I’m an optics fan. Binoculars are a particular fascination and I have five pair scattered between the house, shed and 4WD vehicle. I use my binoculars every day. They naturally accompany me on any hunts I undertake. When not glassing game in the field I take a keen interest in the birdlife and wildlife that graces our property and surrounds. When I travel I carry a set of pocket binoculars, and use them. I am always interested in what’s new in the world of binoculars.
The opportunity to test and review the Hawke Nature-Trek 8×42 binoculars, model 35102, was too good to miss. For general hunting purposes 8×42 are pretty much considered ideal. The eight power magnification and the 42mm objective give a very useful combination of image detail and light gathering ability. It is around dawn and dusk where the larger objective lenses come into their own. In the middle of the day, when it is bright and sunny, there is little to differentiate between binoculars of the same magnification but varying objective lens size.
The 8×42 size sits neatly between the extremely compact 8×25 pocket size and the wonderful light gathering of the 8×50 models. That superior light gathering of the 8×50 demands a physically larger and heavier set of binoculars. All that extra glass comes at a cost. The wonderful compactness of the 8×25 pocket binoculars is mitigated by their reduced ability to gather light in the gloom of pre-dawn or the gathering dusk.
The Hawke Nature-Trek 8×42 binoculars come in a neatly packaged box. Included is a soft carry case, lens covers, a neck strap and a soft lens cleaning cloth. The lens covers are designed to stay attached to the binoculars during use. The objective lens covers have a restraining rubber band around the body of the binoculars and hang off that when flipped off. The eye piece covers are joined together and the holding strap is passed through a lug. When pulled off they hand close to hand from the neck strap.
While other binocular models in the Hawke range come with an option for green or black, the Nature-Trek come only in green. Not that I see that as a problem. The body of the Nature-Trek series is made from a tough polycarbonate which provides shock resistance and waterproofing in a lightweight housing.
The exterior of the binoculars is clad in a tight rubber amour finish, which provides a good positive grip and a matte finish. The design of the Hawke Nature-Trek binoculars is of the modern top hinge style. The body of the binoculars is Nitrogen purged and filled for fog proofing. With the twist-up eye cups fully extended I measured the binoculars at a smidge under 150mm. They weighed in at 638 grams.
I found the ergonomics of the 8×42 to be good. They sat comfortably in the hand and the focussing dial was nicely placed under my index finger. The focussing dial covers the full focus range, from 2 metres out to infinity, with two full revolutions. Focussing is quick and direct. As with most binoculars, the difference in focussing between any individual’s eyes is corrected for by adjusting the diopter ring, situated on the right eyepiece. The eyepieces feature twist-up cups with positive stops to cater for a range of eye reliefs. The length of adjustment is 7mm. That allows for getting the best view with either the naked eye or for those wearing spectacles.
I found the optical sharpness of the Hawke 8×42 excellent and the colour rendition was both natural and rich. The image produced at different focussing ranges was uniform with good depth of field giving sharpness out to the edges of the view. I could not detect any other optical aberrations of any significance. Light transmission is maximised with multi-coated lenses and the Hawke BAK-4 silver coated prisms. For me a good test is observing some of the colourful little birds in my garden from close range. The fineness of the plumage and range of colours is a good test for any binoculars and I am familiar with what these subjects look like through premium binoculars.
Naturally, I took the Hawke Nature-Trek 8×42 binoculars out hunting and put them through their paces. I did not find any problems and the testing was topped off nicely by getting caught in a solid tropical shower while sitting up on a ridge line glassing for wild dogs. There was no sign of fogging or any other malfunction from getting caught in the rain.
All in all I was impressed with the ergonomics and optical performance of the Hawke Nature-Trek 8×42 binoculars. When considering the recommended retail price for these binoculars I have to say that they represent excellent value for money and I am happy to recommend them. For hunting, bird watching or just general landscape viewing they are a robust and conveniently sized unit with all the clarity and colour rendition you would want.
The recommended retail price of the Hawke Nature-Trek 8×42 binoculars is about $355. Hawke optics and accessories are distributed in Australia by The Scope Store in Toowoomba, Queensland. All Hawke scopes and binoculars are covered by a worldwide warranty in the form of a first buyer lifetime guarantee. Refer the web site for detailed information on the Hawke range of products. firstname.lastname@example.org