Finding the right kind of camera bag for travel or street photography – or generally just walking around snapping – is really difficult. A shoulder bag gives you easy access, but it swings about too much when you’re leaping on buses or squeezing between tables at a busy restaurant, and a backpack is comfortable and practical but hopeless when you need your camera quickly.
With either one of them you typically end up walking around with the camera in your hand with the constant risk of dropping it, or putting the camera on its own strap and being in a perpetual tangle with the one on your camera bag.
What the FastTrack-8 does is combine both the sling strap and the camera strap in one. If you want to put the camera away for a while, it fits into the sling bag’s top compartment, even with the strap still attached, but if you’re actively shooting, the camera hangs on the strap just below hip level, safe from being dropped but ready for use straight away.
Most camera straps are pretty simple – you have to slide the strap over your shoulder as you bring the camera to your eye. With the FastTrack-8, though, the camera is attached to two short tethers which loop through the camera’s strap eyelets at one end and clip to sliding buckles at the other. These buckles move up and down the strap freely, so there’s no friction or tangles as you bring the camera to your eye because the strap itself doesn’t move.
Compact and comfortable
The FastTrack-8 sling bag itself is both compact and comfortable to wear. It’s designed for compact mirrorless cameras, though, so while you might also be able to squeeze a small entry-level DSLR into the top compartment, a mid-sized DSLR isn’t going to fit. The side compartment has space for a couple of mid-size lenses or 3-4 smaller lenses if you don’t mind stacking them.
Manfrotto has added some nice touches, too. The main compartment zips have simple security loops which pass over the zipper tags and make it much more difficult for opportunist thieves to open the zips. And there are lots of compartments and pockets for passports, batteries, maps, keys and other accessories – and even a tablet.
The FastTrack-8 isn’t especially cheap, but you’ll be appreciating its design and practicality long after you’ve handed over the cash.