Birders around the world are united by their passion for glass, by which I mean high-end optics. We crave ever more advanced binoculars, spurring our favorite optics manufacturers to increasingly miraculous innovations (insert your favorite new binocular here!) So why do so many of us still carry our marvels of modern optical technology around our necks the same way cavemen carried their waterskins, with primitive straps dangling in a decidedly non-ergonomic fashion from our fragile necks?
There, I said it: standard binocular straps leave a lot to be desired. They get the job done but leave aches and pains in their wake. That’s why I’ve long been a fan of binocular harnesses to alleviate the discomfort of wearing bins for long periods of time. Corey eventually came around to the virtues of binocular harnesses too, as I’m sure many of you have. But those simple nylon harnesses have their own deficiencies. Anyone who’s ever tried to run with bins in a harness has felt those unanticipated painful thumps before manually securing their flopping optics! Am I the only one who has been ready for another breakthrough in binocular deployment technology?
I’m happy to say that S4Gear has introduced what may be the 21st century’s first advancement in binocular management with their LockDown Optics Deployment System.
I was embarrassingly excited to try the new LockDown system because this impressive looking harness promised to address my main optics pet peeve: bouncing binoculars. Plus, the Optics Deployment System looks smart, rugged, and high-tech, which is definitely the look I strive for in the field. Opening my review kit certainly supported my initial expectations.
The LockDown Optics Deployment System offers a lot of powerful features. The harness might be described as a “T-strap” with a single strap at your back splitting over each shoulder. These shoulder straps are connected to a binocular cover at your chest, which is in turn connects to belt straps attached to the back strap.
The harness as a whole really impressed me, but I admit to some initial misgivings about the binocular cover. The Moldable Security Cover holds bins in place until you need them, which is just what this system promised. That total lockdown surrenders to a couple of easy cord releases to free binoculars for quick deployment. I had no problem getting bins on birds quickly during my field tests. At the same time, I felt very comfortable with my optics firmly in place. Ultimately, the system works just as I had hoped it would.
S4Gear promotes features like Tension Free Glassing, ShockCord Security Straps, and Anti-Bounce Technology, all of which reinforce the idea that the LockDown Optics Deployment System represents an innovative improvement over previous binocular straps and harnesses. I completely agree. The LockDown harness offers the best way I’ve found yet to carry binoculars in comfort, short of employing your own optics caddy. The high-tech appearance of the LockDown system may not appeal to some casual birders, but I bet many birders will really embrace this sleek look. Aesthetics aside, this system fulfills its promise in locking down optics, providing a new standard for binocular support for active birders.
I encourage birders who believe there has to be a better way to wear binoculars to check out the S4Gear LockDown Optics Deployment System. Let me know both your impressions and experiences in the field!
That harness does look pretty sweet, but I have to ask: How often are you *running* while birding? 🙂
There is also a BinoBro–less money and with waterproof fabric–Totally encloses expensive optics. These snag and don’t completely cover the eye-pieces.
Just another option in a protective binocular pouch!
Can’t say I run that often while birding, unless I’m in the woods and a raptor has taken flight. I find I can hold my bins with one hand to prevent the knocking.
By the looks of it, this harness seems like it would be useful keeping the rain off the bins as well as being more comfortable.
I wear my bins slung over my shoulder. I’ve been mocked for it, but I care not.
@ Duncan-yes that’s the way to go and you are not alone!
I leave my binoculars on the floor of my truck with the fast food wrappers. Is that wrong?
Clare and Clare, if those choices are wrong I have no desire to be right!
Kirby, apparently you don’t engage in the kind of high energy, rapid-speed, rope-swinging, rock-climbing birding I enjoy! Actually, I don’t move quickly that often but when I do, I’ve got to juggle my bins and my long lens. Using a harness like this LockDown system frees me up to focus on my fragile camera equipment.
I figured it had something to do with my athleticism and/or birding acumen, both of which are regularly called into question by my field companions.
@Clare, Clare & Duncan:
In Schiller’s (somewhat modified) words, “Ich sei, gewährt mir die Bitte, in Eurem Bunde der Vierte.” Which translates roughly to “I beg you, allow me to be the fourth party in your alliance.”
I usually wear a bag slung around my right shoulder or a backpack on both shoulders, my camera around my neck and my binoculars over my left shoulder. This works best for me.
I wonder if you can combine a binocular harness with a backpack or if it “collides” with other straps (bags etc.) around the shoulders.
I bought the harness for my wife, unfortunately she doesn’t own a pair of binoculars so I’ve had to keep it myself. I absolutely love it – she doesn’t know what she’s missing
I just bought this and so far have not been able to make it fit me properly. I am 5’2 and the length of the T-back harness is not adjustable so I have to wrap the bottom straps around my waist and the back of the harness pulls on the back of my neck just like I was using a regular neck strap. Hoping I can fuss with it and figure out how to get the right fit. It seems that this, like most hunting equipment, is not designed for us shorties.
I am a field biologist and walk miles a day for hours and hours, often crawling through really horrible brush. Even the smallest bounce really gets irritating after awhile. Plus my bins are really heavy so I was excited about the weight being taken up by the waist strap.
Here’s hoping. I’ll post again if I get it dialed in.