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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gadget Bag: Hybrid Backpacks

For summer hiking, try carrying your gear in a pack that’s part photo bag and part backpack

Labels: Gadget BagBackpacks

This Article Features Photo Zoom

For comfort, convenience and sheer capacity, photo backpacks are hard to beat. Most can stow a ton of cameras and lenses, and many have special pockets for small personal items, music players and maybe a water bottle. But trouble often begins when you try to pack something larger—like food or a lightweight jacket. It can be easier to pound a square peg into a round hole than to pack your lunch—unless you opt for a hybrid backpack that features a large, open compartment that’s separated from the photo gear.

This time of year, the warm summer afternoons are often punctuated with big, booming thunderstorms that bloom around much of the country. Having rain gear, a hat and a collapsible umbrella can save the day. Hybrid backpacks let you match your cargo to the weather conditions. They keep your camera equipment sheltered and securely separated from the other items in the payload.

Well-made backpacks have high-quality zippers, straps that are strongly attached and adequate padding—particularly in the equipment compartment. If the bag that catches your eye is deficient in any of these three areas, pass it by.

Since you’ll be carrying the entire load behind you, make sure that the size of the pack and location of the harness match your torso. High-quality hybrid backpacks are affordable, so consider owning two—one that’s suitable for an all-day outing and a smaller, lighter pack that’s big enough for a camera, a couple of lenses and your foul-weather gear.

Tenba Mixx
The Tenba Mixx Photo Daypack has quick-access hatches and enough space in the camera section for your DSLR, two or three lenses and various shooting accessories. The top section has enough space for some light trail food and a packable jacket, sunscreen and other essentials for the trail. The camera compartment is fully customizable, and you can remove the Mixx pack’s dividers to create a completely open backpack if you wish. Contact: www.tenba.com.

Tamrac Adventure 7
The Tamrac Adventure 7 Model 5547 is compact and lightweight (less than 2.5 pounds empty), but still can accommodate professional-sized DSLR cameras and lenses. Hybrid in the truest sense, it’s like two bags in one. The lower section is a fully padded camera compartment; the upper part is a traditional backpack large enough to hold a light jacket, lunch or other personal items. It also features bidirectional zipper pulls, mesh-type side pockets for quick access to accessories, foam-padded internal dividers and a nicely padded harness. Side pockets hold a pair of water bottles, while the generously sized front pouch accommodates memory cards, GPS or the like. Contact: www.tamrac.com.

National Geographic Earth Explorer
The National Geographic NG5159 Earth Explorer backpack has three compartments that separately store camera equipment, personal items and a laptop computer. Made of earth-friendly, blended cotton/hemp material, the NG5159 is water-repellent and comes with a protective rain cover. The lower padded photo compartment holds a camera, lenses and accessories, and features modular dividers to customize the storage space for maximum utility. The upper compartment stores personal items and is covered by a large pull-tight flap. The divider between the upper and lower compartments can be removed to create one large storage space. Contact: www.geographicbags.us.


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