The Best New Gear for Birding this Fall

Birds are on the move. These products will help you keep up.

Settle in and watch migrants fly by with ease with Maven’s S.1 spotting scope ($2,100). The company, which sells directly to consumers, made a splash a couple of years ago with its high-quality binoculars with customizable exterior elements. Its first scope similarly features mix-and-match options for its sleek exterior and, with 25-50X magnification and a 80mm fluorite objective lens, excellent optics. It delivers great edge-to-edge clarity and crisp, bright images even in low-light conditions. It also comes with a lifetime warranty.

Take a load off in the field with the TravelChair Slacker tripod stool ($20). The small-but-mighty foldable chair weighs less than two pounds, supports 275 pounds, and is a breeze to carry over the shoulder thanks to an adjustable strap. The powder-coated steel legs are capped with duck feet for extra stability, and the ripstop polyester seat is both durable and remarkably comfortable.

The waterproof High Sierra Isles Jacket ($100) stands up to high winds and rainy conditions. The athletic fit is roomy enough to layer under, and the drop-tail hem offers good coverage. While perhaps not as breathable as more expensive jackets, the pit zips provide extra airflow if you work up a sweat while out searching for warblers on the move.

Mosquitoes aren’t just pests in summer—in many places they persist throughout much of the fall, too. From the Rocky Mountains to the California Coast, skeeters steered clear of testers wearing ExOfficio’s BugsAway Damselfly jacket ($80). The superlight, mostly mesh top, which features elastic at the wrists and draw cords at the hood and hem, is treated with the insect repellent permethrin; ExOfficio says it offers odorless protection for 70 washings.

Attending a hawkwatch is a great way to see normally solitary birds funnel past in large numbers. It can also mean hours of standing around in chilly conditions, waiting for raptors to appear. When the mercury drops, Therm-A-Rest’s Honcho Poncho ($130) provides waterproof, cozy protection that doubles as a blanket. As one tester put it: “It’s like wearing a sleeping bag.” The combination of high-performance polyester fill and breathable polyester RipStop shell provides a warm barrier that doesn't get clammy. 

Chances are there won’t be a café at your hawkwatch site, but keep fresh coffee or steaming-hot cocoa coming all day with MSR’s Winburner 1.8L stove ($150). With a boil time of less than five minutes, even when the wind is whipping, you may find yourself playing barista to your fellow birders.  

Toast the rare sighting of a Gyrfalcon or stave off a chill with a nip from Binocktail’s binoculars-shaped flask ($16). The faux optics come with a funnel, and the eyepieces unscrew to fill each of the 8-ounce barrels with your preferred beverage. Remember: Please bird responsibly.

Klean Kanteen’s Insulated Classic 20-ounce bottle ($31) has a wide mouth for easy drinking (loading up on ice is a breeze!), comes in a wide array of colors, and fits comfortably in the hand. Its double-wall vacuum insulation has kept our beverages the perfect temperature on our seven-hour outings; if you’re going out for longer, no worries—the company says it’ll keep hot beverages steaming for 20 hours, and cold ones chilled for 50 hours.