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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gadget Bag: Save Your Back

Think beyond the shoulder bag

Labels: Gadget BagGear

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Clik Elite Access Chest Pack; Scottevest SeV Expedition Jacket

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.

Tamrac Model 153
The Tamrac Model 153 World Correspondent's Vest was designed with photographers in mind. Particularly comfortable in moderate to warmer weather, it's constructed of 100% cotton with nylon mesh cooling vents. There are a total of 14 pockets, four of which are large enough for lenses. Two zippered side pockets securely store memory cards or car keys. Three more pockets inside the vest safely hold travel papers or other valuables. On the back, there's a large Velcro®-closing pocket that can stow a sack lunch or rollup rain hat. This timeless design features four D-rings on the front to facilitate attachment of a press pass or show badge, and snap-down epaulets that keep camera straps from slipping off the shoulder. Estimated Street Price: $114.

Sun Sniper TPH
The Sun Sniper TPH (Triple Press Harness) can accommodate as many as three pro-sized DSLRs with ease—one on the left, one on the right and one right up front. They cleverly deploy many friction-reducing bearing elements, shock absorbers and other physical devices to make it easier to carry a heavy load of gear without distress. Since the weight is evenly distributed, the rig feels balanced and steady. Your equipment is more secure, too. The Triple Harness has steel wire in the strap to prevent strap cutting. It's a system worth deeper investigation for all photographers.

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.

Think Tank Photo Speed Demon
Here's a name synonymous with unique carrying alternatives: Think Tank Photo. They revolutionized belt packs and didn't stop there. They have branched into state-of-the-art travel solutions for working pros, including the Airport International V2.0 and StreetWalker Pro, two bags that every professional should consider. If you want to move the weight of your DSLR, lenses, flash, etc., from your neck/shoulder to your torso, Think Tank can provide a well-engineered belt pack system. Their Speed Demon can accommodate most DSLRs and a few lenses. But don't stop there—you can add separate belt bags for lenses, flash and other accessories. Check out all of the options on their website. Estimated Street Price: $139 to $179.


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