Welcome to Day 4 of Landscape week. Yesterday we took a look at all essential tool of the landscape photographer, the tripod, and reviewed a few models by Manfrotto, Slik and Gitzo. Today we talk bags, specifically camera backpacks.
A good camera pack will not only allow you to cart all of your camera gear into the backcountry, it will keep your equipment organized, and it will be comfortable to wear during those long wilderness treks that you take to get the ideal vantage points for your imagery.
When shopping for a camera pack that’s ideal for outdoor photography, you’ll want to make sure you choose a bag that’s big enough to fit the gear that you’re likely to take out with you, while leaving room for the other essential items that you’ll probably want in there, like food, water and a jacket.
There are two schools of thought here: You can either get a bag that’s small enough to let you go light and fast, or one that’s big enough to carry everything. It all comes down to what works best for you. Some photographers like to go out with a single body and one or two lenses, while others like to take their entire inventory of gear with them. Like I said, whichever works for you. Of course, I make this sound so simple, but anyone who’s followed this blog for awhile knows that I have camera bag issues.
There are so many good choices out there, so here are 5 options to get you started, in no particular order. As you shop around, you’ll start to get a feel for what works for you and your style of photography.
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Now onto the bags!
Tamrac has been making high quality, durable bags for outdoor photographers for a number of years. Their Adventure 75 is a compact photo backpack that will hold most DLSRs with an attached lens, as well as 3-4 additional lenses, flash and accessories.
Padded with close-cell foam, it includes a cinch strap to keep the camera in place, a foam-padded backpack harness, adjustable waist strap, a tripod attachment system, customizable dividers, reinforced mesh pocket and front accessory pocket.
This is a great sized, all around camera backpack. It offers lots of flexibility, and it’s rugged enough to weather the elements. My first waist pack was made by Tamrac and it lasted for years. I think I still have it somewhere.
Tamrac actually has a large selection of bags, which you can see here.
Inside dimensions: 12″ x 8.5″ x 13″
Cost: Around $90
This thing is big enough to carry a couple of DLSRs, a handful of lenses, including my 80-200mm f2.8 and 14mm f2.8, a flash or two and other accessories. It even has a laptop compartment.
It’s a pro quality bag that features a rain cover, a tripod holder, compression straps, multiple storage pockets where you can keep your spare model releases, promo cards, phone, cookies, windbreaker and other essential items. It gets very high reviews
LowePro has been making bags since 1967 and they’ve got it right. They’re among the most used bags by professional outdoor and adventure photographers and for good reason. They do the job and they stand up well over time. I’ve got two Lowepro packs and know lots of other shooters who use them.
Inside dimensions: 10″ x 13″ x 17″
Cost: Around $150
See more Lowepro camera backpacks here.
These Lowepro Flipside packs are really catching on. They have great function and value, they’re big enough to hold a good amount of essential camera gear and small enough to be unassuming easy to carry onto an airplane.
The unique back entry compartment allows access and security to the bag when it’s being worn. Outer storage panels hold all your personal gear, and a removable accessory pouch allows you to take all your chargers and manuals with your and leave them behind when you don’t need them out on the shoot.
It has a tripod holder, a mesh side pocket, memory card pockets, mesh side pockets, front storage panel, silent zipper pulls, accessory loops and all weather cover. It will actually hold quite a bit of gear: single DLSR body with attached lens and a handful of other lenses and flash.
The Flipside packs are perfect for the travel photographer or the landscape shooter who wants to go with a more streamlined pack. The Flipside design also comes in a number of other sizes, and also encompasses the Fastpack series. See the rest of the Lowepro Flipside packs here.
Inside dimensionss: 10″ x 11.9″ x 18.1″
Cost: Around $150
Click Elite is a new company that makes performance packs for adventure photographers. They feature well made, rugged construction, and sleek designs that are designed to allow mobility while carrying your gear.
They’re not just camera backpacks, instead they function like a regular backpack that also carries your photo gear in an efficient and accessible way. They’re made for active photographers who move light and fast over long distances as they pursue their craft.
The Medium Nature Pack offers 600 cubic inches of space in the top compartment, where you carry your regular outdoor clothing, food and water, and a 450 cubic inch camera compartment on the bottom of the pack.
Modular organization allows you to secure and protect your camera gear as well as your memory cards, hard drive, cables, business cards, etc… and they also have a rain cover and a hydration system. Also, their chest pouch attaches to the shoulder straps in case you want to carry your camera out front.
They’re great all around packs for hiking, biking and even skiing. I haven’t tried one out yet, but I’ve give them a pretty thorough look at the store and I must say, I’m impressed with what they’ve come up with. They’re good packs that could even make for a functional day, overnight or weekend travel pack. If you’re an active photographer, I’d highly recommend checking these out.
Inside Dimensions: 13″ x 8″ x 23″
Cost: Around $170
Tenba is another company that makes great outdoor camera backpacks. They’re rugged, well built and can hold as much gear as you want to cram into them.
The Shootout series comes in four sizes, plus a rolling case, but the Mini seems like the perfect size for most landscape photographers. It holds a surprising amount of camera gear, lenses, accessories and personal items. It’s listed size says that it will hold 2 DLSRs, 4-6 lenses up to 70-200mm and a flash. I’d say that’s enough gear to make great photos outside!
It comes with a wraparound weather cover, a tripod holder, rear bungee cord, detachable media card wallet and a second pouch for a phone or iPod, and a decent backpack harness system.
All in all, the Mini looks like a great little pack, but if you need more storage, you might want to move up to the Shootout Medium.
Inside dimensions: 8.5″ x 11″ x 15″
Cost: Around $100
Other considerations: Have a look at two more recent packs from Lowepro, the Rover Pro AW, which is made for overnight trips, and the Photo Sport 200, which is a top loading day pack with a separate camera compartment in the bottom. Also, check out the other bags in the Tenba line here.