Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Gadget Bag: Save Your Back
Think beyond the shoulder bag
When I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, I was determined not to allow it to interfere with my regular activities. What started as a constant, but tolerable pain escalated to daily agony accompanied by sleepless nights. That's when I realized that wearing a camera around my neck wasn't in my best interest.
Nonetheless, like most photographers, I felt my camera must be ready for use in an instant—I had to find a better way to carry my gear, but it had to remain readily accessible. To my surprise, I discovered many solutions. As I began evaluating the alternatives, it immediately became clear that I had to adopt more than one, depending on the season, situation and the amount of equipment I needed to haul.
My overall goal was to achieve balanced weight distribution, with little or no load on my neck. The ideal remedy should allow me to walk long distances for long hours with few additional aches and pains. By alternating between the various systems described here, I've been able to accomplish exactly that.
When I first heard that the Scottevest SeV Expedition Jacket had 37 pockets, I thought it must be a parlor trick—but upon inspection, I admit it's thoroughly practical. It offers photographers plenty of room for lenses, compact cameras, a light meter or two, an iPod and iPad (yes, iPad), filters, wayward lens caps, a GPS and much, much more. Equally important, there are places to stow things that always seem to get in the way, like car keys, water bottles, sunglasses and lunch. There are special hideaways for your passport, business cards and a multitool, too. Made of waterproof and breathable material, the SeV Expedition is machine-washable and comes complete with a detachable hood. Estimated Street Price: $200.
The closest you'll ever come to having four arms is strapping on a Clik Elite Access Chest Pack. It's designed to carry a DSLR or small camcorder in front of you, on your chest, where it's always accessible. It's a great carry solution for bike riders, too, and puts zero stress on necks. Compression buckles secure the camera and hold it steady in its cocoon while your arms are free for other duties. The pack includes Clik Elite's ChestPort system, so it can be used in conjunction with many of their backpacks. Alternatively, it can be used with the provided harness. The pack is made from 330-denier ripstop Cordura with 1680-denier ballistic nylon trim, which means that it should last forever. Estimated Street Price: $68.
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