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Waterproofness and your use of binoculars (1 Viewer)

There may be places, such as Arizona where damp isn't a problem….
Even so, more than once that I’ve found myself running for cover from torrential downpours in good old arid Arizona. The only people in Arizona that stay dry through those times are the ones who stay indoors the whole way through.
So here's my thoughts.. I'm certainly not crazy about doing anything outside Around here, not usually that big of a deal. If it's raining I may or may not go birding. If I do I'm more that likely going to stay not too far from my vehicle. The other scenario.... If I take off work and go to Dauphin Island or Magee Marsh, I'm going birding rain or shine. It rained on me most of my trip to Dauphin Island this year. Birding was excellent. I've never seen more rails out in the open. I used a FL 7X42 most of the trip. Even though completely waterproof I always try to keep my binocular just inside my mostly unzipped rain jacket except when viewing.

being filled with inert gases tends to accompany waterproofed binoculars, which makes them arguably less likely to fog when being used in colder temps.
Do you know how long it takes for the nitrogen, argon or whatever is used to get out of the bino (or more precisely : how long it takes for the atmospheric oxygen to sneak into the bino)? A number of binos have refill valves for that purpose. But I bet many of us here are unkowingly using binos in which the nitrogen is long gone, without any problem.

Edit: even „waterproof“ binos are definitely not airtight, afaik.
Do you know how long it takes for the nitrogen, argon or whatever is used to get out of the bino (or more precisely : how long it takes for the atmospheric oxygen to sneak into the bino)? ...even „waterproof“ binos are definitely not airtight...
In essence, do I know that man made devices are fallible and not perfect; yes, probably everyone here knows that. Yet we aim for the best we can, rather than giving up in the face of difficulty/impossibility. In fact, knowing full well that death comes still does not make humanity lay down and give up when this fact is repeated over and over by those who would see us die internally before our time.

Chicken Littles, ever busy to point out the futility of anything whatsoever. Go ahead and make your own choices, and the rest of us will do so as well.
I'm very much a fair weather birder myself, and most of my binoculars aren't fully waterproof. But I absolutely agree that a fully sealed binocular (to the extent that human ingenuity can accomplish it) is very desirable - both from the point of view of actual use in the rain, and to avoid fungus growth (which as yarrelli and Binastro have already mentioned can happen well outside the tropics). Even I have at times had to not just dodge rain but use binoculars in the rain. On one occasion I found myself watching a female ernesti peregrine making dramatic up and down loops close to a building in Singapore when the heavens opened and a proper tropical downpour came down. I just couldn't take my eyes off what I was seeing (I couldn't tell if it was display-flying or attempting to spook prey off the building) and had to trust that the Dialyt 10x40 I was using was really splashproof. Thankfully it was.

If you are a casual observer (by your own description), if you only use binoculars occasionally and when travelling, your requirements are going to be different from someone whose objective is to find and identify birds, including in poor weather and difficult conditions. You may have noticed this already, but birders don't always follow the rules of common sense... :unsure:
The group I go out with only cancel if there is an official weather warning in place… had some very windy and damp trips!

I too used to think it was crazy to bird in the rain but now, not at all. I go out birding in the rain all the time and frequently have the park all to myself. As has been mentioned above, rainy days can offer exceptional birding because of migratory species being forced to land. Waterproofing is also essential for quickly cleaning binoculars under running water. I don't want to own any non-waterproof binoculars for these two reasons alone. I also use binoculars on boats, so there's an obvious necessity for waterproofing in those cases.
This might be a strange question to some, but it just dawned on me that basically every thread that mentions binoculars which are not fully waterproof has a lot of comments from people stating that these bins are unusable to them.

Now, I never put much thought into this until now, so I have to ask. But first - how I see it: I don't enjoy being out in the rain. When you have to, because you are backpacking or hiking, you have to. But in every other situation, I avoid the rain. Using binoculars during the rain seems absurd to me. Not only it is unpleasant to be outside during the rain for extended periods of time, but you also can barely see anything through binoculars when objectives are wet. Caring for your bins during the rain is quite simple, you put them in the case and into your backpack. One can take even more precautions with some forethought.

Of course, there is a matter of fogging and fungus if you live in the tropics and the like. This I can understand.

In every other case - Do you actually use your binoculars when it is raining and you and the bins are all wet? Why? How do you make it work for you?

I do use them in the rain all the time; I just went birding today in the rain. It was the tail end of the rain, and as it was slightly letting up, the birds were very eager to restart feeding; the birding was great, better than many other times with dry weather.

I find nowadays with modern clothing it's really easy to be out in any weather. I am waterproof, so are my binoculars, so is my phone. I have decent rain pants and jacket. When it rains there are fewer people, but the birds are still there, it can work better in many ways. I do it all the time.
Do you know how long it takes for the nitrogen, argon or whatever is used to get out of the bino (or more precisely : how long it takes for the atmospheric oxygen to sneak into the bino)? A number of binos have refill valves for that purpose. But I bet many of us here are unkowingly using binos in which the nitrogen is long gone, without any problem.

Edit: even „waterproof“ binos are definitely not airtight, afaik.
I’m curious, what is the average time for the atmospheric oxygen to sneak in? E.g. I bought a NOS Swarovski Habicht 8x30 GA IF a year ago and asked SWAROVSKI if it needed a service, they said it was not necessary. So how do we know when the binocular needs a service, before you detect fungus horror and it’s too late.
I'm out hiking and birding in all sorts of weather, so I prefer waterproof binoculars. Also, I'm a bit hard on them. I've dropped them in the mud, I've taken headers wading through the marsh, and I've even flat out dropped them in the lake.
Binoculars are a tool for use outdoors and rain is consequently part of the environment. So it should be included, unless it costs too much or results in some performance tradeoffs.
I've not seen any discussion of what it costs to waterproof binoculars, but it can't be exorbitant, else the price of waterproof glasses such as the Nikon Action Extreme or the Kowa 6x30 would not be in the $100 range.
The only performance sacrifice that I'm aware of is that the focus on waterproof Porros such as the Swaro Habicht is much stiffer, because of the seals involved. Are there any others or is it merely a matter of saving pennies to get a better profit?
Even the Vortex Diamondback and Nikon Monarch 5 binoculars are waterproof and nitrogen or argon sealed and they retail for less than $300. Cannot see why the concern.
The cost to waterproof binoculars depends of the degree of resistance to water, I suppose.

Some binoculars are declared waterproof (no measurement, just trust them), some waterproof IPX4 (splashing water), some IPX7 (under water up to 1m).
Once a word (like "waterproof") is used by a marketing department, it usually changes its meaning, or sometimes loses it altogether.
Example "high fidelity"
This has been a very educational thread. I'm glad to see that it also proved to be a lot more popular than I had imagined! Thanks a lot everyone for participating.

As a casual nature observer I definitely underestimated a serious birder's tenacity :D
  • Nitrogen gas filled waterproof (5m/16ft depth) <<<<<<<<<<<<<< That is why I trust the Opticron Aurora completely - and can attest to it shrugging off immersion down into 8 feet of water and back to dry land ( Sand bar, boat, nav mistake by skipper, me enjoying the deep blue sea).

And that is why I will always, always always buy a binocular that is built for hard field use - You just never know what's next at times.


What works for you is fine - but don't use that broad brush to make it that you are the fountain of logic when it comes to binocular use, because you aren't.


Your opinion.

It is just that. And who cares what you think? Not me - But I care how you deem to portray people who use their binoculars in bad weather and need robust sealed instruments- So a little less of that if you wouldn't mind.
Wow, kind of overreacting a bit it seems to me. I thought the OP was thoughtful and not a bit presumptuous. Obviously there are people who do use their bins in the rain, and those that live in predominantly rainy environments, but I wonder what the percentage actually is.
I too wondered why people make such a big deal out of waterproof, why a lack of it was a dealbreaker for so many. Part of my lack of understanding is due to the fact I live in relatively dry Montana where rainy days are rare. I honestly can’t remember ever using my binoculars in the rain in the last 30 years, I’ve used them during snow storms but not rain. I know that many of you live in much wetter climates it’s just hard for me to imagine what that is like.

I personally own five pair of nice binoculars, including the Fujinon 7x50 marine binoculars that I used when sailing small boats across the ocean. Other than that I have an 8x42 Ultravid so I’m covered if I ever do go out in the rain, then two Nikon SEs and a 7x35 Retrovid which is splashproof, whatever that means.

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