Comfort, Durability And Functionality
Since comfort is often the first requirement, many of the smaller packs have wide, padded straps. Many bags have harness-type straps that interconnect across the chest or waist belt and allow you to redistribute the load to achieve better balance. A properly balanced load helps prevent one muscle group from becoming more fatigued than others, and that means greater comfort.
Durability is the next consideration. External material is generally a nylon derivative, or ballistic nylon. The linear mass, or "heaviness" of the fabric, is graded inDenier—higher numbers are better. Bags that look like they will last long never do; that applies to the zippers and snaps, also. The most highly respected zipper brand is YKK—many backpack manufacturers proudly advertise the use of YKK zippers.
Is the backpack water repellent? Even if it is, experienced photographers opt for a rain cover. In fact, many popular bags include fitted, seam-sealed rain covers as part of the standard package.
Functionality is sometimes compromised to achieve greater comfort and durability. By definition, backpacks position the gear behind you, sometimes making it difficult to reach a lens or accessory, particularly when you’re on the move. If accessibility is more critical than capacity, consider one of the sling-type packs that can be quickly swung around from your back to your front. If capacity rules, consider using a waist pack in addition to your backpack—that way you can keep frequently used items at your fingertips.
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