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The Maven C.1 Binoculars are a mid-level, direct-to-consumer optic that come with an outstanding no-fault lifetime warranty. If they ever fail — or if you break them — Maven will repair or replace them.
To get us a closer look, Maven sent Man Makes Fire a 10×42 C.1 review unit. After extensive field testing during our review process — including a direct comparison to the premium Maven B.1 binos — this is what we learned:
Maven C.1 Binoculars Review
Maven is a relatively small Wyoming-based company with a mission to deliver world-class optics straight to you with no middle man and no retail markup. Maven brought its first optics to market in 2014, and the company now offers a robust line of binoculars, spotting scopes, and rifle scopes. In addition to selling from its own online store, Maven has started offering many of its binoculars via Amazon for customers who want to use Amazon Prime shipping.
The C.1 series binos are Maven’s midrange-level binos, offered in 8×42, 10×42, or 12×42 configurations. Pricing ranges from $325 to $375.
For hunters and birders looking for an affordable step up from entry-level binos, the Maven C.1 binoculars are easily two or three steps up. Let’s put it this way: If you care about clarity and color, I believe the Maven C.1 binoculars are about three times as good as typical entry-level binos that cost half as much.
In short, the Maven C.1 price-to-value ratio is fantastic.
A Closer Look
The Maven C.1 binos use high-quality Extra-Low Dispersion ED glass with fully multi-coated lenses. The C.1 has a lightweight polymer frame and the 10×42 version weighs in at 24.5 oz.
The C.1 components are Japanese and Chinese in origin, and they’re assembled in the Philippines. (In contrast, the premium B.1 components are Japanese, and they’re assembled in the United States.) Maven does a pretty good job of identifying the sourcing and assembly — a lot of companies dance around it.
The C.1’s polymer frame has a slightly grippy rubberized shell around it. It fits very well and you have to pay attention to notice the construction.
The focus wheel is smooth and easy to turn. The diopter ring is a bit stiffer, but it’s still smooth and has just the right amount of resistance to stay put through plenty of use and abuse.
I really like the twist-up multiple position eyecups. The C.1s twist up to three different positions, and the movement is smooth but crisp when they settle into each position.
Better yet, the eyecups twist completely off. Why? So you can more easily clean the glass and remove any forest debris that inevitably gets underneath your eyecups. (If you hunt in the woods, you know what I’m talking about.)
The No-Fault Warranty
If you’re thinking about the Maven C.1 binoculars, you have probably heard about Maven’s no-fault lifetime warranty. We’re big fans of the warranty because it gives you peace of mind over your investment. For me, it’s not so much about fixing a defect or a failure — it’s about fixing things that I break. I’m careful with my gear, but if you tromp around in rugged and rocky wilderness, occasionally gear will fall and break. And sometimes gear gets run over. Or a heavy cooler is plopped down on a tailgate, crushing something you didn’t see.
No matter how you — or your kids or friends — break your Maven optics, Maven will repair or replace them.
That kind of warranty makes it hard not to feel great about your Maven investment.
The colors are vibrant and seem accurate to my eyes. In fact, the clarity of the lenses, along with the color, are my favorite thing about the C.1 binos.
Lowlight performance is pretty good. It was better than a decent set of sub-$200 10×42 binoculars and better than a competitive $500 pair. The $950 Maven B.1 was a bit better in lowlight, though, as was an older $1,000 European-made set I compared them to.
Basically, you can likely get a bit better low-light response out of $1,000~ binos . . . but that slight gain may or may not be worth the extra cost compared to the C.1 binos.
A Side Note on Chromatic Aberration
What about chromatic aberration? There is some chromatic aberration, which is expected at this price range, but it’s pretty minimal. Chromatic aberrations can often be seen as a purplish hue that shows up next to objects in high-contrast situations. To bend different wavelengths of color inside the binoculars, some wavelengths of color won’t converge at exactly the same spot after passing through a lens.
The easiest way to look for chromatic aberrations is to look at a dark tree branch or dark telephone or power pole against a bright blue sky. At first, you probably won’t notice it because your brain is trained to see what it expects to see — a branch or pole. If you relax your eyes and look for it, though, you’ll likely be able to see a thin purplish hue on the outside edge of the object.
I can see a thin purplish hue with the C.1 binoculars . . . but I have also seen a similar hue in every sub-$1,000 binos I’ve looked through. The chromatic aberration is pretty small in the C.1. I’m mentioning this just to help people understand what’s going on with chromatic aberrations — I don’t consider it a con here at all.
More importantly, the clarity and color overall is so good that it’s super easy to ignore the hue and focus on what you want to see through your binos.
Maven C.1 vs B.1
If your budget ends at $350, stop reading and go buy the Maven C.1 Binoculars right now. You won’t be disappointed.
If you’re on the fence and wondering about the premium-grade Maven B.1 Binoculars, this is the short comparison:
The B.1 has a better overall build quality and, for me and my face, better ergonomics.
The B.1 is about 0.5 inches taller and the frame is made from magnesium instead of a polymer. This also makes the B.1 about 5 ounces heavier.
For optical clarity, the B.1s do give you a slightly crisper, cleaner image over the C.1. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why the perceived image of the B.1 is better in most situations, but it’s going to come down to several elements and factors. First, the glass may have different coatings and is of higher quality. Second, whatever is going on with the internals, you get a larger Field of View (FOV) with the B.1s — 341′ vs 314′. Third, the image maintains better clarity and crispness to the outer edges. And fourth, the B.1 eye cups have a slightly different shape with very slightly rounded edges that fit my eyes better. If you wear glasses, this won’t matter at all. And it might not matter to your particular face, either. And fifth, if you’re still counting, the magnesium and assembled-in-America construction likely ends up with a more precise build.
If you have the budget for the Maven B.1 Binoculars, they’re well worth the price — and you can even customize them, which is a cool feature for sure.
The Maven C.1 comes in a black box with a fire orange MAVEN spelled out on the top. If you’re buying the Maven C.1 binoculars as a hunting gift, you’ll be pleased with the packaging.
Inside, the binoculars come in a nice soft drawcord sack — no case, which is fine by me. All my binoculars end up in my AGC chest pack anyway, so the cases never get used. The neoprene neck strap is great if you want it — again, I use a chest pack.
The C.1 Verdict
All-in-all, the Maven C.1 Binoculars are outstanding mid-level binoculars that are backed by a life-time no-fault warranty. The C.1 handily outperforms most entry-level binoculars, and they’re as good or better than many other mid-level binoculars. While the ergonomics aren’t quite as awesome as the Maven B.1s, they’re very good. The focus wheel, in particular, speaks to the overall quality and fit-and-finish — it is surprisingly smooth and crisp for the price point. We’re big fans. Very highly recommended.