Cotton Carrier Camera Vest

UPDATE – ACCESSORIES IN USE

I’ve added some accessories to my Cotton Carrier system recently.  One for security, another for adaptability, and one for protection from the elements.  Specifically they are:

– The Cotton Carrier hand strap provides a secure way of holding your camera with one hand while shooting.  It’s comfortable and easy to use.

– Second, the universal adapter plate allows for a quick release tripod plate to be attached.  This makes it easier to switch between a tripod and the Cotton Carrier while shooting.

– And last, but not least, the rain covers.  These are probably my favorite accessory as they provide an extra layer of protection for your camera while locked into the carrier.  Prior to testing these rain covers I protected my camera by wrapping a bandana around it.  The nylon covers are a much better option for protecting the camera from light rain, sun, wind, and sand.  All of the accessories are available when ordering the Cotton Carrier. See below for the rest of the review.  Enjoy!

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On a hike last winter I came across someone using the Cotton Carrier.  At first glance it looks a bit weird, like a little baby carrier across the chest, but holding a camera instead of a baby.  In search of a system to keep my DSLR camera accessible in the backcountry, I ended up ordering one to see if it would be the solution for easy accessibility to my camera while hiking or backpacking.

GENERAL FIT

Using the product is fairly intuitive and easy to use.  The system works with all cameras which have the small tripod hole on the bottom of the camera (most cameras have this these days).  Getting the vest to fit properly was a bit challenging.  The fit, much like your backpack, is critical to comfort.  My initial day-hike trips with the vest required a lot of adjustments to find a good fit.  The mesh webbing which goes across your back was annoyingly rubbing against the bottom of my neck. It wasn’t until several adjustments later that I found a fit that works.

If you decide to buy or rent a Cotton Carrier we’ve developed a video and written instructions to help you get a great fit with the vest on your first attempt.

COMFORT

The carrier has quite a bit of fabric on the back and on the sturdy front where the camera is held.  My initial concern of having a heavy backpack sit over the Cotton Carrier on my shoulders were quickly diminished during my first few trips.  In multiple backpacking trips I have never felt uncomfortable with having both the Cotton Carrier and a full backpack on at the same time.  On hot days the extra fabric can trap some heat close to your body, but it has only been noticeable, not a big issue.

CAMERA SECURITY

Over many day-hikes and multi-day backpacking trips, in varied conditions, the hub system which locks the camera to the chest area is very secure.  Just make sure to tighten the hub securely to the camera.  If it is loose it can get locked in the vest attachment and require some finicking to get it back out.  The security overall is great.  Even when leaning over to adjust your boots or pick something up, the locking system works perfectly.

CAMERA PROTECTION

One slight concern may be having your expensive DSLR camera exposed to the elements at all times.  As shipped, the Cotton Carrier does not provide any sun, sand, or water protection for your camera.  They do seem to have additional accessories available on their website, including some cover options.  Personally, I usually just wrap a bandana around the camera and tuck it in at the bottom, which works great (even in a light rain or mist from waterfalls). If it begins to rain hard I stow the camera away in my backpack to make sure it stays dry.

FINAL VERDICT

Once properly fit the Cotton Carrier system works really well.  The construction is solid, and so far, has withstood many hikes and multi-day backpacking trips through the Sierra Nevadas.  The accessibility to the camera, without having to carry it in your hand or dig in your backpack, is exactly what I wanted.  Perhaps future editions will address some of the initial fit concerns, especially with the fabric near the back of your neck.

With the Cotton Carrier you’ll never walk away from a great outdoor shot because your camera is inaccessible.  I’ve been very happy with it overall.  The vest is now a part of my “Must Take” list for every backcountry adventure.

The most common channels for finding the Cotton Carrier seem to be directly from their website CottonCarrier.com or through Amazon.com and Adorama.com.

I purchased mine directly from the manufacturer’s website.  The cost for the “All Camera Types Camera Vest System” direct from CottonCarrier.com was $119 USD.

Full Disclosure:

The views and opinions expressed about the Cotton Carrier are mine (the author) and are based purely on the product itself.   The Cotton Carrier reviewed was purchased by the writer, Kevin, from the manufacturer’s retail website. 
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