A question for the backpackers amoungst us. Before you flame me and tell me to use the search feature, as I know this has been discussed many, MANY times already, I did and did not find precisely what I was after. So, please bear with me and share if you have useful commentary.
After a recent significant geographical change, I am finding that the field kit I spent several years building and tweaking until it was perfect for me is anything but in my current environs. I’m finding that nearly everything, from film choice, to focal length preference, to even how I carry my gear, just doesn’t work as well for me since moving. I’m slowly rebuilding my kit and am presently considering backpacks. As a hiker, I’m fairly picky about how my packs fit and how they carry loads. That said, I have never found any photography backpacks to be acceptable. I much prefer the fit and comfort of my Dana and Osprey backpacks, however, I finding the wet and soggy conditions of the pacific northwest do not lend themselves to top-loading bags, as I have to find or create dry patches onto which I can unload the contents of my pack to get to things on the bottom. I cut the rain cover off my lowepro supertrekker aw and carry that to use as a small mat when I set my gear down, which works allright, but I’d still rather use a panel loader and only expose the necessary equipment. As such, I am looking for a panel-loader with sufficient capacity/dimensions to make it good for a modest 4x5 field kit consisting of a Tech, six lenses, ~8 holders and the rest of necessary bits.
I went to a few local outfitters with my gear, but could not find anything that really worked well. Do you guys have any suggestions? What panel-loaders are you using that you’re pleased with?