Hunters looking to step up their long-range, spot-and-stalk tactics will eventually come face to face with one particular piece of gear, the spotting scope. More than just some glorified monocular or a cool-looking addition to your binos, owning a spotting scope allows a hunter to employ the most powerful optical device available to a shooter. Simply put, the range and effectiveness of a spotting scope allows you to detect, identify and judge animals from very far away. This permits the hunter numerous advantages.
But purchasing a spotting scope can be a difficult decision. As with any piece of outdoor gear on the market, there are plenty of cheap knockoffs and slick-looking models out there. Not sure where to start in your search for the perfect spotting scope? Here are some things to consider.
Zoom vs Fixed Power
Chances are if you are a hunter in the market for a spotting scope, you intend to go to some far-off lonely places. This means you will be carrying your spotting scope with you in your pack. What does that have to do with zoom vs fixed power comparisons of spotting scopes? Two things, size and weight. Your average fixed-power scope is 10 ounces lighter in weight than zoom scopes. Fixed-power scopes are also about an inch shorter. This matters a great deal when you are backpacking on a long hunt, with only so much space in your pack. Fixed-power scopes are also less complicated. That said, some spotting scopes are convertible, meaning that you can switch out optional eyepieces and turn your fixed-power into a zoom lens. Lastly, durable zoom models tend to be a little pricier. For the serious backcountry hunter, we suggest a solid and durable fixed-power spotting scope, something in 12-45x power with an objective lens that is 60mm.
Angled vs Straight
The angled vs straight debate when it comes to spotting scopes is mostly about preference. There are however some notable differences that can help make the decision easier on your end. Angled spotting scopes tend to be better for glassing steep terrain. Angled spotting scopes can use shorter tripods and are also friendlier to attachments such as digi-scopes setups. This being said, angled scopes can be harder to stuff into your pack, given their shape. They will also gather rain in the eyepiece more readily than their counterparts. Straight scopes can be a real burden when it comes to glassing at serious uphill angles, however they generally provide quicker target acquisition. They are easier to fit in a pack and are easier to use and mount from a vehicle window.