Gray’s Best 2017

(River Travelers, by Chet Reneson)

ACCESSORIES & APPAREL: Maven B.3 10×30 Binocular

mavenbiopThe surest test of any piece of kit is to take it on an extended trip in the field. I had the opportunity to put the new Maven B.3 10×30 binocular (from $500) through its paces on a month-long Rocky Mountain sporting binge this past September, and from glassing elk in Idaho’s Sawtooth Range to scanning rapids on a solo float down Montana’s Blackfoot River, it was my constant companion. In every way, the Maven B3 lived up to its promise as a durable, compact, all-purpose binocular at a reasonable price. Entering only their third year of business, the folks at Maven have seriously upped the quality-to-cost ratio by selling online directly to consumers, eliminating wholesale and retail upcharges incurred through dealer networks. Though the downside is an inability to try the binoculars before buying, Maven offers a demo program, and there is a two-week, no-charge return policy on stock items, as well as an unconditional lifetime warranty. Additionally, the Maven website allows buyers to customize their purchase according to optics model, focal length, and aesthetics that range from a pallet of camo patterns to colors of the focus wheel, ocular ring, and virtually every other component. These roof-prism style binoculars are as clear and sharp as those costing hundreds more, and they are imminently durable. I carried mine daily in conditions ranging from snow to blue skies, once accidentally closing them in the door of a full-size pick-up, and then nearly drowning them in a leaky dry bag on a two-day river trip. All with no ill effect. They are as stout and crisp as the day I got them, ready for the next adventure.