HMG Camera Pod Review
The HMG Camera Pod is exactly what I needed for my backcountry camera needs, lightweight camera protection with plenty of options!
Despite always trying to be as light as possible while out in the backcountry, camping, hiking or kayaking, I always bring my Sony A9 and my Peak Design Tripod. My TriPod is more or less indestructible and has an amazing guaranteed for life warranty. I wish my Sony A9 camera was guaranteed for life but that's not the case.
🪧 Disclaimer: I received the HMG Camera Pod for free from Hyperlite Mountain gear. This review is all my own thoughts and feelings and was not paid for by HMG.
Up until the HMG Camera Pod came out, I could not find any adequate lightweight camera protection for my camera, and I would more or less just roll the dice every time I went out on an adventure. Most of the camera protection out on the market is bulky and heavy, and definitely not made out of Dyneema.
My HMG Camera Pod Use Cases:
- On Pack Camera Carry (In certain Use cases)
- Protection at Camp
- Protection in my Pack
- Ultralight Camera Sling
On Pack Carry Overview
In a lot of the marketing photography for the HMG Camera Pod I see the camera pod strapped across the chest of a hiker with the camera ready to be taken out at a moment's notice. Tucked away and protected while not in use. The marketing also showed a side carry almost like a pistol at your side, but in this case a camera.
If you are reading this article to see how that works, this is not an HMG Camera Pod review for you. The camera strapped across my chest is not a use case that applies to me. I am already in love with the Peak Design Camera Clip (Amazon Affiliate). In my opinion if you want to have your camera easily and quickly accessible for photography while hiking, the Peak Design Camera clips have no match.
I thought I would never use the HMG Camera Pod strapped to my pack, but then on my last big adventure I forgot my Peak Design Camera Clip.... I left it on my day pack back at home. I was upset to say the least, I didn't want to be carrying my camera in my hand while hiking and climbing through Coyote Gulch... that's just asking for a disaster.
Luckily since I got my HMG Camera Pod, my Sony A9 lives in it while being transported. It's nice protection in a car while off roading as well.
Since I didn't have my Peak Design clip, I was forced to use the HMG Camera Pod attached to my pack instead. For this backpacking trip, it ended up being a very good thing!
As mentioned earlier I am not a fan of items strapped across the chest so I opted with the side carry strategy. With the included clips, I strapped one to the right shoulder strap and the other clip to the hip belt as shown in the video on the HMG Camera Pod website.
I hiked a few miles like this, and it was a great stable carry for the camera. I was able to stop and unzip the Camera Pod with one hand to take the camera out and shoot some pictures.
Using the camera pod with the side hip carry method it is a little awkward with arm placement though while walking or just standing there. I could rest my arm on the little "shelf" the camera pod made on my right hip, but I felt my arm swing was a little awkward while walking due to the extra width at my side.
I eventually unclipped the clip attached to the hip belt and just left the Camera Pod clipped to the shoulder strap attachment point.
With only one of the carabiners attached in this fashion, the Camera Pod can bounce around a little more since it can swing. Since we were backpacking and not running this was sufficient enough for me, and was a lot more comfy while hiking.
For this hike the HMG Camera Pod was wonderful. We pushed through dense forest and had multiple river crossings where water could have accidently splashed up, and lots of bouldering/climbing. I had originally planned on using my Peak Design Camera clip on this trip, but it worked out in my favor that I forgot it. Between all the brush and rubbing on rocks, my Wife's Osprey pack got a hole in the mesh (She has an HMG pack for the next trip 😉 ). Had my camera been exposed to all this in the Peak Design Capture clip, it would have definitely seen some wear on it. The Strong Dyneema HMG Camera Pod held up great to the abuse and did a fantastic job protecting my camera!
Protection at Camp
After hiking all day with the HMG Camera Pod attached to me for easy access while taking photos on the go, the pod also provided great piece of mind once at camp. In the past I used to just place my Sony A9 on the ground while we set up our tent, cooked and ate dinner.
With the camera exposed on the ground it was always exposed to dust, dirt, spilled water from the nalgene next to it... you name it a lot can happen while you set up camp in the backcountry.
Additionally the Camera Pod is great while sleeping in your tent. While sleeping next to bodies of water there can be a lot of moisture in the air and the last thing I want to wake up to is moisture covering my camera, or if we are cowboy camping and a freak storm passes by it's nice to know my camera has some weather protection while sleeping.
Lastly at camp, especially in cold weather I like to sleep with my camera in the sleeping bag to save the battery and electronics from extreme low temperatures. The HMG Camera Pod adds some great protection if I kick it out of my sleeping quilt and it rolls off the sleeping pad.
Protection in my Pack
There are plenty of great camera backpacks out there, like the Peak Design Everyday Backpack (Amazon Affiliate) or the Peak Design Travel 45L both of which I own and love. These are great day packs but if you are out on a multi-day backpacking trip most backpacking packs do not have a dedicated storage system for the camera. Or if you are like me and designed your own ultra-lite day pack there is no dedicated camera storage. I have played around with different design ideas and made a few concepts to carry my camera in my home made day pack but nothing was as simple or versatile as the HMG Camera Pod. Lucky for me the Camera Pod fits perfectly in my day pack that I made:
Ultralight Camera Sling
Usually once at camp, I like to explore around our campsite and take a lot of photos. While at camp I have often dreamed of having a light camera sling to have some protection on my camera. Something like the Peak Design Sling (Amazon Affiliate), but unfortunately that is too bulky/heavy and only has one use, not ideal for a backpacking trip.
With some simple ingenuity though you can transform the HMG Camera Pod into a ultralight camera camp sling by combining two Peak Design Products:
The Peak Design Anchor links are these awesome little devices that can be pretty much attached to anything with a loop, that allow for quick attachment and detachment of any Peak Design Camera Strap. I have two anchor links attached to my HMG Camera Pod that I never remove.
Peak Design makes a lot of fantastic Camera Straps, but their Leash is their lightest strap they make. Anyone one of their straps though will work and instantly connect to the HMG Camera Pod with the anchors attached! Since the Leash is super light and doesn't take up a lot of room in my pack I always have it with me to instantly turn the Camera Pod into an ultralight camera sling. You can now throw the Camera Pod over your shoulder and be on your way, no backpack necessary!
As much as I love the Peak Design Capture clip, it needs a backpack and sometimes I just want to go lite!
My last and final use case for the HMG Camera Pod is arguably the oddest use case; kayak camera access...
Before I get into this section I will mention that the HMG Camera Pod is not 100% waterproof and will not protect the camera much if completely submerged under water. If you are a kayaker and own a Camera Pod; try this at your own risk. If you are looking for a waterproof option for your camera I did write an entire article on my favorite waterproof camera case.
The one problem for me with most waterproof cases is that access is usually slow, so if I am in fairly calm low risk water I am ok with zipper access and my HMG Camera Pod.
The greatest part of the HMG Camera Pod is its versatility and attachment points which allow me to use this unique use case. I use the two included carabiners that HMG provides with the Camera Pod and attach them to my kayak's deck lines. This keeps my camera directly in front of me while paddling and I can take it out quickly to snap some pictures on the water!
When I received my HMG Camera Pod, I had planned to just use it for protecting my camera while it was in my backpack. As I brought the Camera Pod on more adventures, more ideas kept popping up on how I could use it, and it's that versatility that make it a great product.
If HMG continues to make camera accessories in the future, my request would be for them to make a Dyneema version of the Matador Lens Base Layer (Amazon Affiliate) with the same foam padding that is in the HMG Camera Pod.