Minimal by Design, Easy on the Eye: PolarPro Belay Camera Strap Review

The PolarPro Belay camera strap with its QuickDraw plate is both minimalist and almost hassle-free.

Camera straps. They’re an essential accessory that we use all the time, but often these must-haves go unexplored and unrecognized. We at The Phoblographer love camera straps, though, and we always do our best to review as many of them as we can, so, when we were asked if we would like to give the new PolarPro Belay camera strap a try, we jumped at the chance. The Belay is a new strap that is part of a new, more extensive PolarPro system that features QuickDraw plates, which allow you to quickly attach and detach your camera from each accessory, which sounds good, but as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Find out what we thought about the PolarPro Belay camera strap in our full review.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The strap is nice and soft to the touch, and overall build quality is great
  • The quickdraw mechanism allows you to quickly disconnect your camera from the strap
  • The quick draw system will enable you to use your camera with the PolarPro Apex and Traverse accessories
  • It held an Olympus E-M1 III with the 300mm f4 Pro and MC-20, a Canon Ra with the RF 15-35mm, and a Nikon Z50 with the Z24-70 f2.8 with ease
  • Once the camera is connected to the plate, it feels safe and secure, and only releases with a positive twist
  • The quick-release plate is compatible with Arca Swiss ball heads

Cons

  • The attachment plate on the strap is a little fiddly, which makes it hard to reattach the camera at times

Tech Specs

All of the technical specifications have been taken from information sent to us from PolarPro:

  • QuickDraw Mechanism enables you to quickly disconnect/install
  • Offers a more ergonomic carrying profile than conventional straps
  • Safely supports the heaviest of professional camera and lens combinations
  • Small Belay has a 0.75-inch wide strap
  • The large strap is reinforced 1.5-inches wide with 32″ and 54″ maximum lengths
  • Constructed out of aluminum and industrial nylon

Gear Used

We used the PolarPro Belay camera strap with the Olympus E-M1 III and various lenses (the heaviest being the Olympus 300mm f4 pro), the Canon Ra with the RF 15-35mm f2.8 and the Nikon Z50 with the DX 16-50mm f3.56.3 and the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f2.8 S.

Note: PolarPro sent us the Belay camera strap to both review and keep. We are telling you this as we have always been ethical and upfront about times like this throughout our 10-year history. Us being able to keep the product has in no way swayed our opinion of the product. All thoughts and feelings are entirely our own.

Ergonomics

PolarPro Belay camera strap

When you wrestle the PolarPro Belay camera strap out of its packaging, you’re going to find a nice, minimalist in its design camera strap that won’t bring any extra attention your way. To me, this is a good thing, but if you like camera straps with a little more style or flair, you may find the PolarPro Belay a little understated. Still, this is not to say strap is bad looking, as I said, I rather like it.

The strap itself looks like the same sort of material a car seatbelt would be made from, and at 1.5-inches wide, it feels nice when you have it draped around your torso. The buckles that allow you to lengthen and shorten the strap fade away into the black strap as well, which just helps give the Belay a beautiful clean look.

Here you can see the main mounting plate which gets screwed into your cameras tripod mount, and the adapter plate which is held onto the main strap via weight distribution cables. This setup helps the plate lay flat against your body at all times. The brass button on the side of the plate is what you press when you want to twist the camera and attachment plate out of the QuickDraw holder.

Here you can see how the strap attaches to your camera. Yes, you will have to give up your tripod mount, but the good news is that the plate itself is Arca Swiss compatible, which means that you can use it on any Arca Swiss ball head. I attached the plate to my Manfrotto Element tripod with no issues at all. You can also use this with the two other products in the new PolarPro QuickDraw line, the Traverse, and the Apex Tripod.

The final product image here shows the release mechanism. Once you have the plate seated firmly in the adapter bracket you can quickly remove the camera from the bracket by giving this button a push and twisting the camera.

Overall the PolarPro Belay camera strap is nicely designed. It’s very muted and minimalist overall, but it feels nice, it looks nice, and the placement of the of buckles and the quick release button work well.

Build Quality

PolarPro Belay camera strap

Overall the PolarPro Belay camera strap feels great. The strap feels nice in the hand thanks to the soft texture of the nylon. I have no doubt that the nylon will stand up to the abuses of daily use. The plastic used in the buckles doesn’t feel cheap, and that helps instill confidence as well. The actual plates of the Belay system are made from tough matte aluminum. Since I have had the PolarPro Belay in my possession I haven’t exactly been easy on it, and it still looks great. There are no signs of scratches or marks on it.

The locking mechanism in the Belay is strong. There are some serious springs inside this thing and again, this gives you an air of confidence when walking around with a few thousand dollars worth of gear attached to it. Once you wrestle the QuickDraw plate into the adapter it feels tight and secure. You can only activate the quick release by depressing the button on the side and twisting the camera. There is no chance of accidentally making this happen as the release button needs a firm push.

The overall build quality of the PolarPro Belay camera strap and the QuickDraw plate are great. I had no worries or concerns about attaching $4,000 of gear to it for a day of photo walking. This is built to last a while.

Ease of Use

The PolarPro Belay camera strap is not a revolutionary product. It is not something that we haven’t seen before, and because of this, if you have ever used any camera strap in your life, you will have no problems using the Belay. It’s a well thought out design that just works. Adjust the strap to the length of your wish (between 32″-54″ long), decide how you want to wear it (cross-body, or around the neck), screw the plate into your cameras tripod mount, attach it to the QuickDraw plate, and off you go.

No matter how you wear the strap you will find that it is comfortable. I much prefer across the body compared to around the neck, but as I said, both ways of wearing the strap felt nice. As mentioned above, the QuickDraw plate is anchored to the strap in a way that it will make the camera sit flush against your body, and I did indeed find this to be the case, regardless of if I was using my camera with a small prime or a large telephoto lens.

PolarPro Belay camera strap
To remove from the plate you simply depress the button and twist.

The main feature of the PolarPro Belay camera strap is, of course, the QuickDraw plate, and I have to say that it works very well. You will find that attaching your camera is not exactly easy because of the tight fit, but this is by design. If the fit was looser, the plate simply wouldn’t hold the weight of your camera. This can lead to a somewhat fiddly experience when it comes to mounting your camera into the QuickDraw plate, but once your camera is in there, it’s not coming out until you want it to.

That leads us to how the Belay QuickDraw plate operates. You can walk around all day and not have to worry about ever removing your camera if you don’t wish to. The strap is long enough when worn across the body that you have plenty of play, but should the need arise for you to quickly release your camera from the strap, all you have to do is depress the button on the plate, twist on your camera firmly, and it pops out without fuss.

PolarPro Belay camera strap
Attaching your camera back to the plate will take some getting use to due to the tight fit

You can then place your camera on a tripod with an Arca Swiss mount, or get into whatever weird position you needed to be in, and then when you’re done you just re-attach the camera to the strap. Just check and double-check to make sure that the mounting point on your camera is sitting flush in the QuickDraw plate. Watch for the plate to snap into place, give everything a good tug to confirm that it is secure, and on you go.

Conclusions

Likes

  • The overall build quality is excellent
  • The minimalist, clean design works well and won’t bring any extra attention your way
  • The QuickDraw plate is great and allows for quick camera removal
  • It’s plenty long enough to be work across your body as a sling
  • Nicely priced at $79.99 (Only $59.99 at launch due to a special sale)

Dislikes

  • The only complaint is that connecting your camera to the plate is a little tricky, but with practice, you’ll get it down.

Overall the PolarPro Belay Camera strap is a pretty fantastic product. The clean design, the comfort of the strap itself, and the QuickDraw plate add up to make this a great camera accessory. Couple this with the fact that you can remove your camera from the strap and use it with any Arca Swiss ball head and you get some extra convenience factor too.

I never felt like I couldn’t trust the strap to handle the weight of my gear, and the strap never tangled or shifted around much while being worn. For the price, it’s a great alternative to the Peak Design Slide and their anchor clips. You can also quickly swap your camera and the plate between the Belay, the Traverse Clip, and the Apex Tripod.

We give the PolarPro Belay camera strap a well deserved four out of five stars for its nice design, great build, and it’s convenience factor. Are there some niggles? Sure, all products have them, but there’s nothing here that would be a deal-breaker. Want one? You can pick one up for $79.99 from the official PolarPro website.