If any of you out there spend any significant time with young children, you are probably familiar with the YouTube phenomenon of “unboxing.” For some reason, it is a trend right now to post videos of a child or a pair of disembodied adult hands unwrapping elaborately packaged toys in which layers and layers of plastic and paper are peeled off to finally get to the item inside. I’ve watched my kids glue themselves to these videos, mesmerized by the process and packaging.
And it’s not unique to kids either. Instagram is full of adult women who have recorded themselves opening up a subscription box of health and beauty items, or clothing and accessories, sharing each item one by one with accompanying oohs and ahhs along the way.
This is not my thing. I don’t watch these videos, and I would never post something like this… except, well, I think I’m about to…
Let’s back up to last spring. I had made up my mind that I was going to buy my first pair of Swarovski binoculars, and they were going to be my first pair of 8x32s as well. Some of my closest birder people swear by 32s, and I’d had the opportunity to test-drive a Swaro EL 8×32 at one of our Redstart on the Road events. I was immediately hooked on the lighter weight and smaller size, very appealing for long days in the field. (And of course the Swarovision—swoon!)
But THEN, Swarovski announced they were adding 8x32s to their line of NL Pures, their latest and most certainly greatest model of bins, the crème de la crème of birding optics. I had thought owning an NL Pure was a distant dream, but the smaller, lighter 8x32s were at a price point I could work with. I decided to go for it.
As is the case with many optics throughout the industry right now, there was an immediate backorder on the new Pures. I placed my order and then tried to put it out of my mind for the next 6–8 weeks while I waited. Then one day I got a text alert… a FedEx package was coming the next day from Rhode Island, home of Swarovski Optik North America!
First thing in the morning, I heard a knock on the door and went running to answer it. I’m sure I looked a little delirious in my robe and bedhead smiling at the FedEx man as I excitedly said, “I know what this is!” He had seen who the sender was and asked, “Is it crystals?”
“No! It’s binoculars! Very awesome binoculars! I’m a bird watcher!”
(This is not my usual pre-caffeine morning demeaner, I swear.)
He blinked at me and then told me to have a nice day and went on his way. I was already halfway up the stairs and headed to my balcony to begin my unboxing.
I’m not sure what I expected, but of course a premier optics company is going to have premier packaging. To start, I opened the shipping box to find this swanky “Swaro green” sleeve stamped with the company logo hugging the actual shoebox-sized container holding the binoculars.
I slid off the sleeve to reveal the pure white (see what I did there?) box with the Swarovski eagle emblem embossed in the center. (Hard to see in my pic, but it’s there, and it’s classy!)
I lifted the lid of the box to find a stunning craggy mountaintop scene, complete with a soaring raptor, a view of what I assume is the Austrian Alps, as Swarovski’s world headquarters are located in western Austria.
The binoculars themselves were secured in their sturdy case, also Swaro green and embossed with the familiar eagle logo, and stamped inside with “FABRICS MADE OF 100% RECYCLED PET” (polyethylene terephthalate,the most common plastic in the world) and their clever brand hashtag, #fortheloveofnature. This company definitely has its branding down to a science.
At this point, I simply couldn’t wait to get that glass up against my face, and I pulled out the Pures and gave them a whirl. I’m not going to lie, I LOOOOOOOVE how these bins feel in the hand. There simply is no other pair of binoculars on the market that are so perfectly ergonomically designed for your hands to wrap around so comfortably. I keep telling everyone, “They’re like buttah!” I’ve watched numerous Redstart customers’ faces light up just from gripping their hands around the indented barrel, before they even get to look through the glass.
As you raise the bins to your eyes, they smoothly and almost imperceptibly tip toward your face. The eyepieces have five settings to find the perfect fit for your eyes. As a morning glasses wearer and rest-of-the-day contact wearer, I appreciate how easily they click between the settings as my needs change.
And then there’s the famed Swarovision glass—field-flattener lenses, delivering an edge-to-edge distortion-free image, and the widest field of view in the industry. With 92% light transmission and Swaro’s proprietary lens coatings ensuring incomparable color rendering, you’re going to see every detail as clearly and cleanly as possible. In particular, I’ve been impressed with how these bins light up my view during my dawn and dusk birding, which I do almost daily from my balcony.
I’m also a big fan of the smooth focus wheel, as I shift my attention between my feeders 25 feet in front of me up to the more distant treetops of my backyard neighbor. And I can quickly slide the wheel in to 6.56 feet when a butterfly or a coveted hummingbird moth comes near.
I’ve spent the summer birding with my NL Pures, and I am completely satisfied with my purchase, with both the upgrade in comfort in my hands and less weight around my neck, and of course the unparalleled crisp views of whatever critter I’ve got my sights on. They were definitely worth the wait, and the exquisite packaging certainly mirrored the quality of its contents.
So, all this to say, I guess maybe I get the unboxing thing a little… the anticipation of laying eyes on what’s inside, appreciating each thoughtfully designed layer as you get a bit closer to the coveted prize, the thrill of holding that prize for the first time and turning it over in your hands to take it all in… Yeah, I think I get it.
About the Author
Jessica Vaughan is Assistant Editor for Bird Watcher's Digest and Watching Backyard Birds. She is the mother of four young birders and lives in Columbus, Ohio.