Big Test

Carry your com­plete cam­era kit in style and com­fort. Matthew Richards rounds up some of the most de­sir­able, man­age­able and sen­si­bly priced back­packs

NPhoto - - Contents -

Keep cam­eras and carry on with one of these eight ca­pa­cious photo back­packs

Cam­era equip­ment has a habit of ac­cu­mu­lat­ing.

Once you own more than, say, a D-SLR with a kit lens, an ad­di­tional tele­photo zoom and a flash­gun, reg­u­lar shoul­der bags of­ten don’t have enough space for all your kit. You can find your­self leav­ing some of your gear at home, with the in­evitable frus­tra­tion that you don’t have the thing you need when a great photo op­por­tu­nity presents it­self. One so­lu­tion is to buy a big­ger shoul­der bag, but that’s less than ideal. Car­ry­ing the weight of the bag on one shoul­der can soon be­come un­com­fort­able, and the strap can have a nasty habit of slid­ing down your arm.

Photo back­packs have much more room for equip­ment, while help­ing to spread the load. In most cases both shoul­ders share the load, but weight is also dis­trib­uted to your up­per and lower back. It pro­vides a more com­fort­able and se­cure car­ry­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Many back­packs in­clude pock­ets for per­sonal items, a com­part­ment for a lap­top or tablet, and even straps for at­tach­ing a tri­pod. Some man­u­fac­tur­ers go fur­ther, split­ting the main com­part­ment into two. You’ve then got space for travel es­sen­tials, al­beit with less room ded­i­cated to your cam­era kit.

Bet­ter by de­sign

Like reg­u­lar back­packs, photo back­packs gen­er­ally fea­ture two shoul­der straps and a padded rear sur­face for com­fort. Tra­di­tional de­signs ded­i­cate the whole of the main com­part­ment to car­ry­ing photo gear. To ac­com­mo­date dif­fer­ent sizes of cam­eras, lenses and ac­ces­sories, in­ter­nal di­viders are ad­justable, of­ten with Vel­cro to en­able you to tai­lor the bag’s in­te­rior to give a snug fit to all your in­di­vid­ual items. Stan­dard and wide-an­gle lenses can usu­ally be fit­ted up­right in the com­part­ment, whereas longer lenses typ­i­cally need to be laid length­ways.

Us­ing shoul­der straps alone is fine for am­bling around, but if you’re feel­ing more ad­ven­tur­ous you can run into prob­lems. When cov­er­ing tricky ter­rain and climb­ing over ob­sta­cles the straps can slip off your shoul­ders, or the bag can sway side­ways and catch you off-bal­ance. To pre­vent this, most photo back­packs in­clude ad­di­tional chest straps which can lock the main shoul­der straps in place, as well as a strap that you can fas­ten around your waist for ex­tra se­cu­rity and sup­port.

Easy ac­cess

One frus­trat­ing thing about tra­di­tional de­signs is that you have to take the back­pack off and lay it down to ac­cess your cam­era and other gear. It’s not a big deal most of the time but, if you’re in the mid­dle of a muddy field, you can pretty much guar­an­tee that the sur­face that rests against your back will be filthy by the time you need to put the back­pack on again. New de­signs in­creas­ingly use a sling ar­range­ment with a side-open­ing flap. This en­ables you to swivel the bag around on one shoul­der strap with­out tak­ing it off com­pletely, then grab your cam­era with fit­ted lens through the side of the bag.

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