Pros: Lightweight, compact, great build quality
Cons: Glare seen through monocular in certain light situations.
As a volunteer mountain bike patrol officer for my local regional park, I needed binoculars in order to more effectively monitor our trails that are closed to the public. But as a mountain biker, I didn't want to carry a heavy set of binoculars on the trail. On the internet, I found that they sell monoculars, basically a mini-telescope with the same resolving power as the binoculars that I have but used for only one eye. This review is based on three months of daily use on the trails. The Alpen 10x32 is marketed as a very rugged monocular that should take the abuse I will subject it to. I also chose the 10x32 size since the 32mm lens will let in more light than a 25mm lens that my binoculars use for better low light performance.
As I mentioned before, I used the Alpen daily for the last three months bringing it with me in my Camelbak that I reviewed here: http://www.epinions.com/review/Camelbak_Loboa/content_92977860228. The Alpen casing is a rubberized plastic material that is very easy to grip and doesn't feel slippery. This reduces fumbling when using it out in the field and aids in holding and focusing. The casing color only comes in forest green. So if you are looking for black, you are out of luck. Looking through the Alpen, images are clear and I can easily see people out on the trails. Comparing the Alpen to my much more expensive Nikon binoculars, they are equal in image crispness but the Nikon can render better color contrast over the Alpen. That is to say, the Nikon renders colors more realistic than the Alpen. The Alpen I would describe the color accuracy around 85%-90% of the Nikon if the Nikon is the standard at 100%. But I think if you didn't have another set of high-quality binoculars around to compare, you wouldn't notice the difference. The one thing that the Alpen could do better on is on glare. The Alpen needs to better multi-coat the front lens so that glare doesn't become a problem. I have noticed this as an issue with the Alpen on several occasions that the Nikon doesn't present in the same situation. So be prepared that there will be issues with glare from time-to-time with the Alpen that will make viewing a bit difficult. So you may need to put your hand to shield the front lens to reduce the glare seen through the Alpen.
Focusing the Alpen is very easy. You only need to turn the eyepiece clockwise or counterclockwise. The Alpen has markings with the symbols + 0 - to help guide you in turning the eyepiece for clearest focusing. Overall build quality is first-rate. The fit and feel supports this. I have not had one mechanical issue with the Alpen as well. Even the gold lettering on the Alpen hasn't rubbed off yet. Fogging hasn't been an issue even though the Alpen is marketed as a weather-resistant monocular without the anti-fog features. Seems to work fine even when I am at the 2000 foot elevation in the cloud layer. The Alpen is advertised at weighing in at 4oz. My Pelouze says 4.3oz and the included velcro case adds .7oz for a total of 5.0 oz. The Alpen is therefore light and is compact. It is about 5.5 inches long and fits in the palm of my hand. For eyeglass users, the eye relief is only 10mm a bit less than what I am used to.
Comes with a standard neck strap, black velcro case, markings on the eyepiece for easier focusing and a lint-free cloth to clean the lenses.
Can range from approximately $17-$28 but I purchased mine with a coupon code for only $15.
Lifetime which is better than my more expensive Nikon which they only cover for five years.
10329 Dorset Street
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Phone: (909) 987-8370
(877) 987-8370 TOLL FREE
As an inexpensive, lightweight solution to bulky binoculars, the Alpen does the job. The only issue is with glare. The Alpen is built extremely well. My Alpen still looks like the day I first bought it. If you are looking for an inexpensive, lightweight solution to bring while hiking or biking and don't have a problem with the glare issue, the Alpen should be looked at. If you are very picky and want the best with no issues, then you would need to spend much more to exceed the Alpen, especially in build quality.