Saturday, November 21, 2009

My Experience with the new Cotton Carrier Holster System

For the longest time, I've been looking for a "waist/holster" camera carrying system that would allow me to carry my cameras "naked", allowing immediate, easy access. Last July, prior to leaving for four month's worth of assignments in Asia, I spoke with Andy Cotton, the inventor of the Cotton Carrier. Andy was launching a camera carrying system for photographers working in what I'll call, highly active situations. The system is designed to be worn as a chest harness and has an optional second "holster" which can be added. Andy and I talked and agreed that I would field test his Cotton Carrier system. Andy tried to convince me to use the chest harness, but I told him I was only interested in the "second holster". Anyway, I persisted and Andy agreed to send me just 2 bare holsters without the chest harness.

I applied the two holsters to my Think Tank Speed belt and gave the "hybrid" combination of Cotton Carrier Holsters and Think Tank Steroid Speed Belt a field test while leading my India photo tour. I also asked one of my tour guests, Peter Fay a well known San Diego based photographer try it out.  Peter is a retired engineer.

Shown below is Peter with his Canon MarkII and 70-200 f2.8 lens hanging in the Cotton Carrier Holster, mounted on a Think Tank Steroid Speed Belt, similar to how I used it.

During the trip, I also ran into Nevada Weir and the National Geographic photo tour group, and low and behold, one of the members of her group was using the Cotton Carrier System! Vicki Athens, a podiatrist and professional photographer from Michigan, was using Andy Cotton's 2-camera set up. Vicki says it's the best camera carrying system she had ever used! Shown below is Vicki with a local Sadhu at Gadisar Lake, near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.

The Cotton Carrier system is a great way to get the heavy load of camera gear off of your neck and into a position where your cameras are safe, stable and readily available at a moment's notice. The chest harness system that Andy suggests accomplishes all these things. My "aftermarket" application of the Cotton holsters in combination with the Think Tank Steroid Speedbelt worked OK, but I found that the holster, when placed on the Think Tank belt, resulted in my camera hanging too low (Andy had warned me of this, which is why he encouraged me to use the chest harness set up). That being said,  I really did like the fact that I had the weight of my camera off of my shoulder and was ready for instant use (quick draw), from my hip. Below, you can ssee Andy's photo of the "second holster" in use and Andy wearing the 2-camera set up.
In summary, the Cotton Carrier is a well made, innovative system for active photographers who need a stable, quick-release camera carrying system. Learn more about the Cotton Carrier and watch Andy's instructional videos at the Cotton Carrier website.

1 comment:

Roy said...

Hi Karl,

Been a fan of your blog since I was turned on to it a few months ago.
Someday when I can afford it I would like to travel/shoot with your tours. I am in SD as well.

As for the Cotton rig...take a look at the Cotton Carrier ad in Digital Photo Pro, Nov 09 page 96
I wore that rig avg 8-10 hours a day for 19 days shooting in Glacier and Yellowstone. No way in hades I would lug three rigs like that using straps. No Way.

Andy did a good job with this design.
I've sent him some suggestions maybe someday he will find them applicable for his largest base of users. If still works great. I won't shoot a wedding without it either.
Even figured out a mod to the Bush Hawk guns stock mount so that it works with the Cotton Carrier for prolonged hand held shooting with heavy glass.