Product Review: UpStrap Camera and Lens Straps
Until the start of the 2013 MotoGP season I had been using a brand of camera strap that shall go unnamed, but it had as its two defining characteristics: comfort, and an unsettling tendency to slip off my shoulders.
This was less an issue when walking or in control of a scooter than it was when a passenger on a scooter being piloted by an insane Italian (or Spanish, or British) photographer with no interest whatsoever in the question: Will that poor hump riding pillion survive this trip to the podium?
So my first search criterion for new straps was non-slip. I cared less about comfort than that my 500mm lens didn’t slide off my shoulder at 70 kph on a gravel-covered service road.
Several reviews I found recommended products from Upstrap, so I gave them a try. I got the SLR/LT Camera Strap with Kevlar Web for my 500mm Nikon lens. For two SLR bodies I ordered SG Camera Straps with Rapid Release Vectran Loop Ends.
The bill was $144.50 including shipping, so these straps aren’t cheap. But as with many things, you get what you pay for, and what you get in this case is a well-designed, high-quality product. In an age when so many items are made far away in lands with low-priced labor and low levels of human rights, I don’t mind paying more for products made in the USA.
These straps use Kevlar webbing and pads with lots of little rubber nubs (click on the above image to see more clearly the details on the pad). The result is that they STICK. Since switching to UPstrap products, I have stopped worrying about gear sliding off my shoulders.
My personal strategy is to have quick release clips for all three bodies. I can then swap straps as needed from body to body as each strap fits each body. Each quick-release connection is the same, so I don’t have to worry about which end of a strap fits where. With a previous strap I owned, the shoulder pad was designed to be worn only one way, so the connectors were different to help me attach the connections correctly. But this was just snorter detail I had to pay attention to. The UPstrap pads I use are identical on each side, so it doesn’t matter which way you connect the release clips, and it doesn’t matter which side is down when you put the strap over a shoulder.
When I head out to the track and I have one body on the 500mm, I take the strap off the body and use the strap on the lens. I carry the second of strap in a vest pocket until I need it.
Do I have anything negative to say about these straps? Only that they stick so well, sometimes they stick a little better than I’d like. When I get back to the media center and want to unload, I have to go a bit slower than I used to when removing the straps from my shoulders. The pads are that grippy. So perhaps they aren’t the best choice for a shooter who has to move really fast and needs to get straps off the shoulders quickly. But for someone who wants straps to stay put, they are the best I’ve seen.
Are these the most comfortable straps? My old ones had a soft, squishy shoulder pad and were more comfortable, yes. But in my situation, security is much more important than comfort. And these aren’t uncomfortable, at all, just not softly padded. For me the security makes me, if a bit less comfortable, much more at ease when carrying my gear around.
So if you’re after the same thing I am, a super strong, sticky strap to stay put, I can highly recommend Upstrap products. By the way, this is not a paid endorsement. These are straps I paid for and use at every MotoGP/WSBK or other event.
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