Hands Free Systems
Night vision is an incredible tool, but to utilize it to its full potential it often must be able to be used in a handsfree manner. Everyone sees the “tacticool” helmet systems worn with NODs by all the tier 1 units. These are effective, but not all users need ballistic protection, strobes, or have the extra cash to devote to a helmet setup. Bump helmets are a good compromise, but again these are still relatively expensive and too bulky for some uses. Finally, many have seen and used a NVG head harness like the standard “skull crusher” that comes in the kit included with most PVS-14 units. While cheap, this system is so uncomfortable that it really is ineffective. During nearly any form of movement as the night vision bounces around and away from the eye.
For those wanting a light, compact, and concealable retention system that would allow for night vision to be readily mounted, few options exist on the market. Will’s Optics will be releasing a new Ultra Lightweight Nylon NVG Head Harness that was designed for this exact purpose.
First we notice that there is not a hard skeletal structure like skull crushers, so the unit could easily fold down on itself and be stowed in a hoodie or jacket pocket.
As heads can vary in size, the head unit has numerous adjustments that can be set to the individuals preferences.
The primary complaint with the skull crusher was how uncomfortable it was to wear. With the hard skeletal structure, the old skull crusher was bulky and resulted in numerous hotspots around the head and forehead. This was improved on by adding a thin padding beneath the mount where the weight of the monocular or goggle would press down on the forehead.
The straps were made to a width that would still remain low profile but would be wide enough to be comfortable with the added weight of the goggles. Wraps are placed near the head size adjustments and not only help retain the excess material, but double as cable routing and management systems.
On the back of the head unit there is also a small area with loop Velcro. While the design was to eliminate bulk, some users may still require a small amount of support equipment. This area is small due to the nature of the system, but is large enough to attach a battery pack or IFF patch.
Personally for extended uses I would prefer a bump or ballistic helmet, but for short uses Due to their not being a secondary means of retention I have decided not to use a battery pack with the system for fear of losing or damaging my battery pack. However, this system is more for concealment and not extended use. Even in cold weather conditions, the battery life provided by a new lithium AA exceeds my needs for short uses.
Like anything in the night vision realm the price is not cheap, but you get what you pay for. This head harness retails for $295 and is available here.
This system does not replace a helmet but definitely serves a different purpose. While far more comfortable than a skull crusher, this unit still is uncomfortable for extended use. A PVS-31A was used for testing and worked, however a PVS-14 or MOD3 would be more concealable and would reduce weight. Like any other tool this is for a niche use.
Personally for extended uses requiring a battery pack I would prefer a bump or ballistic helmet, but for short uses a battery pack would not be necessary. Their is not a secondary means of retention, and losing or damaging a battery pack can be costly. However, this system is more for concealment and not extended use. Even in cold weather conditions, the battery life provided by the onboard battery should be sufficient for the short uses I would utilize this head harness for.
Having the ability to see at night is a game changer, but for many carrying a helmet with dual tubes is not practical. For those worried about maintaining a lower profile and reducing bulk this head harness does the job well.