We are always looking for the best camera carrier systems, as camera backpacks have a time and place. The Cotton Carrier SKOUT is one of those innovative products that is a hybrid between two systems; namely the camera sling and the DSLR camera harness.
The SKOUT is a great camera strap for hiking or other sports that stop short of extreme. Read on – it could be the hands-free camera system you’ve been missing.
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What Is a Sling Harness?
A sling is a camera carrier system that slots over your head and sits on your shoulder. The strap covers your chest and lets your camera sit on the opposite side, usually around the waist/hip area.
The benefit of these is that the camera is ready to go. No time wasted searching around in your bag. The camera ‘loops’ around the sling strap. You can grab it and bring it to any height you need.
It isn’t limited and the good ones don’t get stuck.
A camera harness is a way to wear your camera on your body. The harness fits over your arms and head, fitting to the curves of your body. It connects above and below the arms. You have a very stable camera holding system.
Rather than having a camera strap dangle your gear around your neck, a harness is a great option. It stops your most expensive gear swinging and hitting everything around you.
This system is the best of both worlds. You have the strap from the sling, yet it is glued to your body. So minimal, if any, bumps and scratches.
Cotton Carrier also created the heavy-duty G3 Grey Harness-2, but this model is the smaller, light and faster version.
Who Are Cotton Carrier?
Cotton Carrier is a family business. They specialize in inventing and creating camera-carrying options for photographers. Andy Cotton started the company when he found no product to meet his landscape photography needs.
He was looking for a camera-carrying solution that was comfortable, secure and accessible. Slings, bags, straps and belt clips were all the rage, but they didn’t fit the photographer especially well.
As Andy Cotton had spent 26 years working in the special effects area of the film industry, he had a design in mind. Simple construction of high-quality materials, without moving parts that couldn’t jam.
Comfortability, reliability, and accessibility were the main words to build their device around. After his first creation, enthusiastic feedback from customers showed him the fruit of his labor was not wasted.
Cotton Camera Carrier Systems was born.
What Is the Cotton Carrier SKOUT?
After seeing the success of their professional harness, the CCS G3 Grey Harness-2, Cotton Carrier already had another plan in motion. That was, to create a leaner, meaner version.
The SKOUT is the athletic child of the stocky harness model. That had strength, this has efficiency.
The younger, slimmer and more toned version has ‘active’ as its main keyword.
What Is Included?
- Cotton Carrier SKOUT Sling Harness
- Weather cover
- Safety tether
- Aluminum hub
Cotton Carrier SKOUT: Review
Before opening the box, I had an inkling of what to expect. The Cotton Carrier G3 Grey Harness-2 is one of my all-time favorite products, so this would hopefully fall in the same vein. Opening the box showed me I was right.
It had a very similar look and feel to the harness, only smaller. This is great for staying a little more inconspicuous. Like the harness, it looked great in grey and again, seemed to be very professionally made.
The material looked and felt heavy. It felt durable and had just the right amount of rigidity.
Some of it was constructed and assembled in Canada, which made me more comfortable trying it out. After all, this harness is supposed to hold and protect thousands of dollars of gear.
From first glance, it was simple to understand how to wear it. The under-arm and over-arm parts of the right-hand side of the harness is closed.
I like that it’s smaller. This means it’s easier to move around with. If the G3 Harness was built for stability, security and multiple camera bodies with telephoto lenses, this is the lighter more active version.
Build and Construction
For a first look, the build quality looks and feels great. It has a minimal design, so the only parts you’ll find are necessary. After a few minutes, you’ll even forget you’re wearing it.
Attaching the SKOUT couldn’t be simpler. Ensure the main strap is connected, and wrap it over your shoulder. Connect the support strap, and away you go.
The fiddly bit is connecting the hub to the underbelly of your camera. After a few tries, it’s second nature.
The strap is really well padded, giving you lasting comfort through the usage. It’s built for hiking, which is why they used breathable cotton.
For rough terrain, you can be confident the straps will not rub against your back or shoulder.
The Cotton Carrier SKOUT is very easy to use. It’s a one-size solution that fits over your shoulder and connects on the other side. The side-strap supports and distributes the weight nicely, allowing you to carry a high-end DSLR with a telephoto lens.
You’ll feel the weight more with the Canon 5D Mark IV and a 24-70mm than a 35mm. But the sling will hold them both well. It works best with smaller lenses as telephoto glass will make the system a little cumbersome.
Unlike the Cotton Carrier G3 Grey Harness-2, carrying the SKOUT looks difficult with a backpack. The SKOUT is off-center on your chest. It sits exactly on your chest, missing the straps of any backpacks or bags. The design aspect of this system is great.
Having the camera very close to your chest is a great benefit. Not only for weight distribution and comfort but it also stops any bumps or scrapes. You can keep your eye on it at all times.
The best part of this system is the ‘Twist and Lock‘ mount. This means all you need to do is slide your camera in the mount and it will stay in place. To remove it, just twist the camera 90°, and it pops out, ready for use.
This is a great system, as there are no latches to undo, and no connectors to miss when securing your camera. The G3 Grey Harness-2 has the same system and feels really safe and secure.
If you have one camera with the main lens, this is a perfect system. You don’t need a camera bag. Worried about the weather? Hanging from the SKOUT is the G3 Weather Cover with a 10-inch space, designed for any camera lens combination.
Another plus point is the internal stash pocket. Place a smartphone here or a few credit cards. It also holds memory cards, revealing once more, this is a great, all-inclusive camera carrier system.
The camera hubs were easy to understand. A metal chunk along with a rubber washer fits on the undercarriage of your camera.
It stays in place with the screw, tightened with the provided Allen key. On one side of the metal, Camera Hubs are two arrows. These show where they should sit in relation to the lens.
This allows you to then turn and lock the camera into the harness. One thought concerning the screws and Allan key. There isn’t any way to connect them to the hubs or harness.
This means if they fall out, you’re on your own. Not so great for wildlife or nature photography. I’m not sure how you could connect the screws, but the Allan key could have a ring attached to it.
The Peak Design V3 Camera Clip comes with one, and it sits on my keyring. This small improvement is easy to make. When connected to the camera, these slot into the harness and/or side holster.
The provided rain cover comes in a pocket with a strap that can connect to the harness. In case of heavy rain and adverse weather, this cover unpacks in seconds.
By placing it over the lens and then the camera, you offer your gear weather protection. It offers a full 10 inches of space inside.
If you feel it is unnecessary, you can leave it behind. But, it hardly takes up space, and keeping it on you will provide peace of mind.
This is a great addition. I’m happy to say that it came with the camera harness and not at an extra cost.
Other camera harnesses and clips have a locking mechanism. You slot in the connector to keep it safe and press a button to release the system and camera.
The Cotton Carrier G3 Dual Camera Harness has a different system.
The Camera Hubs are thinner on two sides. These sides slide into the mounts on the harness and holster.
This is why it is important to place the arrows towards the lens on the camera. The camera slides are sideways and rest lens down at the end.
What I like about this system is there are no buttons to press. With other camera clips, such as the Peak Design V3 Camera Clip, a button needs to be pressed to release the camera.
You can hold the camera with your hand and press the button with one hand. But, it feels finicky and less stable. The last thing you want to do is drop your camera because of a complicated system.
With the CCS G3 Grey Harness-2, to remove the camera, you twist and pull. It feels natural. As it sits in the camera harness, it is protected and can’t fall out.
This system is great for speed, protection, and weight distribution.
What We Like
- Return of the ‘Twist and Lock’ system
- Zippered internal pouch
- Weather cover
- 3-year warranty
What We Don’t Like
- Won’t offer full protection against dirt/dust
- Bigger lenses make the system a little cumbersome
Where to Buy It From
This system is the active sling/harness version of the CCS G3 Grey Harness-2. It’s best used for active situations, such as hiking or some adventure conditions.
It isn’t best for extreme sports, as you find you wouldn’t use a DSLR for this genre anyway.
For serious landscape photographers, this might not be the best system, unless used in conjunction with another carrier system. True to the genre, landscapers tend to use tripods, and there is no system for that here. Plus, we are trying to step away from the use of a dedicated camera bag.
But, it’s a huge benefit for keeping your camera close. not having to dig around in your bag means capturing those fast moments. On top of that, if you are hiking or camping (or both!), you might need a dedicated bag for your other items. Cycling is also possible.
It will work for travel photography and street especially as speed here is the main factor. The twist and lock method will keep it safe, even from thieves who want to ‘grab and run’. There is a security tether just in case you don’t trust your hands 100%.