or traditional tripods are usually constructed from aluminum. They’re adjustable, so they work for just about anyone of any height. Despite their lightweight construction, traditional tripods are able to hold binoculars that weigh a few times more than the tripod itself.
Tabletop tripods are small, portable, and allow for seated viewing. They’re also able to support binoculars a few times their own weight, and because of their low profile and low center of gravity, they provide superior stability.
Compact tripods are also portable, and can be collapsed to fit easily into gear bags. They usually don’t stand as high as traditional tripods, so they’re convenient for seated viewing, or for those of a shorter stature. They provide all the functionality of a traditional tripod, but take up less room, so they’re great for travel.
Monopods are not meant to stand on their own. When observing something while hiking, walking, or in some other situation where it’s necessary to change your position frequently, a monopod provides stability for shake-free viewing. It also alleviates fatigue from raising and lowering your binoculars repeatedly.
Heavy duty or astronomical tripods provide stability and support to large, heavy binoculars. Although they’re built to hold more weight than most traditional tripods, they remain lightweight, usually not weighing more than about eight pounds. Despite their lightweight construction, they’re able to hold several times their own weight, easily accommodating astronomical binoculars that weigh upwards of 20 pounds.
Tip – To use binoculars with a tripod, you’ll need an adapter or mount.
binocular mountswill support between 3 pounds and 300 pounds, and range from small to heavy-duty models. Binocular mounts currently range in price from $20 to over $600.
Mounts can be attached to a tripod, tree, railing, car door, or window sill, depending on the type. Mounts are sold under various brand names but generally come in five designs:
Bracket mounts are the most common type of binocular tripod mount. They attach to the tripod, and to the binoculars with screws tightened by easy-to-turn knobs. Not all binoculars have tripod screw sockets, and not every mount will fit every pair of binoculars. Check to make sure your binoculars are compatible before purchasing a mount.
Parallelogram mounts swing the binoculars away from the tripod, allowing the user to frequently change stances without shifting the view through the binoculars. The unique parallelogram is the only mount in the world that allows you to bring the binoculars towards your eyes instead of bringing your eyes to the binoculars. Parallelograms offer hands-free use, and can be mounted to standard telescopes or tripods, which can be adjusted to accommodate various heights.
Window mounts have padded clamps that can be attached to standard window sills so you can enjoy the comfort of the indoors while viewing the outdoors. They also attach to car and truck doors, allowing viewing of wildlife from the safety of your vehicle, and doing away with the need to constantly raise and lower the binoculars when driving from viewing spot to viewing spot.
Mirror mounts function at a 45° angle, so viewing is done by looking down onto a mirror. Mirror mounts are an advantage if you are concerned about arm, neck, or back strain, and because the binoculars are stationary, weight isn’t a problem. Mirror mounts can be attached to standard tripods and adjusted for various heights. They’re great for viewing the night sky.
Universal mounts offer the ability to attach just about any binoculars to any tripod. The base of the universal mount screws onto the tripod. But rather than attaching to the binoculars this way, they offer flexible, adjustable straps that secure the binoculars in place with hook and loop closures. They’re perfect for binoculars that don’t have tripod screw sockets.