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Thread: Backpacking - tents, bags, and 4x5's.

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    25

    Backpacking - tents, bags, and 4x5's.

    Going on a few overnight trips this summer and I'm trying to sort out how to hold all my stuff.

    Normally on day hikes I'll pack my Canon backpack, hang some water bottles and anything else that doesn't fit inside off the straps, and carry my sticks.

    Knowing I wanted to upgrade, my first assumption was to get the largest Lowepro bag I could find, that being the ProTrekker 600, weighing in at 8.4 lbs. I tried one on, and it's got all the correct adjustments a rucksack would have to make the the weight sit correctly on my hips.

    The problem with the ProTrekker is that I'd probably have to strap my sleeping back to the outside of the pack, which is an annoying situation waiting to happen.

    After reading more reviews, it seems to make more sense to get a traditional rucksack and put my gear inside it. I saw tons of great remarks about the system from http://www.photobackpacker.com/ , but looking at the packs I still don't see anywhere to stash a sleeping bag and tent.

    Then there's a few bags on the market like the Clik Elite, which seems to have some extra space for clothes and the like, but that important bottom zipper where your bag goes is replaced with a spot for camera gear. Again, this bag weighs in a big high at 7+ lbs.

    My idea now is to get a large traditional rucksack, and pick up a light, clothy backpack (think Domke ish.), and just store my gear inside one bag, inside the larger bag.

    A gear list, to give you guys an idea:

    Chamonix 4x5, 150 & 90 lenses, 12-14 holders, film, spot meter, changing tent, and all those other accessories and goodies.

    Any insight or advice is appreciated, thanks in advance

    -Omar

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California - Silicon Valley
    Posts
    106

    Re: Backpacking - tents, bags, and 4x5's.

    I carry my photo gear in a day pack that is strapped to the outside of my backpacking pack. The advantages are that I have a good small backpack for day hikes from a base camp and if I want to hike up or down somewhere off trail for a photo opp. during the day I can drop the heavy backpack and just take my photo gear in the day pack. It also helps to have a non-photographer friend/family member on the trip who doesn't mind carrying more then their share of the backpacking equipment.

    my backpack is a Gregory Palisade 80
    and the photo day pack is a Osprey Talon 22
    the photo day pack holds similar gear as you listed except I have 4 lens and only 4 holders.

  3. #3
    Lachlan 717
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    2,278

    Re: Backpacking - tents, bags, and 4x5's.

    First, I'd suggest cutting down on the number of holders you're planning on, given you mention a changing tent.

    I'd then be looking at a large bum/fanny pack and a regular backpack. Backpack for camping gear and additional camera accessories, bum/fannypack for the actual camera, lenses and film.

    Camping gear on the back, camera on the front.
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  4. #4
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SF Bay area, CA
    Posts
    10,544

    Re: Backpacking - tents, bags, and 4x5's.

    As far as I'm concerned - and I've been backpacking with large format for three decades - the only way to go is with a true external frame pack. Kelty still makes them, though the older vintage ones made in the US are of far better quality, and at
    times turn up on Fleabay. Forget dedicated camera packs - they've got a lot of
    unnecessary weight from dividers,foam, etc., which can easily be substituted with
    bubble pkg or just jackets. I've carried up to 100lb loads in ext frame packs. Try that
    with an internal frame unit and you'll be miserable.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    473

    Re: Backpacking - tents, bags, and 4x5's.

    Most of LF photography is done on backpacking trips. I pack my camera gear in an unpadded day pack that goes inside my main backpack. I'm currently using a Mountain Hardwear Scrambler Pack for the camera. It easily holds a Gnass Gear three lens case, Shen Hao PTB wrapped in a Blackjacket focusing cloth, Readyload holder, film packets, light meter, and all those little necessities. Prior to purchasing the Scrambler, I used an REI Flash 18 Pack for the same purpose. I found that pack just a little bit too small. My long term plan is to acquire a custom insert from Photobackpacker to fit the Scrambler day pack.

    One more tip: get a shoulder strap for your tripod. When you're hiking around with just the camera equipment looking for photos it's nice to have both hands free.
    Never is always wrong; always is never right.

    www.LostManPhoto.com
    www.MarkStahlkePhotography.com

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Seattle area, WA
    Posts
    860

    Re: Backpacking - tents, bags, and 4x5's.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    As far as I'm concerned - and I've been backpacking with large format for three decades - the only way to go is with a true external frame pack. Kelty still makes them, though the older vintage ones made in the US are of far better quality, and at
    times turn up on Fleabay. Forget dedicated camera packs - they've got a lot of
    unnecessary weight from dividers,foam, etc., which can easily be substituted with
    bubble pkg or just jackets. I've carried up to 100lb loads in ext frame packs. Try that
    with an internal frame unit and you'll be miserable.
    Then try to cross a tricky stream with an external frame pack loaded to 100lbs. Internal frame packs do have a lot of advantages in terms of balance...

  7. #7
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SF Bay area, CA
    Posts
    10,544

    Re: Backpacking - tents, bags, and 4x5's.

    I've not only crossed innumerable tricky streams, but have done many class 3 climbing
    routes with a heavy external frame pack and a Sinar inside. A short section of haul rope helps, of course. The teardrop shape of an internal frame pack does have better
    balance on rough terrain with a lower center of gravity, but is a lot less ergonomic in
    terms of handling a heavy load, and a lot more difficult to pack with bulky gear. Ext
    frames are also a lot better ventilated against the back, and not as hot. Nowadays I
    rarely carry the Sinar, but do routinely carry an 8x10 folder with a heavy Ries tripod.
    Can't imagine doing that comfortably with an internal frame system. To each his own,
    but the real reason internal frame packs are dominant nowadays is simply that they're
    a lot cheaper to make, and especially to outsource.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    907

    Re: Backpacking - tents, bags, and 4x5's.

    I'm another advocate of the two pack system. For overnight trips I carry my photo gear in a compartmentalized fashion; rather than using a bulky LowePro-like pack, all of my photo gear is in individual cases - my camera is in a light custom-fitted case, my lenses are in Gnass cases, my film and holder are in an accessory pouch, etc. All of these items are then carried inside of a light, non-bulky pack with enough room left over for a jacket, water and a snack.

    This is where I would begin - choosing a light non-bulky inner pack for your photo gear. Once you have the inner pack you can forge ahead with your outer pack selection in a more directed manner.

    I use a GoLite Jam II as an inner pack but I carry more photo gear. For your amount of photo gear you could easily get away with a smaller GoLite pack as your inner bag. The GoLite ultralite packs carry very well but have minimal bulk to their harnesses - this allows them to slip inside the larger pack without wasting space or energy. (You'll notice that Mark's choice also conforms to this non-bulky harness criterion; thickly padded shoulder straps and waist belts are not necessary if the pack is well designed and sensibly loaded.)

    No matter how much someone insists that their chosen outer pack is the best, it's really a personal choice based on fit that should be your primary guide. (I use an Osprey Argon 110; I'm very happy with it but it might be a bad choice for your morphology.) When shopping for your outer pack look to companies like Gregory, Arcteryx and Osprey. These companies use top-notch materials, they offer a large selection of sizes and styles, and they provide a lifetime guarantee. There are other manufacturers of quality packs but Clik is not one of them.

    I live in Seattle so shopping is easy. Shopping for a system like this online would be a nightmare. Depending on your geographic circumstance, it might be worth taking a road trip.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    near Seattle, WA
    Posts
    754

    Re: Backpacking - tents, bags, and 4x5's.

    Drew, I heartily second the Kelty external frame arrangement. I've made many extended backpacking trips with up to 82 lbs.

    I'm not a Paul Bunyan type; the only time I hauled 100 lbs was 50 yrs ago, totally inexperienced for my first overnight - I put the gear in an Army-Navy surplus pack ($8.50) will all the weight on the shoulders, and broke in new boots as well. I was very young then. I thought I was gonna die.

    I still have a couple of vintage Kelty frames, both have the "roll bar" attachment at the top which is crucial for strapping on gear. I made a lightweight aluminum box for 4x5 gear to hang & strap onto the roll bar, complete with ensolite padding for the folded Sinar Norma/lenses/holders/film/etc, lid secured by bungee cord. Below the pack bag was the strapped-on sleeping bag, and the strapped-on tripod was placed cross-wise on top of the sleeping bag. The whole setup was a very balanced load with all photo gear easily accessible after propping up the pack (with the adze of my ice axe hooked behind the uppermost crossbar of the frame). ALWAYS had an ice axe for stream crossings, self arrest on steep snowy slopes, etc. It happens!! Side pockets and large "topo pocket" on the outside of the pack bag held water bottle/snacks. Between me and my buddy, similarly loaded, we were able to reach each other's water bottle/snacks/topo without having to drop our packs, then move on.

    Whew! This was kinda long ... maybe some reminiscing?

  10. #10
    tgtaylor's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    3,798

    Re: Backpacking - tents, bags, and 4x5's.

    I used a Gregory Reality and Gregory Shasta for years. The former has a center pocket allowing access to the middle of the pack. A Toyo 45CF wrapped in a Domke wrap (which also serves as a focusing cloth) will fit in that pocket along with one or two lens and a Pentax Digital Spotmeter. Focusing loupe, cable release cleaning kit, a couple of filters and holders I pack in the backpack's hood and film holders in F64 or Calumet film holder cases are attached to the outside of the pack.

    Inside the pack the sleeping bag goes first and the bear can sits upright on the SB and is lodged such that it is parallel with my spine with extra clothes. Stove, etc on top that.

    The tent, air mattress with ground cover/rain poncho wrapped around it, and tripod are attached to the sides of the pack using the compression straps to secure. Fuel bottle is attached where the ice axe would go - I feel uncomfortable with it inside the pack. I carry one or two Nagalene water bottles in insulated cases which attach anywhere on the pack and keep the water cold throughout the day. Once at a base camp, the empty pack can be used as a daypack.

    The Reality is rated as a "weekend" pack but I have used it for week long trips carrying loads beyond that which it is rated for the past 15 years now with just the sternum strap needing to be replaced. Although I have used it as recently as last month, I really need to replace it. The Shasta is a larger pack designed to long trips with heavy loads. It lacks the center pocket and access of the Reality so the camera lens and spotmeter goes inside on the very top.

    I've also backpacked with a Pentax 67II camera and 2 or 3 lens and filters in a Domke bag placed either inside at the very top or strapped down on top of the hood.

    Needless to say, the less weight on your back the better you feel. If you will be traveling with an excess of 50 or 55 lbs on your back, consider renting a mule.

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