My new favorite hiking gear is admittedly very out of date
I don’t see a lot of people these days. A big part of that is because, due to the pandemic, I work from home, and this house just happens to be a modern little cabin at the end of a dirt road in the hills of central Vermont. (For perspective, the nearest Starbucks is 27 miles away, but the road to get there is steep and winding and closes from November to May; the alternate route is 35 miles.) The cabin has large picture windows, and I spend a lot of time looking out of them, mainly the birds.
The forest here is full of birds. You can hear them all day from 5 a.m. which is my new wake-up time because that’s when they sing the loudest. I even started to be able to identify specific birds based on their song; for example, the Hermit Thrush, the bird of the state of Vermont, whose melody David Sibley describes as “ethereal, fluted, with no clear upward or downward trend” Sibley Birds East (a recent purchase).
But I have never seen hermit thrush. Not enough to identify, at least, which is why I was particularly excited when Nocs Provisions sent me a first sample of its recent release. Zoom tube monocular telescope. If you don’t know what a monocular is – I didn’t know – imagine a pair of binoculars cut in half, and you have it.
Nocs supplied the zoom tube with 8x magnification power and a 32 millimeter objective. It’s sort of a gold standard for bird watchers because it offers both impressive zoom and a wide enough field of view to lock in what you’re spying on. It’s also water resistant, and I have to commend Nocs for making some preferably cool binoculars (and monoculars), mostly adding a sturdy textured handle in different colors.
But what I like most about the Zoom Tube, besides its name, is its compactness. I used to keep it on the windowsill to hopefully spot fluffy peaks and northern cardinals, which is, admittedly, pretty cheesy. But now that the trails have dried up and the peaks are free of ice, I have started carrying it in my hiking backpack whenever I venture into the woods. It fits in a water bottle pocket – hell, it fits in my shorts pocket – and amplifies the summit experience (by eight) by allowing me to zoom in on small villages, jealousy-inducing houses , the nearby mountains and the potential swimming holes that dot the landscape.
What I’m trying to say is that we need to de-stigmatize bird watching, but more importantly whether you like birds or not, you’ll like the Zoom Tube. It’s one of those totally unnecessary gear accessories that brings a little fun to any outdoor activity you pursue, simply by giving you the super power of seeing beyond.
Price: $ 75
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