A couple weeks ago I went on a short hike in the Superstitions with my camera gear. For the first time in a long time, I carried my ridiculously heavy tripod out into the field. Carrying the D300 along with a couple of lenses AND the tripod adds a lot of weight to the pack and can make it awkward to carry. I also hate carrying the camera in the backpack just because of access issues. This normally results in me carrying the camera through the entire hike. I like to have my hands free when hiking, it’s part of the reason I can’t seem to make myself use trekking poles. So, last week I decided to fix this situation and try some ideas I had.
A quick stop at the REI got me what I needed (some of the stuff I already had) and I was set up to test a new camera rig.
I picked up a LowePro Top Loading Camera Case from REI. I had to find something that would have quick access D-rings at the top corners of the case or it wouldn’t work (I also made sure the case had a rain cover). I then added a couple of ultra-light carabiners to my GeigerRig RIG1600 at the shoulder straps. Then, to connect the camera case to the carabiners I used lighweight S-biners. These gave me a little wiggle room with the location of the case and set the top-load flap at a good height for access. The S-biners come in a large variety of sizes so you can customize the hang of the chest rig to fit your sizing.
This setup worked great all weekend. The only problem I had with it is the incessant chirping of the metal on metal as I hiked. But that was easily resolved with a little duct-tape where the two biners rub together. After that, it was perfect. I found the LowePro case on sale and I already had the biners so the whole rig only cost me about $20 to set up. You can buy camera chest rigs from manufacturers but most run $80 and up.
This worked great for me, fit my camera well, allowed me a hands-free hike with quick access to my camera on the trail. It is also really fast and easy to take on and off when you need to remove the pack. Now I just need to figure out an easier way to strap my tripod for quicker access. The only problem I ran in to with this was not being able to see my feet on technical terrain. That is easily resolved by merely unclipping one side of the camera case.