Gear Review: Cotton Carrier Camera Carrying Systems

posted in: Gear Reviews, Hiking Gear | 0

Why Buy?

Taking photos is an important part of hiking for me. I enjoy writing trip reports and sharing my experience through photos. In an effort to reduce weight, I’ve tried using my smartphone, as well as point & shoot cameras, but I’ve been unsatisfied with the results. In order to get the photos I desire, I need to carry something larger, either a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Over the years, I’ve tried different methods of carrying my cameras, in the hopes of finding a solution that allowed me to carry a camera comfortably and securely, while allowing me to access it quickly. While some of my attempts have worked ok, I have not been happy with most of them. In an attempt to find out how other hikers carry their large cameras, I posted inquiries on several hiking forums and Facebook groups. One of the companies that was frequently mentioned was Cotton Carrier.

First Impressions

After looking through Cotton Carrier’s product line I was most intrigued by the StrapShot, Camera Vest and Hand Strap. After using each of these products on and off for a few months, here are my thoughts:

StrapShot

Like the Peak Design Capture Clip, the StrapShot attaches to one of the vertical straps on your pack.

  • The Good
    • Uses a velco and strap system, making it easy to move between different packs. No tools are required.
    • No buttons are used to release camera
      • Using this system with bulky gloves is easy.
      • The process of holstering and un-holstering (with or without gloves) the camera is faster.
      • The “holstering” process quickly became automatic to me. I don’t have to look and or think about it.
    • Cheaper alternative to similar systems
    • Comes with security tether
  • The Bad
    • Your packs sternum strap must go below or above the StrapShot. Depending on the pack and the weight of what is carried in the pack, using the StrapShot can put the sternum strap in an awkward position. If the StrapShot had a slot that allowed the sternum strap to be passed through it, it would eliminate this issue.
  • The Bottom Line
    • Out of the box, it’s a solid buy. Out of all the systems I’ve tried, this is the cheapest solution that works well. For ~$80, you get a system that can securely and comfortably carry everything from your point & shoot camera to a DSLR with a small lens.
    • After a simple modification (<10 minutes, creating a slot for the sternum strap to pass through), I’ve become a huge fan of this camera carrier. In a future post, I’ll document the changes that I’d like Cotton Carrier to integrate into newer versions of this device.

Camera Vest

The Camera Vest is a “self-contained system”, providing it’s own shoulder straps and harness. Wearing a backpack is not required.

  • The Good
    • This is a great solution for:
      • Carrying a heavy DSLR. The Camera Vest is the best system I’ve used for carrying a DSLR. 
      • Trips & hikes that require frequent pack removal.  The camera attaches to you, not your pack. When I have my camera attached to my pack, damaging the camera or lens when taking my pack off is always a concern.
      • Trips that require rock climbing or scrambling. With this system, the camera is placed in the center of your chest. In my opinion, this makes it easier to ‘protect’ the camera.
    • A safety tether, as well as a camera cover, are included in this system.
  • The Bad
    • If you sweat excessively, the extra harness isn’t going to help your situation.
    • Most expensive of all the systems I’ve tried.
  • The Bottom Line
    • Expensive, but when using a heavy camera or when climbing and scrambling, the Camera Vest is the way to go. After not carry my DSLR on any hikes for nearly 3 years, I’ve started carrying it again. I would not be doing this without the Camera Vest.

Hand Strap

  • The Good
    • Provides additional comfort and security when using cameras on the trail, especially heavy DLSRs
  • The Bad
    • I’ll chalk it up to user-error/ignorance, but I wasn’t sure how to attach the strap to my camera the first time I used it. I had to look for pictures online.
  • The Bottom Line
    • Since I carry my mirror-less camera on the trail 99% of the time, I don’t consider it to be a necessary item at this time. Since my experience with the Camera Vest has encouraged me to carry our DSLR more, this could change. I will update my review if necessary.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been using the StrapShot, Camera Vest and Hand Strap for several months to test their durability. I believe that Cotton Carrier makes a quality product and that durability is not a concern. I will continue to use these items and update my review if any issues arise.

Disclaimer: The products reviewed in this entry were provided to HikingGeek.com by Cotton Carrier.