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Is anyone aware of a holster-type case, or anything that is designed to keep a camera easily accessible while hiking, but prevent it from swinging freely (like it does when it hangs from the neck strap)?

I have a pack with a chest strap, so anything that can attach to that might make sense. I am envisioning something that I can slide/drop the camera into that is attached to my chest, and then just lift it out when I come across something photo-worthy.

Does anything like this exist commercially? Any ideas on a DIY solution?

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12 Answers 12

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Lowepro makes a good chest harness that is similar to the Cotton Carrier, but provides more protection. alt text

I have no connection with Lowepro—I simply recommend their products because I've used them and because The Digital Picture speaks highly of them.

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Nice, thanks! And for that price, I can't really afford not to try it! BY the way, where did you get that image from? The link to buy it just shows the case itself, but I would like to see more images of people wearing it. –  pkaeding Oct 18 '10 at 20:51
    
Actaully, I don't think this image is a Lowepro. It seems to be a photo of a competing product from Tamrac, and the photo is lifted from backpacker.com/… By any chance, are you working with Lowepro through your marketing company, genius.com? –  pkaeding Oct 19 '10 at 3:27
    
I was a little confused by this, too, but I believe that the chest harness really is just the harness -- not the bag. That also diminishes the appeal of that great price just a bit, because you'll presumably end up buying both the harness and a TLZ-type case. Still, I'm intrigued by the idea of just hanging a TLZ-type case from the straps on my pack (as shown in the backpacker.com article) to see if that does the trick. –  D. Lambert Oct 19 '10 at 16:47
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@chills42, probably should note that you removed the photo mentioned by @pkaeding. Otherwise his/her comments make no sense. I realize it's all in the edit history, but since the change was so dramatic, IMO it should be mentioned in a more obvious place too like the comments here. –  Reid Oct 23 '10 at 2:53
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this answer has generated a question on meta: meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/367/…. We'd love for you to participate in the discussion. –  Reid Oct 23 '10 at 2:58

If you are looking for something that really won't move, I do recall of the Cotton Carrier line of products. The web site isn't that hot, explore it to find pictures and videos. It really does look like a holster though, both on your chest, or at your side.

Maybe a sling-type kind of strap would work better for you? I've seen two main competitors on the market:

Both links above will lead to videos, and you can find a very detailed side-by-side review at photography-on-the.net.

UPDATE: been using the Luma Loop for a month, and I love it.

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The black rapid does prevent some swinging, but I think you would want something to secure it to your body, as it will still swing freely. I've never used it hiking, but when I'm walking around, I typically place my hand on the body to prevent it from moving. –  Alan Oct 17 '10 at 16:15
    
Yup, that's my feeling too, that's why I suggested the Cotton Carrier first. My Luma Loop is shipping as we speak, I'll update my answer once I try it. –  sebastien.b Oct 17 '10 at 16:24
    
Thanks for the suggestions! I feel like I would hit my hand against the camera as I hiked if I used a sling, which would be especially bad if it was the hand that holds the trekking pole (I only use one pole, but I switch sides from time to time). The Cotton Carrier does look like what I envisioned, but I wonder if it would interfere with my pack? –  pkaeding Oct 18 '10 at 0:12
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@pkaeding: this video shows people using it with backpacks. cottoncarrier.com/intro3.html –  sebastien.b Oct 18 '10 at 0:51

For an approximate solution to your problem, here's what I use when backpacking:

  • Put on backpack and fasten hip belt, but not sternum strap
  • Sling the camera diagonally across my body (like a purse)
  • Attach sternum strap over the camera strap

This yields a reasonably stable setup, where the camera is sitting by my waist (at about 45o to my right, so it doesn't interfere with my hiking poles), partially supported by the hip strap, and partially prevented from swinging by the sternum strap. To use the camera, I simply untie the sternum strap and swing the camera to my eye.

It's not perfect, but it's orders of magnitude more comfortable than simply having the camera around my neck.

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That's a good suggestion; I will have to give it a shot! –  pkaeding Oct 18 '10 at 15:50

PeakDesign makes a product they call the Capture that I like. It attaches to your belt or can be attached to the straps on a backpack and is pretty secure. You can read a full review about it here.

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Oooh, that looks very cool! –  pkaeding Sep 10 '12 at 17:53
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I've owned the Capture and used it with my D7000 and my PEN EPL-1 for over a year now. (I was one of the first Kickstarter backers.) I've recently ordered a second unit so I can use one with both cameras. They've also recently released a new sling strap designed to work in concert with the capture. I can't say enough about how much I like the Capture in use. It's ideal for the use described in this question. +1 –  zenbike Dec 21 '12 at 18:06
    
I recently got one of these—it's superb if you use a backpack that has webbing down the straps à la GORUCK –  Drew Stephens Dec 16 '13 at 14:07

I grabbed an OpTech Bino/Cam harness a few weeks ago, and I put on a few miles with it yesterday. It's not too bad - definitely better than a traditional strap. I like the fact that it attaches to the camera with quick-release buckles. I think I might pick up a regular strap that's compatible with these same buckles, because it's a little awkward to put on and take off.

The Cotton Carriers look interesting, but I can't quite picture how the tether works (I really don't want to have my camera be completely loose while I'm hiking if I can avoid it), and I'm not crazy about the fact that the mount uses the tripod mount. I can see all the adapters they've got (some pieces sold separately), but I didn't see anything for a TrekPod.

I agree that it would be nice to have something that took advantage of the sternum strap, but I guess I'd almost like to see something a little simpler -- just a hook of some sort to tie the camera in place so it doesn't bounce all over when I'm hiking.

The more intricate the device gets, the more of a pain it is to gear up / gear down. I even found myself yesterday trying to keep track of what straps went on in what order to I could take everything off without turning into a tangled mess.

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The harness that you linked to looks like it might work, and it is so simple and the price is low enough that it isn't a big deal if I end up hating it. How does it handle when you are hiking/moving around a lot? –  pkaeding Oct 18 '10 at 0:18
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@Dlambert: I don't think the Cotton Carrier is loose. While I haven't tried it, this video shows somebody doing backflips on a trampoline with the system :) cottoncarrier.com/intro3.html –  sebastien.b Oct 18 '10 at 0:52
    
@pkaeding -It hangs a little lower than I'd prefer (just a bit above the beltline), but I didn't notice my camera moving around much (30D + 50mm or 55-250). I was doing some light climbing - enough that I think I would have noticed it swinging around. I haven't played too much with adjusting the straps - it might be possible to raise it up a bit. For the price, I think it's a pretty good option. –  D. Lambert Oct 18 '10 at 2:44
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@sebastien - Sorry - I sort of meant once you take the camera out of the secured position. I unclipped my camera yesterday, for example, to shoot a panorama on the top of a rock outcrop, and it occurred to me halfway through shooting that my camera was now loose on the top of a cliff a couple hundred feet up in the air. It looks like the Cotton Carrier has a tether that may stay attached even when the camera is out of the harness -- that would be a very good thing if it's easily unclipped for tripod use. –  D. Lambert Oct 18 '10 at 2:48

You can get a leather holster from these folks - not cheap, but does seem like a good, well thought through product.

Personally I went for the Black Rapid strap myself and haven't regretted it at all.

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So much depends on the hiking conditions. In my case (mountain hiking) it is important to protect the camera from snags, abrasion and bumps. In this case the the Skytop leather case is the best solution (for me). In more open, less demanding hiking conditions the Luma Loop/Black Rapid type solution wins because of the greater ease of access. –  labnut Oct 17 '10 at 16:35
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Those are nice holsters, but a bit too pricy for me. I might need something else to protect my expensive camera holster, which protects my expensive camera :) –  pkaeding Oct 18 '10 at 0:22
    
I love mine... Bought it for my Nikon D60 with my 18-200mm... it works just as well for my D5100 with the 18-200 or my 8-16mm. BTW, the leather is very sturdy and can take a beating from trees, rocks, rain, snow and even being splashed by waves in the ocean. –  Matthew Whited Jun 15 '11 at 1:01

+1 for the Black Rapid series - I have one of those myself. Someone showed me this the other day, which looks as good, and is probably preferable if you have more than one body.

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The spider holster is pretty cool, but I don't think it would be right for what I am looking for. –  pkaeding Oct 18 '10 at 0:20
    
I have a Spider holster now as well and it's a godsend to have the weight on my waist rather than my shoulders. –  tenmiles Jul 7 at 2:36

Check out the Lowepro TLZ series. They come in various sizes depending on what lens you want to use. They are designed for a single lens, but I've managed to carry up to 3 small ones in there.

What makes it secure is that it has a slit that you can pass your belt through. Plus, when you're not hiking you can let it hang from your shoulder for more movement flexibility.

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So it is a fanny-pack style bag? That is an interesting idea. How is it comfort-wise, when hiking? Would a backpack or trekking pole interfere with it? Also, do you know if there are any photos of people wearing it attached to their belts? That would help me see how it would fit. –  pkaeding Oct 18 '10 at 18:28
    
Sorry, I should have linked to the manufacturer site: products.lowepro.com/product/Topload-Zoom-AW,2053,8.htm - It is a holdster which you normall wear using a should-strap but it comes with harness as well and can be secured by passing your belt through. Unlike a fanny-pack you would wear it on the side. –  Itai Oct 19 '10 at 13:15

I have a (very old) "Warthog" pouch from Camera Care Systems It's one of the models on this page: http://www.ccscentre.co.uk/product_ranges/classic/slr_pouches.html

It has rings to go on a strap round your neck/etc. and a tunnel so you can attach it firmly to a belt/etc.

The main barrel of the pouch is deep enough to keep some small kit at the bottom, unless I have a really long lens on.

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I use Jimmi Bo 400 on my hikes. And I like it. It can be worn either at the waist (as a belt) or across the torso (as a usual bag). It can even be strapped on the hip (though this is not convenient, IMO):

My Pentax K20D fits in nicely, either with the standard zoom or with a moderate telephoto lens. There is also a small department for filters, lens paper and the second battery. You can hardly find a smaller bag with the same capacity. The bag itself weights 428 g (15 oz).

Unfortunately, you cannot put the second lens inside.

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I know it's not exactly what you were asking for, but have you looked at the Kata 3n1 range of camera bags? It acts like a backback, to containing all your usual hiking gear, plus special compartments for your SLR & lenses etc. When you need your camera, the bag is designed to swing around to your from and there are special quick opening "doors?" to access your camera. This can happen pretty quickly when you've done ti a few times.

You can see photos and video of the bag in action at the kata site here

I have the 3n1-30 bag and the only problem I have with it is that it is much bigger than I need (I don't have 6 lenses)

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I've been looking at the ThinkTank Photo holster models. http://www.thinktankphoto.com/products/digital-holster-40-v2.aspx

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That is interesting. It looks like it attaches to a belt? It looks kind of like the Lowepro, but a good deal more expensive. –  pkaeding Oct 18 '10 at 22:54
    
I plan on getting one for my 50D + battery grip and mid sized lens. I can story my 270EX flash in the pocket I'd say since it's quite small. –  Nick Bedford Oct 19 '10 at 0:03

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