Nikon's Retractable Rangefinder Tether

By Chuck Hawks

Last week I received this product announcement from Nikon Sport Optics:

"Nikon Sport Optics is proud to announce a new solution to a problem many hunters have faced while in the field. For years hunters have struggled with managing a rangefinder and binocular (along with their weapon) while allowing fast, quiet access to both.

The Nikon Retractable Rangefinder Tether features a thin rubber-coated cable that secures the hunter's rangefinder for hassle-free, quick access. The auto-retract feature keeps the cable, and the rangefinder, out of the way when the rangefinder is not in use.

The clip on the tether allows easy attachment to a belt loop, safety harness or other point. The Rangefinder Tether is compact, easy to use, and makes it fast and easy to range.

Nikon's Rangefinder Tether is available in a matte black finish or Team REALTREE® Hardwoods Green HD™. 2007 MSRP for the matte version is $22.95 and $28.95 for the Team REALTREE model. The Nikon Rangefinder Retractor is an economical way to be a better organized hunter."

Upon request, the kind folks at Nikon sent me a Rangefinder Tether for review. (Actually, they sent a pair, one of each color!) The Rangefinder Tether is manufactured for Nikon Inc. by Hammerhead Industries. It immediately became apparent that the product announcement that you just read is an accurate description of the product. This little rangefinder retractor works as advertised. It keeps your rangefinder close at hand and yet secure when not in use.

Here are the Rangefinder Tether's basic features and specifications:

  • Product number - 8172 (black), 8173 (REALTREE)
  • Waterproof and self-flushing
  • Nylon coated stainless steel cable
  • Stainless steel spring and hardware
  • 25" extension
  • 9 ounce retraction force
  • 60 pound breaking strength

I used the Rangefinder Tether's swivel clip to hook the Tether to a belt loop on my pants with my Nikon Buckmaster Laser 600 rangefinder secured to the end of the retractable cable by the Tether's split ring. The Tether bore the weight of the compact Nikon rangefinder without extending, as it was designed to do. The Tether certainly keeps the rangefinder available for immediate use. I found it to be much faster to range using the Tether as opposed to carrying the rangefinder in its (supplied) nylon belt case. Unlike the belt case, however, the Tether does not protect the rangefinder from hard knocks or the elements.

The Rangefinder Tether's swivel clip does allow the rangefinder to swing if one walks along at a normal clip. This movement is greatly reduced when the hunter is moving very slowly, as when still hunting or stalking.

Since I live in Western Oregon and frequently hunt in the rain, I like to protect my optics from the weather as much as possible. The Remington Stalker Hide 4-in-1 parka that I recently reviewed (see the Clothing and Outdoor Wear Page) gave me an idea. As I commented in that review:

"There is even a swivel hook under the flap of the left cargo pocket to which you can attach something (keys, maybe?). I don't really know what it is intended for, but it's there."

Well, I have now figured out a purpose for that hook, or at least the fabric loop to which it was attached. A Rangefinder Tether will clip to that fabric loop, so I simply cut off the parka's supplied clip and hooked the (camo) Rangefinder Tether in its place. (See photo below.)

Nikon Rangefinder Tether
Photo by Chuck Hawks.

Now my rangefinder, safely attached to the Rangefinder Tether, can rest protected from the elements in the parka's front cargo pocket and still be available for immediate use. If necessary, I can let the Tether swiftly reel in the rangefinder and whip my rifle to my shoulder for a quick shot. (Don't just drop the rangefinder with the cable fully extended, however, as the retraction force could damage the Tether or your instrument.)

When hiking with the rangefinder stowed in the cargo pocket it doesn't swing about. And the rangefinder's weight is comfortably distributed across my shoulders by the parka, instead of pulling on my belt or pants. The best of all possible worlds!

Should it ever become necessary, Nikon will replace the cable and any worn parts of the Retractable Rangefinder Tether for a service charge of $8.00. That price includes return shipping and handling.

For more information about the full line of Nikon Binoculars, Riflescopes, Spotting Scopes, Fieldscopes, and Laser Rangefinders, please contact: Nikon Sport Optics, 1300 Walt Whitman Rd., Melville, NY 11747-3064. 1-800-248-6846.

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Copyright 2006 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.