When MyBinocularHarness contacted us at 10,000 Birds about reviewing their binocular harness I was skeptical. I always thought that those who wear a binocular harness looked a bit dorky and weren’t helping birders overcome the not-so-flattering view that many have of our pastime. But I was volunteered to review the harness and several days later when the harness arrived in the mail I sighed and resigned myself to having to wear the darn thing for several outings in order to get an idea of how it worked so I could write an honest review.
When I strapped the harness on for the first time, with Daisy’s assistance, and looked in the mirror I was disturbed. The straps cut across my chest tightly and it looked like I had breasts! While Daisy laughed at me I cursed the thing and swore I would never wear it out-of-doors, and also swore that if Daisy told anyone about it I would never talk to her again. I also started struggling to get the harness off, and, in so doing, realized that the issue was that I hadn’t loosened the harness at all. Once it was loosened my man-breasts went away and I only looked about a half as dorky as I did before. More impressively, the weight of my Swarovskis that normally pulls at my neck was gone!
The resistance the elastic straps gave when I pulled my binoculars into position by my eyes felt a bit odd while I was trying the harness out indoors but I decided to reserve final judgment until I actually used the harness for a couple full birding days.
I must say I have been amazed! The harness is easy to use once one is used to it and actually keeps my binoculars more handy than before. At the end of a long day’s birding my neck and back are nowhere near as sore as they used to be. The harness is not as easy to take on and off as just a binocular strap is, but it is not like I am undergoing an epic battle each time I remove the harness or strap it back on me. I didn’t even notice anyone giving me any weird looks or making snide remarks, at least, no more than usual (wandering around city parks with spotting scope, binoculars, and camera tends to earn some weird looks).
There are trade-offs using the harness. For example, my Swaros have a double-lens cap that threads through the binocular strap they came with nicely and keeps them dry when it starts to rain. This does not affix to the harness anywhere near as neatly as it does to the strap so I go without the cap now. Also, when taking off layers of clothing the harness can be a real pain, requiring one to unclip the bins, take off the harness, take off the layer of clothing, put the harness back on, and reclip the bins. A process that normally takes seconds takes nearly a full minute. Finally, honestly, one does look a little bit dorky when wearing a binocular harness. Are these three problems worth suffering in order to reduce the physical suffering caused by warbler neck and back pain? I think so, at least on days when I won’t be undergoing major temperature shifts that necessitate constantly altering the number of layers I am wearing.
If the harness seems familiar but you have never heard of the company it might be because MyBinocularHarness has only recently started selling harnesses direct to consumers but has long provided harnesses to organizations and other companies for resale.
The binocular harness reviewed here is available from MyBinocularHarness for 17.95 USD and ships for free, worldwide. It can be used for cameras as well, though I did not try it out that way because whenever I am birding I have both bins and camera and it makes more sense for me to use the harness for my bins. All anyone from 10,000 Birds received from MyBinocularHarness was a single harness sent to me for review (but I’m not giving it back!).
Love mine despite, as you say, its drawback of putting on and getting off. This is particularly pronounced when nipping into a car and having to wear a seat belt. Also it’s hard to raise the bins with a scope draped across one shoulder.
But, great for taking the weight off the neck, especially for a day’s birding, and the bins don’t bounce so much when walking along.
Once you go with a bin harness, you’ll never go back. And really, Corey, I’m surprised you had such negative associations with harnesses since you’ve seen me wearing them for years… unless that’s how you came to such a crass conclusion in the first place!
Just bought a binocular harness from them to.
That’s the best price I have seen on it since it has the free shipping.
Can’t wait to use it.
Corey: Hey, how come you didn’t use the really dorky photo I took of you? Oh, I see – you didn’t want to get mistaken for Mike? okay I get it now (Just kidding) 🙂
Yeah, I switched a few years ago and wouldn’t think of going back to a neck strap–it’s not just a weight issue (my Zeiss aren’t that heavy to start with) but a heat issue here in the southwest.
One negative Corey didn’t raise is that if you tend to carry anything of value or importance in your shirt pocket–a notebook, a stemcell phone, cards, a dollar–sooner or later the front strap of the harness will lift it out and deposit it on the ground for you. But I’ve learned to live with that.
I tried a harness from a different manufacturer a few years ago. While I noticed some reduction in neck pain, I found the difficulty of getting the binoculars on and off a major downside. Plus I like being able to sling my binoculars to my side or back to get them out of the way, which isn’t so easy to do with a harness. So eventually I reverted to the neck strap.
My friend and i just got a Nikon Harness. It was amazing that it really took the weight of the neck and the major plus was that it prevented the bins from knocking on the ground when i slipped on a rock. One downside is the difficulty in sharing bins with your family. The birds weren’t waiting for us to exchange bins!
I consider my binocular harness an essential part of my birding gear. I get so used to wearing them, I need to remind myself to take them off at lunchtime! (Tuna with mayo is not the best lens-cleaning substance.) I don’t understand why you had to unclip your bins to get the harness off. As for the lens cap, after trying string and a key chain, I’ve found that plastic cable ties keep the covers attached to the bins, though it’s not a perfect set-up. And as for looking dorky…no way. Binocular Harnesses are about as feminine an accessory as you can find.
I LOVE my harness, but do struggle with the “mostly” girl-related boobular issue that I refer to as the “in or out” dilema. Nonetheless, I could never go back to a neck strap.
I hope this isn’t stepping on toes, but in the interest of sharing good products, I’ll take the risk (tromp tromp), and tell you about a great harness-style strap that is much much thinner, more comfortable, easier to get into and out of, and dah dah dah….costs less than $10! It’s called “The Link.” At the Black Swamp Bird-O’s gift shop we order them from a small manufacturer in Michigan. If you’d like more info I’d be happy to share. Just email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
@All: Thanks for the opinions and information everyone has shared.
@Rick: Thanks for the tip. I often wear pocketed shirts while birding.
@Kimberly: No problem. The more information people have the better!
@Charlie: You had it right… 🙂