Which is it? Photo vest, photo backpack, photo suitcase? The answer: all three.
I’ve been using Vested Interests photographers vests (called the Xtrahand Vest) during my annual expeditions to Bosque del Apache, N.M. for years. They custom fabricated my vest to my specifications, based on my size and gear.
Vested Interest has several pre-configured lines, all customizable to the nth degree. I selected the Khumbu and chose the camouflage pattern.
The vest is made out of a breathable heavy-duty nylon mesh that does not absorb perspiration. The less expensive off the rack photo vests are almost all made of cotton. That means when you wear them, you can expect to sweat. The mesh construction means you won’t get as hot in the summer as you would with a traditional vest. It also means your vest will dry out more quickly if you get caught in a serious rainstorm.
The vest is very well constructed and the manufacturer nailed the details. For instance, the pockets are where you want them and easy to access. They are HUGE compared to other photo vests. I asked for and highly recommend the extra large shoulder pads, which help support all the gear. You can both zip up and snap the vest closed or just rely on one or the other to secure it to your body. My vest also included a padded hip belt that helps support the weight.
You can customize your vest. I added the camera strap to the front so I could easily attach my binoculars to the vest. I also ordered the 24-inch ground cloth that rolls up on the backside of the vest. Its great for getting down and dirty low-angle shots.
You can also customize the vest once it arrives. Since the sides are open and only held together by straps, you can enlarge or shrink the vest depending on how much clothing you wear under it.
I also noted that the construction of the vest is top notch using the best materials. The zippers and Velcro applications are the best. While not waterproof, the vest is water resistant. You can see why when you examine Curries method for weather sealing the zippered pockets with an extra large flap of material over the zipper.
In the Bag (I Mean Vest) Heres the laundry list of stuff I comfortably fit into the vest.
Front left pocket: Nikon SB900 flash with off-camera-shoe cord and HonL Flash Modifier.
Front left extension pocket: Nikon 1.7 Telextender.
Front right pocket: Sigma 100-300 F/4 lens.
Right front extension pocket: Lensbaby Composer.
Left top pocket: three B&W polarizing filters and small headlamp, small screwdriver and allen wrench.
Right top pocket: Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens, Nikon 14-24 F/2.8 lens and micro fiber cloth.
Inside left pocket: bulb blower.
Inside right pocket: sunscreen.
Back pocket (tripod holder): I use this to hold my Walkstool Comfort portable stool instead. Fits in there like a charm.
Back left pocket: Nikon 24-70 F/2.8 lens.
Right back pocket: Backup Nikon SB-9000 Flash, spare camera batteries and spare AA batteries for flash.
Could I fit more stuff in there? Absolutely. But thats about as much as I want to carry these days. I could easily get both flashes into the back pocket and put a spare camera body in the big left front pocket. I could also fit another lens in there somewhere if needed. The Vested Interest vest holds everything you need and more.
Cadillac of Photo Vests
The Vested Interest vest is a superior product. Its more expensive than the off-the-rack vests you can get at most camera stores, but its also better built. I can’t really think of anything bad to say about this product, but consider these points before ordering one.
1) Be sure to allow plenty of time. Vested Interest makes each of these vests by hand, so it may be several weeks or even months before you get your vest. If you need it for a special trip, order early.
2) If you order a vest with many pockets, you may be tempted to carry too much gear. Decide what you do and do not need to carry in the vest. I used my vest in New Mexico as a substitute for a camera bag. It worked very well, but it was also very heavy. Fortunately, the weight was not a problem due to the design and quality craftsmanship that goes into the product. But for the faint of heart, a vest loaded down with 25 pounds of gear can be an issue.
This is the best photo vest on the market and theres a reason that all the major pros I know use Curries vests: they work. Curries company is also an approved parachute manufacturer so all of his materials and construction methods are the best.
Vested Interest vests are extremely durable, functional and a good fit. Prices depend on options, size and customization.
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