I’m a fan of the monocular form factor because a monocular is small and light. If you have one, there’s never a reason to leave it behind, so you can get that close-up view of a mountain goat on the side of a cliff, spot a bedded down buck while hunting, watch a crucial play in a sporting event, or even nab an up-close-and-personal view of a Great Blue Heron.
Enter the Alpen 8×25 Monocular
Personally, I like the Alpen 8×25 Monocular Model 120 for hunting, backpacking, and keeping handy in the pickup for who knows what for and when.
For hunting, the Alpen Model 120 Monocular is waterproof and fogproof, plus it boasts a rugged rubberized body. You can slip it into a pocket with ease. Because it’s small, light, and simple to use, it’s also perfect for younger hunters — great training to get them to take their time and look.
BAK4 and Fully Multicoated
Meanwhile, the affordable Model 120 in 8×25 — as well as the Model 124 in 10×25 — includes quality glass that is normally reserved for more expensive binoculars and monoculars. The glass prisms are made with BAK4 glass (very good) and they are fully multicoated. What does this mean? It means that Alpen coated all the glass surfaces inside the monocular multiple times with an anti-reflective chemical coating. Alpen doesn’t reveal its secret sauce (no manufacturer does) but it’s safe to say that most monoculars that flirt with the $50 range can’t boast having BAK4 and fully multicoated glass like Alpen can.
Because some light will be reflected and lost as it tries to pass through glass, special coatings reduce that light loss — which gives you a brighter, clearer image.
The end result?
The Alpen Model 120 8×25 Monocular delivers surprisingly crisp images, especially in normal lighting conditions. Because the monocular is relatively small with a 25mm objective lens, your low-light experience won’t be as good as you’ll experience with similar entry-level full-size 8×42 binoculars like the Alpen Shasta Ridge binocular [check out our review]. In daytime light, though, the Model 120 Monocular is fantastic.
The Model 120 Monocular has a focus ring that you can adjust with one hand — it starts out stiff but loosens up with use. It also includes a twist up eye cup to offer long eye relief. When you use eyeglasses, twist it down. Without, twist it up. The monocular comes with a small nylon case, a wrist lanyard and one rubber cover for the eye piece.
Alpen Optics is a small family owned company that invests its core effort in producing gear with higher-quality optics than its competitors usually deliver in similar form factors and price ranges. Alpen seems to strive hard to align the words “affordable” with “quality,” and the Model 120 is no exception. While you might be able to find a better monocular at three or four times the price (or more), Alpen’s gear is hard to beat head-to-head in their price ranges.
Better yet, Alpen includes its Lifetime No Fault Warranty. If you break your monocular, send it to Alpen and they will repair or replace it. If you run over it with an ATV, send it to Alpen. If your dog buries it in the garden and you uncover it the next spring with a rototiller, send it to Alpen. You can’t beat that kind of warranty, and for anyone looking at a relatively small investment in a monocular, the warranty offers incredible value and peace of mind.
All-in-all, the Alpen Model 120 Monocular is rugged, durable, and much brighter than most monoculars in its price range. Add in Alpen’s Lifetime No Fault Warranty and the Model 120 is a wicked good buy.