When you’re out in the field, your binoculars are often your best friend since they’ll allow you to visually scan out to an amazing distance with a whole lot of clarity. They won’t do you much good if they’re in a pouch on your belt and you need them in a hurry, however, which is why many hunters find that it’s highly important to make sure they have the best binocular harness they can find.
Best Binocular Harnesses
Why Use a Binocular Harness?
Hunting is a physically demanding task, and there’s already a lot of equipment you’ll already have on you. Adding a bad harness will just get in the way while you’re stalking and hunting which is the opposite of what you want.
A good harness will make it so that your optics are only a split second’s grab away. They’ll allow you to see the flash of movement in the distance and lock in as quickly as possible so you’ll be able to know whether you’re getting closer to your prey or if it was just a bird in the distance.
If you’re a stalking hunter, you don’t have the luxury of a blind’s shelf to lay down your glass and that makes them even more imperative to have.
The answer is simple really: you need to be able to grab your binoculars or rangefinder and get them to your eyes without any hassle or noise and that means using a harness.
The uninitiated might be wondering why just using a strap isn’t good enough. Straps are good for birdwatchers, but they have a free hand to keep them from producing any extra sound and usually aren’t going through brush where loose items can snag when you least expect.
A good harness will keep you from making any more noise than necessary, won’t snag on twigs, and will allow you to snag your optics as quickly as possible. They’ll also move the weight off of your neck and onto your shoulders, so you’ll be less tempted to remove them.
Picking Out the Best Binocular Harness
Even with all of the above in mind, it should seem like a simple process to pick out any harness you can find. It’s not so, however, the perfect binocular harness is a thing of beauty that only adds to the experience, while a bad one won’t make much of a difference at all or might even make things worse than just using a belt pouch.
There are a few key factors you’ll want to take into account when you’re picking them out.
The Type of Harness
Harnesses come in a few different types, and you should pick the one that’s best for you.
Are a little bulky for most hunters, but if they can fit a rangefinder they can be a game changer for bowhunters who like their stands. They have a full sized pocket which will ride high on your chest, and you’ll find that they’re usually available at a pretty low price.
They usually offer quite a bit of protection for your binoculars as well and we all know how expensive a good set of those can be. They’re really best for stationary hunters, however.
On the other hand, will often feature a more extensive and comfortable strap system and they’re designed to stay out of the way when you need to aim with your bow or rifle. The pocket will generally be lower on the body than a full-size harness.
Most hunters prefer them for this reason.
Are probably best left to birdwatchers and hikers. They’re mostly designed just to get the weight off of your neck and onto your shoulders through a strap system and generally lack a decent pocket and instead use the straps.
Avoid them for the most part, but if you’re content with straps and just don’t want to have to hold a heavy pair around your neck all day then they’re better than nothing. They’re also useful if you already have a hunting rig that you can’t fit another system around.
If you’re a mobile hunter, then protection for your optics is a must. This can be sacrificed for comfort in the case of stand and blind hunters but for someone who’s regularly trying to move quickly in the brush, it might just be the determining factor.
Optics aren’t cheap, and a good harness will more than makeup for its cost simply by keeping them in one piece no matter what you’re doing. Look for padded pockets with a secure hold in order to keep that glass safe.
Ease of Use
You want a harness that can do all of the above and allow you to quickly and easily access your binoculars. The quicker the better, the span of a few seconds is a long, long time when you consider the sheer speed which some prey animals move at.
The buckles on any pockets need to be able to be released quickly, and the positioning needs to be optimal for you to get them out in a hurry.
You also need to be able to put them back in a hurry, particularly if you’re not using straps as a backup system. If it takes too long to get them back, you might miss the opportunity to take your shot after all.
Binocular harnesses aren’t only used for binoculars, if you’re carrying a rangefinder instead then you need to make sure it will fit. This is particularly important for bowhunters since the devices allow you to make an accurate shot.
Extra pockets are a bonus for anyone, whether it’s just enough to slip in a couple of extra rounds for the rifle or a pocket knife. You might be better off with a full harness that happens to have a binocular pouch if you’re going too far down that road, however.
The Best Binocular Harnesses in 2017
We’ve kept the above in mind and dragged five of the best binocular harnesses you’ll be able to find anywhere to the forefront for your perusal. We’ll go over each of them briefly, and help you make sure that you find the one that’s best suited to your own unique style.
Best Binocular Harnesses
This basic harness can really make a difference in the field, so long as you’re not moving too quickly. The main thing that you’ll quickly find out about this harness is that it’s comfortable to wear, and a surprising amount of different objects can be attached to it.
The straps are made of high-quality Nylon/Lycra which allows them to expand a little bit and should keep things from getting too tight. Super cheap materials can be a terror in this department since there’s no room for expansion the difference between being too loose or too tight is minuscule.
It’ll keep your optics or camera tight to your chest, and allow you freedom with your hands to get other things done.
It’s still just a basic harness, however, so it doesn’t offer any real protection to your optics. It’s not advisable to use it in densely wooded areas.
- Ergonomic fit ensures comfort
- Stretchy material allows for “wiggle room” in tightening
- Easy to use and attach
- Can hold anything with a strap
- No protection for your glass
- Some optics will have to be cable tied
Full-size harnesses like this one from Badlands are ideal for hunting where you have to hike out. This model will not only distribute the weight evenly over your shoulders but also has a couple of additional features which make it stand out from the competition.
The magnetic open and close is perfect, allowing for a silent and eyes off opening and closing of the pocket. There’s no clips or zippers to mess with, just slide your hand up and in, and you’ll have quick and easy access.
The interior is microfiber as well, allowing you to clean off any dust or debris that might be preventing you from getting a clear view in a snap.
It’s a bit big, however, and more suited for stands and blinds than stalking.
- Big pocket will hold most binoculars and rangefinders
- Microfiber in the bag
- Magnetic opening
- Fairly large and bulky
- Magnetic snaps can be loud if not controlled in closing
Badlands continues to outdo themselves, the Bino Z is a great addition to their lineup of harnesses. Don’t expect miracles from this one, it’s their budget version after all, but it’s still a solid harness and does everything it should.
The straps are made of waterproof neoprene, which is excellent for cold, wet weather but it’s not the most breathable material around so you might want to give something else a go if your stomping grounds are usually sweltering.
The pocket has a built-in microfiber cloth, multiple pockets, and is fully padded to protect your gear. It’s also compatible with a hydration pouch if that’s what you’re looking for.
The main problem here is pretty glaring if you like to get up close and personal with what you’re hunting, however, the pouch is zippered. Zippers are easy to use, but they make a good deal of noise and that can spell disaster in the field.
- Cheap but high-quality
- Waterproof straps
- Padded optics pocket
- Hydration compatible
- Not suitable for warm weather
- Zippered pouch is a bit noisy
Low profile pouches are exactly what you need if you’re a stalking hunter, and the S4Gear Lockdown is a sterling example of this class of harness.
It’s lightweight and leaves you with enough room to easily maneuver a bow or rifle into position. For most, the pouch will sit about at the belly button.
The pouch has a silent opening strap which holds it in place. Simply pull up on the elastic band and pull it out in order to get your binoculars free. That said, it’s not as secure as some of the others on the market, so you’ll have a trade-off between protection and safety.
What it won’t do is bounce your binoculars around. If you’re an active hunter, then take a closer look at this one, it might just be exactly what you’re looking for.
- Low profile allows for easy weapon use
- Tight and well-padded
- Fits under backpack with ease
- Pouch straps can be cumbersome to use
- Rides a bit high for some people
Sometimes you come across a piece of equipment which is so elegant and simply suited for its purpose you have to share it. That’s what’s happened with the Bushnell Deluxe, if you’re looking for a basic harness then it might just be exactly what you’re looking for.
This one is simple but made of high-quality materials. No bells or baubles added, or needed, it holds your camera, rangefinder, or binoculars and it does its job well.
The only thing wrong with this is that it might keep your binoculars a bit too high for some people, but the height of the hold also makes it a little bit more suited for active hunting than many of the other basic harnesses out there.
If you want something simple, easy to use, and don’t need the extra protection, this is exactly the harness you need.
- Simple to Use
- High-quality materials
- Breathable back panel
- No protective pouch
- Might ride too high for some hunters
It’s hard to pick out a clear winner here since each of these harnesses will suit one hunter better than another. For the most part, however, the S4 Gear Lockdown will have the most usage for the average hunter. It’s lightweight, allows easy access, and the low profile means that it’ll never get in the way when you go to reach for your weapon.
If you’re a stand hunter, however, you may want to flirt with the idea of the Badlands Camouflage Tactical Bino X.
Whatever choice you might make, if you stick with the above you’re sure to have a winner and it might just be the best binocular harness you’ll ever purchase.
The coolest thing about these is the fact that it’s compatible with a hydration pouch, in addition to your binoculars you can also get a full liter of water in there.