Last week, guest author Dennis Carruthers shared some great tips on how to compose a photo when using an iPhone (read his article here). While the iPhone may be the most popular camera in use today, many people have moved from the iPhone camera to a more sophisticated camera or they just like the idea of using a digital SLR camera. If that sounds like you, and you now have extra equipment to carry, look at the SpiderLight Backpacker Kit to haul your extra gear.
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Apple Tech Talk Scorecard
|High quality metal construction||Set-up instructions were a bit confusing|
|Multiple configurations add versatility|
Spider Camera Holster Company began as a Kickstarter project and was founded by a passionate group of professional photographers in 2009 with the goal of developing innovative camera-carrying gear and accessories. Their mission is to provide revolutionary, ergonomic solutions for photographers from all walks of life.
The Spider product line is broken down into four families of products.
- SpiderPro – designed for large, heavy camera gear
- SpideLight – best for lightweight gear like mirror-less DSLR
- Black Widow – best for point-and-shoot cameras
- Spider Monkey – a holster system for accessories
Within each family is a variety of products from a simple hand strap to single and multi-camera systems.
SpiderLight Backpacker Kit – Unboxing
We were immediately impressed with the quality of the components. This is not some lightweight belt clip. The camera holster and camera mounting plate are made of metal. The holster has a strong metal spring-clip on the back that will easily withstand the abuse that comes with repeated use of attaching and detaching the clip from your belt and the camera to and from the holster.
SpiderLight Backpacker – Attaching to Your Backpack
The Backpacker is an extension of the SpiderLight Holster concept that allows you to attach the holster to the front shoulder strap of your backpack.
The Backpacker is made of a heavy gauge plastic and has two (2) main pieces. The rear section of the Backpacker has raised edges with hooks on the front top edges and heavy clips on the front bottom edges. There are also two (2) slots. A large Velcro strip is used to fasten the rear section to your backpack. Once attached, the front section of the Backpacker snaps into the rear section. We found it took a fair amount of pressure to snap the front section into place but once done, it was an extremely tight fit and we have no doubt it will support even the heaviest of cameras you attach to it.
On the bottom half of the front section is a nylon patch that acts as a protector between the camera and you. On the rear of the patch is another Velcro strap that can also attach to your backpack strap if you need some additional support. Here is what the SpiderLight Backpacker Kit looks like when attached to a typical backpack.
While we were able to attach the Spiderlight Backpacker to our backpack, our choice of locations was extremely limited due to the style and width of the backpack straps. The space within the rear section of the SpiderLight Backpacker is just over 2 inches. Our backpack strap, at its thinnest point was about 2.5” and got even wider as we moved up the strap. That forced us to put the Spiderlight Backpacker lower than we would have liked but at least it did fit.
We would suggest you measure the width of your backpack straps to make sure you can attach it where you want it.
We also found a rubber “shim” inside the Backpacker assembly. There was no mention of this in the instructions nor could we find anything on the Spider web site. Like the back section itself, the shim has slots to accept the Velcro strip that attaches the rear section of the Backpacker to the backpack strap. But these slots measure only 1.5 inches apart so we assume this shim is used to support installation on a backpack with narrow straps.
SpiderLight Backpacker Kit – Camera Plate
As the name implies, the Camera Plate is the piece that attaches to the bottom of your camera and allows it to clip to the holster.
The SpiderLight series is designed for mirrorless and lightweight DSLR cameras and the camera mounting plate is designed specifically to accommodate those cameras.
Like the holster itself, the camera mounting plate is made of metal and has a solid feel to it.
The pin on the bottom of the plate that connects to the holster is firmly attached by way of a metal screw that is on the top of the plate. It is also slightly offset from 90 degrees to allow the mounting plate and the camera to rest at an angle when hanging from the holster.
The portion of the plate that actually screws onto your camera’s mounting hole has the ability to slide within the mounting plate, and can even be rotated 180 degrees to allow the mounting plate to attach to the camera without blocking the camera’s battery access door. We did have a bit of an issue with that as we found the plate slider, as it is referred to in the instructions, did bind a bit when we flipped it around. Technically, there is no reason this should have happened and we think that with a little time and patience, this would work itself out.
Also, in order to flip the plate slider, you need to remove what’s called the bail screw from the plate slider. There is a spot on one edge of the plate slider the bail screw rides in, which is threaded, to allow for the removal of the screw. This is not immediately obvious and we would like to see some marking on the plate slider or at least a reference to this in the instructions to assist in removing the bail screw.
In addition to a standard ¼-20 threaded mounting hole, the SpiderLight camera mounting plate is Arca-Swiss compatible. For those of you not familiar with the term, Arca-Swiss is a two-piece mounting system developed in the 1990s. It has become very popular over the years for its ability to support large and very heavy telephoto lenses, which often had different mounting styles based on the lens manufacturer. In addition, its quick-release style has made it very popular for camera mounting as well. If you have an Arca-Swiss style tripod, the SpiderLight camera plate is ready to go.
If you have a camera that is a little wider than most or has a vertical grip and needs slightly more room, the top side of the mounting plate has two small screw, which Spider refers to as “bumpers.
Removing these adds about 3/16” to the width of the mounting plate surface to accommodate those larger camera bodies. There are also two small rubber strips, which we suspect, helps prevent scratching of the camera body while added the slightest bit of additional protection.
We noticed another interesting item on the camera plate.
The indentation highlighted in the photo above was an obvious part of the original casting. It was certainly possible it was needed to make the original plate but it seemed too finished to be leftover. We reached out to the folks at SpiderLight and this is what they told us.
“This is a feature that will accommodate our Tether connection. This feature will house a Stainless wire (image below) that can accept our Spider tether hook as well as several sling-style strap carabineers.”
You can find out more about the tether here.
SpiderLight Backpacker Kit – Two-In-One
Included in the SpiderLight Backpacker Kit is an additional mounting plate designed to fit a GoPro camera. With the SpiderLight Holster removed, the GoPro can be attached to the backpack adapter and be carried securely while both hands are free. And since the holster and be attached to your belt, both your still camera and your GoPro can be carried at the same time.
The folks at Spider have put together a great video to show how to install and use the SpiderLight Backpacker Kit. It is a little long but well worth the time and we are providing a direct link below.
SpiderLight Backpacker Kit – Test Results
Overall, we think the SpiderLight Backpacker Kit works well. There is a small lever on the side of both the holster clip and the backpach adapter. Both of these act as locking mechanisms for their respective purposes. In order to remove the holster from the backpack adapter, you must pull up on the lever to release it.
The release lever on the holster itself has two positions. In its main position, it acts the same as the holster release and required you to pull on it to release the camera from the holster. In addition, there is a positive locking position to prevent accidental release of the camera when you may be in a more active situation.
Whether worn on the belt or on the backpack, the camera is well balanced and the slight offset of the pin on the camera mounting plate puts the camera at a good angle.
The fixed width of the rear backpack plate made it difficult to attach to our backpack strap. Spider obviously saw a need to allow for thinner straps by including the rubber adapter. We wonder of there is a way to adopt that concept to make the rear plate a more universal fit?
The extra strap on the backpack pad is a nice touch to prevent unnecessary movement of the camera or to add extra support when using a long lens.
The Bottom Line
Our access to a variety of cameras was extremely limited so we can’t tell you which cameras fit best on the SpiderLight Backpacker Kit. In fact, because Spider makes a family of products for different classes of cameras, it would be great if they developed a product selector based on the camera make and model you are interested in.
Overall, we really like the SpiderLight Backpacker Kit. The combination of metal and high quality plastic is an indication that it is built to withstand the punishment of an active lifestyle. In fact, Spider provides a limited lifetime warranty against defects in material or workmanship.
We found the included instructions a bit confusing but that was mainly due to the fact that the SpiderLight Backpacker Kit is partially assembled out of the box while the instructions show it disassembled. Maybe we are being to critical but we found it confusing. Fortunately, the on-line videos that Spider provides take you through the entire process step-by-step and we found that extremely helpful.
The SpiderLight Backpacker Kit has an MSRP of $125.00 and is available from Amazon.
If you like the idea of SpiderLight but don’t need the backpack option, or perhaps you just want to carry two cameras at once, consider the SpiderLight Holster by itself, also available from Amazon.
For those of you that may carry more than one camera at a time, you may want to have an extra camera plate, which is also available from Amazon.
We would like to thank the folks at SpiderLight for providing the Backpacker holster system for our review.
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