The greatest attraction of bird watching is simplicity. There’re no set rules and no real expectations other than spending time with the birds.
The simplicity is further emphasized by the fact that little equipment is required.
If anything, you simply need a few basics, including a binocular, a notebook and pen, a checklist, maybe a bottle of water to keep your hydrated, and a binocular harness for birding.
Did I just mention a harness?
Yes, I know it’s easy to brush off the need to carry a harness, but it’s more important than you think.
See, if you’ve ever spent any amount of time stalking the birds, I don’t need to tell you how uncomfortable a neck strap can be.
Often, we’re too quick to judge the weight of the binocular. But most of the time, which is often always the real culprit is your strap.
While binocular straps are fine for short periods, eventually, the straps’ pressure on your shoulder and back becomes unbearable.
With a strap, the full weight of the binocular bites into your neck, often for several hours. With every step you take, the bouncing and jolting of the binocular digs into your neck even further.
Unfortunately, your neck muscles are not designed for such punishment, and no wonder it gets sore.
This is why you shouldn’t hold yourself when it comes to splurging on the best binocular harness.
Also known as binocular suspenders, the binocular harness offers an effective and convenient way to carry your binocular.
The harnesses cleverly distribute the binocular weight around your shoulder and back, offering a much more comfortable time when bird watching.
On top of the comfort factor, the harness makes it far easier to access your binocular, which is of the essence, especially when bird watching.
More importantly, a harness offers the much-needed protection to your expensive binocular.
Now, if the idea of a binocular harness sounds good to you, here is a review of the best binocular harness for birding.
Table of Contents
The Best Binocular Harnesses for Birding For The Money
#1 Vortex Optics Glasspak Binocular Harness - EDITOR'S CHOICE
If you’re looking for high quality, durable, yet inexpensive harnesses, Vortex Optics has your back.
Their harness, the Glasspak Harness, will do a perfect job in protecting your binoculars.
It’s also a spacious option, with the case able to hold a full size binocular. Yet, it’s a lightweight option, weighing a measly 8 pounds, so it won’t fatigue your neck and shoulder.
Features and Benefits
Glasspak is a comfortable harness for carrying any size of binocular and other items.
It doesn’t fatigue you because it evenly disperses the weight of the components through the harness.
This way, users are relieved from the neck strain, especially when you’ve to carry the bulky items.
3 Additional Pockets
Storage should be the least of your concerns on the Glasspak as this option has additional mesh side pockets.
Here, you can store some of the auxiliary items that could be useful on your outdoor adventures such as pens, books, or even a bow release.
On the other hand, the largest accessory pocket is handy for holding the relatively larger items like your cellphone.
Full protection for dropping
The Glasspak is the ideal harness for protecting your binoculars from some elements that might damage its components. For instance, too much debris and dirt can easily damage the lenses on the binoculars.
The bungee and nylon tab on the Vortex’s harness offers full protection from light, debris, dust, and water.
Additionally, the harness features tethers you can attach to your binoculars to prevent them from falling to the ground.
Glasspak has plenty of positives, but it also has its share of flaws.
The biggest one is size; while the massive size enables it to hold any size of your binoculars and a few other items, the case might still be too small for your binocular.
Secondly, though the straps are adjustable, they tend to loosen over time, creating an inconvenience.
Nonetheless, Glasspak offers a practical design, letting you access whatever you need from the harness as quickly as possible.
Additionally, the harness holds all your items in a compact position as there’s a secure mesh holding it in position.
#2 Bushnell 19125C Deluxe Harness - Premium Pick
Second, on our list is from a brand that has created a reputation for releasing quality products and not only binocular harnesses.
The Bushnell Deluxe Harness is the epitome of practicality blended with comfort.
It’s among the best performing binocular harnesses you’ll ever work with, and its supreme quality is unmatched.
But is this Deluxe Harness, alongside its features, the right option for you?
Features and Benefits
A winning feature on this harness is the overall durability.
The elastic polymer is highly resilient and will take any punishment from Mother Nature.
The material is also durable, meaning it will take you for several seasons without breaking.
Away from durability, Bushnell Deluxe, like its name suggests, has a special elegance, and the beautiful design makes a major fashion statement that might just make you look classy even while bird watching.
Bushnell Deluxe is built with comfort in mind.
For instance, the shoulder straps are sufficiently padded, meaning the weight of your binocular is less likely to dig into your shoulders.
More importantly, the harness evenly disperses the entire weight of the binocular across your shoulder and back. This way, you’ll hardly feel the weight of the binoculars. It also means you can carry your binocular for a long period without feeling fatigued.
The Bushnell Deluxe harness is a heavy-duty option that can support larger binoculars without straining or breaking.
This harness features a wide, perforated back panel, which the Vortex Optic lacked. The back panel offers a practical solution for supporting the heavy binoculars with ease.
The wide back ensures the strapped aren’t stretched to the limit. Additionally, it ensures your back also plays a crucial role in supporting your binoculars’ overall weight.
A harness might be durable, but if it lacks convenience, it’s not worth going for.
Fortunately, Bushnell Deluxe doesn’t fail in this department; the ergonomic design works to keep the optics at an appropriate position-just below the chin. This way, it becomes easier to reach out to the binoculars quickly enough when you need to take a quick snap.
With the elastic straps placed just below your chest, you won’t feel uncomfortable using the harness.
Secondly, the weight alongside that of your binoculars spreads evenly across your torso and the shoulder, meaning you won’t feel the weight at just a single point of your body.
Bushnell Deluxe is such a practical harness, meaning it can be used for several purposes.
Besides holding your binocular, this harness can also carry a rangefinder or even camera. The versatility works to provide you with convenience, especially when you want to use either in your bird watching expedition and don’ need to carry a different bag.
#3 Horn Hunter Combo op-x Harness System - Value Option
Horn Hunter Harness System is yet another incredible harness with plenty of awesome features.
It’s a practical and comfortable option ensuring you savor every moment of your bird watching experience.
But is it the right harness for you?
Features and Benefits
Horn Hunter Combo is a low-profile harness, and like many other low-profile options, space is a selling feature.
The large capacity of the Horn Hunter Combo means it’s possible to stuff a lot of items as much as you need.
It’s so spacious that it’s even possible to fit in two binoculars comfortably.
Alongside the main compartment for storing your binoculars, the harness also has extra pockets in which you can store some of your additional items.
The Hun Hunter Combo is also a great difference from other harnesses, thanks to the breathable mesh.
The mesh panels eliminate the excessive moisture from the harness’s interior by allowing air the free flow of air.
It’s a crucial feature, especially during the sweaty summer- you don’t want the moisture accessing your binoculars’ delicate components as it might affect the performance.
The folks at Horn Hunter don’t specify the materials used on this particular harness.
But from what we know, the materials are widely chosen and can be considered premium quality.
They’re resilient and tough, meaning they shrug off any abuse on the outdoors. Additionally, they’re lightweight, and you will hardly feel the weight of the harness.
Another winning feature on this particular binocular is comfort, thanks to the padded straps.
For a moment, you won’t feel like you’re carrying anything on your torso or back.
The ultra-comfort makes this option a wonderful choice, especially if you’ve a heavy binocular.
#4 S4 Gear LockDown X - Best Low Profile Option
S4 Gear LockDown X is a low-profiled harness bridge between a full chest-pack harness and basic suspender type straps.
However, what sets this harness apart is ample protection, comfort, and support.
Features and Benefits
S4 Gear doesn’t feature a pouch for storage; instead, it employs flaps that do a great job of holding the binoculars in place.
The flaps are comfortable to the binoculars and will allow a snug fit.
More importantly, they offer a secure fit, keeping your binocular safe and closely secured to your chest.
S4 Gear has a unique anti-bounce technology, preventing the bouncing and swaying while on the move.
This is beneficial as it stops the straps from stretching too much. At the same time it prevents the straps from digging in too much into your shoulders.
The two shock cords attaching your binoculars to the harness are quite heavy-duty, and a nice change to the usual elastic harnesses.
The tubular cords aren’t under tension as the elastic harnesses always are, and will let you bring the binoculars to your face without the need of tugging the harness.
Another major draw to the S4 Gear is the substantial comfort promoted by the two straps running around the shoulders. The harness also includes a vertical strap promoting comfort and support to your backbone.
Both straps are constructed from a non-stretching soft material, which is securely padded.
The straps and the back panel are lined with a breathable mesh, which keeps you refreshed and prevents sweating.
The only notable downside we found on the S4 is the limited storage of the flaps.
While the laps are a unique creation, they don’t match the storage capacity of a pouch and will only accommodate the small to average-sized binoculars. If your bino measures anything above 7.5,” then be sure it won’t fit.
Nonetheless, the S4 is a quality-made option, offering a comfortable and secure place to hold your binoculars.
#5 Badlands Bino Basics Binocular STRAP - Budget Option
Features and Benefits
The harness straps are adjustable, so the harness can be adjusted to fit any binocular size.
While the straps can only be adjusted so much, the flexibility gives you the freedom to hold a wide array of binocular sizes.
The shoulder straps on this harness are abnormally large, and they help with the weight distribution.
The design makes the harness less burdensome to carry your binoculars around. The wide strap also reduces the risk of developing sores on your shoulders that normally happen due to friction.
Like most of the harnesses on our list, Badlands Bino has cushioned straps for added comfort.
The cushion embedded within the straps ensures the straps don’t dig into your shoulders, and along with the wide design, they evenly distribute your weight so you’ll hardly feel as if you’ve anything on you.
The lightweight materials used on the Badlands Bino bring out unparalleled comfort to the user, making it a joy carrying your equipment.
Additionally, the harness is redesigned, updated with an ergonomic slim-fit design for even more comfort and practicality. The slim-fit design brings about the possibility of maneuvering in the woods without any stress.
Best Binocular Harness for Birding Buying Guide
In the section below, we shall look at some of the critical features to consider when purchasing a binocular harness.
But before I share the purchasing tips with you, let’s look at the different types of binocular harnesses.
Types of Binocular Harnesses
There’re four main types of binocular harnesses for bird watching, and they include:
A full harness has several advantages, and a striking one is the padded straps similar to those on a backpack. This makes for comfortable wear when spending all day out and about.
The full-size harnesses also keep your binocular fully in place and right next to you; thus, your piece is safe from any scratches or dings.
Low profile harness sacrifices some of the full-size harness protection since they only cover a small surface area on your back.
They also have a thin strap, but will save you a good deal of space.
The basic harness employs a strap system, with the attachments made from ties or clips holding the binoculars.
They’re quite simple and inexpensive options too.
They’re the most sophisticated harnesses and can hold multiple types of equipment.
Along with your binocular, the dual harness can also hold a camera, rangefinder, and a lens, making them the perfect option for birdwatchers.
What to Consider When Purchasing the Best Binocular for Bird Watching
Now that we know the different types of binocular harnesses let’s look at the factors to consider when choosing an option for your bird watching needs.
Ideally, a harness should relieve your neck from the binocular weight.
However, it doesn’t mean that the shoulders have to be the only one to support the weight.
Instead, a harness should evenly distribute the weight across your back, which is a good thing, especially if you’ll be holding your binocular for long.
Along with even weight distribution, the harness should offer harness, especially on the shoulders.
The padded harness on the shoulder feels comfortable.
Additionally, they account for better weight distribution, too, and they’re sturdier.
It’s easy to know the durability of a harness, depending on the material construction.
Ideally, the durable harnesses are made from durable materials that can withstand the outdoors’ harsh elements and conditions.
Durable harnesses should also feature material that is least affected by wear and tear.
Two of the popular materials used on harnesses are nylon and polyester.
Nylon is the most common option. It’s super soft and stretchy. They also have break strength because of their thickness.
However, their softness makes it difficult for nylon to withstand stretching in case extra weight is added. Nylon also absorbs water easily, so not perfect for the rainy season.
Polyester, on the other hand, has a higher resistance and doesn’t stretch. They’re a rugged option, as they don’t absorb water, meaning they’re durable and of higher quality.
Some add-on accessories, like the pouch, are handy, especially when you need to protect your binocular from stormy weather, debris, or mud.
However, keep in mind that a pouch comes at portability expense since it weighs more than the average harness.
Additionally, the pouch may not allow you to take your optics out as fast.
If you are tagging along with other birding watching equipment such as cameras, rangefinders, or even additional binoculars, you should ensure the harness you get fits all of them.
The ideal harness should eliminate the need to invest in additional straps or rings.
For beginners, you might experience some trouble trying to attach your binocular to a harness.
There’re two primary attachment methods for binocular harnesses, and they significantly affect the reliability and ease of use of the harness.
Quick-release attachment is by far the most convenient, and as their name implies, they’re quicker to use.
The quick-release attachment employs a simple buckle-like system allowing for quick release and locking.
However, this attachment system is prone to small amounts of accidental releases and isn’t as reliable.
While the snap-on attachment isn’t as convenient as the quick release, it’s more reliable and secure.
This attachment utilizes a series of metal rings attached to the neck strap anchors of your binocular.
However, the metal rings are also known to rub against the finish on your pair of binoculars.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
That’s our list of the best harnesses for bird watching, and we hope the review along the buying guide will help with your purchase decision.
If you’re still unsure what item to choose, I would recommend the Vortex Optics Glasspak Binocular Harness.
It’s among the practical options on the list and the market in general.
The presence of additional storage compartments is an appealing feature, especially for those who need to carry extra bird watching accessories and don’t need extra harnesses.
For me, the biggest draw was the overall safety and protection element. Vortex Optics Glasspak Binocular Harness holds your binocular safely in a compact pace, with the bungee and nylon tab helping secure your items.
Of course, Vortex Optics Glasspak Binocular Harness is a personal recommendation. When choosing the best harness for you, your personal preference and need should always take precedence.
Ideally, you should pick a model that makes it easier and comfortable to carry your binoculars.