When looking for the best monoculars, you can get lost amongst the pricey options with companies like Zeiss offering premium optical claims for eyewatering prices. However, there are an increasing number of companies that are offering high-quality monoculars for more realistic prices.
Hawke has a wide range of optics products including some of the best binoculars and best spotting scopes around, but it also offers a range of quality monoculars separated into its slightly more premium Endurance line and its more affordable everyday Nature Trek product line.
The monocular we are looking at today is the Hawke Nature Trek 8x25 monocular, which is the most affordable monocular Hawke makes, but how does it stack up in an increasingly competitive field?
Objective lens diameter: 25mm
Field of view at 100m: 119m
Closest focusing distance: 5 meters
Eye relief: 13mm
Exit Pupil: 3.1mm
Dimensions: 105mm x 30mm
The Hawke Nature Trek 8x25, has an 8x magnification, which will this is not the closest magnification in a monocular of this size, but it is hovering around the limit of what most people are able to hold steady handheld without the assistance of a tripod.
The monocualr has a objective lens diameter of 25mm, which provides a clear image and allows the monocular to stay small and compact, but does affect its light gathering ability as well as the field of view being smaller than other larger monoculars.
The Nature Trek is also nitrogen purged and fog proof, ensuring it can be taken out from warm to cold temperatures without fogging, or getting condensation from your breath or body heat. The monoular is also waterproof and backed up by the Hawke No-Fault Lifetime Warranty for piece of mind.
The Hawke Nature Trek is built using high resolution BAK-4 roof prisms, as well as multi-coated optics for sharper images with less flare, ghosting and abberations. The monocular is also capable of focusing down as close as five meters which makes this great for small garden bird watchers.
It also features a twist eye cup with position stops for eye relief and 'stay-on' lens covers to protect the front lens element and rear eyepiece from damage and dirt.
Build & Handling
The Hawke Nature Trek series' textured and rubberised finish is really nice to hold, it is really grippy and feels like it would survive a drop or being carelessly thrown into a fully loaded gear bag. I prefer this finish to metal bodied monoculars that command a more premium price tag as the rubbery Hawke model feels more outdoorsy, more rough and ready, I don't want to be preociped with maintaining my monocular's cosmetic condition.
Attaching the lens cover to the body is a neat feature, and saves you losing the cap, the caps are easy to attach and remove in a flash while fitting so snugly, you can be confident they won't fall off.
The focus wheel is a little tight, if it hasn't been turned for a while, it seems to get sort of stuck, and requires a very firm initial twist to losen it up, after this is then flows quite smoothly. It is possible to focus one handed, although I found it much easier to steady the monocular with a second hand while focusing.
The optics in the Hawke Nature Trek 8x25 are very good for the price, I was very impressed by the overall sharpness and clarity of the image. The sharpness is excellent in the very centre, but does fall of heavily around the edges, which is fairly noticeable on a small 25mm lens diameter. Color fringing in the centre is very well controlled, although again, not so much around the edges, with a lot of purple fringing in the highlights.
The nitrogen purged inner chamber works really well at stopping the lens from fogging up, I have taken it out on quite a few cold British winter morings and neither my breath or jumping in between cold and hot places has steamed up the glass.
For the casual bird watcher or nature lover, the Hawke Nature Trek 8x25 offers some of the absolute best value for money. With with a clear and sharp picture with minimal fringing, it defies its low price tag. The Nature Trek is very light and robust with a textured grippy body, that looks both outdoorsy and stylish, as well as being nitrogen purged to avoid fogging and waterproof.
While the 25mm objective lens diameter isn't the largest, and you won't get the widest field of view it does keep the size and weight of the Nature Trek 8x25 very manageable. At 8x magnification, it is easy to hold steady. If you want a larger diameter, Hawke also makes the Nature Trek 8x42.
The Hawke Nature Trek 8x25 is the perfect companion to throw in a pocket or bag for any spotting situation that arises.
If you are interested in finding out more about monoculars, you can read more in our guide about the best monoculars to suit your needs. If you like the style of monoculars but want something more powerful, you might be interested in the best spotting scopes. Or if you prefer to engage both eyes, check out our guide to the best binoculars.