The Perfect Camera Bag for Fellwalking – part 2

In The Perfect Camera Bag for Fellwalking, I explained my ongoing search for an ideal way to carry my DSLR while out walking.  Anyone who follows my fellwalking pages will realise that I haven’t exactly been doing a lot lately, although I’m hoping to get going again this year.  Anticipating that, I decided to use a family day out to try out my intended system.  This is what I did and how it went…

The System

As a reminder, I bought a Lowepro Toploader 50 AW case to put my camera and standard lens in. My plan was to attach this to the straps of my rucksack so that the pouch was sitting on my chest.  For more background, have a look at the earlier post.

My rucksacks don’t have any attachment points on the shoulder straps (although some do), so I set about adding some.  I bought some 25mm webbing and brass D rings from a local craft shop to give me some clipping points on the shoulder straps of my rucksacks.  I couldn’t find any 25mm snap clips and adjusters locally, so I went looking on eBay (successfully).  All in all, it cost me about £5 or £6 and I had enough parts for attachments on two rucksacks and two sets of attaching straps.

The bit that took me the longest was attaching the D rings to my rucksack; I’m reasonably competent with a needle and thread, but it isn’t really my thing.  For each clipping point I cut a short length of webbing (about 10cm / 4 inches or so), sealed the ends with a match (to stop them fraying), threaded it through the D ring and doubled it back.  I then stitched through both layers and the rucksack strap with two rows of stitching.  In the end, I had the rings securely attached over the course of an evening.

Clipping point - rucksack shoulder strap
Clipping point – rucksack shoulder strap

I then cut two more lengths of webbing to form the attaching straps and sealed the ends.  I looped the ends through the adjusters and snap hooks to come up with something like this:

Original straps
Original straps

I decided not to shorten the tails too much to give more flexibility later.  So here is what the system looks like in use – please pardon the quality of the picture here (and model!), I was more concerned with illustrating the point than creating an elegant product demo.

Fellwalking camera bag - front mounted pouch
Fellwalking camera bag – front mounted pouch

Lessons learnt

This was a success for me.  The camera was more accessible and I used it far more than if it was in a bag on my back as I didn’t have to stop to take it out and put it away.  It also meant that the camera wasn’t dangling round my neck for long periods when it wasn’t needed.  That said, there are a few details that weren’t perfect:

  • Position of the rings – with hindsight, I put these too low on the shoulder straps.  I measured out the position beforehand but didn’t allow enough for the length of the connecting straps.
  • Length of the straps – they were longer than I planned, even when pulled as short as they would go.
  • Sore shoulders – I’m not sure if it was the extra weight on my pack, the fact that my pack wasn’t as heavy as I would have on a hill walk (and therefore was a less effective counterbalance for the camera) or the construction of the straps on that particular sack, but after a full day out, I definitely had some sore points on my shoulders.
  • Extra set of clips to undo when removing the sack – this made it slower to remove my sack than normal, but you’d have this with any additional front-mounted bag system that’s attached to both sides.

I’ve already sorted out what I’m going to do about the straps.  Using some black heavy-duty cable ties, I’ve made the shortest clips I can, which bring the pouch higher up my chest.  I’ve used these cable ties before for running repairs to diving equipment, so I’m confident that they’ll be up to the job here.

Shortened clips
Shortened clips

Next Steps (pun intended)

I’m intending to try these shorter straps on my next walk.  I’ll see if the heavier sack and shorter clips reduce the shoulder soreness and report back in part 3.

Update: the concluding part of the trilogy is now available – The Perfect Camera Bag for Fellwalking part 3.