Keith Dunlap
Field Evaluation: "Sidewinder Retractable Tether System" from S4 Gear™
By Keith Dunlap - Field Evaluator
Jun 3, 2010 - 7:20:22 PM

John Strasheim was the Founder, President and CEO of BowTech, which included the Diamond Archery, Stryker, and Octane brands, as well as WaterDog Surface Technologies.  Now, he and his three partners hope to find the same success with S4Gear.

The business model is to compete in the high-end outdoor equipment market by focusing on superior quality, expert craftsmanship, and advanced technology. S4Gear is launching the company with a single product, the Sidewinder Retractable Tether System, and plans to expand by introducing a number of additional outdoor products by the end of 2010. (For more information visit Sidewinder from S4 Gear)

According to S4 Gear, the Sidewinder is a convenient way for recreational enthusiasts to secure their electronic devices - rangefinder, GPS, radio, cell phone, etc - for instant access and transport. The Sidewinder is available for purchase at hunting/outdoor retail locations and the S4Gear website. 

The Sidewinder is designed to be used with a variety of devices, including laser range finders, GPS units, cell phones, PDAs, radios, bear or pepper spray, water bottles, etc. The Sidewinder can be attached to belts, shoulder straps on packs, traditional binocular straps, or it can be attached to your arm or leg using the included Velcro strap.  The location depends on user preference and the device being used.  Let's take a closer look at the function and features of the new Sidewinder tether system.

The new Sidewinder tether system from S4 Gear.

Initial Inspection:
Upon initial inspection, all components of the Sidewinder were free of any visible quality defects.  The package included: Sidewinder Retractable Tether System, alcohol swab for cleaning the surface prior to adhesion to the device, safety lanyard and heat shrink band to prevent loss of device, and a Velcro strap for attaching the Sidewinder to your arm, leg, ATV, etc.  The quality of this product is top notch, from the 3M™ industrial strength double sided tape on the tether pads, to the high-tensile strength cable that adds a measure of safety to prevent loss of a device…quality shows through and through.

Some of the features of the new Sidewinder retractable tether system include:

  •     Ergonomic Belt Shield - fits on your hip, shoulder, leg, belt, and backpack straps
  •     Rare Earth Magnet - guides the tether home as it retracts
  •     Tether pad - locks your device in place on a soft cushion
  •     Consistent force power spring - maintains tension to keep devices snug during transport while allowing freedom during use
  •     Low-friction, high-tensile strength cable - silent and resilient; 36" cable length offers a wide range of motion for your device
  •     Thermal plastic over-molded cover - absorbs noise from contact with other objects
  •     Teflon skid plates - provides smooth, non-gritty rotation for internal mechanisms to eliminate noise during use
Contents include the Sidewinder tether system, leg/arm band, heat shrink bands, and lanyard cord to prevent loss of equipment.

Installing the tether pads to my radio and rangefinder were fairly simple.  First, remove the tether pad from the Sidewinder retractable tether.  You should determine the optimum location for the tether pad on your device (rangefinder, radio, GPS, etc) to ensure correct orientation when extended and retracted.  The tether pad should be located as high as possible on the device, and located on a face that will make the operative buttons easy to use in the field.
  •     Ensure that the location you choose is near the centerline of the device, and that when the heat shrink band is installed on the tether pad, all buttons remain operative.
  •     Also take into consideration right or left handed operations.
Next, clean the tether pad area on the device with the alcohol swab (included), then peel and stick the tether pad to the device.  The surface of your device should be flat to ensure proper adhesion, although my radio is rounded slightly, I had no problems with adhesion of the tether pad to the radio.  Use the heat shrink bands provided to further prevent loss of your device…the band slips over the device and the tether pad, you then heat the clear band with a heat shrink gun or hair dryer to shrink it to a tight fit around your device (careful not to burn yourself or melt the device).  I installed the safety lanyard provided to further prevent loss of my devices.  In the event that the adhesive tether pad and shrink band are ripped from the device, the lanyard cord will prevent the device from being lost (see Figure 4).  Finally, secure the tether pad to the Sidewinder post by tightening the post screw with either your fingers or a coin.

Conveniently use the Sidewinder with your radio or RangeFinder.

After installing the tether pads on my devices, one on my rangefinder and one on my radio, I used both devices from my belt (hip), also using the arm/leg band provided, and from my backpack shoulder strap.  I tried several different mounting methods using the optional band on my arms and legs, mounted on backpacks, and mounted on my belt.

The radio was very convenient to use with the Sidewinder installed on my backpack strap.  I commonly still-hunt for whitetails during the late season in PA, and my hunting buddies and I keep in contact with our radios during our extended hunts.  The Sidewinder (with my radio) positioned on the left shoulder strap of my pack was perfect position to stay out the way while drawing my gun, while at the same time very convenient to reach for my radio to contact my hunting partners.  I have lost radios in the woods on a number of occasions, but this product should prevent that from ever happening again…unless I lose my entire pack!

The rangefinder was most conveniently positioned with Sidewinder using the provided arm band on my upper left arm.  I was able to reach across with my right hand and with very little movement I had the rangefinder to my eye and then retracted quietly.  I had no mobility issues or any problems drawing my bow from several positions with the Sidewinder (with my rangefinder) positioned on my upper left arm.  I remember during one PRIME "rut" hunt, I was 25 feet up a tree, and I dropped my rangefinder getting it out of my can imagine the expletives I muttered under my breath!  Since that time, I have tried several methods to ensure that this won't happen again, and the Sidewinder is the perfect solution.

The system works very well, and quietly.  The devices mount securely to the tether pads and the tether pads mount securely to the Sidewinder retractable system.  You can purchase additional tether pads which also come with alcohol prep pads, heat shrink bands, and lanyard cord.  I recommend this as you will want to use this product with multiple devices, GPS, radios, rangefinders, etc.

Mount multiple devices using additional tether pads (sold separately).

The Sidewinder Retractable Tether System is by far the best tether system I have used thus far for my radio and rangefinder.  I have used others, but none are as functional or of the same quality as the Sidewinder.  Two thumbs up!

Specifications as Tested
  •     Overall size:  4" x 2.75"   
  •     Weight:  3.2 oz
  •     Finish: black thermal plastic over-molded (rubber like feel)
  •     Retail Price:   $34.99
Pros:  Prevents loss of device, light weight, tough, convenient, multiple mounting options

Cons:  Mounting pad needs relatively flat surface to adhere, heat shrink band must clear device buttons

To see more information, visit their website: Sidewinder from S4 Gear


© Copyright 2005 by