The All-American Bino Harness Review

BinoHarness#23 (1 of 1)

Photo by Seth Morris

A comparison and review of the Alaska Guide Creations Kodiak Cub and the FHF Gear medium binocular harness and why you should use a bino-harness.

Why use a Bino-harness?

           All hunters have a piece or pieces of gear that they consider to be a must have, whether that be a trusty old folding knife or some modern electronic gadget. For me, a quality pair of binoculars is a must have for any hunter! Whether your perched high in a tree stand looking over the whitetail woods or glassing up some elk in the rugged Rocky Mountains – a good pair of binoculars can make or break a hunt. Although, just owning a set of quality glass isn’t the only important thing, I believe the manner in which you carry that glass is equally important. Having a $1000 pair of binoculars means very little if they are always stuffed deep down inside a backpack during a hunt, or sitting on the cabin shelf. They should be out and accessible so they may be used to their full potential.

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Photo by Seth Morris

For years, I simply used the elastic strapped binocular harness you can find on any sporting goods store shelf to keep my binoculars seated on my chest. The problem with these is that they offered no protection for my optics and were always bouncing around getting snagged on anything and everything. That is, until about two years ago when I discovered the modern style binocular harnesses that were on the market. Since purchasing one, it has changed the way I hunt and has now evolved into, in my opinion, one of the most important pieces of gear a hunter can have! It is as vital to me as a duty belt is to a police officer, it has all my essentials in it. In the following paragraphs, I will explain the importance of a bino harness while comparing and reviewing two American-made bino-harnesses I have purchased and owned and why I prefer one to the other.

         Why use a Bino-harness?

 Its simple, if it’s on your chest you will use it more often and more quickly. So, with that in mind, I want to keep all my essential items within quick and easy access without the need to drop my pack and dig through it. This will not only make me faster at glassing up an animal or getting a range before I take the shot – it will involve less movement.

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I also don’t want these items in my pack or clothing pockets in case I need to quickly drop my pack to head in for a stalk or add/shed layers. Everything I need minus my weapon to make a kill is attached to one harness or kit. What you put or attach to that kit besides binoculars is up to you, and your needs. I will break down the gear in or attached to my harness and why it makes it.

Binoculars:

NoShed (1 of 1)Good optics are vital to any hunter as I said before, whether that’s glassing up a suspicious elk-like object on a far away slope in the west or getting a better look at a sneaky whitetail buck on the far side of the field. The truth is, if your binoculars are in your pack, you will hardly ever pull them out and miss great opportunities due to it. If they are on your chest, you will constantly be looking through them, and by doing so seeing much more game! Not only will you see more game, you will be able to better judge the game by seeing more detail. You will be able to tell if that buck you can barely see with your naked eye is the one you’re after, the one you would pass, or just plain legal to shoot without having to get closer for inspection. You will also be able to better observe the body language of the animal and by doing so make a better decision on how to pursue, such as those elk you see way off in the distance – are they feeding calmly or do they keep looking back as if pursued by a predator?

Rangefinder:

The rule also applies to rangefinders, if it’s in your pack you will not use it or not have enough time to get it out. I keep my rangefinder on my harness so I can easily access it, range the target, and make the shot. The seconds it takes to dig your rangefinder out of a pack could be the difference between a filled or unfilled tag. It is a vital piece of gear for the western rifle or bow hunter who always has to deal with changing set-ups and distances. Even for those who tree stand hunt and keep their rangefinders tucked away after ranging a few key reference points from their stand. What if the buck does a 180 on you and comes in and ends up standing in the one window of opportunity you never ranged? You could easily pull your rangefinder out, range him, and make an ethical shot, or guesstimate yardage and risk wounding him..it’s your choice.

GPS:

NoShed#3 (1 of 1)My GPS being attached to my harness is slightly more critical for western hunters since I use it not only to navigate terrain, but also to know where the boundaries of public and private land are. This is key when skirting the boarders of private and public on those oddly shaped pieces of public land. Also, if I ever need to mark a spot, I can easily access my gps and mark a waypoint within seconds.

Accessories:

There are certain things that always stay in my harness, such as spare batteries for the gps, lens cloths to clean binocular and camera lenses, off wind indicator, game calls, license and tags, and when not in grizzly country..chapstick! once again these are all items I will need to use often and don’t want to stop and drop my pack for. Other useful items if you have the room would be your headlamp and a small spare pocket knife.

Hopefully, now your sold on giving a bind-harness a try so which one? Well, the two bio-harnesses I will be reviewing are the Alaska Guide Creations Kodiak Cub and the FHF Gear Medium Bino-Harnesses. I own and have hunted with both of these harnesses and want to start off by saying they are both amazing, quality, American made products!

Alaska Guide Creations Kodiak Cub:

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Features:

  • Fits Binoculars up to 42mm objective lens
  • Main compartment: 6.5″ tall x 6″ wide x 3″ deep
  • Front compartment: 4″ tall x 6″ wide x 1.5″ deep
  • Side compartments: 3″ tall x 2.5″ wide x 1″ deep
  • Rear compartment: 4″ tall x 6″ wide
  • Hook and Loop closure (adjustable tension)
  • Two elastic band pockets on top of lid
  • 7 lanyard loops
  • B.T.S Bino Tether System straps included

            The Kodiak Cub was my first purchase out of the two and the one I have hunted with the longest. It is a great bio-harness with a few caveats in my opinion. I like the fact that the harness is extremely well-built with rugged material and finished off with high quality stitching. I have abused my harness for over a year and a half and it has no rips or tears with only a few very small signs of wear. The main compartment of the harness is lined with a micro fleece material with a lid that completely shuts, encasing the optics sealing out any weather from coming in. This is the feature that sold me on the harness when I first purchased it, and is still one of its best features.

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The front compartment is a great storage space for your head lamp or extra camera batteries as well as most modern rangefinders. However, its zipper and shape does not make it user-friendly for one hand operation. This may not be a huge deal for the rifle hunters out there but for many bow hunters the ability to access a rangefinder while only using one hand is key, at least for me it is. Now, I am not saying that it cannot be done, but it’s not as fluid as accessing a seperate rangefinder pouch. The side compartments are also nice and large being perfect for extra batteries or a bottle of wind indicator, however, their slanted zipper design makes it difficult to fit certain items in and also get them out with one hand, something that caused me much frustration.

The rear pocket on the harness is one I have no complaints about, it’s large and has a quality zipper, I used it to store my hunting license and tags so I always had them on me. The harness also has a super comfortable suspension system that comes with high quality B.T.S bino tether system straps. The wide shoulder straps of the harness help distribute the load of the harness well and comfortable under pack straps.

I don’t think there is any functional flaw to this system, but I have had to make some modifications to fit my personal preference. When I fully adjusted the harness to be as high as possible it still felt as if my binoculars where resting on my gut and not my chest. This was something that annoyed me on a daily basis. For many taller users, this is not a problem but for someone of my height 5′-9″ it may be problematic if your like me and want your binoculars high on your chest. I modified my harness by taking out the stock buckles and adding some MOLLE d-ring buckles. This modification was also for attaching P-cord lanyards that I run on my GPS and rangefinder pouches. The lanyards keep the pouches in place while the d-ring lets me take them on and off easily if needed. Like I said, there really is no issue with the harness if your taller, but I feel it lacks the ability to be seated high enough even when you crank the bottom buckles tight.

Another negative, in my opinion, to the harness is its size and robustness. The harness with the front pocket sticks off your chest quite a bit and if your ever anticipating getting low and crawling (which is common on antelope stalks) this harness will get in the way with how large it is. Although, this might not be common situation for most people, making the large amount of storage the harness has much more important than size. BinoHarness#17 (1 of 1)Overall, I think the Alaska Guide Creations Kodiak Cub is an amazing bio-harness that boasts tons of storage. Is it the right one for me? No, but perhaps the Alaska Guide Creations K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid) model would work better for me? It is slimmer and has a lower profile. However, the AGC suspension system just doesn’t work for where I want my harness to sit on my chest.

FHF Gear (medium)

BinoHarness#1 (1 of 1)

Features:

  • Microfiber lining
  • 2.25″ deep, fitting binoculars 6″-7.25″ tall
  • 2 side mesh slot pockets
  • Front vertical zipper pocket
  • Front slot pocket
  • Full rear pocket with flap
  • Lower lanyard loops
  • Bino tethers included

After running the AGC Kodiak Cub for over a year and half, I decided to give the FHF Gear harness a try. My hunting partner, Seth Morris had been running one for over a year and half with no issues and nothing, but love for it. So, when they finally came back in stock I ordered one right away. I am blown away by the feel and quality product that FHF gear is producing. Just as the AGC, the FHF gear harness was made of super high quality materials and finished off with rock solid stitching. The harness is lined with a microfiber material to protect your optics with a top flap that secures by a hook and loop. The flap does not 100% close off all the elements to the binoculars inside which is not optimal but is a very small negative to say the least.

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On the front of the main pouch under the flap is a zipper pocket that runs the height of the pouch which is great for storing lens clothes or some small thin accessorizes. There is also a slanted slot pocket on the opposite side which fits two AA batteries perfectly.

On either side of the harness are mesh elastic pockets that fit wind indicator and game calls perfect, and allow for easy one-handed access. The rear pocket on the harness is also nice, however, only sports a simple flap design and not a secure zipper design like the AGC. This pocket, none the less, is perfect for storing licenses or perhaps a cell phone. The harness does come with a binocular tether system and a great suspension system. The suspension system does not come stock with padding as the AGC did, but separate padding can be purchased separately. However, it is not necessary for comfort –  just an added bonus. The best feature of the system is the X design if you will, that allows the harness to be tightened and the binoculars to sit very high on the users chest, but not high enough it would ever interfere with a bow-string. This was an overall key feature for me, the harness sits high on the chest and is super low profile making it perfect for any hunting situation. The FHF gear harness may not sport as much storage as its AGC cousin but in my opinion that cost is worth the excellent fit the FHF gear sports.

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I did modify my FHF gear by adding two MOLLE d-rings so I could attach my GPS and rangefinder pouches to the harness. The P-cord just keeps them up higher and from slipping around my side. Now, FHF gear does make some excellent quality GPS and rangefinder pouches that fit perfectly on the harness without those issues but I have not yet gotten my hands on them.

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One modification that I did on both my AGC and FHF gear harness, that was not necessary but made taking the harness on and off much easier is an extension buckle. Both harness sport the buckles immediately on each side of the harness, however when you are running accessory pouches on either side it is hard to get the harness on and off quickly, due to the pouches covering up the stock buckles. So I pieced together and stitched extension buckles. These extensions make it easier to take the harness on and off while sporting pouches on either side, maybe a bit overkill for some but for me it is much faster and keeps my kit together.

Who Won?

So who won? Well, for me I will keep sporting the FHF gear bino-harness as it fits ME and what I’m looking for in a harness just perfectly. But remember, you may be looking for something much different in a bind-harness, or be built differently than me, so pick up one or both of these great American-made Bino-harnesses and see for yourself. You won’t be disappointed! And even if you decide against one of these harnesses, at least pick up a Bino-harness and give it a try!

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About the author: Rick Hutton is an all-around outdoorsman, hunter, and photographer based in Helena, MT. When he’s not snapping great stills or enjoying the outdoors, he works for the U.S. Forestry Service. To see more of his work, visit and give him a follow on Instagram handle @rhuttonjr.

 

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