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Review: The Wapiti Camera Strap

by Abram Goglanian on 10/09/2012

Have you been looking for an ideal camera strap for your DSLR? Have you tried several and found them slippery and uncomfortable on your shoulder? I have had these questions, and while I have found several types of straps that are plenty comfortable and plenty grippy, they all suffer from the exact same issue; they are all exceptionally bulky, except for this one: the Wapiti (pronounced: wop-i-tee) strap.

 

The Design

The Wapiti strap is a strong and simple design that uses natural Montana Elk leather for the shoulder pad and a custom length nylon strap. These straps are made right here in the U.S. by photojournalist, David Grubbs. I’ll let you read what David has to say about his straps:

“I crafted the Wapiti Strap from strong nylon webbing with a shoulder pad made of Montana Elk leather. The wapiti hide allows you to hang a heavy camera off of your neck for extended periods of time with comfort. The leather soaks up sweat during those hot summer ball games and won’t allow the camera to slide off the shoulder of a slippery winter coat.”

The actual design of the strap is very basic, there are no bells, whistles, gimmicks or special features, just a strong, time-tested design that works and manages to be quite comfortable in the process. Think of it as a Domke Gripper strap that is more comfortable and can be ordered in ANY length you want. When you place your order for the Wapiti strap  you start with four main choices and then refine from there. You can choose the C1 (for Canon / Nikon and other DSLRs) the Rut & Spike (for compact or mirrorless cameras) or the Adjustable “Bugle” strap (which is the same as the C1 just adjustable). Naturally being a Canon shooter myself I chose the C1. If you decide to go with the C1 like I did,  you have the choice of 3 pre-made sizes or a custom length strap. This is totally important to know BEFORE you order because the straps are non adjustable. You can choose from 32”, 36” or 40” for the pre-made lengths, but any length is available at no extra charge.

In Use

As I mentioned in the intro to this post, I have long been searching for a comfortable and secure strap that wasn’t exceptionally bulky. Up to this point I had settled on Domke straps, which work well enough, but A) they aren’t very comfortable, and B) they tend to wear out right at the strap lugs on my cameras. I never had one actually tear, but I’ve seen it happen and that always worried me. So, when I first heard about the Wapiti Strap a year ago, I was intrigued and I wanted to check it out because I felt that it addressed my issues with the straps I’ve tried over the years. I decided to order a 46” length strap personally, which may have been a little long to be honest, but it still was very comfortable on my shoulders and if need be I could still sling it across my chest. I really liked the quality of the nylon webbing particularly; it is very thick (yet still flexible enough to easily wrap around one’s wrist) and this inspires confidence in the strap. The strap mounts very securely to my Canon strap-lugs and in the year that I have been using these straps I haven’t seen even the slightest bit of fraying at the mount-point.

Speaking of the mounting point; on Canon, the strap loops through the lugs like a normal strap would, but it is suggested that you loop it back through the tri-glide and then tuck the excess into the sliding “buckle”. Doing this gives you an exceptionally secure mount and also keeps the camera from twisting TOO much which is what always caused the wear and tear on my other straps. Once I had the strap adjusted on my camera It was nice and secure no matter which lens I had mounted on the front. The shoulder pad is made from Elk leather (if you’re ordering within the US) and is exceptionally comfortable, though obviously not vegan friendly, if that is a concern of yours. I did have an initial concern that it would not be “grippy” enough, but I couldn’t have been more wrong; in the time I have spent with this strap it has never once slipped off my shoulder. Particularly now that is is pretty well broken-in, the leather grips onto whatever clothing I’m wearing and never lets go. The weight of my cameras are definitely felt on the shoulder, but the leather provides “enough” padding to still be very comfortable. As I mentioned previously, I prefer a thinner strap over a huge bulky one. For example, the Canon CPS strap is a very wide Op-Tech neoprene strap, it is exceptionally comfortable on one’s shoulder, but it is just way too bulky for me and I found that the neoprene caused my camera to bounce all over the place as I walked, which became incredibly annoying.

Conclusion

If I had to find one thing to say I didn’t like, it would be that the non-adjustable nature of the strap means that if you pick the wrong length, you’re stuck. I initially felt that my straps were a bit longer than I expected, but I have already acclimated to the length and it’s no longer a concern. I’m flexible, but others may not be, strictly a personal preference. Just be sure to measure the length of your current strap (or wherever you find it most comfortable) and order that length.

To conclude, I ABSOLUTELY recommend the Wapiti camera strap. David Grubbs made plenty of effort to answer my questions before ordering, even taking the time to call me. That is the kind of customer service you simply don’t find enough of these days. Aside from David’s service, his product is excels in both craftsmanship and functionality. I will use these straps on every camera from here on out. If you would like to order one (or two!) for yourself, simply visit their website and place your order!

If you would like to reach David via email, send your messages to: wapiti[at]wapitistraps[dot]com

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