Two weeks ago, my girlfriend and I decided to hike one of the most scenic mountain trails in the Julian Alps, Slovenia. Both trails leading to the top of Bovški Gamsovec, a mountain 2392 m high, offer amazing views of the north face of Triglav, Slovenia's highest mountain. The views to the west are just as picturesque – this is where you can admire the Kriški podi plateau, home to countless Alpine ibex, chamois, and marmots. You can also marvel at the view of the three alpine lakes and stop at Pogačnikov dom to rest your legs and recharge your batteries.
This was a perfect opportunity to properly test the Steiner Wildlife 8x42 binoculars. Even though they are not the most compact, I could easily store them in my backpack and carry them strapped around my neck at certain points during our hike. They are of standard dimensions and weight for a full-size binocular.
Field of use
The Wildlife series is designed for hikers, birders, travelers, and other nature enthusiasts. It sports a more elegant look than the Steiner Ranger Xtreme series of binoculars, the primary audience of which are hunters. The optical system is identical, though, providing impressive resolution, natural color reproduction, and decent light transmission. They are made in Germany.
Steiner is famous for the legendary ruggedness of their devices. The Wildlife series is made of durable polycarbonate Makrolon housing and covered with their special non-slip NBR-Longlife rubber armour. It only takes a little carelessness to bump the binoculars against rocks or anything similar – when this happens, you will appreciate Steiner’s effort in making their binoculars impervious to harsh conditions. The binoculars are black in colour, with silver details in certain places. The thumb rests at the bottom contribute to better handling.
The interior is purged with nitrogen using Steiner’s 2-way-valve technology, making them resistant to extreme temperatures. They work normally between -40 °C to +80 °C. This is great news for someone who plans on using them during the colder months of the year as no internal fogging will occur. The Wildlife binoculars are sealed against dirt, dust, and moisture. Do not worry if you drop them in the water by accident – they are waterproof.
Great Eye Relief
The eyecups can be fixed in multiple positions and provide a total of 18.5 mm of eye relief. Because of this, you can easily use the Wildlife binoculars even if you are a glasses wearer. The diopter can be set from -4 to +4, and the ring produces clicks when turned. The eyecups are winged, which is another one of Steiner’s specialties. I found this to be an excellent solution, as it blocked the strong sunlight from shining into my eyes during use.
Unique Attachment System
No one takes pleasure in the standard strap attachment system – it takes a while, and you are never sure if you are doing it right. Steiner came up with an innovative solution called ClicLoc – you simply insert each of the two ends of the strap in the corresponding notches which takes about 10 seconds. To release the neck strap, press the button on the notch and pull the end out. You must press firmly – binoculars are protected from accidentally detaching from the strap.
Steiner’s Fast-Close-Focus system
Getting the object in focus is quick and simple thanks to Steiner’s Fast-Close-Focus system. It takes a bit more than a single turn to turn the focusing wheel all the way. It produces just the right amount of resistance when turned. You can focus these binoculars on anything as close as 2 meters away. The field of view is not one of its strongest points – some competitive devices in this price class offer a wider field of view.
I tested the 8x42 model, but there are others in this series:
The 8x42 and 10x42 models cost 629 € and 679 €, respectively. The pocket models are far more affordable, you can get them for half of the cost of the full-size models.
Steiner stands behind their products – the Wildlife binoculars are covered with a 30-year warranty period, which is amazing for a product priced lower than 1000 €. Should you encounter any problems, you can count on Steiner’s service department which is one of the best in the field of sports optics. In the box, you also get the following accessories:
- soft carrying bag
- rubber eyepiece and objective covers
- a strap for the bag and for the binoculars
- an instruction manual
- a lens cloth
Steiner Wildlife 8x42 binoculars proved to be an excellent hiking companion. I was impressed by their ultimate robustness which is, without doubt, their strongest point. They sport one of the best strap attachment systems available and are unaffected by extreme temperatures and other adverse weather conditions owing to the Nitrogen-Pressure-System. What is more, they come with an unsurpassable 30-year warranty period. If you are looking for binoculars in the 500–1000 € price class, these are a worthwhile investment.