To get started, here are the nine harnesses I've owned: Crooked Horn, Nimrod, S4, Badlands, Cabelas/Badlands, FHF, KUIU, Sitka and Alaska Guide Creations. I've used some of these more extensively than others and a couple of them only made it out of the packaging before going back to the store. Let's get on with it...Here are my thoughts using a "5 Star" system:
*Crooked Horn - This is the harness that started it all IMO. This is the basic bino harness that fits the needs of many. It is inexpensive and functional, but has it's major flaws for "active" hunting. The elastic straps "bounce" bad. Try crawling, running or riding a horse with this harness and you will see what I mean. Wear these on a horse and you will end up with a black eye or loose tooth. For stationary hunting (treestand) or light activities this system is fine, for the serious mountain hunter it is lacking. One Star
*Nimrod Bino Topia Harness - This was my first "upgrade" from the Crooked Horn System. The straps aren't as "bouncy", the harness is comfortable. They have a couple covers you can purchase to used independently with the system, but these are cumbersome at times. The binos still bounce too much for a lot of activity, but overall an improvement over the Crooked Horn System. My search continues. Two Stars
*Badlands - This unit was my first attempt at a "vault" style system and wasn't so sure I'd like a mini pack on my chest. After one hunt my suspicions were confirmed. I hated the size of it and I hated the magnetic slap that can occur with the lid if you aren't careful. This unit was a major fail for me. One Star
*Cabelas/Badlands - Cabelas came with a smaller version of the original Badlands vault and I thought I'd give it a try. Upon receipt, I didn't own a pair of binos that would fit as it was TINY. Not sure what binos this unit was designed for, but it didn't fit anything I owned. It was quickly sent back for refund. Zero Stars.
*S4 - When this unit hit the market, I thought it was going to be perfect, so after placing an order I was really anticipating something great. After receiving the order and opening the package, I was very disappointed. Not at all what I expected. The unit felt "cheap" to me and was not as user friendly as I hoped. This was really the first decent, lightweight harness of its kind, but was still really lacking for me. The sizing and fit is a little "odd" and the snaps are hard to use in the cold. As these harnesses evolve, this was a decent option, but far from perfect. In fact I liked my Nimrod system better. These come in a couple sizes and IMO, the sizing chart is a bit off. Go bigger than you think. Two Stars
Fast forward a couple years and now we've seen an evolution of the bino harness/vault. The next four pieces are all good units and have their advantages and disadvantages. IMO, you can't go wrong with any of the following.
FHF - I picked up one of these because the KUIU Harness I wanted were on backorder. (shocker) This was the best solution I had found to date in a Bino System. It was lightweight, very functional and did everything I hoped it would. I thought the finish on the first one's were a little rough, but overall a very nice piece and very nice people to work with. These come in three sizes, accomodating even the biggest glass. The design was simple and it worked, but the gear nut in me wanted more.. I loved the looks of the KUIU Harness on-line and wanted to give it a try. None the less this unit warranted a best of anything available at the time rating of 4 stars.
KUIU - I finally received one of these after a long wait. The fit and finish on this unit is second to none. IT is lightweight and functional. You really only hear a couple complaints regarding this unit and neither has ever bothered me. The material can be warm in warm weather and the fact that there isn't a strap on the upper vault to hold it in place while the binos are out bothers some. Neither of these things bother me and though they edge out the FHF by a hair, I would still give it "4 Stars". These come in two sizes which take care of about every size glass imaginable.
Sitka - Sitka took a little different approach with their harness and you don't hear much about this unit. I used this unit all last year on hunts that included 17 days in the Yukon hunting Stone Sheep, 10 days hunting Shiras Moose in BC, a week on Vancouver Island chasing deer and a ton of local hunting for deer and coyotes. This unit is close to being fantastic but needs a couple "tweaks". The binos are held while glassing with a single elastic cord. If you don't put the binos back in the vault, the binos bounce all over the place. A better retention system is needed. For me this unit could be a little bigger as my Leicas are TIGHT in it. Either that or they need to offer it in two sizes. The harness is comfortable and instead of traditional buckles it uses a magnetic system on the straps to hold the top of the vault. I don't know how necessary this is, but it works. Being more critical than need be, I will give this one Three Stars. Rumor has it this system may be reworked/modified. Sitka also has a great looking simple harness without the vault hitting the market this year which will be similar to the Nimrod system without the "bounce".
*Alaska Guide Creations - The original version of this harness didn't appeal to me as it was like wearing a pack on your chest with LOTS of storage. AK Creations now offers 4 different sizes/options that should satisfy anyone's needs. I recently purchased the Kodiak KISS system which is their basic harness and vault without a bunch of large storage compartments. This unit is about as perfect a system as I have used/found. You can purchase their tether system or use your own strap. You can buy the basic version like I did or the "Classic" version with all the bells and whistles. IMO this harness is in a class by itself, easily my favorite and the only one I would give "5 Stars". I like the harness system, the materials, the retention system and the closure. The ONLY improvement I could see is that my Leica HD B's are a little tight in this unit, but it should be perfectly sized for all other 8 or 10 power binos.
The thing I failed to mention in all of the above "vault type" units are the varying closure techniques used by each vault. Perhaps the most basic is the elastic cord used by FHF and AK Guide Creations. KUIU uses an elastic hood that just pulls over the binos, Sitka uses a zipper on its vault and the Badlands unit uses a magnetic closure. I hated the magnetic closure, but didn't favor any of the other methods over another as far as the others go.
We really have some great choices in harnesses these days. None are perfect, but the FHF, KUIU, Sitka and AK Guide Creations are close. I really don't know that a person could go wrong with any, but the clear winner for me is the Alaska Guide Creations Kodiak KISS Harness.
I too liked the Sitka, but found it to be too tight for my particular 10x42. I want to be able to get binos up/out fast with one hand as well as put them back single-handedly.
I'm currently trying the Kuiu and while I find it does work pretty well, I personally find it odd that the vault doesn't have an upper strap and is solely dependent on the horizontal strap around one's chest. I've been tempted to just modify a connection but haven't gotten around to it yet.
Will have to look into the AGC model.
One thing that I don't think anyone has done a good job of is 90-95% of the time we're wearing backpacks at the same time as our bino harness/system. They need to fit together - the sternum strap of a backpack always seems to be a hassle with a bino system.
Haven't tried the AK Guide Creations...but love the Kuiu harness for my Swaro EL's...had the FHF for a while, but didn't like having to lift the front cordura-type closure flap (cover) out of the way to access my glass. The Kuiu on the other hand, moves down out of the way by design allowing instant access without a glance to be sure the binos are clear to be lifted silently. The elastic cord on the FHF will also make noise...like plucking a string...if you are not careful when removing the front flap cord from the metal fastener. Had this happen a couple of times and really cringed at the sound it made and how loud it sounded to me during a stalk. The Kuiu harness also keeps my binos way cleaner in the field than the FHF system since they are mostly enclosed by material when stored in the harness pouch...since the Kuiu does not have the open side slots like the FHF system.
Just my two cents...and again...nice summary!
I really like my KUIU, but the AGC KISS with the Max pocket looks like the bomb!
I have a question as I've contemplated getting something more than a Crooked Horn style harness. The chest pouch style ones - does the harness interfere with backpacks both daypacks and larger ones?
Curvebow...None of these harnesses bother me with a pack at all EXCEPT when I carry a side arm and ride the bino harness a little higher. Then, the only minor issue is with the chest strap and that is only an access issue.
You are the GEAR DUDE! :)
I like my KUIU but its a pain when you're going from tripod to bino pouch. I like the fact you can unbuckle them quickly to mount on a tripod but then the whole thing falls down to your waist.
Can you elaborate on the rear compartment (which I don't see in the pics)? The description says "flat"? Does this mean it expands upon use? If so, once expanded does it push the entire bino harness out/away from the body?
How are you carrying your rangefinder or are you using binos with RF built in? Currently I'm using a FHF RF pouch attached to my KUIU harness...works but could be better.
From a whitetail/treestand hunter that has started doing western and mountain hunts I like the fact that you can use the KUIU harness with or without the vault. When I'm in a treestand 99% of the time I'm using it without the vault.
The Kodiak KISS without the bottom pouch isn't meant to carry anything but the binos, maybe a scent bottle in the side pouch and your license/tags. If you want to carry "stuff" one would be better served with one of the other models.
I'll get some pics up on the AGC unit showing all compartments in the next couple days.
I agree with you 100% on the ability to use the KUIU without the vault. I did exactly the same when hunting from the treestand.
I want to try the AGC and this might make me pick one up. But I too use the new Leica Geovid B model Bino/RF. Because the unit is also my RF, I need to be able to get to it quickly and without excess movement. Is it too tight to do that? Also, are there any straps at all to the binos, or do they simply drop into the vault? I'm afraid I'd set mine down and walk off. and lastly is the material quiet? Brushing against it? Drawing and your clothing moving under it? Opening and closing? Does the lid stay open so you can drop the binos back in one handed?
Thanks for the review, I'm intrigued.
As far as being tight, it is MUCH better getting them out vs. my Sitka harness I used last year, but it is still tight. If you used any other binos but the Leicas, your concerns would be null and void. With the Leica's your concerns are valid. I can't answer your questions, until I get some more bowhunting field time with mine. The only hunting I've done with mine thus far has been coyote hunting and they've been flawless for that application, but you discover "things" when using them bowhunting. I'm hoping they will be fine, but until I have "in the field use" with these, I will hold back me thoughts on using them for bowhunting WITH the Leicas. Again, no other models should be an issue but the shape and size of these Leicas make them a challenge with bino vaults.
I just got some Leica 10x42 HD-R's and need a method of carry without interfering with shooting.
Not a longbow but I can shoot my 62" recurve with the KUIU and have no issues.
I've been using a Nimrod for 4 or 5 years with Swaro 10x42s. I've wanted something new for a while, but just haven't taken the plunge
I may have to get something here soon before my next trip
I think another one worth looking at is the Horn Hunter. I like it because of the toughness of the fabric and that it doesn't attract burrs. Additionally, the direction of the flap closure is ideal for belly crawling on a spot & stalk. I had the cover on another bino harness slip off on a stalk while crawling, and got a scratch to the eyepiece glass:-( I don't use the range finder option on stalks though. I also have added a small bungee strap to the harness, which tightens up the system even more, so that I can run without any bouncing of the binos. I have listed a link below:
and a u-tube review:
For comparison, the AGC KISS is 3" deep whereas as the "flattest" is probably the KUIU (which is 2.7")
I own the KUIU and really like although I've tried with two sew shops to have them add a pocket...."not possible"
Well...just ordered the AGC KISS with max pocket.
Cory, if you were out killing coyotes 18 and 19, it would have saved me $96 today!
Very nice, honest, through evaluation of equipment based on personal experience and views. Most helpful. Thanks for your time compiling your findings and thought.
I really believe you a a "Mystery Shopper" in disguise.
Found the s4 cheap and uncomfortable like he did.
The kuiu was o.k. but was so small it was too tight with just a t shirt on and the straps were out as far as I could take them. I'm no fitness model but that is still just ridiculous. That companies fit just sucks.
The crooked horn was great for what it was and I used it for years but agree with kota that you don't want to move fast with it on.
The Alaskan guide creations I just recently bought and think it is the best there is. I'll never look for another bino harness again.
Not trying to jump the thread just add my 2 cents.
The KUIU harness does ride closer to the chest than the others, but I can't imagine any of these 4 being an issue with bow strings.
I was going to post that if you already own one of the three latter harnesses, I don't know that it is worth it to "upgrade" to the AGC, but go ahead Mark...;)
Quite honestly, the KUIU Harness has features I really like, but still give the edge to the AGC. It almost really comes down to aesthetics.
I am using AGC and this years Sitka harness, I like them both and only switch them up based on the glass. If Was forced Have just one it would be the AGC. I liked the Kuiu as well but Recently sold it as I found if I was switching back from free hand to a tripod it was a little bit of pain in the ass. If didn't use a pod it would be right in the mix.
In trying to decide between the AGC and the KUIU my main priorities are (1) quiet, and (2) lightweight.
Which one do you think is quieter to use?
Any idea about the weight on the AGC? (KUIU is published)
Also, did anyone else notice that on the KUIU video when Jason shows the "one-handed" operation he used one hand to take the binos out but needed two to cover them back up?
Would the KUIU be easier to use in a larger size so it was looser? (like a 10x42 bino in the XL harness)
Size wise, it depends on which 10x42's. For the rangefinder combo units, definitely go XL. For the regular 10x42 Leica or Swaro's the regular size is probably fine.
I got the Kuiu XL for my 10x42 binos (Brunton Icon & Vortex Razor) specifically so that I could get them in/out quickly and easily with one hand. I could likely have gotten by with the L, but the XL can be done with bow in hand and very easily.
I had also wanted a little extra room for low profile bino tripod adapter to remain attached to binos. I have since switched to a different tripod adapter that makes this a non-issue.
Kuiu XL 7.5oz total the pouch is 5oz, 2.5oz harness
AGC classic w/out basement 14.2 oz total the pouch is 8.7, 5.5oz for harness
Do any of these systems really work well when you're running or belly crawling? Unless the straps are really cranked down the binos are going to bounce/sag.
IMO somebody could design a shirt/jacket with a built-in chest bino holder and do away with messing around with yet one more strap around your neck/shoulders.
I'm not too bright so as long as I can figure out how to use the $10 tether, I think I'm going to really like them...
Will use on upcoming shed hunts, hikes and practice sessions at the range to get a feel for the but first impression is good.
Thanks for helping me spend some hard earned cash Cory!
Mark...Get out and use that thing and post up some thoughts...
Ike...You threaded the tether different than I did. I'll post up a picture of the way I threaded mine. I don't know if either way is right or wrong or better or worse.
What I really want is a bino hip pack. I took my badlands case and put a belt through it later last year on whitetail hunts and was somewhat pleased with ho it worked, but have elk and moose hunts for this year and not sure how that will work. Does anyone have suggestions for that?
The binos (Swaro EL 10x42) come out and go back in effortlessly...the vault I am guessing is slightly bigger than the comparable KUIU. The lid flips back out of the way.
Cory, without knowing it, I tethered mine the same as you....great minds think alike:) Solid and out of the way.
A couple of quick observations (I have not used it in the field):
-Quality...the AGC is an extremely well built made in America good. Everything is well thought out and built to last.
-Side pockets...I keep my Leupy range finder in my bino case side pocket with the safety rope around my neck. The AGC side pockets are a bit smaller than the KUIU and it simply will not go in there. This is a big one for me as I have a system that works for me in the heat of the moment...I'll continue to mess with it.
-Material is bullet proof but is louder when compared to the KUIU
1. They could use smaller buckles to save weight and to be less cumbersome. No big deal though.
2. They could save some weight by removing some of the excess on the "KISS" model. eg. - The pockets on the top of the lid are unnecessary.
And lastly, a lighter cordura would be fine and save weight as well.
Mark...Just get the EL Ranges and you don't have to worry about that side pocket...I love spending your money.
Kota, that's from their website, mines attached like yours...
The Kodiak KISS without the bottom pouch isn't meant to carry anything but the binos, maybe a scent bottle and you license/tags. If you want to carry "stuff" one would be better served with one of the other models.
No mention of FHF here. Another site rates them highly. thoughts here?/
My thoughts on the pluses of the AGC: 1) It offers better protection, 2) it has better storage options, and 3) the harness isn't reliant on the binoculars to hold it in place (a criticism by some of the Kuiu harness).
The minuses: 1) Removing and replacing the binocs is more difficult and potentially noisier (especially with one hand) due to the depth of the vault, 2) you can't easily move/hold the lid out of the way, 3) the buckles that attach the straps to the case are a bit loose when engaged and can rattle a bit, and 4) it won't vent as well as the Kuiu in hot weather.
To answer SDHNTR's questions regarding "tight fit" with the Leica HD B's: It isn't an issue. With the eyecups "in", they fit perfect. With the eyecups "out" the lid stretches over them fine.
With regard to one hand operation, I disagree a little with Matt. Several times I was "on my gun" looking at a coyote and easily reached in and grabbed the binos with one had and put them back in with ease.
I do agree with the buckle assesment. Though I haven't noticed my buckles rattling, smaller, tighter fitting buckles would go a LONG way on this unit. And the unit is bulkier than the KUIU unit and may very well be warmer in hot weather. I sold my KUIU harnesses. :)
With the Kuiu hinging roughly in the middle from top to bottom, I can easily grab my EL's with my thumb right in the ergonomic thumb depression so they can come right to my eyes. Due to the depth of the vault on the AGC, almost the entire length of the binocular is down in it, so I can't grab them in a way that allows me to bring them to my face without re-gripping.
The variabilty of interpupillary distance from person to person can affect how "tall" the binocs are, which can change the fit. My eyes are fairly close together, which is part of the issue.
With the Kuiu, the lid generally stays open after you open it whereas the AGC closes, which makes it easier to put the binocs away in the Kuiu than the AGC.
Both are nice units (IMO the 2 best I've used), but for me the Kuiu just works better.
Really appreciate these gear threads on Bowsite!
Over the past few months I have been running multiple packs trying to figure out which I like best.
I've up graded binos as well during this time thus really pushing me to try multiple set ups.
12x50 8x42 8x32 Leica Rangefinder
1) AGC Standard Pack - I rant this all fall and loved it, it held my 8x42 that I was running at the time, rangefinder in the front and a few other small items in the side pockets. It didn't feel that big or bulky when wearing. However when I bought my 12x50's they didn't fit so I sold it. and ordered a size up.
2) AGC Classic Pack - Immediately after receiving this I noticed that the straps, buckles and harness were bigger, wider and different than my original pack- more on this later. Overall another solid great back, it holds my 12's great but compared to the older Std. Pack I definitely notice its added dimensions and bulk. I can shoot my bow with it just fine, but fell it sticks too far out
After a while of running the 12's I loved them but still missed my old 8's so I ended up also buying some 8x32's Once they came in, as suspected the classic is just way to big, they rattled around
I am still on the fence about keeping this pack, I'm thinking it will be nice for some of my rifle hunting but i wasn't happy so i kept looking.
3) Kuiu-- My next stop was a Kuiu bino pack, I wasn't crazy about how big the classic and they kuiu looked more sleek, compact and lightweight. I feel from an astheic and material feel the kuiu is superior to the AGC, I like the harness, buckles and design, and tried so hard to make it work, ordering extra straps etc to figure out a solution when you disconnect the binos to put on a tripod as seen in the pic above, but I just couldn't get right with the kuiu and will be putting it up for sale.
4) AGC Kiss -- As I said before my orginal AGC had 3/4 buckles, and a trimmer harness. I called in and asked about this, apparently there was design change about a year ago and now they have gone to a 1inch buckle and the bigger harness.
I got extremely lucky and was able to buy one of the last 3/4 inch harness Kiss pack they had.
It just got here on Thursday but I spent Friday and the weekend scouting for turkeys with it. I think I have found a winner, overall its not much bigger than the kuiu, but it hold my 32 and 50's. sure the 50's are a tad snug, but the 32's don't rattle at all so its prefect for the two of them or your 42's.
I also greatly prefer the 3/4 inch suspension and buckle set up. I still needed a way to hold the rangefinder so I am experimenting with the FHF gear pocket and coil and so far I think I have a winner.
I bought one of the FHF coils for my remote on my coyote calling setup. Their coil is one neat little accessory.
Bbates...Can you post a picture of the 3/4 buckles and the slimmer harness on the KISS?
pav...keep us posted on your thoughts.
Can you please hold off on the great reviews until the Canadian $$$ gets a little better!
Just joking. Great review. Thanks for sharing.
I'm looking to keep my maps, compass, binos, rangefinder, gps or phone and a small camera all up front and at my fingertips with this setup. Might be overkill to some but I like to drop my pack and run on occasion.
That said, my AGC is supposed to be delivered tomorrow.
Excellent reviews kota-man.
I called AGC and bought my KISS from them direct however i believe at the time it was the last 3/4 inch buckle suspension that Jarrett could find.
i think they are going to be hard to come by with the popularity of the packs as most retaliers are moving pretty quickly through product, i glance from time to time in various classifieds
id call agc and ask if they have any or maybe who they send the last
I really like my Alaska Guide Creations, I like the fact I can have all my extra stuff attached to me if I want to run and gun so to speak.... No Pack. I usually have my Binos, Range finder, Windicator and GPS in mine.
Works like a charm for me, Thanks Again!
I've wanted to try the AGC too, yet I also have the same binos you do. I called the owner and he said the large vault would be tight. To me that defeats the purpose. Maybe we, and others with the HDB's, could get him to custom make us one a bit larger? You know the guy? Might be worth asking.
Regarding your question though, I feel my HD B's fit snug, but not bad. It would be nice if it was a hair bigger, but really isn't much of a hindrance. I'm able to take them out and range with one hand no problem. A half inch wider would be perfect.
The only other compliant I've heard on the KUIU harness ist the fact that it is hot. Neither of the issues really bothered me much, but I do have a little something holding the harness up without the extra strap. (my gut)
I'm looking forward to putting my AGC through the paces this fall. Coyote hunting all winter was a good test, but not quite the same as a mountain hunt. Happy Birthday!
I'm pretty happy with my KUIU and not sure if i''ll change yet or not but do like the looks of the FHF and bino bro and KISS so was curious.
When I go to check cameras I use the back zipped pocket to hold memory cards. nice and handy
I used my Havalon to cut stitching/fabric. I removed every possible piece of extra material including all the exterior pockets, excess webbing, labels...everything I could get off it and turn it into a binoc-only harness. After doing that I decided the lid/cover projected out farther than needed, so I figured out a way to do a folded seam which I stitched on my machine. You wouldn't recognize it now. Totally bare bones and yet has what I wanted originally in a harness. It sits close and doesn't have nearly the bulky feel as before I started.
I was able to test the new version the last half of the hunting season last fall and everything that I didn't like about the original had been fixed. I have talked about this with Cory and I know that he still won't be 100% satisfied:) but for me it was a drastic improvement. I would recommend it over all the other systems I have used.
After visiting with Matt, I was able to handle the new Sitka harness at the Sheep Show in Reno. It's not perfect, but a HUGE improvement over the original. I'm going to try one this fall.