When it comes to monoculars, there aren’t too many people that would choose something with high magnification that’s heavy and large. However, this is exactly what people such as bird watchers would go for. They need the magnification, and they often don’t mind carrying around something heavy. If you’re such a person, we’ve got the perfect monocular for you.
We’re talking about the Wingspan Explorer 12×50. Sure, it’s big and heavy. But its magnification and optical performance more than makeup for that. It checks all the boxes for an outdoor product. It also manages to be an excellent everyday monocular for bird watchers. If this piques your interest, read on as we take a look at the details.
The Explorer on the outside
We couldn’t emphasize this enough, but the Explorer is a behemoth. It comes in at 9.4 x 7.9 x 4.1 inches, which is large. The weight is 14.5oz., which actually isn’t too heavy, but it’s very far from lightweight. It does look like a fairly premium product. The black coating gives it a certain type of elegance. It makes it look like it costs a lot more than it actually does. It also has a tripod mount at the bottom. If you feel like not holding it in your hand all the time, you can pop it on a tripod and set it somewhere.
That coating is actually a secure grip that won’t slip out of your hands. It’s also rubberized and fairly thick. Even if you do happen to drop the Explorer or hit it against something, it will absorb most of the impact and prevent damage. If you don’t trust this, note that Wingspan Optics do – they give you a lifetime warranty on the Explorer.
The focus ring is on top of the monocular itself. It’s a large ring with ridges that allow you to find it and adjust it really easily. You could operate it with one hand, without any issues. The wheel is smooth and accurate, and you can easily make precise adjustments to the focus. With a minimum focusing distance of 8.2 feet, you should be covered in a variety of situations.
While we’re discussing the build and build quality, we should mention the weather resistance. Every outdoorsman has been caught out in the rain once or twice, and not having to worry about your gear is always excellent. In the case of the Explorer, you get a completely waterproof and fog proof monocular, so no water, dust, and debris can enter the inside. It’s sealed with O-rings and purged with nitrogen, so you can rest assured that it won’t fog up on the inside either. This is a major issue when you have a sudden temperature change, and we’re glad it’s not the case with the Explorer.
Let’s discuss the numbers and optics for a minute
As with any monocular (or binoculars, for that matter), the 12×50 in the name of the Wingspan Explorer indicates a magnification power of 12 times and a 50mm objective lens diameter. Even though you don’t have a variable magnification, which some people prefer, you can get really close to your subject with 12 times magnification. At 1000 yards, this gives you a 246 feet field of view, which is actually decent.
When you have such a powerful piece of optics, you should know that it requires quite a bit of light for it to perform well. This is best done with a large objective lens, and the Wingspan Explorer does come with one. More specifically, it comes with a 50mm lens. This should let in more than enough light for day time use, or maybe at dusk or dawn. At night, though, it’s pretty much useless since it doesn’t have any night vision technology. While we’re discussing optics, the ones on the Explorer are great. You get a Bak-4 roof prism which ensures excellent clarity and color dispersion. The optics are fully multi-coated, which is as good as it gets, and all air-to-glass surfaces have anti-reflective coatings. Since this is a device primarily made for daytime use, this is useful for blocking out unnecessary sunshine.
What do you get in the box?
At the asking price, even if you only got the Wingspan Explorer in the box, you should be more than happy. However, of course, that’s not all. First, you’ll get protection caps for the eyepiece and the lens. This makes sure the glass doesn’t get scratched when you aren’t using the monocular. Then, you get a nylon mesh carrying case so the whole monocular is covered when you’re carrying it in your backpack. Last but not least, you’ll get a non-abrasive microfiber cleaning cloth to keep the glass clean before and after use.
Wrapping things up – is this the perfect high magnification monocular?
Unfortunately, not for everyone. We’ll be honest, all the specs and numbers of the Wingspan Explorer, combined with the asking price, make it an excellent deal. But there’s one thing that we didn’t mention, and that’s the eye relief. It does have a twist-up eyecup, but the eye relief is a mere 14mm. If you’re a person who wears glasses, this may be an issue. Considering there is no diopter adjustment to allow you to leave your glasses at home, this might be a bit tight.
If, however, you don’t wear glasses all the time, this is an amazing monocular. The 12 times magnification gets you really close to your subject. The 50mm lens, Bak-4 prism, and fully multi-coated optics let in quite a bit of light, and the weather protection and build quality are all great. If you’re a bird watcher, or you simply need a high powered monocular for sports, sky gazing, opera, or even concerts for that matter, you won’t be making a mistake with the Wingspan Explorer 12×50.
Take a look at our best list guide for more monocular reviews.