This is turning out to be shoulder strap week…   in lieu of a comparo, I thought I’d post a few quick shots of several well known shoulder straps.  Let’s take a look:

Victorinox, new Absolute, Briggs & Riley, old Absolute

Above, the Victorinox, new Absolute Strap from Tom Bihn, the Briggs & Riley Flexible Shoulder Strap, and the old style Absolute Strap.  The Victorinox is a nice strap with an interesting “grip” feature on its underside, but the short length of the pad isn’t a plus, and it doesn’t flex much at all.  The Briggs & Riley is a handsome strap with leather accents, but I personally find it a bit too narrow and as a result it cuts into my shoulder a bit.  It has a fair amount of flex.  The old Absolute is still a gem.

Red Oxx Claw vs. Quake Industries ClawQuake Pic 1

It’s funny how some small companies get things so right, and others get them so wrong.  The Red Oxx version of the Claw ($30), replete with uber-heavy duty hardware, is on the left.  When I ordered the Quake Industries version of the Claw, I expected to receive a strap with an identical shoulder pad, and lighter duty polymer hardware.  (After all, that’s what’s shown on the Quake website, as you can see in the image on the right.)  The strap that showed up has a shoulder pad that’s shaped like some of the gun slings/straps that Quake sells; I included the tag (click on any of these images for close-ups) just as proof that this is indeed the Claw Bag Strap despite what their website shows.   Sigh.  I suspect they ran out of the proper shoulder pad and are substituting what they had on hand.  In any event, the pad is ultra grippy but doesn’t “give” under load a whole lot.  Here’s a close-up of the hardware; in my view, the extra 10 bucks for the Red Oxx version is a good investment; as an added bonus, you actually get the strap pictured on their website when you buy from Red Oxx:

Red Oxx (L) and Quake Claw hardware

Earlier I mentioned the underside of the Victorinox strap; here it is alongside the new Tom Bihn Absolute strap:

Underside of the Victorinox and new Absolute

The underside of the Victorinox “Comfort Fit” strap (available at Amazon) features a series of parallel beads of (prepare yourself for a highly technical term) sticky stuff to increase grip.  It works really well on cotton and wool garments, and in my view is actually a detriment on nylon or synthetics.  To work properly and be long lasting, this feature requires a compromise between stickiness and durability:  “super sticky, cling to anything” equals not very durable; “reasonably sticky and reasonably durable” equals not sticky enough on slippery fabrics.  The compromise they struck is a reasonable one; just be forewarned that it slides around a bit on smooth, slippery fabrics.   The underside of the new Absolute is on the right, and Bihn / OpTech got it right:  it’s both grippy on a variety of materials and is quite durable.

Underside of the Daymakers City StrapHardware / security sheath detail - Daymakers strap

Two details from the excellent Daymakers “Comfort Curve” City Strap:  first, the underside of the shoulder pad, featuring a dimpled surface for excellent grip; second, a shot of the hardware and the security collar which slides down to cover the snap ring and protect it from thieves.  You’ll recall from my earlier post that this strap features steel cables embedded in the webbing to deter “slash and dash” thieves.  The leather version is shown here; Daymakers also offers a microfiber version that’s very reasonably priced ($16).

That’s it – I hope you’ve found these pictures of interest.  If you’re a regular reader you know which strap is my favorite, so I won’t belabor the point.  In truth, all of these straps are fine for quick jaunts around town or walking from your car into your office building.  But when slogging through ORD from K20 to C31 with a 16lb. bag slung over your shoulder, you’ll want the absolute best.

Have a strap not mentioned here that you think is worthy of a review??  If yes, please let me know by commenting.

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3 Comments on Shoulder strap comparison photos

  1. chelsie says:

    i would like to know the cost of the old style absolute strap


    Kevin Reply:

    It’s no longer available. I’d look on eBay…


  2. Lisa says:

    Anyone have any experience with how the Tm Bihm straps feel on bare skin? Do they irritate or pinch? Get hot and sweaty?

    Also, the review pictures the strap on the same shoulder as the bag. Do they work as well cross body?


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