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Thread: Large format carrying stroller

  1. #1
    Jean-Louis Llech
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Beauvais - Picardie - France

    Large format carrying stroller

    Here is an answer I posted a few months ago on the LF Forum. As carrying LF gear is a recurrent question, I thought it would be interesting to share my experience with the LF community.

    My gear :

    A Linhof Master Technika 4x5", with 6 lenses, (58 to 400 mm, some are large XL lenses) Quickload or Fidelity holders, 20 sheet films, 2 6x9 roll-film holders, 545 and 550 polaroid backs with films, right angle reflex attachement, and accessories (L508 spotmeter, inclinometer, darkcloth...).
    Tripod : a Gitzo G1329 Carbon-fiber, with a G1570 low profile head.

    Analysis of the problem

    <ol><li>A standard backpack like my Lowepro Super-Trekker gives the best storage capacity but carrying it on the back presents some dangers and drawbacks.
    <li>The backpack itself is heavy, and when it is full, it is very very heavy (more than 25 Kg).
    <li>I'm 55 years old and with 2 prostheses of hip, carrying the Super-Trekker on my back is very painful after a few hours.
    <li>The side torsion movement when unloading the backpack is very dangerous for the spinal column.
    <li>You must leave the bag on the ground. I like to go in forests, and, if the ground is wet, the bag must be isolated from mud or water...
    <li>All photo backpacks with very small wheels are maybe very convenient in railroad stations or airports, but, downtown, with the pavements and the inequalities of the ground, it is a true pain. In countryside or forests, it is completely impossible.</ol>

    First trials :

    Following advices of other large format photographers, I tried first to use luggage caddies or golf carriers :

    When using such a carrier, drawbacks are obvious :
    <ul><li>Because of the backpack's weight and the reduced spacing between the very small wheels, I found it was very difficult to pull the caddy behind me without seeing it frequently rocking. Quite impossible in cross-country.
    <li>Moreover, the two-wheeled caddy (even the two-wheeled Sherpa cart) can't be left without holding it when I stop walking.</ul>

    The solution :

    I bought a used 3-wheeled baby-stroller, "Everest" model by french manufacturer "Bébé Comfort" (you can see it on their website in english :
    The same kind of stroller can be bought everywhere, new or used.
    I attached the Super Trekker backpack on it, by means of velcro straps fixed in the side passers. (As far as I know, Lowepro bags are the only backpacks with these side passers)

    <ul><li>The wheels are very large and are equipped with inflatable tires mounted on shock absorbers. Therefore carrying the backpack is very comfortable and vibrations are completely reduced. (Lenses, shutters and other precision equipments are protected).
    <li>I can use it downtown or in countryside, forests, on quite all ways (of course no hill-climbing...) but with no efforts !
    <li>The tripod and head are securely attached on the side of the backpack.
    <li>On three wheels, the whole carriage is very stable, without swings, and it holds upright by itself when I stop walking.
    <li>The stroller can be pushed or pulled, and it is very easy to drive it and to raise it for crossing pavements and small obstacles.
    <li>I can stop immediately without holding the carriage, or laying the bag on the ground, and the bag never falls.
    <li>The stroller has a speed reducer on the front wheel (priceless in the slopes) and brakes on both aft wheels.
    <li>When stopping, the bag is never in contact with the ground (water, mud or moisture) and, once opened, it presents all its contents like on an oblique cradle. This allows a complete and easy access to the camera and all accessories.
    <li>The stroller is collapsible, and all three wheels can be dismounted for stocking it in a car.</ul>
    <ul><li>The price (about $200 used in mint condition), but I consider that my health, and the cost of photographic equipment have much more value !
    <li>The stroller's weight, added to the bag's one.
    <li> It is sometimes difficult to carry the stroller and the bag up- and downstairs, but not impossible.</ul>


    When using the stroller and the bag on it, I am much less tired when I find something worth to be photographied.
    When I carried all the gear on my back, I was often exhausted, and sometimes completely disgusted. "A 35 mm camera was so light and less cumbersome...Why the hell did I bought this d.. camera !"
    Since I use this system, as I am much less tired to carry the backpack, I found again a real pleasure to use the LF camera.
    Moreover, I recovered my concentration to appreciate the beauty of landscapes and all what I see.
    I also avoided making multiple mistakes, as I often did when I was too tired.

    I hope this will help many people carrying their LF gear. I will try to send some photos as soon as I'll have made them.

    I intend to improve my "LF-Stroller" system, and I would like to know if someone has tested a similar carrying tool, and to share our experiments.
    Best regards.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    Large format carrying stroller

    I am 70 years old with four herniated disks and spinal stenosis. I have a Toho FC-45X, which is about as light as you can find, but as I add lenses and other equipment, I find the weight adding up. I have a very light backpack---even lighter than the LowePro, a lunch bag to carry up to eight film holders, a 6 lb tripod and other odds and ends of equipment, some of which won't fit in the backpack. Like you, I have trouble bending over.

    My solution was a Baby Jogger with 20 inch wheels. I put the backpack, tripod, and film holders in the seat, and other accessories in a plastic bag in a pouch hanging on the back of the jogger. In addition, I got myself a small folding camp stool, which also fits in the seat. It helps if I need a low vantage point since bending over or crouching would be a problem. I can use the jogger in anything but the roughest terrain. The 20 inch wheels are a big help. When taking pictures, I open the canopy and use it as a platform to hold the backpack as I open it to get at the equipment. If necessary I can put the backpack on my back and carry the tripod with a strap. The lunchbag hangs from my belt and other needed accessories go in pockets. I rarely have to do that, but I haven't yet ventured into hilly terrain in the wild.

    The Baby Jogger was expensive---even on sale---but I would be very constrained without it.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Large format carrying stroller

    This gives new meaning to "babying" your camera!

    Seems like a bicycle type stroller would work well too. We just got a bicycle trailer for our (human) baby - it looks like it would work well for camera gear when she eventually outgrows it (and I'll be 50 years old by then...OMG, never wrote that before.)

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    Large format carrying stroller


    I also used my Baby Jogger for my granddaughter, who is now 3 1/2. She will still fit in it, but she has pretty much outgrown such things otherwise. There is no reason you can't use it both for your daughter and for your cameras.

    I also considered getting a bicycle trailer, but I thought it would be awkward to use without a bicycle. The jogging strollers can be pushed and have brakes. Also they are very easy to navigate around obstacles.

  5. #5
    tim atherton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1998

    Large format carrying stroller

    our baby jogging stroller (on baby #2 now so I have had to give it back...) also converts to a bike trailer - very handy

    can't remember the website, but it's Chariot strollers of Calgary - yes, they are jogging strollers, but they a really designed for getting over snow covered sidewalks in a Canuck winter...! (actually, you can also put skis on it).
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn blog

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Large format carrying stroller

    We got a realatively inexpensive ($200 compared to $350 plus versions) steel frame Avenier (not an "A" class brand in the bike world) that converts to a hand stroller quite easily. In fact, it is our "jogging stroller"- and may end up becoming a ULF camera cart in its next life...

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Large format carrying stroller

    I seriously considered many options like these myself and here is a device made specifically for "back packers" and sports enthusiasts that fits the bill perfectly. They have a couple of models. One is designed for rough terrain. I never did buy one, but was very tempted and still am...

  8. #8
    Jean-Louis Llech
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
    Beauvais - Picardie - France

    Large format carrying stroller

    I already quoted the two-wheeled Sherpa cart in my first post, and I agree that it's probably the best two-wheeled cart.

    But, when I considered buying one, I noticed that the width spacing of wheels seemed very narrow, even if this spacing could be adjusted from narrow to wide.
    On its "narrow trail" configuration, the wheel stance width is 9 in. (23 cm), and on the "wide trail" one, the width is only 17 in. (43 cm).
    I think that with a heavy load on it, the cart may rock and fall, like all other two-wheeled bags I tested.

    On the stroller I use, the wheel stance width is nearly 23 in. (58 cm).
    That is the main reason why I preferred a three-wheeled cart : on the stroller, the three wheels constitute a 23 in. by 25.5 in. triangle (58cm x 65cm).
    Like a photo tripod, it has a great stability, improved by the weight of the heavy-loaded Lowepro Super-Trekker backpack, and its center of gravity is lower than the Sherpa's.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2010

    Re: Large format carrying stroller

    InStep double baby jogger. Plastic bottom, double wide, 100 pound capacity. After 2000 plus miles, still going strong.
    You can get them used for around $25 - $50

    (From book cover here)

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2005

    Re: Large format carrying stroller

    I have tried both - so a couple of quick observations:

    A jogging stroller will have a higher center of gravity when loaded than a bike trailer -

    Most bike trailers will have a larger load space -

    I found taking a tripod along with a jogging stroller to be a problem, it fits nicer into a bike trailer -

    Bike trailers do not have hand brakes, and some don't have a parking brake -

    The handle bar set up on some bike trailers is too close to the body leaving little room for your feet when pushing it -

    Bike trailers are wider, can make moving it through gates or doorways difficult -

    A pivoting front wheel can a useful when using either in tight quarters -

    Most jogging strollers fold quickly - most bike trailers need additional time and steps -

    Both need a fairly large trunk space, so you need a car/van that they will fit into - especially if you want to keep the wheels on to save set up time -

    Both will need some reinforcement or change of the load floor to carry equipment -

    I sold the jogging stroller and now use a bike trailer -

    I got one with a pivoting front wheel option and a non pivoting bike wheel. I can now carry twice the load and with the lower center of gravity I don't worry about tipping. If I had an unlimited budget I would get a Chariot - instead I got a Croozer which weighs more, has a few less features, but costs about half.

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