Another week, and another VRCover Quest 2 accessory, this time a replacement for the soft stock head strap that Oculus bundled with both the 64GB and 256GB versions by default.
I’ve spent some time with it, and fiddly assembly aside it’s a definite winner for those who prefer a soft canvas strap to a rigid plastic body like the elite strap. We’ll take a good look at it together in a moment, but first, a brief update from my previous article, as my foam pad for the Elite head strap has now arrived and I’ve had a week to test it out.
VRCover Elite Headstrap Foam Pad $19
This is a simple foam pad that fits over the rigid plastic cup at the base of the elite head strap. VRCover claims it improves both comfort and ergonomics, and a few days with the product confirms that this is indeed the case. Having a bit of extra cushion at the back means the head strap fits more snugly at the base of my head and reduces the feeling that I had previously where the rigid plastic cup was digging in slightly. It also makes the head strap feel a lot more snug, and less prone to movement, stabilizing the headset’s display and reducing the need for me to tighten the ratchet at the back as much.
Were I just using my Quest 2 for workouts I’d probably not notice the difference, but with the continuous improvements to Oculus Link and PCVR connectivity, the Quest 2 has now replaced my Rift S as my PCVR headset of choice. Consequently, I’ve been using my Quest 2 for long hours of continuous flying sessions in Microsoft Flight Simulator and the foam pad really makes those flights a lot more tolerable. I find myself needing to adjust the headset a lot less, and I no longer feel the head strap cup at the base digging into me as much.
The elite strap foam pad is available from VRCover for $19
Verdict – Recommended, especially if you enjoy longer play sessions.
Headstrap Replacement for Quest 2 $24
Is a soft canvas strap the right choice for you?
I’ll be honest, when I received this product, I wasn’t exactly excited to review it. The canvas strap that Oculus shipped with the Quest 2 is cheap, uncomfortable, difficult to adjust, and grime attracting. It was a no-brainer to throw it in a drawer and upgrade to their rigid plastic-bodied, elite head strap, which undeniably gives the Quest 2 a more premium look, is easier to wipe down, and crucially, was more comfortable.
On the surface going back to a canvas strap seems like a downgrade, like trading in genuine leather sneakers for a cheap pair of polyurethanes. But the Quest’s elite strap does have its share of problems, and depending on your needs and preferences, a soft canvas strap might actually be more practical for you.
If you’ve just bought a Quest 2 and haven’t yet upgraded from the stock strap, and are considering your options, here are a few pros and cons of both types, and why VRCover’s strap might be a better buy for you than upgrading to the elite strap.
Official Elite Strap Pros and Cons
- Looks considerably nicer than a canvas strap, and feels more premium
- Very easy to wipe clean after use
- Much easier to adjust, especially useful if more than one person is using the headset
- At $49 it’s fairly expensive
- Suspect durability, with so many reports of cracked and snapped head strap arms that Oculus had to do a product recall.
- Cannot fit easily into a travel case
- Uncomfortable to use lying down or reclining in a chair, which could be a factor if you plan to watch movies, Netflix, etc.
- The rigid arms make it hard to adjust for a decent fit if it doesn’t already fit your head shape.
For these reasons above, I no longer feel it’s as simple as declaring the canvas strap a budget option whilst the elite strap is for those who want a more premium experience. If you’re someone who travels and you take your headset with you, a soft strap is much more convenient to pack into a carry case for transport, and if you like to watch media in bed, it’s an order of magnitude more comfortable, without that rigid plastic head cup pressing into you. Finally, whilst canvas looks ugly (in my opinion at least) it’s far more adjustable than having rigid plastic arms and enables you to tilt the headset to better find the display’s sweet spot, and more importantly to hold it in place.
With these points in mind, let’s take a deeper look at VRCover’s head strap replacement.
As you can see from the above picture, VRCover’s canvas strap requires some initial work to put together. I hate any form of DIY and this did not look at all appealing, but thankfully Sebastian Ang, from popular VR Youtube channel MRTV put together an excellent video review, which encouraged me to give this a try. His video review is very well done and instructional so I’ve included it below and I highly recommend checking it out for a better idea of the product. Note that he also playtests with The Thrill of the Fight, one of the most active games that you can play, and the head strap held securely in place, a very good sign!
Following Sebastian’s instruction (VRCover also has an excellent video demonstrating on their website) assembly took me around fifteen minutes, as I initially threaded the main T-strap upside down and had to redo it. But if I was to make it again now I could easily do it in around five minutes so it’s not too difficult. A word of caution, go easy when threading the T-strap through the strap bar clip on the headset, as the cover is quite thick at the front and I really had to push forcefully. I think it would be fairly easy to actually snap the bar if you don’t take care, so be mindful of this part.
Comfortable, Adjustable, Stable
Once assembled the head strap fits very snugly onto your head. It’s easily adjustable via the velcro strap at the back and sides, and if you want you can separate the rear straps so that one goes over the lower base of your head, whilst the other rests above your ears.
I found it took me a little fiddling to get it how I wanted it, but once it was configured for my head size and shape, the fit was both comfortable and secure. When combined with VRCovers facial interface replacement I found the FOV was noticeably larger than when using the stock Oculus strap and foam interface, it a substantial FOV boost over any other Oculus headset I’ve used. This is because the strap really pulls the headset close to your face, and thanks to the lack of plastic, rigid arms, you can position it so that it fits exactly right for you.
Overall, this replacement head strap replacement really ticks all the boxes for comfort, adjustability, and stability in use.
Will VRCover’s own foam pad work with the replacement strap?
In my previous article, I reviewed VRCover’s foam pad cushion that wraps around the rear of the stock Oculus strap. I was curious to know if it would work with VRCover’s own strap so I experimented to find out. It took a little jerry-rigging to get it on, but yes, provided you’re happy to have one of the rear straps hang down over the base of your head, then it fits on pretty well. This is how I am using it currently, and it feels very comfortable and snug in use indeed. I’m not sure if the foam pad actually improves the comfort with VRCover’s own head strap replacement, however. As it better distributes the headset weight you don’t really need the foam pad anyway, so I’ll say if you have one already, yes it works with VRCover’s own, but if you don’t, you certainly won’t need it as the head strap replacement is already comfortable without it.
Final Verdict – A significant improvement on the stock Oculus strap
Prior to trying this, I was skeptical of a replacement canvas strap having any real value. I didn’t like the Oculus stock soft strap at all and considered a third-party canvas strap to be a downgrade from using the official Oculus Elite head strap.
Having spent some time with this head strap however it is definitely worthy of consideration. At $24 it’s half the price of the elite strap, and for me at least, actually more comfortable in use. It makes your Quest much easier to fit into a travel case, and you can comfortably lie down in bed and watch Netflix or any other video content, no judging.
There are some negatives. Canvas straps are harder to keep clean, and I’m sure this might look pretty dirty over time, especially if you don’t look after it. It also takes more time to adjust so if you’re swapping your headset amongst other people that could become a pain. My main objection to using canvas straps however is that they look cheap, but that’s a subjective opinion, and it’s not relevant to the functionality of the product.
Overall, if a soft canvas strap suits your usage requirements then this is a substantial upgrade in terms of comfort and adjustability over the awful stock strap that Oculus ships with the Quest.
Very comfortable and secure once correctly fitted.
Easily adjustable thanks to the velcro straps
Brings the headset extremely close to your eyeballs for a nice little FOV boost (if used in conjunction with VRCovers thin replacement foam and interface)
Half the price of the Oculus Elite Strap
Great for use in bed and easy to fit into a travel case.
It will easily attract dirt and grime
Looks cheap compared to a plastic head strap
Takes time to adjust for a personal fit, a pain if you’re sharing the headset