Field Test Review: The Cotton Carrier

The Cotton Carrier is another product that is meant to help you with carrying your cameras around just like the Spider. Designed kind of like a lightweight vest, the advertising for the product will appeal most to wildlife and landscape photographers. However, it may also have some appeal to wedding or sports photographers. I used the Cotton Carrier while shooting in Central Park and while also shooting the recent Yankee parade celebrating their win during the World Series. My findings, after the jump.

What is it and How Does it Work?

In a nutshell, the Cotton Carrier is a camera holster/vest system that is supposed to eliminate the need for using a camera strap. It accomplishes that goal very well and ensures the security of your camera and lens. Of course, this is geared much more towards prosumer, semi-pro and professional level APS and Full Frame camera systems. As you see in these photos, I still used the camera strap. The reason for this is because of convenience, as you’ll read about in a second.

It goes around and off your torso by simply unlatching the buckle that I am seen fiddling with in the photo above. Afterwards, depending on how large your torso is you’ll need to adjust it to give you a nice snug and secure fit. I’m a small person around 5″ 7′ and weighing around 140lbs so I really needed to pull it in tightly.

Afterwards, you attach a bracket unit to the tripod socket of your camera and then slip it into the front slot as you see above. It is fairly easy to put into the socket which means that you can holster you camera with ease. Now, you can put your jacket on and go shooting around at your leisure. There are also other sockets that can be attached to the vest for carrying around more than one camera.

Getting it out can be an issue. As you can see, I needed to use both hands and some thumb strength to do so. That’s fine if you’re a wildlife or landscape photographer. However, if you’re a sports or wedding photographer and you need that critical shot, just hope that you’ll be fast enough to pull it out.

Field Test and Experience: Central Park and the Yankee Parade

Walking around with the Cotton Carrier on with a peacoat and messenger bag over it is actually quite comfortable. It is a welcome relief on your neck as you no longer have a tank swinging around. However, for easy quicker access I found it better to just keep the strap on just in case. The reason for this is because I sometimes had trouble getting it out of the holster. That wasn’t fun at all.

When your camera is holstered, you don’t feel any extra weight on your chest and you can securely carry it around without fear of your camera swinging around or getting knocked out, which is very nice. This is extremely useful when trying to navigate and cut through crowds of people such as what I experienced at the Yankees parade. That’s nice to know when you’ve got lots of angry fans that are swished together trying to get extra space and you don’t want to hold your camera or have it around your neck. However, it will get bumped. In that case, holding your camera out with extra long lens to show people that you mean business will easily get you through.

If you’re trying to get a candid image of a squirrel though, you’re probably better suited with a Spider holster or an R-strap because of the quicker access to that camera that is allowed. Both products will not hurt your neck either.

Truthfully, the Spider holster and Cotton Carrier may be used to compliment one another. For example, if you need quick access to your 40D with telephoto lens then this the Spider will allow for this. However, if you’re trying to get up close to take a portrait of someone’s dog while in the park then you may want to use a nice, heavy expensive prime lens. In this case, you’d probably switch to your 5D Mk II in your Cotton Carrier.

While running to get photos of ducks in the water though, you can be assured that the Cotton Carrier will not allow your camera to swing around vigorously. I  tried jumping around from rock to rock with this thing on and my camera still would not move. It was secure as ever. The only thing you need to remember is that you need extra thumb strength to pull it out so you don’t miss that intimate shot of the handsome Mallard nuzzling with his mate.

This may apply to weddings as well if you’d like extra comfort of not having your cameras swinging around with the Spider. I can’t see the Cotton Carrier used with the R-Strap as the strap will get in the way of the camera mounted to your chest.

Who is this for?

Wedding Photographers: You may really enjoy this product and for the price it’s sure worth the investment and the health insurance money if your neck hurts from carrying your D3s around. Place it in the Cotton Carrier and you’ll be fine.

Events Photographers: I shoot events with one camera just fine. However, if you have a backup then the Cotton Carrier will suit you well enough if you don’t want your camera to be swinging around. Again, for ease of access you’re better suited with an R-Strap.

Photojournalists: No, it’s just impractical. We usually bring around one camera in which case the standard strap or hand grip will suit you just fine.

Sports Photographers: This may suit you well when you’re moving from spot to spot. However, having one camera on a monopod and your R-Strap on will better suit your needs.

Portrait Photographers: This is for you. When you’re too busy setting up lights and positioning your subject and don’t want your camera to move you’ll be happy with this. Of course, you may also be using a tripod but if you don’t then you’ll like this a lot more.

Wildlife Photographers: Combine this with the Spider Holster and you’ll be set. Ditch the tripod.



  1. ossme says

    I wonder if we need all of this gadget. I usually use a hand strap for my cameras. Somehow, Keeping your camera on your hands is way more discreet than having it hanging on your chest.

  2. fabula says

    This looks like a possible tool for me…

    I regularly ride my mountain bike and can get rather close to interesting birds. If I could get something to safely support my camera and 70-200, and have it ready in 5 seconds, then I could probably pick up some good shots while riding.

  3. Britman says

    fabula, have a look at the videos on youtube for the cotton carrier, in one the inventor is riding a mountain bike with a 1D and 70-200mm on the carriers.

  4. Mike Stratil says

    After looking at their videos, it seems to me that maybe you didn’t understand how to remove the camera–you’re supposed to rotate the camera, not
    pull it straight up. Am I correct in this interpretation of your problem?

  5. Ronny says

    Taking it out requires you to rotate the camera to a 90 degree angle, not straight out as shown in your picture.