Understated: a SIMPLR Strap

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I have this red metal box on a shelf—and it’s full of nylon straps. You know, the ones that come with our cameras. Some of them have been slightly used but anything from the past 2-3 years is still rolled up, untouched, like new. A few aren’t necessarily bad—the GFX strap is pretty good—but I’ve always preferred organic material...leather, typically. Because it breathes and changes over time, becomes worn and imperfect. I have a soft spot for imperfection.

When I first unpacked the SIMPLR strap my reaction could best be described as...neutral. It didn’t do much for me. I was gazing at this object, the typical black nylon strap—the stuff of backpacks, camping gear etc. On second look however, my impression shifted slightly: the weave was much finer and softer. There’s was no fraying, no hard edges and more importantly none of the stiffness I was accustomed to from nylon. This one was different.

Full disclosure: this kit was a very kind gift from Jason—the owner and craftsman behind SIMPLR—who told me he absolutely did not expect a review and just wanted me to try these out, knowing my usual preferences. We had a nice back and forth conversation before and after I received his package, I gave him some personal feedback and I decided to go ahead with a quick review. Now for another disclosure: this post was ready to publish a few days ago, based on the black M1a (neck) and M1w (wrist) straps. Here’s an excerpt of that initial draft:

Now, to be perfectly honest with you, I still prefer leather straps...something to do with my guitar-wielding days I imagine. But the M1a is on my brand new Instax Wide 300 and it’s not going anywhere. It’s actually perfect. The M1w is headed to my X100F with those QD loops allowing me to switch back to my old Maru strap whenever I feel like it. In fact I’ll probably carry both in my bag at all times, especially when shooting street.

That was my takeaway. Then I got home one afternoon and—following up on our conversation—Jason had sent me additional samples, this time in Castor Gray and Camo Green. And colour—as it usually does—changed everything.

A quick overview: in terms of hardware there’s no metal to be seen here, it’s all nylon and plastic—very nice, military-grade nylon and plastic. And this is by design: to keep the clean look but also to prevent bumps and scratches. All the straps use the Op/Tech USA Mini QD Loops quick release system—very handy for shooting on a tripod or occasionally switching to a wrist strap. Their tensile strength is rated at 20kg (44lbs) which is...good enough for just about anything. Basically, these are products that don’t flash or glitter, that don’t call attention to themselves at all. Everything about them is understated and subtle. But they’re beautifully crafted and ready-made for mirrorless systems.

So how did colour affect my opinion? Dramatically. I’m now using SIMPLR on the GFX, the X100F, the WIDE 300 and I’ve put the wrist strap on the NEO 90. I have another one reserved for the X-H1 (coming in a couple of weeks...more on that later). As much as I still love the feel of my leather straps, I can’t dismiss how much lighter and easier to work with these are. Just quickly being able to vary the length with little friction, to remove them altogether if they’re in the way...it all adds up. The black (and this is very personal) lacked visual punch to my eye, but these colour versions brought it back for me. They feel designed. Some of you may think it silly to focus on this sort of thing, but I like objects and I like beautiful tools. Suddenly—in a way the black versions didn’t—these checked all the right boxes.

I’m still rocking leather on the X-Pro2—but that’s my old pair of sneakers at this point. Baby steps.
For more info check out the SIMPLR website.

P.S All images shot with the GFX 50S and GF 120mm f/4 OIS LM R WR.

Patrick La Roque

laROQUE, 311 Lorncliff, Otterburn Park, Canada