Once in a while, a small company releases a handy little product which catches your eye, and the Keyhole is one of those from US-based small business Backcountry Solutions.
The Keyhole is a very simple device which you attach to the straps of your backpack to harness your camera (up to and including a large SLR) securely on your chest when you need your hands free to do other things.
The Keyhole comprises of a tough plastic plate with a keyhole shape cut out of it, and a set of 4 adjustable straps. These straps have webbing sliders on the end of them so that they can be slotted on to any backpack which uses webbing on its shoulderstraps. Handily that’s quite a common feature in larger packs (although I have a number of 25-35L packs which are incompatible) and the theory works quite well once you’ve slotted it in to place and played with the positioning.
Two of the straps have break-away side-release buckles in them so you can still remove your backpack when on the trail.
The Keyhole is also supplied with a ‘mushroom’ fitting which screws in to the tripod screw of your camera, and it’s this which slots in to the keyhole plate and holds the camera on your chest.
The last part of the system is a dangling velcro strap which, in combination with two adhesive velcro patches, is used to secure your lenscap so that it can’t be knocked off and lost, no matter what you’re doing.
In practice, and with the correct pack, the Keyhole works really well. It takes a little getting used to, but is far more secure than the strap your camera was supplied with in terms of the camera swinging around and potentially getting damaged, and it also feels more protected in terms of personal security. Having said that, the system probably isn’t ideal for use in areas where you’re likely to be mugged for your camera – it’s pretty blatant. (although it’s also available in black).
The genius part of the Keyhole’s design is in how easy it is to get your camera from harnessed to usable position. And also that you can still use the camera’s own strap in case you drop the camera from your hand. It’s a neat idea which to see come from a small company is heartwarming.
The price of the Keyhole is nice and low. It’s obviously a product which has been made in small numbers by hand, and that shows in the finesse of the thing. The plastic plate feels a little cheap, and the webbing is a little stiff, but the point is that it works, and it works well.
SUMMARY: The Keyhole is a useful little product for anyone who takes their SLR out on the trail and likes to have easy and quick access to it. The bonus is that it’s secure and only a very severe jump is going to unharness the camera from you.
Price: $36.45 inc shipping to UK (£24 at today’s exchange rate)