When the first binocular harnesses hit the market, I rushed out and bought one. Finally, gone were the days of those uncomfortable, cheap factory straps that never felt like they were quite right for hunting. After just a few months, it seemed as though everyone had or wanted one.
However, just like any other new product in the market, it’s only a matter time before people start to find flaws in its design and desire something new/better. Enter the S4 Gear LockDown. S4 Gear has taken current binocular harness design, ripped it apart, made some tweaks and built a brand new product from the ground up.
One major change is the adjustability. The "old-style harnesses” allowed you to adjust the tension on the straps that held the binoculars against your body, but that’s pretty much it. The only problem is that not everyone has the same body structure. That’s why S4 Gear made sure adjustment was a key feature that made the LockDown different than any other binocular harness out there. Whether you need to adjust the waist, cover position, tension or harness position, you can do it with ease.
One thing that’s very common with binocular harnesses is the "bouncing” whenever you pick up the pace – it’s annoying, impractical, and potentially painful. The LockDown has anti-bounce technology that safely secures the binoculars to your chest without permitting the movement or bounce commonly associated with traditional harnesses. From crawling to climbing or even running, you can rest assured your glass won’t move or make any unnecessary noise.
My favorite feature of the LockDown is the tension-free glassing. Remember how you felt constant pressure while glassing from the elasticity of the straps? No more. Bring the binoculars to your face with a single motion and the 50-50 pre-load design uses a ShockCord security strap that protects your glass when you’re not using them and is completely load free when you are.
Perhaps the most interesting feature is the moldable security cover. The laminated design features a scratch-resistant finish both inside and out, an aluminum core for memory, and a durable noise-resistant fabric – genius! If you’re going to pony up one or several paychecks for glass, you’d best take every precaution you can to protect that investment. I know I’ve hit my binos against my fair share of rocks or dragged them in the dirt while belly-crawling.
One thing I was hesitant about at first was having to pull the binos down and out to move them past the security cover. After a little examining and a quick call to the guys at S4 Gear, it all made sense. When you think about where the most "expensive” parts of your binoculars are, it’s clearly the top and bottom – even more so at the top. The cover goes over the top of the eyepieces to protect them from impact and debris. Likewise, the flap that hooks via a shock cord comes up from the bottom to snug them into place – protecting the glass on the bottom. The LockDown is very well thought out and you can tell there’s a reason as to why everything works the way it does.
Another thing worth noting is just how comfortable it is. When I first put it on, I immediately commented on how much I liked the straps. The straps are designed to be very streamlined and the breathable mesh on the underside of the strap makes them just as cool as they are comfortable. The real test was when I strapped on my pack. At first I couldn’t figure out why the straps made a "loop” around the neck and came together in the back. Once I had the pack on, I realized it was built that way with the pack hunter in mind. Now you’ll have no straps or adjustment buckles under your backpack straps.
Overall, I have to say that this binocular harness is a must-buy item. From top to bottom, there’s not a feature on it that doesn’t set it apart from all the other harnesses out there. I’d be willing to bet that for every complaint you have about your current or old binocular harness, the LockDown has it solved.
Hardcore Field Test Notes
Overall Design: Extremely well thought out. It's great to see a company who listens to customer feedback and wants to be on the cutting edge in technology.
Ease of Use: It doesn't get much simpler.
Durability: Seems well built to me, but I'll report back after a full season in the field with it.
Appearance: Compact, sleek and functional. There's nothing on the LockDown that isn't there for a reason.
Cost/Contact: Price $44.99. Available at www.eastmans.com