Ultimate Bino Harness
After a few years of tweaking, I finally have created my ideal setup for a bino harness. There are unlimited ways to go about this. This is just mine. Before you build your kit, you have to think of what purpose you want yours to serve. Do you want it to be built entirely for glassing? Do you want storage to hold extra things that might generally be in your pocket? Are you going to wear it while hiking or sitting? Will you only wear it when on stalks? Do you want a rangefinder? Do you even want a chest harness? It could, quite literally, drive someone insane. Hopefully, my build can give you some ideas and walk you through the process.
My goal for building my chest rig was to bring the absolute must-haves if I am away from my pack. If I see an animal, I want to drop the pack and move in without the bulk of the pack. I also wanted everything in it to be quick access. The must-haves came down to about 3 categories for me before I even got into the actual harness I wanted to use. Optics, kill zone, and safety.
Optics are pretty straightforward. To me, this is quite simply binos and some single-use lens wipes. For binos, I started with some Vortex Diamondback 10x42's. They are budget binos, but an excellent option for the money. Lightweight, and the glass isn't half bad. I wanted something a little nicer, though, and with a tad more range. I opted for the Leupold BX-5 Santiam HD 12x50's. To me, these binos are perfect for what I want. There are many other great options out there, so don't get hung up on my specific choices.
Kill Zone. I made that up, but it makes sense. These are the items I quite literally cannot make a kill without. This consists of a rangefinder, bow release (and spare release). I picked up a Sig Kilo 2200 rangefinder about 4 years ago on a good sale. This thing is still going strong like it's brand new. Heck, I am even using the original battery. Whether I am rifle or bow hunting, I cannot ethically make a shot without knowing the distance. So find yourself a good rangefinder. Some good options are Vortex, Maven, Sig, Leika, and Nikon. This is one area I would not skimp too much on. Having a dependable range is a must. The releases are self-explanatory. It is always a good idea to have a secondary release and practice with both. I also stash some extra broadhead collars in there when I am using them. I will throw a couple bullets in if I am rifle hunting.
The last, and probably most important to me, is safety. When I am out hunting, it's typically solo. So safety is always first on my mind. I bring more to the table in the safety category than all the others. For me, that is:
Garmin InReach Mini
Bear spray is a good idea no matter where you are. It is an inexpensive, lightweight addition to your safety net. Keep it easily accessible, and the spray can be used to deter a plethora of unwanted visitors that might eye you as its next meal. While I will not get into the gun vs. bear spray debate, you should ideally carry both and use as necessary. To the Garmin! I bring my Garmin InReach Mini with me anytime I am outside, away from my truck. Whether it's backpacking, hunting, hiking, whatever. I can text, share my track, SOS, get weather updates, you name it. Find me a better safety GPS unit, I'll wait.
The tourniquet is probably the single most vital item you can bring with you anywhere. Blood loss is the most significant contributing factor to death in combat. While you are not in combat while hunting, you are out in the wilderness with firearms, bows, knives, and wild animals. Everyone should get a tourniquet and learn how to use it. There are a couple styles, but it went with a R.A.T.S. for its compact size and single-hand use. In general, taking a basic first aid class is a good idea to do. The earplugs are to keep my hearing intact, and the gloves for keeping my germs off things like a downed animal, or tending to someone's wounds.
For my harness, I went with an FHF in blaze orange. They make some great gear that is very modular, and I would encourage you to check them out. There are also some other great brands like Marsupial Gear, Vortex, Sitka, Stone Glacier, and many others. After you build out what you want your kit to be, find a harness with the features you want. One of the main differences in harnesses is closure type. Some use an elastic band around a metal hook, some use magnets, some use buckles, and some stretch over the top of the binos. That is all personal preference, and there is no one size fits all.
I hope this helps guide someone in the right direction. If you have any questions, hit the forums, hit up hunters, or hit up some of the Pro Staff here at One Outdoors. We will gladly give you a hand in figuring out your ultimate bino harness.