Vanguard Endeavor ED 10x42 Binoculars
We recently took a trip to a wonderful area up in the Catskill mountains, on the side of a large freshwater lake. At the last minute I decided to bring along our Vanguard Endeavor ED 10x42 Binoculars binoculars that we've had for years.
It was fantastic using them to look around in the woods and on the lake, but something happened on that trip that made me think that they would be a very good idea to have in an emergency situation, since one arose that was solved by having them handy.
Some camp-mates had a friend that was out on a jet ski, and who should have been back at that time I came upon them. They were on the dock searching across the lake for her (to no avail) when I came upon them and heard what was going on.
I grabbed my binoculars and we were able to locate the missing jet-skiier on a part of the lake over a mile away. She had ran out of gas! They commandeered a boat and made the rescue.
And that got me thinking of all kinds of reasons why having a pair of binoculars as part of an emergency kit would be a smart idea.
So I decided to do a review on a pair that I think fits the right mix of price to performance and which were the ones we had with us:
Vanguard Endeavor ED 10x42 Binoculars
Discussing binoculars in depth can be a massive task. Believe it or not, but there are quite a few details that go into making them that are important, but what it generally comes down to is glass quality and build quality.
In these cases the old adage that "you get what you pay for" applies mightily. Vanguard carves out an interesting niche, they are a Chinese manufacturer, but they control each part of the manufacturing process, and as we will discuss further, this allows them to offer a very good product for lower than market average price.
Lets start with the glass. One outstanding thing about Vanguards ED range of binoculars use high quality HOYA ED glass which is made in Japan.
It's one of the few parts which they outsource, which is a good thing. Get the good stuff.
The Vanguard Endeavor ED uses the premium extra low-dispersion ED glass which reduces color dispersion and offers sharpness and clarity with exceptional light transmission and remarkable color resolution and contrast.
Vanguard uses lens coatings to produce a very good bright image that rivals those used by more expensive binoculars.
The main feature on these Vanguard Endeavor ED 10x42 binoculars is their really wide field of view, which enables you to see a large amount of the world you are looking at, magnified.
Speaking of the magnification, these are 10x magnifying. The objective lens diameter is 42mm and gives you that nice wide field of view.
Magnification: 10x, objective lens diameter: 42mm, field of view: 340 ft./1000 yards, view angle: 6.5 degrees, near focus: 8.2 feet, Eye relief: 16.5 mm
The Endeavors are built like a tank, yet they aren't so heavy as to be cumbersome while holding them.
They feel really good in the hands, and have a nice balance to them. The texture on the outside has a nice rubbery feel to it. We've had these for about 5 years now, and the rubber hasn't broken down into a sticky mess (as happens with some cheaper materials.)
100% waterproof body and fog-proof glass makes them usable under bad conditions, and you wont worry about them in the rain or water.
The center focus control is smooth as silk, and allows for very precise adjustments. There is also a diopter on the right side which allows you to focus one barrel independently, thereby allowing you to compensate for differences in vision between your eyes.
There are some extras that come along with them: there is a nice carrying case and a neck strap.
So, Do You Need Them?
Are binoculars a must-have item for a bug out bag or survival kit? It depends. For most people, probably not, BUT if you are planning on hunting for food, or trying to avoid detection (by discovering other people before they see you) then yes.
They are heavy and bulky. We like very light kits since most people aren't physically conditioned to handle large loads for long periods on their backs these days. For that reason going with a smaller monocular or smaller set of binoculars might be the way to go.
The reason we prefer binoculars like these however is that they are more robust, and offer you the features you would really need or want if you were going to carry a pair around.
We've met a number of folks who've worked for Vanguard over the years, so we have a rough idea of how the company operates.
It is a family run business, and the manufacturing is based in China, but the US team more or less runs the show. They are very vertically integrated, and don't have to get many finished parts from suppliers, just raw materials.
This means they can keep costs down, while still supplying high quality products.
There are several other better well know companies out there, but we've found over our years of playing with different brands that the Vanguard optics perform just as well (if not better in some cases) than others do, and are typically 30% cheaper. Not something to scoff at.
They also come with a no-hassle lifetime warranty for damages. They will repair or replace free of cost.
Where To Get Them
Amazon has them with Prime Shipping for $279 (at time of writing.) That's a good deal.