If you’re out photographing for hours on end, you’ll no doubt feel the benefit of these harnesses right off the bat.
When the makers of Cotton Carrier [affiliate link] harnesses reached out to me to see if I would like to try out their harness, it couldn’t have come at a better time as Spring was just around the corner, and my shoulders and neck were already feeling the stress of carrying my backpack throughout the winter months. So as soon as it came, I was ready to go use it! I used this harness system for over a month to see what I liked and disliked about it; here’s my findings.
Upon handling the Cotton Carrier Binocular and Camera Harness, it was evident the harness was well made. WIth high quality materials, sturdy construction and seams, it felt like a solid harness that could hold up to my gear.
In the box was also a quick instruction sheet to help you adjust the straps needed to give you a perfect fit.
Be sure to adjust your shoulder straps first so the camera sits at a decent height on your chest. The default setting was a little too high on me so the camera was a little too high up on my chest, making it awkward to put in and get out the camera.
The Cotton Carrier Harness is part of an entire ecosystem of parts that allows for various configurations depending on your needs. It can be a little confusing when first looking to see what you need, so I’ve broken things down by each part. Here are the components that I received to review:
- Cotton Carrier G3 Harness (grey)
- Cotton Carrier G3 Wanderer Side Holster (grey)
- Everything bracket (comes with G3 Wanderer Side Holster)
- Flat Hub
- Universal Tripod Adapter Plate
Each of the items above serve their own purpose so read below to see what each are needed for.
The Harness is the main component of this system that you wear. It does require you to adjust it so the camera sits at the proper height on your chest—thankfully there are plenty of adjustment points that allow you to do this.
One peculiarity I noticed with the waist straps was that the left side of the strap was made by stitching two shorter straps to make one longer one. I am not sure about their intentions on doing this but this actually prevents someone from tightening the waist beyond this stitching point. I am not the skinniest of individuals, but without a jacket I could reach this limit for a snug fit. For someone even skinnier, the harness may be a bit loose on them.
Shown to the right is me wearing the harness. I am about 5′ 11″ in height.
On the front just below the connection point, there’s a clever pocket that lets us store something small. There’s also a strap that you can use to tighten the lens to your chest for added stability. Just inside the front connector is also a small meshed pocket.
The camera connector on the front is made from Nylon 6, which is sturdy and provides the necessary strength to hold your camera in place.
If there is something to be said about the harness it’s the buckle on the left side that needs to be tightened (seen on the far right in the image below). It’s so far out to the side that it’s sometimes hard to actually buckle together and tighten to get the right fit. You need to pull the strap backwards from that point to tighten, making this a little cumbersome. This buckle could have been moved closer to the front to make it easier. Luckily you only need to do this once per outing so it’s not a deal-breaker by any means.
The G3 Wanderer Side Holster
The Side Holster comes in the two-camera (or camera and binocular) setup option. The holster is made from the same materials as the harness and feels like it is solidly made too. It seamlessly attaches to your harness by means of a velcro wrap. If you wanted to, you could attach it to your belt or backpack strap too.
It’s comfortable enough that I don’t even feel it when it’s attached—unless of course there’s something in it! If you try and put something that’s heavy on the holster, it will weigh the entire harness down to that side so I would recommend only attaching something that’s relatively light weight. I put my carbon fibre travel tripod from Peak Design on it and it works just fine.
You can also see in this photo that the harness tucks neatly under the backpack so you can’t notice it’s there. That’s definitely a plus as it allows me to carry more gear and accessories as needed in my backpack.
How do you attach the accessories on to the side holster you ask? Good question. Read below on how it’s done!
The Everything Bracket
The Side Holster comes with the Everything Bracket, which is essentially a plastic hub with extension and velcro wrap to connect various accessories to your holster. It works well with items that aren’t too long or heavy like binoculars and smaller tripods. In the image below I have my Nikon binoculars wrapped in the Everything Bracket and hooked on the front connector of the harness.
I find it comes useful for when I have a one-camera setup and want to carry my tripod too. The Everything Bracket can attach itself to anything less than 12″ in diameter.
Note that if using this on a tripod, the bracket is made so you don’t need to twist the item to the side to insert/release it from the holster. You can simply slide it in and out making this a simpler mechanism. My camera—shown below—has the Flat Hub attached to it, not the Everything Bracket.
The tether is a strap that comes with the Harness, Side Holster, and Everything Bracket. One end of it attaches to your accessory or camera while you loop the other end to one of the rings on the harness. This ensures that if the connector fails at any point, your tether will still keep your camera or accessory safe from falling to the ground. It’s useful, but it also sometimes gets in my way when handling the camera. You can choose to not use it but you’ll just have to take the risk from having your camera falling to the ground should something happen.
The Flat Hub
The Flat Hub (300CIK) [affiliate link] is an anodized aluminum piece that connects to your camera to allow for use in the harness system. It comes with a rubber gasket about 1/8″ thick.
I tried fashioning the Flat Hub directly to the Nikon Z 9 L-bracket by SmallRig. Looking at the bottom left image, the Flat Hub is off-centred from front-to-back. However, the tripod clamp was able to get enough of my L-bracket, allowing me to shoot as-is.
I tried the same thing with my Z 7ii L-bracket by Really Right Stuff. For the most part it sat quite snug and I didn’t see much of a problem with the fit even though my L-bracket doesn’t have a lot of resting space on the bottom. You can see in the left image below, the Flat Hub sits on the L-bracket but is a little off-centred from front-to-back.
If you look at the above right photo, you’ll see that my tripod is grasping the very edge of the L-bracket because the Flat Hub gets in the way. While the tripod clamp was able to grasp the L-bracket I would not recommend shooting like this as it was not sturdy at all.
This is what the Universal Tripod Adapter Plate is for.
Universal Tripod Adapter Plate
The Universal Tripod Adapter Plate is an adapter with an Arca Swiss compatible dovetail and accepts the Flat Hub for use on the harness system.
The Flat Hub now obviously prohibits my L-bracket from working on the horizontal direction, so to alleviate this problem, Cotton made a Universal Tripod Adapter Plate (755NHP) [affiliate link]. This adapter simply allows you to attach the Flat Hub onto an Arca Swiss compatible tripod head. (See the Arca Swiss L-Bracket section below for additional notes)
Note that this is just a tripod adapter so you still need the Flat Hub to attach onto the Universal Tripod Adapter Plate. Once the full combination is attached, the camera now sits off to the side of the harness and is no longer centered. For shorter lenses attached to the camera this shouldn’t be a problem, but for longer lenses, it will force your camera to rest a little on an angle inside the carrier.
I had no problems sliding this combination onto either of my tripods so this adapter combination works despite it increasing the distance of the camera away from the harness by quite a bit.
Also note that the Flat Hub is no longer centered to the camera. Since it’s off to the side, if you had a long lens attached to the camera, it will tilt to the side when put on the holster.
What could have been done to reduce this distance from the camera to the harness when this combination was in use? A possible solution may have been what I originally thought the Universal Tripod Adapter Plate was: a Flat Hub combined with an Arca Swiss compatible dovetail. In other words, one machined piece that has the Flat Hub and the Arca Swiss compatible dovetail designed directly into the adapter.
This would actually solve two problems:
- Eliminates the hassle of having to attach another Flat Hub onto the tripod adapter plate
- Allows you to center the camera on to the harness by designing it so the hub is centred directly on the tripod adapter.
Here’s a rough sketch of what I envisioned:
I envision a Flat Hub with the top half being the same size, but the bottom half slightly larger in diameter to accommodate a large enough length for the dovetail (to fit on a tripod head) which is designed directly underneath the hub. This would require redesigning the entire connection piece on the harness itself by increasing the height allowed to go inside the connector (to match the height of an Arca Swiss compatible plate) and increasing the space within to accommodate the dovetailed piece to freely rotate within the connector.
The “neck” piece between the top and bottom parts of the hub can remain the same to accommodate the rotating locking mechanism.
This should allow for a much stronger and more efficient solution to what they have as of this writing.
This solution would only be useful for those that would like to easily convert from a harness to tripod. I think it would also be useful for those with monopods as well, since many people with heavy lenses tend to use one.
Are there many people that would want this? I surely would!
Arca Swiss L-Bracket
A note that I did not get this accessory sent to me because I already knew from the beginning that it would not meet my needs. Their website indicates that to accommodate as many cameras as possible, the L-bracket will most likely block port access on the side of the camera. As I sometimes use my ports for USB, HDMI, and microphone connections, this was not an accessory I could use.
If we combined the Arca Swiss compatible dovetail and the Flat Hub into one piece (as stated above), we could eliminate the need for this L-bracket altogether, so that users could use their existing L-brackets that are suited to their specific cameras.
That rubber padding
Included with the Flat Hub and Universal Tripod Adapter Plate are rubber paddings (seen in the image below just above the thread). My best guess for the purpose of these paddings is to ensure the accessories have enough of a cushion when stress is applied to the accessory that it does not damage the camera itself.
I am not sure whether there is a reason for this padding to be 1/8″ thick, but I feel as if this just adds more height away from the carrier—especially when accessories are stacked like with the Universal Tripod Adapter and Flat Hub. I wonder if a thickness of half the height (1/16″) might be sufficient enough?
Overall I think the Cotton Carrier system is a solidly made harness that serves its purpose well. The harness itself is comfortable and does a great job of distributing the weight of your gear to your body. The accessories add to the functionality of the harness system, but there are room for improvements in this regard (by no means is this a deal-breaker though). I would also love to see an alternate solution for those using an Arca Swiss compatible tripod head. However, I can confidently say that my shoulders and arms are very thankful for this harness system!
Do you have experience with a camera harness? Do you have this Cotton Carrier harness? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Pin the image on the left!
You can visit Cotton Carrier’s website here:
www.cottoncarrier.com [affiliate link]