Product Review: KUIU Binocular Harness System

by Tom Ryle on November 7, 2013

glasssing smallIf you’ve spent any time toting binoculars in the mountains then I’m confident you’ve cussed your bino harness a time or two. They either ride up on the back of your neck or allow your binoculars to bounce incessantly against your chest, usually both. And if you’re like me, you’ve tried them all and settled on the one that causes the least amount of frustration.

I had the opportunity to test the new KUIU Binocular Harness System soon after the July 2013 product launch. Like every product in their lineup, KUIU’s Binocular harness system is unique and purpose-built to carry a wide range of 10x and 15x glass typically used for mountain hunting. (Pocket-sized folding models are best suited for a shirt or pack pocket).

Since KUIU’s birth a few short years ago, I’m continually reminded of famous architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.  Mies strove toward minimalism and is often associated with the aphorisms, “less is more” and my favorite quote, “God is in the details. In my experience, that’s where real user value lives – in the details. KUIU’s bino harness was obviously conceived through a rigorous iterative design process, whereby continual prototyping and testing led to thoughtful features and execution details. KUIU founder, Jason Hairston had this to say:

“We spent 2 years designing, testing and refining the KUIU Binocular Harness into the most functional system created. Our design holds your binoculars tight to your chest, is extremely quiet, allows for easy one-handed operation, and is modular with two sizes to fit a wide range of binoculars.”

What You Get

The harness comes with the full containment pouch and a separate “bikini” strap for outings that don’t require as much full-body protection. And the featherweight ripstop rain cover is always at the ready to keep rain, dust, needles, and other debris off your glasses. There are also two mesh side pockets that are suitable for diaphragm calls, wind checker, or other small items. I use one for elk calls and the other to store the rain cover.




Like other products in KUIU’s Guide series, the KUIU Binocular Harness System is constructed of Toray Primeflex® 4-way stretch soft shell fabric with a micro-fleece lining for quiet use. The Primeflex® fabric combined with an elastic cord and Duraflex cord locks provide customized fitting to assure protection for your optics in all hunting conditions. Although the system is treated with the high performing Toray Kudos®DWR, a 30 denier sil-nylon diamond ripstop CORDURA® Fabric rain cover is included to ensure complete waterproofness.

How It Works

As I mentioned at the outset, one of my top gripes is when a harness rides up on my back, which creates slack and the dreaded bounce so common with most harnesses. The KUIU binocular harness solves these two common problems through a unique tethering approach. The KUIU harness transfers the weight of the binoculars away from your neck and shoulders by connecting the top straps (over shoulder) to the binoculars while the side straps (around body) connect to the semi-rigid “pouch” (or bikini strap) only. When you lift your glasses out they are no longer tethered to the pouch in front, providing full range of motion. There is no struggling to overcome strap tension elsewhere in the system.


Without the use of elastic, the KUIU system fits comfortably and snuggly around your upper chest, provides even weight distribution and prevents annoying bounce and sag when running or crawling.

Unlike most other binocular harnesses on the market, the KUIU system peels down and forward from the top, allowing for efficient one-handed operation. The roof of the lid is semi-rigid as well to protect the eyepieces, and has a handy finger loop on top that is sized to fit a gloved hand.

My Experience & Assessment

As a product designer I judge products, in part, by how well they serve my needs repeatedly in real-world conditions. As I mentioned at the outset, if a harness rides up my neck or beats my chest, it stays home.

This past September I was hunting Roosevelt elk along the jungle-like Washington coastline. Contrary to the reputation for rain, September is often hot with temps pushing 90 degrees or more. As a result elk are often found in the canyon bottoms amidst an unrelenting obstacle course of thick brush, thorns, and downed timber. Navigating this country can be exhausting, not to mention very hard on gear. You can expect to be literally crawling on hands and knees and navigating around ancient logs too tall to climb over. An endless sea of sword ferns produce pungent, gritty pollen that covers everything as your movement disturbs thousands of reaching arms. Think: dust mask! Meanwhile, salmonberry, devils club and other vegetation work you over like a drive-through car wash!

IMG_1981 KUIU Review

One morning I battled my way up a familiar drainage. Normally I keep my binoculars in my pack until I get higher on the ridge but on this day I wanted to see how well the KUIU harness would perform. After a full hour of abuse I headed up out of the bottom toward a favorite glassing spot at the edge of some big timber. I pulled my binoculars from their protective pouch and despite a few lone twigs in the bottom; the lenses were clean and free from fern pollen. I had cinched down the elastic to create a tighter than normal seal around the eyecups which worked well.

There was no noticeable bounce throughout my hunt but to test this further I wore the harness during a recent stair running session in my office building. The attach points create a “neutral mass weight” condition whereby there is equal support from the top and bottom, resulting in the weight to become static against your chest. There is not a bias in either direction; no ride-up and virtually no bounce.

As consumers, we all have to balance price with quality and performance. It’s no mystery that KUIU designs and manufactures some of the finest gear on the market, and while much of their offerings are targeted at extreme-conditions adventures, their binocular harness system is appropriate for all types of hunting.

Sizing Options + Pricing

The Binocular Harness System is available in Vias or Verde Camo. The large sized system weighs 7 ounces, fits binoculars up to 10×42 and is available for $79.99. The extra large weighs 8 ounces, fits binoculars up to 15×56 and is available for $84.99.

About KUIU

Based in Dixon, California, KUIU was founded in 2011 to provide customers with the world’s most advanced hunting layering system and equipment on the market. KUIU provides remarkable apparel and equipment that is light, packable, and dependable. By eliminating retailers and selling their products exclusively online, KUIU drives the ultimate shopping experience. They provide superior customer service, lower pricing, and the highest product quality. For additional information visit or call 855-367-5848 Monday-Friday from 9:00AM-5:00PM PST.

© FreshTRAX Outdoors 2013, All Rights Reserved.



Product Review: Slip System from Elk Mountain Gear

by Tom Ryle on October 31, 2013

elk decoy slip

Hunting from the ground has a certain appeal. Boots on the ground at eye-level with wary game keeps the excitement high and requires a bit more diligence when it comes to scent and movement. The ground blind market has exploded in recent years, providing hunters a wide range of makes & models to fit nearly any hunting situation. The same could be said for decoys. In fact, Elk Mountain Gear, based in Shasta Lake City, California has developed a great new product called the Slip System which is both a highly effective blind and a flexible photo-realistic decoy — and then some.

There is an old English proverb that states, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This sentiment is still alive and well today and was the impetus behind the Slip System. I’ve had the opportunity to use the Slip System on a number of hunts over the past couple years and wanted to share the features, benefits, and my assessment of this multi-use product.


The Slip System serves three primary functions; it offers excellent ground-level concealment for the hunter, it serves as a decoy to confuse or attract game, and it is a sturdy hiking staff. But that’s not all. Literally, in a minute or two you can transform the Slip System from a sturdy hiking staff, to a shooting stick, a monopod, a stationary ground blind, a mobile ground blind, and an oversized umbrella which comes in handy when waiting out an unexpected squall. And if that isn’t enough, here’s the frosting on the cake — the Slip System can be easily installed onto the side of a tree as an umbrella for your tree stand. Here in the Pacific Northwest that is a huge plus!

The Slip System’s namesake comes from the lightweight “slips” that are easily attached to the frame via grommets. Elk Mountain Gear offers (8) camo slips and (13) decoy slips to cover a wide variety of hunting situations. Whether you’re hunting snow geese in a crusty stubble field or bugling bull elk in the high country, you’re covered with the Slip System.



Right out of the box, the Slip System is assembled as a hiking staff. The adjustable extension rod allows you to size the staff for a perfect fit.

The past two spring seasons we used the slip system to cross openings between the pines within 100 yards of feeding turkeys. The ability to open and close it up slowly (with gloves) was a detail I really hadn’t thought of until the situation presented itself.

The slip system blind grows on you. After you use it a few times it becomes really handy, especially on day hunts from the truck. I used it to push away brush along trails so I don’t rub up against it leaving scent all over the place. I soak it down with scent killer frequently.


From the farm country of NE Washington to the relentlessly rugged Montana Missouri River Breaks, the Slip System has put up with less than gentle treatment. We often just toss it in the bed of the pickup between hunts where it has been jostled around above miles of rough dirt roads. One evening I was in a hurry to load some gear and I inadvertently threw my Double Bull ground blind (with two chairs) right in on top of it! Expecting the worst, I climbed into the back and rescued the Slip System from its weighty abuser. It was fine thanks to durable materials and construction.


When it comes to hunting from the ground there are lots of products available to choose from. And it goes without saying that all products have pros and cons. For example, a “pop-up” style ground blind works very well when hunting with kids or when the weather is wet and cold. Hands down, they can help make a hunt successful. On the flip side, they require a notable amount of effort to relocate. For the western hunter who is more inclined to employ a “run and gun” style of hunting, pop-up blinds don’t really fit the bill very well.


The Slip System is unique in that it combines both concealment for the hunter as well as an option to decoy game. It can be used as a hiking staff or easily strapped onto your pack. The ability to quickly add the shooting stick and camera mount attachments are also a plus, not to mention the ever-growing number of slip options.

When you compare feature to feature, the price of the Slip System is very attractive. Currently it is on sale for $79.95 for the main unit and $34.95 each for slips, plus FREE shipping in the continental US.


When first attempting the treestand umbrella set up I stumbled a bit. To install the Slip System threaded rod, you need to first use a tree step to start the hole in the tree. This is a minor inconvenience given the benefits to have a large durable roof over your stand but to be fair, it needs to be noted. The reason for this is that the center pole assembly needs standard threads to join the other section, so there really isn’t a way to incorporate an aggressive wood screw-type thread. I have provided feedback to Elk Mountain Gear about creating a separate tree rod to make the tree set up easier.

In closing, the Slip System has become my go-to blind for many solo hunts where I might normally use a pop-up blind. The size and weight are minuscule in relation to the upside benefits. It’s easy to take with me, so I often do.

For more information, please visit where you’ll find the full selection of slip options, on-line store, and videos.

© FreshTRAX Outdoors 2013  All Rights Reserved

closed against tree

umbrella on tree sidehigh contrast front
stationary backside


thumb button open



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Cabela’s Grand Opening – Tulalip, WA, April 19th, 11:00AM

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Deer: Post-Season Scouting, Part 6 – Set-Up Fundamentals

February 4, 2012

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