Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Backpacking with Binoculars

This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
16 replies to this topic

#1 EdZ

EdZ

    Professor EdZ

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 18849
  • Joined: 15 Feb 2002

Posted 22 July 2004 - 02:24 PM

It's that time of year again boys and girls. Camping. Oh Boy!

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.

edz

#2 Tom L

Tom L

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 31061
  • Joined: 07 Jan 2004

Posted 22 July 2004 - 02:47 PM

16x70 Fujinon FMT SX on the Slik U212...you just need stable, not rock solid. Have a good trip. Taking a digital camera with you?

#3 EdZ

EdZ

    Professor EdZ

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 18849
  • Joined: 15 Feb 2002

Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:07 PM

Don't own a dig cam.

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???

edz

#4 Tom L

Tom L

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 31061
  • Joined: 07 Jan 2004

Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:19 PM

Ed, you may remember that I ended up purchasing the Sunpak 7500 from Bestbuy for my Burgess 15x70s. I'm 6'3"...it is too short at zenith (barely) and also very uncomfortable in that position (any one would be I would think). Give the mount mechanism a good hard look...it is plastic and you do get what you pay for...but it still works great for me. I knew I was compromising when I bought it and I accepted the limitations of the tripod...still works great, especially with my camera (it does do double duty, afterall).

14 ozs. isn't really that much though...I would think the size and bulk would be a bigger factor at that point.

#5 EdZ

EdZ

    Professor EdZ

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 18849
  • Joined: 15 Feb 2002

Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:40 PM

The Fujinon 16x70 weigh 4#12. The Oberwerk 15x70 weigh 3#1. The Pentax 12x50 weigh 2#2. Oberwerk saves 1#11z and gives most of the performance of 16x70 and way more than 12x50.

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??????

edz

#6 Tom L

Tom L

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 31061
  • Joined: 07 Jan 2004

Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:52 PM

Let's hope you don't fall this year! Save your $100...and pack the extra 14 oz...with the lighter 15x70s.

#7 Dennis

Dennis

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1320
  • Joined: 30 Dec 2003

Posted 22 July 2004 - 03:59 PM

Although a bit bulky but doeable, have you considered wrapping the tripod with your sleeping pad & or tarp. You could fill in the legs with existing gear - rain coat, fleece, etc. Just a thought. Have a great trip! I'm off to central Vt camping & bringing my scope. Enjoy!

#8 lighttrap

lighttrap

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3833
  • Joined: 06 Feb 2004

Posted 22 July 2004 - 04:02 PM

Ed, given your lineup, I'd go with the same package that I believe you went with last year: Swift Ultralight 8x42s & Oberwerk 15x70s with Bogen 3211/3130. Didn't you take a monopod last year? That, instead of the Bogen tripod rig would shave off the most weight. It's not practical for sharing, but is one idea.

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.

#9 EdZ

EdZ

    Professor EdZ

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 18849
  • Joined: 15 Feb 2002

Posted 22 July 2004 - 04:08 PM

yes, last year I tried out a tall ski pole/hiking staff with a small tabletop minipod strapped to the top. Stuck securely in the ground, it held the binocs, but just would not stop swaying. It would have worked fine as a movable handheld monopod, but didn't work as a pole mount. I couldn't show anybody else what I was looking at when used as a monopod. As a pole it swayed and was to short.

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.

edz

#10 jmoore

jmoore

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1959
  • Joined: 01 Oct 2003

Posted 22 July 2004 - 04:31 PM

My general philosophy with backpacking (whether we're talking optics, clothing, food, or whatever), is to take as much as you can get away with. Yes yes yes, I know this contradicts the old addage...'every pound counts'. But if you've got strong legs, the extra pound or two won't kill you (and therefore will only make you stronger ;). When you've got that extra warmth, or food, or aperture down the trail, you'll be glad you hauled it in. I've got strong legs, so usually, if I can fit it, I can haul it. And I choose to do so.

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!!!
jeff

#11 KennyJ

KennyJ

    The British Flash

  • *****
  • Posts: 36402
  • Joined: 27 Apr 2003

Posted 22 July 2004 - 05:56 PM

Ed,

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.

#12 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*
  • -----

Posted 22 July 2004 - 09:02 PM

Have fun Ed! I'll be in VT this weekend camping and hiking. I won't be lugging the BT100 along. Ouch! Enjoy the dark dark skies. And we expect a report on our desks when you get back. ;)

#13 EdZ

EdZ

    Professor EdZ

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 18849
  • Joined: 15 Feb 2002

Posted 22 July 2004 - 10:32 PM

Kenny and others,

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.

edz

#14 Tom L

Tom L

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 31061
  • Joined: 07 Jan 2004

Posted 22 July 2004 - 10:59 PM

What would a camping trip be without rain!

#15 KennyJ

KennyJ

    The British Flash

  • *****
  • Posts: 36402
  • Joined: 27 Apr 2003

Posted 23 July 2004 - 01:11 AM

< What would a camping trip be without rain! >

HEAVENLY -- I would imagine :-)

Clear Skies -- Kenny.

#16 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*
  • -----

Posted 23 July 2004 - 06:56 AM

70% of the time when I'm camping it rains. That's nature for you...

#17 Dennis

Dennis

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1320
  • Joined: 30 Dec 2003

Posted 23 July 2004 - 07:46 AM

There's a front passing through upstate NY which will clear out early on Sat. and be followed by a very large high pressure system that will settle in for a few days. You should be is great shape! Enjoy!

Attached Thumbnails

  • 154221-aopa chart.gif



CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics