I've been in need of a good, reliable set of binoculars for a while now. I've usually just settled for the small, cheap ones and considering how little I have used them, they have always been adequate for the terrain I hunt. However, I've always wanted to get a better set, especially for when I finally make my daydream Western hunts become a reality, and decided that this would be the year I would take the plunge into better optics. Since spending Zeiss and Swarovski like money at this point in time was out of the question, I turned to glass that I knew gave the best quality for the money: Nikon and Leupold. After searching around online for good deals on these brands in 10x42 configurations, along with others such as Bushnell, Vortex and Zen Ray, I was set on just waiting one more year before dropping any money. That's when I just happened to walk into Bass Pro Shops and ran across a deal on Leupold Acadia's I just couldn't pass up at the time ($180 after taxes for those wondering). After giving them the look over and testing them in the store, I was sold and walked out the door with my first set of quality binoculars. They may not be Gold Rings, but so far I love the clarity of their glass and have found that the low-light pick-up is pretty dang good (haven't had them out in the woods yet though).
-Good deal compared to other, similar optics in that quality/magnification range
-Twist eye-cups provide great relief both when I do and don't wear my glasses
-Very good glass for the price paid
-Lens caps are cheap and don't stay on
-Straps that came with it are flimsy and not worth using
To combat the low-quality straps that came with the Leupolds, as well as not wanting to put the binoculars on my Redhead harness (which never worked as good as I had planned), the final item I needed in my quest for new binoculars was a quality harness system. I was looking hard at the Crooked Horn Outfitters system when I ran across S4 Gear and their Lockdown system. After giving them a look over in the store, I was sold! I did wait a few weeks though, to make sure I didn't find something else that was better. I didn't of course and ended up grabbing the last of the Large Lockdown System at BPS this past Friday. One quick note: Make sure you grab the right size you need for your binoculars as they have a Micro size as well. I actually grabbed both sizes and tried them with a set of binoculars in the store to make sure the Large is that what I needed for the Acadias. Once home, all it took was a few minutes to get the harness set-up and my binoculars on them. So far so good from the small amount of walking around I did with harness system on, the real test will come in two weeks however.
-Once fitted, harness stays tight to the body (so far)
-Binoculars stay protected when you are not using them
-Easy, one-handed "operation"
-Binoculars stay in place while walking i.e. no bouncing (again, so far)
-A little expensive IMHO at $40
-Bulkier when compared to other harness systems I've seen (but for not bouncing around as well as optics being protected, I can live with it)
I'll probably write up a quick response to this post in the coming months as we get into deer season and I am out using both of these more, so be on the lookout for that whenever the time comes for me to tell you whether these are good purchases or not. Until then, check out the pictures I took of them below and by all means, let me know if you have any experience with either!