Product Review: Hawke Optics 12x50mm Nature Trek Binoculars
Hunting here in Southern California is extremely challenging. There are miles of ground to cover and precious time to do it in. What's the best way to find your prey? Gain some elevation, get yourself a good vantage point and scan the land using quality optics.
For the past few months I have been using Hawke Optics 12x50mm Nature-Trek® binoculars on my hunts and scouting trips in the high desert of Southern California. Being a DIY hunter and having a limited budget for gear, I always want the best quality I can find for the lowest investment. I am a firm believer in that you get what you pay for. How would these optics hold up?
KEY FEATURES of the 12x50s:
- BAK 4 roof prism design to be compact
- Fully multi-coated lenses for maximum clarity
- Lightweight, durable polycarbonate body for lifelong durability
- Close focus from 6.6'-8.2'
- Carry case with adjustable neck strap
- Stay-on objective lens covers
- Waterproof and Fog Proof
- Hawke® Worldwide WarrantyNature-Trek® binoculars come in a shock resistant polycarbonate body, providing a robust yet lightweight casing. All models are nitrogen purged to avoid fogging and they are sealed to be fully waterproof. The inner-focus optical design produces stunning optics.
The high resolution image ensures no details are lost when viewing at long or short distance. Close focus distance is 6.5' - 8.2'.
The effortless focusing and impressive depth of field makes these binoculars quick and easy to use. Twist-up eyecups make viewing easy with glasses or sunglasses literally as simple as the twist of your fingers. Diopter adjustment is smooth to operate making set-up easy.
The first thing I noticed is that you can't download the user manual and specifications from the Hawke Optics website. There are icons there, but Hawke tells me they are in process to get that updated. Personally, I think they should remove it so that it isn't confusing and so aggravating. Consumers dedicated to finding the best products want to read about a product, in detail, before buying and having a dead link on the site raises concerns with consumers.
When I first received the binoculars to test, I noticed the diopter was very loose. It was almost to the point that it felt like someone had over-greased it. I thought it was just me, so without telling them the issue, I had two other hunters check it out (at different times) and they also agreed that it felt loose. I spoke with customer service at Hawke and they explained that that was not supposed to be like that. I sent them back in exchange for a different pair. The new pair arrived and the diopter worked as it should.
Regarding Hawke's customer service, they are quick and efficient. Before I agreed to accept any product from Hawke, I spent some time on the phone with the Hawke staff discussing their product line. I was very impressed with them taking the time to listen to my ideas, concerns and past reviews. They took the time to go over the 12x50s with me and when I had to return them they made sure I was satisfied. I appreciate good customer service and Hawke Optics has some of the best in the industry!
The 12x50 pull of the binoculars work well. On a recent hunt, I was able to locate a deer from a 1/2 mile away and determine that it was a buck. The view wasn't as clear as I would like, but they did work. I couldn't tell what the rack looked like, just that it was indeed antlers on the deers head. It was a bit on the cloudy side, yet they still performed.
The interpupillary distance (distance between the eyes) was a major issue for me. In order to properly use the binoculars I had to remove the larger 'Stay-on objective lens covers' to get each side as close as possible. The far ends of the binoculars had to be touching in order for me to look through them. It was disheartening to know that I had to do all of that just to see through them. This time I had three other hunters try these out to get their take. Two of the three said that was an issue for them. The other hunter had no problem as his eyes are set further apart. That is something to consider when making a binocular purchase.
The issue of parallax also comes into play with the 12x50 Nature Treks. Both sides never seem to truly focus on one spot at the same time and there is definitely some difficulty in locking on to your target. The depth perception is a bit off when using these. When I tried with other binoculars I did not have that issue. I tried countless times to get it spot on. I was able to get very close and that had to suffice.
These binoculars are not super-heavy, but because they have more glass they do have a bit more heft to them. This wasn't an issue hiking or sitting down because they don't weigh a ton. I wear a binocular harness so the weight didn't factor in much. It was balanced. When I used the strap that was provided I definitely noticed a difference. You have to factor that in when going to higher powered glass.
|Here I utilized the tripod mount for a steady view of the high desert in Southern California.|
I initially thought there was no spot to mount a tripod adapter with the 12x50 Nature Treks, but after further inspection I found it! I was able to use a tripod adapter that I had already purchased. I mounted it on a mono-pod for easy transport and tested them out. While in the rain and wind, I was able to keep steady with the binoculars mounted. That's a big plus when you are hunting the terrain I hunt. I would love to see Hawke come out with their own tripod adapter for their optics. Who knows, maybe they'd like to work with The SoCal Bowhunter to come up with a great one!
The warranty on the Hawke Optics concerned me, so I did some research. The Hawke warranty covers everything except user damage for the life of the product. I reviewed several of the competitor 'No-Fault' policies thinking they were better. I was wrong. While they do a no fault warranty, most require you to pay shipping to them, and some charge a fee for the repair or return, and ask that you send money to cover return shipping. Those optics come at a higher price tag as well. The Hawke 12x50s come at a very reasonable price of $199.99 and the warranty, at this price, is very reasonable. I take good care of my binoculars, but I want to know that if I pay good money for optics and something goes wrong that I can replace them without having to resort to buying a brand new pair. The Hawke policy is totally without charge, except for return shipping to them. With the fees and return shipping charges this could easily add up to a $50 savings on a valid warranty claim. This also saves on the product retail mark-up. Other products of this magnification easily cost twice as much and many are well over three times the cost.
I know that Hawke Optics has a few different lines and that I was only reviewing one make from one line. That being said, I feel this is a fair review. They do reach out and help you spot game from a distance and are easily carried. They are durable and waterproof (they withstood heavy downpours and held up). The investment is excellent at $199.99. Be sure to pay attention to the interpupillary distance as that was the biggest physical drawback in my review. Beyond that, for the hunter on a budget who needs good optics without breaking the bank, you definitely get your monies worth in the Hawke Optics 12x50 binoculars.
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