Are you ready to go bigger and better?
The SkyWatcher FlexTube 300P is in a league of its own with its collapsible tube.
This 12” Dob gathers 44% more light than the 10” model, and with a larger aperture, the more you can see. With practice, you can resolve a ton of detail and see up to magnitude 14.9. High-performance is not only promised, it’s delivered.
Different to other truss models where rods must be removed or it has a lattice design, the FlexTube has optical assembly cells that collapse together and can be extended easily with metal support struts that are strong and stiff.
Save over a foot of space with the collapsible telescope collapsed!
SkyWatcher Flextube 300P Telescope Review
✔️ Best Feature: Collapsible tube
❌ Worst Feature: Collapsible tube
👌 Ideal For: Celestial Viewing, Stargazing, Lunar & Planetary Observation, DSO Viewing, Limited Astrophotography, Beginners, Intermediates, Experts
- Optical Design: Reflector
- Aperture: 305 mm (12”)
- Focal Length: 1500 mm
- Focal Ratio: f/4.9
- Eyepieces Included: 25 mm, 10 mm
My Verdict: If you want to keep things simple with a large aperture, easier transportation, and easy collimation, in my opinion the FlexTube Dobsonian telescope is a no-brainer buy. Get more out of your stargazing parties and observation sessions with a huge 12” scope!
Who is the SkyWatcher FlexTube 300P Best Suited to?
The FlexTube 300P collapsible Dobsonian is an excellent reflector telescope and can be used by buyers of any skill level. Because of its large aperture on a Newtonian optical design, I feel it offers some of the best value in the market when comparing refractors and even reflectors on EQ mounts. Granted, it’s heavier and bulkier, but I think its heft will quickly be forgotten by those who have aperture fever.
Beginners will appreciate the large 12” aperture and the value. Ease of use is also another benefit as it has a simple Dobsonian mount, and this model lacks the SynScan feature that makes it GoTo. Intermediates and experts eyeing this buy will enjoy the fantastic views from the FlexTube – and of course, the value. For these reasons it features as one of the top telescopes on our best telescopes on the market page.
How Does the SkyWatcher FlexTube 300P Perform?
The SkyWatcher collapsible Dobsonian offers wow-factor views. What you struggle to see with a 10” Dob will be seen brighter with better resolving power.
You’ll be able to see deep-sky greats like seeing each component of the Double Double, double stars and even their ring patterns of Zeta Bootis, the spiral arms of the Whirlpool Galaxy and the starblast galaxy, M61, of the Virgo Cluster, and so much, much more.
Its hard to find a disappointed buyer of the FlexTube 300P and it’s not by luck. Their FlexTube series, both non-GoTo and GoTo are hit buys for value and performance. Its fast optics mean it will greatly benefit from a high-quality Barlow lens, and the stunning views will have you planning stargazing parties every weekend!
Features & Benefits
The collapsible tube of the FlexTube 300P is a very convenient feature that allows for a more compact telescope for transportation and storage. Fully extended, the struts and tubes provide a total length of 55”. Retracted, the tube collapses down to 36” which saves over a foot of space. I think you’ll appreciate this feature when you plan to haul it in the car, and 36” is much easier to work with than 55”.
When retracted, the two tube assemblies are stacked together. To extend it, you loosen the clamps and pull out the upper tube to its full height where the three sliding metal struts are exposed. Lock down the clamps and everything is secure.
Even though the large 12” Dob doesn’t have a cooling fan, it has an open optical assembly, and I think to get the best performance, you should get it set up half an hour before use so it has time to adjust.
Like a true Dobsonian, it has a very heavy base with Alt-azimuth movement – easy and simple. Like a Dob mount, it has a laminate-covered melamine base. It’s not weatherproof, and this is usually the source of very rare complaints. But, the good thing is a base can always be rebuilt and replaced.
The mount does without ball bearings in the azimuth position. Instead, it has three Teflon pads that provide smooth movement and compliment the altitude bearing system nicely for reliable dual axis motions. There are no glued parts on the mount. There are nuts that are bonded onto the base and the side boards are attached via handled knobs (fastening bolts) that thread into them.
As you can imagine, a huge 12” Dobsonian isn’t going to be the most convenient piece to transport as it’s bulkier and heavier than it’s smaller counterparts. But, it offers a whopping aperture that is extremely popular among experienced users due to its light gathering prowess that allows you to see the faintest DSOs in the sky with bright clarity.
Even though the OTA weighs 46.2 lbs with the accessories attached and the base weighs 38.3 lbs, users still say it’s a telescope setup worth transporting. And, why not with that big aperture? Since you also save quite a bit of space when the tube is collapsed, it can be conveniently laid down across the back seat of your vehicle and you’ll just need to find room for the base.
Of course, it’s not as portable as a small SCT (Schmidt-Cassegrain) or MAK (Maksutov-Cassegrain), but the views through the huge telescope make your transportation efforts worth it.
Note: I recommend you have another person to help mount the OTA to the base since you’ll need to hold it while another inserts the bolted handles.
This FlexTube is akin to a traditional Dob; the only difference is the collapsible tube. So, it’s not exactly made for astrophotography. Like a regular Dob, it has fast optics and no GoTo, so long exposures and tracking is not possible.
Even with GoTo, you must consider the type of azimuth mount it has. You’ll still need EQ movement to counteract for field rotation on point sources.
But, short exposures and imaging with a webcam style CCD or even your smartphone for amateur photos I think are possibilities.
A think a collapsible tube also has its downsides so it’s not all roses and sunshine. There are a few more pieces you’ll need to protect your OTA that includes additional dust caps for the upper assembly. You’ll need two since a cap comes for the primary mirror assembly.
Due to the open “tube,” a lot of stray light gets in. This is a solvable issue with an aftermarket shroud, or you can make one with some spandex or Lycra.
The metal struts that allow for the collapsible feature are not as rigid as a solid, one-piece tube, so it will need collimation more often. If you already have some basic collimation tools, it’s easy to do even if you’re a beginner.
Other Telescopes to Consider
Yes! The FlexTube telescope comes with a 2” Crayford focuser. It also includes a 1.25” adapter for taking 1.25” accessories.
There are both advantages and disadvantages of a collapsible tube design, but the benefits are space saving, easier transportation, and fast setup. Once you get everything assembled, it’s a breeze to get it extended and locked into place making for setup easy and quick.
A downside from retracting and extending for each use is the constant collimation. Some marketing may claim it doesn’t require collimation every time, but plan on it since the movement of the metal struts can cause the misalignment.
This is the non-GoTo version, so it is not equipped with motorized tracking of objects in the sky. Tracking movement is manual, so you will need to move the tube to keep an object within the field of view. How fast an object moves within the field of view depends on the accessories being used.
Objects seen through a high power eyepiece with or without a Barlow lens will move through the field of view faster than with a low power wide angle eyepiece.
The base is 29” tall and 25” wide. With a base diameter of 25”, it takes up some good room. It’s a good idea to know its dimensions for storage purposes, if it will fit in a small space on your deck, or if it will fit in the trunk of your car.
There are some old pictures of a white Flextube online, but SkyWatcher only has the black model in production at the moment. The optical cells are black with white rubber bumpers on the edges to protect them from accidental bumps if you collapse the cells together too quickly. The base is also black in color.
The Skywatcher Flextube is something else altogether and it works.
The extra thought into the support strut system, the elimination of ball bearings, and the use of fastening bolts of the side boards to the base makes the difference in overall scope longevity.
In my opinion this optical system is top-notch, and with a shroud and quality eyepieces, you’ll be seeing more of deep sky greats with resolving power and clarity to finally understand what it is to have that wow-factor out of a telescope.