Some might call a trip to the Galapagos Islands “one for the bucket list”. I know I did, when the opportunity was presented to me recently. I booked my ticket in December, right about the time my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas.
The combination of positive online reviews, budget, and the ease of purchasing from REI led me to ask for the REI XR Series Waterproof Binoculars. I’ll admit too, REI’s extremely generous return policy was also factor, knowing that I could return them if I was less than satisfied.
Happy to say, I was not disappointed with these binoculars. Do not go to Galapagos without a pair of binos like these.
REI’s XR Series comes in different models; I got the 8 x 25 ones. Here’s why I thought they were great.
First and foremost, they’re lightweight and compact. I have to say, even though I’m a self-proclaimed nature geek, I haven’t always traveled with binoculars because of the desire to pack light. The XR Series binoculars were not only small and light to incorporate into my luggage, but they tucked easily into my small daypack for shore excursions, and hung easily around my neck for canoe exploration of Amazonian blackwater.
They may be small, but they’re mighty! I wouldn’t travel without waterproof binoculars, and these definitely saw some rainforest precipitation. They’re also billed as ‘rugged‘ , and they took a fair amount of knocking around with no issues.
Then, there’s the optics. Now, given – these are not going to be the most bitchin’ clear and amazing optics at this size and price point. But at this size and price point, I found them to be surprisingly clear and powerful. I checked out Blue Footed Boobies nesting in a rookery with beautiful clarity, and saw the stripes on a toucan’s beak from a surprising distance. The eye cups swivel out, which made it easier and more comfortable to look through.
And I think that the price point is worth mentioning. You can grab these babies on the REI website (or in-store) for just 85 bucks. For the amount of wildlife-viewing pleasure they’ll bring, and their ultimate packability, I think their a worthwhile investsment for any travelin’ treehugger or bird nerd.