Overview of the Viper HD Series
When it comes to high-quality binoculars, there are only a few binoculars that live up to expectations. Vortex Binoculars have gained a similar customer base. Vortex makes some of the most amazing binoculars, as well as other optics out there.
We have tested their many products and finally arrived at the Viper HD series. The Viper HD bino is widely famous for its high-density ultra-clear lenses at an attractive price range. It is also guaranteed by what Vortex calls the VIP warranty.
There are two things you expect from a pair of good binoculars. First that it is bright and sharp, and secondly, it gets repaired easily if anything breaks.
Aside from those two, it also provides excellent magnification, a wide-angle view, a textured finish, and an overall high-quality build. Viper HD has been getting a lot of praise from all users for a long time. It’s a brand with high customer satisfaction.
We have performed an extensive field test and put these optics through all the tests. There is a lot to cover here, so let’s get started.
How durable is the Viper HD Chassis?
Chassis or housing is the frame covering all the optics. It is supposed to be ultra-durable, shock and drop resistant, and have a nice texture to it. The Viper HD chassis is made entirely of a thermoplastic polymer called polycarbonate.
It is used primarily in the safety glasses as the polycarbonate blocks the impact damage real good. It is also flame, chemicals, heat retardant. It is a tough polycarbonate so it’s not like it won’t melt with fire. But it won’t easily catch fire and resist the heat for a long time.
They are not meant to be used inside an active volcano. It will easily withstand the high heat of the desert, freezing climates as well as accidental drops from the mountain cliffs.
It is super compact and lightweight due to the polycarbonate composite we just talked about. This material is commonly used in high-quality optics where weight plays a substantial role.
To ensure the hands and neck won’t feel uncomfortable after using them for several hours, the binoculars have to be lightweight. Accompanying the lightweight and durable build is the weight distribution. Binoculars may be tough and well made but without proper attention to balance, they will not be comfortable to hold.
These pair of binoculars have a groove or indents just where the finger holds and also one at the thumb place. The barrels themselves have rubber armor to give you a better grip. This will give you a comfortable hold. On the same note, we did not notice any strain to the hands which would be caused by the bino being either top heavy or bottom heavy.
Vortex knows their game and has done an excellent job at balancing the weight throughout the optics. The Vortex Viper HD is a roof prism-type binocular. It ensures a slim design and elegant finish.
It has lots of implications. The obvious one is that you will feel no fatigue or strain after holding it for a long time. You can mount it to a tripod if you like, but a well-made binocular is for all times.
It is especially good for hunting and sightseeing, birding, scaling the large planes, and green mountains. All thanks to the well-designed compact and impact-resistant chassis, these binoculars are super durable. The holding experience is also finely tuned.
Testing the Eyecups and Eye Relief Quality
It comes with adjustable eyecups. These twist-up eyecups will keep you safe from outside light by providing a shade. The Vortex HD Binoculars come with eyecups that can be gradually extended in three steps.
Each one will extend or reverse, the position of the eyecup by around 3 mm. This lets you adjust the eyecups to a comfortable point. Eyecups are supposed to close the outside light coming directly into the eyes to provide a deep immersion into the magnified image. It will rest against your face gently.
Eyecups are usually made from rubber and high-quality pairs are made from strong plastic or metals. We felt the eyecups provided here as the best of both worlds.
Our friends wearing glasses tested out the eye reliefs. We got a range of variations within the Vortex HD series, where the eye relief was ranging from 16mm up to 20mm. 16 mm is considered the minimum range where glass users will get the full view without losing the details. Anything less than that will give a lesser area image, and it will look like a cropped image.
To ensure all the people with glasses get a full viewing experience without removing their glasses, Viper Binocular comes with generous eye relief. During our testing, we found that these pairs of binoculars can be used equally by people wearing glasses and those who don’t.
Generous eye relief combined with adjustable eyecups makes it easy to adjust to the individual level of sight.
Are the included Rain Guard and Lens Cover any good?
It comes with a lens cover and rain guard included. To keep the lens safe from dust and sandy elements, and to protect it during drops, the lens covers are used. The rain guard protects the optics from getting wet during the rain.
The insides have a soft touch to them while the outside fits perfectly into the bino barrels. The fit is just perfect, the bridge is flexible and durable and it has been tested well by Vortex.
The tethered objective lens cover and lens cover both are made from high-end construction materials so they will last long while providing utility and comfort.
We tested the Case, Neck Strap, and Accessories
A comfortable neck strap is a necessity of all modern-day hunters. Whether you go sightseeing or simply want to trace a mule across the forest, holding the binoculars in your hands is not ideal.
Vortex HD came with a decently long neck strap that allows you to strap the binoculars around your neck. It will hang comfortably when not in use. These neck straps will not pull you down causing neck pain.
Whether you want to store the binoculars safe for some time or use them as a carry-on bag, the Vortex GlassPak™ Binocular Harness Pack will serve you well. This case is made well and you can fit the binoculars easily. In addition to this, there is also a zipper-type pocket large enough to store your smartphone.
The harness is made from Nylon straps and Fastek buckles. The tether will secure the case in the place where you can put the binoculars to keep the hands free.
A neck strap serves the purpose but some people prefer having a binocular harness. It straps tight and locks the case along with binoculars perfectly without swirling around. It will be perfect for hunting where you want to keep the bino secure while making them easily accessible.
People using a good bino chest pack know the difference, and will not settle with anything less. The case, neckstraps, and all the accessories are of premium quality.
How is the Focus Wheel ?
There is a focusing wheel just in the middle of the binoculars. It has a great texture and grip to it. It is made from the same durable material and feels super-premium.
The central focus wheel turns around uniformly without any jitters. We found the focusing very smooth and precise as well. The knob took one and a half turns to scale the entire focus range. While this allows for a precise adjustment, more turns mean you will have to adjust it more and more when it comes to shifting the focus.
After a long day, you will feel fatigued. But 1.5 turns is about the higher limits that we feel comfortable suggesting. The actual fast focus is pretty decent. With this focus knob, you can also set the focus to infinity.
In this unit, we encountered an exceptionally good focus that changes between the targets fast. It is all manual control so the better you are, the higher support it provides in the field.
Are the Optics as good as they claim ?
A good quality optical system is an integral part of any binoculars. The use of high density super clear glass lens in Viper makes it the Viper HD binocular. At the first glance, you will feel the clarity, sharpness, and details this high-density glass provides.
The image quality is vastly enhanced compared to optics using a normal lens. Chromatic and spherical aberration is reduced due to its extra-low dispersion optics.
We have tested various binoculars from the Viper HD series to give you generalized as well as precise information about what you can expect from these. Vortex Viper HD series uses the proprietary XR anti-reflection fully multi-coated optics.
This highly complex term is all about the clarity and sharpness of the image, the color fidelity, and improved low light performance. You will get one of the best experiences you ever had with these optics. To remove the internal reflections, this binocular comes with Phase-correcting prism coatings.
Even the prisms made with all the standards in check maybe perform slightly off due to the reflections on its surface that cause loss of resolution, low contrast, and low-quality images. But the phase correction deals with all that.
So you get a vivid and lively image just the way you want it. It also comes with ArmorTek exterior lens coating to keep the lens safe from eroding, as well as from scratches, dust, and dirt.
These optics provides magnification between 6 times all way up to 15x. For normal situations, you can use binoculars with 6x to 10x magnifications. Viper HD comes in 6×32, 8×32, 8×42, 10×42, and 10×50 variations that fit within the 10x magnification range.
We would recommend 8x and 10x binoculars for hunting. 6x are well suited for sightseeing and birding due to their wide field of view. As you will notice, the second part of the naming like 42 in 8×42 is the size of the objective lens used in binoculars.
The size of the objective lens will define how much light the binoculars will get through the lens. A smaller objective lens will provide a compact lightweight design, higher will mean bright and super detailed images.
The angular field of view is around 400 for 6x and 8x magnifications at 1000 yards. It is around 300 for 10x and 200 at 15x magnifications. It means the size of the area which can be viewed through the binoculars.
As the magnification increases, it is obvious that the overall viewable area will decrease. So 6x binocular with 400 feet angular field is perfect for sightseeing and birding, while if you’re an experienced hunter and want the increased power, 15x will provide a high magnification with very sharp images.
At all magnification and angular field ranges, you will get equally stunning image quality due to the high-quality glass used. The multicoated lenses will ensure you get highly detailed crisp images.
Coming to the exit pupil, is the measure of the light passing through the optics and going to your eyes. We see a decent balance of exit pupil range throughout the viper series, which ranges from 4 to 5.3 mm. A larger exit pupil will give you better low-light performance.
You can use it during the nighttime to observe the celestial bodies and stars as well as astronomical observation. These are especially good for low-light environments like a dense forest and also the morning and evening times.
We further tested the light transmission, color fidelity, diopter adjustment, and chromatic aberration of the binoculars.
Testing the Light Transmission
Viper HD Binoculars by Vortex come with fully multi-coated di-electric BAK-4 prisms. By utilizing the reflectance of above 99 percent, it enables a high light throughput that gives a very high contrast and vivid colors.
It is very essential to get those just perfect as the slight difference may make the target unnoticed with a lot of grass, trees, branches, bushes around.
We will discuss the chromatic aberration shortly, but first, let us talk about the glare. There was no glare when looking at the high reflection surfaces. We tested this on snow, icy surfaces, and water surface.
While a great light transmission is quite good for bright and high contrast images, the stray light could reflect off the interior surface and make a mess. To deal with this, these roof prism binoculars come with baffling. It is like the layer of a shield on the inside of a binocular barrel, coated with dark color.
While seeing through the lens, the field of view is surrounded by a very dark background. This absorbs all the stray light and also eliminates any internal reflections. This allows for great contrast ratios and increases the focus.
These binoculars have a really good low-light performance. At dawn and dusk, especially through the twilight, these optics made great utilization of the available light.
It allows for a lot of light intake, giving high contrast and a super bright image during the low light conditions. Many binoculars at this price point offer low optical quality so these viper vortex binoculars are easily above the average.
Observing the Color Fidelity
Inside the vortex, optics goes the phenomenal research and technology. Generational improvements and innovation give Viper HD its color fidelity. Before you get confused, know that color fidelity is the measure of how real the image looks.
How accurate the color looks is a game-changer, as you wouldn’t want the grey object to look green or yellow when quickly gazing through a large area looking for some prey.
On our field test, we found the colors being super accurate, which remained constant as the day turned into night. The once super bright area was under the shade, giving us a low-light working situation. We could distinguish all the colors, and nothing was out of proportions.
We got consistent results relating to the brightness, color contrast, and super crisp resolutions throughout our testing.
Testing the Diopter Adjustment
The diopter adjustment is the knob just at the end of the right ocular lens. It will help you adjust the diopter so the focus of two eyes will align on the same object.
The focusing itself is done from the central focus wheel. The diopter adjustment ring included is used to tune the focus for the right barrel with the left barrel. Once it is adjusted perfectly, both the barrels will stay in proper relation.
It allows the objective lenses to focus together on an object whether you are choosing close focus or on a distant object. A properly aligned diopter will reduce chromatic aberration up to a decent degree. But mainly, it reduces eye stress.
Watching from not well aligned binoculars will make you feel dizzy, and give headaches if not straight blurry images. Adjusting for your preference takes some time, so you would not want it to slide easily.
The slip of a hand or some intruders messing with your binoculars could shift the diopter dial out of focus. This phenomenon is avoided by the locking mechanism. You have to pull out towards the eye lens to reveal the diopter dial. Then adjust the diopter.
After you get a perfect balance, you can slide it back in. It will lock tightly and securely in place and will not turn. So the normal usage will not change your good focus, keeping the binoculars always ready, for some quick action capture.
And if someone else needs to readjust the diopter setting, it same a premium knob that works perfectly.
Is there any Chromatic Aberration?
We checked the binoculars to see if there is any chromatic aberration. It is the distortion of colors, the fringing in edges, and all blurry mess of colors. This aspect makes a lot of difference to the experience.
It appears when there is high variation in the contrast between the object and the background like tree branches against the bright sky. We observed no chromatic aberration from the high-density lenses used in Viper HD binoculars. The edges of the objects were sharp and it was of the right color.
We found no chromatic aberration in these binoculars.
Waterproof and Fog-Proof Viper HD binocular
The Viper HD binoculars are fully waterproof and fog-proof. Waterproofing keeps the interior of the binoculars as well the exterior safe from eroding. If there is any dust or dirt on the binoculars, you can wash them normally.
The tightly sealed chassis will ensure no spec of dust will get into the interior. Similarly, you will not have to worry about sudden rain or the dew caused by condensation. The waterproofing acts as a shield against any water-related damage.
In addition to it, it will also prevent the growth of microorganisms like fungus, mold, and yeast on the binoculars. This type of growth will surely ruin the exterior first, then the internal components and make the binoculars unusable.
Its roof prism design makes it easy to waterproof, but Vortex puts a significant amount of time into choosing the materials, design, and all the aspects. We put the binoculars through different tests, even dipped one in water which the vortex doesn’t recommend doing, but the good news it was unharmed.
We can see the results of vortex’s extensive research when we look at the fog proofing process. Instead of using nitrogen like the majority of binoculars, they are filling argon gas inside.
Let’s first understand the need and what even fog proof means. If you expose the glass surfaces, and optics lens to the extreme temperature changes, the water molecules on the surface turn into vapor and cover the entire surface.
This fog or mist blocks the light rays from entering and will let you see nothing. This is the same phenomenon you face in the windshield of cars, if the interior is warm and it starts raining, the front glass panel will get fogged up. Similarly, on foggy days, you cannot see much. Then you will have terrible visibility.
The cars’ windshield comes with a wiper, and you can get anti-fog windscreens, but you get the point. In binoculars, the internal components are sealed to make it waterproof.
But when the insides are made of glass and similar materials will get foggy if exposed to drastic changes in temperature. You can clean the exterior lens surface but what about internal fogging? It would be problematic even for a skilled repair person, so an average person cannot clean.
Your new binoculars will turn useless at least when you need them on the field. Older binoculars all suffered from these issues. The modern take is to remove the moisture-laden air from inside of the binocular barrels and then fill the vacuum with nitrogen gas. This generally ensures that the binoculars will not fog.
But wait a sec, Viper HD is argon-purged not nitrogen-filled. So what gives?
Argon is an inert noble gas. It will not react (as in a chemical reaction) with water molecules, and materials used in optics. Its molecules are larger than nitrogen ones which can sustain even larger temperature changes.
As it is an inert gas, it is less likely to erode the components and leak out. During our testing, we experienced some fogging. But the extremely notable point is, that the fogging was occurring only on the external lens surface. It is not frequent, and will not cause you any trouble once you clean it with a soft cloth included with the purchase.
That aside, we tested these binoculars both in the hot and freezing environments, and also tossed these inside the freezer for some time just to check their resistance. As expected, no fogging whatsoever.
The VIP Warranty is?? Best Warranty you’re gonna get!
The Vortex Viper HD binoculars are backed by the VIP warranty. It is short for a very important promise.
If anything breaks or the binoculars don’t perform as advertised after some time, the nice people at Vortex will fix it for you. Generally, they will give you a brand new binocular right from the shelf, but it depends on the problem you are facing.
All the repairs, exchanges, and replacements are done free of cost so you will face no additional charges. Vortex is very confident in their product quality that they are offering this VIP warranty for a lifetime.
Also, these are unconditional as well as unlimited. So you will not need to show any warranty cards, or purchase receipts, no questions will be asked as to what caused the damage. If it’s broken, you will get a working one without any additional cost.
This is one of the best after-sales services and warranty we’ve ever seen in any binoculars. A lifetime warranty has you covered so don’t restrain from taking your pair of binoculars to the rainforest, or the extremely high mountain ranges in fear of something breaking. Live your life to the fullest.
Our Verdict and Recommendation
Viper HD by Vortex is affordable binoculars that provide phenomenal and stunning images. It comes with an average field of view suitable for bird viewing, hunting, sightseeing, wildlife observation, and similar purposes. We found no defects with the strongly built chassis.
The high-density lens provided us with very sharp and bright almost crystal-clear images as Vortex advertised. The overall optics quality is very good. It comes with well-designed eyecups and a rain cover.
It comes with a soft case, comfortable neck strap, lens cleaning cloth that we mentioned earlier, and an instruction manual. The build quality is backed by Vortex’s VIP no question asked Lifetime Warranty. So if you need a quality binocular, we feel extremely confident in suggesting the Viper HD series.
You can purchase Viper HD Binoculars from Amazon.com.