Backpacking with Binoculars
Posted 22 July 2004 - 02:24 PM
I can't remember how many years we've done this. Sat. morn 6:00 AM, my two younger brothers and I leave for the Adirondacks for this year's trip.
If you remember last year, it was a trip to Mt Katahdin, Baxter State Park, Maine. This year the trip starts at the southern entry to the high peaks region of the Adirondacks. Mag 6+ skies.
This year, like last, we will have a stationary campsite for the first two nights (near the vehicle), and we will do dayhikes for two days. This allows me to take several piece of Astro gear for the first two nights. My choices:
Along with several pair of binoculars and tripods, TV85 on a GPDX with a whole slew of eyepieces.
The real trick comes when I have to make the final decision on which binocular / tripod is going to get lugged across 30 miles of mountains for the next 5 days and nights. Now, you backpacking people know that every pound counts. At least this year I've got a new pack (5500 Cu.in. Gregory) that has enough room to take whatever I want. We are not ultralite packers. This will be a 50-60 pound load (22-27 Kg. for Kenny and friends). Actually, I've never gotten away with just 50 Lbs. Extra pounds need to be eliminated. No 22x100s on a backpack trip.
I have a lot of binocs (some that don't belong to me that I'm sure by now a few people are wishing I would return, right away) to choose from. I won't take any of the big ones on loan. So out of my long list here are some to choose from:
7x35 Minolta Activa - water resistant
8x42 Swift Ultralites - took these as a 2nd daytime pair last year
10x50 Orion Ultraviews - took these several years ago as handheld
12x50 Pentax PCF III - strong contenders, got beat out last year
15x70/'03 Oberwerks - this is the pair to bet
16x60 Pentax PCF WP - up in the air on these
16x70 Fujinon FMT SX - would really love to have these along
20x80 Oberwerks - OK now thats getting to heavy
The tripod is another entire decision.
Last year the decision came down to the 12x50 Pentax or the 15x70 Oberwerk. I just can't seem to justify carrying 4#12oz Fujinon 16x70s. Were talking shed the pounds here, not carry the weight. But the difference between what can be seen with the 15x70s vs. the 12x50s is enough for me to consider the extra 1 pound. The 16x60s just don't give me any more gain over the 15x70s.
Now the tripod. A tripod is a must, rather than some IS binoc. Part of the observing is to find objects and show the other guys. Can't do that with unmounted binocs. I don't have as many choices here for tripods. My Bogen 3246/501 is way to heavy. My Orion HD-F2 has a broken leg lock and can only extend two sections. It's pretty much down to 3 choices and one of those, a Velbon cheapo, although very light, is way to short. So it's either my Slik U212 or my Bogen 3211/3130 combo. The Bogen weighs about 7#, the Slik about 5 to 5 1/2#. I know the Slik is not quite enough tripod, but I might give up the Bogen to save the weight. Still undecided on the tripod.
So what seems like the best setup to me. Same as I ended up taking last year, Oberwerk 15x70s on a Bogen 3211/3130. 7x35 Activas for daytime use (my brother will carry these).
I would bet 20 people would make 20 different choices here.
See you all August 2.
Posted 22 July 2004 - 02:47 PM
Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:07 PM
Just went into the marketing department and checked out their Sunpack 7500 Pro. It's max. ht. 73" and it weighs 6#5z. I had my two other tripods out in the van. Weighed them. The Bogen 3211/3130 weighs 7#3z. and has a max. ht. of 72". The Slik U212 weighs 6#, but only has max. ht. of 67".
The Sunpack 7500 cost 99$ at Best Buy. It's a possiblity.
If I dropped the Slik off a ledge, I wouldn't care, it's 20 years old. If I dropped the Sunpack, it would dent or some plastic would break. The Bogen would probably dammage whatever it hit.
I'm the short guy in my family at 6'1". Brothers ar 6'3" and 6'5". The Slik is out.
Careful with Sunpack, or careless with Bogen???
Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:19 PM
14 ozs. isn't really that much though...I would think the size and bulk would be a bigger factor at that point.
Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:40 PM
I'm a little concerned that the Sunpack is pretty light weight components. If I fell backwards with that Sunpack strapped to the outside of my pack, it would never take the hit. Last year I did slip back and fell on the Bogen. It got scratched and nicked, that's all. all the tripods are about 4-5" around collapsed. The Sunpack is a few inches taller collapsed. If I could stick it inside my pack, I could live with the limitations. 24 hrs to decide??????
Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:52 PM
Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:59 PM
Posted 22 July 2004 - 04:02 PM
Now, if it was ME, I'd go with the TV Ranger with 2 eyepieces and a good barlow, on a Velbon Chaser (which actually is a pretty decent tripod in the "sleeper" bargain, lightweight, yet moderately stable, class), and probably use the occasion to finally break down and buy some decent close focusing 8x32s. (again) (hah!)
Good luck, whatever you decide.
Posted 22 July 2004 - 04:08 PM
The monopod is the answer for personal viewing. For shared viewing, need a tripod. the monopod would save 5#. After the first night at car camp, I decided against it. was glad I did. But Oh the weight kills.
Posted 22 July 2004 - 04:31 PM
That said, I'd rather cut weight on the tripod than the binos...like Tom L said...you just need it to be stable "enough". And I'd say you just need it to be tall "enough", too. You can always just use the setup sitting down...this would be more stable, too.
So, 15x70 Oberwerks with Silk tripod, given the options you've suggested. Bogen tripod if you feel you need to stand and/or have more stability. But definitely the 15x70s.
Although frankly...I'm with Mike...I'd be taking a scope. My 80mm Pentax would be making this trip for sure...with Bogen tripod/head.
cheers, and have fun!!!
Posted 22 July 2004 - 05:56 PM
Have a most enjoyable trip !
I don't know why you converted pounds to kilos for MY sake, I still think in pounds and ounces , feet and inches , even though officially it's 34 years since we "went metric" here in the UK :-)
I think Jeff makes a great point about sitting as opposed to standing , and also about the body coping with whatever it has to cope with -- but obviously there are limits.
I love my Bogen ( Manfrotto 055B ) with 501 head , but NO WAY would I even THINK about taking it for a long walk !
If I were embarking on a similar venture --which is totally hypothetical because in my present condition I probably wouldn't even make the base camp :-) -- I would take along my Zeiss Diascope and Minolta super -light tripod ,and the Zeiss 7 x 42 binos and be done with it.
The whole set -up fits into a "shoulder -bag" and total weight would be little more than a couple of litres of water
Exciting times ahead Ed -- so don't forget your notebook and pencils -- or would that be pocket -sized PC ?
I'm sure you'll have some interesting reports.
Have a safe and most enjoyable trip.
Kind regards -- your friend Kenny.
Posted 22 July 2004 - 09:02 PM
Posted 22 July 2004 - 10:32 PM
The TV85 comes to camp for the first two nights.
Looked over all my stuff in the house tonight. I have a 3025 head, could replace the 3130, lose about 1.25#, but also lose fluid motion. A viable alternative. It would go on the 3211, still I think the best choice of tripod. Heavier, but taller and rugged.
I'm taking the Fujinons to camp for the first two nights. I don't think I'll waver and take them on the pack instead of the 15x70s. But, it'll be nice to have them for two nights.
I'm not taking the BT100s either. That's major gear packing.
Long range weather report is predicting lots of rain. If I'm going to carry 10# extra gear, I'd better get to use it, and more than once!
I've been photocopying pages of my star charts tonight. Notebook and pencil, Kenny, and a keen eye (or eyes).
Pray for clear skies.
Posted 23 July 2004 - 01:11 AM
HEAVENLY -- I would imagine :-)
Clear Skies -- Kenny.
Posted 23 July 2004 - 06:56 AM
Posted 23 July 2004 - 07:46 AM