Cheap Video Stabilizer Load Vest

Guess what came in the mail recently? It's that cheap video stabilizer load vest I posted about a few weeks ago. I've had a bit of time with the gear, and as with any product there's Pros and Cons.

Cheap Stabilizer Vest Cheesycam

The cheap vest is a combination of snap buckles and velcro, while the Steadicam Merlin vest is based on just velcro. Constantly readjusting the velcro on the Steadicam Merlin vest causes the vest to wear out, not to mention it's a bitch for hangnails. I've already had to replace the velcro on my Steadicam Vest, but there is also a 'buckle upgrade kit' (seen here) I will probably do the next time I need repairs. I've been using the Steadicam Vest for a long time, and I find that the Cheap Vest is more comfortable than the Steadicam Merlin vest.

Single Arm Vest

The cheap vest I received came with a few scratches on the paint. Only slight blemishes, and nothing compared to how my Steadicam Vest looks like today. The Steadicam Merlin vest can be dialed down to fly light camera stabilizers. The ISO arm on the cheap vest requires a heavier load than the Steadicam. When flying just my 5D + Glidecam HD4000, the setup was not heavy enough to bounce the arm. I ended up adding some addition weight on the stabilizer setup for the cheap arm to work better.

scratch 1 cheap vestscratch 2 cheap vest

It's no Steadicam Killer, but the Cheap Vest has really good build quality for the price. I find it more comfortable than the Steadicam Vest and it works to carry your Flycam or Glidecam Stabilizers. If you're planning on flying a very light setup, this vest will not operate as smooth as the Steadicam Merlin Vest. The ISO arm of the cheap vest requires a bit more weight to put the proper tension on the spring. Below is a video showing pretty much the exact same vest setup from YouTube member Kirk Saber, along with his example footage from the vest system.

If you look carefully, you can see the bounce in his step due to the spring tension requiring more weight. The Steadicam Merlin Vest is a dual arm setup, while the cheap vest is only a single ISO arm. The Steadicam Merlin vest runs almost $1600 and the Cheap Vest runs for just under $400 dollars. There's a new listing in which they are also offering a Carbon stabilizer as part of a bundled package via eBay (Click Here).

find-price-button Budget Single ISO Arm Camera Stabilizer Load Vest

Steadicam Merlin Vest
find-price-button Steadicam Merlin Vest Arm

40 thoughts on “Cheap Video Stabilizer Load Vest

  1. magetv

    I think the reason for not being able to get the dual arm replacement is because they have different socket block attachments...and the block attachments themselves fit the vests differently so it would take some user modification to get it seated properly...

  2. Jp Garcia

    I'm looking into buying this or the wieldy dual arm vest, was wondering if my 60D with tamron 2.8 and glidecam hd1000 would be too light for the arm.

  3. Scott

    Has anyone had luck sourcing just a replacement DUAL ARM for this vest? I have it with the single-arm, and it requires too much weight to operate smoothly. I was going to sell it locally, but I'd rather just order a new arm for it...

    Emm, if you have contacts overseas that could help me with this, let me know?

  4. i ordered the dual arm and it is very nice...i like the boom range and the independently adjustable arm can even adjust which side the socket block goes on...

  5. Good posts throughout this blog. I am a noob to stedicams and flying a dslr. Based on this site and the good price on

    I may take the plunge and order. How have the results been? How do you mount a monitor and batteries to a rig like this? It does not have a sled like the more expensive models that you attach batteries and monitor to. Any and all feedback and suggestions or links to reviews is greatly appreciated.


  6. imgpro615

    ...i saw the dual arm section version of this same vest and wonder if i could purchase JUST the arm section so i can do like the Glidecam Smooth Shooter X10 upgrade...might have to contact the seller...

  7. Scott

    I've got my vest too, testing with a flycam C5 yields good results (not great, but good). I'm trying to order an arm that has the dual-link spring arm...

    A buddy of mine is machining an adapter piece that allows this vest/single-arm to work with the flycam C5. If anyone is interested, let me know and I can get a price on how much the brass adapter costs.


  8. Great. I.gonna order one of those and will leave a complete feedback in a few weeks because I have a few videos to shoot for my clients. Thanks again for your answers

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @Alpboy - The double arm gives the operator more range in lowering or raising the stabilizer, but it doesn't necessarily make it more stable than a single arm.

  10. @ Emm
    Thanks a lot for your answer. This convince me to order one of those arm and vest. One more last question : is there a big difference between single arm and double arm system?
    I plan to make movie with dslr and wonder if I need a double arm system...
    Thanks again for your answer...great forum

  11. Emm

    Post author

    @Alpboy - You don't need to replace the pin, it will work even though it's a bit smaller. The handle won't shift around.

  12. Hi there,
    Do you know if the pin of the arm can be replace to fit with my glidecam (24 mm) pin?
    That would be just perfect.
    Thanks for your answer

  13. teh

    Kirk Saber is using a Wondlan Leopard System in his Video which is more expensive, but since you linked it here is this ebay vest the same as the wondland leopard?

  14. imgpro615

    @sevi, the cine city makes cool affordable stuff but the shipping is dealbreaker...

    @torq, i like that one...looks like konova arm n vest...might get it after xmas

    @kasper, i use flycam c5 with 550D on gearbox w follow focus...once i modded the receiver post to fit the flycam handle i was SET...

  15. Kasper

    Just received my vest today! 🙂
    So far the quality looks really good, and mine came without the scratches that Emm had on his.

    I'm a big guy: 6'6 and about 297lbs so the vest just barely fits my trimmed body 😛
    Length wise I am able to extend the lower part much further down than what is needed, and the part which goes around the hips just barely closes, but can be fixed by either modding it with some velcro and a sewing machine, or just by going on a damn diet 😉

    I tried mounting my Flycam Nano and a 5D mk. II with the Canon 17-40mm F4 L lens on it, and the arm was perfectly capable of bouncing up and down by itself when moving around, after adjusting the tension knob.
    The same goes for the Canon 60D with a Tokina 11-16mm F2.8
    On both tests the Flycam Nano had 12 weights attached, and a Manfrotto 577 QR adapter and sliding plate was used to mount the cameras to the Flycam Nano.
    I've never used a steadi/glidecam vest before, so of course I can't tell from experience if the tension of the arm is loose enough, but what I can tell is that the tensioned part of the arm goes down to (and slightly under) a horisontal level when the above mentioned setup is mounted on the arm and I am standing still - I don't know if that makes sense? Perhaps Emm or someone who is experienced with these vests can elaborate further on the tension needed for a correct setup?

    Anyways, just thought I'd mention this if there are other readers on this blog who, like me, were wondering if the vest would fit them and if it could handle their equipment and what the build quality was like.
    Now it's time to try this bad boy out! 🙂

  16. imgpro615

    i figured out a mod for it to 8better receive the handles of glidecams and flycams...

    used gaffer tape and put single layer around handle stud
    then used a short piece of 1/2" diametre pvc pipe over the arm's handle stud
    used gaffer tape on the pvc pipe too [VERY snug fit]

    ...and it all fits the handle of the flycam/glidecam

    I hope this helps anyone having the same issue I did...

  17. Emm

    Post author

    @GaryC - The Merlin handle has a small diameter opening and needs to be slightly angled. You would have to modify the vest with such an adapter.

  18. Emm

    Post author

    @impoze - The dual arm has more range both up and down, but I feel doesn't have any advantage over making the footage less bouncy. It's all in the spring tension.

  19. rabby

    Will wait till Emm has a full detail review of this. I have never used one but I have been thinking about it.

  20. impoze

    looks cool,

    can you explain the difference between a single and dual arm vest?

    can a single arm go up & down as well? or only a dual arm?

    also, have you been able to mod your vest for the skyler yet?


  21. Emm

    Post author

    @Matthew - When I get back from traveling, I will try to adjust the vest and see how smooth I can get it.

  22. Emm,

    With the extra weight of the FS100 setup should I be worried about the bounce in the demonstration video? It's pretty severe in his example and would cause me to refrain from investing.

    Thanks for your time and the good work, keep it up!

  23. Emm

    Post author

    @Matthew - The only thing about this vest is spring tension. Everything else is comfortable. I don't know of another vest of this quality in this price range. The steadicam vest works great, but is several times more expensive.

  24. Emm,

    Can you recommend it for a weighty FS100 setup (Average, not DSLR weight obviously so it might help the issues?)? Will this fit the bill and be enough or should I wait and grab a better setup for my Glidecam HD4000?

  25. Andrew

    Hey Emm, I just watched the tutorial on Youtube on how to use this vest and it seems that if you turn the knob on the arm counterclockwise it decreases the strength of the spring, this is for lighter cameras and keep the arm horizontal. Will this decrease the bounce you were talking about in the post?

    Video-Near 5:50


  26. Emm

    Post author

    @Jack - If I have to be steady for more than 3 minutes straight I will always use my Vest. I think everyone should have access to a vest, but some places won't rent it.

  27. imgpro615

    ...i ordered mine and received it FAR in advance of the estimated delivery date so i am ecstatic over that...
    compared to my flycam knock off of the varizoom DV sportster, this is a wonderful step up for me...
    with my moderately kitted C5, it works pretty well

    the only problem i am having is the mounting post is much smaller diametre than my flycam C5 handle...
    any advice on how i can remedy that issue?

  28. Hi Emm,

    Quick question, for whom would you recommend pick one of these up. How much use do you get out of your vest, and is it something that for this price you think is a "must" have piece of equipment. I have a flycam nano, but have not gotten any use out of it, because when I load it up, it ends up too heavy and my arm gets tired right away...

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

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