Multi-Editor Bino Harness Review
I remember it like it was yesterday, the first time I personally used a “modern” binocular harness. After years of stuffing my binos in a pack or having them draped around my neck, I finally I saw the Crooked Horn Bino harness, and it was at last a practical way to carry optics. I loved how it put my binoculars at the ready at all times and evenly distributed the weight, but still there was room for a lot of improvement. Companies started making covers for the optics themselves, but they had to be used in conjunction with separate harnesses and at best, they were cumbersome.
Fast forward a few years and companies like Badlands, S4 Gear and others started making the next generation of harnesses. Since that time, there have been many companies jump into this market and competition has been good for us as consumers and hunters. There has been steady improvement to bino systems and attachments that hold everything from our rangefinders, wind check, calls, GPS and more.
Over the course of the last eight to ten years, new companies have emerged in this market and we now have several top-notch binocular harness systems available. It seems that every year a new company will release a new harness, or an established company in the market will come out with an updated or new version. All have the same basic idea, which is to conveniently carry and protect your optics, but each has their own differences that may or may not appeal to different people’s wants and needs.
This past fall we put five of our crew in new harnesses from some of the top companies in this arena and asked them to put them through a hunting season. I first let them know what harnesses we were looking at to review, then let them all speak for which product they desired to review that they thought met their individual needs. Luckily, there was no fighting. Each had a different harness they wanted to try and we were off to the races.
FHF Gear Bino Harness PRO-M
I started using the FHF Gear bino harness on my hunts five years ago and even though I enjoy testing out other manufactures bino harnesses as new ones become available, I have kept going back to my trusty FHF Gear harness. One of the biggest reasons for this is that it has a low profile design that keeps my binos tighter against my chest and out of the way better than some other harnesses I have tried. I also really like how snug my 10x42 SLCs fit inside, yet are still easy to get in and out quickly. There is no jostling around at all with the binos inside the harness or of the actual harness itself on my chest. Everything stays put and does not come loose after a couple miles of hiking.
There are well-placed pockets on the front and sides that I use for keeping my licenses, mouth reeds and wind checker bottle. Another key reason I prefer this harness to others is that one-handed operation is crucial to me. When I am stalking an elk with an arrow nocked, I need quick, easy, one-handed access to my binos, as well as my wind checker and mouth reeds.
This harness provides me this and more. The only time I struggle with single-hand operation is when I am wearing thick insulated gloves and I cannot as easily feel the hook and loop closure system this harness uses. The only way I can see fixing this would be to have a larger hook utilized in manufacturing, but then it would be more likely to catch on things and cause problems. FHF Gear makes three sizes (S, M and L) to fit a wide range of binocular shapes and sizes, while offering numerous colors to choose from as well. All the straps, buckles and material are extremely durable without excess bulk or weight.
Adak Bino System
I was able to use the Adak Bino System for nearly all of the 2019 season on hunts for turkey, elk, mule deer, whitetail and Coues deer. I found it to be extremely comfortable and it held my optics without a single issue over many miles.
The Adak system is just that, a system. It comes standard with both the binocular and laser rangefinder pouch. With the rangefinder pouch attached by a functional Velcro system, it is easy to remove if not needed, or move to the opposite side for southpaws. There is an elastic drawcord, which can be tightened or loosened to custom fit different sized binoculars. I enjoyed this feature because I was able to use both a Swarovski 8.5x42 and 12x50 with the same harness system.
The binoculars and rangefinder can either be left loose or tethered to the harness with quick release buckles. This is particularly handy when you need to drop the rangefinder when a bull elk steps out at close range on an archery hunt.
Most of us do not consider the weight of a binocular pouch but it all adds up. At only 15 ounces, the Adak system is one of the lightest on the market.
In my opinion, the only thing I would like to see improved are the elastic exterior pouches. I found them to be a little too tight for diaphragm calls and wind direction powder, making it tough to dig the calls out and to get the powder bottle back in.
The system retails for $149 but keep in mind that you are getting a complete optics system.
When I first got my hands on the Marsupial Binocular pack, my first impression was “quality”. No expense was spared in the materials and finish of this design. Having used several other popular bino-packs in the past, you can tell quickly where there are compromises in quality to improve the overall margin of the product. I appreciate that Marsupial decided to go right where many companies choose to go left.
After strapping in my Swarovski 12x50 ELs, I fell in love with the fit - no other system has carried my binoculars as snug and comfortably as this. Sliding binos in and out of this pack is effortless and smooth enough to do with one hand, yet snug enough to know your high dollar optics are secure and well protected. The soft lining of the pack is a great touch as well which adds to comfortable fit, possibly even helping with noise reduction, which you will appreciate on those close-quarters stalks.
The small details that go a long way are numerous. The buckles are a prime example. Adjustment is simple, but they also lock into position so the harness is not constantly loosening throughout your hunt. Both the pack lid and the lid of the rangefinder pouch are easy to flip forward and stay out of your way using a magnetic connection, something you will appreciate when all of your attention needs to be on an animal, not your gear.
A minor improvement that I think could be made is with the elasticity and retention of the side pockets. I like those pockets for my bino adapter and a few additional rounds, but my Outdoorsmans Bino adapter just did not feel secure enough for me to trust it there while in the woods. Overall, the Marsupial Bino Pack is a homerun, especially for the person looking for comfort and functionality over bulky frills and accessories. This product is both functional and built to last and it is hard for me to imagine anything else taking its place in my arsenal.
Kuiu Pro Bino Harness
Over the last six or seven years I have used many Kuiu products from clothing to packs. However, one thing I had not yet tried was any of their harnesses. I had been using a different harness for quite some time, but with that company’s harness being covered by another editor, it was a good time for me to try out the new Pro Bino Harness.
Setting up the harness with all my gear was easy. Coming in two sizes (L, XL) I got the large, which is a nice fit for my Vortex Razor UHD 10x42 binoculars. The Rangefinder holder may be placed on the right or left side of the main pouch. Each side of the harness has a stretch elastic pocket. Personally, I typically have a wind check bottle on my right side and an external reed elk call on the left side. The front of the harness has a small pocket with a vertical zipper, which is a perfect place to keep my extra diaphragm elk calls. One thing this harness does not have that I have liked on some other models is a knife pocket, where I always have quick access to my carry knife.
One of the major differences from the old Kuiu harness to this new Pro model is that it truly is fully contained. The old model had an open spot on the back of the harness against your chest, while this model has a solid piece that goes all the way up to where the lid meets the back. I really like this feature, especially for areas where it is often dusty. Speaking of the lid opening on the Kuiu harness, I really like this one thing over other models I have used. I like being able to slip the lid forward and out of the way while I am on a stalk as opposed to always having to open the lid toward myself to access my binoculars.
This harness is both comfortable and supremely adjustable. This system also has many components that can be purchased separately like the Pro Hydration Rig, two different bullet pouch options and an Accessory Pocket for carrying other miscellaneous items. Each of these items can easily be attached to the system.
Just about every hunter, regardless of weapon of quarry depends on a pair of binoculars on every hunt to help increase their odds of spotting game. In the last couple of years, the evolution of the Bino harness has experienced rapid growth and development. I have worn just about every brand of Bino harness at one point in my hunting career and always seem to have a longer list of things I would change in the design rather than the features I would keep. As with all our gear, we are consistently striving to improve our efficiency and tactics in hopes of increasing our success in the field.
Sitka Mountain Optics Harness
For 2019, I was fortunate to test out a new bino harness from Sitka Gear and was surprised to see a fresh design and layout to the field. The main body itself is similar to many bino harness compartments with its size and shape, keeping your binoculars tight and secure to your chest and protecting it from rain, snow and brush. The two side compartments on either side of the main body are perfectly sized to fit a small handheld rangefinder and other essential items that need to be readily accessible. I found ample room to hold elk calls, doe can calls, tags, knives, glass cleaning kits and even 2 Packaroons for a midday snack inside these compartments.
They are attached to the main body of the harness but can be removed simply by undoing two molle clips. This allows the end user the ability to attach other pouches or even a small handgun holster to the molle style webbing. It also includes wind checker bottle pouches on both sides of the harness that are easily accessible. Both side pouches have a small pocket on the front face that will hold tags and licenses. Overall, I really like the design of the harness. Coupled with a nearly silent material, it is a solid choice for 2020. I would definitely recommend this product!