Alpen Apex 493 Binocular – as seen through the eyes of our Gear Dude

Alpen Apex 493 Binocular – as seen through the eyes of our Gear Dude
Gear Court: Sponsored By the Women's Outdoor News

Alpen Apex 493 Binocular
Alpen Apex 493 Binocular
Women’s Outdoor News
Women’s Outdoor News

Rolla, MO –-( I’m not the kind of person you’d expect to be writing about optics.

Optics are about vision of course, and my very poor eyesight requires me to wear eyeglasses at all times. Because of this, I’ve never tried a binocular I really liked, until now. (Well, with one exception. Long ago in Switzerland I looked through a Zeiss binocular that was pretty sweet—but also cost about as much as a decent car.)

This is not to say that the many binoculars I’ve tried (most belonging to friends) were of poor quality. But unfortunately many binoculars are not designed to be particularly “eyeglasses-friendly.” Because of this, I’d pretty much given up on personal optics years ago.

[Editor’s Note: A “binocular” (meaning two eyes) is a portable viewing instrument with two eyepieces allowing the user to see a magnified view with both eyes simultaneously. This instrument is commonly, but incorrectly, called a “pair of binoculars”; but strictly speaking, “binoculars” (plural) is correct only when discussing more than one such instrument.]

Recently I had an opportunity to discuss my binocular problem with Vickie Gardner, VP of Stuff at Alpen Optics. Alpen makes binoculars, spotting scopes, riflescopes and monoculars for outdoorspeople of all persuasions: hunters, hikers, boaters, anglers, campers, birdwatchers and sports fans.

For eyeglasses wearers, Vickie recommends a binocular with long eye relief. A long-eye-relief binocular allows folks who wear eyeglasses to see the entire available field of view, brightly lit, without our glasses getting in the way. The binocular is designed to compensate for the extra distance from an eyeglasses wearer’s eyes to the eyepieces. People who don’t wear glasses can put binocular eyepieces right up to their eyes—eyeglasses wearers can’t.

This sounded like exactly the problem I’d always had. Vickie sent me an Alpen Apex Model 493 8×42 binocular, which provides 20mm of eye relief for us eyeglass wearers. It also offers a field of view of 341 feet (at 1,000 yards) yet will focus clearly on an object only 5 feet away.

So came the moment of truth when I put the binocular to my eyes (well, to my eyeglasses) and was able to see what I’d been missing for years—an eye-opening experience. And now I understand why so many friends love their optics.

Alpen Apex Mod 493 8 x 42 binocular
Alpen Apex Mod 493 8 x 42 binocular

The Alpen Model 493 has excellent light-gathering properties. Even when I’m in bright sunlight looking into shady woods, I can make out objects among the thick trees surprisingly well. Recently I sat on a sunny house roof and watched for several minutes as a pileated woodpecker in deep woods hammered its way into a standing dead tree in search of insects. Equally nice is that I can look at faraway objects in bright sunlight while wearing my prescription sunglasses.

Can’t wait to try out this binocular on boats at sea when the warm weather arrives!

Do you wear eyeglasses, but have a friend who doesn’t? No problem. The binocular has twist-up and lock eye cups. Eyeglasses wearers keep the eyecups in the “down” position to enjoy the benefits of long eye relief. Your less vision-impaired friends can twist the eye cups up, “disabling” the long-eye-relief feature.

The Alpen 493 is obviously very well made. The entire instrument is rubber coated for durability and weatherproofing. Lenses and prisms are sealed with O-rings, and all interior spaces filled with nitrogen to prevent condensation and fogging. Weight is about 24 ounces. Alpen Apex binoculars come with a carrying case, wide neck strap, a lens cleaning cloth and a lifetime warranty.

MSRP is $425.

Recommended.~Bill Bowers

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