Maybe the AR craze is to blame. We have become conditioned to the expectation that we can pimp our rig, whether it’s a rifle, a pickup, or a cellphone case.
Now you can pimp your glass. That’s the promise of a new optics company called Maven that encourages customers pick the color of their binocular’s armor, the style of the focus wheel and other furniture, even to engrave their own logo or other distinctive touch. The result is the creation of an optic that’s as distinctive as the person looking through it.
You can check out all the base configurations and furniture options here, but as fun as it is to virtually trade out various camo finishes, strap rings, and ocular and objective lens rings, the site doesn’t reveal much of Maven’s DNA.
The origin of the optic is almost as interesting as the variation and customization you can pour into it.
The baseline glass and chassis is very similar to Brunton’s Epoch binocular, the flagship optic of the company that makes outdoor gear as varied as compasses, remote power sources, and headlamps. Indeed, Maven is being run out of Brunton’s home base in Lander, Wyo. Just as with the original Epoch, this is a solid optic build around good Japanese glass. Initial offerings will be in the popular 8- and 10-power configurations, with objective lenses ranging from 30mm to 45mm. Look for additional configurations to be available as the brand grows.
ALTERNATIVE TO THE BLACK TUBE
It’s important to note that what Maven represents is a significant departure from the standard buying experience. Traditionally, sporting optics have resisted any sort of differentiation. They are marketed as mysterious black tubes, hiding their best attributes behind and beneath generic-looking armor and aluminum tubes. It was considered sacrilegious in the optics industry when Leupold marketed their distinctive gold ring, and it’s been unsettling to the old guard in Germany and Japan to see camouflage finishes replace the staid old black leatherette finishes on some optics.
Imagine what these optics standard bearers will say about Maven, which is encouraging customers to pour their personalities into their binoculars.
Even if all this variation is superficial. You can choose between seven patterns of body armor, from basic black or gray to five camo patterns, including Kuiu’s Vias and Kryptek’s Highlander. You can chose various colors of focus wheel, neck-strap rings, lens rings on either end of the binocular, and tripod cover plate. You can even choose the color of the Maven logo.
My favorite touch is the ability to custom engrave the ring between the eyecup and the ocular lens. Add your name, or your hunting club, or a gift message. It’s a great option.
THE COST OF CUSTOM
In terms of pricing, the Maven option is right in line or even a little cheaper than traditional retail sourcing. The full-size standard chassis (an 8×42) runs $900. Add $50 to $100, depending on the body armor you select, then $10 to $20 for customized focus wheel furniture. Each ala carte addition runs anywhere from $10 to $20, so depending on your configuration, you are looking at $1,300 or so for a finished, customized binocular. In comparison, Brunton’s Epoch retails for about $1,650.
Inside all this variety is a very good optic. The glass is sourced and ground in Japan, and the unit is tight and precise. While you might dress it up like a racecar or a prom dress, this is a sporting optic with a tough, field-worthy pedigree. Essentially, it’s an old-school optic all dressed up for the digital age.
It will be interesting to see how customers embrace the ability to transform their anonymous binoculars into something with bling and personality. And keep your, um, eyes open. Maven has hinted that they intend to bring this custom option to other product categories in the outdoor industry. Could we be looking at a customizable production bow or bolt-action rifle in the near future?