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Slings

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

by , February 11, 2023

I play with lots of bags. That’s not an admission of addiction (although it well could be!), but a statement of fact. I predict that over the past two years, I’ve been hands on with close to a few hundred bags. And as a photographer, at least a third of those have been camera bags or slings. I consider myself pretty well versed in this category, and it’s not often that I’m surprised by a camera sling. 

However, sometimes it does happen. Let’s dig into the Clever Supply Camera Sling.

Who are Clever Supply?

Founded by Photographer Todd Balsley in 2016, Clever Supply is based out of Louisville Kentucky and they are serious about long lasting hand crafted goods. Specializing in hand made leather camera straps, the Camera Sling is their first foray into the bag world!

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

Handsome Heritage Style Meets Modern Functionality

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

On a rudimentary level, this is a very good looking bag. The Camera sling is available in two colours; Black Waxed Canvas and Tan Waxed Canvas. Both colours are accentuated with leather bases and details. A standout feature of this sling is how it truly marries heritage style with modern performance. I also really appreciate how Clever Supply have paid attention to the details on this product. I’ve been using the tan version, and the YKK® zippers are colour matched, as are the binding and zipper pulls throughout the bag. 

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

Externally, three grab handles (one on either side, and one on the rear) are excellent for moving with the bag on the go, and they’re also very comfortable. Leather wings with brass studs attach the seatbelt webbing strap which has a waxed canvas pad with a small leather strip across it, housing the Clever Supply logo.

The base of the bag is leather clad and is certain to pick up some excellent patina. Even after a short 10 days, mine is starting to show some real character. On the front of the bag there is a zippered pocket that runs the width of the front panel, this has become the natural resting spot for my wallet and keys. Anything much larger will disturbed the lines of the bag. 

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

Pocketing on the sling is simple but thoughtful. Camera bags and sling sometimes fall into the “bells and whistles” trap, and thankfully that has been avoided here. In the main compartment you’ll find an 11” Padded Tablet sleeve (I used for my e-reader), a main volume that can be configured to your liking with two removable dividers, two elasticated sleeves on either end of the compartment and an admin pocket on the inside of the lid. The main compartment is also lined with hook and loop backing, which is designed for the dividers, but it’s also a feature that can accommodate your collection of morale patches and ranger eyes if you so wish!

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

The dividers themselves are equally well made as the rest of the bag (I’ve not found a single stitch or thread out of place), which is a pleasant surprise as it can be the area that some neglect. They are constructed from the same canvas you’ll find throughout the bag, although these are not waxed. With velcro folds on the sides and the bottom, these will help you configure your bag as you need. Each divider has two leather slots on either side, and these slots are designed for your SD cards. I do wish that they had made these leather loops with an open bottom, as then they could be used for items other than SD cards. Your mileage may vary, but I don’t often travel with eight extra SD cards, let alone in a sling.

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

Inside the top lid pocket (subtly embossed with ‘Enjoy the carry’), you’ll find 5 elasticated loops, one with a mesh pocket. These loops are obviously meant for camera accessories, and I’ve used them for my batteries etc, however, they also work as a good spot for EDC items such as earbuds, pocket knife, flashlight, pen etc. The elongated shape and zipper closing also makes that pocket a natural space for sunglasses too and the mesh is opaque enough for you to see the contents.

Camera Carry

Camera carry is obviously crucial to a camera bag. Materials and features are great, but does the Camera Sling do it’s fundamental job well? Yes. This isn’t a bag that you’re going to take for a full on professional job when you need lighting, mics, multiple lenses and so on. However, it is definitely a bag you can use for travel, as a cube inside another backpack, or even as your full set up if you are a street portrait photographer using just a few pieces of equipment. MFT users, and smaller bodied camera users (Leica, Fuji etc) will be able to fit a lot of gear into this 6L sling.

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

I shoot Full Frame cameras, and I found the Camera Sling could hold a body with 50mm prime lens attached, and a secondary lens. Now to qualify that, I’m mainly talking primes or short zooms. This isn’t going to be for the behemoth telephoto crowd. In one sense, it doesn’t hold a huge amount of full frame camera gear, but that isn’t a bad thing. The reason camera slings are growing on me is that they force me to be intentional about what I take with me, and make me think about my thought process behind shooting. When I take my smaller bodied cameras with me, I can fit two fixed lens cameras in here, and the accessories that come with them.

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

In either of my configurations, there is a nice gap just above where the cameras are housed, and this is a great spot for hats, gloves, or even a small jacket. In use, it’s easy to operate single handedly, and the wide opening zip gives you quick access to a lens change or a rocket blower. The rear padding is reminiscent of a vintage Eddie Bauer down jacket, and I love the look of it. Not only does it look great, it provides enough comfort to wear the sling all day without noticing.

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

First Impressions

I’ve spent 10 days with this Camera sling. 10 days isn’t a huge amount of time, so it’s even more impressive to me that this first time bag from Clever Supply Co has made such an impact. It is clear that Todd and team built this product from an understanding of what a photographer may want, and the user experience is exceptional.

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

I feel as though this Camera Sling has absorbed lots of features from bags that we know and love and put them into a unique Clever Supply Co styled package. This is heritage meets modern, style meets function, and intention meets execution. It is an incredibly impressive bag for a first offering, and exceptional value at that. Time will tell how the bag holds up to the rigours of use, but considering the materials, construction, and simplicity of this well thought out sling, I’d bet my money on years of happy adventures.

First Look | Clever Supply Release Their First Bag – The Camera Sling

You can now back the Camera Sling from Clever Supply Co at a discounted launch price on Kickstarter! Estimated delivery May 2023.

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