View Full Version : Thinking of a Photobackpacker pack...looking for advice

Kimberly Anderson
8-Mar-2011, 07:04
Hi gang,

So I have been assembling a new camera system over the past few months and need something to carry it around in. Here's what I've got.

Canham 8x10
5-6 lenses

I am looking at the Photobackpacker system and it comes highly recommended by at least one friend of mine.

For those of you who are using this system, what do you recommend? I am looking at the basic pack, some of those cool multi-lens cases, the backerboard and pretty much think that it's pretty much done at this point. I am not getting the one with the extrnal pockets b/c I am having WAVE products here in SLC, Utah make me some custom film holder cases. I plan on carrying them on the outside of the pack in the way that the RPS system has their cases.

They are also making me a divided pouch so that I can carry my 5x7 and 4x10 backs safely as well. I would not plan on carrying all 3 backs into the field, rather the divided pouch is just for storage and transport.

If anyone has some things that they would suggest or things to avoid, I'm all ears.

I am used to Lowe packs, and have been generally happy with them, but this is a system that I do plan to backpack with quite a bit. These come so highly recommended that I am considering it strongly. Price-wise they look to be about the same.

I have considered baby strollers, but my current case for all this gear is a Pelican, and I think that is a bit heavy, even for a stroller.

Joseph Dickerson
8-Mar-2011, 09:22
The person to talk to is Bruce himself. He can help you get just what you need, and all his stuff is well designed and well made.

One big advantage is that Lowe Pro (and other) "camera packs" tend to be a lot heavier empty than the Kelty Redwing. Many have also stated on previous threads that the frame/harness system is much more comfortable as well. Even after the pack has the requisite and pouches and cases it'll still weigh about half of the Lowe Pro bag.

Make sure you get a pack that fits you properly. Bruce has easy to follow instructions on choosing the correct size on his web site. Needles to say, I love mine.


Drew Bedo
8-Mar-2011, 09:36
I have used a LowePro Super Trekker AW with a LF system much like you describe . . .however, it was a 4x5 system. I have transported my 8x10 camera ( a 2-D) in that same back pack, but it FILLS the whole space with little room for anything but one lens, meter, loup, dark cloth and two holders. A very limited kuit.

Drew Wiley
8-Mar-2011, 11:44
I believe in old-fashioned external frame backpacks for this kind of gear, not "camera"
packs" or internal frame packs, unless you like a lot of lumps on youself and either dings on the camera or a lot of unnecessary estra padding and wt. I'd be hiiting up Fleabay for a big old vintage (US made) Kelty frame pack or some similar option (non-import). New Kelty packs are trash by comparison.

Drew Wiley
8-Mar-2011, 12:32
Should have added a few things more positive. There are some older threads on this
subject where folks have mentioned US pack mfgs for big game hunters and para-military usage, which can customize packs and look serious. Forget REI and those kinds of weekend hiker places (all bait-and-switch made in China stuff). The way you're thinking you'll end up with a hundred pound load - and those cheapified import packs will have their straps breaking at half that load - not a safe scenario. You can get the weight down by thinking bubble pkg, graphite tripod, and a polycarbonate or similar gg protector. Filmholders strapped to the outside is just looking for trouble:
bad for overheating, bumping into things. I carry an 8x10 over all kinds of terrain,
but even on a casual walk I'd want something substantial. The old "peanut cart" or
stroller concept might be OK if you're always on a paved surface, but I'd personally
find it awful limiting.

chris kleihege
8-Mar-2011, 13:07
Hi Michael,

I bought the Photobackpacker/Red Wing last month and just returned from Peru. I greatly prefer the Photobackpacker to my old Lowepro (backpack with wheels) whatever it was. The new pack itself fits properly with rather minimum adjustment which leads to a much happier photographer by the end of the day. The gear seems well protected. I bought the exterior pockets but have not used them. The back itself held a 4x5 Walker Titan, 4 lenses, a bunch of filmholders, and everything else that crossed my mind. Until someone fits a back with a helium insert for lift, I suspect this is the route to go.



www.caralinperu.com and www.ckphoto.org

8-Mar-2011, 13:53
I use the large (P1?) Photobackpacker bag for a Wehman 8x10, 4-5 lenses, and misc. I don't use one of his camera cases - I put the darkcloth in first and make a next for the camera out of that. However, my groundglass has good protection. With the Canham you probably need one of the camera cases.

I have several Photobackpacker lens cases, but most of the time I use a Cabela's flyfishing reel case which costs about $30 and hold all my lenses and has room to spare for the meter, etc.

I love the pack and I have not found anything better for carrying gear. The problem though is film carriers. 8x10 carriers are just so bulky that you can't carry many. You could fit 2 in the outer compartment, and probably 2 inside the bag for a max of 4 carriers. You could lash a film holder bag to the exterior also. I wonder how others carry a maximum number of 8x10 holders?

I can't wait for his new film holder bags to become available this spring. I have seen a prototype and it is excellent.

10-Mar-2011, 00:01
The "Gold Samples" (the final samples upon which I will issue a production order) were to have left China today. I hope to have them by early next week. I will be ordering 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 with some components that will allow me to custom make some off-size cases for the roads-less-traveled. :)

15-Mar-2011, 00:23
One thing that's nice about a Lowepro is that padding can be very nice to have in certain urban situations where your gear needs protection. I use the Computrekker since it's a pretty small bag, big enough for my Ebony 4x5, 2 lenses(all I got) and a bunch of holders, spotmeter, various accessories. I put the darkcloth in the laptop slot. It's definitely slightly heavy but if I have to lay stuff on top of it, or it gets thrown around my gear's secure. A friend of mine has some new system perhaps Redwing or Kelty and his gear tumbles around in there but he drives everywhere he goes or he packs the thing with a ton of clothes for flying. It's much bigger than my pack but very lightweight. But my pack can take a punch or three (don't ask...in abandoned building) and nothing gets hurt.

Noah B
16-Mar-2011, 08:42
I'm also in the same boat in regards to the backpack. I currently have an older lowepro photo trekker and it holds my wista 8x10, one lens, darkcloth, lightmeter and a up to 3 film holders but it sure is a tight fit. Something roomier would be great, I've looked at the super trekker but seems too expensive just for a pack. What kind of kelty packs are good?

Tim Povlick
16-Mar-2011, 20:18
Hi Michael,

I have two of the photobacker's, one for 4x5 and other for 8x10. I use a Canham 8x10 traditional field camera and Bruce has an off the shelf camera case that fits it like a glove. The camera is well protected and all the gear has been never had any damage. The 4x5 pack I converted to take a MF camera on travels to China / Tibet and in spite of rough handling everything was safe. I was really impressed with how nicely the 4x5 system handled the MF camera gear. The pack is so comfortable while standing in line at the LA airport for 30 minutes I kept the backpack so as not to put it on the dirty floor.

Good protection, stuff is organized and comfortable in use.

Best Regards,


Dan Henderson
17-Mar-2011, 05:09
Other than the fact that Bruce's system uses a technical backpack as its basis that allows a lot of weight to be carried more comfortably, I think the biggest advantage is its versatility. I bought the pack and cases for my Hasselblad camera and lenses. When I began shooting 4x5 I bought some new cases for the camera and lenses, with the idea that I could switch back and forth between formats easily. The only problem with my idea is that I have not looked back to MF after getting hooked on big negatives, but the option is there whenever I want to use it.

I realize there is a lot of size difference between 4x5 and 8x10 gear, but my Tech III, 3 lenses, meter, hood/filter holders, filters, and 8 film holders fit snugly and safely inside the main compartment of the pack.

Diane Maher
17-Mar-2011, 09:53
I also have one of the Photobackpacker packs. I use it for my Canham 8x10 mainly. I have also used it for my whole plate cameras. I got the external pockets for 35 mm lenses which I used during a workshop last year. I have one of the multi-lens cases and two of the individual lens cases. It worked great for me.