I'm often asked about my binoculars, a pair of Nikon Trailblazer ATB
8x42s. (They are most often mistaken for the Monarch 8x42, but are a
lower-end model.) Here's what I usually tell people about them.
A quick summary of the specifications: the Trailblazer ATB 8x42 is a
waterproof, fogproof roof-prism model that measures 154x131mm, weighs
670g, and offers a generous 19.7mm of eye relief. The minimum focusing
distance is 5m, and the field of view at a distance of 1km is 122m. It
has dark green rubber "armour", twist-up plastic eyecups, a focusing
wheel in the centre, and dioptre correction for the right eye.
I bought a pair in April 2008 after my earlier binoculars suffered
irreparable damage in a fall. I chose them because they were (much!)
smaller and lighter than my old pair, had better optics (BaK4 prisms
instead of BK7) and better eye-relief; and they seemed the best value
all round within my budget (<US$150).
After a year and a half of use, I am very happy with them. I adore the
long eye relief (I wear spectacles) and large exit pupil. The focusing
wheel is accurate and responsive. The build quality is excellent. The
fog-proofing actually works as advertised. I didn't mind the extra size
and weight of my old binoculars while I was using them, but I would find
it hard to give up on this pair now (especially when I am hiking in the
mountains). I do sometimes wish, however, that they could be mounted on
a tripod, but the construction offers no convenient place for a threaded
I can't comment on the Trailblazer's optical quality as compared to
higher-end models, such as Nikon's Monarch series. I have only stolen
glances through other people's Leica, Swarovski, and Monarch binoculars,
not used any of them long enough to appreciate a difference. The optics
are, however, noticeably better than any of the other binoculars I have
used extensively (notably a Konica-Minolta 8–20x50 and Bushnell 8x40).
I have not noticed any obtrusive distortion or chromatic aberration. The
5m minimum focus distance occasionally annoys me, but I wouldn't want to
trade the much longer eye relief for the close-focus capabilities of the
Monarch 8x42 (despite its lighter weight… but much heavier price).
In summary: I would recommend the Nikon Trailblazer ATB 8x42 without
I think the Trailblazer ATB series is a USA-specific one. The official
Nikon dealer in India denied that such a model existed when I asked in
mid-2008, and I can find it described only on the
USA web site. Online stores based in the USA, such as
offer the Trailblazer ATB 8x42 for ~US$130–150. The recently-introduced
8x42 model looks identical and has the same specifications, and it seems
to be available at least in Europe (albeit at a much higher price).