If you have been a regular reader of this column, you know that Iím a bit old school in my approach to optics Ė give me quality optics without the frills, but that does not preclude having certain accessories that can enhance the use of your glass, be it rifle scope, binocular or spotting scope. Letís look at some of the entries in this category.
Iíve touted the Bino Harness in several columns and believe itís the best $20 you can spend in the hunting world, and the heavier the bino, the better the harness works. It takes the weight off your neck and distributes it across you shoulders along with reducing the ďswingĒ of a neckstrap. I believe Crooked Horn Outfitters is the inventor and major supplier of the harness and private labels it for anybody meeting the minimum order requirements, so regardless of the name on it, it probably came from them. If you havenít tried one of these rigs, do yourself a favor and do so. Even if you donít like it, youíre only out twenty bucks, and you can still carry your bino with it in the African style of over your head and one shoulder along your side.
Lens Protection. There are a few items in this category that merit discussion. Letís start with lens caps, be them for binos or scopes. I hate them and have the opinion that unless youíre in wet conditions, they serve no use, and in fact are a hindrance to a quick shot and might even cost you a trophy. For scopes, there are the push-button types, the rubberized bra-types that cover both lenses, the origins of which were a simple slice of a car inner tube (try to find one of those anymore), and the covers that go over the whole scope, and for binos you have the ocular lens covers that never stay in place and try to cover both lenses, and the objective covers that generally pop in or are attached with bands and cover the lenses. My question is why? In the 35 or so years that Iíve hunted, guided, and dealt in optics, I can think of only a handful of times where they were needed and a bunch of times they were a real pain and I tore them from my optics. Give it a try. Free yourself.
But all is not gloomy in the Lens Protection arena. Three items worth considering are the lens pen, spudz, and a lens cleaning kit. The lens pen has a brush at one end and a cleaning pad at the other. I really like the brush for getting dust and debris off your lenses, but refrain from using the cleaning pad. The reason being that if there is a bit of grit on the lens or pad and you rub it around on your lens, youíre liable to put scratches in those beautiful lens coatings. It works great, but I donít like to take the chance. Spudz are another product of Crooked Horn Outfitters and are simply a lens cleaning cloth with its own little stuff bag that clips to your bino strap or key ring or zipper tab or anywhere else you can think of. Always handy and works great and is about $5. Almost every optics manufacturer offers a lens cleaning kit with a bottle of cleaning solution (never use ďwindow cleanerĒ!), a cloth and sometimes a brush. They can be had for $10-20 and last for years Ė and if you use it, your glass is always clear and shiny. I use and recommend each of these items.
A new item Iím trying out right now and shows great promise is the EyeShield. It is simply an aftermarket side shield for your bino or spotting scope eyepieces. When installed (in seconds), they block out side light from entering your eye. They work especially well when the sun is at a low angle. Retail is about $20. If you like this type of eyepiece and your optics donít have it, give it a try.
The last item today is the Scope Clamp. Okay. I invented it, make it and sell it. In the year or so that Iíve written this column, Iíve barely mentioned it, but now is the time. It is basically a camera tripod without legs. It uses a spring clamp instead. Itís really handy with a spotting scope, but after I brought it out, I found that itís a big hit with anyone toting a video camera. Simply attach your scope or camera just like you would on a tripod, but then just clamp it to anything 2 inches or less in thickness. It points in almost any direction, is solid, quick, and weighs only about 10 ounces. Itís outstanding in a box blind.
I sell all the items mentioned in this article, but so do a lot of optics dealers. I mention them because I believe in them.