I may be part of a dying breed but I still carry a dedicated P&S camera on my backpacking trips. At the risk of offending Apple (or Android) fanboys, the image quality from my 1” sensor easily bests that of any smartphone. For epic trips like Patagonia and the West Coast Trail, I won’t settle for anything less. Since my G9X is not ruggedized, it requires a protective case. At first I used a clamshell hard case that fit in my hipbelt pocket. I quickly discovered it was tedious and time-consuming to withdraw and replace the camera every time I wanted to take a photograph. I also missed countless opportunities to capture elusive wildlife (e.g. a puma) while fumbling with the zippers. I then tried carrying it without a case and “being careful,” only for it to go tumbling when I tripped or forgot about it during breaks.
It was only a matter of time before I would break the camera so back to the irritating hard case it was. While purchasing some ultralight gear from Mont-Bell, I came across their Compact Camera Case. It’s essentially a neoprene sleeve that attaches to your shoulder strap for easy access. The open-top design allows completely unfettered access to your camera but the material is thick enough to protect against casual knocks and falls. There’s an ingenious little shock cord on one side that normally stays out of the way, but can quickly be pulled over the opening to keep the camera from falling out when navigating dicey trail sections. The sleeve itself slides off the attachment loops if you want to carry the camera around basecamp (and also exposes the belt clip for an alternative carrying method). Because the neoprene is pliable, it also accommodates smartphones (probably not anything “plus” sized) and GPS units so you’re not limited to just P&S cameras.
As a nice bonus, a long lanyard is included and can be anchored to the case (of course) for even more security. I’m slightly embarrassed to be gushing over a camera case but I feel that I’m truly enjoying outdoor photography now. I have peace of mind that my camera is reasonably protected from the vicissitudes of the backcountry, and subsequently I’ve been able to take some amazing photographs that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. Incidentally, Mont-Bell offers a lifetime warranty on all of their products but after two years of use I haven’t found any sign of wear. The case is available in two sizes but I would recommend the large size for the most versatility (for reference it fits a Canon S95 and G9X).
— Nabhan Islam
Mont-Bell Compact Camera Case ($28+)