Strap Up Your Camera and Holster

Holster on backpack belt
      Here is a small project to save a bundle on a "chest harness" for your camera holster, and a simple tip to get that camera weight off your aching neck.

Easy Holster Strap for Backpack Harness:

     Before I got my huge Bataflae 32L camera backpack, I used a normal hiking backpack to port my gear in the wild. I often added a Tamrac Zoom 19 camera holster to keep one body and lens handy instead of having it hanging around my neck. However, using the backpack waist strap as my belt to hold the holster was the worst solution I'd ever dreamed up. The waist strap was never designed to hang things on, and the holster covered the buckle in the center, making it a royal pain to put on and take off. The holster flopped about incessantly when I walked, and it tipped forward at an inconvenient angle - all around a bad solution. Trying to use a belt made for hanging holsters and camera cases would not have worked while having a backpack belt around my waist too. So I made the best of what I had. The pack harness had no "D" rings on it, so using a strap there did not seem to be a solution either.
D-rings on a backpack

Standard 1-1/4 inch key ring

Clip to ring when not in use

     Eventually the old lightbulb came on in my head and I realized I could use large key rings as a clipping point by slipping them onto the web strapping on my backpack harnesses. That led me to try making a simple 1-inch wide web strap to clip between the two rings I had installed to see if it would work to hang my holster. To my surprise, it not only worked like a charm, it also made the weight of the camera/lens, now hanging from the backpack shoulder harness, seem to disappear. I couldn't feel whether or not there was a camera and lens in the holster. Finally the tugging, dangling, flopping weight on my waist belt was gone.

   Homemade strap and key rings Materials for the project
     The two photos at right show the strap I fashioned, and the materials needed to make the strap. I've been getting my web strapping and hardware (buckles, clips, snap hooks, etc.) for my various projects from my local REI store. You should also be able to order such items on the web. You'll need some 1-inch wide webbing, and either (a) one or two hooks plus one ladderlock, or (b) one or two snap buckles (which already have a "ladderlock" built in). The ladderlock is the part that lets you slip the webbing to adjust the length, then locks it tight at the length you set. If your snap buckles don't have the ladderlock, just add one to your list. I chose to use a loop sewn on one end of the strap, and a hook on the other end. I slipped the key ring into the loop end, then onto the right shoulder harness webbing (go the other way if you're left-handed). If you are using key rings as your attachment points, you could alternately use (a) a hook on both ends, or (b) buckles on both ends, or (c) sew a loop on one end and use a single buckle on the other end. With a hook or buckle on both ends you could remove the strap completely. Optionally, you could just slip off both key rings just like you put them on, but that's much more hassle than simply unhooking them.

Holster attached to strap

Check out this article on a
camo cover for your holster
     The options are different if your harness already has "D" rings and you choose to use them instead of adding key rings. You will need to use hooks on both ends since it's not possible to simply slip the "D" rings off the webbing as is possible with the key rings. Otherwise, the project is the same in both situations.

     My strap is something like 24 inches long, but includes a lot of extra so I can adjust the holster height up or down. Remember, for every one inch you want to lower the height you'll need two inches of strap (an inch for each side of the holster), so don't cut yourself short. You can always trim off excess if you find there is just too much excess dangling when you put it to use. Allow enough length to lower the holster to your waist level. That will allow you to hang a second camera around your neck by a regular strap so you can have two at the ready if you ever wanted to. When you're not using the strap, just clip it to one side as in the above right photo. Also, when taking off the backpack, just do the same - clip both ends of the strap on the same side. Your holster stays attached - it can't slide off.

     You might note in the upper left photo that my holster has "D" rings on it (both sides). That's because it came with a neck strap that I started to use instead of the strap I made. It would have served as well, except it would not adjust short enough to use as a harness strap. I didn't want to alter the original equipment strap, so I just made my own to the correct size. If your holster comes with a neck strap, it could possibly serve for this purpose instead of having to make one as I did.

Quick and dirty "Camera Harness":

Camera strap slid into
shoulder harness
Camera clipped to strap
     This is practically a "no-brainer", assuming you have a backpack with web strapping running down the shoulder harness, and a camera strap with snap buckles or the metal clip hooks. The photo at left shows how I slip my camera strap through the rear-most web strap section on my backpack shoulder harness. This position on my backpack puts it behind my head far enough that it does not touch my neck. You can then clip the buckle ends together behind you if you want to just leave it there. If your backpack allows this, you're in business. When you put the backpack on, unclip the strap ends and clip them onto your camera. Voila, the harness takes all the strain instead of your neck. It costs nothing and works great. This is especially useful if you have a "non-stretchy" camera strap, which can get pretty uncomfortable otherwise. I prefer the stretchy, neoprene style straps, which are certainly more comfortable. But using this method, there is simply no neck strain at all, no matter now long you wear it.