DIY

Make a Camera Harness

article image
PHOTO: BARBARA BRESNAHAN AND MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
The finished camera harness snugly in place.

When you’re spending time in the great
outdoors–hiking, backpacking, skiing, or what have
you–it’s often difficult to find a convenient way to
carry along a 35mm camera. Well, I’ve solved that problem
with a dandy harness that can be made, in about 30 minutes,
for around $4.00 that is the equal of similar devices
sold in camera stores for $14 or more!

Ready in a Second

As an outdoor writer and photographer, I take my camera
almost everywhere I go, and I’ve found no better way to
keep it secure and accessible than this handy, homemade
harness. One day, for instance, when my husband and I were
backpacking on the Continental Divide, a coyote suddenly
appeared, moving at a comfortable lope, about 50 yards in
front of us. At that pace, the animal disappeared among the
trees in about 15 seconds, but–since my camera was
waiting, practically under my nose–I was able to get
a good photo of the beast.

The harness also comes in handy when I join a bunch of
friends to go downhill skiing. With my equipment snugly
secured and just a jacket zipped up over it, I can whip my
handy 35mm out, take several shots, stick it back
inside my coat, and be on my way. Furthermore, my
camera stays warm, so there’s no danger of battery failure.
And now that I’m so quick on the draw, my friends’ aversion
to my picturetaking has substantially lessened because
they no longer have to ward off frostbite while I fumble
with my cumbersome gear.

Shop Around and Save

The materials you’ll need can be found at several kinds of
stores, so look for bargains. Shoe repair shops, for
example, may have the least expensive price on elastic, but
generally stock it only in black and brown. (If you want a
white camera holder, you can simply buy your elastic in any
store that sells sewing notions.)

My shopping list for the project looked like this:

(7')  2" nylon webbing  $2.22
(2)   2" snap buckles     .60
(2)   2" sliders          .30
(12") 3/4" elastic        .25
(4)   3/4" split rings    .60
      scrap material       00
                        -----
Total                   $3.97

Try checking out a tent and awning or sailmaking
establishment to find the lowest price on nylon webbing.
Snaps and slides can be found in such places too, or
in sporting goods shops that specialize in camping gear.
Hardware outlets may also have them, and will certainly
carry the needed split–or key–rings. (The
split-ring assemblies go between the camera and the harness
to prevent the snap buckles from scratching the camera’s
finish. If you now use a regular neck strap you may
already have these sections, in which case you’ll have
saved a step.)

Put It All Together

To assemble a split-ring adapter, position two rings about
3 inches apart. Connect the pair with a strip of material
(or sturdy seam-binding tape), overlapped for strength, and
stitch a zig-zag pattern back and forth between the rings.
Make two of these units and attach one to each side of your
camera.

For step two, sear the ends of the webbing with a match or
candle to melt the strands together and prevent any
raveling. Next, thread a slider onto one end of the webbing
and move it up about 8 inches, then slip on a snap buckle
and thread the end–again–through the slider.
Now, fold the end back (toward the snap buckle) about 2 to
3 inches and sew it to the webbing. You should wind up with
a small loop around the middle bar of the slider. Then
repeat the entire process for the other end.

The final step is to sew the elastic to the middle of the
strap. Before you do so, however, wrap the expandable
material around your smallest diameter lens. Stretch it
enough to hold the lens tightly, and allow another 1 1/2″
for overlapping. (It’s best to make a “test run” with pins
before you sew the circle closed.) Once you’re satisfied
with the positioning, attach the elastic loop to the
webbing with two rows of stitching, about 1 1/2 inches
apart, and your project is complete.

Wear It in Comfort

To don the harness, place the middle of the strap over your
solar plexus, cross it in the back, bring one end
over each shoulder, snap on your camera, and
stick the lens through the elastic.

When you’ve tightened the carrier properly (it’s best to
have someone help you with the final fit), the camera will
hug your body no matter how you move or bend, and its
weight will be supported primarily by your shoulders and
back, not by your neck. Also, since the lens will point
downward, you’ll be able to carry telephoto and zoom
attachments comfortably. What’s more, the harness is fully
adjustable. It’ll fit broad-shouldered men as well as
petite women. You can even throw it in the washing machine.
(If you’d like to use the same sort of device to hold
binoculars, simply make two separate elastic loops, one for
each lens.)

Since this camera-toter is less fatiguing to wear than is a
single neck strap, you’ll find that you carry your
photography gear to more places,
and–consequently–will be sure to take some fine
photos that you’d have missed otherwise.