The Athlon Ares 8×42 : Is This The God of Binos? Let’s Find Out

Named after the Greek god of war the Ares line of binoculars from Athlon has enjoyed a good year. Recently, the 10x42 variant was named the best mid-range binocular of 2019. And while this puts it right up there with the best, I have always preferred the 8x42 variant. Not only is it significantly cheaper than its sibling it also maintains the features of its pricier brother. I have been using my Ares 8x42 for close to one year now, and here is what I think about it.

Who Is It For?

This is not an easy question to answer, given that this is not a binocular suited to a specific purpose. However, due to its close focus of 6.5ft, I would not recommend it for close range observations. It is best suited for viewing objects from long range.

Also, thanks to its impressive field of view of 426ft at 1000 yards it can be a great companion for hunters. For birdwatching, I reckon there are other models out there that do better for this purpose.

When it comes to weight, the Ares 8x42 is not the lightest and neither is it the heaviest. In its price range, there are others that weigh more and others that weigh less. Notably, the Vortex Razor HD 8x42 is significantly lighter.

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Construction

Athlon opted for a fairly common design for the Ares binoculars. Both the 8x42 and 10x42 variants feature the more common open bridge design. There are two separate hinges connecting the barrels. And between these two hinges is an open area.

What I love about the open area between the hinges is that it helps with grip. When traversing different terrain I can hold the binoculars with one hand freeing up the other. So while the design is not unique it is very practical, which is a plus in my book.

Similar to Athlon’s flagship model, the Cronus, both Ares variants feature a magnesium chassis. To me, magnesium looks more classy and elegant than the polycarbonate material used on other models.

A dark green exterior gives the binocular a premium look. More importantly, the exterior of the binocular is coated with a thick rubberized coating. This coating is thicker than the coating on other binoculars in the same price range.

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On either side of the two barrel is a diamond pattern imprinted on the rubberized armor. This diamond pattern really helps with grip.

Hunters will appreciate the dark green color that makes for good camouflage. To further enhance the binocular camouflage the exposed metal sections have a matt nonsmooth finish. The latter minimizes light reflection.

No modern binocular is worth purchasing if it is not waterproof. And being a modern binocular the 8x42 Ares is 100% waterproof. Athlon does not give any information on depth, but it can survive harsh weather conditions.

The inside of the binocular is fog-proof thanks to the barrels being argon purged. Argon gas and nitrogen gas are the two most common gases used to make binoculars fog proof.

One of the things I love about the Ares is the magnesium twist-up eyecups. Most binoculars feature plastic eyecups, which is annoying. Because let’s be honest the eye-cups are usually the first parts to get damaged after a knock or fall. Thus, Athlon’s use of magnesium eye-piece housing is a fresh of breath air.

I find the twist-eye cups on my Ares to be very good. In that, they feel very robust and turn smoothly without feeling loose. Also, they rested very securely on the maximum, minimum and mid-points. The eyecups have the typical thin and hard rubber covering them.

Optical Performance

A roof prism binocular at its core, the Ares 8x42 has optical features common in high-end binoculars. For starters, Athlon uses Extra-Dispersion or ED glass on the lenses. This glass is used to minimize color fringing.

The images appear clear and without any color distortions thanks to this glass. It is the same glass used on high-end optics such as the Swarovski.

Accurate color reproduction is also achieved thanks to the use of an ESP Dielectric Coating. This is another feature found in pricier optics. What this coating does is reflect more light to your eyes for a brighter and clear image.

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Bak-4 prisms are at the heart of the binocular’s optical performance. These prisms are known for their light reflection capabilities. In essence, they add to the brightness of the images as well as the image contrast. To prevent light refraction and glare, the prisms are phase corrected.

To round up its optical quality, all the lenses are fully multicoated for an impressive light transmission. Additionally, the lenses have an XPL coating on their surfaces. This coating protects against dirt, oil, and scratches.

Comparisons

When compared to other similarly priced optics, the Ares 8x42’s performance really shines. One of the biggest competitors of the Ares is the Vortex Razor HD. The two binos are almost evenly matched. However, the Ares 8x42 has a better field of view. The Vortex Razor HD’s field of view stands at 388 ft at 1000 yards compared to the Ares’ 426 ft field of view. However, the Razor HD makes up for its narrower field of view by being lighter. Weighing 24.2 ounces it is lighter than the Ares that weighs 29.0 ounces.

Despite its weight advantage, the Vortex Razor is significantly costlier than the Ares 8x42. Actually, in terms of price, the Razor HD is in the same range as the Ares 10x42. So, while I love Vortex binoculars, I will have to say that the Ares offers better value for money.

Another binocular that can be considered a competitor is the Celestron Nature DX 8x42. Though lighter than the Ares the Celestron is made from polycarbonate. The latter material cannot match the toughness and durability of magnesium. Thus the Ares is still a better binocular in terms of price to quality ratio.

PROS

  • Is available at a relatively affordable price tag
  • It is 100% waterproof
  • Has an impressively wide field of view
  • Has a long eye relief for glass wearers
  • Comes with fully multicoated optics

​CONS

  • It is heavier than other similarly priced binoculars
  • The close focus distance is not the best

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​Conclusion

​I have used both the Vortex Razor HD and the Ares 8x42 and I have to say, the Ares does hold its own against its pricier rival. With a wider field of view, the Ares is a great companion for hunting. In addition, priced at less than $500 it has features common in high-end and more expensive optics. In conclusion, the Ares 8x42 just like their Greek god namesake can withstand punishment and the average and even beyond average abuse.

Binoculars Guru
 

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