Live Hunt AK: Swarovski EL Range Binocular Review

When hunting in Alaska, It's hard to rate equipment on the basis of importance. It takes an assortment of several absolute must-haves, but one thing that is as important as any is a good binocular. Any serious hunting in these parts, especially for brown bears, moose, and sheep requires a lot of glassing.

There is no substitute for putting in the effort of painstakingly glassing over every nook and cranny of the landscape over and over again. Without it, you're better off staying home. And in order to be successful, the better the optics the easier it is to get the job done.

I quickly learned the importance of a good bino on my brown bear hunt. We had to spend hours glassing, often without seeing anything, but would sometimes spot a bear during the few seconds it was moving in the open, before disappearing again. Seeing these things at long range, often in low light, requires clear glass, and I was very impressed with how the Swarovski 10x42 EL Range performed. It has incredible light gathering ability and the clarity is second to none. As with most of their optics, it's also very easy to glass with this bimo for long periods of time without getting a headache or suffering eye fatigue.

The really cool thing about this bino is, of course, the integration of a high-quality rangefinder. It's incorporated in a very ergonomic and clean way, and the whole package doesn't weigh much more than the non-rangefinder EL 10x42. Especially while on stalks for bears, as well as sheep and goats, your binocular and rangefinder are both awesome tools to have at the ready. Combining the two into a dependable package further simplifies things. One of the biggest factors contributing to success for many of these hunts is efficiency. The more pieces of gear you employ, and the more complicated they are, the less effective you become. Even something as simple as combining the rangefinder and binoculars produces a big advantage.

Another thing I love about the EL Range is that it is tough. The most expensive and innovative piece of gear in the world isn't going to be worth a thing in the field if it can't hold up to the conditions. I put this bino through the works--snow, rain, saltwater spray, sand, rocks--and it came out just as functional as it was the moment we landed on the beach.

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has had an incredible desire to pitch a new pair of binoculars into the deepest river I can find because they were fogging up, but you definitely won't have to worry about that with these. They don't come cheap, but with serious optics--for serious hunting--you get exactly what you pay for. And the EL Range is worth every penny.