Man, is this review of Maven’s B.1 binocular overdue. It was originally planned for December 2020 after a trip to Mozambique…and then there was some crap about a virus. The folks at Maven allowed me to hold onto the binocular until I ended up in Mozambique on Safari in 2021. This review is based on the performance of the B.1 on two separate trips with Zambeze Delta Safaris, one in May/June and the other just returned from in July/August.
I reviewed a riflescope from Maven in September of last year. I’ll refer you to that review for a bit more information on the company’s history and business model. In a nutshell:
1) Company founded in 2014.
2) They sell only from their website, direct to the customer.
3) A potential customer can handle Maven’s products before buying.
4) Maven provides an unconditional lifetime warranty for optics that are likely to get tough usage, especially for hunting applications.
My wife Frances and I used the B.1 on both safaris. Applications included, game spotting, bird watching and even, scouting areas for filming TEDx talks (sometimes it helps to look at locations from a ways away).
The settings included helicopters, Land Cruisers and on foot, stalking animals. Light conditions ranged from full-sunlight in open pans and floodplains to dense, nearly dark sand forests. Distances ranged from bayonet when hunting Blue Duikers, Red Duikers and Sunis in the sand forests, to 450+ yards when studying Sables, Waterbucks, and Cape Buffalo across pans and floodplains.
I also asked several professional hunters and biologists to use the B.1 binocular and give me feedback.
Maven’s Custom Builder
Maven asked, “Would you be interested in showing and explaining the process of ordering through the custom builder in conjunction with your review? We’re hoping to show people it’s pretty easy to order through the custom builder and get a fully custom one-of-a-kind bino with great glass.”
Before I agreed to describe how this process works, I tried it. It’s straightforward. Many of the choices made are cosmetic, but they are all important, especially if you are designing a binocular that you want to use for hunting.
In other words, colors of the various components need to be muted to avoid sharp-eyed game. The same applies if you are an avid birder and don’t want to scare some life-lister away. On the other hand, the Custom Build process provides the opportunity to go as eccentric as you want with the color combinations if your applications allow.
Step 1. The first screen you encounter when you log onto the Custom Optics Builder site gives you the option to choose Stock or Custom build. If you choose stock, several options appear that are in-stock and ready to ship.
Step 2. Choose the binocular Frame (constructed from Magnesium). Frames run from ‘Compact’ to ‘Full-size Large’. I chose Full-Size Standard to cut down on the weight for longer tracking hunts.
Step 3. The next screen allows the options for magnification – in this case 8×42 (my choice) and 10×42 (for an extra $50). Again, I chose 8×42, balancing applications and weight.
Step 4. Choose the pattern/color of the so-called Body Armor.
There are quite a few options – including various Camouflage. I dismissed some (like that in the following photo) for being too bright for an African ‘bush’ landscape.
I settled on a darker camo pattern that looked like it would work whether out in open marshes or darkened forest habitats.
Step 5. I immediately rejected the standard white neck strap rings . . .
and opted for grey.
Step 6. I changed the focus wheel color from white to a dull red…you gotta have some color if you’re designing your binos from scratch.
Step 7. The back wheel of the focus ring went from white to green.
Step 8. I played around a bit with the ocular ring colors . . .
but finally opted for not adding too much color, settling on green.
This is what an animal would see with the binocular hanging on my chest.
Steps 9 and 10. The Tripod Hinge cap color chosen was red,
and the Maven logo plates on both the Tripod Cap and the frame went from White to Grey.
Step 11. Build time – if you want your custom binocular ready to ship within two weeks it will cost you an extra $50. I’m Type-A and would choose that, but to each his own.
Step 12. Custom Engraving. I opted for this with my choice being ‘Mike Arnold Super-Hunter’. For some strange reason, since the review binos belonged to Maven, they demurred on this selection.
Step 13. Review the final product design.
Arrival and Features
Though it may seem trivial, I appreciated that the B.1 arrived in a very sturdy box enclosing the binocular inside a thick fabric bag cushioned by foam. We knew we’d be putting the B.1 through some strenuous testing, but I didn’t want the shipping company to have a first go at them.
As mentioned, I chose the less-powerful, and lighter, 8×42 model.
The B.1 came with standard lens covers. I wish the top covers had attachments like the bottom for when we had rain, but if they had, the covers would likely have gotten in the way when focusing.
Simply rotating the diopter adjustment extends them to accommodate those, like me, who wear glasses.
The final set-up for our Safaris shows the B.1 connected to my binocular harness and with my custom-built .35 Whelen Improved. This was the rig used to track and then take a Cape Buffalo in Mozambique.
Both our safaris occurred in the Zambeze delta of Mozambique. Habitat varied from Miombo woodlands with speckled sunlight, to the deep darkness of Sand forests inhabited by tiny Suni Antelopes, Red Duikers and Blue Duikers.
We used the B.1 to search for animals weighing half a ton or more across hundreds of yards of open floodplain . . .
to the tiny antelope in dark surroundings that turned them into nearly invisible black blobs standing in dense undergrowth.
The weight of the 8×42 B.1 was negligible, whether suspended from my harness . . .
or on a bracket Frances wore on her hip with her video and camera gear set-up.
We both found the edge-to-edge clarity impressive. I mentioned this in my review of the Maven riflescope as well. I’ll repeat that I am not certain why the clarity here is noticably better than other optics. This includes a number of brands I have purchased. But, the B.1 is incredibly bright and clear.
I asked several PHs, our outfitter and a few resident biologists to try out the B.1, too. I didn’t suggest that I thought the binocular was either good or bad, I just mentioned that I was reviewing them.
Their comments were unanimous. They ranged from several who stated flatly, “These are the clearest, sharpest images I’ve seen through optics” to one of the biologists who looked at me and asked “How much do these cost, I need to buy a pair.” They really are that impressive.
Specifications: Maven B.1 Binoculars
Ratings (out of five stars):
Glass * * * * *
As stated several times in the review, the quality of glass in the B.1 surprised not only Frances and me, but also professionals who spend their lives looking through optics at animals under all sorts of light conditions.
Durability * * * * *
Maven allowed us to take the B.1 to Mozambique on two Safaris. We crawled with them, scraped them along the ground, banged them into trees, dragged them through thorn thickets and more. We also carried them in over 20 high-altitude, commercial flights where they experienced pressure changes. Maven advertises them as waterproof and fogproof and they never failed in their performance.
Utility: * * * * *
We used the B.1 for a range of applications in a lot of environments. We were in Mozambique for hunting animals in dark, sand forests and open pans and floodplains. The binocular worked equally well in all these settings and lighting conditions. We also used them on multiple birding outings, looking at species at close range measuring only a few inches in height, to watching several types of scavengers circling a hundred feet or more overhead. The B.1 binocular always allowed us to see details of plumage and shape necessary for identification.
Overall * * * * *
These are the clearest optics I’ve ever used. I LOVE my Vortex Fury Binocular/Rangefinder (see TTAG review) and will continue to carry them. But, the Maven B.1 binocular produces a higher level clarity when I compare them side-by-side. I agree with the biologist who said they needed to buy a B.1. Once we returned, we did just that and bought the B.1 we carried on the two safaris.
Mike Arnold writes for a number of outlets; you can find links to other articles here.
[All photos courtesy of Frances and Mike Arnold.]