Accessories

Hawkesmill Borough Leather Camera Strap Review

The Hawkesmill Borough Leather Camera Strap is an adjustable length riveted Horween leather camera strap. It’s soft, strong, and (at its longest) really quite long…

Hawkesmill seem to be everywhere. I don’t exactly have my finger on the pulse when it comes to photography accessory brands, but when Shaan got in touch, I felt like I already had a good bit of in-built brand awareness. You can read the Hawkesmill back story on their website here, but the TL;DR version is that they set up shop wanting to fill a hole they saw in the market for “Premium”, “Made in England” camera bags.

Over the last few years there’s been a quite obvious increase in small companies setting up in UK hand making premium goods. With the UK being largely bolstered by the financial sector, I think for a lot of people there’s something pretty positive feeling about the idea that we can, and do, still make stuff. In a world where vinyl and film have reached the level of popularity they have, it seems like it’s becoming more and more natural to seek out the more tangible and high quality. This is indeed something I myself seek to promote through my little play-work business ShootRewind

Of course with the words “Premium” and “Made in England” come a higher price point, something that Hawkesmill make no excuses about. Their products are touted as being designed and made to a high standard, and they have price points to match. Having handled and used this strap for the last few weeks, I’m not going to argue with the quality either – it certainly feels like a very well made strap, with the use of rivets giving it a the look and feel of being very strong.

 

With the brand being so obviously embossed into the neck strap, seems to be something that Hawkesmill themselves seem confident to shout about too!

Horween Leather

I want to point out here is just how much I like Horween leather – this is a factor that might well have swayed this strap into favour with me. I own and use another strap made of the same material and whilst it’s incredibly soft and supple, it’s never given me any sense that it is weaker for it. The same softness is also found in the Hawkesmill Borough strap, and despite the relative thinness of the lower parts of the strap (designed I assume to fit through the small strap lugs found on most DSLRs), it gives no sense whatsoever that it’s not fully capable of taking good care of the precious camera hung from it.

That being said, it did come with a warning note about not using it if it has any visible damage – but I suppose that’s lowest common denominator advice, rather than a warning about the strength of the leather itself – “Don’t hang your camera off a broken strap” is probably sensible advice given any material

Outside of the lovely material it’s made of, this strap comes with two standout features. The first is that it’s very adjustable, and the second is the very large shoulder part of the strap.

Adjustability

The method by which the Hawkesmill Borough attaches to the camera is via two small buckles. You simply undo the buckle, loop it through the strap lug and buckle it to a length/height that’s comfortable for the camera you are using.

The nature of the buckle is such that this makes for a very strong connection to the camera, but thanks to the fact that there are buckles on both sides, both for attaching the camera to the strap and additionally for attaching the lower part of the strap to the upper part, there is a significant degree of adjustablilty built in to this design. According to the specifications on the website its adjustable from 90-130cm.

With the upper part of the strap having wider spaced holes than the lower part, it’s extent of adjustments is even quite precise – which would be nice if you’re particularly fussy about the height you hang you camera around your neck.

The only shortcoming, if I am to be particularly picky, is that if you hang the camera high on the lower buckles, the leather flaps about a bit.

 

This isn’t really an issue, I just found it a little less pleasing aesthetically. The solution I found was to hang camera low on a lower buckle hole, the attach the adjustable part of the strap to the neck strap with a higher buckle hole. This still results in a flappy bit of leather, but the direction it hangs feels neater and looks nicer I think. Your millage may vary, I guess.

A big neck strap

The first thing that struck me about my other Horween strap is just how comfortable it is. That strap is quite thin compared to this one which has a 4cm neck strap. I actually can’t begin to tell you how comfortable this strap is. That soft leather very thick neck band makes for such a comfy experience you’re almost able to forget the camera is there altogether. The only issue with it being that with such a large band of leather, the grip to your clothes is very strong. Depending on circumstances this can both be an advantage and a disadvantage – but the latter is outweighed be the comfort factor.

Skip to the end

The short version of all this is that the Hawkesmill Borough a very nice strap! It’s not cheap – in fact looking in my camera cabinet this morning I was struck by how many of my compact film cameras I’ve bought for less money than one of these straps. But then, looking at it attached to my Leica M3, all of a sudden it felt like it made a bit more sense. I guess everyone’s idea of the value of quality varies, but if you don’t mind spending the cash to get something of a very high quality, the Hawkesmill Borough makes a very well made, very comfortable choice!

Get yours here

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Terry B
    September 23, 2017 at 10:54 am

    I like the implementation and the wide neck pad, which should be very comfortable, but I feel they have missed a trick with the adjustable strap, and my issue with it you’ve alluded to in your comments: it is far too long so for those who keep their cameras on a short leash up on their chest, it creates a venerable spaghetti of leather dangling around the camera lugs and which can interfere with handling. Perhaps MKl.II version could have short straps attached to the neck pad with buckles on both ends and buyers can specify the length of strap they want? These straps only need to have buckles to allow attaching to the camera lugs. I’m sure this would provide a bespoke strap which would be better than the present “one size fits all”. This would also mean the model could be instantly converted to different lengths without the hassle of flapping leather.

    These straps are not cheap and being hand made I doubt it would impact on their manufacture.

  • Reply
    jeremy north
    September 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    While I can understand why you like the quality of the leather, this strap looks overpriced and very poorly designed and made. It seems that they’ve used rivets rather than stitching which is the cheapest and least stylish way of manufacture. The use of four buckles is horrible. What a mess. It would have been slightly better had they made the wider part of the strap connect to the thin ones by the buckle but that would have taken more thought and skill which, patently, they don’t have.
    I hope that when people realise the emperor is naked, they won’t ask Hawkesmill to rivet some cloth together!

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