Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear Shoulder Strap Zipper Pocket Review

The Chicken Tramper Ultralight Gear (CTUG) Shoulder Strap Zipper Pocket is a backpack accessory to keep small items available on the go. Similar to hipbelt pockets, it’s accessible while moving and without taking off or loosening your pack. The model I tested is the sealed seamed (not stitched) version and has a zippered top, not the “phone pocket” with the Velcro fold-over.

Chicken Tramper Shoulder Strap Zipper Pocket At-a-Glance

MSRP: $35
Weight: 1.6oz (matches their online listing)
Material: X-pac VX21, with a #5 water-resistant zipper and a stretch mesh front pocket. Color in the review is Yellow.
Dimensions: 3 1/2″ wide, 6 3/4″ tall

white backpack with black straps and bright yellow Chicken Tramper Shoulder Strap Zipper Pocket leaned against red rock in red sandstone desert with blue sky

Taking a break in the Canyonlands.

Intended Use

This pocket is a fantastic accessibility add-on to your current backpack. The shoulder strap pocket is not a standard built-in feature for most packs, making it a great accessory. It’s best for small items and medium-sized phones. I typically put a snack, my car keys, and earbuds in it full-time. Depending on the trip, I’ll also put in any permits I have, sunglasses, and my phone (Google Pixel 6).

Circumstance of Review

I used the pocket mostly on trips to the Utah desert, with a few additional days uphill skiing or hiking in Colorado’s Flattops. The conditions were typically dry, as they often are in October and November, but with variable temps anywhere from 15 degrees to 75 and lots of sun.

Chicken Tramper Shoulder Strap Zipper Pocket Features

Fully Enclosed with a Water Resistant Zipper

I have often struggled to find the best place to put my phone when that monsoon shower comes in or when I’m walking past that blowing waterfall. This almost waterproof pouch is a great solution, keeping the phone dry but within reach. Double up with a freezer ziplock if it’s really dumping, and you’ll be golden.

Generous Stretch Mesh

Some things don’t need to be fully zipped in, like that half-eaten bar from 10 minutes ago that you’ll surely finish within another 10. The second, exterior pocket is great for things that are being pulled in and out a lot.

Color Choices

CTUG offers 12 colors for maximum style points. With so many black and white packs in the ultralight world right now, having a pop of color can help you stand out on trail.

Removable and Replaceable

Do you have multiple packs? A daypack? Want something to hold your phone on the way to work? The shoulder pocket can be detached and transferred to another bag via a pair of secure, low-profile S clips. I’ve done this multiple times already and is great for consistency between trips.

Why Have Accessible Pockets?

When you are in the groove of a hike, it’s annoying to take off your pack every time you want a gummy bear or to put on some sunscreen. Pockets that are usable while walking are one of the main differentiators between packs right now. The most common forms are side bottle pockets and hip belt pockets, but they can also be augmented by aftermarket accessories like this Shoulder Strap Zipper Pocket. Shoulder strap pockets and bottle holders are newer to the mass market, as well as the occasional built-in “bottom pocket” or Fanny Pack.

Awesomely Big, Flat Area

So what makes the shoulder strap pocket so awesome? The biggest advantage to me is that the placement on the shoulder allows the pocket to remain flat. Hipbelt pockets are often placed where your hips are curving the most sharply, meaning it’s uncomfortable to get a modern hulk-sized phone in there. The shoulder pocket is also situated on the front of your body, meaning you don’t need to do any crazy reaching back into your main pack to use it.

Color scheme on point.

Chicken Tramper Shoulder Strap Zipper Pocket Pros

Just the Right Size

I hate how large most phones are, but this pocket is sized to fit most of them. You might not get that plus sized model with 6 cameras in it, but if you have the standard, flagship offerings you should be able to store your phone with ease while still getting at some snacks and stashing sunglasses.

Easy to Use

The front of the chest is within the comfortable range of motion of most people’s arms, making the pocket easy to use. Compared to reaching back behind your butt for a side pocket, this is a breeze.

Adjustable

The clip system is agreeable to most backpack straps. The length between clips can even be adjusted using the webbing and double back buckle.

Durable Material

While I typically choose DCH or Ultra for backpacking applications, the X-Pac VX21 used here is great. DCH and Ultra don’t have an inside face fabric to protect the laminate, and the “plastic sheet” layer gets pinholed quickly. With larger items like backpacks, there are too many seams and stitches to keep it waterproof long term anyways so this is insignificant.

In a smaller container, havinh an inside protective layer like VX21 keeps the fabric waterproof much longer, and the seams can be more easily managed for water ingress. CTUG doesn’t claim that the shoulder pocket is fully waterproof, but this is likely to protect themselves from claims. I doubt a regular rain would damage any electronics held inside, especially since most phones are now highly water resistant themselves.

Bright yellow chicken tramper shoulder strap zipper pocket with grey cross hatching and blackwebbing strap and red zipper pull on beige carpet

Back of the pocket. The three stitching groups on this webbing are the only way for water to ingress out of the box.

Chicken Tramper Shoulder Strap Zipper Pocket Cons

I had a hard time coming up with actual cons for this product, a rare occurrence for me. The design choices are on point for this type of product. Could they figure out a way to remove a decent amount of the back webbing? Probably, but it would likely be at the cost of adjustability between packs and strength.

I think the biggest con lies in whether you actually want or need a shoulder pocket. More UL brands are forgoing hip belt pockets to save a few ounces; this product adds them right back in. Whether that is worthwhile is up to you.

Overall Value

At $35, I think the price is right. Considering its made in the US and has quality material and craftsmanship, I can’t really imagine it being much cheaper.

Shop the Chicken Tramper Shoulder Strap Zipper Pocket

A Few Comparison Items

HMG Shoulder Pocket ($49)

  • MSRP: $49
  • Weight: 1.4 oz

Gossamer Gear Shoulder Strap Pocket ($16-17.60)

  • MSRP: $22
  • Weight: 1.75 oz (medium)

The Chicken Tramper Shoulder Strap Zipper Pocket was donated for purpose of review.

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