backpack suggestions?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by hernan_freschi, Aug 1, 2022 at 10:42 AM.

  1. I'm trying to find a travel-friendly backpack for my gear.
    By travel friendly i mean:
    • light and within max-carry-on-size limitations for most airlines
    • has security/anti-pickpocketing features
    • it's comfortable enough to use it as a general-use backpack at destination leaving some things at the hotel
    i also want to use it to carry, while traveling:
    • a FF mirrorless such as Z7-II (currently i only have a D7100)
    • 24-70
    • 70-200
    • 15-16 laptop
    • maybe 14-24
    • maybe a fast prime
    • a couple of filters
    • some extra clothes
    while not traveling I'd like to be able to carry or store most of my other gear:
    • flash/es
    • 105 macro
    • plates, etc
    i've been browsing around. I found a lowepro protactic 450 which seems to suit most of my needs but
    • includes a lot of quick access (sides, top)
    • zippers are not lockable
    • not sure if the space inside is reconfigurable for "more than photography"
    • it weighs over 2 kilos empty
    on the flip side, it seems to be very comfortable and includes a waist strap.

    there is also the peakdesign travel backpack but
    • it's very expensive like most PD products
    • it's modular, so besides the base price you need to buy "cubes" for the types of items you need to store
    • does not seem to be as practical as the lowepro one
    • it's heavy and with the required cubes it's heavier than the lowepro
    the big advantage of the peakdesign is that it includes anti pickpocketing features, such as the ability to tuck zippers in, and tie them to anchors inside the backpack. for the main zipper, it even includes a little loop which makes it impossible to quickly pull a zipper, but is able to be opened without much effort if you know how. it can also be "compressed" a little if you don't need all the space, which makes it good for walking around your destination with a slightly smaller backpack.

    what other alternatives do you recommend? so far the best i can come up with is just the protactic 450, and zip-tie some of the zippers to disable them semi-permanently but i'm not fully convinced.
  2. Have a look at the bags from Think Tank, in particular the Mindshift Series.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  3. There are camera backpacks for travel and others for hiking and camping.

    Strictly for travel, I like the ThinkTankPhoto "Airline" backpacks. They're semi-rigid, with a space-efficient rectangular profile. The straps are okay, but not adjustable enough to keep the weight on your hips like a good framed backpack. Comfort is more about weight than shape. Carry less, if possible. I have a couple of small ThinkTank fanny packs which hold 3-4 lenses - just enough for a walk about, and I can select lenses for different purposes.

    Lay your equipment out on the floor, in order to estimate the footprint you need, and compare that to internal size listed in the backpack specifications.
    mikemorrell likes this.
  4. You don't want much, do you? :rolleyes:

    Camera 'bags' (= carrying a camera and some other gear) are as subject to 'taste' as choosing a partner.

    I personally transport a huge, hernia-inducing Tenba PD-17 which will hold a bunch of lenses, a couple of bodies, and even a MacBook Air.
    Tenba PD-17.jpg
    But this stays with the transportation and I off-load what I need to have for a particular purpose(s) to a simple sling bag, so

    I have over 30 'bags'* and use most of them depending on what I'm doing.

    *Hardly anybody 'buys' so many bags. They accumulate as gifts, premiums, purchases of kits, etc.
  5. For a frame of reference, I had a ThinkTankPhoto "Airport Commuter," in which I carried the following:
    • Sony A7Riii
    • Sony A9
    • Sony-Zeiss 16-35/4
    • Sony 24-70/2.8 GM
    • Sony 70-200/4 G
    • Four Zeiss Baths primes: 18, 40, 85, 135
    • Sony Flash
    • Extra batteries, cables and cards
    It got a bit much for me to carry at 30+ lbs, so I replaced it with a ThinkTank Advantage XT rolling case. It fits in the overhead compartment of a plane (with a little effort), but makes moving down the concourse a lot easier (my laptop rides piggyback).

    Airport Commuter™
    mikemorrell likes this.
  6. All good advice so far!

    I've used a (now long discontinued) Lowepro Fastpack 350 a couple of times a week and on vacations for about 12-15 years and it still shows no signs of wear and tear. Like the Protactic 450 looks to be from the photos, it's very comfortable to carry and highly configurable. Especially on long hikes, the hip straps are important! I have a 'standard' configuration to store the stuff I usually need. But I can detach the segments and just use it as a backpack. My 350 has a 'top section' and a 'bottom section' that are fixed with only the bottom section being configurable. The Protactic 450 looks to have just one large configurable section. I can fit a 17" laptop (and a reflector) into my 350. It's worth checking which Laptop/Tablet sizes the Protactic 450 supports.

    Good hunting!
  7. As others have said, there's no such thing as a perfect bag and I would add that bags with a mixed load (photo/other gear) seem to be the hardest to find of all.

    Looking at Lowepro's catalogue, the FastPac series that Mike uses seems to be more what you're looking for, the ProTactic is aimed at professionals carrying just camera gear, I often see them being used by "run & gun" photo journalists who have to carry 2 bodies, a 28-80 and a 70-200 all day.

    I like Lowepro bags, some of mine are over 20 years old, they last well.

    Personally, I'm using a Photosport and a VersaPac, both "dual-role" backpacks. The Photosport is more of an outdoor/adventure pack, with only a very small camera compartment and a larger "other" compartment, very comfortable, but not a city pack, nor is it a full hiking pack with frame. The VersaPac (discontinued) is more like 60% photo, with room for two bodies and a couple of lenses, in a very adaptable configuration (left and/or right side access, or sit it down and have top access to everything). Not as comfortable to wear all day though and my biggest complaint would be that the top "other" compartment is very badly designed for access - it really needed to have a drawstring and flap, rather than the strange flap&zip combination it has. It is "urban secure" though, no outside pockets and can carry a good bit of camera gear.

    I like side access and need a multi use pack, but everyone's needs are different.
  8. Security with a backpack is somewhat dicey. While you can lock zippers together with twisty key rings (or padlocks), you have to set the bag down to use it, often in crowded areas. I have to do that with a roller too, but it's quick and easy, and the dirty side doesn't go against my back.

    There have been a number of innovative approaches to this problem, Among them are Rotation bags by ThinkTank offshoot, Mindshift.

    MindShift Series
  9. I like the Mindshift series, mine can carry two bodies, maybe four lenses, a small laptop and assorted ‘stuff’ that seems to follow me around. You may well run into a weight issue when flying but otherwise it travels well. I’ve discovered though that it can be secure or have quick access but not both at the same time.

    Rick H.

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