Outer Shell Camera Strap Review

Outer Shell announced an updated version of their bike-friendly camera strap a few months back, simplifying on-the-fly adjustment and adding a sternum strap for increased stability. Miles tried the strap out with both a full-sized DSLR and smaller mirrorless camera to see how it works. See his first impressions here…

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Additional photos by Lucas Winzenburg

We’ve already tested a few products from California-based Outer Shell, and with positive findings. Cass reviewed their 137 Basket Bag, which ended up being ideal for hauling camera gear, and I checked out the Drawcord Handlebar Bag and Stuff Sack Harness. You’ll also find their Pico Panniers in our list of Mini / Small Panniers for Bikepacking. In each of these reviews, we noted the high quality craftsmanship, durability, and aesthetics of Outer Shell’s products, whose designs are unique and well thought out. So when an updated version of their popular Camera Strap was announced this summer, I was quick to get one to check out.

Outer Shell Camera Strap Review

Working with the BIKEPACKING.com team means needing a way to comfortably carry a camera on the bike. There’s no way around it. Thankfully, from bar bags to basket bags, to waterproof hip packs and small backpacks, there are plenty of options out there to keep your camera close at hand. Most recently, I’ve found particular satisfaction while hauling a full-sized DSLR in the Porcelain Rocket Big Dumpling hip pack, which provides a waterproof and almost instantly accessible home for my camera. I’ve seen riders making use of slings and straps before, but I’d never had the opportunity to try one… until now. I opted for a brown Cordura one, but there are a variety of colours and fabrics, from purple to graphite X-Pac.

  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review
  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review
  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review
  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review
  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review

The first gripe many will have with using any camera strap is that it requires giving up any kind of protection from the elements, which is probably my biggest concern as well. But there are parts of the world, and times of year, where an exposed camera might work just fine, especially one with a weatherproof design. On the plus side, camera straps offer a lightweight alternative to wearing a hip pack or backpack, and won’t contribute to a sweaty back the way most packs do. With this in mind, I’d likely take a waterproof hip pack like the Porcelain Rocket Big Dumpling for longer trips, reserving the Outer Shell Camera Strap for fair weather overnighters and day rides.

  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review
  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review

The issue with standard ‘sling’ style camera straps is that they lack any kind of stability while riding, something that I saw a few riders experience at this year’s Bikepacking Summit in Georgia. Outer Shell’s Camera Strap has an additional sternum strap, which runs across the opposite side of your body from the main strap, which can be cinched down to keep things in place, preventing your camera from swinging around to your front as you pedal. I was pleasantly surprised at how stable and comfortable the strap was, even when toting a larger full-frame DSLR. The main shoulder strap is minimal, without padding, but with all straps snug (but not too tight), I was comfortable. The only real issue I had with comfort came from my camera’s eyepiece, which ended up digging into my back somewhat while riding. This was a non issue with a smaller mirrorless camera.

  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review
  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review
  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review
  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review
  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review

The new sternum strap can be quickly released via a magnetic Fidlock buckle. After loosening the main shoulder strap, you have all the slack you need to slide your camera to the front of your body, ready to shoot. In theory, readying your camera is quick. However, even after some practice, I have to admit it wasn’t as fast as rotating my hip pack to my front and grabbing my camera. I suppose a camera strap does allow shooting while riding, which I attempted, but it’s hard to say how many folks would consider that a major advantage. I also noticed my camera’s eyepiece was often quick to fog up when riding in humid environments due to its position on my back. It’s possibly better suited to drier regions or cooler riding, which would likely help avoid this.

Outer Shell put together this great little video of the strap in use:

Pros

  • Gets camera off the bike, which I consider very important.
  • Thoughtful design that’s surprisingly sturdy and comfortable.
  • Very lightweight option for carrying a camera. No extra bags or bulk.
  • Quick access to camera.

Cons

  • Viewfinder will fog up in warm, humid climates.
  • No protection from the elements leaves camera exposed.
Outer Shell Camera Strap Review
  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review
  • Outer Shell Camera Strap Review

Wrap Up

I’ve been curious about Outer Shell’s Camera Strap since the original version was released, partly because I like experimenting with different ways of doing things, but also because I’ve had personal experience with their products before, and their designs have all been well executed and great looking. The updated Camera Strap is no exception. The use of a magnetic Fidlock buckle is both clever and functional, and adds necessary support when strapping a heavier DSLR to your back. For longer trips and technical riding, I still prefer the protection offered by my hip pack, which I’ve paired with a padded insert for an ultra-safe setup, but there’s something nice about a simple shoulder strap setup for shooting on day rides and fair-weather adventures.

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