Using binoculars in the rain presents some challenges, like water droplets on your lenses. There are some practical ways to keep your lenses clear of raindrops and make sure your view stays unimpeded.
If your bird-watching binoculars are waterproof and fogproof, their sealed interiors should withstand wet weather without any problems. Even if the binoculars are fully equipped to deal with the rain, it is still important to treat them carefully once they have gotten wet.
What do I do if my binoculars get wet?
First of all try giving the binoculars a good shake. If they are well sealed and coated, most of the excess water should just fly off.
Avoid wiping the lens more than you absolutely have to. It’s better to take precautions to prevent water from landing on your binoculars in the first place.
Try to position yourself under a tree with thick foliage, near the trunk, to avoid drips. Umbrellas don’t scare birds but can make a big difference to your comfort and protect your binoculars too.
A wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap can help to stop the rain running off your forehand into the eyepieces.
One trick is to keep the strap on your binoculars short in wet weather. They are more likely to be sheltered under your umbrella or the brim of your hat.
How do you dry binoculars?
If you do need to wipe the lenses, do so very gently make sure the cloth that you use is a proper one for lenses. It needs to be an absorbent one. Anything else will just create smears across the glass.
Avoid using tissues or velvet cloths. These can damage the coatings on the surface of the lens.
Be very gentle when wiping the lens so as not to scratch it. The optical coatings on the glass are thin and delicate. They cannot be reapplied if they get damaged.
You may need a special case for the cloth itself, to keep it clean and dry.
It is worth having a separate clean cloth for the body of the binoculars, so that you can dry off their exterior after use.
Binoculars should always be stored in a cool dry place, avoiding anywhere too hot or dusty. It is best not to keep them in the case to avoid them getting moldy.
Protect the binoculars from the rain with a rainguard
A rainguard is a cover that can usually be attached to your binocular strap. When the binoculars are not in use, dangling from your neck, the rainguard hangs over them.
It will protect the eyepieces of your binoculars. A well-fitting rain guard will improve birding in the rain experience by keeping the droplets off the lenses, improving your view.
Having a rainguard will save you from needing to keep drying off the lens. This is good because lenses will experience less friction from wiping, ultimately prolonging their life.
It’s useful even when the weather is dry, to protect your binoculars from dirt, pollen and picnic crumbs.
There are a variety of rainguards to choose from, from soft flexible rubber to a harder plastic casing.
They can fit very snugly onto the binoculars. Check that it is not so tight that it is difficult to take off or put on in a hurry.
If the rainguard fits too closely, it can create a suction effect with the binoculars, squeezing or compressing the eyepieces when you try to remove it.
Manufacturers design the rainguards in several ways. Some can be attached on only one side to the binocular strap, to make it quicker and more convenient to lift the binoculars to your eyes.
Some rainguards cover just the ocular lenses, which will be the uppermost surface exposed to the rain when the binoculars are around your neck. Rainguards that protect the ocular and the objective lenses are also available.
Shelter your binoculars as much as possible
Keep the binoculars sheltered from the rain as much as possible, even if you have a rainguard and the binoculars are waterproof and fogproof.
If the lenses do get wet, dry them carefully. When lenses are left to dry naturally, spots may form on the glass coatings.
If your binoculars are waterproof it is good to rinse them clean before drying them carefully.
How do you clean moisture out of a pair of foggy or cloudy binoculars?
Waterproof models should be sealed so effectively that they do not fog up.
However, if your binoculars do get fogged up on the inside, leave them in a warm, dry place. It is important to dry them out to prevent fungus growing inside.
Another option to dry them out is to seal the foggy binoculars in a plastic bag with a desiccant, like a little pouch of silica gel. The desiccant should absorb the moisture that has gathered on the lenses. Uncooked white rice can also work well.
In the event that you are not able to dry out the moisture inside, speak to the manufacturer.
Refer persistent fogging to the manufacturer
Manufacturers do not recommend attempting to dismantle the binoculars to clean them. Trying to remove any part might misalign optical components within the binoculars and do more damage than the condensation itself.
Don’t tamper with the lenses to try to dismantle them as it will break the seal that is supposed to keep them fogproof and waterproof. It may also make any warranty invalid.
When the binoculars are dry, store them with air circulating around them, rather than putting them away in a case.
For more information about how best to clean and care for binoculars, we offer this article > Maintenance and cleaning: how to care for binoculars