Hack 13 Double-Strapping on the Trail

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Tired of your camera bouncing around during your hike? Strap it into place, for comfort and for fast access.

Here's the hiking photographer's dilemma: do you stash your camera in the backpack so that it doesn't bounce around and possibly get damaged, or do you leave it around your neck so that you're ready for the next shot, no matter how uncomfortable it is?

I can tell you right now that I'm a big fan of finding ways to keep your camera handy. Great outdoor shots present themselves with little warning, and they are usually gone within seconds. Your camera might be safe and sound in your backpack, but it also won't have nearly as many exciting pictures on it. You might miss the shot of a lifetime!

That said, my gosh, it's aggravating to have a camera swinging every which way as you try to navigate the up-and-down terrain of trail hiking. I've even encountered situations, such as crossing a stream on a log, when my swinging camera just about threw me off balance. Falling in the stream is not good for one's morale, nor is it healthy for the life of your digital camera.

If you've followed the evolution of outdoor and backpacking equipment, you know that things are pretty high-tech in that world too. Flashlights have multiple LEDs for illumination, camp stoves are feather-light and burn with welding-torch-like intensity, and the array of straps and pouches available provide lots of options for toting your gear. The shooter's belt shown in Figure 1-14, by Cameras Up (http://www.camerasup.com), is perfect for photographers on the go.

Figure 1-14. Shooter's belt by Cameras Up

One of my favorite setups involves using one Op/Tech USA (http://www.optechusa.com) strap around my neck and adding a second stabilizer strap around my midsection. This arrangement holds the camera snugly against my body, while providing quick access when a shot presents itself.

I prefer the Op/Tech stabilizer strap because it is made out of a rugged neoprene material that acts as a shock absorber as you move about. The camera actually feels lighter than it does with other types of straps. Plus, the Op/Tech strap has quick-release buckles that enable you to detach the camera from the strap at a moment's notice.

Op/Tech also makes a Bino/Cam Harness that enables you to slide the camera up and down the straps without actually having to detach it?very nifty.

You can create your own strapping system with basic nylon straps and buckles purchased from any camping store. Just remember to get quick-release buckles so that you're not fumbling with your straps when Big Foot goes strolling by.