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Thread: Camera Backpack

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    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.

    Thanks,
    Brant

    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.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dave Throgmartin's Avatar
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    I use the LowePro Fastpack 350 to hold most of my stuff in. It's a good take the camera equipment to the field kind of bag.

    Dave

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Throgmartin View Post
    I use the LowePro Fastpack 350 to hold most of my stuff in. It's a good take the camera equipment to the field kind of bag.

    Dave
    The Fastpack 350 was my first bag and I used it for several years. When I bought the 400AW, it pretty much went in my closet. I think I even tried to sell it once. It is a good bag and I brought it out of the closet as it does check a lot of the boxes I have. I am going to try to use it for work/travel/photography options, which is why I did not emphasize that above. My main issues with it before where:
    1. I essentially out grew it as my kit and several lenses became too large. But it is coming back around as it can hold the travel kit I am describing, camera plus 3 lenses.
    2. I always found attaching a tripod problematic.
    3. The attachments are limited, water bottle in side pouch (unsecured, and I've lost a few), something under the back flap (tripod or rain coat), but then there is no other place for exterior attachments for my wife's raincoat (somehow I often end up with this) or my tripod AND my jacket.
    4. Officially, it is not AW. I was on one hike with it when it started raining, I checked and the gear was getting wet. So I found a country store, bought some trash bags, cut holes in the trash bags for the straps and hiked for a weekend with a trash bag over my pack. After that I bought an official rain cover, but still, AW would be nice.
    5. Lack of ventilation for the back. I am looking for hiking/travel, something where this is on my back a lot. I remember it getting extremely hot a couple of times.


    That said, it is a nice pack and I found it a bit funny when I started thinking of what I wanted and realized a bag that could do a good amount was sitting in my closet. And the Fastpacks are good enough when we bought my wife her set up (80D etc), we got her a Fastpack 250. But, maybe I do start using this for my "smaller pack" as well. I really love my Kiboko 22L, which isn't that large, it is just most of that 22L is dedicated to camera gear (so optimized for camera gear, not other stuff), I've twice now had it drop and have gear damaged (so I still love it, but....), and I am often tempted to fill it up. I've weighed it a couple of times and it has often come back 25 to 35 lbs, which was definitely a factor one of the times it was dropped. So, part of me wanting smaller is so I do not load it up.

    Anyways....rainy day here so I spent some time messing around some.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 06-30-2019 at 11:52 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Dave Throgmartin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kayaker72 View Post
    The Fastpack 350 was my first bag and I used it for several years. When I bought the 400AW, it pretty much went in my closet. I think I even tried to sell it once. It is a good bag and I brought it out of the closet as it does check a lot of the boxes I have. I am going to try to use it for work/travel/photography options, which is why I did not emphasize that above. My main issues with it before where:
    1. I essentially out grew it as my kit and several lenses became too large. But it is coming back around as it can hold the travel kit I am describing, camera plus 3 lenses.
    2. I always found attaching a tripod problematic.
    3. The attachments are limited, water bottle in side pouch (unsecured, and I've lost a few), something under the back flap (tripod or rain coat), but then there is no other place for exterior attachments for my wife's raincoat (somehow I often end up with this) or my tripod AND my jacket.
    4. Officially, it is not AW. I was on one hike with it when it started raining, I checked and the gear was getting wet. So I found a country store, bought some trash bags, cut holes in the trash bags for the straps and hiked for a weekend with a trash bag over my pack. After that I bought an official rain cover, but still, AW would be nice.
    5. Lack of ventilation for the back. I am looking for hiking/travel, something where this is on my back a lot. I remember it getting extremely hot a couple of times.


    That said, it is a nice pack and I found it a bit funny when I started thinking of what I wanted and realized a bag that could do a good amount was sitting in my closet. And the Fastpacks are good enough when we bought my wife her set up (80D etc), we got her a Fastpack 250. But, maybe I do start using this for my "smaller pack" as well. I really love my Kiboko 22L, which isn't that large, it is just most of that 22L is dedicated to camera gear (so optimized for camera gear, not other stuff), I've twice now had it drop and have gear damaged (so I still love it, but....), and I am often tempted to fill it up. I've weighed it a couple of times and it has often come back 25 to 35 lbs, which was definitely a factor one of the times it was dropped. So, part of me wanting smaller is so I do not load it up.

    Anyways....rainy day here so I spent some time messing around some.
    Mine truthfully only goes from the house to the car and then back to the house. I take the gear to the field in a smaller bag or on my shoulder. When shooting tripod I typically mount that over one shoulder using a Manfrotto strap that is designed for the tripod and my camera on the other shoulder with one lens mounted.

    Dave

  5. #5
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    I am currently looking to get the f-stops tilopa and having large icu on it. Mostly when going to shooting i have noticed that i need quite some extra stuff to carry. Clothes etc. And with tilopa can easily fit all my current gear to it. Currently i have 40litre flip backbag but that is way too small for my needs. Good with those f-stops bags is that you can get smaller/bigger icu to it and that way carry more extra or more lenses etc.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karsaa View Post
    I am currently looking to get the f-stops tilopa and having large icu on it. Mostly when going to shooting i have noticed that i need quite some extra stuff to carry. Clothes etc. And with tilopa can easily fit all my current gear to it. Currently i have 40litre flip backbag but that is way too small for my needs. Good with those f-stops bags is that you can get smaller/bigger icu to it and that way carry more extra or more lenses etc.
    In my readings, I have heard nothing but good things about the Tilopa. At its capacity, it would be great for travel, especially car travel. If fully loaded, it would need to be checked in for airline travel. But, that is one thing that I really like about the ICU system, if you can't carry on your pack (I fly a lot of smaller commuter planes) you can remove the ICU and carry it on while checking in the larger pack.

    If you have already settled in on the Tilopa, congrats. If you are still looking, Atlas and Shimoda both have larger packs. Atlas being a 70L Adventure and Shimoda being a 60L pack. I probably would have already purchased the Atlas Athlete, the smaller of their packs, except you cannot remove the camera unit. As I do a lot of air travel, I really like the removeable ICUs.

    But that brings me to another option that I am currently investigating (I am in no rush, my current packs work, and my next trip is first week of August). But I've come across several photographers that take their ICUs and put them in non-photography packs from Osprey, Gregory, or Deuter. Just a thought, but I've come across several reviews of f-stop, Shimoda or Atlas stating they are the most comfortable camera backpacks they've ever had, "almost as comfortable as their Osprey."

    That said, something like the tilopa would have attachment points for the ICUs, rear access sized for the ICUs, places for tripods, etc. So, I am likely to end up with a dedicated camera bag myself.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 07-05-2019 at 03:35 PM.

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