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For years, one of my biggest gear complaints was the ineffectiveness of bino-transport systems. As a western hunter who spends much of my time slithering across open prairies and climbing steep mountain ridges, my binos always seemed to get in the way. I tried the shoulder strap method and an open binocular harness chest system. Both failed. The worst part about these early systems was the damage my optics took in the field.

Finally, engineers got it right—the development of the enclosed binocular chest pack. Today, many binocular manufacturers and other companies offer full-bino containment systems. Most provide a magnetic-closure housing, purposeful pockets, and adjustable nylon straps. Regardless of where or how you hunt, a full-containment bino chest harness is a must-have, and if you’re in the market, here are the best by category.

The author with his Marsiupal Gear Enclosed Binocular Chest Pack.
The author with his Marsiupal Gear Enclosed Binocular Chest Pack. Jace Bauserman

How We Tested the Best Binocular Harnesses

Each year, I hunt multiple species across the US, and I recently returned from an African Safari. I am constantly testing my gear, including bino harnesses, in rugged terrain and the worst conditions Mother Nature has to offer. On top of that, I also hunt with several outfitters each year. For example, my South Africa PH, Charl, and one of the best Sooner State whitetail outfitters I know, Scott Sanderford, prefer Badlands’s Bino Mag 2. My friend, Clint Casper, is a backcountry killer, and he’s been raving to me about Kifaru’s Deluxe Bino Harness. He’s calling it a “game changer.” So, I called in both harnesses, along with others, to find out what fits me and my hunting style best.

I divided all the recommendations into categories to help you narrow your choices based on what each bino harness does best. Every model below is proven to protect your optics in the field and provide easier access to your gear. Here are my favorites.

Best Overall: Marsiupal Gear Enclosed Binocular Chest Pack

Specs

  • 14, 14.5, and 15.5-ounce weight options
  • Small, medium, and large size options
  • Nylon straps

Pros

  • Secure magnetic closure
  • Fleece liner for silent operation
  • Stretch side pockets
  • Stretch front zippered pocket
  • Molle attachment on the bottom of the pack

Cons

  • No accessory pouches included

This full-containment binocular system is my go-to, from the sage-dappled plains to the towering Rocky Mountains to Midwest whitetail locales. Priced right, I’ve never experienced a single magnetic lid malfunction, and whether I’m crawling or running, the flap stays closed, keeping my binos ready. When I’m ready to flip the lid open, magnets at the bottom of the pack hold the lid down so it never interferes with my glassing. I also like the stretch side pockets, which are excellent storage spots for my wind checker and hand-held release. 

Another win of this bino tote is the zippered front pocket, which offers ample storage. The nylon straps and buckles hold their setting, which means you aren’t constantly adjusting the harness, and the Molle webbing on the bottom provides additional accessory attachment points. The build is bulletproof. I’ve run this harness for three straight years in the roughest environments the West offers, and it has zero tears or frays.

Best For Whitetail Hunters: Alps Shield Bino Harness

Specs

  • 12 ounces
  • 6.5″ H x 6″W x 3″D
  • Nylon straps

Pros

  • DeadQuiet layered fabric fleece construction
  • Zipper-free access
  • Suede-lined, zipperless, front shove pocket
  • Molle webbing on both sides
  • Reinforced elastic tethers adjusted or removed

Cons

  • One size
  • A bit bulky

My oldest son, Hunter, loves this harness. He believes it’s the quietest harness on the market, and I agree. If you spend time hunting whitetails in close quarters, you’ll cheer the ultra-quiet DeadQuiet layered fabric fleece and hushed, suede-lined shove pocket. This bino pouch has zero zippers, and you can’t beat its church-mouse quiet nature.

There is no magnetic system. Grab the braided rope loop and pull it down to expose your optics—pull it up to cover them. It’s a simple system, and it works well. The front pocket is surprisingly sizeable and an excellent place for your phone, Allen wrenches, and other necessary, need-right-now gear items. I’ve even fit a concealed-carry-sized handgun in it. A waterproof interior membrane protects your optics from the elements, and while debris can find its way onto the fleece exterior, the fabric has proved tough and durable.

Best For The Western Hunter: Kifaru Deluxe Bino Harness

Specs

  • Small, Medium, and Large Bino Bucket
  • Regular and XL harness sizes
  • 9.9, 10.5, and 11.8-ounce Bino Bucket weights

Pros

  • Plenty of pockets
  • Comes with a rangefinder and accessory pouch
  • Slim, 1-inch webbing under the bino bucket
  • Slim straps
  • One-handed use

Cons

  • Price

Few companies know the needs of western hunters like Kifaru, and its Deluxe Bino Harness is a shining example of the manufacturers’ relentless dedication to giving hunters what they need. The Deluxe Bino Harness comes complete with rangefinding and accessory attachment pockets, and access to your binos, harness, and other gear requires only a single hand. I appreciate the six pockets—three in the front, one in the back, and two small pockets on the lid. From your phone to your release to other necessary gear, this harness system acts more like a pack, but isn’t overly bulky. Movement is not restricted, and the system doesn’t feel cumbersome on my chest.

You will like the thin and fully adjustable 1-inch Rhodesian straps and the hood flips quickly out of the way and hooks around the bottom of the bino bucket. As with all things Kifaru makes, they offer multiple sizes and have recommendations on their website based on your choice of optic.

A turkey hunter with the Kifaru Deluxe Bino Harness.
A turkey hunter with the Kifaru Deluxe Bino Harness. Kifaru

Best For Large Optics: Badlands Bino Mag 2

Specs

  • Small, medium, and large sizes
  • AirTrack Suspension with adjustable shoulder straps
  • Solid and camo options

Pros

  • Stay-open magnet
  • Quiet fabric
  • Quick-release carabiner rings
  • Bow hook
  • Side wing accessory attachment points

Cons

  • Magnet needs to be stronger

Badland’s Bino Mag 2 has a sizeable internal compartment, perfect for toting larger powered optics or rangefinding binoculars. While Badland needs to revise its magnetic lid system, it works fine if you’re not running or crawling quickly. I have had instances where the lid pops open. However, this system is great if you’re sitting on a distant ridge waiting for the game to move and your optic of choice is 12x or 15x. 

Hunters will appreciate the support and breathability of the AirTrack Suspension System, and those who head afield with a stick-and-string will love the bottom-mounted bow hook. Instead of resting my binos on the top cam of my bow and glassing, I hang my bow from the hook and steady my optics with two hands. 

The Rear Magnetic Suspension pocket is fantastic, and I appreciate the holster-compatible design. If you hunt a locale where big bruins lurk, this bino protector is worth a look. The fabric is reasonably quiet and durable, and the Side Wing and Bottom Accessory Attachment points are worth their weight in gold.

Best New Bino Harness: Sitka Flash Optics Harness

Specs

  • Small through 3XL sizes
  • Lightweight
  • Full-back harness system

Pros

  • Single attachment point on/off
  • Laser-cut holes bonded to air mesh for increased breathability
  • Ambedextrious rangefinder pouch included
  • Stretch mesh side and back pockets
  • Zippered back pocket

Cons

  • Price
  • Maximum bino height is 6.75 in. tall

There’s no disputing that Sitka makes purposeful, functional gear, and its all-new Flash Optic Harness follows suit. Engineered for the whitetail crowd, the fabric is super quiet, and I love that Sitka included a rangefinder pouch. I also like the fully ventilated back panel and quick-release binocular tether. The magnetic top lid on the bino case and rangefinder pouch allow easy access to your optics. Hypalon Molle webbing is located on both sides of the optic case and below the harness, so toting extra gear is easy. Sitka also included a storage compartment for a whitetail favorite, the Jetstream Insulated MS Muff. 

It comes available in Optifade Elevated II and a Lead solid. Other must-note features are the internal lens cloth and patent-pending clips that allow the bino case to fall away from the harness.

The new Sitka Flash Optics Harness.
The new Sitka Flash Optics Harness. Sitka Gear

What To Consider in a Binocular Harness System

The first thing is to make sure your system will fit your binos. I’ve had some buddies who’ve rushed the buying process only to have their bino-holder arrive and not fit their optics. Top-end bino system manufacturers have sizing on their websites, so follow it. 

It’s also critical to consider how you hunt and what you want from your system. For example, I’ve found nothing better than my Leupold-branded enclosed binocular chest pack for bowhunting. It has a pair of stretchable side pockets. One holds my hand-held release tightly, and the other accepts my bottle of wind checker. As with any product, consider how and what you hunt, and match your chest pack to the terrain and species. If the chest pack doesn’t come with accessories, note if the manufacturer offers accessories and if those accessories attach easily to the harness.

FAQs

Q: Is a binocular harness a must-have for the western hunter?

Yes. The last thing you want when traversing difficult terrain is a pair of pricy optics meeting the ground, trees, rocks, etc. You also don’t want heavy optics bouncing up and down on your chest or hitting your arms. A quality, full containment bino system will keep your binos concealed and close to your body for immediate use.

Q: Will a full-containment binocular harness contact my bowstring?

I’ve dropped the string on my bow from every position imaginable wearing bulky clothing and have never had my bowstring contact my harness. Still, bowhunters need to choose a slim, streamlined system that sits tight against the chest.

Q: Is a full-containment binocular harness worth paying for?

Few gear items are more expensive than quality optics. When you buy a new truck, you insure it. A top-end bino-containment case is the best insurance you can get for your pricy optics.

Best Binocular Harnesses: Final Thoughts

If you’re a hunter, you need a quality full-containment binocular system. It will protect your optics and provide you with a fail-proof carry system that allows you to use and then store your binos quickly and easily. My hunting gear changes from hunt to hunt, but one thing that remains a constant is that my full-containment binocular harness is always on my chest.

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