It seems like good customer service is becoming more and more rare these days. Very seldom do I find myself thinking about how great of service I had when I leave a restaurant or store. However, while at the Archery Trade Association (ATA) show this year in Columbus, OH, I experienced great customer service…albeit in another form.
Last year, I wrote the Hardcore Field Test on the S4 Gear Lockdown. This brand new product took the binocular harness world by storm in a very short time. While the idea was genius and I loved its functionality and purpose, not everything was up to par when it came to design. Call it splitting hairs, but I noted in the review things that could be changed and I made it a point to follow up with Fred Hunt, VP of Engineering and Design at S4 Gear, and give him my thoughts.
I gave Fred a call a few days after I finished the review and before the magazine had gone to print. We went over the usual pluses and minuses, but Fred stopped me and asked me if there was anything else I’d "change or add” to it. This opened a can of worms and Fred was more than receptive to my ideas. We ended the conversation on a great note when Fred said that he appreciated my honest review and that several of the things I’d mentioned were already being looked at for a future model. Future model? Yep. They were already working on a new and improved version.
When I made my way to the S4 Gear booth at ATA, I noticed something visibly different in the new product line-up. I had to do a double take and make sure I was looking at the "new and improved” Lockdown; indeed I was. Fred was all smiles, and as we shook hands he was finally able to unveil the longawaited new Lockdown X to me. Developing the best tension-free glassing harness out there was quite a task, so I’m sure improving on it was equally as challenging.
I made the mention to customer service because the folks at S4 Gear exemplified just that. They took all the feedback from hunters like you and I to heart and made a good product even better. It’s nice to see a company that truly appreciates feedback, both good and bad, and does something about it. Literally all the questions or concerns I had raised, as well as encountered over the course of using it last fall, had all been addressed.
As soon as I picked up the new X, I immediately noticed the weight. I never really paid attention to the weight factor in the old Lockdown, but I did notice it not being one in the new X. It’s incredibly lightweight, weighing only 10.2 oz.
Probably my favorite new addition is the one from which it derived its name – the "X” pattern of the back. I didn’t notice any problems with the old strap system until I put it through several hunts. I was antelope hunting in early September and the temps were par for the course…hot. Around midday I noticed that the back and sides of my neck were kind of "raw”. I then noticed it was from the mesh on the underside of the strap system rubbing against my skin. This is where the harness naturally wanted to ride, so there was nothing I could do to fix it. Later in the fall, I never noticed it again because of heavier clothing. Well, the mesh is gone and the straps come together in the center of your back, rather than up at the back of the neck; huge improvement not only for comfort, but also for functionality. The whole harness holds tighter to your body and doesn’t want to rock forward like the old one tended to do.
Two other key features on the new X is how the shock cords terminate in the front instead of behind your back and the wider security cover. Adjustability is key with this harness, and having all that extra shockcord isn’t necessary. Also, the wider top piece of the security cover keeps debris, rain, moisture etc. out.
All of the adjustment locations seem to be improved as well. Instead of having one strap around the bottom of the harness, it’s been separated into two and comes together at to two locations on the back – thus forming the "X”. You’ll immediately notice the difference this makes when you put it on.
Lastly, a very simple and perhaps underrated feature is the neoprene covers that slip over the clips that attach your binos to the harness. When you attach the rings to your binoculars, the plastic clips made an inherent "clicking” noise while riding around in the harness. These little covers slide over the entire clip and ensure that no little noises can be made…a perfect solution.
Overall, the new Lockdown X is one incredible piece of equipment. If you’re looking for the ultimate in binocular harness, look no further than the Lockdown X. The foundation was laid last year and S4 Gear has done nothing but improve what they built from the ground up. I can’t wait to get to run this thing through the rigors of fall, but I can already tell that I know I’ll be happy with the results. Like the S4 Gear slogan says, "Meeting the demands of nature and those who tame it,” when it comes to the Lockdown X I’d say mission accomplished.