When it comes to riding bikes and bringing stuff along for the ride, it’s kinda my jam. I typically use both baskets and bags to bring stuff along for the ride. But sometimes, I need a strap instead of a bag to say, pick up or deliver a box to the post office that is too big for my assortment of bags. So, when I was asked to review the Austere Manufacturing Cam Straps, it seemed like a no-brainer. An olive-colored strap choice, with beautifully constructed CNC machined cam buckles that come in a plethora of color combinations… duh, send them over!
Austere Manufacturing is a small Pacific Northwest company that was founded by Uriel Eisen in 2020 with the only purpose being to produce high-performance buckles. A bag and backpack maker for years, Uriel was tired of bad plastic hardware that always either performed poorly or just didn’t last long.
While designing spacesuits for NASA (yeah, you read that right) Uriel said he noticed the large number of buckles that are needed in space exploration. This inspired him to go back to his old design sketches for the many years of softgoods design and get to work.
They launched with their CNC’d aluminum cam buckles for assorted straps. The aluminum cam buckles are CNC machined from solid billet aluminum. Their construction is simple, utilitarian, lightweight, and elegant. On top of being aesthetically pleasing, they are strong and work flawlessly.
A few months ago, when Uriel first reached out to me via my Instagram account to see if I was interested in finding out how good his straps were. I was a little hesitant, I mean sure, they looked amazing, but how do you review a strap and buckle? But my interest was piqued, so I agreed to give them a review.
As a side note: Cory also planned to give a few a test, for some more mountain bike-focused use cases over in Europe, as well! Read on for his thoughts & impressions, too.
The straps themselves come in 1″ and 3/4″ widths that are made of nylon webbing. The nylon webbing offers great abrasion resistance and strength. You can get the straps in 18″, 36″, and 48″ lengths. The colors available for the straps are Black, Coyote, and Ranger Green.
Sure, the cam buckles are really nice looking. But, underneath the good looks are real specs that not only show excellent attention to detail but that quality materials and real thought were put into their construction.
The pin that the stainless steel spring wraps around is actually titanium, for the ultimate in lightweight, strength, and corrosion resistance. This makes the weight of the cam buckle only 8.2 grams. Lightweight and strong, the cam buckle itself measures out at .98″ wide x 1.14″ long (24.9mmx29mm). Using aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium means that, unlike plastic, these buckles won’t slip, break or get brittle in the cold.
How Did They Perform?
My family is down to one car, so I take my bicycle to most places around town. Sometimes I need to pick up or send a parcel to the post office and oftentimes the boxes are too big for my bag. In the past, I would just use the basket (Wald 137) with a few bungee cords to get by.
But often, the box(s) won’t fit in either the bag or basket and bungees aren’t stable in these instances. The Cam Straps were more than sufficient and worked perfectly in these cases.
My wife and I go camping and work remotely in our Outback quite often. I use a small propane tank for all of my propane needs out on the trail and camping, but we also use it for the day trips to work remotely because we bring the stove to have a hot lunch right out of the back of our Subbie. It’s a nice kit.
Anywho, I like to transport the propane tank, for such excursions, up in my storage basket on the roof. I would normally use a solid rubber bungee cord, but it’s not ideal.
I found that using the Cam Straps instead, I could actually adjust how tight I can get it against the side walls of the basket, allowing it to be more stout and secure for transport. I felt better about it, as well.
The actual cams are very easy to use while not feeling cheap. The cam only rocks enough to get the strap through and over the past month has not developed any slop or feelings of it getting loose through continued use.
Insert Cory’s Notes:
For a slightly different perspective, I’ve been using the 3/4″ Austere Cam Straps mostly while moving mountain bikes around. Sure, I’ve also been strapping things down on a townie front rack like Ron, for securing odd packages inside the box of my cargo bike, and occasionally attaching stuff over a bikepacking bag. I even cantilevered a gravel bike off the rear rack of a commuter ebike, and rode it 4 hours on & off-road, with only the Austere straps & a fork mount holding it in place. It wasn’t pretty but it worked.
But my most common use is lashing the family mountain bikes inside of our low-budget Ford Transit adventure van.
A quick loop around a fork leg to the wheel well. Around the back of the seattube down to the floor. The straps are crazy strong & secure, keeping our whole family of mountain bikes from moving around, no matter what gravel or dirt roads we bounce down.
They make loading & unloading easier than ever, which translates to more time out on the trail.
OK, back to Ron now…
Details in Use
The burly teeth offer total engagement when biting down on the nylon strap. No matter how hard I pulled, I just couldn’t get it to slide. The way it is designed is that the more tension on the strap, the tighter the cam grabs the strap.
Just this morning, I had to help my wife take some stuff back to her office. There were 4 of the same-sized boxes that needed to go in the car. Instead of making four separate trips, I grabbed a Cam Strap and cinched them together, and blammo, I only had to make one trip…allowing me to work smarter, not harder.
The Austere Manufacturing Cam Straps are a fantastic, solid, and well-made product. They are super strong without being oversized, over-engineered, or overly complex. It’s a simple design that just works and works very well. The cams themselves are easy to press but feel firm and unyielding, which left me feeling confident in the buckle’s ability to hold strong.
You can tell that a lot of thought and care went into the product throughout the process, from initial design to manufacturing. They are obviously super easy on the eyes, as well.
Although developed specifically for bikepacking, they aren’t just for cycling, these Cam Straps are good for everywhere you would need an adjustable strap with an incredibly strong, and light cam buckle that looks to be made for a lifetime of extreme usage.
Pricing and Options
- 3/4″ Cam Straps: $24.92 ($22.50 for just the buckle)
- 1″ Cam Straps: $25.24 ($22.82 for just the buckle)
They have different Collections of colors for the buckles:
- 3/4″ Everyday Collection comes with black straps only, but the buckle colors are: Black, Slate Blue, Stealth Grey, Deep Blue, Coyote, Ranger Green/Orange, Orange, Sandstone/Robin’s Egg
- 1″ Everyday Collection comes with black straps only, but the buckle colors are: Black, Slate Blue, Stealth Grey, Deep Blue, Coyote
- 3/4″ Tactical Collection comes with Coyote or Ranger Green straps, and the buckle colors are: Ranger Green, Coyote, Stealth Grey, Coyote, Sandstone, Ranger Green/Coyote, Coyote/Ranger Green, and Ranger Green/Orange
- 3/4″ Pastel Color Collection comes with black straps only, and the buckle colors are: Powder blue, Purple, Powder blue/Purple, Powder Blue/Bright Green, Bright Green/Powder Blue, Bright Green/Purple, Purple/Powder Blue, Purple Bright Green,
For more info and to order your own Cam Strap, see the link below.