Kentucky Living Home

Check out the view

By Dave Shuffett from December 2013 Issue

A spellbinding view awaited me after a grueling hike to the summit of Pine Mountain. But when I gazed out across the Cumberland Plateau from this high vantage point, my vision suddenly blurred and I began to see double.

What caused this to happen to an outdoorsman in reasonably good health? Well, to be honest, I was looking through a cheap pair of binoculars. It's a condition that strikes hunters, hikers, bird watchers, and sports spectators all too often.

To stop this eye condition in its tracks, I went on a quest to find a great pair of binoculars at an affordable price for me--and you--this Christmas. So, the research began.

The first thing I learned should have been common sense: you can't spend 20 bucks on binoculars and expect much of anything. The second thing I learned is that you can also spend upward of $3,000 on a pair of binoculars if you have too much money and need to spend it.

Then I visited a plethora of optics review sites on the Web and read magazine articles and other information. After wading through all that and looking at a multitude of overseas companies, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon an American company that I'm recommending.

Leupold & Stevens Inc., a family-owned business based in Oregon, was founded by Frederick Leupold in 1907. With 650 employees, Leupold is the largest American optics manufacturer, making American-engineered, high-quality, waterproof, durable binoculars with great clarity and fields of view.

Along with a full line of optics, including rifle scopes, spotting scopes, and range finders, Leupold makes 45 models of binoculars ranging in price from $129 to $775, all with lifetime warranties.

Company spokesman David Domin says, "You should be able to look through binoculars and see what you see with your eyes, only closer. That's what we build at Leupold."

One Leupold model, the McKinley, won the 2013 national "binocular of the year award" in its class ( The two pairs I chose for myself are a little less expensive than the McKinley, but great nonetheless. I went with the compact Yosemite model with a magnification power of 8x30 (objects appear eight times closer), retailing for $150. They're small, lightweight, and easy to carry on long hikes. The second pair is the larger Acadia model with a power of 10x42, retailing for $275.

These binoculars will last a lifetime and put an end to that awful eye condition for good. We all deserve better views this Christmas.


* For more information on Leupold binoculars, go to
* You can purchase Leupold binoculars at large sporting goods retailers.
* To find out more about how binoculars work, go to Binocular basics to read a Great Outdoors column by Dave Baker.