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Camera bags: Backpacks vs. Shoulder Bags

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Thread started 25 Jul 2005 (Monday) 12:04   
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fetching
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I am looking around for a new camera bag to buy to store my XT, several lenses and some accessories.

While I like the idea of a backpack that allows me to distribute weight across my back, holds a tripod strapped onto the outside and keeps my stuff out of the way when I am shooting or walking, I've also heard some bad things about them such as:

-gear hard to access without taking bag off.

-bags that open accidentally and gear falls out.

it seems like a shoulder bag solves those issues, but unless you sling the bag around to sit on your back, it's going to weigh down one shoulder. i think even with it slung around, the weight still won't be equally distributed.

while i can see myself reaching for my camera while walking and wearing a bag, and not wanting to stop to access the contents, i can't see myself making any big lens changes or anything.

any thoughts on which is a better style? or a specific bag that might address all these needs?

Post #1, Jul 25, 2005 12:04:16




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Jon
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Domke (and a couple of the others) makes a backpack strap for their bags (a separate add-on) so when you're not going to be working from it you can sling it over both shoulders. Not as good as a regular backpack for that, but miles better for working from in the field! I only use a backpack camera bag (or backpack with camera gear inside) if I'm doing a significant hike. Oherwise it's my Domke bags.

Post #2, Jul 25, 2005 13:27:43


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toyguru
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You are asking the eternal question of what is the better bag! Everyone has this delemma when it comes to the camera carrying needs. I currently have 2 shoulder bags and one LowePro backpack. I'm going to order a shoulder bag (Tamrac Velocity 9) just to help complete my set of indecision!

The backpack is nice if you just want to carry everything and don't want to leave anything behind. When I walk around with it I usually have my camera around my neck with the lens I'm going to be using the most that day and I keep my back-up camera in the pack. I would also have my tripod, other camera gear, water bottle, snack (sometimes lunch) and other things (kitchen sink) in the pack if I'm going to be walking around the whole day. I also use the bag to store my equipment when I'm not using it for extended periods of time (hasn't happened yet). I have never had anything fall out of the backpack before, but I also make sure that the straps are secure before I put it on my back.

I use my shoulder bags with my backpack. I'll load my shoulder bag on location with the contents from the backpack with the gear I feel I need and leave the backpack in the car. This way if I need anything else I can go back to the car to get what I need. I like the shoulder bags because they are smaller and it's easier to get things out and in when changing lenses. I still like carrying the backpack more because of wieght distribution especially on long hikes. The shoulder bag that I have, even though it is well padded on the strap, feels as if it digs into my shoulder on long hikes even if I switch shoulders.

I think that the choice of bag is going to depend on individual likes as well as the type of gear you plan on carrying. You might have to do what everyone else does..... buy a bunch of different bags and try them all out!!:D

I am convinced that finding the Holy Grail would be easier than finding the perfect photo bag!

Post #3, Jul 25, 2005 13:36:19


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Mitcon
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I prefer to use a backpack myself, I hike for most of the type of shooting I do carrying about 20kg +. That would give me alot of pain if just on one shoulder. I wear a photog vest for all the little bits you might want to grab without having to take the backpack off.

Post #4, Jul 25, 2005 14:01:30 as a reply to toyguru's post 25 minutes earlier.


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lostdoggy
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Tamrac Velocity is in between a shoulder bag and a backpack. Its a sling type pack that resemble a messenger bag nd it can be swivel while to the front or access and also comes with a wait strap for better weight distribution on long hikes. The short end is that accessing a lens in the bottom is a little more work. I currently use the velocity 9 and it fits one long lens and three normal size lenses and a flash. My tripod comes with a bag but since I don't normally carry my tripod I stick my monopod on the side loop and secure it with a velcro wire strap. Best of all it doesn't look like a camera bag and I don't have to put it down to get to my gears and shoot. can seem to trust passerby.

Post #5, Jul 25, 2005 16:13:41




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Fooboy
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I think you will probably end up getting both! I know I did as it is nice to have the right bag for the right situation.

I have a Rover AW 2 backpack and it isn't too bad to get stuff out of. Used it on a holiday around Europe. As the bottom part is the camera storage you can get things out by just taking off one shoulder and swinging the bag to the front. I didn't have any problems with it opening or anything like that.

Another option which you have not listed is to use a belt pack type setup. My brother uses this with his 300D. A camera pouch and 2 lens pouches on either side. He wears it around his waist and it is easy to get to and comfortable. I'm thinking of going to a similar setup, but it does limit how much you can take.

Post #6, Jul 27, 2005 07:30:11 as a reply to lostdoggy's post 1 day earlier.




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robertwgross
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If you have to carry 30-40 pounds worth of gear, then the backpack is the way to go. It is the only way to distribute that much weight over your body comfortably. Unfortunately, you have to take it all off to extract your camera for a quick shoot.

If I am carrying only 10 pounds worth of gear, then I carry it in a canvas shopping bag over one shoulder. It is much quicker for access, but it looks like hell.

I had to do a 16-mile trek to shoot some petroglyphs, so I used a large waist pack to carry normal hiking stuff (food, water, jacket) and then I used the shoulder bag to carry the camera gear (for quick access).

There is no perfect solution.

---Bob Gross---

Post #7, Jul 27, 2005 10:56:56 as a reply to Fooboy's post 3 hours earlier.




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Lester ­ Wareham
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fetching wrote:
I am looking around for a new camera bag to buy to store my XT, several lenses and some accessories.

While I like the idea of a backpack that allows me to distribute weight across my back, holds a tripod strapped onto the outside and keeps my stuff out of the way when I am shooting or walking, I've also heard some bad things about them such as:

-gear hard to access without taking bag off.

-bags that open accidentally and gear falls out.

it seems like a shoulder bag solves those issues, but unless you sling the bag around to sit on your back, it's going to weigh down one shoulder. i think even with it slung around, the weight still won't be equally distributed.

while i can see myself reaching for my camera while walking and wearing a bag, and not wanting to stop to access the contents, i can't see myself making any big lens changes or anything.

any thoughts on which is a better style? or a specific bag that might address all these needs?

I have used a waist bag for quite a few years. It has an integral waist belt and I attach a shoulder strap.



When I am walking the belt is done up and the shoulder strap over my left shoulder. The weight of the bag is comfortable and well balanced riding on my hips.



When I need access I undo the belt and instantly have a shoulder bag.



This is OK for strolls around the countryside. For serious hill and mountain walking you need a backpack. What I have done in the past is attach this bag to the bottom of a frame pack with two karabiners and then I have the packs bag section for warmer clothing layers and waterproofs etc.



The bag was made by Camera Care Systems but they no longer produce it.



I would say the nearest equivalent would be a Lowprow AW reporter with their waist belt attached.

Post #8, Jul 28, 2005 02:29:53


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pehabe
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what you are looking is maybe Lowepro Trim Trekker... it is a backpack which has opening on the top, not like the other backpack... Unfortunately Lowepro stop selling this model.
My reason is also the same as you. I do not like the backpack opening.

cheers...

Post #9, Jul 28, 2005 13:00:41


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hjoli
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I have a few different bags. I have the Canon Gadgets bag, the new Canon Backpack (which I *love*) and another top/bottom backpack (which I despise with a passion!)

I don't like the top/bottom because it is just too hard to get at your stuff. It does keep everything well protected, just not good enough access, also once as I was trying to get something out of it that was stuck, I tugged a bit too hard and the bag went tumbling down a steep bank. All I managed to loose was a lens cap, but I guess my point is it is just too much work to get your camera out of when you see that shot.

Now the Canon backpack on the other hand is great! I can carry my tripod, jacket, water bottle, 2 SLR's, G2, flash, 2 medium lenses and a giant 75-300 USM, all of my film, filters, CF cards, accessories and everything and have great access to it all. I can have the camera out and snapping picutres in seconds. This has proved to be the best birthday present my husband has ever bought me. (Now I just need to convince him that I *need* a Rebel XT for Christmas!)

I just use the gadgets bag when it isn't practical to use the backpack. But I wouldn't trade it for another, I can still fit alot of gear into that little bag. All of my bags we have gotten from B&H Photo.

Post #10, Jul 29, 2005 07:16:44 as a reply to pehabe's post 18 hours earlier.




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lostdoggy
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The problem with backpack for everyday use is the ease of access. You have to remove it from your shoulder in order to get to the gears. Slings dont have that restiction. You would just swing the bag to the front and open the bag. The intregal belt strap helps you during long walks.

Post #11, Jul 29, 2005 11:29:43




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fetching
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i went out this weekend and looked at several bags from Lowepro, Tamrac and Crumpler.

I really liked the Lowepro Mini Trekker AW (backpack) and the Lowepro Nova 4 or 5 (shoulder bag).

Having trouble deciding which one I want. i like the nova 4 better than the nova 5, but i think the nova 5 is a better size to grow with.

the mini trekker is really nice, period.

btw, i saw some crumpler photo back packs and while they have great colors and a very nice look to them, they are awkward and hard to get in to. the zipper and opening for them is attached to the wall that sits next to your back, and i think it's actually behind the straps so you have to take it completely off to open. that might be safer to keep gear from falling out, but just too hard to access.

i also found the tamrac velocity bags comfortable but hard to access anything but the top most layer of gear.

Post #12, Aug 01, 2005 14:27:30




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CyberDyneSystems
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Backpacks are inconveinient and cumbersome. they are not handy at all to work out of either on the gorund or on your back.

They do however fill a certain role.. but if you only get one.. get a shoulder bag which you can actually work out of.

If you see a need for a backpack for hiking or travelling.. then they would make sense.

Post #13, Aug 01, 2005 15:06:34


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napolar
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This past weekend my wife and I took a trip up to Chicago. I do not have that much gear, as you can see from my list below, but after walking up & down Michigan Ave. on Friday, my sholder was KILLING me. I am very much interested in this thread as I am now planning on getting a backpack type case. Now after reading this thread, I'm not sure that they would have worked either. I want something where I can get to my stuff, have it fairly secure, but have no problem carrying it around all day long. I thought that the answer was the mini-trecker. Anyone who has this one let me know if it will meet my requirements. Thanks

Post #14, Aug 02, 2005 12:52:51 as a reply to CyberDyneSystems's post 21 hours earlier.


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fetching
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napolar wrote:
I thought that the answer was the mini-trecker.

i looked at those (the AW model) and really liked them. well made and plenty of room for a fair amount of stuff.

i'm fairly torn about which to buy, the mini trekker or the nova 5. i think i may end up with the back pack over the shoulder bag just because i can wear a backpack over one shoulder if i want (to increase comfort and safety, i actually will slide the pack on as if i were wearing it on the front of my body, but leave one strap loose. i have a small shoulder camera bag that i've owned for years and is in amazing shape that will hold a camera and a few lenses.

in other words, the backpack can function a bit like a shoulder bag but the shoulder bag can never be a backpack.

Post #15, Aug 02, 2005 13:59:19 as a reply to napolar's post 1 hour earlier.




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