What a view!
3B's Inn, Dog friendly lodging EXCLUSIVELY for people traveling with their dogs is located just outside Asheville, NC in the Hickory Nut Gorge and just minutes from the Blueridge Parkway. We are surrounded by some of the best outdoor activities anywhere including award winning hiking. With trails like Wildcat Rock, Florence Preserve, Dupont State Forest, the Biltmore Estate and countless others, you might think this post is about any one of those. You'd be wrong! In the future we'll take you to a bunch of these great attractions but this post is about a MUST have piece of gear you'll need to take it all in. Binoculars!
As an "outdoor" guy my whole life, I've collected and own no less than half a dozen pairs of binocs and have come to know a thing or two about good glass and what works for various activities. If you come to our area, you'll likely do a lot of walking and probably appreciate a set of binocs of mid to compact size. I've been places where the vistas were so vast that high magnification binocs were worth the size and weight to carry. I don't think of Western North Carolina as such a place. Here I find crystal clear images, brightness and a wide field of view to be much more important. In these mountains you'll often find yourself viewing through fairly dense forests to spot flora and fauna, much of which you can miss altogether with specs that are too powerful, too dark or otherwise poor in quality.
A Google search will bring you to any number of articles on binocular technical specs. Roof prism vs porro prism. Multi coated, fully multicoated. and phase correction. Objective diameter and exit pupil. I LOVE this stuff and could write volumes on it but I'll spare you most of that and distill it down to as few words as possible. Keep in mind nothing we're talking about involves department store "blister pack" binoculars. You may never realize how bad they are until you get a look through a truly good lens. You'll become a glass snob enjoying the view around you so much more. Understand It is possible to find pocket sized binocs that perform impressively but it's not inexpensive for that level of tech. REALLY good optics of that size can cost from several hundred to over $1000! The great news is that with some education and just a little compromise you can get quality for much... much less.
As example, my idea of good binocs for general use here in the WNC Mountains look like this;
Smaller and lighter than my full size sets. Although Roof Prisms may be the most compact, dollar for dollar they will cost more than similar quality Porro Prisms.
Excellent brightness and clarity. Look for fully multi coated lenses and a larger objective lens to power ratio but not so big that they become more than mid/compact in overall size.
Wide field of view for close or moving objects often in dense cover. Lower magnification achieves this and you'll be amazed how well and how far you can see with less power when it's high quality glass. (two things you generally can't find together in "cheap" binocs)
Finally, since we're carrying them all over and could lose or abuse them, it'd be nice if they didn't cost as much as a used car!
Also worth noting is that water/fog proofing is uncommon with Porros due to the design but can be found with some searching.
The set I'm carrying on every hike these days are small-mid sized, just 17oz, 6x30 Porro Prisms and as a bonus they are water/fog proof. Thanks to the Prism configuration, lens coatings and good magnification to objective ratio they are sharper and brighter than more powerful Roof Prism designs I own that cost 4 times as much. Here's what they look like.
Ok...that's it for the tech stuff today. I hope you'll find it useful for a future visit to our area. Speaking of visiting, we'll wrap it up with a dog friendly reminder. (after all this is the 3B's Inn Blog) So many of our local attractions are VERY pet friendly. Not just the hiking but things like touring the Parkway, visiting the wineries and breweries or wandering the shops of Asheville, Chimney Rock and the surrounding areas. That's why we opened 3B's Inn Bed Breakfast & Biscuits. So if you're headed this way for vacation and site-seeing, bring your dogs and come stay with us!
We'll talk more over coffee at breakfast and compare binocs. Take a look through mine if you'd like. You can see Wildcat Rock from your chair!