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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    New Hampshire, USA

    Camera Backpack

    As I mentioned in another thread, I am looking to replace my Flipside 400AW Mk 1. I initially settled on the Mindshift Backside 18L. Its exterior sidewalls are thinner than I'd like, but I do suspect it would overall be a fine protective bag despite the sidewalls due to rigidity at the edges, essentially a semi-rigid frame. As I thought about it, in several ways, this may be more protective than another 1/8" of padding. But, as I played with it, I never quite got it to be comfortable and I had bought it over another flipside in part because I thought it had more non-camera storage. Which it does, but still not very much. Also, I was hoping for a bit more from the harness system. So, it is goes back today.

    I am still looking to fill my "smaller" bag, capable of 3 lenses, 5DIV and basic accessories, and I also want a bag for my hikes. So good harness system, back ventilation and capable of carrying some other gear. Then, based on some recent travel, I am realizing the limitation of backpacks that are essentially a large padded brick for camera gear. It would be nice to have some flexibility to leave some lenses in the hotel safe and add stuff you want for a day trip. Perhaps my final criterion is that these foam pad brinks take up a lot of room whether you are using it or not. Something collapsible would be nice. So, while I am looking for a "smaller" bag, I am recognizing that I may also want a dedicated hiking/travel bag as well.

    As I am focusing on a smaller bag, it really seems that the F-stop guru or Loka with a small pro ICU may fit the bill the best. The biggest concern is that fully loaded, they do not technically fit carry on requirements for airlines (>9" thick). But, they are collapsible, so I just can't load them all the way.

    In doing the searches, however, there really seems to be a lot of love for ~40L bags that can collapse down to something smaller for hiking/travel. In particular, two brands I've only heard about recently:

    • Shimoda Explore 40L. I'd seen a couple Youtubers start to use this bag. Must be nice to be given bags for reviews. I am not questioning their review, often they were comparing the Shimoda to other bags they received for free. Just sayin', I might start a youtube channel just so I can get free gear. That said, several "travel" photographers and youtubers that have their choice of several different packs have transitioned over to the Shimoda 40L. I keep hearing "this is the most comfortable pack" in the reviews. Seems to be a theme. Shimoda also has a 30L pack, and also uses and ICU system, comparable to the F-stop, so I may look at it.
    • Atlas Athlete. Sometimes you notice when reviewers don't just really like a lens or piece of equipment, they love it. I am sensing a lot of love, as in every review just seems glowing, for this bag. But the Athlete is 40L but seems to collapse down nicely. It may have issues fitting in to an overhead bin, but you can remove the metal frame and then the dimensions work perfectly (this seems easy based on a video I saw). It also has this "origami" system of expanding/contracting the padded camera compartment.
    • Pacsafe Venturesafe x40. Seeing a couple references of people liking and using this bag. Bit of a surprise, as you do not usually think about Pacsafe as camera back manufacturer (at least I do not), but looking it over it really checks a lot of boxes. Carry on sized, nicely sized (for me) camera inserts, a divider to separate regular gear form camera gear (I am reading some complain about this with the f-stop bags), and multiple easy compartments for organization. I think I may prefer the other bags, but this also costs less.
    • Mindshift Backlight Elite 45L. I almost missed this had an ICU. This just came out, so I was only able to find one review, but it was very favorable. I do like my Mindshift Firstlight 40L. Looks like they targeted fairly extreme conditions, which is great as the pack seems very function and water resistant, but this is also one of the heavier packs. They provide a range of weight from 3.9 to 7 lbs. I am not sure of the difference. I would be surprised if the ICU is 3.1 lbs as their half sized ICU (called a "stashmaster") is 0.9 lbs. I'd opt for the stashmaster here. Overall, very nice looking pack.

    For more of an urban stylish feel (Mike aka Busted, these may be inline with what you were looking for awhile ago):

    • Peak Design 45L. It says 45L, but that is its expanded capacity. It's regular capacity is 35L with dimensions that match most airlines carry-on restrictions, a very nice feature. Also has modular packing cubes and photography inserts designed to fit inside its dimensions. While not obvious straps, it does seem to have ample ability to add tripod or other items.
    • Peak Design "Everyday". This seems to be a favorite of several youtube travelers. I can see why, it still looks stylish, I believe this was the first pack with the moldable "tray" like system that has now been copied by others like Lowepro. Carryon compatible and the material does seem to really hold up. Not sure it is for me, but worth mentioning.
    • Boundary "Prima." This may be a perfect combination of work/photography/travel bag. I am impressed by what I see. Looks good enough I could walk into a meeting with it, lots of work gear functionality. Main issue I see right now is the modular photography inserts are either very small (camera plus 2 lens) or the entire pack. I would like 3 lenses. Also, it doesn't sit upright. But still interesting.
    • Boundary "Errant". Odd, as the pack is smaller, but better sized (for me) inserts. Seems to have a lot of functionality as well.

    These are all more expensive packs. But, I haven't bought anything significant for over a year and my account is in very good shape.

    Just wondering if anyone had any familiarity with these bags or if you knew of something else that would fit my use.


    EDIT...I am adding a few as I find different packs that seem really good.

    For what it is worth....Nat Geo's favorite travel backpacks
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 07-10-2019 at 11:16 AM.

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