Best Camera Straps for Hiking & Backpacking (+ Clips & Harnesses)
There are plenty of ways to carry a camera while hiking, and we've tested them all. Here are the best options for your next backpacking adventure.
Getting the best camera strap for hiking is essential for serious backpacking adventures.
One of the great pleasures of being out in nature is being able to photograph landscapes and wildlife.
When I’m hiking, I don’t want my camera to be hidden away inside a camera bag or dangling from my neck from a strap.
I don’t want to miss any shots, and I certainly don’t want muscle pain or a smashed camera!
Convenient and lightweight way to attach a camera to a backpack for ease of access and security while hiking.
Ideally, all hikers should have a hands-free, easily adjustable, versatile camera strap system that provides easy access as well as security when the terrain gets rough.
In this guide, I’m going to walk you through some of the best camera harnesses, straps, clips and camera holsters for hiking available right now.
You’ll be able to put away that annoying neck strap once and for all and get out and about to shoot in the wild with confidence.
More useful guides before we start:
- Best camera for hiking
- Best camera hand grip straps
- Best camera straps
- Best camera gear for hiking and backpacking
What’s the Best Way to Carry a Camera While Hiking?
|Peak Design Capture ClipOUR #1 CHOICE||Check Peak Design Price → Check Amazon Price →|
|Spider X Belt and Backpack Holster KitTOP RATED||Check Amazon Price → Check B&H Price →|
|Think Tank Photo Camera Strap V2.0HIGHLY RECOMMENDED||Check Amazon Price → Check B&H Price →|
|Think Tank Digital Holster 10 V2.0BEST HOLSTER||Check Amazon Price → Check B&H Price →|
|Cotton Carrier CCS G3 Camera Harness SystemBEST CARRIER||Check Amazon Price → Check B&H Price →|
|LensCoat Camera/Binoculars HarnessBEST BUDGET||Check B&H Price →|
|Nicama Multi Camera Carrying Chest Harness Vest SystemGREAT VALUE||Check Amazon Price →|
|Cotton Carrier Skout Sling Style HarnessBEST SLING||Check Amazon Price → Check B&H Price →|
|BlackRapid Backpack Camera SlingBEST HAND STRAP||Check Amazon Price → Check B&H Price →|
|Peak Design Clutch CL-3 Hand Strap||Check Peak Design Price → Check Amazon Price →|
Peak Design Capture Clip | Best Camera Clip for Backpack
- Holds up to 200 lbs of camera equipment
- Weatherproof, saltwater and rust resistant
- Extremely secure
- Can be attached to any strap
- Can be used with a wide range of camera gear
- Could get quite expensive if you buy all the accessories
This is my top pick for the simple reason that this piece of camera gear adapts to whatever you already have.
It’s a robust, weatherproof clip, which can be attached to any backpack strap (or any other strap) between 6.4 cm and 2.2 cm wide. So it can be attached to your belt or the straps of your camera bag.
It can comfortably hold up to 200 lbs of weight, so can easily be used with a full-frame professional camera.
The Peak Design Capture Clip is lightweight, strong and extremely versatile. It holds your camera in four different ways so that you can adjust it to your style, and you can even combine it with accessories to hold other camera equipment such as extra lenses or a GoPro.
As for security, as much as it allows you to access your camera quickly, it’s also designed with a redundant security lock that prevents accidental release.
Best of all, it’s small, lightweight and strong – perfect for any hiking adventure where weight is of the essence and you’re worried about your heavy DSLR dropping on the ground.
Since they’re also so affordable, many hiking photographers I’ve met have a couple of Capture Clips – one on their main camera backpack, and another on a smaller everyday sling.
Seriously – if you’re looking for the most efficient way to attach your camera to your backpack, look no further.
Spider X Belt and Backpack Holster Kit | Best DSLR Camera Harness for Hiking
- Lightweight, robust design
- Can be attached to any available straps
- Self-locking and quick-release mechanism
- Some users complain it blocks their battery compartment
- Can cause one-sided hip pain if camera is particularly heavy
With this DSLR camera setup, you can safely and securely carry even the heaviest DSLR camera when hiking.
It’s strong, lightweight, and can be attached directly to a belt or, using the adaptor, to a backpack.
With its self-locking mechanism and quick-release thumb-switch, the Spider X Belt and Backpack Holster Kit will also keep your camera both secure and easy to access while you trek outdoors.
Securing a camera to your hips (waist) also ensures that the weight is distributed off your back, although if your DSLR is particularly heavy, you may want to alternate which side you attach it to.
Think Tank Photo Camera Strap V2.0
- Very affordable camera strap
- Strong, simple, stylish camera strap design
- Non-slip material on both sides
- Comes in two colours
- Not enough on its own for safety or comfort
- Best used as a secondary camera strap or backup strap
For photographers who are happy with using a camera shoulder strap but want something infinitely better than 3rd party brand offerings, this could be a great option.
The Think Tank strap has non-slip material on both sides. Even though it’s a shoulder strap, this design eliminates the curse of the ordinary camera strap – the slippery, falling camera!
When you’re out hiking, a shoulder camera strap may not be the ideal choice for active photographers, but if you wear it across your body, it can eliminate much of the movement.
It comes in two colours, so it’s perfect for photographers who shoot with two different bodies and/or lenses and need to quickly differentiate between them while shooting.
Another cool feature is the strap’s metal rings which allow you to attach it to Think Tank Camera Support Straps if you feel like an upgrade or some added versatility.
Depending on the style of hiking you do, you may be able to make a shoulder camera strap like this one work for you.
Think Tank Digital Holster 10 V2.0 | Best Camera Holster for Hiking
- Well thought-out design
- Modular, so can be used with a variety of add-ons
- Great price
- ‘Pop-down’ feature allows use with telephoto lenses
- Only comes with a shoulder strap
- Optimal use with an accessory, the Pro Speed Belt
This camera holster is a great piece of equipment. You can use it as a stand-alone if you only want to take one camera and lens out with you or as part of a bigger system.
It has a variety of pockets for carrying any other camera accessories you might need to take with you – SD cards, batteries, lens filters and the like.
As it’s a modular system, you can also attach an extra lens bag to the holster itself or use it as part of a larger system using other Think Tank products and accessories – this makes it ideal for hikers who have a lot of camera gear.
It’s designed to hold most cameras, including point-and-shoots and DSLR or mirrorless cameras with lenses attached, so you just have to reach in and grab your camera to get shooting.
(Holsters are also known as ‘top loaders’, given the ability for you to load them with your gear from the top. This makes them convenient for hiking to keep both your hands free.)
One of its best features, especially for photographers who like shooting wildlife, is its ‘pop-down’ bottom, which extends the bag’s compartment far enough to allow you to attach a telephoto lens.
Cotton Carrier CCS G3 Camera Harness System | Best Camera Harness for Hiking
- Rugged design
- Great weight distribution
- Secure lock and release mechanism
- Has a rain pouch and also stash pockets in the waistband
- Not a particularly stylish design
- Chest plate isn’t breathable
- May not fit over bulky outdoor clothing
This camera harness for hiking is ideal for those photographers looking for a bit of extra support for safety of their camera gear.
It has both a chest and back plate to help distribute weight evenly over the body, and padded, adjustable straps to keep things comfortable.
Its unique twist-and-lock system keeps your camera close and secure but easy to release and use when you need to.
Not all backpackers and hikers will appreciate the look of having a chest harness attached to their upper bodies.
It’s also worth considering that if you hike in colder climates, the harness may not even be able to fit over bulky ski jackets or heavy layering.
However, if you manage to put it on, the Cotton Carrier offers one of the most convenient ways to carry your camera while hiking, keeping it right in front of your body.
BlackRapid Backpack Camera Sling | Best Camera Sling for Hiking
- Lightweight, easy-to-use system
- Holds two DSLR or mirrorless bodies
- Easily attach cameras with simple locking mechanism
- Variable strap length
- Not particularly rugged design may be more suitable for non-outdoor shoots
- Despite locking toggle, cameras may swing a little
For quick and easy access to two cameras, the BlackRapid Backpack Camera Sling could be the piece of equipment you’re looking for.
You wear it in the same way you’d wear a backpack, but there’s no weight on your back. All the weight is taken by the straps, which have extra padding, and is distributed evenly over your chest and back.
The locking mechanism is solid and holds one heavy camera on each side. The versatile straps can also lock each camera in place with a toggle.
If you want to use two different DSLR or mirrorless bodies, or two different focal lengths to shoot with while you’re hiking and don’t want to mess around with changing camera lenses, this lightweight system could be the way to go.
As with all BlackRapid camera straps, a 1/4″ screw loop attaches to the bottom of your camera, allowing you to slide the camera up the strap without the shoulder padding moving.
When I’m out hiking on shorter trips where I don’t use a backpack, this is the camera strap I use most often.
(If I do have a backpack, I prefer to use the Peak Capture Clip mentioned above.)
Peak Design Clutch CL-3 Hand Strap | Best Hand Strap for Hiking
- Compatible with all DSLR cameras including full-frame and with battery grips
- Cinch allows quick and flexible adjustment
- Microfiber pad for comfort
- Sleek and unobtrusive design
- Price: one of the more expensive camera hand straps on the market
- Leaves you with only one free hand
For the minimalist hikers out these, this is the camera hand strap for you.
The Clutch has microfiber pads, so it’s extremely comfortable to wear, even for long periods spent walking outdoors.
It’s also simple to adjust with the cinch and is suitable for all hand sizes.
This strap will help you hold your camera with a solid grip, and even with your hand relaxed, as long as you have it tightened correctly, the camera won’t slip from your hand.
Despite its small size, the Clutch hand strap can hold up to 90 kilograms, so it can carry a full-frame DSLR or mirrorless camera, even with a bulky battery grip.
Bear in mind, though, if you’re hiking with this strap, you’ll only have one hand free. So don’t fall over, and don’t use this on extremely rugged terrain.
Perhaps use it as an extra hiking camera strap, or pair it with a holster bag to stay minimal.
I’d only ever use this if I was hiking on fairly unrugged terrain, where there’s little chance to trip over. Having only one hand to break a fall isn’t ideal, after all.
LensCoat Camera/Binoculars Harness
- Best bargain
- Portable, can be carried as extra kit
- Quick release buckles
- Straps are thin and without padding
- Basic design
This product is designed to give you easy access to either a camera or binoculars when hiking.
The adjustable nylon straps fit around the back and over the shoulders, distributing the weight of your equipment, and the quick-release buckles let you attach and detach with ease.
The LensCoat is also small enough to fold up in a bag or even jacket pocket, so you can just take it out as and when you need it.
It’s also bargain-priced, meaning that you could own it in conjunction with one of the other camera clips or harnesses for hiking found in this guide.
One caveat: due to the overall slimness of the design and straps, I’d recommend this more for people using point-and-shoot cameras or, at a stretch, smaller DSLRs and mirrorless bodies.
Nicama Multi Camera Carrying Chest Harness Vest System
- Very affordable price
- Simple design
- Keeps camera secure
- Some users complain it’s fiddly to detach cameras
- Cheap materials
- May not fit over bulky outdoor clothing
The Nicama is a great choice of camera chest harness for those on a budget. It’s similar in design to the Cotton Carrier G3, but without the price tag.
Weight is distributed nicely over the chest and back thanks to the plates, and the camera is kept firmly in place by the locking mechanism on the chest plate.
For long hikes with a camera, you won’t need to worry about your DSLR going AWOL, or not being close to hand when you need to grab a shot.
As with all camera chest harnesses, you’ll need to consider the clothing you wear beneath it since bulkier waterproof jackets etc may not let you wear the harness on top.
You can also consider a photographer vest or jacket as another carrying option for hiking.
Cotton Carrier Skout Sling Style Harness
- Extra safety strap for added security
- Crossbody strap allows good weight distribution
- Lightweight, durable kit for a single camera
- Not suitable for carrying a telephoto lens
- Hub-style attachment needs to be detached when not using the sling strap and is also not an Arca-Swiss compatible tripod plate
The Cotton Carrier Skout Sling Style Harness is a lightweight sling strap for carrying your camera securely on long hikes, especially if you want to travel light in terms of gear.
Its design is simple. The crossbody strap keeps your camera firmly on one side of your chest while making sure the weight is evenly distributed across the straps.
This sling strap also has the same twist-and-lock as the Cotton Carrier harness, so your camera isn’t going anywhere unless you want it to.
Honorable Mention – Recommended Hiking Camera Backpack
Ok, so it’s not exactly a camera harness or clip for hiking, but for anyone looking for a bespoke piece of photographer’s hiking equipment the Lowepro Photosport AWIII backpack deserves a mention.
In my experience, this is the most versatile camera backpack for day hikes in the wilderness.
Depending on how you pack it, you could also use it for an overnighter as well.
Lowepro Photosport AW III | Most Versatile Backpack for Hiking Photographers
- Lightweight, comes in two sizes
- Made of 75% recycled material
- Hydropack compartment for long hikes
- Rain cover
- Accessory pack for extra versatility
- Some pockets are quite small
- Smaller version won’t fit a large mirrorless or DSLR camera
This feature-packed camera backpack comes in both 15L and 24L versions. The smaller big enough to house a small mirrorless camera and wide-angle lens (packed separately), and the bigger backpack is suitable for carrying larger cameras such as DSLRs.
The backpack’s upper compartment is designed to hold hiking accessories – warm layers, waterproofs, food – and there are plenty of pockets for maps and the like.
There’s also a zippered pocket in the back designed for a hydration pack, it has a hole at the top to allow the drinking tube to come out.
For Nordic walkers, there are external loops on the bag for holding hiking poles, and the chest strap buckle is also a safety whistle.
The bottom compartment is made specifically for photography. It’s padded and has Velcro dividers, so you can tailor the pouch to your needs.
But the best thing of all about this compartment? It comes out of the bag completely, giving you more space in the main backpack and a separate, easily-accessible camera bag.
How do you use this compartment once you’ve taken it out? The Lowepro has an accessory pouch which contains quick-release adapters that attach to the backpack straps so you can hang the photo bag on your chest.
The accessory pouch combined with another strap can also become a waistband with pockets.
And, if you don’t want the bag hanging over your chest, there’s a shoulder strap too.
My Camera Carry Recommendations for Hiking Photographers
The best choice is definitely not the camera strap that came with your camera. So you’ll need something else.
As always, this comes down to personal preference, shooting style, and how much gear you want to carry.
But, whatever camera strap, harness or clip you end up choosing for hiking, it’s going to need to satisfy three basic criteria:
Does it keep your camera safe?
Does it allow you to access your camera (or cameras) quickly?
And, is it comfortable enough to wear all day?
Camera hand grip straps and shoulder straps are best combined with other pieces of equipment, such as holster bags or belts while hiking.
Those pieces of gear, as well as sling straps, are best if you only want to take one camera on your backpacking adventures.
A camera clip is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment, as you can attach it to your belt when travelling light, to a camera backpack’s straps if you want quick access but also to carry a lot of gear, or simply to a hiking rucksack.
A camera harness or a chest harness is a great choice for lightning-quick access to either one or two cameras.
And of course, there are backpacks specifically designed with the photography-loving hiker in mind.
The best way to carry a camera when hiking is the system that helps you hike and photograph your way.
I hope this article shows you that there are a lot of options when it comes to keeping your camera safe and accessible when hiking.
Even if you’re on a tight budget, there’s really no need to stick with the neck strap your camera came with. Literally, anything is safer and more comfortable than using that on your next hiking trip.
Whether you choose a sling strap (or crossbody camera strap), camera harness for hiking, a chest harness strap, or a camera clip, your life in the great outdoors will be markedly better.
Any one of these products, either used alone or combined with others, will elevate your photography experience and give you the confidence to take your craft to the next level when hiking.
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