Photo gear

Tell us about your gear and assist others in purchasing options
  1. So after some time of lugging my gear around in a messenger bag (which really was not uncomfortable) I decided I needed a pack that could handle a bit more than just my camera. I was looking for a bag that could hold my camera gear plus the 10 essentials (extra clothing, map, food, water etc.) for the times I go out without my personal pack mule (aka, my husband :p ) I'm not a particularly big person, so I did want a reasonably sized bag that would be comfortable, but still hold what my messenger bag (a medium Timbuktu Snoop) does.

    My first absolute was that the camera area had to be accessible without taking the backpack completely off - so any rear or top loaders were out and that narrowed the choices considerably. I did a little research online and narrowed it down to two bags that I could look at in my area. The Lowe Pro Sport 200 and the Mindshift Panorama. The Lowepro had a few advantages right away - it has a bottle pocket and a tripod attachment on the bottom of the pack, both which are missing from the Mindshift, but the ultimate decision was made for capacity. The Mindshift had a very small camera compartment - even if it has an intriguing looking rotating camera compartment. The Lowe, while looking rather small managed to swallow everything in my messenger bag, though the fit is a bit tight. I also tried out a Manfrotto bag that was a somewhat more heavy duty clone of the Lowe - interestingly though the camera compartment was a bit bigger the shape did not allow my gear to fit, while the smaller Lowe did.

    The good - the bag itself is very, very light and even though it's inexpensive - the least expensive of the three at $150 - it's a full featured backpack. It has all of the straps and adjustments of a real overnight backpack - hip belt, load lifters, sternum strap etc. It has a side loader compartment that can hold all of my stuff (mind you I use a mirrorless, so it's all somewhat smaller)- I put two lenses, a set of extension tubes and a ring flash in there. I don't need to put my camera body in - that is always out unless it is pouring rain and in that case I can put it inside the top compartment or inside of my jacket. Built in rain cover (the ThinkTank has an optional one for $20 extra...) There is a space for a hydration bladder, if you favor one. There are at least three options for carrying a tripod - a large open pocket on the back could hold a small one, the pocket on the side could be used and my favorite, the straps on the bottom, which have buckles, rather than being simple loops, which I really dislike. It comes in bright orange - always a plus if you might be going into hunting areas or even if you need to find where you set it down in tall grass...

    Could be improved - the fit... OK - I'm a very small person, so I'm accustomed to this, but I'm at the limit on cinching down most of the straps... it's just barely small enough. For such a small bag you you'd think it might fit a small person better. No pocket for accessories - batteries, filters, cable release. I got a little zipper pencil case that I think eventually I'll attach to the lid of the camera compartment. The hip straps could have a bit more padding, but to tell the truth they were fine with my hiking pants. Wearing it home (loaded up) while wearing jeans the hip pads caused a bit of discomfort, but I don't wear anything with seams that thick for hiking. The little pockets on the hip pads are relatively useless. When you cinch the straps tight you can't get into them and if you put something even slightly large or hard in there it digs into your hip. Not too much to complain about really...

    I gave it a pretty good shake down hike last weekend - 18 miles and 6,000+ feet of climbing.... perhaps not the best of ideas for a first outing with a new backpack, but it still seemed like a better idea than the old messenger bag :p. The pack weighs about 17-18 pounds loaded up. I found I was able to safely access the gear compartment without even taking one strap off to change from my macro to my 18-50, which I do quite often, so that was a huge plus. To dig down further I'd have to take one strap off and turn the bag sideways, but that's OK. I was never uncomfortable during the hike - no back or neck pain and the load never felt heavy which is great for a first time out- so I'm quite pleased.

    http://store.lowepro.com/photo-sport-200-aw
    Replied 4 years ago, modified 3 years ago
  2. Thanks for sharing your experience! Camera bags, like tripods, are very difficult to purchase and really have to be experienced. It looks like it indeed can pack a ton in a small space:

    http://blog.hagephoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/CARUN20121130-989-WM.jpg

    Plus all the extras you mention, what more is there to want? I'm quite impressed by the way with your endurance in carrying around still a substantial weight on such long hikes, you must be trained in it.

    I've been using this bag for several years now:
    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41QGCX9338L._SY300_.jpg

    Example use (not mine):
    http://www.thinktankphoto.com/product-images/xlarge/Feature-StreetWalker-HardDrive-3.jpg

    It's a very basic bag, yet it delivers well in fitting in a lot of my gear, including big stuff, and keeping it safe and dry. Plus, there's a flap with additional pockets for all the tiny stuff like batteries and memory cards. Other than that, it lacks all the extras a bag like yours has. I definitely want to upgrade one day, but can only judge a bag with all of my gear present.

    Anyway, solid choice, and may this bag sustain many beautiful hikes, of which you'll hopefully keep sharing the highlights here :)
    Replied 4 years ago
  3. The photo your posted inspired me. Here's what I had in my pack yesterday, https://flic.kr/p/v6zQux and I still had space. If I'm out alone or at least without my husband I'll add a map, my lunch and probably some more extra warm clothing - gloves and leggings at least. I should put a compass, a swiss army knife and some waterproof matches in there permanently. Replied 4 years ago
  4. That photo perfectly demonstrates the benefits of having small lenses, nice! When we travel abroad (once a year), Henriette carries a backpack with all "other" items, as there simply is zero room left in the camera bag itself. In my own country, I usually just don't take anything else with me, even water is an issue.

    I have to ask, what is that cute little owl thingy? :)
    Replied 4 years ago
  5. lol - the bag with the owls is the pencil case I got for my little extras. I've got a stepper ring, cleaning cloth, some filters, and a cable release in there.

    As far as city traveling goes I'm sure I'll continue to use the messenger bag. I can pack a considerable amount in there and it is still much more convenient to access, but out in the woods I really shouldn't be skimping on what I carry - it sounds melodramatic, but a bit of warm clothing and some food can be the difference between living or not. There have been several incidents here recently that illustrate how easy it can be to get lost or hurt, even close to a trail.
    Replied 4 years ago, modified 4 years ago
  6. @morpheme: Understood, the danger there must be taken very serious. Unlike in the Netherlands, where the next person is only a scream away :) No bears here either. Replied 4 years ago
  7. Morpheme, I was in need of a new bag for an upcoming trip and it made me think back of this thread. After a lot of online research I ultimately also arrived at a Lowepro and I absolutely love it. First impressions:

    https://ferdychristant.com/lowepro-protactic-450-aw-first-impression-baf45a595189#.94eu5si0g

    I like it so much that I'm walking inside the house fully packed and demonstrating a quick lens switch after pointing at imaginary wildlife. My girlfriend told me to grow up. Never!
    Replied 3 years ago

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