I’ve wanted a Porcelain Rocket Mini Slinger for a while. A nice, simple, accessible way to carry a bigger camera around on a bike without putting it in a backpack, or in a framebag. But they’ve been out of production for a while and it was looking like that while was going to be a very long while. For years I’ve just dumped a DSLR in the front pouch on my roll bag and got with it. Usually when treating the camera like a tool for magazine work.
It’s worked fine in Cuba, Scotland, Wales and other tours – but it wasn’t ideal. I’d always be fiddling, trying to get the camera out when something interesting happened, rather than just grabbing it and taking the photo my brain sees enfolding ahead of me.I carried my RX100 in a feed pouch on my bars for the Tour Divide – along with almonds. It’s still fine. While I probably wouldn’t do this with a more expensive camera, it made me realise that the best place for a camera is right by my hands, up front, easy to grab when I want it. Faff = less chance that I’ll bother to dig in a bag and get my camera out. That is what the Mini Slinger does, places a camera where you are most likely to use it more often. By your hands. Worst of all, when I started giving a crap about my camera gear I realised I should probably take care of them more. Last month I spotted that Lucas of Bunyan Velo had 10 coming to him, branded to the name of that wonderful publication. Email sent, postage agreed, order sent. Done, waiting commenced hoping I don’t get too screwed by customs charges from the US.
Construction is solid as I’d expect from Scott and co. at PR, a tough Cordura outer padded on the inside with a soft faced fabric should be kind to the paint and screen on my cameras. A small internal pocket can take extra batteries, SD cards, or kittens depending on the size of the camera you put in. An offset strap on the lower pulls the lower knee facing side of the bag away so it doesn’t clip my knee while I’m riding along out of the saddle. Its easy to open with a pull this to open, pull that to close system that makes sense when you get it in your hands. Two straps attach it to the bars and one to the stem, they should adjust to pretty much any bar/ stem combo and can be set up righty or lefty.
The Mini Slinger is cut for mirrorless cameras – my Sony a7 with kit lens fits facing lens down, my Leica Q sits side in with room to spare, and similar for my M6 and AEP. Bigger cameras, or a longer than 135 lens may be an issue, but at that point the weight is going to effect steering so you’d probably want it on your back anyway. I’ve not yet tried to fit a divider inside but I have suspicion that the inner material is going to play well with traditional Velcro ended camera bag dividers – which will be nice for slipping in some other bits to use up the dead space. I’m mainly thinking film rolls for when I’m travelling with the M6.
Since I’ve had it I’ve been riding with this on my cross/gravel/buzzword bike for the past few weeks around my local area exploring some new to me gravel trails and farm lanes. It’s been nice to ride with a decent camera for those days when carrying a smaller sensor won’t quite let me get the image I want. I don’t see this replacing a bag for me when I’m out mountain biking on harder trails where I want the security of having the camera in a bag. I’m not 100% certain that I want a camera on the front of any bike with a suspension fork really as I tend to ride with less attention – read more crash prone – when I assume my suspension will make up for my brain. I’m going to give it a shot this weekend on the bouncy bike to see how it works out. However, for general touring, even up to something like the Tour Divide, I really see the Mini Slinger coming into it’s own.
I’m going to keep plugging away with this on a variety of bikes over the rest of the summer and take it out on some longer rides now that I’m back in bike mode. My only worry is what happens if it really dumps it down with rain? I need to figure out some sort of waterproof cover for the top like some of the Ortlieb touring bags have. Project for me I think. Otherwise, it’ll have an Exped UL drybag crammed in the base for now for when it rains.