Steadicam Pilot Vest Strap Modification? at DVinfo.net

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Old August 31st, 2008, 01:52 PM   #1
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Steadicam Pilot Vest Strap Modification?

I've read a few reports detailing real and potential issues with the Steadicam Pilot vest's use of Velcro for the straps (from chafing, to eventual wearing out due to repeated opening and closing of the strap). Has anyone modified their vest, replacing the supplied straps with straps terminating in buckles -- the ABS type commonly used on backpacks? If you're not sharing your Pilot with other people, I think this would make getting in and out of the vest, and adjustment much easier.
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Old August 31st, 2008, 02:45 PM   #2
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Julian:

I have heard of people doing this, it's not too hard I think. I have also heard rumblings that there may be a version of the vest from Tiffen with the integrated buckles, for personal use. As you may have read on my review I'm not a fan at all of the velcro system they are currently using but I do understand that it helps with a "one-size-fits-all" approach for multiple operators.
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Old August 31st, 2008, 04:51 PM   #3
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Hi Charles,

Interesting that there may be a version of the vest with buckles. I just sent off an email to Tiffen to see if there's any way to either replace or upgrade the vest, or to see if they have replacement straps available. I think Velcro would be fine to hold the straps onto the vest, but Velcro wears out so quickly when pulled on an off, as it would be when used to adjust the fit of the vest. We'll see what they say.
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Old September 1st, 2008, 11:36 PM   #4
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I used the buckles with the Flyer vest in the workshop, and I actually prefer the Velcro. Getting in and out is quick, and adjusting the tension on the hips and chest is really fast.

One note: On the Pilot vest, I find it easier to leave the shoulder straps in place and just slide the top of the vest over my head. In other words, I just unhook the 2 middle chest straps and the hip strap. I know this is different than a standard vest where you unhook the 3 left buckles, but it works really well for me. Leaving the shoulder velcro in place allows the vest to align really fast.

However, on a recent shoot the right middle Velcro strap (just under the chest) started coming off the front plastic part of the vest. I fixed it by rotating the strap 180 degrees. In other words, I put the worn out part on the back of the vest and the fresh part facing the front. The left strap did the same thing a month or two ago, and rotating the strap 180 degrees fixed that for the time being.

But it's obvious that taking the middle straps on and off a lot wears out the Velcro straps, so I ordered 2 extra straps as backup. These are Tiffen part # 801-7812, $32 each (22"x2" Velcro straps for middle chest area of Pilot/Merlin vest).

Last edited by Dave Gish; September 2nd, 2008 at 12:20 AM.
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Old September 2nd, 2008, 12:31 AM   #5
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I prefer the buckles. If a buckle set up is made available for the Pilot I'd go for it in a flash. I can see the velcro failing me in the middle of a shot some day.
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Old September 2nd, 2008, 05:49 AM   #6
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that should be easily customisable! I could figure out how the the hip velco straps are supposed to work actually. Sort of put em together in a "as long as they stick it will do" fashion!
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Old September 3rd, 2008, 10:17 PM   #7
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I could figure out how the the hip velco straps are supposed to work actually. Sort of put em together in a "as long as they stick it will do" fashion!
I was actually shown today how to put the back straps together by Michael, at Tiffen (grab your Pilot Quick Start Guide -- Michael is the one modeling the Pilot!). There's one piece of velcro which is soft on one side except for a 5" section which has hooks on it. It has an ABS plastic belt loop on it. Attach that piece to the hip section on the left side of the vest (looking at the vest from the back). Another piece of velcro loops through the belt loop. When you pull the belt behind you, you attach this second piece of velcro to the vest. You can then tighten the wait belt by pulling on one end of that second piece of velcro. Clear as mud, eh?
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Old October 27th, 2008, 09:40 AM   #8
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Just found this thread and in case anyone was interested, I've modified the Pilot's velcro straps to use buckles instead here.
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Old October 27th, 2008, 11:22 PM   #9
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thanx Peter

My Pilots vest velcro straps are as good as gone, I've already used Dave's route and have moved the straps around so that the worn out parts are on the inside but as of this weekend the Velcro straps for my Pilot vest have become useless after a season of shooting.

Hopefully Peter's fix + new straps will keep me from buying a Flyer vest for the time being!
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Old October 28th, 2008, 10:04 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Michael Y Wong View Post
My Pilots vest velcro straps are as good as gone, I've already used Dave's route and have moved the straps around so that the worn out parts are on the inside but as of this weekend the Velcro straps for my Pilot vest have become useless after a season of shooting.

Hopefully Peter's fix + new straps will keep me from buying a Flyer vest for the time being!
Hey Michael, I thought you guys were already using the Flyer...

The buckles will definitely save your velcro straps from wearing out! You can also buy a roll of double sided self-grip velcro to replace your existing straps.
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