Chances are good that you’ve never heard of Maven Outdoor Equipment Company. I hadn’t either until a hunting buddy of mine asked if I’d ever used Maven binoculars. He knows that I get the chance to see many of the outdoor industry’s latest and greatest products when they’re introduced at SHOT Show and other industry-only events, but in the case of Maven, my response was simply “nope.”
Not only had I not used Maven binos, I’d never even heard of the company. Curious, I did a bit online searching, found their website, watched the video below, then later learned that the PR/marketing agency that works with Maven also represents some of the finest brands in the outdoors — YETI, Costa and Sitka Gear to name a few.
Now, with my curiosity peaked even more, I sent an email to my contact at the PR agency. Not only did I receive more information, but he also offered a loaner bino to me for 90-day field test. Sweet!
I mention this background story because that’s how I ended up with a Maven C.1 8X42mm binocular to field test during October, November and December 2017.
Through the years I’ve been blessed to review a wide variety of optics, and even though I drool over best-money-can-buy glass, I understand that most visitors to OutdoorHub can’t afford to spend four figures on a binocular. For that reason, I asked my contact to ship the Maven C.1 8X42mm, which sells direct to consumer from Maven for $325.
Sure, Maven offers a higher-priced binocular — namely its B-Series bino — to compete with the Swarovskis of the world, but I figured you the reader would be better served by reading a field test about a bino that is more affordable to the masses.
The MavenBuilt.com box arrived on my doorstep during the 2017 South Dakota archery season, so I packed the new bino with all my other hunting gear for the upcoming weekend road trip from my home in Minnesota. In no particular order, here’s what I liked about the C.1 8X42s right out the gate.
- Solidly built. Nothing on this bino is flimsy. From positive-locking adjustable eyecups, to a smooth-as-butter but not loose focusing dial, the C.1 Maven is obviously built to last.
- The diopter correction dial (orange ring in photo above) is stiff, which I like. Few things are more frustrating than having this dial turn after you’ve set a bino perfectly for your vision.
- The C.1’s polymer frame has a sticky texture to it, which I love, and cutouts on the bottom of the optic (pic below) are placed perfectly for my thumbs while glassing.
In the Field Observations
You can learn only so much about optic performance in the house or from the back deck, so I began carrying the 8X42s on a bino harness during all my 2017 bowhunts in South Dakota. Of course, as an archer, I’m in the treestand well before shooting light during morning sits, so I was provided ample opportunities to test the binos in varying lighting conditions. Again, in no particular order, this is what I discovered about the C.1 Mavens:
- Wonderful in low light. Several times while waiting for the sky to brighten in the east, I’d lift the Mavens to scan a nearby alfalfa field. It was still too dark to make out deer shapes on the field with the naked eye, but using the bino, I could not only spot deer, but I could tell whether they were bucks or does. I’ve experienced such high-end performance before with binos, but these models were usually priced at $750 and higher.
- Great color, good contrast and crystal clear. After the sun lit up the prairie and my river-bottom hideouts, I put the Mavens to the test by watching everything from whitetails and wild turkeys, to wood ducks and pheasants. The colors seen through the optic were rich but natural, and contrast and clarity were quite good.
You can click here to read about all the features and specs on the Maven C.1 8X42mm, so I won’t take the time/space to do that here. What I would like to do, however, is talk about Maven’s Unconditional Lifetime Warranty. Quote: “Maven optics are made with a commitment to you, our customer. All Maven optics come with an unconditional lifetime warranty. If your optic becomes damaged or is at all defective, contact us immediately for repair or replacement. We don’t care where or when you bought it, or if it was your fault or not — if it says Maven, we will take care of it.”
Fact: That’s a bold statement for a binocular priced at $325. And as a dad of two growing hunters ages 13 and 15 — good kids who sometimes aren’t super careful with their gear — I’d much rather hand them a tough, dependable and clear Maven C-Series bino than some optic that costs twice or three times as much, then spend my time in the treestand worrying whether they’ll take care of the high-dollar glass when I turn my back.
Custom or Stock?
As the video near the beginning of this article explained, the Maven business model is interesting. Sure, they aren’t the first company to walk the “direct to consumer” path. (My mind immediately goes to KUIU.) What is a bit different, however, is Maven offers its customers both stock and custom optics. The bino I tested is one of the company’s stock choices. You need to step up to the next price point (B-Series binos) for the custom option. And remember my mention of KUIU? Yes, you can buy Maven B-Series binos with KUIU body armor (pic below).
Deer Season Over = Loan Over
Of course, with the end of the 2017 archery deer season in South Dakota, it’s time for me to return the Mavens. But as the photos below show, I’m having a bit of trouble saying good-bye. The optic went straight from my hunting daypack to finding a prominent spot on the windowsill of our home; each morning and late-afternoon I glass the woods and fields behind our rural lot, and just yesterday I watched — through the Maven C.1 8X42s — a coyote chasing a doe and fawn. And when I begin my work day at 8 a.m., I grab the bino and place it on my desk, just in case some critter runs through while I’m writing, editing and sneaking looks outside from my home-office window.
This binocular would be a best buy at $500. For $325, it’s a no-brainer.
Manufacturer photos courtesy of Maven; all other images by Dave Maas