Alpen Wings ED Binoculars

alpen wings ed binocular

Review Highlights

  • Affordable ED glass binoculars
  • Great image brightness and contrast
  • Stylish double-hinge design

Full Review

In 2009, Alpen released the Wings binocular line. Wings binoculars are a significant departure from previous Alpen binoculars in two ways. First, they make use of a structural design that is becoming increasingly popular these days: the double-hinge or “open bridge” frame. Second, the Wings were the first ED glass binoculars down in the affordable price range of about $400. Alpen Wings binoculars also come in non-ED glass versions, though we won’t be reviewing those here. Alpen did a great job with the development of the Wings ED binoculars and we really like them.

Physical Properties

Alpen Wings ED are full-sized, 42-mm roof prism binoculars available in 8x and 10x magnifications. Wings binoculars are fairly compact at just 5.9 inches tall (with eyecups fully extended) and 4.9 inches wide across the barrels. Our postal scale measured the weight of the 8x42 at 24.2 oz without the objective lens caps on, while the 10x42 was a tad lighter at 23.7 oz. The objective lens caps add another 0.7 oz. Anything under 25 oz on a full-sized, 42-mm binocular is excellent. The barrels are covered in Alpen’s customary forest green rubber armoring, with the eyecups, hinges and focus knob providing black accents. As with most roof prism binoculars today, the Wings are completely sealed and nitrogen-purged to be waterproof, dust-proof and internally fog-proof. Eye relief on Wings ED binoculars is a comfortable 17 mm on the 8x model, but only 15 mm on the 10x version, which may be a bit short for some users who wear glasses.

Optical Properties

One of the first things to notice about the Wings ED binoculars is their startling clarity. Somehow, you just don’t expect this kind of brightness in a $400 binocular. It would be tempting to ascribe this just to the ED glass, but it’s more than that. Wings ED binoculars have fully multi-coated lenses and the prisms receive Alpen’s proprietary PXA™ phase-coating for superior resolution and better color fidelity. We found the image of the Wings ED binoculars to be completely color neutral, which, along with their excellent contrast, helps generate that clean, bright image. Comparison of Wings ED binoculars to non-ED binoculars in the same price range (and even a few that were more expensive) reveals that they are consistently brighter than the non-ED competition. Wings ED binoculars do show some edge effects or field curvature. This is particularly evident in the amount of pin-cushioning they show – the tendency for straight edges to bow inward at the outer edges of the field of view. There was some chromatic aberration visible, again primarily limited to the field edges, but not more than we would expect. Alpen lists the Wings ED binoculars as having a 393-foot field of view at 1000 yards on the 8x version, while the 10x model comes in at 330 feet. Relative to other 42-mm roof prism binoculars, this is a slightly above average field of view for a 10x and significantly above average for an 8x.


Wings ED binoculars have a broad central focus knob that is covered with strips of rubber armoring that improve the grip. The focusing action is smooth and easy without being loose. We measured the minimum close focus on the 8x model at about 7 feet, and about 7.5 feet on the 10x model. To get from minimum close focus to infinity takes about 1.7 turns of the focus knob, which is a bit longer than average for edge-to-edge. But part of this comes down to where you are in the range. Starting at the minimum close focus, it takes a ¼ turn to hit a focal distance of 8 feet, and another ¼ turn to hit 10 feet. Continuing this, you get to about a 20-foot focal distance at not quite one full turn. In other words, from 20 feet to infinity occurs in about 0.7 turns. Put another way, most of your nature viewing is going to occur in a distance range that is covered by relatively minimal focal adjustment, which is just how it should be.

alpen wings ed binocular len

Adjustable Features

The diopter adjustment mechanism on the Wings ED binoculars is very basic: a simple twist-ring located at the base of the right ocular lens. A white dot on the ring lines up with a raised vertical line in the rubber armoring to indicate the position for equal eyes. The ring also has a series of notches on either side of the white dot, which will help you remember the approximate correct position of any setting for unequal eyes, which is a nice little refinement. The eyecups adjust with a helical twist mechanism; counter clockwise to raise them and clockwise to lower them. There is one fully stable position between fully in and fully out. It’s simple, and elegantly efficient. Alpen Wings binoculars have an unusually broad interpupillary distance range of 54-73 mm. This means they will be comfortable for most people, especially those with narrower faces.

Rainguard and Lens Caps

The rainguard is made of soft black rubber and is comprised of two deep cups linked by a flexible bridge. It fits easily and snugly over the eyecups and doesn’t dislodge accidentally. There are brackets on each cup to thread the binocular strap through, with the left one being gapped so that it may be detached from the strap if one prefers. This is an excellent rainguard, completely functional without any major drawbacks in design. The objective lens covers are made of the same soft black rubber.

alpen wings ed binocular rainguard

These are tethered lens caps with the caps joined by a short linker to rings that fit over the barrels of the binocular. The caps themselves have a shallow groove running around the inside of the cap; the rim of the objective lens barrel fits tightly into the groove, which makes the cap stay on the binocular. It works quite well, with one slight flaw: Alpen made the ring that fits over the barrel too loose, with the result that the entire lens cap assembly can come off the binocular fairly easily. We presume they are working to fix this; in the meantime, Alpen is very good about shipping out replacement lens caps when they are lost.

Case and Strap

The soft case is kind of an interesting departure from usual, being a sort of clamshell design with a double-zipper closure. The case has its own cordura strap. Inside the case is a removable “holster” that can be used as a belt carrying case. The holster features an elastic snapping closure to secure the binocular inside it when it’s not in use. alpen wings ed binocular case The case is way larger than needed to hold just the binocular and holster, so it easily accommodates even a harness-type strap as well. The strap supplied with the Wings ED binoculars is Alpen’s “premium, wide” strap, a hybrid of cordura ligated to a stretchy, broad, foam-padded neck section with wide leather patches. This strap is more than comfortable enough to support the lightweight Wings EDs, but Alpen sells a harness-type strap separately for those who prefer it. Also included in the box with Wings ED binoculars is a soft lens cloth for use in cleaning the binocular.


Overall, we really enjoyed using the Alpen Wings ED binoculars. The minimal weight of the optic and its double-hinge design make it very comfortable to use. The image was bright and sharp. Focusing was smooth and precise. Most of the peripheral features were generally simple and functional, while some exceeded expectations. On the whole, Alpen Wings ED binoculars deliver a lot of performance at a relatively low price. We think the Wings will really take off (sorry!) for Alpen once the word gets out.

Unfortunately, Alpen closed their doors on March 1, 2018, so their binoculars are no longer available. Please contact us for our current recommendations in this price range.

Expert Reviews

Featured Reviews

GPO Passion HD 10x42 Binoculars
GPO's best birding binocular

Kowa TSN-883 Spotting Scope
Kowa's amazing 88-mm scopes redefine the top

Kowa TSN-99A Spotting Scopes
Kowa 88 now has a big brother

Swarovski NL Pure 10x42 Binoculars
Redefining image quality and ergonomics

Zeiss SFL 8x30 Binoculars
Zeiss high quality light weight binoculars

Zeiss Victory SF 8x32 Binoculars
Zeiss top quality mid-sized binos

Binoculars Reviews

Alpen Shasta Ridge Binoculars
Impressive quality, phase-coated, low-priced

Alpen Wings ED Binoculars
Stylish, double-hinge design binoculars

Barska Level ED Open Bridge Binoculars
Best Replacement for Eagle Optics Ranger

Brunton Eterna Binoculars
Brunton's redesigned full-sized Eternas

Celestron Granite ED Binoculars
Celestron's best nature-viewing binoculars

Fraser Optics S250 Image Stabilized Binoculars
Fraser Optics' top-rated IS Bino

Kenko 42-mm ultraVIEW ED Binoculars
Kenko's full-sized ED glass ultraVIEW binoculars

Kenko ultraVIEW EX Binoculars
Kenko's super-light 32-mm binoculars

Kowa BD42-XD Binoculars
Kowa's BD42 binos get better and less expensive

Kowa Genesis 33 Binoculars
Kowa's superb mid-sized HD glass binoculars

Kowa SV 32-mm Binoculars
Kowa's lightweight affordable binoculars

Kowa YF 30 Binoculars
Kowa's high-performance porro prism binoculars

Leica 10x42 Ultravid HD Binoculars
Leica's high quality all-around binoculars.

Leica Duovid Binoculars
Leica's dual magnification binoculars

Leica Trinovid Binoculars
Leica's first close focusing binoculars

Meopta 6.5x32 MeoPro Binoculars
3-ft close focus, high quality, low cost binoculars

Meopta MeoPro HD Binoculars
Meopta's Full-sized Price Performer

Minox Apo HG Binoculars
Minox’s superb binocular line, re-designed and improved

Nikon 42-mm Monarch M5 Binoculars
The world's most popular binoculars

Nikon EDG 42-mm Binoculars
Nikon's exciting, cutting edge binoculars

Nikon Premier Binoculars
Nikon's redesigned Premier binoculars

Pentax DCF BR Binoculars
Pentax's double-bridge 9x42 binoculars

Pentax DCF SP Binoculars
Pentax's excellent, mid-priced birding binoculars

Pentax Papilio Binoculars
Ultra close-focusing butterflying binoculars

Swarovski EL Swarovision Binoculars
Swarovski's innovative Swarovision binoculars

Swarovski SLC HD 42-mm Binoculars
Swarovski's HD version of an old favorite

Vanguard Endeavor ED Binoculars
Vanguard's economical ED glass binoculars

Vortex Razor HD Binoculars
Vortex's flagship HD binoculars

Vortex Viper HD 42-mm Binoculars
Vortex's HD-glass version of the Viper binoculars

Zeiss Terra ED Binoculars
Zeiss's inexpensive nature-watching binoculars

Zeiss Victory FL 42-mm Binoculars
Zeiss's beautiful old Victory binoculars

Zeiss Victory HT Binoculars
Zeiss's brightest binoculars ever

Zeiss Victory SF Binoculars Review
Zeiss's ergonomic masterpiece

Spotting Scope & Tripod Reviews

Zeiss Victory Harpia 95mm Spotting Scope
Zeiss's innovative wide angle spotting scope.

Brunton Eterna Mid-Sized Scope
Brunton’s affordable ED glass spotting scope

Gitzo Safari Traveler Tripod
Gitzo’s ultra-compact carbon fiber tripod

Kowa TSN-773 Spotting Scope
Kowa's excellent 77-mm scopes

Leica Apo-Televid Spotting Scope
Leica's spectacular 82-mm spotting scope

Nikon Monarch ED Fieldscopes
Nikon's mid-priced ED spotting scopes

Pentax PF-65ED II Scope
Pentax's compact and lightweight scope

Swarovski 65 HD Spotting Scopes
Swarovski's tremendous 65-mm spotting scope

Swarovski ATX/STX Modular Spotting Scopes
Swarovski’s revolutionary modular spotting scopes

Vortex Razor HD Scope
Vortex’s finest spotting scope to date

Zeiss 85-mm DiaScope
Zeiss's top quality spotting scope

Other Birding Product Reviews

Minox Minoscope MS 8x25
Minox's highly versatile macroscope

S4Gear LockDown Harness
S4Gear's next generation binocular harness

to top