12 June 2013

Review: LegCoat, LegWrap, Memory Wallet & Battery Pouch

One of the first photo accessories I ever bought, was a set of LegCoat covers for my Gitzo tripod. Each cover consists of two parts - a soft closed cell foam padding that wraps around each leg and sticks to the leg with the help of a strip of double-sided adhesive tape. The second part is a piece of stretchy neoprene that wraps around the padding and it closes with a strip of velcro. It's easy to put it on and it will last a really long time. Most people think that the main reason for using these covers is to protect the tripod. While it does indeed do a very good job at that (I always travel with a semi hard duffel bag that I check in at the airport, and my tripod is the only photo gear that goes inside that bag), it wasn't why I bought them in the first place.

LegCoat covers on a Gitzo tripod

When shooting in the field with my 200-400 or my 600 on a tripod, I often like to carry the whole setup over my shoulder - the camera with the lens attached is on the tripod and the tripod legs are resting on my shoulder. You can read a lot of horror stories on the internet about this being dangerous because your camera and lens may fall off, but if you use a good ballhead and a good tripod and you're not slamming it against a tree or a rock, it's actually very low risk. However, I quickly realized that it's not very comfortable to walk around with the weight of a pro sized DSLR and a 600mm on your shoulder, primarily because the tripod legs are relatively thin and quite hard. The LegCoat covers increase the surface area greatly, so the weight is distributed more evenly and the soft padding makes it feel so much better on your shoulders. 

Another advantage of the LegCoat covers you will appreciate when you're shooting in cold weather. Your tripod, just like most of the rest of your camera gear, will get very cold very quickly. When carrying your tripod in the cold, your fingers (without a doubt the most vulnerable body part of any photographer shooting in cold conditions) will be freezing in no time. The neoprene covers don't get that cold and your fingers will love you for it.

I've been an enthusiastic user of the LegCoat covers for many years, but I do also have a few minor issues with them. The padding is quite thick, which is what makes it so nice when carrying over your shoulder. But it also makes the tripod a fair bit bulkier in your check in bag. A pro sized carbon fiber Gitzo is not exactly small, so it eats away a lot of valuable space. Another issue is that when I'm shooting with my tripod in the lowest position - all three legs spread out - part of the tripod is basically resting on the thick padding, which means that there is always a little bit of potential movement. And my last critique is that the velcro part of the LegCoat does tend to creep up or down over time, depending on how you hold the legs when you're carrying your tripod.

The new LegWrap covers, neoprene and velcro

The LegCoat covers are made by LensCoat, and they recently introduced an alternative tripod leg cover, the LegWrap. The LegWrap is a one piece solution. The inside of each wrap is made of some non slip material that keeps the cover in place without the need for adhesive tape - nice, and even easier and faster to put on as the LegCoat covers. The other advantage is that they are less bulky, while still offering good protection and comfort for over the shoulder carrying. I got mine a few weeks ago and I'm very pleased with them. My tripod now takes up less space in my bag, the wraps don't seem to slide at all, and my setup is more stable in the lowest position. And when I'm photographing while standing in the water, I can simply take them off to prevent them from getting soaking wet. Highly recommended.

Putting the LegWrap covers on your tripod takes just a few seconds

LensCoat also recently introduced the Memory Wallet to help you protect and organize your memory cards. My Nikon D4, D3s and D800 use three different cards: CF cards, SD cards and XQD cards. The Memory Wallets come in various sizes for all types of cards, and I got myself the CF10 which holds up to 10 Compact Flash / XQD cards, and 10 SD cards. They're made of the same lightweight waterproof material as their famous RainCoat camera covers, and it uses a super quiet elastic enclosure - no velcro or zippers. You basically roll the entire wallet open or close, and the cards are all in clear pockets for easy identification. Nice features are the business card slot on the outside (in case you lose the whole thing) and the lanyard with clip to attach the wallet to your bag (to prevent you from losing it).

The perfect way to organize, carry and protect your memory cards

Another nice accessory is the LensCoat BatteryPouch. It's a really simple little pouch to store your camera batteries or 4 AA batteries. Each set has two compact pouches that snap together to hold up to 8 AA batteries for easy storage and retrieval in your camera bag. The hook and loop closure keeps the batteries secure. I do a lot of night photography and always need plenty of batteries for my headlight, flashlights and timer, and these pouches are really useful. The pouches are made of the same lightweight waterproof material as the Memory Wallet and RainCoat. I currently use two sets - one for AA and AAA batteries, and one for two camera batteries. Full batteries I store with their heads up, the empty ones go upside down.

LensCoat currently has a special Father's Day Offer: free shipping (worldwide) on orders $99 or more. A good deal if you ask me.

The BatteryPouch fits AA and AAA batteries


Anonymous said...

Do you use LensCoats covers for your lenses as well? And if so, do you recommend doing so to other photographers?

Squiver | Marsel van Oosten and Daniëlla Sibbing said...

Yes, I use LensCoat covers for my long lenses as well. I've got them on my 70-200, 200-400 and 600.

I use them for a couple of reasons: they're good protection against bumps and scratches, so if I ever want to sell them again, I get a better price. I've bumped my 70-200 (without cover) once against a table, not even that hard, but the entire focusing ring had to be replaced. So you're also protecting the inside of the lens from getting damaged.

The LensCoat covers also help to prevent your lens from overheating when you're shooting in the blazing sun, and more importantly, they prevent your lens from getting cold to the touch. I photograph in cold conditions quite often, and touching or holding your camera gear for a prolonged time in freezing temperatures can seriously hurt your fingers.

Anonymous said...

Okay thank you, then that's something I will need to be investing in as well. I see you use Gitzo tripods too, and I have been trying to figure out what kind of Gitzo tripod to get myself. Do you use a series 5 or 4 or 3 or?

Even the series 1 seems able to handle quite a big load with a maximum of 8kg, but I have been considering a series 3 because it offers more room for growth in that department (it supports up to 18kg). Any tips you might have when selecting a model and series though?

Squiver | Marsel van Oosten and Daniëlla Sibbing said...

I use series 3 Gitzo tripods. The tripods with three leg sections are much more stable than those with four leg sections, or five. Obviously, the fewer leg sections, the less compact the tripod, but that's just the way it is. My tripod fully collapsed fits perfectly in my check in bag.

The thing to look for in a good tripod is that, with the ballhead and camera attached, your eye piece is at eye level. That means that you can always fully extend all the legs, knowing that it will be the perfect height. A tripod that is too tall is annoying because you can never fully extend the legs, and a tripod that is too short will give you neck and back problems.

Another thing I can recommend is to choose a tripod without a center column. The center column construction will make any tripod less stable, and if you actually use the center column it will be even worse. Also, without a center column you will be able to get your tripod flat on the ground with the legs spread out. If you have a center column, you can never get to ground level.

Hope that helps.


Anonymous said...

Thank you this is absolutely helpful! Have my eyes on the Gitzo GT3542XLS (6X Carbon Serie 3) now, because I am quite long myself (1,96m).

I am glad you mentioned the center column, because a little while ago I was looking for a model that had one. The size of three leg sections is an issue though, because I'm afraid I don't have that much travel space most of the time.

Thanks again and am looking forward to your future works :).

Kind regards,


PS I am Dutch myself, but it seemed more appropriate to write in English, so other people from around the world can actually understand this too. Very helpful stuff this :).

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