I first started seeing hunters use binocular chest pouches several years ago. The first ones I saw were geared towards backpack hunting, and actually clipped into the straps on a mountain pack. Since then, they have become more efficient, and much more popular, and for good reason.
Granted, there are plenty of hunters out there whose hunting style and conditions don’t require the use of binoculars, but for the majority of us, they are a critical part of our hunting gear. Pretty much every respectable set of binoculars out there comes with a soft case and neck strap, and you can do just fine with that, but a good bino pouch can make your life much easier in several ways.
An optics pouch keeps your binoculars right on your chest for quick, easy access. Most pouches can be worn comfortably with or without a backpack on. On most Western and high-country hunts, the more time you spend behind the glass, the higher your chances of success, and having your binoculars easily accessible at all times makes you more likely to use them than if they’re stuffed in your backpack.
Good glass is expensive, and chances are that if you’re investing a lot of money in your binoculars, you’re going on hunts that can beat the crap out of them. A good bino pouch protects your optics from the elements as well as trauma that they might be vulnerable to by flopping around on a neck strap.
Sure, it’s quicker to bring up a binocular that’s on a neck strap or simple chest harness, but after some use, it’s second nature to quickly pull them out of a pouch. The pouch also keeps them from flopping into your way when you’re crawling on a stalk or getting ready for a shot. Most bino pouches allow you to shoot a rifle or draw your bow without any interference. You can also select pouches that have extra pockets for a rangefinder or other pieces of gear that you want to have quick, easy access to.
There are quite a few good options for pouches out there, and you can find one to fit your needs almost perfectly. There are pouches with built in cartridge holders, pockets for range finders, tags, etc. There are several good places to start like FHF gear and Alaska Guide Creations. I’ve used the Badlands pouch before, and it worked fine, but I found that a lot of my stuff would fall out when I would let the lid hang open with its particular style. You don’t have to break the bank either, last year I used one marketed by Hornady, which is similar to some others, offers great weather protection, and has several pockets. On my sheep hunt last year, I carried my rangefinding bino, a pocket knife, my tags, a lens cloth, chapstick, and eight rounds of ammunition. That pouch sells for only $32 and it worked great.
It may take a little bit of getting used to, but I think once you start using a bino harness, you’re unlikely to ever go back.