The Maven CS.1 Spotting Scope is a compact, lightweight scope that extends your visibility beyond binoculars ensuring that you see detail at greater distances. Its light and condensed design gets the job done without taking up too much valuable space in your pack.
The older I get, the more I appreciate my surroundings. Likewise, I appreciate well-built equipment that helps me enjoy the outdoors to the fullest. Whether you are an experienced hiker, a birder with a life list, or an avid hunter, high-quality optics are a key part of the equation. Fortunately, the marketplace is full of great options. Today’s binoculars are amazingly bright, clear, and lightweight, however, for spotting and judging game animals, a spotting scope is a necessity.
Maven Outdoor Equipment Company based in Lander Wyoming began releasing products in 2014, with a ‘straight to consumer’ business model. This gives buyers a great benefit of skipping retail store markups and dealing directly with the company for sales and personalized customer service. A unique aspect of the Maven system is the ability for the customer to demo a selection of optics for up to 30 days. The ability to take them into the field and use them in various terrains and lighting conditions was extremely helpful for me in gaining a full appreciation of their construction and quality. This was far more helpful than trying to judge them at the optics counter of an artificially lit retail store or from a stock image online. For this review, Maven allowed me to demo the CS.1 15-45x65mm Spotting Scope.
Full-sized, American and European spotting scopes are often high quality, but are generally heavy and often frightfully expensive. In the mountainous West where I reside, there is enough high country to explore that I could justify the cost because it’s easier to let my eyes do the extensive walking (and save my finicky knees). There are parts of the country however, where the visibility and terrain are more finite and extreme magnification may not be practical or needed. Enter the Maven CS.1 15-45x65mm Spotting Scope. This lightweight and affordable spotting scope is small in size and weight, but big on capability no matter where you roam.
Specs at a Glance:
- Magnification: 15x-45x
- Objective: 65mm
- Fully multi-coated
- ED Glass
- Waterproof & fog proof
- Scratch-resistant lens coating
- Prism type: Schmidt-Pechan prism
- Body: Magnesium/Aluminum
- Tripod Adaptable
- Linear Field of view: 174ft for 15x, 81ft for 45x
- Exit Pupil: 4.3mm – 1.4mm
- Eye Relief: 17mm
- Close Focus Distance: 12ft
- Length: 11.4 inches
- Weight: 40.4 oz.
- For complete specs visit the Maven product page.
The CS.1 features fully multi-coated lenses with extra-low dispersion (ED) glass. This premium glass is found in their flagship binocular line (see a review of Maven’s B-Series here) of optics and produces an exceptionally clear, bright, high-contrast image with vibrant color duplication and an impressive visual acuity in low light for its objective size. The CS.1 is waterproof, fog-proof, and features a scratch-resistant lens coating that adds to the durability of their design. Rubberized and textured zoom collar and focus ring make adjustments fast and easy, even when it’s cold and wet or when you’re wearing gloves.
The focusing mechanism is silky smooth with no slop, play or drag, aptly assisting to produce a bright and clear high-contrast image. The eyepiece is set at a 45° angle to the rest of the body with an adaptable tripod ring mount that can be adjusted to place your head in a comfortable viewing position whether you’re standing, sitting, or lying prone. To reduce weight, without sacrificing strength or durability, the body is made of Magnesium/Aluminum and is wrapped in a slip-resistant gray armor. Rounding out the package is a double-layered microfiber storage bag and slip-on caps to protect both the objective and eyepiece lenses.
My least favorite feature was the lens caps. They seemed to be on the shallow side and slipped on and off a little too easily, and as such, I would worry about losing them in the field. This would be especially true if I had a little adrenalin on board in the haste of pulling it out of a pack to view game animals.
Any optic over about 10x is pretty difficult to use effectively without some type of support—things just get too shaky at high magnifications. At the low end of the magnification range, this scope can be rested on a pack or supported by a trekking pole, but at 45x you really need something more solid. The easy answer is a full-size tripod, but even the lightest carbon-fiber models weigh as much or more than this Maven spotter which negates some of the weight savings of using this small scope. Small tabletop camera tripods are light and handy if you can find a rest high enough to use them comfortably. Perhaps a compromise to this problem is a lightweight monopod and ball head mount which could double as a trekking pole/shooting rest. I used the CS.1 side by side with a high-end full-size spotting scope comparing the image clarity, ease of focus, and speed of sight picture acquisition at identical magnifications. The Maven spotting scope held its own in each of these areas. In lower light settings, however, the full-size spotting scope had the advantage with its larger objective lens and its ability to gather the last whispers of daylight more efficiently.
Comparable Compact Spotting Scopes
|Make / Model||Lens Diameter||Weight||Price|
|Maven CS.1||15-45x65||40.4 oz||$650|
|Vortex Viper HD||15-45x65||59 oz||$1,049|
|Swarovski STS||20-60x65||47.3 oz||$2,268|
|Leupold SX-4 Pro Guide HD||15-45x65||62 oz||$1,039|
Whether you choose a compact or a full-sized spotting scope comes down to your individual needs. If you are embarking on a once in a lifetime hunt where the ability to judge game from a mile away may save hours or days of brutal travel, I would opt for a full-size spotter. However, if you are anything less in virtually any other pursuit, I’d save the weight and carry the Maven CS.1 15-45x65mm. At less than a foot long, this spotter is the ideal companion wherever you go to glass.
With a price of just $650, this is a lot of scope for the money, especially with Maven’s incredible unconditional lifetime warranty. If anything goes wrong with your optic for any reason, they will fix it, or replace it. Overall, I really liked this mid-range spotting scope and its ability to bridge the gap between binoculars and the cost and weight of “big glass”. I came to appreciate the size and weight savings and found that I could hike a little farther, and climb a little higher because of it. On a recent scouting trip for the upcoming archery hunt, this scope didn’t disappoint as I used it to spot elk feeding across a meadow in the early morning and bedded mule deer from across the canyon at midday. The Maven CS.1 15-45x65mm Spotting Scope strikes a great balance between quality, price, and utility—you may actually be able to afford to go hunting after buying it.
Disclosure: Maven loaned the author a scope for this review.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the affiliate links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and some sellers may contribute a small portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.