Hawke Frontier 8×42 ED X Binocular Review
For the last few years my trusty Opticron Discovery WP PC 8×32 binoculars have given me enormous pleasure on the hill. They are a great travel option being pretty much the smallest, lightest 8x32s around and representing great optical performance for the money. However, as a big birthday is around the corner the thought of upgrading had crossed my mind. Being offered the chance to test a pair of Hawke Frontier 8×42 ED X binoculars was the perfect place to start; but are they the ones for me?
The Hawke Frontier 8×42 ED X are mid to high range binoculars retailing at £499. They come with a range of quality, user-friendly accessories including an excellent ridged case, comfortable neck strap and lens covers. The chassis is magnesium alloy covered with a relatively hard rubber armour, giving them reassuringly solid feel. Hawke list their weight as 725 g, which is pretty much mid-range for a quality, metal bodied 8×42 instrument. Objective lenses are well recessed giving good protection and the metal eye cups are also easily replaceable, which is excellent as these can be damaged if binoculars are dropped. The large metal focus wheel and diopter have a smooth action and rubber tracks for extra grip, making them easier to use on colder days wearing gloves. Finally, Hawke offer a no fault lifetime warranty and will repair the binoculars free of charge if they are damaged or defective in any way. Overall, the package is impressive and comparable to instruments costing much more.
I found the image provided by Hawke Frontier 8×42 ED X to be excellent. In particular, the use of extra-low dispersion (ED) glass meant their low light performance, in woodland for example, was great and provided a bright, clear image. ED glass costs more, but is only worth considering if the rest of the optics are also of high quality. The Hawke Frontiers effectively combine ED glass with high quality optics to give an outstanding image for the price and one that is the equal of many more expensive high end instruments.
The 8x42s were great for shorter days, but personally I found them a little too heavy for longer, more arduous walking or multi-day backpacking. This is not a reflection on the instrument per se, as 8×42 is considered an excellent all-round configuration and the Hawke Frontier ED X dimensions are fairly typical. It’s more a reflection of my personal preference for carrying binoculars in hand rather than using a neck strap. Although the 8x42s give a brighter image, thanks to their larger objective lenses, I would more likely pack the smaller 8×32 configuration, which gives comparable performance in anything other than especially gloomy conditions. Remember, the best binoculars are the ones you have with you!
As general purpose binoculars, the Hawke Frontier 8×42 ED X represent excellent value for money, combing high quality components with a solid build to deliver a superb image for the price. Perfect for shorter days out in the hills.
Or buy them here with a Mountain Training Association membership discount The Climbers Shop
Beyond the Edge Ltd is based in the Peak District, easily reached by train from London and within easy travelling distance from Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham and other Northern towns and cities.
We are one of the UKs most experienced providers of climbing, walking, scrambling, mountaineering and navigation training courses.
Most of our courses are run in the Peak District National Park which has some of the finest rock climbing, bouldering, walking and hiking in the world.