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
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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.


Calumet BP1500

Calumet BP1500
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.


Kata HB-207 Hiker

Kata HB-207 Hiker
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.


This Article Features Photo Zoom

Lowepro Pro Trekker 600 AW

Lowepro Pro Trekker 600 AW
Famous for fit and comfort, Lowepro offers the Pro Trekker 600 AW to haul everything but the kitchen sink. The main section holds two or three pro DSLRs with grips (one with a lens up to 600mm attached), plus five or six additional lenses, a 15-inch notebook and other accessories. Not one, but three, integrated tripod sleeves located at the front and sides provide space to secure tripods, monopods, and trekking or ski poles. Two spacious side pockets hold large accessories; one includes a seam-sealed pouch that can hold a bladder containing up to 70 ounces of liquid (doesn’t include a hydration reservoir). An ingenious removable waistpack can be used either as a backpack lid (providing extra security and weather protection) or as a traditional waistpack. The Pro Trekker 600 is durable and finely made, and comes with Lowepro’s patented AW (All Weather) Cover. Estimated Street Price: $399.

Mountainsmith Parallax Pro
The Mountainsmith Parallax Pro daypack is constructed from 100% recycled 450d ReDura PET for the body fabric, YKK zippers and other high-quality components. The main compartment is fleece-lined, featuring padded adjustable dividers and an organization panel. Refinements include a laminated mesh interior zippered pocket, a pair of mesh side pockets that hold the larger 22-ounce water bottles and a front accessory pocket with key clip. To make the load feel lighter, Mountainsmith has included comfortable contoured shoulder straps, an adjustable sternum strap, a molded back panel and a molded rubber haul handle. The Parallax Pro accommodates up to a 17-inch laptop and comes with a padded, tuck-away waistbelt, tripod strap and removable storm cover. Estimated Street Price: $189.


Tamrac Adventure 10 Model 5550

Tamrac Adventure 10 Model 5550
Tamrac’s Adventure 10 Model 5550 easily stows a professional-sized DSLR (like a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV or Nikon D3X) with a 70-200mm zoom attached, plus at least four more lenses, a flash, a meter, filters and more in the nicely padded lower compartment. In the upper part, there’s room for foul weather gear, food or other items. A separate, completely foam-padded compartment provides safe storage for a 17-inch MacBook Pro or smaller notebook. Water bottles, loose lens caps or trail snacks can be slipped into large mesh pockets located on either side. The storage space is well organized and supported by a padded backpack harness with a sternum strap that’s contoured for even weight distribution. Estimated Street Price: $179.


Tenba Shootout

Tenba Shootout
The Tenba Shootout Backpack (Large) can be loaded with two DSLRs, seven lenses and a 17-inch notebook. It has a padded main section that’s nicely divided for photo equipment and a removable padded, reinforced laptop compartment. Additional items can be stowed in the padded side pockets and plasticized mesh pockets. It also features web loops to hold accessories, plus a removable media wallet and pouch for a phone or MP3 player. The fully adjustable harness features a waist belt and is studded with multiple clip-on points for pouches and accessories. Handles on the top and on both sides allow you to take hold from any direction. Tenba’s exclusive MSTC (Multi-Stage Tripod Carrying) system is provided for easy tripod access, and the WeatherWrap rain hood will keep out the elements. Estimated Street Price: $249.

RESOURCES
Calumet Photo
(800) 225-8638
www.calumetphoto.com
Clik Elite
(888) 532-2545
www.clikelite.com
Kata
(201) 818-9500
www.kata-bags.us
Lowepro
(800) 800-LOWE
www.lowepro.com
Mountainsmith
(800) 551-5889
www.mountainsmith.com
Tamrac
(800) 662-0717
www.tamrac.com
Tenba
(914) 347-3300
www.tenba.com