Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Gadget Bag: Super Sized Backpacks
When you want to carry a lot of gear into the field, consider the three Cs: capacity, comfort and convenience
We often tout the benefits of going light when you’re hiking into the field, but there are occasions when it really makes sense to bring a full complement of lenses and accessories. Venturing into the backcountry to capture a special, pristine landscape with a lot of photo equipment on your back is doable with the right photo backpack. All of the major bag makers offer at least one supersized backpack model. When making your selection, be sure to match the size and shape to your torso, and keep the “three Cs” in mind: capacity, comfort and convenience.
Capacity is easy to evaluate, but don’t overlook the details that determine how all of that space is subdivided. Make sure you’re getting padded interior dividers, externally accessible pockets and separate accommodations for water bottles, tripods, a notebook computer and other items. Comfort is largely determined by the harness, straps and carrying handle. That means the best way to make a judgment is to try it on for size. Convenience is often the differentiating factor, and means different things to different people. If you like to listen to your iPod while hiking, or attach small pouches to the straps, for example, confirm that the backpack you buy is well designed and supports the features that are important to you. Following is a selection of models.
The Calumet BP1500 features a fully adjustable suspension system, which includes padded shoulder straps, an adjustable waist belt and a comfortable chest cinch strap. This allows you to redistribute load weight to match your frame and comfortably carry scads of equipment. You can easily stow two DSLRs with lenses attached, another body, five or six lenses, flash and much more. The lower compartment is completely
customizable to safely stow your gear, and the bottom is rubberized, with anti-skid feet and straps to lash a tripod or jacket. The outer top pocket provides three levels of storage for personal items, while the waist belt features two compartments for a GPS and cell phone. 10-year limited warranty. Estimated Street Price: $210.
Clik Elite Pro Elite
The Clik Elite Pro Elite backpack has room for one or two DSLRs, four or five lenses and tons of accessories. It has a computer sleeve that keeps a notebook PC secure, plus an outer pouch for smaller items. The Pro Elite has a top pocket that stows a GPS, photo wallets and the like, and a larger pocket for cables and compact external drives. Under the side pocket you’ll find a hidden tripod attachment. Clik Elite’s unique LadderFit harness system adjusts to four different torso lengths, so you’re assured of a great fit. The shoulder straps are comfortably padded and are supported by load-lifter straps and an adjustable sternum strap that facilitate load transfer. Hideaway rain cover included. Estimated Street Price: $325.
Modern design plus an eminently comfortable harness system equals the Kata HB-207 Hiker backpack. The large main compartment has space for two or three DSLRs, up to eight lenses (including a 400mm ƒ/2.8) and accessories, all safely protected by cushioned modular dividers. A separate top compartment allows direct access to a DSLR for quick removal. The HB-207 features a harness system that allows individual adjustment of the shoulder straps, an adjustable waist belt and a lumbar pad, making it easy to create a good fit. Also included are a laptop compartment, weatherproof elements cover and tripod carrier. And if you need even more room, you can connect other backpacks, torso packs or waist packs, thanks to Kata’s EHP interconnection system. Estimated Street Price: $215.
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