Top Binoculars for Alaska & Antarctica Cruise: Leupold BX-2 Alpine HD Review

When we booked our trip to the Last Frontier, we knew we needed the best binoculars for Alaska to enhance our Arctic visit. Our desire was for two high-quality pairs at an affordable price that would last a lifetime.

Using them again and again, whether on our way to Antarctica, Iceland, the Galapagos, or beyond, has proven that these small but significant gadgets are a vital tool in elevating our experience. They assist in spotting wildlife from a distance by providing the necessary technology that brings us closer to the incredible surrounding nature. After all, the landscapes and wildlife in these regions are major reasons for going on the cruises in the first place.

The Leupold BX-2 Alpine HD binoculars were the winners and the top solution for our adventurous needs. We also got a pair of the BX-1 McKenzie HD binoculars, which we compare and contrast for you as well.

Disclosure: This page has affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you click the link and proceed with a purchase at no cost to you. We were sent these binoculars to test and review. We recommend products, cruises, experiences, and services we use. As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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Best pairs of binoculars to enhance your vacation excursions on cruise and land, with a picture a woman looking through binoculars.

Leupold Binoculars Features We Love 

Both Leupold binoculars — the BX-2 Alpine HD and BX-1 McKenzie HD — come with a carrying case, a lens cloth, an Owner’s Manual, and protective eye covers. These inclusions provide great value. 

Additionally, we love that the binoculars are easy to focus, are a good traveling weight, and provide excellent magnification at a phenomenal price.

They’re Waterproof and Fogproof

If there’s anything we quickly realized in Alaska, it’s that it rains a lot. Most people don’t realize that many of Alaska’s touristed areas are temperate rainforests. The constant precipitation was noticeable from Sitka to Ketchikan.

This is why you need a pair of waterproof binoculars. The Leupold Alpine and McKenzie binoculars are waterproof and fogproof!

Another advantage of the waterproof quality keeping your gear safe is that even if the glass fogs up on the barrels from your breath on the exterior, you can quickly wipe away the condensation. The water will not seep into the glass because the barrel casing and eyepieces are waterproof and fogproof, meaning the interior will not fog up. This is essential to ensuring the longevity of your binoculars. 

Travel Case that Doubles as a Holder While You Sightsee

Two binocular cases on a table with "Leupold" on the front.

The protective case that these Leupold binoculars for Alaska come with is awesome. You can wear it clipped to your body instead of around your neck. This is beneficial because if you lean forward, the binoculars don’t slam into anything in front of you. Instead, they’re safely harnessed to your body.

The case is easy to clip onto your body and has a feature that allows the Leupold binoculars to easily clip into the holder. This makes it easy to quickly pick up the binoculars and then let go as they safely stay on the harness close to your body. If you want to take them off the harness, like giving them to a fellow sightseer for a moment, you can easily unclip them and then reclip them when they’re returned to you. 

Both pairs come with the same case, which also has a side pocket, front pocket, and adjustable strap that clips the open/close flap of the case closed. 

If you don’t want to wear the case on you and want to travel with the case simply as a holder to protect your binoculars in your luggage as you travel to Antarctica, Alaska, or beyond, you can unclip all the straps attached to it and leave the case in your room. 

The Binoculars Come with Rubber Covers to Protect the Eyepieces

Two pairs of binoculars on a table to compare Leupold Alaska bincoular sizes.

The Leupold Alpine and Leupold McKenzie binoculars come with protective eyepieces to keep the glass safe when you’re not using them. We love that the end of the binoculars have easy-to-flip-off covers that you can open or close with one hand; they stay attached to the binoculars when you flip them open. 

Easy to Focus

Both are very easy to focus; it takes only seconds to do so. Both pairs focus in the same way.

How to Focus Your Leupold Binoculars 

First, you adjust the interpupillary distance, which is the distance between your eye pupils. If you have ever looked into a pair of binoculars that wasn’t adjusted for your pupil distance, you know exactly what happens: there is black around one of the “circles” in your eyesight that you can’t quite make out. It’s an easy fix, though — simply move the two barrels of the binoculars up or down until one circle comes into focus or your view. 

Man dressed in black looking through binoculars with greenery outside in the background.

After that, you turn the diopter, or ring, on the right eye to adjust the focus. Lastly, turn the center focus wheel on your Leupold binoculars to make things really crisp.

Leupold recommends setting the focus with one eye closed and then opening both eyes to ensure the object in the distance is sharp. Choose an object approximately 100 yards away when you focus your binoculars for the best results and adjust accordingly as you sightsee.

Leupold Binoculars Have a Lifetime Warranty

Leupold stands by their binoculars, and each pair has a lifetime warranty. The company states in the Owner’s Manual that if your binoculars don’t perform, they “will repair or replace it for free whether you’re the original owner or not — forever.”

This is the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee that you can take advantage of as the owner of a pair of their binoculars and go directly through them, the manufacturer. In other words, even if you buy them on Amazon, you don’t need to go through Amazon for any repairs. You go directly to Leupold. 

Leupold is an American Brand

Leupold is based in Oregon. That means you’ll be shipping your binoculars within the country if you have to mail them in for service. To Beavertown, Oregon, to be precise. 

Their Owner’s Manual also includes service shipping addresses for areas outside the US, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, New Caledonia, and South Africa. 

Don’t Share Binoculars – Travel with Your Own Pair

We recommend getting a pair of binoculars for everyone in your travel party. We were so glad we each had our own in Alaska, for example, during our Alaskan Dream Cruises vacation, because it meant we were both able to look for wildlife at the same time as we sailed.

This is especially important when spotting birds or whales. A whale could be breaching one moment and gone the next, and there isn’t time to share one pair amongst the two of you. We’re talking mere seconds, making the difference in seeing the wildlife up close or not if you’re holding your own pair of binoculars!

You’ll be grateful for your own pair and that you don’t have to share in instances like this, where every moment counts.

Man with binoculars looking out to the sea from the deck of an Alaskan Dream Cruises small ship.

Leupold BX-2 Alpine HD Binoculars vs. Leupold BX-1 McKenzie HD Binoculars

Two pairs of binoculars flat on a table to compare Leupold Alaska bincoular sizes.

Both Leupold travel binoculars are awesome. However, the Leupold BX-2 Alpine HD binoculars are slightly better than the Leupold BX-1 McKenzie HD binoculars. This is reflected in the minimal price difference.

But what exactly makes one better than the other? We break down the main differences and highlight the similarities below so you can decide which pair is right for your travels and cruises.

The Main Differences Between the Leupold Alpine and Leupold McKenzie Binoculars

Sharpness

The Leupold Alpine binoculars are ever-so-slightly sharper than the Leupold McKenzie binoculars. Both are high definition (HD) with a 10x range and 42” diameter glass (10×42).

It’s so slight, however, that if we weren’t holding one and switching it with the other within seconds, you would never notice the difference. But if you happen to switch between the two as we did because we own both pair, you notice a small difference. 

Pricepoint of Leupold Alpine Binoculars for Alaska, Antarctica, or Iceland vs. McKenzie Binoculars

Leupold BX-2 Alpine HD Binoculars, 10x42mm, are between $225-$250, but we’ve seen them most readily at $230. The McKenzie Binoculars are $170.

Size and Weight

We like the 10×42 metrics because they provide great magnification while maintaining great dimensions to remain a travel-friendly size. The size and weight of both pairs is the same.

Optics

Both pairs of Leupold binoculars have great optics. The lenses are multi-coated for the best clarity, contrast, color, and brightness. Leupold uses a BAK 4 Prism high-quality glass that provides virtually no edge distortion. It also accounts for a crisper, clearer image than its competitors’ binoculars can provide, many of whom use an inferior BAK 7 Prism glass.

Which Pair to Buy and Where to Buy Them 

If you have the money, go for the Alpine. If your budget is smaller, opt for the McKenzie. You will love either pair, but for $60 more, get yourself the sharpest of the sharp with Leopold’s Alpine binoculars. That said, you’ll be thankful you own any pair of Leupold binoculars once you see firsthand how much they truly enhance nature-watching during your vacation.

We found our binoculars on Amazon

Couple on the bow of a cruise ship in Alaska with a glacier behind them and binoculars around their necks.

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