Gadget Bag: Strapped For Photos

Replace the strap that came with your camera for one that delivers all-day comfort and security
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Crumpler Industry Disgrace

The lowly neck strap is both the simplest and most intimate part of a camera. Attaching it is the first thing you do with a new camera, usually while waiting for the battery to charge. It's the only part of the camera that you're in contact with at all times (except when the camera is on a tripod, of course). It's arguably the single most important accessory because it prevents your camera from crashing to the ground when not handheld at eye level. And in nearly every case, it's a two-inch-wide billboard for the manufacturer of the brand you wear about your neck. Therein lies the rub.

Two rubs, actually. Many people, myself included, suffer from back and/or neck conditions that render many camera straps downright painful. There are more comfortable alternatives available, however, for those of us who continue to carry heavy cameras despite the aches. The second rub comes from the fact that most camera straps brightly advertise that you have an expensive camera on your person. From the standpoint of security, that can be undesirable.

The good news is that there are many outstanding neck straps available that will protect your camera while saving your neck. I tend to avoid those with metal connectors (that can scratch cameras) and gravitate toward straps with nice, wide pads that distribute the weight over the largest area possible. Straps that quickly disconnect close to the camera body can be stowed separated from the camera during transport. That makes it easier to pack your DSLR into your bag without the danger of scuffing the LCD with the strap hardware. As a general rule of thumb, look to your favorite camera bag manufacturer; they usually offer a line of suitable neck straps. Here's the rundown of some of the best.


Tamrac Anti-Slip

A longtime favorite of many photographers, the Tamrac Anti-Slip (Model N-17) strap is made of nylon with two full-length rubber tracks woven into the material to prevent slippage. The quick-release buckles allow the camera to be removed for tripod or copy stand work and can be interchanged with all other Tamrac quick-release straps. It adjusts to 41 inches in length.

You'll probably never find a neck strap more unusual or comfortable than the Crumpler Industry Disgrace. Designed specifically to protect your neck, it's extra-wide in the middle and extra-long so you can adjust the length to suit your needs. The ergonomic neoprene neck pad sits on a breathable air-mesh strap. Nice touch: The neck pad features a lanyard slide-through so you can thread your binocular straps through the pad and redistribute that weight, too. Constructed of 900 denier flamed polypropylene and dual-layer nylon-reinforced PVC, "it's soft where it matters but strong where it counts."


Domke Gripper

You'll find many professional photographers using Domke Gripper straps because of their long history of high quality and performance. Available in 1.5-inch and 1-inch widths and three different colors, the Domke Gripper is made of the same thick webbing used on all Domke bags and has Gripper nonslip tracks woven in—which means it will never slip off your shoulder. Swivel clips keep the straps lying flat, untangled and easy to remove. Available in adjustable lengths up to 42 inches.


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Lowepro Transporter

The Lowepro Transporter will pass every test as an everyday, all-day-long, comfortable neck strap. The nonslip padding means your camera will stay in place, even when vigorously hiking. The detachable memory card wallet provides access to a spare card while in the field (it never hurts to pack a spare). The side-release buckles make it convenient to remove the strap for easier packing in a gadget bag and provide quick interchangeability with another camera body. Lowepro's double ladder-locks guarantee a secure connection to your camera.


OP/TECH USA

OP/TECH USA offers one of the most complete assortments of straps and grips, ranging from the super-secure Grip Strap to the Double Sling and Dual Harness, with the Gotcha Wrist Strap in between. An all-time favorite, however, is the Pro Strap and Pro Loop Strap combo because they allow you to change your strap to match the lens you'll be using on a particular day. You can comfortably carry professional cameras with large lenses because the curved neoprene pad evenly distributes weight on your shoulder or neck. Everything stays in place thanks to the tacky nonslip grip. OP/TECH products are made in the USA, come in a variety of attractive colors and are quite affordable.


Sun Sniper

One glance at a Sun Sniper strap, and you know you're seeing something different. Watch it in action, and you know you're on to something terrific. While conventional straps that attach to the eyelets on either end of the camera limit camera motion to one axis, the Sun Sniper straps are based on a bandolier shoulder sling design and attach securely to the bottom. That means that instead of applying pressure to a limited area on the neck (or shoulder), the weight of the camera and lens is distributed diagonally along a padded shoulder strap. Based on 19th-century U.S. Cavalry design concepts (hence the name), the Sun Sniper system also allows you to get your gear into action faster, but out of the way when you're not shooting. Nice touch: Both the Sun Sniper Pro and Sniper Compact straps feature an embedded steel anti-theft wire inside the strap that no thief can cut.


Tenba Skooba Superbungee

Try saying this 10 times fast: Tenba Skooba Superbungee. Featuring Tenba's "sport-tuned suspension system," the Superbungee strap absorbs the weight of the camera and prevents you from feeling the exaggerated effect of gravity when jogging or briskly walking. The nonslip neck pad consists of individual air-filled cells that add significant additional shock absorption and comfort.


Upstrap

The folks at UPstrap® have gone to great lengths to perfect a camera strap that won't slip off your shoulder. They offer three pad sizes and an abrasion-resistant kevlar web and vectran loop attachment system. A heavy-duty, quick-release system offers peace of mind when carrying heavy and expensive equipment. UPstrap® products are made in the USA from high-quality components.

Who Says Your Strap Needs To Go Around The Neck?

The Zing Designs Action Strap wraps around the back of the right hand, holding it snugly against the camera body, in a similar manner as the strap found on most camcorders. Because it attaches to the tripod socket, it can be used in conjunction with a conventional neck strap. Nice touch: It features a belt clip so you can temporarily hang your camera between shots.

It's A Vest? It's A Holster? It's Both!

Cotton Carrier is clearly in a class by itself. It's a complete carry solution, as well as a completely new approach to the age-old problem of carrying a lot of camera equipment on one single human body. The Cotton Carrier 100 CCS Camera System is engineered to accommodate one or two regular DSLR cameras and comes with a unique one-size-fits-all adjustable vest. It features a side holster that's made of the same space-age material as the vest. In total, the system handles cameras comfortably without the aches and pains associated with traditional, old-fashioned neck straps. You can carry virtually any size of camera and lens combination with confidence thanks to the camera-locking system and always be ready for action. If you tend to tote a ton of gear and are looking for a comfortable system, check this one out.


RESOURCES
Cotton Carrier
(877) 852-9423
www.cottoncarrier.com
Crumpler
(718) 384-3020
www.crumpler.com
Domke
(800) 645-2522
www.tiffen.com
Lowepro
(800) 800-LOWE

www.lowepro.com
OP/TECH USA
(800) 251-7815
www.optechusa.com
Sun Sniper (Bron Imaging Group)
(800) 456-0203
www.sun-sniper.com
Tamrac
(800) 662-0717
www.tamrac.com
Tenba
(914) 347-3300
www.tenba.com
UPstrap
(877) 872-7639
www.upstrap-pro.com
Zing Designs
(800) 645-2522
www.tiffen.com

7 Comments

    I appreciate the article but am dismayed that Black Rapid was not included in the resources of strap companies. I use them, and have used others, and there is nothing that meets, supports and sustains my type of travel photography like the Black Rapid. Please add them.

    I’m in the market for a strap beyond that which came with my Nikon, particularly something longer. I was looking at the Black Rapid and now I’m wondering how it compares to the Sun Sniper.

    As far as the integrated steel cable, is “theft by cutting” a common problem?

    I have went with the Sun Sniper. I carry a big lens a lot and the shock absorber sold me on it. The metal wire gives piece of mind and the ball bearing connector is second to none. Most comfortable star I have ever used,

    Is this Looking Glass Falls? If so, Brevard is much closer than Asheville. The falls along the Davidson River running along Wagon Gap Road are nice, but there are tons of other pull offs making nice scenes. I haven’t checked in awhile, but nearly 1/2 of the North Carolina images posted were from a 10 mile stretch of that road, including my own of Looking Glass Falls.

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