Bike and Bird with the Nocs Provisions Zoom Tube
Last month in a survey we asked what the best wildlife you’ve seen while on a ride and we had a lot of awesome responses, from turkey vultures, to golden eagles, and Siberian elk and wild burros. One of the best things about mountain bikes is that they take you farther into nature and with that comes the opportunity to see creatures you normally don't.
It's always exciting to see wild animals, but unfortunately nature isn't a petting zoo. You can only get so close until animals are spooked and dart away from you. Over the past few weeks though, I’ve added a tool to my arsenal that helps get a stronger eye on animals without having to get much closer: the Nocs Provisions Zoom Tube, a fun and quality monocular with a killer price tag.
The Zoom Tube weighs about 245g according to our scale. It is IPX4 water resistance rated, meaning it's good for some splashes, like rain, but that's about it. The monocular has a 1/4″ threaded tripod adapter also, so you can throw it onto a monopod or to Nocs’ Capture Clip and mount it onto a backpack strap.
The Zoom Tube has an 8x zoom, is about 5″ long, 2.72″ tall, and almost 2″ wide. It has a twisting eye piece to make it easier to use with glasses.
I first had the chance to check out the Zoom Tube at Sea Otter and peered out at some peers from quite a distance. The brand was kind enough to send one out to me to try out some more. I’ve been packing it on outings this spring and I’ve been pretty impressed with the little gadget. Coincidentally, a friend started posting his bird pictures from rides on Strava lately (not from a Zoom Tube) and I assume more are out there.
So far, I’ve spotted some roosting turkey vultures, a lot of hawks, and a few other birds. Like I mentioned above, it's hard to get close to a lot of animals, especially birds, so it's been fun to whip this out and take a minute to be more curious about nature.
Ergonomics on the tube are great and your hand finds its position pretty naturally. The rubberized and textured outer makes it easy to hold up with one hand and find a sharp focus with the dial on top. Time is the greatest adversary in using this since the moments between first spotting an animal, finding a good spot to view, and focusing in can slip by quickly before they move on–but the shape and ease of focus of the Zoom Tube are there to help.
Accessories for carrying the Zoom Tube could be better though. It comes with a soft pouch, similar to what you’d get for a pair of glasses and a fine first line of defense against dust and the elements. Nocs partnered with Peak Design on the Capture Clip too, making use of the quarter-inch adapter to mount on a backpack strap, though the mount costs just as much as the Zoom Tube and they are sold out. Ideally, I’d like a sturdy canvas pouch that could be buttoned to a hip pack or another strap, and these are available online, just not specifically for the Zoom Tube. Surprisingly, Nocs doesn't sell pouches for any of its optics, though a pouch would be a great compromise for protection and accessibility.
Nocs does sell a fun microscope attachment, so you can see your sealant creatures from inside your tires up close when you remove them. Using the Zoom Tube with your phone takes some patience and positioning without their $27 phone adapter, but it can be done. My wife also found you can take just the attachment without the full monocular and put it up to your camera phone for some pretty stellar results.
A month or two before I got ahold of the Zoom Tube, I bought a cheaper monocular from Amazon for less than a third of the price of the Zoom Tube, and like most of the time, you get what you pay for. The caveat though is that the Zoom Tube's glass and the overall quality is excellent for the $75 asking price and compared to pricier optics out there.
I realize this is a pretty niche product for mountain bikers and a smaller segment of riders are going to be interested in something like this, but if you’re into nature-snooping while you’re riding and want a decent monocular, the Zoom Tube and its glass, ergonomics, and colors lend to a fun piece of equipment to take on your next ride.