leica Noctivid 8x42 binoculars
Leica Noctivid 8x42 binocular. Leica

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There’s a backstory to this product: Last year, Leica sent us their new Noctivid 8×42 for our annual optics test. And it was a stunner. After days of testing and tallying scores, our team gave the Noctivid perfect marks in image quality, resolution, build quality, and ergonomics—and we don’t give perfect scores lightly.

When you bring this binocular to your eyes, the world just looks like a better place. They’re that good.

But there was problem. To our surprise, the binocular fell down in our weather-resistance testing, showing condensation inside the right barrel. It’s a tough test that involves fully submerging the binoculars in water for hours on end and several long trips into the deep freezer. But still, we had an issue. Leica said that the result was highly unusual and would be covered under warranty. But, of course, we had to ding it in our scoring, and the binocular that would have won the test took second instead.

Leica accepted the result graciously. But apparently the idea of producing even a single unit that was short of perfection didn’t sit well with them, because soon after our test, they sent me another Noctivid and basically said: Do whatever you want to it.

So, I spent part of this past summer doing just that. By and large, I used the $2,700 binocular as a pool toy for the kids, throwing it into the depths and letting them dive for it. We routinely left it sitting on the bottom of the 13-foot deep end for hours at a time. When the Noctivid wasn’t in the pool, it was in the freezer, between packages of deer and pronghorn steaks. And so it went for days—from the freezer, to the summer heat, to the bottom of the pool, over and again.

After all that, I hunted with the binocular through the first part of this fall, and today I’m reluctantly packing up the optic to send back to Leica, as the consignment period has ended. They are as good as new—perfectly unaffected by my over-the-top weather testing and still just stunning to look through. And unless you’re going to be hunting at the bottom of a lake (and maybe even if you are), you can count on them to handle whatever weather comes.