Op tech fashion strap

Op tech fashion strap

Why you should trust me

I’m a photojournalist, a writer, and a professional photographer with a wide range of experience researching, testing, and writing about photography trends, techniques, and tools, including my role as mobile imaging editor at DPReview, the most popular camera site on the Web.

How we picked

To cut through the hundreds of widely available camera straps, we researched which ones have garnered the most praise online, interviewed experts and photographers to see what they like, and tested the best straps in a variety of situations.

For functional straps, we looked for options that emphasized function above all else. They had to comfortably hold a heavy camera with a big lens over a long day’s shooting, offer a robust attachment system to stow the camera safely, and prevent the camera from shifting too wildly when not in use.

For fashionable straps, we focused primarily on the handcrafted leather look that’s popular right now. Manufacturers boast their artisanal approach and high-quality materials—but we also sought out canvas and other leather alternatives. We looked at straps aimed at DSLR and smaller camera-system shooters, and wore them all with a variety of camera bodies and in situations ranging from shooting a full-day wedding to sightseeing around Spain.

After weeks of wear, we learned that even the most fashionable camera strap must also be practical: It has to hold your gear securely and without inflicting damage, feel comfortable on your neck, and not slide around too much or require regular adjusting.

How to care for a camera strap

First, make sure you’re attaching it to your camera correctly. Each manufacturer may have its own instructions, but this video shows the correct way to thread those with nylon attachments.

Clean canvas straps with a damp cloth, but if it’s really dirty, BlackRapid advises removing the hardware and letting the strap sit in Woolite for an hour before rinsing. Air drying is best.

If you have a leather strap, you need to care for it as carefully as you would your favorite boots. We spoke with camera strap aficionado and editor-in-chief of The Phoblographer Chris Gampat about his strap-care rituals. “Camera straps need care and maintenance like any fine leather product. Photographers should use wax and oil in the same way that they would polish and wax their leather shoes and goods. If you’re reapplying wax, always try to underdo it and be conservative. It’s best to also use a blow dryer to melt the wax and apply it evenly. To harden it, you should put it in the freezer for like a day or overnight to let it harden.” For a more complete take on the care and preservation of leather goods, have a look at our guide for leather shoe care.

Functional straps

After scouring the Internet for the camera straps most highly recommended by reviewers and photographers alike, we narrowed down the pack to 11 models we wanted to see in hand. We then tested the updated version of our original pick separately in 2017.

We looked for the best-reviewed straps that have been available the longest to recommend a functional model that outperforms the one that comes with your camera. We sought out a strap that contours well to the body and can stand up to a DSLR with a heavy lens (a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 70–200mm telephoto lens in our testing).

Our pick

Close up of a woman wearing the BlackRapid Sport Breathe strap. The BlackRapid Sport Breathe, with optional underarm stabilizing strap.

Our pick

BlackRapid Sport Breathe

Why it’s great: The BlackRapid Sport Breathe is the best functional camera strap because it uses strong attachments for heavy gear, remains comfortable to wear, lets you ready your camera extremely fast, and has a reasonable price for the level of safety it offers. BlackRapid updated this model last fall with new breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics that feel better on sweaty skin, as well as other mechanical and material updates. It’s available in both right- and left-handed versions.

Pull Quote

The BlackRapid’s nylon strap is adjustable and features a newly redesigned spring-loaded lock on either side of the carabiner to keep your camera from sliding around when not in use.

The BlackRapid Sport Breathe strap attaches to the camera via the tripod mount using a stainless steel thumbscrew and metal carabiner, now with a coating that keeps any clinking much quieter. That carabiner connection has been a point of failure for some owners in the past, but the new model features an improved locking mechanism on the carabiner as well as an additional plastic piece, called a LockStar (developed in partnership with Nikon), that prevents the carabiner from coming unlocked and keeps the metal hardware from scratching the camera body.

Close up of the BlackRapid’s carabiner attachment. BlackRapid’s distinctive carabiner attachment method.

The BlackRapid’s shoulder pad is breathable yet thick, and it naturally forms to the body. Its inner honeycomb mesh minimizes the amount of material that contacts your skin; you can actually see holes from the outer material that continue through the pad. It’s not just for show, either: If you blow through the padding, you can feel your breath on the other side. In our tests, this design made the BlackRapid strap feel noticeably drier and grippier during hot August wedding shoots compared with other straps I tried, such as the seat-belt-like Peak Design strap.

The BlackRapid strap is also highly adjustable and features newly redesigned spring-loaded bumpers on either side of the carabiner to prevent the camera from sliding around on the strap when not in use. We like the added security of the underarm strap, but it’s not always necessary if you want to travel light or don’t like another strap near your underarm; it detaches easily from its clips when you want to remove it.

The BlackRapid Sport Breathe comes with a one-year warranty, which extends to five years if you sign up for a BlackRapid account on the company’s website. And as a bonus, BlackRapid is offering a trade-in program via its website through which you can swap any sling-style camera strap (including previous BlackRapid straps) for the latest BlackRapid model for a significant discount.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: A tripod-socket mount isn’t for everybody, but BlackRapid also offers an Arca-Swiss–compatible tripod plate if you find yourself needing to switch frequently to your tripod. As the name implies, the look is sporty and utilitarian, but see our Fashion straps section if looks are a priority for you.

A more refined look

The Luma Labs leather-topped padding has a more understated look than the BlackRapid. Photo: Erin Lodi The Luma Labs leather-topped padding has a more understated look than the BlackRapid.

Upgrade pick

Luma Labs Loop 3

Why it’s great: The Luma Labs Loop 3 offers a more refined look than the BlackRapid—at the cost of your camera sliding around the strap when not in use. The thick padding feels as if it melts into your shoulder, and the top layer of leather keeps it looking sleeker and less sporty than the majority of the competition, as does its subtle black-on-black logo placement. As Chris Gampat, editor-in-chief of The Phoblographer, told us when we asked him about some of his favorite straps, “A camera strap shouldn’t have a company name plastered all over it like I’m your walking billboard ad.”

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The thick padding feels as if it melts into your shoulder.

The simplicity of the system also makes the Loop 3 stand out: The strap attaches via a hard plastic loop with a knob that twists into your tripod socket. It feels secure, requires no additional tools, and is easy to use. The Luma Labs attachment system screws directly into your tripod mount. Photo: Erin Lodi The Luma Labs attachment system screws directly into your tripod mount.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Our one point of contention was the lack of a locking mechanism to keep the camera from sliding around the strap when you don’t want it to, like the BlackRapid model offers. These locks can be very useful for keeping your camera from shifting unexpectedly, particularly in between your shots.

Budget pick

The Op/Tech Utility Strap Sling brings stability on the cheap. Photo: Erin Lodi The Op/Tech Utility Strap Sling brings stability on the cheap.

Budget pick

Op/Tech Utility Strap Sling

Why it’s great: If you want to spend substantially less, Op/Tech’s Utility Strap Sling stands out for its thick neoprene padding and alternative camera-side-loops attachment method that doesn’t interfere with the tripod socket. The strap’s “Uni Loop” connectors feel very secure and require a squeeze on both sides to release. More than one can be used if your battery grip or quick-release plate also includes a loop.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The plastic connectors aren’t very attractive and could wear on the skin after a while. When attached to both sides of the camera, the strap tends to block the LCD screen and back buttons. For its lower price, the trade-off is a strap that’s neither as contoured nor as comfortable as the BlackRapid.

The Op/Tech strap ties into your camera’s built-in connection loops. Photo: Erin Lodi The Op/Tech strap ties into your camera’s built-in connection loops.

Fashion straps

When it comes to finding a camera strap that’s also fashionable, the search becomes a little trickier. A fashionable strap must still stand up to the weight of your camera and feel good on your neck, but you might have to make form over function compromises when choosing for looks. By their nature, most fashion straps won’t provide the same advanced attachment and stability systems of a more functional strap—but will look much nicer than options that are more pro-level.

With such subjective matter, it’s difficult to declare a clear “winner,” but a few standouts rose to the top for both DSLR and smaller-camera shooters. If you’re a professional photographer shooting a 10-hour wedding, see the Functional straps section above, but if you’re looking for something a bit trendier for more everyday use, read on.

High-comfort leather

The softest leather around. The softest leather around.

Our pick

Ona Leather Presidio

Why it’s great: The Leather Presidio from Ona is the most comfortable leather strap we tested. It can easily support a heavy camera and offers a simple attachment method that won’t scratch your gear. And its current price of just over 0 is fitting as a long-term investment. The Italian tanned leather is absolutely buttery and surrounds a layer of neoprene padding that makes the more than 5-pound weight of a Canon 5D Mark III with a 70–200mm f/2.8 L lens feel bearable through a long day of shooting. The Presidio ends in narrow leather attachments that slide through the camera loops and are fixed in place with two buckles that offer four inches of sizing flexibility to fit many body types. It comes in two colors: antique cognac and dark truffle.

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The Leather Presidio from Ona is the most comfortable leather strap we tested.

Chrome hardware and buckles complete the simple, elegant construction along with four rows of perfect stitching that bond the neck pad together. The top-grain leather includes a soft wax finish. The internal neoprene padding adds an extra level of comfort. The internal neoprene padding adds an extra level of comfort.

In his review for Looks Like Film, photographer and blogger Jacob Loafman praised the Presidio for its comfort and durability, “It hits an absolute 10 out of 10 on the comfortableness scale. There is just no better strap that I have worn in my 4 years of shooting. Plus, it is a strap that will last a long time, in my opinion.”

Photographer and blogger Anthony Gauna also had nice things to say on his site after using the Presidio: “Because of of the fact that it can be worn crossbody like the BlackRapid, I had been worried that it was gonna give me shoulder pain, but it surprisingly hasn’t.” The strap’s function wasn’t the only thing that impressed him. “And I do have to say… it’s pretty damn dapper looking too.”

If you’re not careful, the Ona’s buckles can get in the way. If you’re not careful, the Ona’s buckles can get in the way.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Having those two buckles on your chest can feel like a lot of metal and bulk right where it can easily get in the way of shooting—particularly if you’re wearing a couple straps or another bag at the same time; it can snag. The Ona is also plenty long, with an adjustable drop length of 19.5 to 23.5 inches, which felt comfortable for me at 5 feet 7½ inches, and gave me the option to wear it crossbody; but some shorter reviewers have found it too big. If you find the strap too long, even while wearing it slung crossbody, Ona recommends taking it to a cobbler or luggage repair shop, and getting extra buckle holes added to shorten the strap.

Simple and soft leather strap

A simple, elegant leather strap. A simple, elegant leather strap.


A7 Lincoln

Why it’s great: A7’s Lincoln strap takes a simple but unpadded approach, with a smaller price tag. The look is classic with rugged, high-quality, full-grain leather that’s smooth to the touch. Unfinished on the inside, the soft leather offers grip as it conforms easily to the back of your neck. The narrow leather strap ends attach via the camera loops, and a single metal buckle on each side adjusts length easily from 36 to 46 inches long and offers slightly less bulk than the Ona’s double buckle system. Those two buckles are the only hardware on the piece, making the Lincoln one of the most no-frills and lightweight leather straps we tested. The supple vegetable-tanned leather comes in three colors.

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The [A7″s] look is classic with rugged, high-quality, full-grain leather that’s smooth to the touch.

Matthew Hranek recommended A7 straps in GQ, calling them “glove leather soft, in a simple palette of colors, that are a compliment to any shooter’s wardrobe.” The A7 doesn’t afford you any extra padding. The A7 doesn’t afford you any extra padding.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: No padding to support heavy gear, so use it for shorter outings with your DSLR or pair with a lighter mirrorless or compact camera.

On a budget

An affordable strap for a smaller camera. An affordable strap for a smaller camera.

Budget pick

Gordy’s Horizontal Neck Strap

Why it’s great: Like its name, there’s nothing fancy about Gordy’s horizontal neck strap. Made from a thick natural cowhide, the quarter-inch-wide strap is offered in three lengths that attach via metal loops. The leather comes in four different colors, and the waxed cord that finishes the ends is available in 14 hues to further customize your strap. The model we looked at, including the optional inch-wide neck pad, is currently . Unlike other simple models, the Gordy’s neck strap stays in place.

It may take some time to get the Gordy feeling soft and worn in. It may take some time to get the Gordy feeling soft and worn in.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: It’s going to take a while to break in this stiff Latigo belt leather, but the price is quite accommodating. Even with the optional neck pad, I wouldn’t use this strap for anything heavier than a mirrorless model. Some users may worry about the metal loop attachment method that poses a risk of scratching the camera body.

A vegan option

If you want a vegan alternative, Couch’s “deadstock” vinyl is the way to go. If you want a vegan alternative, Couch’s “deadstock” vinyl is the way to go.

Also great

Couch Dark Brown Western Camera Strap

Why it’s great: Couch stands out from the current artisan-leather crowd of camera strap makers by offering a vegan vinyl approach at bargain prices—currently around for most straps. We liked the embossed Dark Brown Western Camera Strap, which has the comfortable look and feel of old leather with just enough grip to not move around too much on your neck. Heavy nylon attachments feel strong but slide slickly through your camera’s metal loops. The 2-inch-wide strap is strong enough to support a full-size DSLR, but those with smaller necks and/or camera bodies might consider the 1.5-inch-wide version, the Slim Light Brown Western Camera Strap.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: It’s made of a synthetic material, so it could feel a bit sticky and will eventually wear down. Couch offers more designs—if the classic Western look isn’t your thing—but beware the models that sport seat belt material on the back side: you really don’t want your camera strap and gear gliding around your body so easily.

How to buy a fashion strap

Extra detailing like in the Barton 1972 Braided 90 may look cool, but can be uncomfortable and can catch your hair if you’re not careful. Extra detailing like in the Barton 1972 Braided 90 may look cool, but can be uncomfortable and can catch your hair if you’re not careful.

The focus in buying one of these straps may be fashion, but we believe comfort is key, along with solid construction and high-quality materials. No matter how good the strap looks, you need to want to wear it and it needs to keep your gear safe. If you’re looking at a strap that we haven’t mentioned in this guide, here are some hints to help you find a good one.

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No matter how good the strap looks, you need to want to wear it and it needs to keep your gear safe.

High-quality leather is an excellent choice for strap material, because it breathes well on the skin in any climate and should last for years. The highest-quality leather is full grain (the outer layer of the cowhide), which is the most expensive—but is also the most fibrous and strongest. Next best is top-grain leather, which is split from the top layer of the hide and sanded and refinished. Genuine leather is made from the remaining layers of hide and often refinished to resemble full- or top-grain leather, but isn’t as durable and is also used for suede. (Buyer beware: Just because a product says “made with” full-grain leather, that doesn’t necessarily mean the entire product is full-grain leather. This could mean a portion of the product includes this high-quality material and the rest is subpar.) Look for manufacturers who use the highest-quality leather, along with the best tanning practices, usually noted as Italian or vegetable tanning—a slower process using plant-based tannins to dye and preserve the leather.

Though we looked at some canvas models, we ultimately steered clear of this option because canvas is bound to show dirt and wear more quickly than leather without offering much in return, not even cost savings.

The best leather alternative we found was from Couch, our vegan camera strap pick. This earth-conscious company uses “deadstock” vinyl that’s sat around unused and other recycled material to create its products.

After material considerations, look for high-quality construction like careful stitching and a secure attachment method. Make sure the stitching is tight, without too many loose ends, and that the attachment method can hold tight. If the strap attaches via metal loops, take a close look at that material too: A well-crafted strap is worthless if a cheap metal loop is all that’s connecting it to your camera. Poor-quality metal parts will often feel notably worse than better ones, and will be light and easily deformed.

Be careful of straps with too many attachment points and buckles, especially farther away from the ends. If you have long hair, these can spell disaster as your hair can get caught in the workings.

Beware the manufacturer’s recommendations for weight limits. Some of these beautiful leather straps are best suited to a smaller camera system; see the Functional straps section above if you’re using heavy gear.

Finally, pay attention to size. Two inches seems to be a common width in the strap industry, but if you have a smaller neck, a strap that size could feel very bulky and may even pull at your hairline. Also look at length: Most strap makers offer a few lengths, so pick the one that’s right for your body, also taking into account what you usually wear when shooting. An adjustable strap might be especially important if you sometimes shoot in a T-shirt and sometimes need to wear a heavy jacket.

The competition

We looked closely at almost 30 straps, and investigated many more through online research and interviews with experts. Overall, our top picks offer the most advantages, but for different tastes and needs, here’s what else we considered.

Functional straps

The Peak Design Slide, which can be worn as a traditional strap or as a sling, is a popular model, but we found that it felt exactly like wearing a seat belt—it was slick and apt to slide around the body and lacked any substantial padding.

Joby’s UltraFit Sling Strap lacked padding compared to our top pick and didn’t conform to the body as well, though it is considerably cheaper. It also comes in an XXL size, which could be an advantage for some users. It’s available in a women’s-specific version—an idea we liked—but in practice we didn’t notice much of a difference (though perhaps photographers with other body types would).

Hold Fast offers the Sightseer Sling, but it’s too much of a splurge compared to our main picks. It’s part of a modular system, with more-luxurious materials than other functional straps, but it’s far too expensive for most people.

Fashion straps

The Trillo & Son’s Capa has the thickest leather around. The Trillo & Son’s Capa has the thickest leather around.

Handmade from a thick cowhide, the Trillo & Son’s The Capa Strap smells like a saddle and feels like it will last a lifetime. One of the thickest leather options we tested, the ¾-inch cowboy-couture strap attaches via steel rings and features a single buckle for length adjustment. The 1¾-inch neck pad is comfortable and stays put. But all this heavy metal and leather also results in a weightier strap that might be more than a small camera requires and potentially uncomfortable on a smaller neck.

Hold Fast’s Maven buffalo leather strap feels amazing, but is more expensive. Hold Fast’s Maven buffalo leather strap feels amazing, but is more expensive.

If you’re a leather connoisseur and don’t mind spending a bit more, Hold Fast’s new Maven model is bison leather lined in dreamy soft glove leather that I couldn’t stop touching. The Maven comes in three different lengths and five colors and attaches via brass hooks with protective leather pads. Just an inch wide, the Maven is meant for mirrorless or other smaller cameras, not for DSLRs.

The Cecilia is a soft, well-made strap, though it’s best suited for smaller cameras. The Cecilia is a soft, well-made strap, though it’s best suited for smaller cameras.

We were quite fond of the Cecilia Brown Leather/Brown Leather strap we tried. The chocolatey full-grain leather is soft and well-made. With a narrower inch-wide neck pad, it could be a great pick for users with a smaller neck or camera system. Two simple zinc-alloy sliders offer a wide range of length adjustment, from 37 to 50 inches. Leather tabs protect your gear from the metal ring attachments.

4V’s Sella offers extra-thick neck padding and heavy-duty leather—but is one of the more expensive options we looked at. 4V’s Sella offers extra-thick neck padding and heavy-duty leather—but is one of the more expensive options we looked at.

At its current price of nearly 0, 4V Design’s Sella strap is aimed at those willing to spend more on unusually extravagant materials. An innovative rubbery grip on the back of the thick neck padding keeps the strap in place and adds ease when wearing heavier gear. The grippy material gives good purchase to keep from slipping even if my neck gets sweaty. The Italian-designed leather is smooth and soft with light-blue stitching that sets it apart. This strap has a lot going on, though, with a buckle to adjust length positioned atop the padding, adding lots of bulk at the back of the neck and plenty of opportunity to snag hair.

We originally tested the Hold Fast Ruck Strap in our first roundup of functional straps. It’s crafted of sturdy canvas and high-quality leather, and we love the look and feel and the clever pockets. Ultimately we decided to select a sling-style strap for a more functional option. But even compared with the fashion straps, at its current price of 5, it’s expensive, isn’t as comfortable as our main pick, and—as is true of many canvas straps—can show dirt and wear more easily.

Tanner Goods is an oft-mentioned brand we were eager to try out. The company’s SLR Camera Strap features nicely finished Meridian English bridle leather, but its nylon cord attachment gave us pause. It’s a unique system that won’t scratch your gear and lets you detach the strap without removing the attachment tags, but we wouldn’t trust our heavier gear to the thin nylon, though it could prove perfect for a smaller camera system.

We also took a look at Cecilia’s Charcoal Baby Alpaca Wool/Black Leather model. Though impressed by the brand’s high-quality materials and manufacturing, we were ultimately concerned about how the wool would wear (and smell) when mixed with dirt and sweat.

Tap & Dye’s Legacy Leather Camera Fixed Length Neck/Shoulder Strap is made from top-of-the-line full-grain cowhide that feels strong and stretchy in hand. But the neck-pad piece slides about too easily, which proved annoying in use.

The Figosa Heavy Duty strap did the exact same thing as the Tap & Dye: The wider piece slid uncontrollably, necessitating constant adjustment during use.

We also found Heavy Leather’s Leather Slingshot Camera Strap too slippery: The rock ’n’ roll look in a tripod-mount sling-style strap is appealing, but not practical when it’s sliding all over your body. The company’s Classic Strap also didn’t do well for us. Again, a “cool factor” is at work: Adjustable leather straps thread through the loops on the side of the camera and connect to the strap via key-ring hooks. But the leather feels thin and the key rings offer a possible failure point.

Finally, we also looked at the Barton 1972 Braided90. This braided strap is made from six individual pieces of leather to create a stretchy cord that attaches via metal rings. Cool concept, but it chews into the back of the neck and becomes a trap for longer hair.


  1. Chris Gampat, editor-in-chief of The Phoblographer, Interview, October 1, 2015

  2. Tom Redd, BlackRapid Sport Camera Strap Review, Photography Life, December 1, 2013

  3. Jeff Meyer, Best camera strap: 6 top models tested and rated, TechRadar, April 1, 2013

  4. Chris Gampat, The Straps that the Phoblographer’s Readers Ask Most About, The Phoblographer, September 1, 2015

  5. Anastasia Petukhova, The Big Camera Strap Review, Asilda Photography, June 1, 2014

  6. Lukas Piatek, Review - The Leather Presidio from Ona, LooksLikeFilm, February 1, 2016

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