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Thread: Daypack/Messenger Bag compliant with carry-on restrictions?

  1. #1

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    Daypack/Messenger Bag compliant with carry-on restrictions?

    In the next couple of days, I intend to purchase a daypack or messenger bag for a 4x5 camera that meets airline carry-on restrictions (length plus width plus height of the bag cannot exceed 45 inches/114 cm).

    The pack or bag must be suffiiciently large to hold an Arca-Swiss 4x5 with one attached lensboard and 12 inch rail, one box of sheet film, a loupe, a darkcloth, a Nikon N/F80 with a 35mm lens, a small can of compressed air, a Lenspen and a couple of filters. It would be helpful, but not critical, if there was sufficient room for an additional lensboard/lens and Nikkor 24 and 85mm lenses.

    I want to be able to comfortably carry this equipment in urban and rural areas. Carrying time will not be more than eight hours, with lots of opportunities for rest periods. I want a pack or bag that will not expose the equipment to being banged around, while also being as light as possible. It would be nice to have a pack to which I can attach my tripod (a Gitzo carbon fiber 1325), but it may be just as easy to carry it by hand.

    Today, I looked at an Osprey Eclipse backpack (which apparently could carry the tripod) and one of the larger Crumpler messenger bags. Tomorrow, I'm going to have a look at the Lightware backpack and some Lowepro packs. I suspect that the Lightware pack may exceed airline restrictions, and from what I have seen of Lowepro packs, they tend to be heavy and, perhaps, overkill for what I need.

    I'd appreciate suggestions/comments from anyone who is usiing a bag in a similar way that also meets carry-on restrictions. Thanks.

  2. #2

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    Daypack/Messenger Bag compliant with carry-on restrictions?

    Knew I forgot something. Also, it has to carry a Koday Readyload holder.

  3. #3
    aleatorist David R Munson's Avatar
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    Daypack/Messenger Bag compliant with carry-on restrictions?

    If you're really interested in using a messenger bag, I'd take a look at those offered by Timbuk2 and Chrome. The Chrome bags are probably about the most well-constructed messenger bags around, though whether or not they're suited to carrying a 4x5 I couldn't really say.

  4. #4
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    Daypack/Messenger Bag compliant with carry-on restrictions?

    I use the LowePro Pro Trekker AW (earlier than current version) that holds an A-S 4x5 'Field' model (6x9 front std), 3 lenses with boards, BTZS focussing cloth, 50cm bellows, 25cm rail extension, polaroid holer, readyload holder, big center filter, pouch with several gel filters, rubber-band filter holder, compendium, and other misc cleaning thngs. It works as carry on, but is not all that comfortable if I carry it for more than a couple of hours at a stretch. Its main problem is its over-stuffed/overly-stiff waist belt--it sticks out annoyingly if you don't have the belt buckled. It is well padded inside, though, and has stood up to a fair amount of my abuse. Fully loaded mine weighs in at about 25 lbs.

    It works as carry-on (I think it's the biggest LowePro bag that does) and fits in the overheads on a plane with a bit of shoving. You have to remove the tripod carrier thing, though--not a huge deal since I don't normally use it.

    If you want a really comfortable pack, then you'll likely have to retrofit a reglar backpack. I liked the Granite Gear Nimbus Access pack better than others I've seen. In past threads, others have recommended one of the Gregory front loading bags (Forrester?), which is likely to be the most readily available. The problem is that you have to add your own padding and sew it into the bag somehow.

    I hear the F64 backpacks are good, too, but couldn't find a local dealer to test them.

    Whatever you get comfort is dramatically increased if you pack the camera higher in the pack so the pack is better ballanced. It took me longer than it should have to figure that one out, since it's an old backpacking rule of thumb.

    I have a couple of photos of my Lowe Pro backpack loaded here.

    Look here on Tuan's backpack page, too.

  5. #5

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    Daypack/Messenger Bag compliant with carry-on restrictions?

    Nothing beats trying various bags out for yourself, but packing a AS into a messenger bag seems to be a less than ideal way to protect the camera, unless you disassemble it. At the very least, I would invest in a ground glass protector.

    I would aim to be conservative on the airline carry on limits, as they will only get smaller in the future. Personally, when I used a professional monorail I invested in a huge, over secure Tenba case that could be safely checked. It was better than trying to cram the essentials into a carry on, and compromising on gear/safety/convenience. A thin carry-on can subject your gear to damage, as inconsiderant fellow passengers will still cram their bags on top of yours. Another consideration is making your bag easy to search - if you have to pack it "just so" to make everything fit, you'll have a real hassle at security. And it is really nice to have room for a toothbrush and a book in your carry-on!

    Now I use a folding Linhof Tech, which isn't as versatile as an AS monorail but far more convenient to travel with - I use a conventional Domke camera bag most of the time (F4AF) and can carry 40 Readyloads, several lenses, spot meter, gadgets, a 35mm or digital, etc.

    As for the tripod, I've had to check mine (a smaller #3 Gitzo) so I got a lightweight Tenba Tripack and put a couple of lenswraps over the AS ball head.

    All the security and carry-on restrictions have really crimped professional travel - I haven't been doing it very much lately but I really wonder how I'd manage if I had to check a $50K+ Hasselblad/digital system, much less try to carry it onboard?

  6. #6

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    Daypack/Messenger Bag compliant with carry-on restrictions?

    David,

    Unfortunately, Timbuk2 and Chrome are not available in retail stores in NY, which is where I am at the moment and where I plan to buy the pack or bag.

    Tom,

    I'll have a look at Granite Gear and Nimbus as well as Osprey. Thanks for the link to Tuan's page. There seem to be a lot of people who have reservatiions about the performance of dedicated photo backpacks AS backpacks, and the extensive interior padding seems to add an awful lot of weight. I've pretty much discounted them as options.

    Frank,

    The larger Crumpler bags are pretty well padded, but you're right that I'd have to take the standards off the rail. I want ONE pack or bag in which I can both transport the camera by plane and carry it in the field. This rules out a hard case. Re tripods, I've had no trouble carrying a carbon fiber one onto domestic and international flights. That said, my checked bag is a Da Kine, a popular bag with snowboarders that has more than enough room for a tripod as well as clothes.

  7. #7

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    Daypack/Messenger Bag compliant with carry-on restrictions?

    I actually spent a few minutes yesterday looking at what is allowed on. They mentioned that a camera doesn't count towards the limit on number of items. Now I think they mean a camera around your neck and not a camera bag but if you're short of space or over weight then see if you can get away with wearing the 35mm camera.

    On the can of compressed air. Isn't that a big no no?

  8. #8

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    Daypack/Messenger Bag compliant with carry-on restrictions?

    Nick,

    Yes, I can carry the 35mm on my neck, and I do put compressed air in checked baggage, but I want to be able to carry both in the pack on land.

    I've had very good experience with security people in the US, Canada and various European countries. I've had no problem carrying a tripod onto planes. Until recently, I carried compressed air on-board. A few months ago, at Roissey in Paris, the security agent commented on it, very politely, suggesting that I check it in future. I now do that.

    Mostly, the only question I get, presumably because I'm carrying a tripod and they see the 4x5 on the x-ray machine, is whether I'm a professional photographer. I tell them that I'm just an overly enthusiastic amateur.

    I've also found the security people very good about Readyload sheet film. Mostly, I just let them x-ray it, and I've had no problems with fogging. However, a few days ago, on a flight to NY, I asked them to inspect it by hand because some of the film in the box had been through passenger x-ray a couple of times and I was worried about the cumulative effect. I told them that it was fine to open the box and fine to open the silver metallic envelope to examine the film sheets themselves. They were very co-operative.

  9. #9

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    Daypack/Messenger Bag compliant with carry-on restrictions?

    In case others are looking for an airline complaint pack, I thought I'd post a note about what I decided to buy and why.

    Today, I tried out LowePro, Gregory and Osprey backpacks and a Crumpler messenger bag with the camera equipment referred to in my original post.

    I concluded that the LowePro backpacks are ridiculously heavy. The larger Crumpler messenger bags don't really have enough volume for the amount of gear I want to carry. In any event, I don't think that I'd want to walk with one for any significant distance, and the larger Crumplers proved to be just as expensive as a good backpack.

    Between Gregory and Osprey, I decided on an Osprey Eclipse 42. This pack JUST fits airline carry-on restrictions. It has padded sides. The walls of the pack can be compressed around the contents, reducing the size of the pack and eliminating internal movement of gear. The pack comes in three sizes, depending on body size. I purchased a large, which weighs 4 lbs 13 ozs/2.18 kg and has a capacity of 2800 cu. in./45 L. I was able to pack my gear with a good deal of room to spare. I can compress the pack to fit around the gear, or add additional gear, food, etc. There is a deep vertical pocket at the centre of the back that is intended for a snow shovel. My Gitzo tripod fits into this pocket nicely. On each side of the pack, there is a strap at the top and a pocket at the bottom that is intended to hold a ski. One of these pockets could be used to hold a tripod, although it might be necessary to balance the weight of the tripod by weighting the internal contents slightly to the other side of the pack.

    The Eclipse comes in two other models, the 36 and the 32. I discounted the 36 because it is top loading, whereas the 32 and the 42 are front loading. I was able to pack the gear in the 32, but the fit was very tight. I preferred the larger volume of the 42.

  10. #10

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    Daypack/Messenger Bag compliant with carry-on restrictions?

    I should add that I was impressed with Paragon Sports in New York where I bought the pack. I was served by a young buy who not only knew a lot about backpacks but who has also, as it turned out, worked as an assistant to a large format photographer. I'd never heard of Osprey backpacks, but he suggested one the moment I explained what I wanted a pack for. I think that he got it right.

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