Gear Shout-Out *** Cotton Carrier Camera Harness ***

October 05, 2022  •  2 Comments

Gear Shout-Out: Cotton Carrier 3G Camera Harness System

As some of you reading this may know: I’m not a gearhead.  I don’t buy the ‘latest & greatest’ unless there is a great reason for my style of wildlife photography.  

Marketing departments would have us believe that, once their latest product gets launched, you can pretty much throw away their earlier model as only their new equipment will get you the shot. Me, once I find a piece of gear that works, I need a lot of convincing before I jump ship.  So, unless a piece of particular gear, be it a camera body, lens or accessory, frustrates me and makes my life more difficult while making images, I stick with it. 

As I try out new gear, however, inevitably I end up being frustrated from time to time: a camera body ends up buffering more than it should or its autofocus system isn’t performing as required, hiking boots start leaking after only a few months or a lens takes on water while shooting in the rain.  When I do find a piece of equipment that fulfills my needs, I am a happy customer.  Here’s an example of that philosophy.


 

When you want to photograph wildlife, it typically means parking your car and going for a hike.  Most wildlife doesn't necessarily likes us and frowns upon posing next to the road.  That immediately means making the very difficult choice that wildlife photographers face: what equipment do I bring?  Big lenses are heavy, yet, you never know which focal length you may need.  Do you bring a prime 500mm f/4 lens? But what if the critter is close, or, is posing in front of a beautiful backdrop and you really need your wide angle lens?

While there is no 'one size fits all' lens, the problem then becomes: once you make your well-thought-out choices, how do you carry the equipment with you in the field?  In your hands, hanging on your shoulder via the camera or lens strap, in a backpack or via a purpose-built carrier? I have suffered through some poor personal choices.

Carrying the camera in my hands means that my hands, lower arms or finger knuckles will inevitably start to hurt.  Hanging the camera strap on my shoulder has seen it slide off my shoulder onto the ground, especially while hiking on rough terrain or in a dense forest.  While a backpack has its advantages, I find it to be very bulky.  So, I finally caved and started trying out harness systems. Little to no avail, until I tried the Cotton Carrier.


Contents of the box

 


Hiking in the Tetons with the Nikon 500mm f/4

 

The 3G camera harness system (click here for the Cotton Carrier website), unlike most other harnesses for sale, fits like a 'mini t-shirt'.  It fits over your head and sits snug over your shoulders.  Having done several long hikes with this system, here are my personal favorite features it offers:

  • The weight of your camera and lens rests nicely on both shoulders.
  • A simple strap prevents your lens from flopping around violently.  This comes in especially handy while hiking off trail where you're bending over to duck branches or climb over stuff.
  • The locking mechanism does not involve any clips, screws, or what have you.  You slide the camera down into the harness lock, twist and you're done.  Reverse this motion to instantly grab your camera when an animal walks out in front of you.
  • Easy to use with a variety of lenses.  My favorite wildlife lenses to take on hikes are the Nikon 500mm f/4, the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses.  The carrier works with all of these.
  • The harness has a small, lightweight rain cover built-in.  Very handy to pull over your camera and lens if it starts to pour.
  • Once you attach the camera and lens to the harness, both your arms and hands are fully available.  Handy to push away branches, or who knows, make a quick grab for that bear pepper spray!

 

As I'm typing this, I just returned from a long - fruitless - hike looking for moose.  It is October after all and the mating season is still in full swing. My camera and 70-200mm f/2.8 lens are hanging effortlessly on my chest and shoulders. 


On a hike with the 70-200mm f/2.8 safely attached to the harness

If you're in the market for a harness system, may I suggest you give this one a good look. 

Thanks for reading!

- Jorn

 

P.S. Some more moose images ...

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Comments

Jorn Vangoidtsenhoven Wildlife and Landscape Photography
Thanks Rae, glad to hear it! - Jorn
Rae Costa(non-registered)
Great review and I agree! When Cotton Carrier first launched, I bought one of their harnesses. I used it quite often and then stored it away and forgot about it. It sat unused until recently. I was shopping for a harness system and
remembered I still had my Cotton Carrier packed away with all my camera accessories. I've been using it quite regularly and it is fantastic. I absolutely love it.
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