Not unlike a good pair of boots, most outdoor oriented people know the true value of a quality pair of binoculars. Peek inside any law enforcement vehicle and chances are that you’ll find a good pair of field glasses on the dash, or close at hand in the passenger seat. Aside from allowing one to view birds, wildlife, and other things of interest at a distance in good detail, a pair of binoculars can be useful in several other ways, and they could even save your life.
The basic technology in most binoculars is made up of convex and concave lenses in a tube, essentially an upside down microscope. In a serious emergency situation a pair of binoculars can be disassembled and used to start a fire. This method is accomplished in much the same manner as doing so with a magnifying glass.
Smart Phone Zoom Lens
Update your social media status with a picture of a wild critter. Most smart-phone cameras are equipped with an auto-focus much like the human eye. Simply hold the camera lens up to the right eyepiece and let the image come into clear focus. Some adjustment to the binoculars focus may be necessary. While not exactly professional grade, this option is lighter and cheaper than any telephoto lens.
Many lightweight pocket binoculars utilize roof-prism technology. This basically means that there is at least one small mirror inside each tube. In an extreme, emergency situation the binoculars can be disassembled, aka smashed, in order to get at the mirrors. These angular mirrors are small but could be used to signal search aircraft. The lenses could also be used in the same fashion if backed by some dark cloth or other material.
Sometimes it seems that every boat on the water is catching fish but yours. Take a sneak peak at what the other anglers are reeling in. Good optics will reveal shape, color, and if close enough even the size and type of the bait, fly, or lure. Binoculars are also great for spotting schools of baitfish on open water, and can quickly discern whether that flock of gulls is harassing some herring or just a jettisoned ham sandwich.
Inverting a pair of binoculars essentially turns them into an awkward microscope. Even though awkward, the magnification is extremely helpful in locating for removal those tiny splinters common in outdoor settings. This method works even better with a partner, as the extra set of hands can help with the tweezers.
Discerning the difference between a grizzly bear and a black bear can be difficult even at close range. Binoculars can help one differentiate one species of bruin from the other. Optics are also useful in locating cubs well in advance of stumbling between them and their protective mother.
Somewhat less expensive, and by far less bulky than a telescope, binoculars are an ideal way to view the night sky. Even inexpensive models can give depth to craters on the moon, and enhance the color and shape of stars and planets. Field glasses are also a fantastic way to give a more visual ‘pop’ out of meteor showers.
Of course you can always use your optics for the regular reasons; bird watching, wildlife viewing, bikini spotting, etc. But isn’t it nice to know that in a pinch, that little extra weight around your neck could also be a lifesaver.
by Kurt Dehmer