If you spend enough time in the woods, you eventually come to the conclusion that hunting with binoculars is much better than hunting without them. But how do you carry them along? Inside your backpack, on a strap around your neck, dangling from a chest harness exposed to the elements…tucked into a vest pocket, or a cargo pocket of your pants? While all of those methods will get the job done, you eventually find yourself thinking that there “has to be a better way.” And that’s because there is! That better way is in the form of a bino bivy, or chest pack.

I’ve been running a bino bivy since 2012 and have come to appreciate the convenience that they offer. But if you take a look at some of the models that are out on the market today, it’s easy to see that things can be taken to the level of ridiculous. Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. Every school boy, or girl knows of this acronym. While this philosophy applies to a vast number of things, it most certainly resonates when gearing up for a bow hunt. And while running a bino bivy seems almost second nature nowadays, not every model is as bowhunter friendly as the next. And I think here is where the two terms “bino bivy” and “chest pack” often deviate from each other. When I think of the term “bivy” I think of ultralight and streamlined, just like the gear system someone would use when they bivouac out into some remote location. So, when referring to a piece of gear that comfortably totes binoculars on your person, the “bivy” aspect seems to convey a streamlined package. But then toss in the term “pack” and you can have something mirroring your backpack, only stuffed full of gear and mounted to your chest.

The folks at Alaska Guide Creations have been offering some great chest pack models for several years now. And like any highly useful piece of gear, these were originally designed out of necessity. Jaret Owens designed his first “binocular harness chest pack” while guiding big game hunters in Alaska. With the nature of guiding in Alaska relying heavily on high quality optics, his necessity was comfortably carrying and protecting them while out in the field. I’ve been running two of his current models this year and can say that the Alaskan guide bloodline definitely shows in these designs. One of the models, the Kodiak K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple/Secure) really seems suited to the bowhunter. Its profile is streamlined, yet ample enough to house a set of 10×42 binoculars. There are also some extra features built in that are all very simple and functional. Another aspect that I appreciate is that two of their Mossy Oak camo options utilize a much quieter textile than Cordura nylon, which is used to build the other color options. Once again, these are small details that are important to the bowhunter.

After originally using their much larger Alaska Classic model while doing an optics study; I came to love the comfort of the harness and convenience of the layout. But with its large, bulky profile and somewhat “loud” Cordura fabric, I couldn’t imagine using it within the confines of the typical bowhunting scenario. I reached out to the guys at AGC with a few questions, and was directed to the aforementioned Kodiak K.I.S.S. model. I liked the looks of the overall profile, and decided to go with the version incorporating the M.A.X. Pocket featured on the bottom side of the pack body. It doesn’t take anything away from the sleek profile, and is very useful for stowing lightweight items like a headlamp, knife, water purification tablets, etc. While this model is offered in a variety of colors and camo patterns; if you choose Mossy Oak Bottomland, or Mossy Oak Break-up-Country, a quieter, lightly brushed fabric is utilized as was previously mentioned. There are also some simple, mesh pockets incorporated on either side of the pack body. These are perfect for bottles of windicator powder and game calls. I like to run a windicator bottle on one side, and either a cow call, or buck grunt tube on the other. Both are close to hand and easy to retrieve, or stow.

*PRO TIP: Be sure to spend some time getting the harness properly adjusted to your personal situation/needs and take the time to secure any extra nylon straps that may get in the way. If you choose to trim any of the nylon straps, THINK IT THROUGH COMPLETELY. You can only do it once!

Tis that time of year, friends! If you haven’t already decided on another bino bivy/chest pack, or have been on the fence about them in general, give the Kodiak K.I.S.S. a hard look and be sure to tell the folks at Alaska Guide Creations that we sent you.

Product features and specs:

  • Designed to accommodate full binoculars up to 42mm (perfect for 8×32-10×42)
  • Main compartment measures approximately: 6.5” H x 6” W x 3” D
  • Side mesh pockets measure approximately: 3” H x 2.25” W x 1” D
  • Rear compartment measurements: 4” H x 6” W (flat)
  • Hook and Bungee System allow for quiet, easy one-hand operation to open and secure main compartment
  • M.A.X. bottom pocket measures 1” tall, and has the same depth and width as the main compartment. Perfect for storing: light pair of gloves or beanie, headlamp, Tyto knife and replacement blades, or any other variety of small necessary items
  • Colors available: Kryptek Highlander, Multicam, Mossy Oak Break-Up Country (soft touch), Mossy Oak Bottomland (soft touch), First Lite Fusion, First Lite Cipher, True Timber, Coyote Brown, Ranger Green, Foliage
  • MSRP: $99.99