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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Shopping for Backpacks - Help Me Choose
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04/24/2008 02:04:03 PM · #1
I've sort of hit a brick wall while looking for a new backpack for my gear. Unfortunately none of the local shops carry what I want, so I'm more or less reliant on user suggestions and opinions. I'd like it to carry at least the following:

- Canon 5D + Grip
- Canon 24-105mm f/4IS
- Canon 70-200mm f/2.8IS
- Canon 17-40mm f/4
- Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro
- Canon 580EX
- Tripod
- 12.1" Tablet PC

My requirements are that it is either waterproof or has a full rain cover, in addition to some extra room for hiking gear such as snacks, flashlight, water bottle, and a light jacket. I plan to use this for day hikes, air travel, and poking around the city.

Here's what I've been considering:

- Kata HB-207
- Kata R-103
- Tamrac Expedition 7x or 8x
- Tenba PB-15C or PB-17C
- Lowepro Vertex 200 AW or 300 AW

If I had to choose now, I would probably go for the Tamrac Expedition 7x, but I'm not sure if it's big enough and I don't know how the suspension system compares to other brands. The Kata R-103 looks nice, but the lack of a waist belt might be an issue. Money isn't a huge concern, but I'd certainly like to spend under $300.

Input is very much appreciated if anyone has opinions or comments about any of the above backpacks!

Message edited by author 2008-04-24 14:07:13.
04/24/2008 02:21:35 PM · #2
I have the Expedition 7, and I love it. The whole suspension system is very comfortable even loaded down with lots of gear. It will fit everything listed no prob, except it doesn't have a dedicated laptop compartment. You could fit it in the large front pocket, but there's no real padding for it. I also got the optional large side pockets for it which are very handy and larger than they appear. I keep 2 580's, Turbo battery + cords, and Lightsphere in those. I can't say enough good things about the pack, but if you need a dedicated laptop compartment, the Expedition series is the wrong choice. Hope that helps.
04/24/2008 02:28:16 PM · #3
Thanks for the comments Telehubbie!

Actually, within the last couple of months, Tamrac released a new series of Expedition backpacks (notice the X after the 7) which includes a retrofitted laptop compartment in the front. :D

Message edited by author 2008-04-24 14:29:21.
04/24/2008 02:36:52 PM · #4
I would suggest checking out www.amvona.com. I got this backpack from amvona on ebay for $30 + $15 shipping! I love my bag. its big but i wanted something that would grow with me. it also has the laptop compartment and tons of places to put things.
04/24/2008 02:40:18 PM · #5
Ooh, that's a very cool addition, and cheaper than what I got mine for! In that case, I say go for it. I tried the 8 on, and it's a REALLY long bag, so I opted for the side pockets instead.

Here's a link to the Large Side Pockets if that interests you. Happy shopping!
04/24/2008 02:47:56 PM · #6
Im actually planning to buy the tamrac ex7 today. My amvona pack just bit the dust after 2 years service. it has been a good pack but in the last 6mths I have had to reinforce the back straps as they were coming unattached, the other day in the field one strap just ripped off while putting it on.
04/24/2008 03:13:08 PM · #7
I have the Lowepro CompuRover AW Holds all the gear listed in my profile along with my sigma flash ...
04/24/2008 04:20:27 PM · #8
I have and love the Crumpler Sinking Barge and love it. I can fit alot of my equipment in their. PLus my other backup camera. Only thing I dont like is no space or anywhere to hook on my tripod. So I just brought a nice case with a strap for my tripod

Message edited by author 2008-04-24 16:21:42.
04/24/2008 06:53:10 PM · #9
Telehubbie: Thanks for confirming my suspicions about the 7 vs 8, I'm pretty sure the 7x will be more than accommodating, especially with the pockets. This backpack is looking pretty sweet right now.

I want something that makes tripod attachment easy, secure and balanced. How does the Tamrac perform in this respect?

smilebig4me1x: The Amvona packs look really nice and the price is great. I was reading awhile back about people using the Amvona ball heads over the Giottos, the quality debate seemed pretty polarized but the consensus seemed to be that they were pretty good.

digitalpins: I love Crumpler's designs, and it looks like they have a weather cover now. I guess the lack of a tripod mount could be an issue for me though - it seems the two loops in the back of the bag could be use for lashing a tripod, no?

I'd love to hear from any owners of the Tenba PB-15C or Kata bags. =D

Message edited by author 2008-04-24 19:02:36.
04/24/2008 09:15:45 PM · #10
I have a Tamrac Expedition 5 and I love it, it is very comfortable to carry loaded. Too small for all your gear, but the Expedition 7 ought to be a great fit for you.

As far as tripod attachment, I don't like strapping mine onto the back of the tripod where the built-in straps are. The top of the tripod can hit the back of your head if you lean back, and it makes getting into and out of the pack awkward. BUT, the bottom of the pack has thread points for an additional set of straps (sold seperate) that will hold the tripod under there. I may try that myself, although for now I just carry the tripod by hand.
04/24/2008 09:20:04 PM · #11
I dont know if you already know this, but if you do buy one, tear off any logos that indicate that you carry camera equipment in there. Theives know that camera equipment is very expensive and Camera brand backpacks are dead giveaway to thieves.
04/24/2008 09:40:59 PM · #12
Dakine Sequence. It's a backcountry ski/snowboard bag with an integrated camera block... lots of straps for a shovel, snowboard, tripod or lightstands, some side pouches for a lunch and a waterbottle, and some extra space inside for a light jacket. Doesn't really have room for a computer, although the shovel pocket could work it isnt well padded...

The real bonus: it doesnt look anything like a camera bag, and its made by a company that knows a ton about making a perfectly fitting backpack for athletic people.

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04/24/2008 09:48:32 PM · #13
Have you looked at the Tamrac Adventure series? I have the style you are looking at and that are recommended here but find they do not offer much room (if any) for personal gear like lunch, clothing, surival kit, etc. They do a great job for storing your gear on a road trip but not for hiking. I end up stuffing my camera and lenses into a regular pack. My next photo hiking pack will likely be this one:

Tamrac Adventure 9

They come smaller and larger than this.
04/24/2008 09:59:32 PM · #14
Originally posted by VisiBlanco:

I want something that makes tripod attachment easy, secure and balanced. How does the Tamrac perform in this respect?


It works very nicely with the tripod attached. I've done some short day hikes in Yosemite with no problem. It puts the tripod in the center, so it's balanced well right-left, but being on the very back away from your body it can make the center of gravity feel backwards a bit. This is where the waist, shoulder, and chest straps really help, and make sure the extra locking straps for the main compartment are locked in tight, as well as the 2 for the tripod. Lots of straps to keep things from swaying.
04/24/2008 10:01:51 PM · #15
Originally posted by Telehubbie:

I have the Expedition 7, and I love it. The whole suspension system is very comfortable even loaded down with lots of gear. It will fit everything listed no prob, except it doesn't have a dedicated laptop compartment. You could fit it in the large front pocket, but there's no real padding for it. I also got the optional large side pockets for it which are very handy and larger than they appear. I keep 2 580's, Turbo battery + cords, and Lightsphere in those. I can't say enough good things about the pack, but if you need a dedicated laptop compartment, the Expedition series is the wrong choice. Hope that helps.


When I was shopping for a backpack a last year, the advice of ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Telehubbie was what I went with and I am very happy with the Tamrac Expedition 7 with the large side pockets. I don't often use the side pockets but I found them very useful during last year's Red Rock GTG. The literature doesn't say anything about the large pockets being compatible with anything but the 8, but I assure you that they work fine.

As far as the laptop in the front pocket goes, I carry mine in there often and it works out just fine. After a year of using it now I highly recommend it.

Oh yeah, thanks ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Telehubbie!
04/24/2008 10:27:41 PM · #16
Originally posted by yakatme:


Oh yeah, thanks ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Telehubbie!


No problem, glad I could you like it! I sound like a product rep for Tamrac, but I'm not. :-)

Oh, here's some pics:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/25000-29999/29797/120/364959.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/25000-29999/29797/120/364959.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' [thumb]634708[/thumb]
04/24/2008 10:50:44 PM · #17
While you are talking about backpacks, I thought this was a terrific one, to prevent light fingers trying to steal your equipment while one is backpacking overseas, as an example.

//www.lowepro.com/about-us/news-and-events/press-releases/flipside
04/24/2008 11:47:08 PM · #18
Take a look Crumpler's "Whickey And Cox" //www.crumplerbags.com/Cart/index.php?catId=22. I used mine while gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda. The fit was wonderful, it's durable and fits under airline seats. One unusual feature of their backpack is that the main compartment zipper is on the back. Yes you must take the pack off to access equipment, but then no one else will be able to access your stuff while you are in a crowd.
It does have two small outside zipper, and a strap for a tripod/monpod. The other nice thing, it does not look like a photography backpack.

04/25/2008 12:43:01 PM · #19
Wow, thanks for all the comments guys!

JaimeVinas: Good advice, I'll definitely consider doing that. The only thing is I think most criminals would go by how the bag looks rather than singling out certain brands - although I'm sure both happen. I figure I will have upwards of $7-9k in the bag, so it would suck *royally* if it were stolen.

Speaking of stealthy, thanks for bringing another option to the table, option! (pun intended) I really like the looks of the Dakine backpack and the non-photographic Dakine packs seem quite popular at my school (Colorado State University). Have you tried mounting a tripod to the backpack? Utilizing the diagonal ski mounting should eliminate the problems of bumping one's head on the tripod as OdysseyF22 mentioned. I also ski fairly regularly, so I could see this serving a dual purpose. The lack of a laptop pouch is kind of a bummer but I do have a laptop "boot" that would offer extra protection, assuming the pocket is big enough. At 1800cu in, this bag seems smaller than the others - it looks like Dakine makes good use of space though.

Memberjbsmithana: I was strongly considering the Adventure series awhile back. It would make a great daypack and has a good amount of space for miscellaneous gear but I ultimately decided the amount of room for photography gear was just a bit too lacking for my purposes. I believe Mountainsmith has a backpack along the same lines.

heatherd: I really like the camera access on the Flipside - the only problem I see it the lack of a laptop compartment.

sebrock: I've been eying the Whickey And Cox as well as the Karachi Outpost for awhile. How would you say the Crumpler bags perform in humid/rainy conditions? Is it comfortable to wear for extended periods of time?

-

I guess I'm gonna have to start being a little more methodical in order to narrow these backpacks down. The Expedition 7x looks like it will meet my requirements and I like the fact you can buy accessories (pouches/straps) for it.

One thing I kinda liked about the Tenba PB-15C, which hasn't gotten any mention yet, are the straps toward the bottom for lashing a tripod.. More photos on e-bags Although I'd have to see - if the tripod sticks out too much it could interfere with normal arm movement or I might end up prodding my hiking partner.

Message edited by author 2008-04-25 14:02:22.
04/25/2008 03:32:52 PM · #20
I wore mine while backing in the forest. I encountered high humidity, rain, mud, wet vegetation, etc. There was no water leakage, having the zipper on the backside helps stop water leakage. The bag is very comfortable, even when loaded with a Nikon D200 with attached 80-200mm, flash, a 200-400mm lens, a 14 mm lens, a nikon film camera w/45mm, a mono-pod, and assorted other items. If you look at the back you'll notice a grove down the center. This keeps the bag from pushing against your spin, which made for a comfortable experience. It has a chest strap which helps keep it secure when hiking. The inside has lots of dividers, which can be rearranged, or removed. It also came with a computer sleeve which attached securely to the inside back of the backpack.

Message edited by author 2008-04-25 15:36:53.
04/25/2008 03:38:02 PM · #21
Hey getting back to my Crumpler its just fine in the rain and snow. Nothing ever gets wet and its comfortable to wear, but no problems with it at all in really bad weather. I like the Crumplers more because its not like others where if you forget and you hurry up and pickup or throw on your bag and you forget to zip it all the way close you camera does not go flying out.
04/26/2008 04:49:03 PM · #22
At this point, my top choices are:

1) Dakine Sequence
2) Tamrac Expedition 7x
3) Crumpler Whickey and Cox

The Kata R-103 lacks a waist belt and I've heard people complain about the suspension system on the Lowepro Vertex. The Tenba PB-15C is still a possibility, but I'm not so sure about the tripod mounting options. The Kata HB-207 is likely going to be too bulky.

Thanks again for the comments =]
04/27/2008 12:41:03 PM · #23
Originally posted by VisiBlanco:

Speaking of stealthy, thanks for bringing another option to the table, option! (pun intended) I really like the looks of the Dakine backpack and the non-photographic Dakine packs seem quite popular at my school (Colorado State University). Have you tried mounting a tripod to the backpack? Utilizing the diagonal ski mounting should eliminate the problems of bumping one's head on the tripod as OdysseyF22 mentioned. I also ski fairly regularly, so I could see this serving a dual purpose. The lack of a laptop pouch is kind of a bummer but I do have a laptop "boot" that would offer extra protection, assuming the pocket is big enough. At 1800cu in, this bag seems smaller than the others - it looks like Dakine makes good use of space though.


I've had two (cheap) tripods strapped to my pack using the vert snowboard carry straps, it worked pretty well... I'd never even thought to use the diagonal ski carry straps, I removed the top one when I first got the bag cause I don't ski.

Another photog I know regularly loads up with:

manfrotto tripod
3 lightstands
1DmII
20D
70-200 2.8
24-70 2.8
Fisheye
50 1.4
2x Vivi 285
580ex
3x pocketwizard
lunch, gloves, etc

Whole thing weighs in at 77lbs... and he shoots snowboarding!

The only thing I'm not sure of is the laptop, since the outer shovel carrying pocket isn't very deep. I know my 15.4 lappy is too bulky for it, but if yours is smaller it may be fine. If you're in CO, there'll be boardshops that carry all the Dakine and Burton photo bags, I recommend doing what I did and bringing some of your gear in to see if it fits before you buy.

06/04/2008 10:22:34 PM · #24
I'm trying to decide on a rolling bag (leaning toward rolling backpack) to hold all my current gear.
Right now I have to split my camera and a couple of lenses between my old Tamrac bag & my Lowepro backpack (small excursion type).

I have been looking at the Tamrac Big Wheel packs. I want wheels so I can travel easily with it.
I also want room for potential expansion (like additional lens or camera body, tripod)
My gear is:
Canon 20D
70-200 f2.8
24-70
580 flash
50mm lens
Gary Fong lightsphere
misc. accessories and chargers
laptop (though this might push carry on weight allowances)
Does anyone have the Tamrac Big Wheels Rolling Backpack - LP8 (698)?
Do you know if it can be checked baggage?
Do you find it too heavy or cumbersome?

What are the pros and cons?

What bag you carry your gear in?
06/04/2008 11:46:45 PM · #25
I am also interested in the Big Wheel, but the smaller of the two. I have a friend who travels worldwide with hers, though I don't know which model she has. She has two pro bodies, a 300 f2.8 lunker, plus the 70-200 2.8 IS and 24-70. She loves it. They sure are spendy, though.
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