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Thread: Light weight 4X5 gear backpack recommendations

  1. #1
    Randy's Avatar
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    Light weight 4X5 gear backpack recommendations

    Due to fairly persistent lower back pains I recently purchased an Intrepid MKIV 4X5 for the weight. I would like to get a backpack for:
    Camera
    1-2 lenses
    5 film holders
    Meter
    Dark-cloth
    ...and the few little things:
    Filters
    Cable release
    notebook
    small tape measure

    I have a Lowe-pro Photo Trekker Classic that my 5X7 is in, but that backpack seems heavy by it's self. I suppose I could empty it out and try the 4X5 gear in it.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/52893762/bigger4b.jpg

  2. #2
    Small town, South Carolina, US
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    Re: Light weight 4X5 gear backpack recommendations

    I would try to get as much weight off your back and onto your hips. That would require your outfit to be split up.

  3. #3
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Light weight 4X5 gear backpack recommendations

    I bought a Tenba Axis a few months ago and couldn't be happier. It's simple, very well-designed and can be carried all day.
    There are three sizes. I bought the largest, a 32L, because I'm hauling an 8x10 around.
    The 32L carries the 8x10 camera, three lenses, accessories and 2-4 film holders.
    One of the smaller Axis bags should be great for you.

  4. #4
    David Schaller
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    Re: Light weight 4X5 gear backpack recommendations

    Having had lower back surgery, I still recommend a well-fitting pack more than simply a light weight one. Durability also matters to me more than just lightness. So I am a fan of Mystery Ranch packs. The Y zip is very nice. Look at the Scree model. It's sometimes on sale at one of the online retailers.

  5. #5

    Re: Light weight 4X5 gear backpack recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by David Schaller View Post
    Having had lower back surgery, I still recommend a well-fitting pack more than simply a light weight one.
    +1 on this. You might flip the problem on its head and instead of looking at "packs," instead look for the hipbelt/suspension that's most comfortable to you. I'll second David's approbation regarding MR; I'm also a big fan of Hill People Gear (to the point of retrofitting all my other packs with their "Prairie Belt.")

  6. #6

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    Re: Light weight 4X5 gear backpack recommendations

    I grew up backpacking with my dad in the Bighorn and Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, he with his forest green Kelty, me with some cheap REI external frame backpack. After heading off to college, I thought I was really cool when I bought a big internal frame pack. Used it for years, but about 10 years ago I ended up with dad's Kelty, and was astounded at how light it is. I'm beginning to think the whole internal frame pack thing is a big boondoggle on the backpacking public. Sure, I use an internal frame pack for backcountry skiing, where I really want the pack to move with me but, if I were to go backpacking again (I won't), I'd go back to an external frame pack.

    So I use dad's Kelty as my camera pack for my 4x5, and love it. As I said, it is very light. Second, I can usually find a rock or tree to lean it against, so I don't have to put the side that goes against my back on the ground. There is an aluminum bar that holds the top rigidly open so I can poke around for gear. Maybe best of all, his particular model has three compartments in the top section of the pack, which you can see in the third photo below. I put my camera and a couple lenses in the middle compartment, film holders in one side compartment, compendium shade and a lens in the other. One of the lower external side pouches takes the feet of my tripod, as shown in the second photo. I keep a telephoto and some emergency TP in the lower section of the pack, but it would work well for some clothing too. A water bottle fits nicely in an upper side pouch, which keeps it away from my camera gear.

    I did have to lower the bag on the frame - the pack was too top heavy when the bag was high on the frame (the arrangement for strapping a sleeping bag on below the bag).

    I see these things still kicking around on Craigslist and such.

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  7. #7
    Randy's Avatar
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    Re: Light weight 4X5 gear backpack recommendations

    Just to add a tad more info - I don't really go on super long excursions. This backpack would just be for day outings, where I might want to carry the 4X5 for a couple miles at most. I don't really go on outings where I will be hiking for more than 3-4 miles round trip in a day - pretty much, drive to a wooded location, do a slow hike on an established trail, stopping along the way to take some pictures, and in a few hours be on the way back to the car. And what ever I get is what I am going to store the camera and gear in all the time.

    Thanks for the suggestions so far, I am looking stuff up now.
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/52893762/bigger4b.jpg

  8. #8

    Re: Light weight 4X5 gear backpack recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by h2oman View Post
    So I use dad's Kelty as my camera pack for my 4x5, and love it
    That's very cool--like you, I don't think the old externals have been improved on in terms of load carriage, especially if you're moving through relatively open country. In the OP's case, though, I could see their higher center of gravity torqueing the lower back in certain terrain/activities, and I do think there have been advances in shoulder harnesses and hipbelts over the years.

    At any rate, I'd keep looking at hipbelt design--a belt doesn't have to be overbuilt in order to provide support (many of my favorites are quite thin)--but many of the better ones will have a secondary strap (often called a "delta" strap) connecting the packbag and hipbelt that will allow you to better draw the load into your lumbar spine. Another, related, issue is adjustability--many of the better packs will let you customize the stays to better follow your particular lumbar curve.

  9. #9
    Eric Woodbury
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    Re: Light weight 4X5 gear backpack recommendations

    It got so the backpacks and bags weighed more than the stuff. It was time to rethink. I've always carried my camera mounted to the tripod resting on my shoulder. Dark cloth with a padded insert is used to pad my shoulder. Camera is a Chamonix. Tripod is a FLMCANADA that weighs just under 2#. (this is an amazing tripod.) A cheap ball head is half pound.

    My camera bag is the smallest shoulder bag made by Ape Case. Envoy.
    In the bag is
    90/6.8 angulon
    135/5.6 fujinon
    240/9 fujinon
    PocketSpot light meter
    spare battery
    3 film holders w/ FP4
    Gel filters and a VOSS filter holder
    Toyo loupe
    Viewing filter
    'energy bar'
    Lens cleaning cloth
    Library pencil

    Lenses are protected by the bubble pack envelopes from so many little packages received.

    If I think I'm going to need some other lens, then I'll toss one out and grab another. FP4 can do just about anything I need, but in special circumstances, I may grab some other films.

  10. #10

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    Re: Light weight 4X5 gear backpack recommendations

    I prefer a good-quality lumbar pack for carrying my kit. My pack carries a Wista DX, four lenses, two filter wallets and meter. I carry my filmholders separately, but I could easily get a few in the lumbar pack along with my exposure record.

    My pack has a shoulder strap that allows it to be used as a shoulder bag when setting up and photographing. Tripod can be strapped on to the pack or carried in a hand, smaller items can go in shirt/vest/jacket pockets (I wear a fly-fishing vest).

    My wife has this Mountainsmith pack, which is really great and larger than the one I carry my camera gear in.

    Best,

    Doremus

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