It may come as a surprise to those who know me that we now have a product in our office that has a name beginning with a lower case ‘i’. (No it’s not an Apple product. I haven’t had an epiphany. I still consider Apple products over-hyped, over-priced and overly-proprietary.) To be specific it’s the i-stay bag strap.
Now bag straps maybe don’t sound exciting to many, but to me they very much do. Here’s why…
If you’ve ever lived with a photographer you’ll know we are always searching for the one perfect bag (at the time of writing I have five camera bags littered around the house and two laptop bags, and don’t even get me on to rucksacks). We’re always searching for that perfect camera bag because it doesn’t exist. We end up using different bags for different cameras or different situations depending on the amount of kit needed at any given time. I’ve never liked rucksack camera bags, I prefer shoulder bags so my gear is much more accessible whilst on the move.
Of course one of the key things with a shoulder bag (which also of course applies to laptop bags and any other travel bag) is the grip of the strap on your shoulder. Despite all the different solutions on the various bags I have owned, the one that grips best is a simple canvas pad on the strap. Whilst there is no such thing as a perfect bag, there might just be a perfect strap that can be used on all of your bags.
To be honest I hadn’t really give it much though as a problem being so obsessed with the storage layout and volume of various bags. That wasn’t until I saw the i-stay on the last series of Dragon’s Den, I suddenly became aware it was the problem I didn’t really know I had. Shortly after the show I was going to buy one, but instead dropped the company an email to see if they’d be interested in us testing one with a view to reviewing it. And, here we are…
How much more can I say than it works. It really works! You could see on Dragon’s Den that it did, but it’s another thing to try one out.
My first thought when I opened the packaging and removed the strap was just how well made it was. It was solid and made of obviously very durable materials and fittings. The stitching where it is used was accurate, thorough and with no loose threads.
The underside of the pad has a shiny surface that doesn’t look like it would provide grip, but it does. Though what makes this strap really work is the design of the shoulder pad itself. The webbed (almost spiders’ web in style) shape of it gives many edges to provide extra grip. The shape and the extra width also make carrying heavier bags more comfortable.
Having seen it on TV I expected it to work with larger bags. What I really wanted to try it on was something smaller and lighter. Where I expected it to become unstuck (pun intended) was with the camera bag I use most which carries one camera and one lens. At around a couple of kilogrammes I though it may not have the weight to provide enough downward force to get the best out of the strap. It did. It works fine.
I genuinely love this strap. It’ll be moving between various camera bags, laptop bags and assorted hand luggage in future. When it’s worn out (which I imagine will be a good while from its construction) I’ll buy another and maybe some others in the meantime.
…and for the ladies (at the risk of sounding sexist) even better than all that. There’s a choice of colours to match any existing luggage you may have. Colour options include black, grey, red, purple and white.
Interested? If you buy any product from the i-stay website (including the i-stay strap and the laptop bags and luggage in their shop) they will give you a 10% on any purchase if you quote the code “offer1″ – click here to view the site.
This product was sent to Alan to review at no cost. Spain Buddy policy is that we provide honest reviews rather than advertorial. If we say we like something we genuinely like it. On the rare occasions we may have a negative opinion we may offer the provider of a product or service the option of us not publishing.
Alan, along with Elle, is the owner of Spain Buddy. He was born in the North of England (Lancashire) and travelled extensively before eventually settling in Almería. Alan has 3 sons from the first of his 18 marriages, (Sam, Joe & Ben) who are all now adults. You can read more articles by Alan on his personal blog at AlanGandy.com and see more of his photography on his photography website as well as on Flickr and Instagram.
Also, for less than the price of a cup of coffee each month you can help support Alan’s photography (and get some freebies into the bargain). Click here to visit his Patreon page to find out more.