I admit, I'm generally not much of a camera strap user. Oh sure, I have a few straps, but they tend to be utilitarian affairs more there for emergencies or #dadlife convenience ('What do you mean your feet hurt and I have to carry you the rest of the way through the zoo?'). Even when I was in the thick of my years as a working pro, I tended to work out of a bag far more often than I worked off my shoulder.
That said, shoulder straps have a lot going for them. They protect your camera from accidental drops, allow you to use both hands without putting your camera away, provide a way to keep multiple bodies at hand and the ease of access they offer cuts down on shots missed because you were digging your camera out of a bag or pack. So when I was asked to take a look at the Slide sling strap from Peak Design, I figured it was time to give straps another try.
- Maximum Length: 145cm/57in
- Minimum Length: 99cm/39in<
- Weight: 171g/6oz
- Width: 45mm/1.8in
- Strength Rating: 200lb (This is the rating for the Dyneema-corded Anchor Link anchors. The 45mm seat belt webbing could probably lift up your car.)
It is worth noting that Peak Design also offers a narrower version of the Slide, the SlideLITE, for mirrorless systems and other smaller cameras. Specs are virtually the same save for the width being 32mm/1.25in and the weight being cut to 141g/5oz. The reduction in weight is likely due to the narrower width and the fact that the SlideLITE is unpadded.
Attaching the Slide took less time than any strap I have ever installed. The Anchor Link connector design is clever and quick. So much so, even when I wasn't using the strap, I left the Anchor Link anchors installed on my camera. Sure, they look a little silly and flap around like little ears, but they don't get in the way and allow me to install the strap again in seconds. With four anchors included, it would be easy to move the Slide between bodies. The anchors loop around your camera body's strap eyelets and then click the anchor into the connector at the end of the Slide strap. To remove, you press down on the anchor and slide it back out again. You could easily do it in the dark and yet there is virtually no chance of it happening accidentally.
There are two different options to connect the Slide to your camera. The first is the traditional connection to your body's strap eyelets, suitable for the classic 'neck strap' style with the camera hanging down in front of you. The second makes use of the included Arca-Swiss compatible tripod plate.
The plate has small cutouts in each corner that allow attachment of an anchor. When connected to a strap eyelet and the plate, the camera hangs more naturally at your side when worn across your shoulder/chest as a sling. There are other products on the market that allow you to attach a strap to your camera's tripod mount, but virtually all of them must be removed if you wish to use a tripod. Integrating an Arca-Swiss compatible plate into its design means that users of the Slide can easily tripod mount their camera without making any changes to the strap setup.
The Slide is surprisingly comfortable. The wide soft seatbelt material combined with the internal padding makes carrying even heavy DLSRs manageable. It has been a long while since I've had a 'padded' camera strap. I have either found them exceedingly bulky or made out neoprene that allowed the camera to 'bounce' on my shoulder more than I liked. The Slide's padding is only 1/4 of an inch thick or so, but it has enough firmness to it that it can support and distribute the weight of the camera. One side of the padded section is smooth and the other has rubberized 'gripper' lines added, allowing you to choose between the two options.
The one drawback to the Slide's padding is that it is somewhat stiff and doesn't fold up particularly well. This isn't noticeable on your shoulder, but can be a little awkward when putting your camera into a bag. I suspect that the padding will soften up with age and be more flexible, but I wonder if that will take away any of the cushioning abilities. Only time will tell I suppose.
Length adjustment is quick and easy, even one-handed. You just pull up on the quick adjust handle to release the strap and slide up or down to the desired length. It's really handy to be able to lengthen the strap for when you are actively shooting and to tighten it back up again when you've got some hiking to do. This does, however, bring me to the most glaring problem with the Slide.
While the metal adjustment handles are nice looking and give a sense of quality to the strap, they are also a significant hazard to equipment for those of us who put our cameras in bags. I was constantly afraid that the handle was going to scratch a body or LCD or worse, chip a lens that had somehow been put away without a cap on. As far as I'm concerned, there is no way that the Slide should have used metal in this design. The added weight was unneeded and the danger to camera gear too great. I would love to see this exact design, but with plastic adjustment handles.
What's the Bottom Line?
The Peak Design Slide Sling Strap is a well-made, innovative camera strap with a premium price tag. Its construction and materials show quality. The namesake 'slide' feature works exceedingly well, the minimal padding and wide strap width tames even heavy DSLR/lens combos and the Anchor Link connectors are a clever and quick way to install and remove a strap.
However, for all the good points about the Slide, the fear that the aluminum quick adjustment handles will scratch or chip expensive equipment is a significant drawback. This is particularly true for those of us who tend to work out of a bag more often than we carry a camera around our shoulder or neck. If you are in that boat and want a strap that still offers many (though not all) of the Slide's features, it might be worth checking out the Peak Leash strap.
What we like:
- Ease of length adjustment, even one handed
- Innovative hidden non-bulky padding
- Wide enough to be comfortable
- Easily installed/removable, can use on multiple cameras
- Versatile attachment system
- Material is soft and flexible
- Arca-Swiss style tripod plate attachment
What we don't like:
- Stiffness of padding makes it difficult to put in bag
- Metal adjustment buckles can bang against camera/gear in bag
- Most would consider it expensive for a camera strap