One strap, one bag; Crumpler & BBB

Man, talk about bored. Bored is the only possible motivation to write about a camera bag and a camera strap.

There you have it; I’m bored.

First the strap. You all know the Crumpler name. You know the make nice stuff, especially their somewhat unusual bags. But, did you know they made a nice strap, too?

No, not their lackluster and bulky Industry Disgrace. Today I’m talking about their very lightweight (and somewhat light duty?) Popular Disgrace. This 2.5 centimeter strap is da bomb for a lightweight camera like my aged Fuji X100. Its magic resides in its simplicity, and also the perfectly textured neoprene that covers the conventional strap material.

I hike a lot with the X100 so it spends a lot of time slung across my back. The neoprene has just the right about of traction and just the right amount of slip (dare we call it, perfect coefficient of drag). The strap material underneath is quite stout. It would be totally suitable for a larger and heavier camera, if the neoprene section were a tad wider.


Me? I don’t like heavy cameras. My old Nikon D300 is as heavy as I can stand. That’s what keeps the X100 nearby so often. If you have an X100 or any other lightweight camera you might want to check out the Popular Disgrace, if you can find one.

In case you’re one of those folks who find camera bags slightly less dull than camera straps, I have a good one for you. The Bare Bones Bag (BBB hereinafter). I’m being kinda charitable to the folks at Figital Revolution. They’re not really the ones who’ve done the heavy lifting (stitching?) in the creation of the BBB. The real work was done by the hard-core, hard-asses at CourierWare.

For those of you who are even more bored than I am (come on,  you’re reading this aren’t you?) feel free to check out my review of yet another CourierWare bag here.

No, you cannot stuff a lot of shit into the BBB.

And, no, the BBB is not possessed of a great deal of padding. Heck, my version of the bag doesn’t even have a velcro closure for the top.

And, yes, the BBB may be able to pass as a purse, assuming that the woman who’s carrying it is good looking enough.

Still, for me it’s just dandy for carrying the (wait for it) Fuji X100. It holds that, my beater Panasonic LX3, both their chargers and spare batteries, my faithful Benchmade knife and a lot (but not too much) other crap. There’s a touch of padding in the bottom of the bag but the rest of the bag is just plain (if very high quality) waterproof 1000 denier Codura nylon.

If you’ve been living under a rock you may not be aware that CourierWare makes a superb bag. They are light yet totally bombproof and guaranteed for life. The care and quality of the stitching is beyond reproach. Now, the truth is that I’m not even sure that you can buy the damn thing. I got mine used and you’re never getting mine, believe me.

But, if you have a load that’s the right size for it, and if you can find one, the BBB cannot be beat. If you value function and give not one shit about style, it may be the bag for you. If you need a larger bag, check out the CourierWare website. CourierWare’s owners, Diana & Eric, are amazing, salt of the earth kind of folks and they’ll make the bag of your dreams.



One strap, one bag; Crumpler & BBB

EDC comparison & review: Benchmade Mini Griptillian versus Kershaw Link

A while back I realized I didn’t really have a stout yet lightweight knife for general (and especially hiking) use. I scoured the internet and the local knife shops. Chinese made knives were plentiful as were very expensive one-offs and custom knives.

I set a budget or $100 and decided on the Benchmade Mini Griptillian. Its lightweight caught my attention when I was shopping and when the knife arrived I was very impressed with its finish, solid lock up and light weight. The opening and closing mechanism is light, smooth and secure.


This photo shows the Benchmade’s lock button on the frame and the opening assist button on the blade. Both are perfectly located and operate with precision and a lightness of feel that is unmistakable and lacking in the Kershaw.

The Link’s opening assist tab is show above and it works OK. I’m not wild about the spring that causes the blade to settle into a halfway position. The movement is smooth but bit heavy compared to the Benchmade. Where the Kershaw is really let down is by it’s unlock mechanism which is buried on the underside of the blade. I found it to be fiddly if secure. I may get used to it in time, but I don’t like it much so far.


I bought the Link as a slightly heavier alternative to the Benchmade. Plus, I also wanted a serrated edge for a greater versatility. The blade finish on the Link is not my favorite. My guess is the finish will wear with use when the point seems to look worn and grizzled even when it’s new. I much prefer the finish on the Benchmade.


I like the fact that the Kershaw is thinner than the Benchmade but the knife is let down by being significantly heavier and less grippable. The Benchmade has serrations on the top of the knife that enhance grip further especially when cutting heavier material. My thumb rides those serrations perfectly and the knife feels very secure in use.


I have yet to use the Kershaw with its clip. You can see it uses two rather than Benchmade’s three screws. The Benchmade’s clip looks a little more common than the Kershaw’s and I found it to be a quite tight in use. Worse, the little Benchmade had an unfortunate tendency to try to open on its own when removed from a pocket. I haven’t really come up with a configuration that deals with this problem yet.



One area where the Kershaw scores a clear win is with the size and shape of the its lanyard opening. I am tired of lanyard openings that are more vestigial than practical. Quite simply, it should be easy to get a decent size lanyard through a lanyard hole or there’s no point in having one. Kershaw got it right while Benchmade dropped the ball.


Everyone gets excited about edges but let’s just say that both the Kershaw and the Link have edges that are plenty sharp and quite well ground right out of the box. I’m not sure which will hold its edge better but the look of the Benchmade’s edge and steel make me think that it could be slightly more durable that the Kershaw but only time will tell.


These are two well made, well designed knives and I like them both. I do see the Benchmade to be a bit more focused on function while still possessing a clean form. The Kershaw seems a little balanced in toward style over function. It is almost as if Kershaw wanted to create a knife that looked the part. Then, they set about to making it work as well as possible. Either way, these are two excellent US made knives that are well worth their price.

I’m glad I own both.


EDC comparison & review: Benchmade Mini Griptillian versus Kershaw Link