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The Apex bag works well with my 400 5.6 and 600 4.0. Haven't seen the need to attach a ball head. It seems to cradle the 600 more securely than my BLUBB. I can stick the lens out the window, drape my arm over it and slowly cruise back country roads without worry. I tried the pipe foam route with the 400 and decided it didn't provide the steadiness for slower shutter speeds because the lens doesn't nestle in. What's nice about the bag is that you can also use it on the roof or hood in place of dragging out a tripod. The Black Lab ate my last down vest so can't say much about that approach.