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!

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.