February 15, 2022
By Joe Ferronato
Well, you did it. The research is done, and you bought an expensive set of optics that you were promised would glean bucks and bulls your next time afield. That’s all fine and dandy, but how are you going to protect your investment and comfortably carry them into your hunting spot?
It tends to shock me—even though I’ve witnessed it countless times—when I see hunters carrying their binocular on the standard neck strap that comes with most models. While this is an option to transport and keep them semi-attached to your person, it is terribly uncomfortable and less-than efficient when hiking. Plus, you don’t have any protection covering your premium glass.
The simple solution: Purchase one of the countless bino harnesses found on the market today. These harnesses allow you to carry your binoculars in a chest rig that is secure and, most of the time, offers significant protection from potential field damage. Deciding to buy one of these rigs is the easy part. Picking a brand and model that fits your price point, fits you, and is easy to operate is a whole other challenge. Here are a few things you should focus on when considering your next bino harness purchase.
There’s a reason why I chose to discuss this first. I put fit and comfort while afield above all else. When you’re uncomfortable, your hunt is going to turn into miserable affair. While a bino harness may not seem like a piece of gear that will be uncomfortable, it can be. If you stick to front country hunts and hike without a pack for short periods of time, pretty much any harness will work. For those of us who choose to weigh our bodies down and push the boundaries of the backcountry, a proper-fitting harness is a necessity.
Any harness you choose to buy will have a wide range of adjustability, but it is important that you pick one that allows you to adjust the fit to your liking. I prefer a harness that sits higher on my chest and is very snug. A snug fit keeps my optics stable when moving through the field—nothing bugs me more than having my binos flop around on my body while trying to navigate rough terrain. I like them being high on my chest and low profile enough that they don’t extend far enough out to get caught on every branch or bush in the field.
A high-fitting harness, in my opinion, feels better while laying prone when trying to execute a rifle shot. If the harness fits too low, you’ll find yourself laying on optics and unable to find a comfortable position to shoot from.
Optics are built to last, and if you take care of them properly, they will last a lifetime. That is why I like wearing a harness that totes good protection from the elements. You will notice that harnesses will cover your optics in different ways, some are waterproof, and some aren’t, and others offer extra covers for when weather takes a turn for the worst.
I prefer a harness that offers full coverage. The less dirt and debris that finds its way into my pouch, the better. I spent many seasons wearing a bino harness that didn’t fully cover my optics and, in turn, a lot of my time was occupied by picking pine needles and twigs out of my eye cups and I was constantly cleaning a fine coat of dust from my lenses. While this never was a big issue, it was still nice to not have to worry about it at all once I switched over to a fully enclosed harness.
Being able to access your optics quickly, easily, and—most importantly—quietly, is a necessity on a hunt. Most bino harness companies will promote one-handed operation but many of them require some extra effort or even an extra hand to readily access your binos.
When looking at harnesses, I look for a system where the hood folds forward and away from my body. Gravity helps keep the hood in place and I don’t have to open the pouch again to replace my optics. Another key feature I look at is the latching system. Magnets are great, they hold the harness shut and are incredibly easy to operate.
With fit, protection, and operation in mind, here are five bino harnesses perfect for your next backcountry hunt:
Stone Glacier Skyline
This company has earned a reputation for lightweight, adjustable gear and this harness fits that mold perfectly. The Skyline Bino Harness uses OptikFit technology to make it the most adjustable harness on the market. Your optics are protected by a 3-layer HydraShield Waterproof Laminate for all-weather protection. It is low profile and offers easy one-hand operation. The main pouch has side pockets for extra storage and is fitted with various webbing attachment points for additional accessories.
The KUIU Pro Bino Harness is the perfect mixture of comfort and protection. This low-profile harness is fully enclosed and offers easy one-hand operation. The Toray Stretch Nylon with a waterproof membrane offers protection throughout the worst weather Mother Nature can throw your way. The harness fits well and offers two side pockets for extra storage while the design allows for a rangefinder attachment to be easily added to the harness straps. This harness is available in two sizes to ensure you have a proper fit for your optics.
Alaska Guide Creations Alaska Classic
Alaska Guide Creations Alaska Classic with M.A.X. pocket is the ultimate harness when it comes to chest storage. These packs go above and beyond just carrying your optics. While designed to fit a variety of full-size binoculars, these packs offer additional storage built directly into the chest pouch. With an additional front pocket, two side pockets, and the M.A.X. pocket on the bottom, you can keep your must-have gear right on your chest if you need to drop your pack.
Alps Bino Harness X
The Bino Harness X combines functionality and affordability. This harness fits well, offers good adjustability, and protects your investment. Made from 1680D nylon ballistic fabric, the harness is durable and will hold up through repeated abuse in the backcountry. The adjustable hood allows significant range to fit a variety of optic sizes. The pouch has one side pocket and two attachment points to fit accessory pouches to hold additional gear or a rangefinder.
Marsupial Gear Enclosed Binocular Pack
While this pack is more expensive than others, it is durable, rugged, and reliable. The Enclosed Binocular Pack from Marsupial Gear comes in three sizes to ensure a proper fit for your optics. This pouch is fully contained to keep your optics completely covered while afield. It has three durable stretch pockets—one on each side and one on the front to hold extra gear. MOLLE webbing can be found on the bottom of the pouch to allow for additional storage pockets and accessories to be added.
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.