I was contacted a little while back about testing out the new G3 Strapshot from Cotton Carrier. While I have heard about Cotton Carrier for years, they do not get the same fan fare as some competitors like Peak Design. While I haven't always been a huge fan of the Peak Design bags, I have been an advocate of their straps and camera clips and have always enjoyed using them for traveling and hiking. I was definitely interested in comparing the G3 Strapshot to the Peak Design clips to see which one I would like better for hiking.
The G3 Strapshot
The Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot is a carrying system designed to attach your camera to a backpack strap or belt to ensure quick and easy access to your camera no matter what you are doing. It eliminates the need for a camera strap so you get the weight off your shoulders and neck. Because it also ensures your camera is tight to your body, you do not have to worry about the camera bouncing around when you are climbing, jumping or running.
The G3 Strapshot is a little more complicated to set up than the Peak Design clip, and the instructions were not great. After a quick Youtube search, it was not a problem though. First, there is a mounting plate that attaches to your tripod thread. Before you attach that, though, you need to attach the hand strap under the mounting plate and to the side of the camera. Then you attach the Velcro part to your backpack strap. It has a loop that goes through the top of your backpack strap to keep the strap upright and tight. Finally, there is a safety harness that connects your camera to the holder.
I LOVE THIS FOR HIKING!
I have had at least one of the Peak Design clips for about four years and my favorite use for it has been hiking. It is also great for travel and street photography, but it has become essential for me when I go hiking. The G3 Strapshot has replaced it for me. I will explain why below. The reason these systems are hiking essentials for me is because I like to have my camera easily accessible. I hate having my camera in my backpack because I am lazy and I skip a ton of shots when my camera is in my backpack. I take a lot of photographs when I hike. Even though I know ninety percent of them will not be special, it is still fun for me just to be out taking photographs in nature. I do not want to be pulling my camera in and out of my backpack every two minutes. Before I got my Peak Design clip, this meant i had to either carry my camera in my hand, which is annoying and not very safe for a potential drop, or on a camera strap, which is not very comfortable, hard on the neck and not safe for your gear if you are climbing on rocks. That is what drew me to the Peak Design clip initially. Being able to mount your camera on your backpack strap or belt gets the camera off your neck, keeps it secure and allows for easy access whenever you need it. Just this week, I was out hiking with my kids when we saw a pack of coyotes about fifty yards away. Because I had my camera in the G3 Strapshot on my backpack strap, it was easy to capture images within seconds of seeing the animals.
WHY I PREFER THE G3 STRAPSHOT
For me, the G3 Strapshot wins the day because of how nice it is to carry on my backpack strap. The attachment to the shoulder strap is very slim and basically feels like part of the backpack strap when it is attached. This is a huge deal for me. I almost never used my Peak Design clip on my backpack because it is wider than the straps. This meant it was always sticking me in the chest when I turned my body. It simply is not very comfortable. While I still love my Peak Design clip for carrying on my belt, I have really enjoyed carrying my camera on my chest. It has become my go-to camera strap whenever I am hiking.
The camera is also more comfortable to carry on my chest with the G3 Strapshot because the strap on top of the attachment mechanism attaches to the top of your backpack strap to keep the holder tight and upright. This prevents the weight of your camera from pulling the whole carrier down and away from your body. This helps a great deal in keeping you comfortable and feels much more natural.
The attachment mechanism for getting your camera in and out of the G3 Strapshot holder is also faster and more convenient. There are no buttons or levers on the G3 Strapshot. You simply turn your camera to lock and unlock it. This means you slide the camera in and out with one hand without needing to do anything other than a slight twist of the wrist. The Peak Design clip requires you to push a button and then pull the camera out. It is not a big deal, but not nearly as easy as the G3 Strapshot and can require two hands. The hand strap on the G3 Strapshot is also nice for this. I am not usually a fan of hand straps, but it is nice with this system because it helps to more securely pull the camera in and out of the holder.
Finally, I love that the G3 Strapshot has a safety harness that ensures your camera will not fall to the ground if it comes out of the holder. There are two times I was using the Peak Design clip where this would have been much appreciated . They both occurred in Costa Rica. The first was while I was hiking in the rain forest. I had been lazy and hand-tightened the attachment plate to my camera. As I was hiking, this came loose and the camera fell right off my belt and crashed to the ground. Luckily, the ground was soft and there was no damage to my camera. While I doubt this would have happened if I had properly tightened the attachment plate, it would have been nice to have a safety strap. The second time was when I was zip lining in Costa Rica. I talked the workers into letting my take my camera if I could attach it to the safety harness securely. This was easy to do with the Peak Design clip, but there was no way I was going to rely just on that a day after the camera had fallen from the clip. I figured out a way to use my camera strap to hook the camera to the strap as a safety strap and felt comfortable enough with that set up. I was lucky to have the right kind of strap to do this in that situation, but with the Strapshot, you always have that secure strap. The safety strap on the G3 Strapshot is especially nice because it is the perfect length to where I can pull the camera off my chest and shoot it at eye level without any hindrance or need to undo the strap. However, when I do need to undo the safety strap, it is just an easy button to push.
THINGS I DON'T LOVE
The biggest downside of this system is the attachment plate is not compatible with a tripod. If you want to use this system with a tripod, you have two options. First, you can buy the tripod adapter from Cotton Carrier, which has an arca-swiss compatible plate that comes off the attachment mechanism. This just annoys me that it does not come standard with the system. I know very few photographers that do not need the ability to use a tripod. The second option is to have an L bracket that has a tripod thread. Since my Leofoto L Bracket has a tripod threat, I just attached to Strapshot attachment plate into the L Bracket. It is still annoying to use a tripod with the L Bracket or the Cotton Carrier adapter as it requires you to have your camera off center on the ball head since the Strapshot is in the center of your camera. I guess it really does not matter if you have a good ball head that will hold your camera tight, but it still just annoyed me.
I did not love wearing the G3 Strapshot on my belt. It felt bulky and stuck out from my shirt so I could not hide it under a shirt when my camera was not attached. It still works fine, but I did not like it as much as the Peak Design clip on my belt. What I did like was that it was really easy to attach to the belt still and did not require me to undo my belt to attach since it is Velcro.
Finally, I am not a huge fan of the hand strap. While it is nice to have the hand strap to securely pull the camera out of the G3 Strapshot, I felt like the hand strap fit awkwardly toward the front of my hand and was not super comfortable for shooting. Take that with a disclaimer that I generally do not like hand straps regardless and I have not hated it enough to take it off my camera, which would be easy.
That is about it. I really liked the G3 Strapshot and am comfortable recommending it to any photographers that love to hike. The Cotton Carrier G3 Strapshot can be picked up on Amazon for $79. If you need the tripod adapter plate, that will run you another $39.