Anybody got experience with carrying a telescope on trips? I am looking for one that packs well and is somewhat rugged.

Celestron . . .
. . . makes/made some mirror lenses that are pretty small. I have a C90 that has a focal length of 1000mm. They made it with rubber armor at one time for hunters and bird watchers.

ETX 90
Have a look at the Meade ETX-90 . . . very portable and, at a dark site, you’ll see quite a bit . . . computer driven, too . . .

what mag?
What sort of magnification are you looking for? I presume you want it for star-gazing away from city lights, and I guess you want many 100’s of times magnification. However, if I’m wrong on the second point there, and if you have trouble finding a good astronomical telescope, I would note that spotting scopes seem to have gotten very cheap in recent years. They only go up 60-80X max, or less, but they’re fairly cheap, durable, easy-to-carry, and quite useful during the daytime also for looking at wildlife and distant terrain. I recently picked up a Barska 2-36X adjustable scope that’s not much bulkier than a big pair of binocs for less than $50.

I sometimes take a spotting scope.

– Last Updated: Mar-11-09 12:06 AM EST –

It's a Leopold 30 x 60 (that's thirty power with a 60 mm objective lens). It's pretty nice while being quite compact - about 13 or 14 inches long. I've used three different scopes of similar power over the years, and all were much cheaper, and all provided a truely crappy image. The low-light capability of a 30 x 60 scope is quite poor, no matter how good the optics are, and prices escalate sharply with the diameter of the objective lens, so low-light capability comes at a very steep price. Not knowing what your plans are, I don't know if that helps.

Orion ST80
Check the Orion ST80 (also known as the sky watcher ST80) This is a wide field short tube refractor, great for wide open views of star clusters and the like, not the greatest for planets due to the high chromatic abberation (bright objects will get a purple fringe around them). Still it is an excellent, inexpensive and rugged scope. Light enough to mount easily to a camera tripod or even a table top tripod and it packs easily into a small backpack. I love mine and have taken it on several trips.

The ETX90 or Orion 90mm Mak Cass are both great scopes (though I don’t trust the ext electronics in the backcountry) but the nature of those scopes make them excellent for lunar or planetary viewing, but not good for wide views. When I’m out there on a clear night, I find I just enjoy having the ST80 on an easy to use alt-az tripod, and just cruising around the sky.