Sport/active backpacks for LF

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by ron_betcher, Sep 1, 2003.

  1. I was wondering if anyone is using or has seen/heard of people using
    hi-tech skiing/boarding backpack that have hip and chest straps to
    carry their LF equipment. I need a new pack to carry my LF equip.
    When I'm skiing and "involved" hiking so I need a rather technical
    pack. Ideas???
  2. I use one of the larger LowePro backpacks made specifically for camera gear - mainly because of its good backpack design and its configurability for different cameras. Almost any good backpack could be made to work reasonably well, but you'd need to get creative about padding and packaging gear inside the pack.
  3. You might consider a Kelty Redwing pack, on sale at REI for $70.
    It loads front the front so you can have good access to your
    equipment. Like Ralph suggests, you need to fashion some sort
    of divider system to keep your gear organized and protected.
    Outdoor Research makes rectangular padded cells of all sizes
    that may work.
  4. I just got a Lowe Pro bag and I love it. How much time do you want to spend packing
    and unpacking your stuff? Yes, they are a little on the pricey side, but they last
  5. I was examining one of the North Face ski packs "Chute" in a store just yesterday, as I would like a non-photo daypack for South America. The ski pack comes in a 25 liter and 35 liter version. The ski attachments can hold a large tripod, and the larger version can certainly take an 8x10 and 3 film holders if wrapped properly. Internally there is a tool slot along the back that is just enough for my small tripod. The harness seems well made, with a padded waistbelt, and IIRC an aluminum reinforcement. Might be worth checking out. There is also a version with a snowboard attachment.
  6. For dividers and padding I use the insert of a Lightware Multiformat case (1217) in a front-loading backpack. I have used it in a REI "Evening Star" and presently it resides in a Mountainsmith "Ghost". As far as I know, it also fits a Kelty Redwing. I carry a Technikardan 45, up to 6 lenses, light meter, dark cloth, Readyload holder, up to two boxes of Readyload, filters, Lee Kompendium etc. in it and like the setup a lot. I have no personal experience with the present dedicated photo backpacks, but have used an older Lowe Photo Trekker and a Tamrac (787?) before, and the carrying system was not as good as with the regular packs.
  7. I use such a pack that is just an open canvas "box" with a top that opens using zippers down the full length of the pack. It's quite large. I put in photo type, dark gray foam rubber with holes cut for lenses, camera, etc. It's lightweight and it works very well. It has an internal metal bar system that they adjusted to my back at the time of purchase.
  8. Another vote here for LowePro back packs. My super trekker carries an Ebony, 3 or 4 lenses, 10 DDS, darkcloth, changing bag, meter, Metz, 2 lastolites, complete Lee filter system, meter , loupe, big tupperware box of polaroid with back and several boxes of film and still has room for a flece, gore-tex jacket, sandwiches and a flask. My tripod fixes to the back very neatly. It has a pukka expedition bergan back system, padded waist strap and chest strap.

    I was quite sceptical about them before I treid one, being a die-hard Billingham boy. I'd shudder to be without it now.
  9. Just a note of caution: you may want to consider airline carry-on restrictions when choosing a pack.

  10. I just picked up an REI "Grand Tour" - it easily holds an 8x10, darkcloth, five film holders (which is all I have so far), two lenses (also all I have so far), meter, etc. with room to spare for personal (non-camera) items. It also seems to have a pretty nice suspension system (internal frame, adjustable lumbar pad, padded hip straps, chest straps, etc.).
  11. I have been using a Kelty Redwing this summer for a 4x5 field camera, 4 lenses, film holders and all the other junk I need to carry. It has worked very well and is quite convenient. The field camera is rolled up in the dark cloth. The lenses are in a Tenba lens case with foam cut to support and isolate each lens in its board. The light meter and filters are in a little utility pack. Film holders in the outside pocket. The only thing I am lacking is a good way to carry a Bogen 3036 tripond (okay, I should have something lighter). I don't imagine the gear would survive if I fell any great distance and landed on it. On other hand I may not survive if I fell and the gear all landed on me.
  12. cxc


    A second note of caution -- if at all possible, try on the pack before buying it, especially if it has a waist strap and you are not a standard size. An ill-fitting pack like mine will lower your maximum tolerable load considerably.

    I'm off to try on a Redwing...

    6'6", 240#, sore shoulders, left hand going numb,
  13. Oh yeah. I know just what you mean, and I've got exactly what you are looking for:

    I use an Osprey Eclipse 42 as shown by the URL (well, mine's blue). Its main design function is for skiing/boarding - it's got the loops for skis, ice axes, etc.

    It is great for LF because of a couple of neat features. First, it's a front loader. Second, it's constructed of a nice high density foam. You load from the front, then pull the foam sides together and lash them down. It not only holds your equipment as close as possible to your back for better balance, but it also covers it with foam over the back, so it is more protected if (when) you fall. And, since you lash it down tight, you don't get those weight shifts that put you on the ground in the first place!

    Couple that with the harness construction (they used to call this the "straight jacket" design because it hugs you just like its namesake) and the huge range of fit options. It makes a superb LF mountaineer's backpack.

    Oh yes - it's also lightweight, and has a hydration pocket that can accomodate a four liter Platypus.

    Back in May I took my 14 kg (31lb) of LF gear and 3 kg of water (something over 3 liters, about 6.5 lb) up the trail from the valley floor of Yosemite to the top of Nevada falls and back. The pack weighted less by the time I sweated my way to the top ;-) but the Osprey pack was perfectly behaved all the way up and down (about 13 km, or 8 miles). The fit was unbelievable -- the hip belt is as comfortable as I can imagine, and the load lifter adjustment is as good as it gets. Felt so good all day long that I never gave the pack a thought at all. And that's exactly what I want in a pack.

    What's not to like???
  14. That Osprey 42 pack looks really nice. I've looked at the lowe pro packs, but the seem a little behind in fit and stabilty with extreme use. I've found some by DaKine, arc'teryx, and golite. There are a couple of gregory packs that look promising, and there is one called the advent pro that is light and should stay inplace when you move......has anybody ever seen,used,or tried one on???
  15. I think this question gets asked often enough to where we ought to have a review section for it, as we do for cameras.
  16. I use a Jansport internal-frame pack for my 810N monorail kit. Works fine. Everything fits, its comfortable.
  17. Matthew

    The "carrying equipment" category is there for that very reason :).

    Rob the mod.
  18. Ron, any real internal frame pack (Arctery'x, Gregory, Kelty, Mountainsmith, North Face, Osprey, and similar manufacturers) would be a good choice provided it fits you well. I personally despise the LowePro photography specific packs as they're not very useful for carrying much besides photo gear, even though they have an OK frame and suspension.

    So you know where I'm coming from, I've been hauling camera gear around for close to 20 years now. I use a Mountainsmith Telemark and Frostfire II which I bought about 10 years ago (back when Mountainsmith was cheap). Both are internal frame packs with full suspensions. The Telemark has tens of thousands of miles on it, the Frostfire's well into the hundreds. Most of this distance is hiking and backpacking, but it also includes hefty amounts of skiing, bicycling, more technical things like scrambling, rock climbing, mountaineering, and various other stuff like snow camping, hiking from a kayak, and so on. I regularly carry some mixture of backcountry skis, poles, crampons, and ice axes in addition to around 15 pounds of camera gear, the 10 essentials, and whatever camping equipment I have (bivy sack, tent, sleeping back, stove, etc.). I usually wind up with a pack in the 30 to 45 pound range, but I've sometimes carried 55. (Kerry Thalmann regularly carried 65 with the the same kind of gear when he was shooting 8x10.)

    So I'd like to think I have a bit of clue about this kind of thing.

    Other posters have recommended various packs which work well for them. What hasn't been pointed out, and what I think is probably most important, is every manufacturer tailors their packs differently and different packs from the same manufacturer have different cuts as well as coming in different sizes. How each pack fits to your particular body depends on a lot of fine details. A good sales clerk will do a good job adjusting a pack properly, but that's not at all the same as having one which really fits well. In my experience it's not until you've got a couple hundred miles on it that you really know how well it works. Bring as much of the stuff you usually carry as you can to throw in packs you're trying out, add 10 or 20 pounds or so for good measure, and walk around in the store for as long as the clerks will let you. This'll ususally narrow the field down to a couple of packs which fit pretty well.

    For example, even though I have two older Mountainsmiths, current Mountainsmiths don't fit me at all. I find Ospreys too wide, Keltys too short, and Gregorys just about perfect. I recently came close to buying a Gregory (my Telemark's almost worn out) and ended up walking around the store wearing a Gregory with another guy wearing an Osprey---he'd been wearing the Gregory while I was trying the Osprey and we struck up a conversation in handing the packs to each other---discussing the two packs. He liked just about everything I disliked about how the Osprey fit and I liked just about everything in the Gregory's cut that didn't work for him. When carrying a significant load, what matters is how well you fit the pack, and that's at least as personal as how well a bike seat fits your butt.

    The more load carrying you do, the easier it is to find a good fit; there's no substitute for experience. For lighter loads, namely around 20 pounds or so and lighter, it's relatively easy to get away with a pack that doesn't fit all that well. The pack may well feel fine with this amount of weight, too. I find fit becomes much more sensitive at 30 pounds and up. Sometimes problems are obvious, as in Christopher's case, sometimes they're much more subtle. I once went through a stretch of months where my back was sore most of the time, particularly after sleeping, and usually worst in the middle of the week. I eventually figured out the problem was I'd added around 5 pounds to my usual load in my usual pack, which changed the waist harness's fit on the pelvis. Put my sacrum slightly out of whack and kept it from seating quite right, hence the sore back. I'm still not sure why it took two or three days after a weekend trip for things get the most uncomfortable.

    Probably the only drawback of getting a real pack over a LowePro is you may have to be little more careful in loading the pack to keep camera gear safe. Most of the time it doesn't matter, but a good fall while skiing on ice can be pretty hard on lenses if they're on the impact side of the pack and aren't padded (yes, I figured this out the hard way). Shrug. That's what dark cloths and spare clothes are for. Granola works pretty good too. I've also come close to cracking a dark slide in a fall while scrambling; my extra film holders were right under the crampon patch and I ended up hitting the crampons on rock on the way down, pushing a crampon point into the film holder. No big deal, if your brain's turned on.

    The one other thing I've found fiddly is the best place to put a tripod is through the compression straps on one side or the other of the pack (not in the back where the silly little tripod holder on the LowePros goes) which, depending on the size of the pack can make for a tight fit if you're carrying skis. In my case the yoke of my 1325 is wide enough I can fit the rear binding on the ski between the legs of the tripod and it's not a problem, but it would be a hassle with a 3021.
  19. Todd gives a great answer. He is right on the money about just how personal fit is, and how important it is.

    I arrived at my choice by doing just what Todd says. I tried a number of packs in the stores by loading them with 17-18 kg and then walked around the store as long as they would let me. Some packs took me all of 30 seconds to evaluate (back on the rack, thanks for your time). The Osprey just sort of clicked - I could adjust it to get a really good fit, and the feeling of fit didn't deteriorate as the time I wore it built up. Osprey or no, you need to find a pack that does this for you. Personally, I have my doubts that this will happen with any of the photo-specific packs, but you won't know until you try.

    I forgot to mention that the Osprey also does a good job with a tripod. I have a Gitzo 1227 with an Arca-Swiss B1. It's normally awkward and top heavy to carry. I found though that you can put a leg in each of the bottom straps designed for skis, and use an existing strap to tie around the ball head and the strap at the center top (designed as the carry strap that you use to pick up the pack when you aren't wearing it). This centers the tripod both horizontally and vertically, and holds it securely. Easy access also. And... I'm not sure that securing the tripod this way would preclude also strapping on the skis. I've never done it - I'm not a skier.
  20. Here is my evolutionary perspective. I got tired of the big array of carrying cases that Ive owned for different purposes. Ive got everything from a Pelican, to specialty packs that fit my photo equip specifically. What I have evolved to is this: I now own a soft sided Gnass Gear 8x10 lens holder. In it I carry 3 lenses, my spot-meter, loupe, ReadyLoad holder, box of film, and all my filters. This method provides me the ability to change packs. I can go from a day pack, to my weekend pack, to my expeditionary pack with still having the super easy access to the gear. The three other things that I carry is the camera, tripod, and dark cloth. The camera is wrapped in my jacket that doubles as a dark cloth. And the tripod is always strapped to the outside of the pack. This method has proved to be the most successful. I have learned modularity is the key. It is the lightest and easiest method. It also does not scream steal me, if you choose to travel to places where this may be a risk. I have even bought a sleeping mattress pad cover to keep my tripod in to make the pack even more low key, and blend in better. I have just found the looks of people decrease as a result of wearing 'standard' backpacks, not 'photo' packs or even cases.
    In regards to skiing, backpacking etc, this system works ideal. I do the same. Like most have mentioned above, choose a good pack one that fits you well, and that you like. Then fit your small camera bag in it. Good luck.

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