Been thinking of upgrading my spotting scope. Now keep in mind I am on low fixed income today. Years past I had plenty of money to spend on [I]STUFF[I], but that was before cancer, losing everything I had, well just about everything anyway and now surviving on social security.

I purchased my current spotting scope almost 20 years ago for a tule elk hunt here in California. I figured it would only collect dust after that hunt, but as all of you know that was not the case. A spotting scope is a need to have item in our hunting equipment it is used constantly. The scope I bought back then and have been using ever since was a good scope in its day and there wasn't the selection there is today, that scope is a Bushnell 15-40x60.

All that being said I have been looking at two scopes in particular, the Vortex Nomad and Alpen Optics products. The Vortex Nomad 20-60x60 has gotten a few negative reviews, both here and other web sites but I am thinking those comments may be in comparison to higher end optics. I liked the size of the Nomad and it easily out performed my current scope. It was clearer and a bit brighter, but not sure I was getting much more bang for the buck compared to what I have now. Where I was at I could only use it out to about 200 yards and it was indoors.

Alpen Optics's headquarters and warehouse is located just down the road a couple miles from here. I went there today with my current scope to check out their product. I looked at both the straight and angled 20-60x80, but WOW those 80mm Objective lens are gigantic. It was the most clear of all scopes and resonably light weight for its size, but what a big scope. I also looked at their 20-60x60 angeled scope and again it was clearer than my scope but about the same brightness.

I rifle hunt and bow hunt. I use my spotting scope from a window mount on my truck and a tripod on a hill side. I have a number of tripods that I use based on if I am near the truck or have walked back in a ways. I also backpack and carry my scope with me. And of course use my scope at the range.

One thing I am thinking if I end up with a 80mm scope is keeping my existing scope in my pack and the big scope on either a tripod or window mount.

Tough decision, the 60mm Vortex and 80mm Alpen are about the same money and I have found Alpens used for about a 30-40% markdown, but really wondering which way to go. My current spotting scope isn't the best by a long shot and what I am looking atisn't even close to whats out there, but its what I can afford. One thing I wish I could do is have all three scopes at the same place in low light conditions to a comparison.

I guess what I am asking is of you guys that have experience with 80mm scopes, are they too big? Do they get in the way? Does anyone carry one in their pack? Is the extra light gathering worth the bigger size?

I know most of what I read about here site and other sites are about pretty high end stuff and believe me if it was three years ago spending a thousand or two wouldn't be out of the question, but that ship has sailed.

Your opinions would be appreciated.