Leica Ultravid HD 8×42 Binoculars: Review
Long range hunting puts serious demands on a hunter’s optics. The shot is taken at distances where most people would break out the spotting scope to size up an animal for a stalk. It entails hours of glassing, trying to pick out targets well beyond spotting with the naked eye. In northern Idaho, the vegetation and terrain requires the hunter to be able to penetrate thick brush and timber to find his quarry. It puts demands on optics like no other. I found the Leica Ultravid HD binoculars to be up to the challenge!
These binoculars were carried and used on two different hunts; fall bear hunting and late season whitetail. On the bear hunt, they were carried in a FHF pouch. For the whitetail hunt, I used the supplied neck strap and lens covers. On that note, the neck strap is well designed, with the padded neoprene center section anatomically curved. I found it to be very comfortable to carry. The eyepiece rain cover works very well and is easy to use. It attaches to the left side strap only, making it fast and easy to remove. The objective lens covers are standard slip on rubber caps that also worked very well. In September, the temp ranges were 40-80 degrees. In November, the mercury dipped into the teens several times. Leica’s lubricant free, floating plastic disks used in the focus ring worked as designed to keep the focus wheel smooth and fast. A fair amount of precip was encountered in November. The Ultravid uses Leica’s Aqua Dura lens coating to help shed water and dirt, keeping the glass clear and spot free. It worked as advertised. Of course, these binoculars are water and fog proof to 5 meters.
I normally carry a pair of Swarovski SLC 8x30WB binoculars. The Ultravid is built with a magnesium body and titanium hinge axis, keeping the weight down to a weighed 30 oz. (with neck strap and lens covers). My SLCs weigh in at 27 oz. identically equipped. For 3 oz. more, it was a real treat to carry these! The shape and size (6 inches long) fit my hand well, whether sitting with both hands or snapping up for a quick look with one.
Leica’s HLS (High Lux System) and HDC (High Durability Coating) used on all 9 lens elements, provided excellent clarity and true color viewing that was sharp and crisp. Glass in this price range really stands out during the crucial viewing times of first and last light. More so when the ranges involved are over 500 yards. I was easily able to pick up whitetails feeding in tall tan grass and brush at the edge of clear cuts well into dusk.
The 8x42HD Ultravid definitely lives up to Leica’s reputation for top of the line, quality glass. I would not hesitate to use these for any hunting application.
Weight: 30 ounces (With neck strap and lens covers)
Water and fog proof: Yes, to 16.5 feet
Field of view at 1000 yards: 389 feet
Exit pupil: 5.2mm
Twilight factor: 18.3
Length: 6 inches
Eyepieces: Removable, with two click stops
“In the box”: Anatomically curved neoprene padded neck strap, lens covers, cordura case.
Author’s note: This review was originally published on Rokslide.com in late 2013. It really bummed me out to have to return the binoculars after the review. In June of 2014, I bought the same model of binoculars that I reviewed. I have used them continuously since then, exposing them to everything North Idaho has to offer. They are still the nicest glass I’ve had the opportunity to look through!