Bitmasher you just hit nail squarely on the head.
I don't use Binoculars for spotting game down here deer hunting anymore. With the Bino vision you simply miss seeing a lot of animals that your periphial vision would pick up. If I am hunting a clearcut or field, I carry the Nikons but only use them after I have spotted a deer.
Out west I only use them in locating game way, way out of range. So far away you can't even see them with the naked eye. I have found my natural vision is much better at picking up an animal, once I see one then I use the Binos to check it out better.
In 96 on a late season New Mexico Elk hunt I spotted a last morning bull at the extreme limit of vision. My guide was using his Steiners and didn't see him. I couldn't tell if it was a bull or cow but after pointing it out my guide glassed it and said, "Its a bull, lets go!"
The bull was making his way back to cover but we were able to cut it off by running and making a 380 yard shot. It had a broken antler and is not the best I have taken but at least I didn't go home empty handed.
I just can't see how a $1500 pair of binoculars would benefit me at all. In fact any bino is just a pain in the neck and more weight to carry. I'm going back to New Mexico in October and depending on the terrain the binos just may stay in camp most days.
I have no experiance with the Zeiss Classic line (which is what Cabelas has for $699) .... but, I dont think you could ever go wrong with the Zeiss name. Honestly, I cannot stress enough how important it is to actually go to a store that carries several different quality pairs from different makers and compare for yourself ... through your eyes. What others would swear by you might not find all that great ..... bottom line is that will not ever really know until you look through them for yourself.
From the sounds of it you all use a lot more expensive glass than I care for. While hunting and scouting I break mine once every 1 or 2 years. Not the glasses fault, I'm just rough with em and they get A LOT of use. So I usually limit my glass to about $100.
As far as the effectiveness of actually using glass, well I think they are very important to have. If you're spotting and stalking in close quarters you may only use them occasionally to get a closer look at game already spotted. But if you spend 3 or 4 hours glassing a canyon then you can't live without them. I can't tell you how many times at ranges over 300 yds. I have seen nothing but once I put glass up and slowly scanned the hillside I picked out an antler, or a white butt hiding in the tress. My favorite glass is a 10 power with a 50 mm lens. Gives a big enough field of view but still manifies pretty good without too much bulk.
I have a set of Zeiss 8x42 that I have had since 1981. I have dropped them probably over thirty or forty times,lost them in the snow for over a month, had horses step on them,fell in the river twice, glassed with them for over 25 years as an outfitter and the only thing is the rubber cups around the lense needs to be replaced. Think you get what you pay for. Also never once did I ever get a headacke glassing around 8 hours a day. That seperates the best from all the rest.
I expect that the high end glass is worth it. Its usually a matter of whether one can afford it. Don't rule out Bruntons. Like most companies they have a range of quality from midrange to high end. Quality and prices are reflective. Have compared the midrange Bruntons to the Zeiss and Swarvosskis and couldn't discern a diff. in quality of veiw. That being said, I've not sat and glassed for hours with them. As has been said many times before, buy the best that you can afford. I hunted for several years with a pair of 10x50, $35, sam's club specials and saw a lot of game I would have never otherwise seen. If you can afford it, make sure its water proof. Good luck and enjoy your hunts.
Nothing against Binoguards but that product looks cheesy and unnecessary...
Any decent pair of binoculars is constructed to withstand the occasional outdoor abuse. Most are gas filled and sealed to protect against moisture but also to prevent dust or debris from entering the binocular barrel.
Both eye pieces and objective lenses are recessed into the barrel of the binocular to protect against tree limbs and brush from scrapping against the exposed glass.
If I need anymore protection, when I'm heading into dense cover, I'll pack my free lens covers....
I have Nikon and Zeiss. Without a doubt the Zeiss provide a clearer view. In these discussions, I have not seen anyone speak to low light condition or inclimate weather. These are the times when Zeiss easily out performs other brands. I also have Luepold and Zeiss 3x9x40 scopes. Mid day light=no difference. Low light in the evening, I can hunt 5-10 extra minutes with the Zeiss.
As I sit and glass, which is common for hunters out west, I have sort of quickly discovered something I never learned when I was younger.
In my youth I had enthusiasm and spirit. In my middle to advancing years I have creaky knees, arthritis, and I tire more easily than I used to. Where I used to sit on the cold hard ground I now look for that soft spot to sooth my tired muscles. That leads me to my tip.
Carry your soft spot with you!
In my pack I carry an air filled, ultralight, camping pad....