It’s a problem many birders and nature photographers can relate to: attempting to carry both a camera and a binocular without one strap interfering with the other. Too often I was forced to choose between being a good photographer and being a good birder. The latter almost always won out, resulting in my camera gear being left behind as I pursued golden-winged warblers and grasshopper sparrows.
An ingenious new product from the folks at BosStrap, a company based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, seeks to eradicate this common problem. In 2010 avid photographer and mechanical engineer Tom Fama designed a camera strap intended to better meet the needs of serious photographers. This was the BosStrap Camera Sling System, a great product in its own right. Soon Fama began developing other straps and slings for photographers, and, based on conversations with nature photographers, including many of his own customers, designed a new shoulder strap system that allows the user to carry a second camera or binocular without interference.
The BosStrap Side Slide brings a new level of versatility to the traditional shoulder strap. The Side Slide incorporates a chest strap to prevent the shoulder strap from slipping off your shoulder. Because the shoulder strap hangs vertically off the shoulder and so out of the way of binocular straps, carrying a second piece of equipment is a cinch.
When the Side Slide arrived for testing, I admit I was initially skeptical. It sounded to good to be true to be able to carry both my camera and binocular without compromising the usability of either one. I assembled the strap, attached it to my Canon Rebel T2i, and donned the new setup. The camera hung securely at my side, even with the 100-400 lens attached. I then slung my binocular, attached to a harness, over my other shoulder, resulting in both pieces of equipment resting comfortably and conveniently at either side.
It’s the slide that makes each of the BosStrap products, including the Side Slide, work like a charm. This system allows the camera to be moved, even raised to the eye for a quick, hand-held shot, without pulling the strap along with it. Thus, the strap can remain stationary underneath a binocular strap or harness without interference.
The Side Slide uses a side release buckle to connect the camera to the rest of the strap. This means you can quickly release the camera without moving or adjusting anything else. The tripod socket is clear for use as well.
I typically wear my binocular harness over the shoulder, but I tried wearing it the traditional way (over both shoulders) and found the Side Slide to be just as effective and easy to use. The same goes for a neck strap. In short, with the Side Slide, it appears you can wear your binocular whichever way is most comfortable without compromising access to your camera and lens.
I still consider myself a birder first and a photographer second, but now that I can easily carry more gear into the field, those distinctions may finally start to blur.
The BosStrap Side Slide is available at many photography retailers, including Hunt’s Photo and Video, where Bird Watcher’s Digest readers can purchase the Side Slide at a special, discounted price. Click here to learn more.
About the Author
Kyle Carlsen is the assistant editor of Bird Watcher's Digest. Find him on Twitter @kycarlsen.