Give It Time: The Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap Wide Review

The Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap perplexed me at first, but then I figured it out, and it just got better.

To say that there isn’t a learning curve with the Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap is a lie. And to say that it won’t frustrate you at first is another lie. But what starts like a lion turns into a lamb. With time, the corn mash juices of the Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap turn into a fine bourbon that you’ll enjoy spending time with. This strap is designed to work for any photographer that wants it, but it’s also got appeal to for a photographer using the rest of the Holdfast system. Like all things Holdfast, you’re getting ruggedness, harnesses, leather, etc. Made with buffalo leather and designed with some of the best hardware I’ve ever tested, the Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap addresses a big problem that folks have: the metal hardware of their straps wears away at the camera. While some may embrace the patina, others treat their cameras like children. Now, Holdfast has a solution, but that solution is also the trickiest part of the strap.

Editor’s Note: We got to keep the Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap. But that doesn’t affect our unbiased opinions of it.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Very well built
  • The hardware and the straps themselves can take more abuse than I thought
  • Beautiful
  • Durable
  • Can be used with the rest of the camera system

Cons

  • The initial work you do with the strap lug hood will require a lot of strength from your hands. The owners tell me to not be afraid to rough it up.

Gear Used

We tested the Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap on the Sony a7r III with a Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art Lens.

Tech Specs

Here’s a quote from the product page:

The HF Classic Strap is made with all the same leathers as our MoneyMakers and the line is comprised of a Wide version and a Skinny version. The Wider version (1” width) disperses the weight of a heavier camera better over the shoulder then transitions to a skinnier portion towards the camera connection. The Skinny (1/2” width) gives you a simple and streamlined carry option.

Both straps feature a leather shroud over the stainless steel clasp which keeps the metal away from your camera body while also adding an extra layer of security over the quick detach clasps. 

Ergonomics

Here’s the Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap. When you buy it, make sure that you figure out what length you want. Additionally, figure out if you want the wide or the skinny. Here’s the wide on my Sony a7r III.

The strap is made of a single piece of leather. There is stitching and even branding on it. The leather also feels like it has a bit of texture. That texture is helpful for when you wrap the strap around your wrist.

Now here’s the most mentally stimulating part of the Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap: the strap lug. You attach split rings to your camera, then you pull the black leather hood back to expose the quick release, and buckle the strap to the rings. After this, you slip over the hood.

Here’s the quick release. If you’re concerned about these letting go of the camera randomly, I’ll admit that it happened to me once. If you make extra sure that it’s not going to fall off, then it won’t.

Build Quality

By and large, Holdfast Gear makes the most durable leather straps that I’ve used. Others, like Tap and Dye, Hawkesmill, and Vi Vante’s straps, will be softer, but if you want something a bit more raw and edgy, then the Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap is probably the option for you. With time, it ends up smoothing itself out while still remaining incredibly durable. It’s also going to stand up to sweat, rain, and any sort of abuse that you throw at it. Even better, so too will the hardware. I was a bit concerned about the quality of the split rings that Holdfast provides: I didn’t think they were as durable as some of the older ones, but I was wrong. I pulled and pulled on them, and if anything, I felt like maybe I’d break my Sony a7r III before I break the strap.

Ease of Use

After you attach the strap to your camera and slip the hood back over the lugs, you’ll be fine. If anything, I’d probably work the hood a bit more to loosen it up over time. But the wear and tear on the strap are going to ensure that your camera stays protected, it becomes more flexible, and be easier to detach and attach. I have to admit that this isn’t the simplest solution, but it’s undoubtedly one that looks nice and offers a level of protection that you won’t complain about as time goes on. Notice how I keep talking about the long term. That’s the thing about leather straps. With everything around us being all about the short term and not having a long life span, leather straps are the opposite.

Here’s a video they did on how to use the strap.

Conclusions

This is probably my favorite strap from Holdfast Gear, although I also have to say that I liked the original Classic Strap too. Holdfast’s solution with the hood is one that I’m still not totally sure is the end-all-be-all solution. However, it’s one of the most novel and original designs that I’ve seen. As I conclude this review, I just went to my camera to give this another test. Getting the straps on and off is the easiest thing to do. But I’ve dealt with much more difficult ones for sure. If anything, it just requires muscle memory. The hoods have surely broken in and retract back when they need to. I’m not worried about the camera falling off either. If anything, I’m 95% confident that the Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap will always protect my camera.

The Holdfast Gear HF Classic Strap receives four out of five stars.