Minox BL Hardcore Field Test
by Brandon Mason
One of the challenges that the Western hunter faces when dealing with equipment is to find the right pieces of the puzzle without breaking the bank. Many hunters, like myself, are very price conscious, but won’t sacrifice quality - herein lies the challenge. Speaking from a personal standpoint, the family budget is almost always tight – especially with a lovely wife who is a stay-at-home mom, and four young children that think they need to eat every day (the audacity!). To put it bluntly, a $2,000 pair of optics will probably never be in my budget, only in my dreams.
With this in mind, the search for quality optics that are affordable and not lacking in quality is usually difficult at best. That is until I discovered a mid-range binocular that is big on features and small on price. Earlier this fall, I had the opportunity to use the Minox BL line of binos, particularly the 10x44. In fact, if my dream of owning a $2,000 pair of optics ever comes to fruition, they would be a good place to start the search for the perfect set of glass. However, the engineers at Minox have developed a line of optics that maintain the quality of their high-end lines, without forcing my family eat Ramen noodles the rest of the year.
I was headed to some of the roughest country in the lower 48 in western Wyoming for a backcountry hunt. Durability was quickly tested as I was able to put them through the rigors that even the most equipment-abusive hunter would put them through. Historically I’ve had problems with dropping expensive things on hard surfaces. Staying true to form while setting up camp, I accidentally dropped the Minox BLs on a hard granite surface. My first thought was, "Great, now I have no binos for the rest of this excursion, and it’s only the first day!” However, they held up and performed as if they had never been dropped - apparently the rubber armor was doing its job. My opinion of these less-than-$600 binos was quickly escalating.
After using them for a day or two and becoming more and more impressed as the hunt went on, I decided to test out Minox’s claim that their BL line is waterproof. While having lunch next to a mountain stream at 10,000 feet, I submersed the BLs into the stream for a period of two minutes (much longer than if you would trip while crossing a stream/river). I pulled them out and, just as promised, they were as good as new. We still had two days left on the trip and they never fogged over or leaked. The waterproof quality, combined with the multi-coated lenses, give the BL extreme clarity and the ability to withstand the elements.
One key feature that is often overlooked in any binocular is the diopter adjustment. Every binocular I have ever owned has offered a frustrating adjusting ring that either moves too easily or is too complicated to accurately adjust. The diopter adjusting ring on the BLs was perfect. It was easy to adjust to my vision, and they stayed dialed in. There was no issue with the adjusting ring rubbing against anything and getting out of focus.
The last thing that really impressed me with the 10x44 BLs was the weight. On this particular trip, I had over-packed and was upset with myself that I didn’t shave some of the weight off of my pack for this 10 plus mile trip into the backcountry. However, I never once thought of these binos as being cumbersome or heavy. The BLs were there when I needed them in my bino harness and were never a thorn in my side when traversing some very rough country. This was one piece of equipment that was worth its weight, or weight savings, you might say. The main reason for this is the polycarbonate body. This design makes the BLs extremely durable and lightweight without the added bulk.
For my money, a mid-range pair of binos like the Minox BL 10x44 is tough to beat. Couple all of these great features with the Minox Lifetime Total Coverage Warranty, and you have a quality setup that will not only last, but leave some money for that taxidermy bill.
Overall Design: Simple and effective – no extra bells and whistles to come loose or break over the long haul.
Durability: Very impressive. Withstood dropping on a granite rock & submersion in a stream without affecting the performance or appearance at all.
Appearance: Appealing to the eye and streamlined. Minox kept things simple and functional on these hunter-friendly optics.
Improvements: None to the binos themselves. However, the objective lens caps could be improved to keep them from falling off.
Cost/Contact: Price $499.99. Available at www.cabelas.com.