View Full Version : Backpack recommendation
I have a small backpack for my dSLR but with the recent purchase of a Tachihara I'm going to need another one.
Besides the camera, I'm going to need room for the usuals but not particularly large. It would not be for long, multi-day hikes either. Something comfortable.
I live in a small town with no real photography stores so I'm going to have to travel elsewhere to try them on. But for now I'd appreciate some recommendations at least narrowing down the kinds that I should look for.
I hope you've tried "backpack" using the Forum's search engine, because there have been many threads on the subject. Rather than specific recommendations, let me give some general decisions you will have to make. First, some of us simply place our cameras and lenses (usually in wraps or some form of protection) inside unstructured backpacks. That's one approach. Others of us prefer a backpack with compartments or some other structure to give each item a specific place. In this category you have a bunch of photography-specific backpacks (Tenba, Tamrac, Lowepro, etc.). A different approach to a structured pack is the photobackpacker system, which provides a "structure" you place inside a regular backpacking pack. I've used all three approaches, and each has some advantages and disadvantage. Let's simply say that I've ended up with the photobackpacker system, but if you look at the threads on this subject, there are advocates for each approach.
What carries well for one person may not work for you.
I recommend giving some consideration to the "camera pack" versus "backpacking pack" dichotomy - finding yourself on the other side of this decision will make your search more efficient. Each approach has distinct advantages. Most of the camera packs are panel loaders - with one zip you have access to everything. The LowePro-like bags provide customizable compartmentalization and carry reasonably well. They protect your gear well and most have a centrally-located tripod caddy system. These packs are heavier and do not carry as well as well-fitted backpacking packs from companies such as Osprey, Dana/Marmot, Arcteryx and Gregory. But once again: the pack that a forum member has found to work well may not fit your frame.
It's unfortunate that you don't live closer to a good gear shop.
For further help see this thread:
You'll also find other useful threads on the forum by using the search function.
Once you narrow down your choice you may want to consider ordering two or three packs at a time from an online retailer, and try them out at home. Do you have a friend who is knowledgeable in pack fitting?
I am using two packs.
For light trips, a Lowepro Mini Trekker fits my camera, a couple lenses, and my meter. A second small bag holds a few holders.
Then for bigger, longer trips, i have a Lowepro Photo Trekker II. A much bigger bag that carried all the gear.
Both have built in rain covers which is great.
I use similar setups. It's a continual evolution, so my Pro Trekker AW II is for sale. Used just once.
Jeffrey, pm sent
Jeffrey, pm sent
The bag that Jeffery is selling is a first rate bag and very well built. It'll offer your gear a LOT of protection.
the best system I have found to date is the Photobackpacker. You can customize the fit of the pack to your torso and then customize the interior with whatever gear you are carrying. Unlike the one size fits all camera backpacks the photobackpacker lets you pick a backpack that is designed for your specific torso. It makes a great deal of difference when you are hiking all day. Check it out for yourself at photobackpacker.com. Bruce has done an excellent job of designing a system that is infinitely variable for each individual.
Another option is to Find a good comfortable backpack and customize it yourself.
I have been consistently underwhelmed by purpose-built photo backpacks. While they are good at protection, they seen to miss the ergonomics of carrying something on your back completely. My 25-yr old Lowe Alpine (not to mention any of my modern Osprey or Black Diamond packs) carries much better than anything from Lowepro or Tenba. As several people on this furum have done, I use a divider insert from a Pelican hard case to fit my gear, and then place that in one of my Ospreys.
I must admit I haven't seen the Photobackpacker in person; being built on a Kelty pack it might be a good option.
The like Lowepro Vertex 200. It has a slot for a laptop that I use for other things when I don't need to carry a laptop. Very handy and a well-made backpack.
I have many back injuries (broken vertebrae that was removed, two cracked vertebbrae, 2 damaged discs) so my findings might be useful. I tried out 'normal' backpacks (although I didn't get to see any posh technical ones) and the lowepro range. I finally bought a Lowepro Pro II which works a treat for me as I can wear it with the belt cinched such that ALL of the weight is on my waist and apart from the odd bruise if I have a seam under the belt, I can walk 5-8 miles with this setup (about 35lbs of gear)
Here's another vote for the Kelty Redwing. I recently had Bruce at Photobackpacker.com modify my Redwing with a water-resistant zipper that enlarges the opening of the main compartment, offering full access to the bottom 5 or 6 inches of the bag. I use a set of Pelican 1500 series padded dividers to organize the gear inside. There's enough room left over inside for film holders, readyloads and holder, polaroid 545 and T55 film, plus water, a jacket, and other trail accoutriments.
This one looks interesting:
(look at photos 4, 5, 6)
Have Dan McHale make one for you.
I always said the McHale packs are nice but too expensive. That sale price, however, is very tempting . . .
I know a fellow Jack Brauer who recently bought a McHale and really likes it. He had written about it on the packs maiden trip here. http://www.widerange.org/gallery.php?gallery=needles
I wrote about my deuter daypack in the "show us your bag thread". My wife got me a Gregory Palisade for Christmas and I have an old mountainsmith expedition sized backpack for when you want to carry the kitchen sink AND the fridge. I haven't carried the Palisade yet. I'll probably use it in January. But I've carried as much as 77 pounds or camping and climbing gear in that old mountainsmith and been as comfortable as you can expect to be under that load.
Here's another vote for the McHale packs... I have one of his demos right now (it's rather convenient that his shop is a 15-minute drive from my new home :)), and I've carried around 50 pounds with it on a couple of hikes and snowshoe trips. Yes, they're expensive... but they're also nigh indestructible, and carry weight remarkably well.
Also, you can get the Photobackpacker compartments customized to fit into one if you get one and measure it :)
Some of the metal parts on the Tachihara can be a little delicate, particularly where the support arms taper to a thin spring and attach to the wood. So whichever bag you choose protect these areas. As others have noted, the weight of the bag should rest on your hips, if you have a long body, as I do, you may have to buy a backpack like the Kelty. Big camera bags are nice for protection of the equipment but they are expensive and heavy.
I am very new to the world of large format and am also wrestling with carrying my gear. The information provided is just great, but I have an arca swiss discovery camera that does not collapse at all compared to all the field cameras shown. If I persist with the camera it seems I will have to disassemble the standards from the rail, but that would seem to be time consuming and eventually may wear the fine engineering prematurely.I also live in Honolulu and there are no outlets that carry any photo backpacks or any backpacks at all. I would greatly appreciate any suggestions.
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