I’m typically a fan of high quality hand crafted items that are made in the United States, so when I found Hold Fast Gear based in the heart of the USA, who are making some great all leather, stylish camera accessories, I was very interested. I had to take a look through their products and try something for myself.
Choosing The Right Strap
Of course my question became, which one do I choose? You see Hold Fast has quiet the selection available of accessories, from the Original Ruck Strap (It looks really nice, but kind of large), a couple of hand straps, a neat photo belt, as well as a couple of really nice multi-camera harnesses that fascinated me. It’s such a rare thing for me to need a double strap though that I really wouldn’t need it. They also have some non-camera accessories like key fobs, watchbands, and clothing, but their main focus is on photography accessories. That is when I noticed the Mini-Ruck, which is designed for smaller mirrorless camera systems.
What’s The Mini-Ruck About?
The Mini-Ruck is designed specifically for smaller cameras like micro four-thirds, Fuji, Sony NEX, and Leica, but is strong enough to handle larger gear too. It is crafted from Duck Canvas, Bridle Leather, and Micro Fiber Suede and comes in Red, Black, and Navy blue. I chose Navy Blue for myself, but the others looked very nice too. It also has a detachable wallet (zippered pouch) for holding memory cards, lens caps, credit cards and cash or other items, and it has a neat loop for holding your sunglasses, or in my case my regular glasses, while I shoot.
From the moment I received the Mini-Ruck strap It has been giving me the feeling of high quality craftsmanship from a specialized boutique. It came in a unique packaging and was gently laid in a bird’s nest packing and bound with leather material. This was a pleasant surprise from the normal brown box or plastic packaging. I was impressed.
As I unpacked the Mini-Ruck and eagerly grabbed my Panasonic Lumix G5 to try it out, this is where I ran into my first roadblock. The Mini-Ruck is not designed for the standard slot style strap lugs that the G5 has on it. Disappointed I was, but thankfully I have a GH2, which has the triangular lugs and I was able to make the GH2 the Mini-Ruck’s new home. I have spoken to Hold Fast about this issue and they do have a separate strap accessory which can allow the strap to attach to the slot style, but this is not sold anywhere on their site publicly and it must be special ordered through their customer service department.
When I’m normally working with my cameras I like to sling them over my opposite shoulder and be able to quick draw my camera from my side. Unfortunately this is something that is a little harder to do with the Mini-Ruck. The length of the Mini is just slightly short making it a tight fit, even at its longest adjusted length, which uses holes and metal pegs, it just fits. Also because of the suede material on the strap it does not slide across my clothing very easily. I have however found a solution to this problem by throwing my arm through the strap and transferring it to a neck strap before shooting. It takes an extra second, but it works.
I find the Mini-Ruck to be a very comfortable strap, which handles the weight load on my neck decently while not irritating my skin like other straps do. It also works very well as a shoulder strap and disconnects very quickly for the times when I don’t want a strap on the camera. Overall it works well, but does have one little flaw that is very disconcerting.
How Safe is My Camera?
As I quickly found out, the adjustment system of the Mini-Ruck is not the greatest. It’s very nostalgic-tough appearing, but when actually using it the leather holes allow too much looseness with the metal pegs. This allows the strap to become detached and only rely on one leather loop (think oversized watchband loop to hold the extra strap) to keep it together. It’s disconcerting to look down and realize your camera is detached and may fall.
But wait, there’s more to this story. My camera has NEVER fallen using this strap and it is safe. I realized after taking a closer look at the way the Mini-Ruck was put together that there is no possible way for the strap to drop the camera because of the way it is designed. When the strap does come out, the metal peg is much larger than the attachment hook it goes through thus becoming an extra measure of security. I have also discovered that this may be an issue because of the length of the strap and my personal choice of putting the adjustment near the end of it’s length. Hopefully this is something that Hold Fast could change in the future by producing the Mini-Ruck with longer pieces of leather and tighter leather holes.
The Bottom Line
The Hold Fast Mini-Ruck Strap is a nice, almost beautifully put together American Made product, which has been thought out for the simplest approach while providing photographers convenience. The rotating glasses loop, which I find extremely useful, (I haven’t seen one on any other straps before) is something I find to work really well as it holds my glasses out of the way, which I need to see distance but hate wearing while photographing through the viewfinder.
Unfortunately there are a few things that I’m not so fond of, starting with the fact that for the price of this strap $145 it does not come with a way to connect it to cameras without the triangular strap lugs. Having a more secure appearing connection system, like the one on the original Ruck Strap that doesn’t scare the photographer into looking down and thinking their expensive cameras are about to fall to the floor would also be nice. Finally, the fact that this strap is aimed at smaller compact camera systems, yet the price is that of a specialized boutique makes this not the strap for everybody. If you are shooting a $1500-3000 Fuji X-Pro1 system or over $10,000 of Leica gear then $145 for a strap isn’t much, but when the camera you are mounting to it costs double the price of the strap… I think you get the idea.
Despite these small issues, which honestly are not a deal breaker, I have enjoyed using the Mini-Ruck and continue to use it daily on my GH2 where it’s paired nicely. The strap is one of the most comfortable I’ve owned and it really does feel like a specialized American made item that’s going to last far longer than any cameras I’m currently using. Next time I’m looking for a camera strap, I’m definitely going to be checking out what Hold Fast has to offer. The style fits me well and their selection of American made gear is really enticing.