Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear Custom Camera Bag Review

The Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear (CTUG) Custom Camera Bag is a made-to-order product to holster your photo gear on trail. There are 12 color options (pick up to two per bag), four carrying styles, optional foam padding, optional accessory daisy chain, and each bag is sized exactly for your camera.

Point-and-shoot and DSLR users alike will be able to get a perfectly sized bag made to their style and carry preferences.

CTUG Custom Camera Bag At-a-Glance

Price: $110 – $145

  • $110 base rate (1 attachment style*, no foam padding, no daisy chain).
  • +$20 for foam padding
  • +$5 for side daisy chains
  • +$10 for 2 attachment styles instead of one

My configuration:

  • Attachment style: Cross-chest + Hip belt attachment
  • Foam padding? Yes
  • Side daisy chains? No
  • Price: $140

*In addition to the three customizable attachment systems, all camera bags also come standard with a UL cross-body carry strap so that the bag can be used independent of a backpack.

Weights:
Varies widely, depending on camera size and options. Mine came in as follows:

  • Main bag: 8.36 oz
  • (x2) Long cross-chest buckle straps: 0.85 oz
  • (x2) Short cross-chest buckle straps: 0.7 oz
  • Adjustable cross-body strap: 0.85 oz

Dimensions: Varies widely, depending on camera size and options. Add about an inch in each direction from your submitted camera dimensions to get an estimate.
Adjustable shoulder strap length: max 54″

Materials:

  • Main Bag Exterior: VX21 (Xpac) with a “highly water resistant” #5 zipper
  • Main Bag Interior: 3mm Spacer Mesh (to enclose the foam)
  • Padding: 1/4″ closed cell foam
  • Pocket: 4-way stretch lycra mesh
  • Hip belt attachment: 1″ webbing
  • Cross-chest attachment: 5/8″ webbing, plastic toggle
  • Cross-body strap: 1″ webbing, plastic S buckle, plastic double back buckle
skier on a snowy mountaintop with snow-covered mountains and valley behind. chicken tramper custom camera bag worn over chest

Skiing after the resorts are closed at Buttermilk, snacks in tow with the front pocket.

Intended Use

This bag is intended for dedicated cameras, whether a compact/point-and-shoot or a full-frame DSLR. This is a bag, not a clip. It’s best if you want full-sided, highly water-resistant protection for your expensive gear.

If your primary camera is a phone, check out CTUG’s Shoulder Strap Phone Pocket. If you simply want quick access to your camera and don’t need the protection, check out a simpler solution like a Peak Design Capture Clip. But for a modest to no weight penalty and a little more cash, I think this bag is a better solution.

READ NEXT – Chicken Tramper Shoulder Strap Zipper Pocket Review

Circumstance of Review

This bag arrived during spring in the Colorado Rockies, aka the snowiest time of the year. I took it ski touring several times. When I needed a break from the white slopes, I took it out to the orange deserts of Utah on backpacking and climbing trips. It also saw several days of use shooting photography semi-professionally as a standalone camera bag, thanks to the cross-body strap.

My camera setup (used to size the bag): Sony A7rII with a Peak Design Arca Swiss tripod baseplate with either a Sony FE 4/70-200 G or Sony FE 2.8/24-70 GM (original), each with a reversed lens hood. It’s a large camera!

Chicken Tramper Custom Camera Bag Features

Four Ways to Carry

The Chicken Tramper Custom Camera Bag can be ordered with two to three carry styles out of four total options. The shoulder strap is standard, and you can design a bag with either one or two backpack attachment systems:

  • Single shoulder strap style (standard)
  • Cross-chest “front pack” style
  • Hip belt style
  • Cross-body shoulder strap style

The shoulder sling strap was a nice surprise for meā€”turns out it comes with all camera bag configurations. The other three options are used to attach the bag to your main backpack. In contrast, the sling allows you to use the bag standalone, kind of like a cross-body purse. If you are willing to carry the extra strap (at the cost of 0.85 oz), it makes a great town day bag.

The vloggers out there will appreciate being able to bring their cameras around while leaving their dirty gear at the hostel, and the stretch pocket is enough to hold a phone, wallet, and some snacks. (My bag is very large, so someone with a compact camera might not fit as much in the pocket.)

I ordered my bag with the hip belt attachment + cross-chest attachment. Having previously used the Peak Design Capture Clip (both V1 and V2) to lug my camera around, I already knew that a single shoulder strap attachment created uncomfortable asymmetry. That option is much more reasonable if you have a smaller camera or you are balancing out the weight on the other side with something heavy like a water bottle. For my purposes, CTUG’s more balanced carry options appealed.

back side of chicken tramper custom camera bag: blue body with yellow lid and black webbing and buckles against a snowy background

Hip belt loops (large, black straps) and buckles for the cross-chest attachment (corners). Notice the sweat stain at the bottom. Just like a backpack, a front pack will insulate you a little more than desired.

Accessory Pockets

There are two pockets on the bag: an open lycra stretch mesh pocket on the front and a spacer mesh with velcro closure inside the lid.

The size of both will depend on how big your camera is. On mine, I was able to get three bars and my phone in the front and three of Sony’s last-generation batteries (NP-FW50) in the lid.

I imagine that space was intended for SD cards and microfiber clothes, though. Despite being larger than the diameter of my lens, the lid pocket was not large enough to fit my circular polarizer, which sits at the bottom of the bag instead.

Highly Water Resistant

While Xpac is a waterproof fabric (when new) and CTUG uses highly water-resistant zippers, there are unsealed, stitched seams in this bag as well as gaps where the zipper pulls come together. That being said, the bag should be able to resist any casual downpour. I splashed it with snow (and body sweat on the uphills) many times with no issue and survived a heavy but short monsoon-style rain in Utah’s Canyonlands.

Bring a second waterproof layer if you are in prolonged rain or concerned about your several-hundred- (or thousand-) dollar camera shorting out.

Sized Just Right

CTUG sizes its bags to the nearest eighth of an inch, meaning your camera will be nice and snug inside. If you’ve ever ordered a mass-produced camera bag that comes in two to four sizes, you know that rounding up to the nearest size can mean lots of room to rattle. The precision keeps your camera from jumping around and stable.

Webbing Options

There is an optional chain of webbing down the left and right sides of the bag. The main purpose is to attach a planned accessory, some sort of lens bag, for shooters who like to have multiple sets of glass. Austin also suggested it is useful for small tripods and other items.

I passed on the option, knowing I can barely stand taking one giant lens into the field, let alone two, but more dedicated (or stronger) hikers than I might want to keep the option open when CTUG finishes designing the accessory bag.

Chicken Tramper Custom Camera Bag Pros

Cross-Chest is Extremely Stable

The cross-chest attachment system is the most stable way to holster a large camera that I have tried; it was the main reason I was interested in the bag. It takes multiple points of contact to stabilize a mass, and the chest harness system uses four well-spaced straps around the perimeter of the bag to connect back to your shoulder straps.

An asymmetrical, single-shoulder strap system typically has all the points of connection in a line, making it prone to rolling. Meanwhile, the hip belt attachment can have the stabilization points too close together (depending on camera size and hip belt width), making it prone to swinging as well. Both designs also introduce asymmetry, which can become tiring and annoying in endurance activities.

In contrast, having the camera centered on your chest keeps it symmetrical, stable, and easy to move with.

I was extremely impressed with the carry in this configuration and don’t see myself going back to other carry methods after this. The camera hardly bounces due to the straps keeping it tight in all directions and remains very easy to use on the go.

The website illustrates the bag connecting to the bottom of the backpack shoulder strap and over the shoulder on both sides. Due to the size of my camera, I found it easier to access the lid when I had two points on my hip belt webbing and two near my collarbone or higher. Play around with a few options for yours and see what works.

Functional as a Standalone Bag

As noted above, the camera bag comes with an extra-long length of webbing to use an over-the-shoulder carrying strap. This is a great option so you can bring the bag around on its own without your main backpack. The shoulder sling is convenient for side missions, walking around town, and not leaving your expensive camera at a hostel where it could get swiped.

I recently shot photos of a friend racing at the Zion 50k Ultramarathon. Having the bag on its own was great when I had to run around to get in position and didn’t need a larger backpack.

Padded, Protected, Accessible

The Xpac material has a waterproof layer in the middle with face fabrics on both sides to protect it. Combined with a water-resistant zipper, there is a lot of dust- and splash-resistance built in. The optional quarter-inch foam also pads your camera from hard bumps and rocks, offering peace of mind on trail.

If my camera was smaller or cheaper, I might have skipped the foam. But given its high price tag and how prone it is to getting bumped, the negligible weight and $10 penalty is more than worth it.

Being able to protect your camera while still keeping it highly accessible can be hard to do. CTUG got the job done here.

Rain and scrambling in the canyonlands. My camera stayed dry and protected while sliding down wet slabs and getting rained on.

Made for You

Have an interesting idea or want to confirm some detail about your bag? Austin at CTUG was very responsive to my questions. I wanted to make sure my main two lenses, a large diameter 24-70mm lens and a long 70-200mm lens, would fit. He was happy to take measurements for both and size for the larger of the two in each dimension. If you want something else custom, he will probably work with you on it.

CTUG Custom Camera Bag Cons

Long Lead Times

Like many small cottage gear makers, Chicken Tramper has a huge backlog of work. It took about four and a half months for my bag to arrive after placing an order. The company website indicates this is still the case, unfortunately. If you are tackling a northbound Triple Crown trail, hopefully you know the year before and can order ahead.

Hip Belt Attachment Is Best on Traditional Bags

While the hip belt attachment was more comfortable than I expected it to be, I did have some trouble with certain bags. On my MLD Exodus, the stitched points in the camera bag’s hip belt loops were spaced farther apart than the hip belt’s width could accommodate. This prevented me from being able to cinch it tight, meaning bouncing and sliding.

I had less trouble with my SWD Rugged Long Haul, which has a slightly wider and more traditional hip belt. You can forget about using this attachment system if you have a webbing hip belt.

I still vastly prefer the cross-chest carry and will likely cut off the hip belt loops (and patch the holes with Aquaseal). This is personal preference in the end, and I suspect the hip belt method works much better with a smaller camera that can be kept closer to the width of the hip belt itself.

Lid Is Ever so Slightly Awkward

The hinge of the lid is against your body, meaning it is standing up against your torso when opened. It can flop down and get in the way when you are trying to pull your camera in or out. I imagine if the hinge were on the side away from your body, it could fold over completely and hang down, keeping it out of the way while you handle your business. Not a dealbreaker and probably something you could ask to change easily.

person pulling camera out of blue chicken tramper custom camera bag with open lid sitting against. chin

Lid sitting against my neck while I pull out my camera

Cross-Chest Attachment Loops Easy To Lose

There are four sections of webbing with hardware used to attach the camera bag to your shoulder straps. Each attachment point consists of a buckle on the camera side and a “soft shackle” of sorts made from a loop of cord and a toggle. This loop is not permanently attached to either the webbing or the backpack, making it easy to lose when in storage or transferring between bags.

chicken tramper custom camera bag studio image showing buckles used to attach bag to shoulder straps

Studio image from Chicken Tramper showing the four-point cross-chest attachment system

Twice, I misplaced just a single loop and ended up resorting back to the hip belt straps that are permanently attached until I could find it again. While this system is light and effective, I can’t help but wonder if there is a more elegant way to do it that isn’t prone to wandering off.

Overall Value

While certainly not a budget buy, a full-sided, padded bag is an excellent piece of insurance for pricey cameras and lenses. It’s also a very convenient and flexible option to keep shooting while on the move, something not mastered by many other brands.

CTUG makes a top-notch product for a modest weight penalty and a fair price. I would buy another if I drastically changed my camera load out.

Shop the Chicken Tramper Custom Camera Bag

A Few Comparison Items

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Camera Pod $119, two sizes

Cotton Carrier Grey Skout G2 $89, universal size, no padding

Peak Design Capture Clip $75, universal size, no padding

An oversized fanny pack will get the job done for certain camera sizes, too:

The Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear Custom Camera Bag was donated for purpose of review.

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