BlackRapid Breathe Straps Review
BlackRapid has quite a reputation in the camera strap market, and most users either love or hate them. While I did have a few complaints in the past, they’ve always been pretty great. Recently, I’ve had the chance to test quite a few from their updated “Breathe” series though, and I have to say- they must have been listening in on my thoughts because they seriously addressed every one of my complaints and made a new series of straps that should make anyone happy.
Some of the most impressive things about BlackRapid is the range of straps they offer and also the degree to which they stand behind their product. They have a strap for everything from small straps for a smartphone to double straps made to carry two large and heavy cameras at the same time. Behind all of these products comes an amazing support team and even the option to trade in old worn straps for new ones! This, among lots of other details, really shows how focused they are on keeping your gear safe and keeping you comfortable.
The straps I’ve tested so far are the Backpack, Street, Cross Shot, Sport, Hybrid and Double Breathe. I’ve also fallen in love with their Arca-Swiss tripod plates with or without the straps attached.
First, let’s just go over a few things that are more or less common features across most BlackRapid straps.
Their FastenR and ConnectR system makes it really easy to attach and detach your camera, and I’ve really found this useful. There have been times shooting an event or concert where I wanted a little more freedom to move or stand in awkward positions than the strap could give me, so I just quickly removed it, took my shots, then put it back on with pretty much no effort. Also, keep in mind when I say I wanted more freedom to move I don’t mean an issue that’s specific to BlackRapid, just the physical boundaries of any strap, especially when carrying 2 cameras.
I’ve heard some people voice concern about the single connection point (the FastenR), but BlackRapid does also make a “Tether Kit” that can give you a backup support line in case of failure. I’ve never felt the need to use it, but even the best made products in the world occasionally break so it could be nice to have.
The materials used in the FastenR and ConnectR have also been improved in terms of how noisy they are. Something that always bothered me a bit before was the clinking of metal on metal especially in very quiet situations like weddings. It wasn’t horrible but it bothered me. Now, they’re much quieter and I never notice them unless intentionally trying to jingle them around (there's a comparison of the noise in the Street Breathe video).
The ConnectR also slides freely up and down the strap, while the strap stays in place. This is really really nice because it doesn’t mess up your clothes while sliding back and forth and also allows for dual carry systems.
Most of the straps are sling style and are contoured extremely well to fit very comfortably. How much padding you’ll have will depend on the strap but even the thinner straps are shaped so well that they still take a lot of the weight off.
While talking about that, this new “Breathe” design means just that- the straps are all very breathable. If you’re like me, you’ll still sweat like crazy in the hot summer weather, but considering the very robust build, these are totally comfortable.
Most of these straps will also have BlackRapid’s awesome lock system. It’s comprised of a sliding lock both in front of and behind the camera’s connection point. The rear lock can slide into place to prevent your camera from sliding back any further than you want it to and the front lock can slide down to hold the camera in place at your side when you’re not using it. This allows you more freedom to move and even bend over without your camera dangerously swinging out of control. These have also been updated with the new Breathe design and are now much faster and easier to use than before.
Now, let’s take a quick look at what each of these straps has to offer and what makes them each unique.
The BackPack Breathe is an extremely unique strap, It’s made to clip on to a backpack and allow you to comfortably wear your camera on a strap while also wearing your backpack. You’ll have to remove the strap (or at least one side of it) to remove or get access your bag, but it’s really easy to do and definitely much easier and more comfortable than using a normal strap. It also features the very handy BlackRapid lock system and is extremely compact so you can very easily throw it in your bag when you go out even if you’re not sure you’ll use it.
The Street Breathe is another very very compact strap with most of the awesome features BlackRapid is loved for. It does lack a Brad Strap meaning it will slide out of place a bit easier (also due to it’s light weight) and there’s no lock on here to hold your camera in place. But, if you’re looking for BlackRapid quality with it’s super convenient ConnectR and FastenR design, this is a great choice that you could even throw in your pocket.
The Cross Shot Breathe is a mix between the smaller BlackRapid straps and the larger ones. The strap itself is a bit wider than the Street Breathe and the shoulder pad is made out of a thick and very grippy rubber. This grip and added weight mostly solves the problem the Street Breathe has of sliding out of place. It also means it’s slightly less compact, but not horribly so. The rubber shoulder pad is also double contoured allowing it to be worn comfortably on both your right and left shoulder. Finally, it does feature the BlackRapid lock system, which the Streetwalker does not.
The Sport Breathe is a really great basic strap with all the BlackRapid bells and whistles. It has the superior padding and fit of the larger BlackRapid designs, their lock system, and a Brad Strap to securely hold it in place. It’s named the Sport but I believe this is the best all around BlackRapid strap for people using a medium to larger DSLR setup.
The Hybrid Breathe is basically like the Sport Breathe, but with a second strap hanging down at your side where the Brad Strap connects. There IS also a Brad Strap though, so you don’t lose that added security. You can totally remove both the Brad Strap and the second strap to make this a very nice single strap when needed as well. While both straps on here feature the BlackRapid locks, the strap hanging at your left side will still naturally swing a bit when you bend over because your body isn’t in the way blocking it from doing so. It’s still better than nothing though and as long as you’re aware of it, you’ll never have a problem.
Finally there’s the big boy, the Double Breathe. Like the Hybrid Breathe, this can also carry 2 cameras, but it’s now basically 2 complete camera straps linked together in the back and front. This does mean more comfort but it also means more bulk and, to be honest, awkwardness. It’s totally comfortable, but you will look like you mean business. Since both straps hang straight down on your shoulder instead of crossing over sling style, I found that the strain the weight puts on your body is about the same as the Hybrid Breathe, even though the Hybrid is only on one shoulder. The way the Double links together at two points behind your body also means that, while both straps hang straight down at your sides, they don’t swing out when locked like the side strap on the Hybrid Breathe does. You’ll have to make sure the connecting strap is low enough down to hold them in place against your body though. Again, ALL of this is removable and you can completely disconnect this into two (Sport Breathe-like) independent straps, which can actually be worn on both shoulders (one on the left and one on the right).
If you take a look at their website, you’ll see that there is still a lot more that BlackRapid has to offer, but I thought this would be a good cross section to take a look at.
If you have any questions or would like to see any more, feel free to let me know. Also, if you’re an Arca-Swiss user, be sure to check out BlackRapid’s tripod plates. They’re very high quality and fully compatible with the BlackRapid system. The D-ring which attaches to the FastenR is also really large and the easiest to grip and tighten by hand of any that I’ve ever used, so you don’t have to always bust out a coin or screwdriver to tighten them.
If you’re interested in any of these straps, please check out the links below. They’re affiliate links so while they won’t cost you anything extra, purchasing through these links will help to support and keep this blog and YouTube channel going.
BlackRapid Cross Shot Breathe: http://prourls.co/4Ihc
BlackRapid Sport Breathe: http://prourls.co/4yYj
BlackRapid Street Breathe: http://prourls.co/tF1A
BlackRapid Backpack Breathe: http://prourls.co/RL4z
BlackRapid Double Breathe: http://prourls.co/404E
BlackRapid Hybrid Breathe: http://prourls.co/i8vc
Tripod Plate 50: http://prourls.co/1l1W
Tripod Plate 70: http://prourls.co/dRkO
BlackRapid Breathe Brad: http://prourls.co/ntld
BlackRapid FastenR: http://prourls.co/o61o
BlackRapid Tether Kit: http://prourls.co/vxns