I want a backpack, but shoulder bags are better...?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by elijah_dickhaus, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. I've always carried a shoulder bag, because the gear is right there at my fingertips, horizontal to the ground, I can just rip open the top grab my current setup or very quickly switch a lens.
    But, I do multi-hour hikes to locations all the time, and the fact is, the shoulder bag is hard on the body. I think about switching to a backpack ALL the time, but every time I go down to the camera shop and have a look, I just can't get over how clunky and inconvenient a backpack is.
    So my question is, are there any backpacks out there that might satisfy my need for speed and versatility?
    I carry a 1Ds Mk III, 5D Mk II, macro lens, wide angle lens, flash and 28-70mm zoom. But I'll want a bit of extra space probably, because I usually would carry some snacks and odds and ends in a day pack along with my camera gear.
  2. Also check the sling bags; best/worst of both words.
    It's a very personal choice. I take the backpack (Lowepro Classic) when I need to take a lot of stuff and long lenses. Otherwise a shoulder bag is my preferred bag, often together with a small backpack for drinks, food, GPS, etc.
  3. I have some Loewe Pro monster backpack which gives quick-draw access to a pair of compact SLRs or such via side openings without taking it off. - It doesn't really work for me & my needs. - I prefer smaller kits than it could hold.
    In the past I didn't really warm up with a smaller Cullmann backpack. I ended tossing sanely sized bags & stuff into my ordinary classic military style "Gebirgsjäger Rucksack", I hardly ever leave the house without that one and wouldn't fancy riding my bike with a shoulder bag.
    I suppose you should take a look at alternatives. Either get some infantry inspired harness system to carry your gear, or figure out how you could make use of a backpack rack to carry your shoulder bag on the march and give access to it without putting the entire backpack down.
  4. I don't know if some variant of my old solution could work for you. Almost forty years ago, on a one month trip to Alaska, I used a standard backpack, not designed for photography, plus a small shoulder bag that sometimes traveled inside and at other times hung on the outside of the big pack. The shoulder bag carried a body and my shorter lenses--35, 50, 85 and 135mm. A 400mm f/6.3 went in the backpack, cushioned by socks and underwear. A tripod either got lashed to the outside or stuck vertically inside the very tall backpack.
    This arrangement allowed me to set up quick access to the shorter lenses when necessary. Sometimes I could even leave the backpack behind. The time it took to extract the 400mm from the backpack generally was not a problem, because I had to set up the tripod anyway.
    You should be able to do better nowadays, with photo backpacks that might accommodate a smaller bag.
  5. Mindshift Gear has a "Rotation" backpack, which has a compartment which can be slid on a belt for easy access. It has separate compartments for less used gear, clothing and supplies. Mindshift appears to be an offshoot from Think Tank Photo, another highly innovative company.
  6. As Jos noted, check out the sling bags. They have a strap that goes over one shoulder but rest on your back, and are easily 'slung' around to the front for quick access to equipment. I have a large one from ruggard that holds both of my DSLRs with several lenses (including my Sigma 150-500) and accessories, and have walked for hours with it. A smaller strap can be attached around your chest to help with support. I also use a smaller sling from Vivitar when I carry less equipment.
  7. I can't imagine carrying that kind of weight in a shoulder bag for hours while walking let alone hiking. My back would be
    destroyed. For me it isn't even an option. Backpack for better or worse. Fstop makes some very thoughtful, pleasure to
    use backpacks that can be configured in many ways for camera gear and other gear. For small packs, I love the
    weightless but easy to use lowepro sport aw series. They aren't going to hold all the gear you list but may fit he bill when
    you take a little less.
  8. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Personally I use a shoulder bag a large majority of the time. It is as you say a sight more convenient and rapid to operate, especially if you have a layout that doesn't stack one lens on top of another and where filters etc each have their place so you can find everything by feel alone.
    But there are times when I need to carry stuff other than camera gear-food, drink, spare clothing and so on. Or I'm going to be walking over fairly arduous terrain, and far enough from the car or a hotel room that I can't treat those as a daybag. For me, I don't want a compromise that I use all the time that gives me some of the convenience I get from a shoulder bag. I want all that convenience available whenever the nature of my photography allows it, and that's most of the time. So for me I don't want one bag, I want a shoulder bag and a backpack, and I'll use whichever one fits my needs for that trip or that day. Sometimes that means I leave for a two week trip with one bag; sometimes with two as I'll pretty much always know what kind of terrain awaits and whether there'll be long walks or mostly working reasonably near a car or whether I can pick things up from my hotel easily . It probably takes me 15 minutes to change bags but I'd rather spend that a few times on a trip than find myself with a compromise that doesn't always do both jobs really well. To me , the sling bags I've tried don't do the "shoulder bag" job well enough- they offer access to some stuff but I'm used to accessing all of it, and some of that access is kind of tortuous.
  9. There is no better or worse - there's suited for the job.
    I prefer shoulder bags whenever I can, but they work with limited amounts of gear, and the list you state isn't what I'd call limited. I'd certainly put that in a backpack (if only to save my back and shoulder). So, I guess most of us typically end up with several bags for several different scenarios. I don't see a reason to switch to one type of bag for all the time and everything. So far I ended up with 4 bags, and I use them all.
    My backpack that would take what you list is a LowePro Minitrekker AW. Works fine, it's not particolarly fast but no backpack is. It is versatile enough and extensible with side-bags (for large lenses, or a bottle holder); also has tripod clamps. It's no longer made, but out of the current series I'd check the ProTrekker series.
  10. I guess it depends on how often you need your equipment and the weather.
    You actually only have two cameras with a lens on each, one extra lens and a flash. I would sling both cameras across the shoulders and just have a very small backpack or shoulder bag for the extra lens and flash. That would give immediate access to two cameras ready to roll and reasonably quick access to the extra equipment.
    I think rapid also have a dual harness for two cameras but I haven't tried it.
    The problem with the shoulder bag is that you have all weight on one side. Another option if you need the protection but still reasonably quick access is to carry two shoulder bags. That would even out the weight problem.
    Another thing I do when things need to be optimized is that I take it to the "tailor" (actually the shoe repair guy) and he can make modifications to harnesses, bags and whatever with the more heavy duty sewing machines.
  11. I also went for the compromise of attaching camera holster bags to my backpack straps (sometimes). Unfortunately they aren't stealthy enough for my general "walking around" taste and lack weather protection for riding through the rain, which the backpack itself provides.
  12. Maybe a real backpack like you would find at REI would be nice as they will have a waist belt which makes all the difference in the world for extended hiking or backpacking. You can get protective lens wraps such as the Domke version for added protection inside the pack.
    Myself I am always looking to cut the weight so I have a rule for myself of using a single prime lens, one filter and as much film as I might need. Generally that is just an extra roll in the pack. Since you need a backpack for extended hiking anyway you may as well adapt your camera kit to one.
    Camera backpacks to me look like they are useful for event photography or hiking a mile or two.
  13. Lowepro has a couple of Flipside backpacks which when belted can be swung around and opened, they are designed with the back panel opening, not the front. I have a smaller one, it works OK. Not sure the largest would carry everything you want nor if it might not be hard to keep horizontal when loaded up. Adding inserts to regular packs may help if you find one that fits right and has the space yu need.
  14. I share your dislike of backpacks, and I have to say I do carry loads like yours when hiking, although I usually have a 70-xxxmm lens instead of a second body. Shoulder bags do get uncomfortable, so I always like the ones that have a hand grip to allow you carry them that way, alternating hands, for some of the time. I also alternate shoulders. I currently use a ThinkTank Retrospective 30, which I am not sure I like, but it is working for now. Backpacks are difficult when it is hot and the gear is never at hand, however, if you are like Kyle, there is no question that you need one. I think I would look at some of the Lowepro products-their stuff is usually pretty good and well priced.
  15. I don't know where you're at but
    if you query Amazon for "Little
    Cherry" you will find a number of
    backpacks the seem to meet your
    criteria. The one thing I noticed
    about them specifically was that
    they are 'waterproof' not 'water
    resistant.' Of course you do know
    that nothing is totally
    waterproof. Eventually water will
    find a way to seep in, but this
    just might be your ticket. Let us
    know what you think.

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