Serious hikers depend on backpacks to carry their shelter, clothing and chow. This popularity has provided fuel for variety, innovation and attractive prices. But not all backpacks are suitable—or sensible—for carrying camera gear. Properly designed photo backpacks protect your equipment while making it easier for you to carry a heavy load. Those with neck or back problems appreciate the redistribution of weight afforded by backpacks. Most offer space to stow personal items, music players, raingear or a lightweight jacket, food and a bottle or two of water. Many photographers carry a notebook computer with their photo gear on a daily basis. Photo backpacks really shine because all of your equipment can be packed into one easy-to-carry bag.
Check these details when selecting a backpack. Starting with what you plan to carry, will it hold everything you need? How many cameras and how many lenses? What size computer? Then look for telltale signs of comfort (strap construction, padding), accessibility (how easy it is to reach your gear) and durability (weather-resistant with sturdy snaps and zippers).
Tamrac Adventure 10
The Tamrac Adventure 10 Model 5550 is designed for photographers who use a pro digital SLR. The pack will accommodate a large camera with grip and zoom lens attached, plus additional lenses, a flash, accessories and a laptop. The bottom portion provides protective padding while the top affords space for personal items like a jacket or snacks. The computer compartment is separated from the other storage areas and easily holds the largest MacBook Pro or similar 17-inch computer. Two mesh side pockets provide quick access to accessories and water bottles. The strap harness is secure and comfortable enough for a long haul with a heavy load. Smaller models are available in the Tamrac Adventure series.
Think Tank Photo Airport Addicted V2.0
The Airport Addicted V2.0 from Think Tank Photo is the frequent-flying photographer’s best friend. Designed specifically with airport travel in mind, it holds the maximum amount of gear you can take aboard a plane as legal carry-on. Features include a beefy security cable and combination locks that allow you to lash your bag to an immovable object, plus a fully removable computer case that allows easy access to a 15-inch laptop once you’ve boarded the plane. Inside the lid there are pockets for odds and ends, and you’ll find a zippered top pocket to stow your ticket, passport or reading material. The shoulder harness is nicely padded and provides two stretch pockets on the front, two D-rings to attach accessories and an adjustable sternum strap.
Mountainsmith Spectrum Daypack
The Mountainsmith Spectrum Daypack has been redesigned for 2010 and is now made with 100% recycled PET ReDura material. Sized for popular compact DSLRs in the Nikon D90 range, it offers a comfortable, molded back panel, rubber molded haul handle, contoured shoulder straps, adjustable sternum strap and a load-stabilizing compression system for all-day carrying comfort. The top-access padded computer compartment will hold most 17-inch laptops, and the net side pockets fit oversized water bottles.
Lowepro SlingShot 200 AW
Lowepro offers gadget bags, backpacks, cases and shoulder bags to meet every need. One of their most imitated is the SlingShot series. The unique and highly practical design allows the bag to be quickly shifted from “carry mode” to “ready mode.” Simply swing the bag around from your back to your front and open the zippered flap. The SlingShot 200 AW model will hold a DSLR and up to six lenses, and features a pair of roomy pockets for smaller accessories like flash units or filters. There’s even a permanently sewn-in microfiber cloth that covers and protects the camera’s LCD, a memory card pouch and a place to stow your lens cap so it doesn’t get lost when you sling into action.