I always knew about the importance of binoculars to hunting. You can only see so far, right? Being able to spot game, check things out, and such are key to hunting and general outdoor fun. My first pair of what I thought were “high-end” binoculars cost me a whopping $75. I know that’s not chicken feed, but compared to other binoculars, these were comparable to a kid’s toy. Still, I thought they were awesome. Then I moved out West.

I took a gig as a writer for Cabela’s and moved my family out to western Nebraska, where the company is headquartered. I soon had access to some really sweet binoculars and learned a ton from using them. I also learned that you can end up spending a ton of money to get good binoculars. I tried out a buddy’s Swarovski binoculars on a pronghorn hunt in Wyoming and I was hooked on good glass. It’s kind of like getting to borrow a Corvette for a week and then coming back and having to drive a rusty old Cavalier—it just doesn’t work!

Luckily after I left the barren plains of western Nebraska, one of my Cabela’s buddies, Mark Boardman, went to work for Vortex Optics in Wisconsin to be the company’s marketing director. He called me up and said I needed to test out some of what Vortex was putting out. I was game!

He sent over the Vortex Diamondback 10×50 Roof Prism Binocular. The Diamondback is an excellent middle-range offering of Vortex Binoculars. They retail right around $300, which isn’t much, especially when you take a moment to look through them. It’s rather misleading to say they are a middle-range bino—they are sweet! I tried them out scouting waterfowl and I had another brand’s $900 bino with me, too. I ended up “making” my wife use the other brand. I wouldn’t give up the Diamondbacks.

Normally if I was reading someone saying that a $300 optic was as good or better than another brand that cost three times that much, I’d be thinking the writer was full of it. “Nice advertising, buddy!” Not this time. The Diamondbacks are lightweight, very clear, and carry one of the best warranties you’ll find in an outdoor product.

Don’t strain yourself

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years: if you spend any amount of time using binoculars, you’re going to put an awful strain on your eyes. The clearer the optic you’re using, the less strain you experience. It’s pretty simple.

Though they retail for the mid-range price of $300, the Vortex Diamondback binos perform at a top-dollar level. Image courtesy Vortex.
Though they retail for the mid-range price of $300, the Vortex Diamondback binos perform at a top-dollar level. Image courtesy Vortex.

Your eyes usually work together to “transmit” the image you’re seeing to your brain. If you hold your hand over one eye, it gets a little harder to see things at a distance. When you use binoculars, you’re using two separate scopes to view something with both eyes. When you don’t have properly adjusted binoculars, you’ll know because the image you see looks weird—like you’re looking through two tunnels that don’t line up. Then add the clarity of the glass to the equation. Think of driving your car with a dirty windshield for a long time. After a little time behind the wheel, your eyes get tired from trying to focus on the road. Any time your eyes have to work harder to see, the worse the strain on your eyes, leading to fatigue. When you’re tired, you miss things. Was that a stick, or the antler of a trophy buck? You paid how much to go hunting? What? The price tag of those binos doesn’t seem too high now, does it?

That’s where Vortex Binoculars comes in.

“The Diamondback is known as the quintessential ‘bang for your buck’ Vortex binocular,” Boardman said when we talked about them. “A guy gets a heck of a lot of optical quality, performance, and durability yet doesn’t kill himself in the ol’ pocket book. It is one of our best sellers.”

I can honestly see why the Diamondback sells so well, and that pun might be somewhat intended. There is a great amount of clarity with them. Boardman told me that everything Vortex makes well outperforms its price point.

Here’s a good way to think about it. Go to a good electronics store and watch a sporting event like a hockey or football game on the HD televisions. Notice a difference between the really high-end ones and the cheap, bargain televisions? There is a difference, especially if you sat there for a couple of hours and watched the whole game. That bargain TV may be easy on the wallet, but are you really getting what you want? The Diamondback binos are like getting a pricier HD TV at a Black Friday deal, but they’re available all the time.

If you want even better quality, Vortex Binoculars has you covered too.

“We have a deep lineup of optics from entry level (even though that designation probably isn’t accurate as our entry level optics outperform that label) to optics that compete at the highest level of performance,” Boardman said. “I’d set our Razor HDs next to anything that’s out there.”

Now for the best part. Vortex has, in my opinion, the best warranty going. They have an unlimited, lifetime warranty that covers all of their products. The warranty is transferable and there is nothing to send in, nothing to fill out. If you own a Vortex product and it fails, they fix it or replace it.

“Obviously, we hope our customers never experience an issue with their optic, but things do happen,” Boardman said. “The warranty is truly an unconditional, lifetime, transferable warranty. This video pretty much sums up the warranty.”

So there you go, a pair of binoculars that is affordable (again, about $300 retail) and offers the clarity and features of more expensive optics, packed with a warranty that is the best out there. If you think you can do better, go for it. I don’t think you can!

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  • Nick

    Took a pair of these to Colorado for an elk hunt last fall – while I wasn’t comparing them directly with another brand, I can attest that they are awesome and served me well. We spent a good amount of time glassing at the next mountain or over a distant meadow. Compared to my hunting buddy, I was picking things up faster and could keep glassing longer without taking a break. Match these up with a decent harness and you’re set.

    One tip – they come with nice rubber lens covers, which are great protection when you’re plowing through the dark timbers… but I almost lost them a couple times. Ended up using black athletic tape to keep their “keepers” from sliding loose. Not a gripe at all… just a note!