Tamrac Evolution 9 Photo Backpack Review

The Tamrac Evolution 9 Photo/Laptop Sling Backpack is a versatile carrying solution for semi-pros and pros who regularly carry a full-frame DSLR, large laptop, and a handful of lenses to shoots. In addition to a variety of modifiable storage compartments, the Evolution 9 can be used as a traditional backpack on the shoulders or slung across your chest. 

I've spent a great deal of time using the Tamrac Evolution 9, schlepping it through numerous real estate shoots, a remote gourmet food shoot, and various other events. While I've reviewed two Kata backpacks recently, the Tamrac Evolution 9 meets my needs better.

The main reason is its convenience. I can fit my Canon EOS 5D Mark III and 24-105mm lens combo, a Speedlite 580EXII, two filters, wireless lav mic packs, a 17-inch MacBook Pro (plus power brick), an external hard drive, card reader, rain cover, and a slew of memory cards with room to spare. I could also carry a full-size tripod on the outside of the Evolution 9, courtesy of the upper tripod strap and lower tripod foot pocket. Having the ability to pack all of the aforementioned equipment into one centralized bag is quite welcome, especially when carrying a set of strobe lights and other gear during on-location shoots.

The Tamrac Evolution 9 is large, but well-built and rich with capacity. A full-frame DSLR with telephoto lens can fit inside the Evolution 9.

Of course, the Evolution 9's generous storage comes at a cost: inevitably, the bag is space-consuming and hefty. Its dimensions are 49.5 x 27.9 x 33cm (19.5 x 11 x 13 in) and when empty, it tips the scale at 2.27 kg (5 lbs). Add in all of that equipment I mentioned in the previous paragraph, and the Evolution 9 becomes very heavy. The Evolution 9's is a deep bag, at 27.9cm (11 in), and during my testing I did find myself banging the bag against doorframes and walls pretty frequently. But then again, what do you expect from a bag that is capable of packing so much?

The benefit of such a voluminous bag is, of course, the plentiful and customizable storage compartments. Tamrac put a lot of thought into the design of the Evolution 9, and the company covered all of the major bases. The bottom portion of the bag includes a velcro strapping system that accommodates a full-size full-frame body like an EOS 1D X or Nikon D4 with a medium-sized telephoto lens attached (up to 200mm, depending on the lens), and several additional standard size lenses in the surrounding compartments. Thanks to Velcro strapping, every compartment can be modified to fit larger or smaller equipment.

There are also three ways to access the camera and equipment along the bottom portion of the bag. Two zippered side doors allow for camera and lens access, while a larger zippered middle door grants access to more lenses and smaller attachments. Both side doors are equipped with memory card and lens cap pockets while the center door has a Windowpane-Mesh accessory card pocket for additional accessories like filters and batteries.

As shown above, cameras can be accessed from three different compartments.

The top portion of the Tamrac Evolution 9 features a trapezoidal zippered top door that opens to reveal a decent sized compartment for things like clothing, external hard drives and chargers etc. The compartment has an elastic mesh pocket along the back and the inside of the door has a 'Windowpane-Mesh' pocket for additional memory cards and small accessories. This 'Windowpane-Mesh' pocket is simply a transparent plastic pocket that lets you see what's inside. Two external side compartments bookend the top compartment. The one labeled "Rain Cover" contains just that, while the other compartment features a bungee mesh pouch and zippered mesh pouch.

Along the entire back of the Evolution 9 is a large laptop compartment that is capable of housing a 17.3-inch laptop. The compartment is very well padded and features an extra strip of foam at the bottom. After using the Evolution extensively, I am more than comfortable with dropping my MacBook into the laptop compartment and heading out for the day.

The Tamrac Evolution 9 can be used as a traditional backpack or sling backpack.

That's another bonus about the Tamrac Evolution 9: The entire backpack is fortified with foam, external pockets and all. Zippers are seamless and water-resistant, and the materials are rugged. Even the top grab handle is fortified with a rubberized mesh coating for added grip. The outside of the Evolution 9 has Tamrac's QuickClip tripod attachment system, with includes a dedicated tripod foot pocket for added stability.

The Evolution 9's shoulder straps are made with thick foam and feature a tacky, non-slip material along the insides. They even attach to the bottom of the backpack via a metal carabiner clip system. And just to avoid the avalanche of comments, yes, the Tamrac Evolution 9 is equipped with a buckled waist strap. A thickly padded back cushion adds to the comfort factor, and either shoulder strap can be tucked inside of it for sling backpack usage. While the sling method is convenient for quick access to the camera, I found the backpack orientation the most comfortable.

The top compartment adds even more storage space. A small tripod can be attached to the back using the tripod foot pocket.

Summing Up

While the Evolution 9 is a large-ish backpack, and carries a relatively hefty $220 price tag, I think the Evolution 9's numerous features and conveniences are worth it.

The Tamrac Evolution 9 Sling Backpack just might be the missing link I was looking for in the travel bag department. Yes, it's a large and heavy bag, but the Evolution 9 can house just about everything I need (except a strobe lighting kit and stands), and I was still able to use it while taking my motorcycle to some shoots. Furthermore, the Evolution 9 is rugged and comfortable. The sling backpack options are nice to have as well, especially for nature shooters on location. The Evolution 9 stands out as most complete package I've tested.

What we like: Oodles of quality customizable storage compartments, rugged and protective construction, comfortable straps, accommodates supersized items like full-frame DSLRs and 17-inch laptops.

What we don't like: A bit bulky and heavy, but that's the price you pay for such generous capacity.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

Comments

Total comments: 105
BelDDB
By BelDDB (10 months ago)

For safety reason, I never buy any bag with easy-open zip towards back open space

0 upvotes
RudivanS
By RudivanS (11 months ago)

Just got the new Vanguard Up-rise 48 series II - very well made and above all handy.

0 upvotes
jab1343
By jab1343 (Apr 29, 2013)

What Tamrac should have done with this pack right from the start...
Replacement straps and hip belt from REI, sticky backed Velcro, and a few buckle parts.

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjEVe3h7

0 upvotes
Five Piece
By Five Piece (Apr 7, 2013)

I've been using this bag for almost two years now for extensive travels, has suited my needs very well. Fits fine in large airline overheads, but is technically illegal on Ryan Air (but did get it on last trip, but 10kg is strict limit or you pay), and did take on small commuter plane in Philippines. Took everything including 17" laptop to Iceland this winter, but weighed in at a hefty 15kg. I lovingly took to calling it "Thor's Hammer"!

It has held up well, and is easily configurable for specific needs. Usually carry 5DM3, 7D bodies, 16-35mm f2.8, 24-70mm f2.8, 8-15mm f4, 70-200mm f4, medium ball head and pano and flash, all fits in lower compartment nicely. Purchased specifically for moving between continents while carrying all my gear, and have used it ever since I use a smaller fanny pack only when taking one or two extra lenses with one body. If this bag's capacity and protection level meets your needs, it is a solid choice (and is now much cheaper than when I purchased).

0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (Apr 3, 2013)

11" is the depth or thickness, i guess. i get mixed up on what that dimension is called.

11" might be a little fat to fit in overhead compartments of some commuter planes. always room under the seat. i suppose people that fly commuter sized planes are familiar with what fits.

0 upvotes
Jay Aquino
By Jay Aquino (Apr 8, 2013)

The trick to this in some cases is to remove the laptop from the laptop compartment and then stash than underneath the seat.

0 upvotes
Jay Aquino
By Jay Aquino (Apr 1, 2013)

To Kevin

Nov 2012.

Its the laptop that makes the bag overweight. You take the laptop out it's less than 10kg (22#s). I have an accurate scale I use to check. I carry a small multipurpose thin folding bag for weight rebalancing purposes (personal item size). So I am aware of this possibility.

Never been asked to weigh it. Remember its a pack and not a rolling bag so some perhaps some discretion has been exercised.

I also have an airport ultralight and a laptop bag. Because the ultralight can fit a 400 5.6.

0 upvotes
gscace
By gscace (Apr 1, 2013)

I"ve always been a bit unsure of storage solutions such as this. The pics show a 70-200 attached to the body, which means you can store a few other lenses and a flash comfortably in the bag. That's fine as far as it goes, but what happens when you want one of the other lenses? You have to then store the 70-200 in the main compartment. You're then faced with reconfiguring the bag in order to restash the camera with other than the 70-200 attached, or reassembling the 70-200 to the camera body. That seems a bit kludgey to me.

3 upvotes
Jay Aquino
By Jay Aquino (Apr 2, 2013)

From personal experience, you can configure the bag such that the 70-200 can in mounted or unmounted. Just don't velcro a partition in the lower chamber (use a movable foam separator) between the two lens you might have there.

For example, I have a 70-200, 24-70 and 16-35. All with hoods. If the 70-200 is unmounted it goes in the lower chamber hood reversed. The two lenses are then in the center chamber. If the 70-200 is mounted then it goes into the center chamber. The two lenses are in the lower chamber with a movable separator between them. The upper chamber has a 550EX.

Lenses are fat with hood on reversed, you need to be strategic and have the lens facing the opposite way.

It's not the most convenient, but it works.

Comment edited 40 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
WrightStuff
By WrightStuff (Apr 1, 2013)

What happens if one happens to fall backwards on black ice or some other slippery surface. What happens to the equipment? This can happen and it did when I was doing a shoot in our winter. Thank God I carry a camera case and my equipment was fine. I will never buy a backpack to carry my equipment in.

2 upvotes
Mark B.
By Mark B. (Apr 1, 2013)

What happens if you're struck by lightning? What happens if you blow a tire and the car rols? What happens if you're mugged? Anything can happen no matter what you're carrying gear in. If I'm walking/hiking over a long distance, a backpack is far more convenient to me than a bag. On the other hand, a shoulder bag is more appropriate for a location shoot. You pick the gear most appropriate for the shoot and plan for as much as you can, try to reduce the what-ifs.

4 upvotes
jglaser757
By jglaser757 (Apr 1, 2013)

umm..I fell backwards with a backpack on,,thank god for the backpack,,it helped cushion the fall and nothing got damaged,,granted it was a different backpack,,but it was helpful !!

0 upvotes
AndreyT
By AndreyT (Apr 1, 2013)

Er... Have you ever held photographic equipment in your hands?

Nothing happens. Since when did photographic equipment become sensitive to this sort of fall? As long as it is protected by padding (i.e. backpack) from immediate contact with hard surfaces, it will be perfectly fine. Fall as much as you want.

If you are carrying some sort of papier-mache mock ups of photographic equipment, then I'd suggest you avoid backpacks. But if you are carrying real equipment, then you have nothing to worry about.

1 upvote
Tan68
By Tan68 (Apr 3, 2013)

i fell back on a pack. on a steeply sloped snowfield. i slid down the snowfield. the pack felt great. love the pack. the shorts i had on didn't feel so good.

oh.. i also busted my stride on some ice covered by leaves. (wtf?) i have a finger that still won't bend as it should, but the pack felt great.

go with the pack or crampons or yak-trax. or due care.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
facedodge
By facedodge (Apr 1, 2013)

I like the move with a lot of back packs with side access. I have a Kata 3n1 and use it like a backpack since it's just as easy to go with one shoulder those times you are digging in your back as it is when you use it like a sling but you get the benefit of both straps for carrying.

IMO the Kata is a superior design with the clips and extra zipper pulls.

0 upvotes
Robert Learner
By Robert Learner (Apr 2, 2013)

I actually like the two separate side doors/zippers of the Evolution series better than the Kata stuff of similar size which has a continuous zipper for both side doors.

Used a backpack, my Evolution is configured so slipping off one shoulder gives side door access to the camera and attached lens, slipping off the other shoulder yields the side door with access to my other lenses. Don't have to run a continuous zipper all around the bag to open the opposite door as you do with larger Katas

0 upvotes
EasyClick
By EasyClick (Apr 1, 2013)

One issue: PICKPOCKETS!

It's too easy to unzip the bag and steal the content from behind....

1 upvote
Mark B.
By Mark B. (Apr 1, 2013)

There are other backpacks that only unzip on the surface against your back, so problem solved. There's no such thing as one backpack or bag that will be perfect for every situation.

0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (Apr 3, 2013)

well, the panels have double slide zippers so you could put little locks or cable/zip ties on them if you that might help?

0 upvotes
Tan68
By Tan68 (Apr 3, 2013)

well, let me add that all double pull zippers are not the same.

some accept locks or cable ties and some don't. some don't have little holes for things like locks to pass through. i can't tell what type of zipper pulls this bag has...

0 upvotes
Kevin Jorgensen
By Kevin Jorgensen (Apr 1, 2013)

So Jay Aquino when was the last time you traveled Internationally with that lot? For the last 8 months 1 major International Airline has been weighing carry on's at the check in counter and people with more than 10 kgs, in 2 separate bags, have been forced to put the excess into their check in luggage, then pay the excess. Maybe its different over your way but in the Asian/Pacific region if one airline does something they all tend to follow suit. If the industry is talking about charging overweight people extra, and they are, then it stands to reason that carry ons will be the first thing that comes under scrutiny.

0 upvotes
Jay Aquino
By Jay Aquino (Apr 1, 2013)

See my reply above (pressed wrong reply)

0 upvotes
Poweruser
By Poweruser (Mar 31, 2013)

If you are looking for a large backpack to carry a 300/2.8 try any of the discontinued LowePro Photo Trekkers. I own one.

1 upvote
Octane
By Octane (Mar 31, 2013)

The comments here are just as interesting as the review. People have different needs and it shows that what is great for one person is irrelevant for another. Some people use that as their only bad so they try to make everything fit, others use it just for camera gear and have other equipment and laptop separate anyways. Some do long hikes, others walk 5 min to their location. Some need rain protection, others don't need it. For some it's too much space, others need more. And so on.

Even my own requirements change from job to job. Best thing to do is to describe a product and how you use it, and people can decide if it works for them or not.

3 upvotes
Dabbler
By Dabbler (Mar 31, 2013)

These two level bags never have enough space on the bottom and too much space on the top. If you're just trying to carry camera gear, e.g. not overnight camping etc then I would rather have more camera body/lens storage up top.

0 upvotes
Arn
By Arn (Mar 31, 2013)

Of course this depends on the individual's needs. I've found both Tamrac's and Lowepro's bags to give in most cases just about the appropriate amount of space in the upper compartment in relation to the bag's size. I frequently fit straps, extra lenses, lens hoods, memory cards, batteries, etc (and sure, clothes too) in the top compartment. It can function just as one of the inner compartments, just a bit more versatile because of the larger space.

0 upvotes
nonicks
By nonicks (Mar 31, 2013)

This is a very nice series from Tamrac. It looks nice and very functinoal. Paddings are well made and it has plenty of compartments. Personally I owned evolution 8 and I like it a lot. It feels comfortable but you will feel the pressure on your shoulders after carrying it for a long day. The tripod holder strap however was lost after the first trip.

I sold the bag and got thinktank street walker pro harddrive later. Very happy with that bag as well.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Dan Ortego
By Dan Ortego (Mar 31, 2013)

I wish I had a dollar for every bag I purchased, and then subsequently decided I didn't like it. As a rule I typically buy the high-end stuff but even those tend to be more hype than function. Yes I'm no different from anyone else as I tend to grow out of the smaller bags so in the end, you essentially have to have an entire wardrobe of bags for different occasions.

This particular bag looks promising although it seems to have quite a few compartments and that's not really my thing'. I invariably forget where I put the smaller items as I'm going through a dozen zippers just to find that one item.

I prefer bags that can be used for more than just one thing such as the Crumpler Extravaganza for air travel/carry-on.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
7 upvotes
Mahmoud Mousef
By Mahmoud Mousef (Mar 31, 2013)

Nice bag.
Some small things I dislike in nearly all cam bags:

I really dislike mesh pockets (I know what I put and where I put it). I'd much rather have cushioned pockets protecting the items in each compartment from rubbing against items next to it when packed. I'd much rather have this then weak, frail mesh pockets without adequate cushioning. The ability to see what I'm about to pull out before pulling it out is not the higher priority here.

Oh and the price is for the professionals, obviously. I couldn't justify a bag that costs almost as much as my camera body :)

0 upvotes
Jay Aquino
By Jay Aquino (Mar 31, 2013)

I have this bag. I have used it to travel. It has fit in every plane I rode (international jets). Content of the bag were typically:

5D mkII with grip
70-200 2.8 IS w/ hood (reversed)
16-35 2.8 w/hood
24-70 2.8 w/hood (reversed)
550EX
15.6 Dell Latitude
iPad
Tripod (checked in)
Various accessories

If you arrange the partitions right, you can have a body and 70-200 mounted on the bag at the same time.

As you can tell the bag is quite heavy with all of this. Normally I dump the laptop and excess materials at the hotel. I find the bag is very comfortable weight and feel wise when there is no laptop in the laptop compartment (soft to the back).

The straps support well and I can wear it all day. Needs a water bottle holder, but you can thread that thorough the waist belt.

The sideways open does not really work that well. I put the bag down to work.

With all the doors, you must pay attention.

The sternum strap broke. I bought a new strap for 2CAD from MEC.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
SeeRoy
By SeeRoy (Mar 31, 2013)

Yet another backpack. I'd have thought that anyone who likes to totter around weighed down by 10 or 15 Kg of gear was already well served by the hundreds of alternative - albeit nearly identical - products.

None of which include my (patent pending) helium "StaggerLite" gas-bag system. In the interest of serving the largest possible market there will also be a hydrogen-filled version at a substantially lower price however it may conflict with some insurance policies.

Personally I've gone M4/3.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Jeroen Bouman
By Jeroen Bouman (Apr 2, 2013)

Can't find anything on the web about your StaggerLite" gas-bag. Got a link?

0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Apr 2, 2013)

I'm guessing there's only one real gas bag here. ;)

0 upvotes
ThomasSwitzerland
By ThomasSwitzerland (Mar 31, 2013)

I still have a similar large back pack in the basement. I carried a full frame Canon pro equipment with L-lenses. Horrible, the weight and restrictions for sudden moments to shoot. Although I made some great pictures – it was no fun at all. The technology became a burden linked with negative reflections.

I sold all the heavy stuff. Today, I carry m4/3 or a Nikon D5200 – what a fun to take pictures in and out of town, and enjoying the travel. I have gained a lot of freedom when dropping the consumer/pro “must have” add-ons.

Less is more.

5 upvotes
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Mar 31, 2013)

True. Travel Light, Go Far.

Good bag, though.

Comment edited 35 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
TWIZEEL
By TWIZEEL (Mar 31, 2013)

I wish to have more clients only. I can use any bag, no worries : ))

0 upvotes
StevenE
By StevenE (Mar 31, 2013)

You can never have too many camera bags. I looked closely at the Evolution 9, but bought and love the Lowerpro 400 instead at that time

I have a Lowepro 300, Lowepro 400, Tamrac adventure 9, Tamrac Cyberpac 8 (that's a big bag), Canon deluxe backpack 200, canon deluxe gadget bag, Lowepro Nova 170AW, Domke Pro V-2

I use all of them at different times but my favorites are the Lowepro 400 for medium loads, the Adventure 9 for light loads with laptop, and the Cyberpac 8 for a mountain of gear.

1 upvote
MiraShootsNikon
By MiraShootsNikon (Mar 31, 2013)

As usual with bag designs-demos-reviews, not a lens hood in sight.

(Sigh.)

10 upvotes
Woodlink
By Woodlink (Mar 31, 2013)

so true.

1 upvote
daddyo
By daddyo (Mar 31, 2013)

Astute observation Mira!
Once again, Olympus is a visionary company -- since they quit including hoods with their new lenses :-)

5 upvotes
raztec
By raztec (Mar 31, 2013)

The problem with every camera bag I have ever tried, is that they're not designed to be carried for extended periods of time. When fully loaded, anything more than 15' is painful.

First of all, they need to be taller and less wide or deep so the center of gravity is closer to the body. Second, they need to have a proper hip belt that can carry the bulk of the weight. And finally, the shoulder straps need to be properly padded and load lifters included.

I wish a good back pack manufacturer would get into making packs for camera gear. These companies like Tamrac or Lowepro don't know a thing about human anatomy and physiology.
Check out: http://www.mec.ca/AST/ContentPrimary/Learn/Packs/IntroToPacks/ChoosingABackpack.jsp

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
9 upvotes
soloryb
By soloryb (Mar 31, 2013)

You're right about the inadequacies of photo bags when it comes to hauling above 15# all day (mountain hiking). The best solution I've come up with is a compromise. I slightly modified a Lowe Alpine Air Centro 35 and can tote a D800E with a 24-70 plus extension along with all the bells and whistles I need - including a tripod. The camera with lens gets inserted vertically into the internal water-bag compartment - where it nestles nicely. I added a padding collar around the camera body and some more foam padding placed in the outer back patch pocket for protection. I access the camera by removing the pack and pulling it out from the top. This and other Lowes are the only torso adjustable ones I've ever seen, so you can tune it to your exact body dimensions. The pack is as light as a feather and the most comfortable I've ever used.
http://www.backcountry.com/lowe-alpine-airzone-centro-3510-pack-2100cu-in

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Dan Ortego
By Dan Ortego (Mar 31, 2013)

Boy do I ever agree with you on that! It's very easy to get overloaded and uncomfortable in no time. I like my TT Sling-O-Matic-10 for its nicely padded strap and reversible shoulder sling fixture. Anything larger in terms of content, then I prefer a roller if the terrain permits.

0 upvotes
qwertyasdf
By qwertyasdf (Mar 31, 2013)

One more problem I find on the most camera bags is they are OVER PROTECTED, the paddings are very thick and heavy. While it makes sense for people running around with their gear, or skiing downhill. It causes a great burden for those strolling down the street. In this case, I prefer filmsy Chinese knockoffs!!!

0 upvotes
Kevin Jorgensen
By Kevin Jorgensen (Mar 31, 2013)

I'd like someone to do a review on which airlines would allow you to carry on one of these bags. 10kgs limit in 2 separate bags for International flights and 7kgs for domestic and some airline cabin crew are complaining that even that is too heavy. Given that they tell you not to put anything of value, including laptops, in your check in luggage how is a photographer supposed to carry his equipment. I've had people say this airline or that airline is OK but not in the Asia/Pacific region.

4 upvotes
english_Wolf
By english_Wolf (Mar 31, 2013)

Well, this a flag for that says: Expensive stuff 'rob me!!!'

I have an old decrepit back pack that does everything from carrying a 17" laptop to my cameras and lenses w/o advertising what is inside.

I love the do it all thingies, especially when they really do nothing!

Sorry but I leave my gear in the hotel and take the strict minimal when I go out: I have no need to carry anything that will never be used on the field.

2 upvotes
Dan Ortego
By Dan Ortego (Mar 31, 2013)

Yeah me too. I prefer bags that don't look like camera bags or just some generic rolling carry-on. Any camera specific branding is a big no-no as well.

3 upvotes
LarryK
By LarryK (Mar 30, 2013)

My back hurts just looking at it.

6 upvotes
wosim
By wosim (Mar 30, 2013)

I have got the Evolution 6, which is much smaller than the Evolution 9 but perfect for trekking with my Leica stuff. It holds 1 M-Body with Leica handgrip in Artisan Halfcase, Tri-Elmar 4.0 16-18-21 with Finder, Tri-Elmar 28-35-50mm, Summilux-M 1.4 50mm, Summicron-M 2.0 90mm and Tele-Elmar-M 4.0 135mm, 2 Grey-Filters, Cards, plus in the top compartment an Ortlieb Waterbag (1-2 l), a light rain jacket, a small umbrella. It also easily carries a small travel-tripod or it holds - if you fiddle a flexible cord through the eight lashes on the top - a sweater or jacket - a perfect solution for trekking.

1 upvote
Codik
By Codik (Mar 30, 2013)

I love dpreview, but could you please start reviewing bags people might actually use? I see three main categories:
1. Bags to carry a lot of gear from your home to the hotel;
2. Bags to carry a camera, a bit of gear, and some stuff you need for the day (book/water/map).
3. Bags to go hiking with, to carry all the things at 2 plus 30l of stuff you need for the hike.
Also, reviewing a bag properly requires days and days of use. The experience of someone using a bag for a year or more would be priceless.

16 upvotes
Codik
By Codik (Mar 30, 2013)

Also, thank you for the review, I enjoyed reading it.

1 upvote
soloryb
By soloryb (Mar 30, 2013)

Right on the money Codik.

4 upvotes
sickdog1674
By sickdog1674 (Mar 31, 2013)

I use regular backpacks and supply my own padding, it's more comfortable and easy to carry. The Camera Backpacks are more like Backpacks for school Packs.

3 upvotes
TWIZEEL
By TWIZEEL (Mar 31, 2013)

I'm too, Kathmandu rock climbing, perfect!

0 upvotes
davel33
By davel33 (Mar 30, 2013)

This does seem like a copy of the Kata 3N1 series. I use the 3N1-20 the mid size version. I dont think you can have one bag fit all, I use the 3N1-20 for when I need most of my gear and the LowePro Slingshot 102 for the lite days/vacation.

Do they make different sizes of this?

0 upvotes
soloryb
By soloryb (Mar 30, 2013)

I use a 3N1-30 (2-years) for short hikes and light photo loads. When I need to take heavy equipment, clothing, food, water, etc., I switch to a Lowe AirZone 35 Centro that I've modified some for photo equipment requirements.

0 upvotes
Peter A. Stavrakoglou
By Peter A. Stavrakoglou (Mar 30, 2013)

I use a 3in1-20 and 3in1-30., The access points on the Tamrac are larger than the Katas. There are two Vivitar bags that look identical to the Tamrac, the DKS-20 and DKS-25. It's not made to the same standard as the Tamrac, the materials are not as durable.

0 upvotes
daddyo
By daddyo (Mar 30, 2013)

By the way, in the first image in this article -- I think by law he is supposed to tie a red flag to the top of his tripod, or as least hand a warning sign :-)

1 upvote
richygm
By richygm (Mar 30, 2013)

I think all of these large capacity backpacks and multi-lens and multi-accessory kits are all right if you can get one of your servants to carry it for you.

12 upvotes
Liviu Namolovan
By Liviu Namolovan (Mar 30, 2013)

Robert, please do us a favor and get yourself a point and shoot camera

0 upvotes
Robert Newman
By Robert Newman (Mar 30, 2013)

I bought one of these packs recently and found that it is completely unmanageable after I stuff it full of lenses and accessories not to mention throwing on a tripod. I like to travel light and just take a camera and a couple of lenses when I am on foot. If you are day hiking, you have to leave room for water and something to eat. More is not always better. I have been experimenting with a pack frame and hip belt to better distribute the weight and would recommend this solution. Another issue with this and similar packs is the lens compartment size. I use a Canon 5D III and the EF lenses with a lens shade are relatively bulky. Some of them have to be stuffed into the areas partitioned. I typically use a monopod rather than a tripod. The extra pounds saved are critical if you have to hike very far.

3 upvotes
Mike Perlman
By Mike Perlman (Mar 30, 2013)

If you travel light, I think a smaller pack like the Kata Digital Rucksack I reviewed a month or two ago would suit you well. I alternate between that and the Evolution 9, depending on the demand of the shoot.

2 upvotes
windmillgolfer
By windmillgolfer (Mar 30, 2013)

This looks likes a strong and high capacity backpack but the price seems very high. I guess if you've invested $1,000s on kit then this would be appropriate for the 1% of your time you might have this lot with you. Meanwhile, I'll just keep the LX5, mini-tripod, 18mm LWA52 and EVF1 in my jacket pockets :-)

1 upvote
Robert Hoy
By Robert Hoy (Mar 30, 2013)

Not at all. I bought their Expedition 9 or 8 backpack several years ago for $200. That backpack now sells for $300 or so and this reviewed backpack is far more modern and versatile. Paying low prices will only get you cheap, common products.

1 upvote
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Mar 30, 2013)

Cheap and common are bad? Are you a Leica owner? If not, I'm sure they'd love you as a customer.

Cheap means an item costs little. That is good. Common means there are many of them, suggesting they have attractive properties or meet the needs of many. All other things equal, I prefer cheap and common to expensive and uncommon.

4 upvotes
Robert Hoy
By Robert Hoy (Mar 30, 2013)

I'd rather pay for something that is good and will last instead of paying little for something that will break or wear out soon, like much of what Walmart buys.

2 upvotes
Mark B.
By Mark B. (Mar 31, 2013)

I don't understand why point & shoot owners are replying. This product obviously isn't for you. It's like someone looking for a family sedan complaining on a review about a 2-seater sports car.

2 upvotes
daddyo
By daddyo (Mar 30, 2013)

I notice that the guy in these images is a 25 Yr. old, Gold's Gym fitness instructor.
I, unfortunately am a 66 yr. old with a frog body -- ditto on the mirrorless camera system.

22 upvotes
Mike Perlman
By Mike Perlman (Mar 30, 2013)

Haha! I'm actually a 30-year-old who plays Sunday beer-league ice hockey and had a knee operation last year, but I love this comment!

4 upvotes
CAClark
By CAClark (Mar 30, 2013)

"66yo with a frog body" is the funniest thing I have read for ages!

1 upvote
Mike Perlman
By Mike Perlman (Mar 30, 2013)

Without a doubt, best comment of the year so far...

1 upvote
plasnu
By plasnu (Mar 31, 2013)

LOL

0 upvotes
mikeinak
By mikeinak (Mar 31, 2013)

Frog body!! I was LMAO! I can relate, I think.
Thanks for the comment!

1 upvote
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Mar 31, 2013)

Daddyo... eventually, all of us end up with one camera in the pocket, having learned that the camera with you is worth five cameras at home. This load is for people who like to have everything at hand, prepared for all possible cases. In all my years I have learned that this simply does not work that way.
But, yes, it took years to find out. Though, I'm all for it; everyone should enjoy photography in their unique way.

2 upvotes
57even
By 57even (Mar 30, 2013)

Reminds me why I got a mirrorless camera.

10 upvotes
Robert Hoy
By Robert Hoy (Mar 30, 2013)

Then this isn't for you. Why then are you commenting?!

2 upvotes
57even
By 57even (Mar 30, 2013)

I only commented for the express purpose of annoying you, obviously.

But if you are dumb enough to use such a poorly designed piece of rubbish (poor strap design and no rigid harness) for carrying anything over 10kg of camera gear, then I will guarantee you some hefty physio bills in your fifties. If you use it in sling mode, make that forties, after which you will be looking at mirrorless cameras too.

There are better solutions out there and if you care about your long term health I would not skimp on the cost. Either that or just get a lighter camera.

Good luck.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
10 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Apr 1, 2013)

You chose mirrorless so you are god. Dslr-owners are all idiots who should be kicked out of medical. good luck!

0 upvotes
dharma108
By dharma108 (Mar 30, 2013)

Ahh--something missing with this backpack--A hip belt. A hip belt. A hip belt.

Also, cannot imagine carrying a decent tripod in the position shown in the first photo--Pack would be bouncing around all over the place while walking or hiking.

7 upvotes
Mike Perlman
By Mike Perlman (Mar 30, 2013)

Read the review again and you'll find this in the 10th paragraph: "And just to avoid the avalanche of comments, yes, the Tamrac Evolution 9 is equipped with a buckled waist strap."

2 upvotes
Thomas Bellman
By Thomas Bellman (Mar 30, 2013)

"Waist strap" makes me think it is just a piece of flimsy cloth, not a proper hip belt that is capable of carrying load. There's a huge difference between the two. Can you show a picture of what the waist strap looks like, so we can determine what it really is? Tamrac's own web site show nothing...

3 upvotes
Mike Perlman
By Mike Perlman (Mar 30, 2013)

Last backpack review I was lambasted for not mentioning a waist strap. So I add mention of it in this review, and now "waist strap" will not suffice and must be replaced by "hip belt?" A hip belt sounds to me like something the Ninja Turtles wore to keep their shurikens in. Trust me, there is a rugged seatbelt-like "waist-strap/hip belt/midsection hugger" that tucks behind the back cushion when not in use. Google image search "evolution 9 three way harness" and it's the second picture in.

2 upvotes
Thomas Bellman
By Thomas Bellman (Mar 30, 2013)

When you describe it as "seatbelt-like", that indicates that it's just a waist strap and not a hip belt; it is adequate to keep the pack from swinging and bouncing, but you can't use it to carry the weight on your hips (instead of your shoulders).

The best picture I can find is http://d2icr5g9bedq6k.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/fotosiamo-M1080686-Tamrac-Evolution-9_.jpg . The "wings" where the strap attach *may* be sturdy enough and reach long enough forward to actually support carrying weight on your hips, but it is difficult to be certain from that picture. The strap that the buckle is attached to, certainly is not.

Compare with the belt on e.g. Lowepro Pro Trekker 400 AW (http://store.lowepro.com/backpacks/pro-trekker-400-aw) for an example of what we are looking for. It need not be quite that hefty, but it shows the general idea.

2 upvotes
Mike Perlman
By Mike Perlman (Mar 30, 2013)

The main differences I see between the Lowepro you mentioned and the Tamrac is that the Lowepro's "hip belt wings" are larger and the pack's price is double that of the Tamrac's. By the way, I just tried the Tamrac on using just the "hip belt" without the shoulder straps and it held up just fine.

In other news, it's Saturday, and the sun is finally out in Maine. Since it's not Mordor for the 90th consecutive day, I will be out shooting with the Evolution 9 on my back, hip hugger tucked in and shurikens in my pockets ready to deploy at unsuspecting toursists. Toodles!

Comment edited 35 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Codik
By Codik (Mar 30, 2013)

Mike - most of a backpack's weight should be on the hip belt. That way it is carried by your legs, not your vertebrae. Try it next time, it makes a world of difference.

Edit: this video is fantastic http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/backpacks-adjusting-fit.html

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Thomas Bellman
By Thomas Bellman (Mar 31, 2013)

Thing is, those "wings" *are* the hip belt. They are what connects the backpack to your hips, what makes the pack sit tightly and not swing when you move, and that transfers the weight of the pack to your hips. Thus, their design, length, width, thickness, stiffness, padding and shape, is *very* important. (Unfortunately, it is also not "one size fits all", since we all have different bodies, and thus different needs of size, shape and padding of the hip belt. And there is a trade-off in that a sturdy hip belt requires space when e.g. trying to fit the pack in the overhead luggage bins on an airplane.)

The Lowepro I linked to was just something I quickly looked up where the pictures clearly showed the type of hip belt many of us are looking for, in contrast with the flimsy waist straps that too many camera backpacks have.

1 upvote
soloryb
By soloryb (Mar 30, 2013)

Without a hip belt for proper support with heavy loads this thing is not for prolonged equipment hauling. Also, the worst place you can attach a tripod to a pack is on the back, where it's far enough away from your center of gravity to pull you backwards.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Mike Perlman
By Mike Perlman (Mar 30, 2013)

Read the review again and you'll find this in the 10th paragraph: "And just to avoid the avalanche of comments, yes, the Tamrac Evolution 9 is equipped with a buckled waist strap."

2 upvotes
soloryb
By soloryb (Mar 30, 2013)

The waste belt supplied with the Tamrac Evolution 9 is inadequate. Anyone who actually backpacked would know this immediately. It's too thin and unpadded making it unable to support the considerable weight it's supposed to carry. Calling it a 'backpack' is a joke.

4 upvotes
Mike Perlman
By Mike Perlman (Mar 30, 2013)

It's fine. More than adequate. See my comment above.

0 upvotes
soloryb
By soloryb (Mar 30, 2013)

I'm sure you're a fine photographer but you obviously have no experience with backpacks and hauling a heavy load. The Evolution 9 is probably just fine for a stroll in your local park but it should not be promoted as any sort of 'backpack' for photographers. Anyone who listens to that sort of nonsense will end up sorely disappointed.

4 upvotes
Codik
By Codik (Mar 30, 2013)

A hip belt should be able to comfortably support the vast majority of the weight of the pack. That thing is clearly inadequate for that purpose. Of course, that's assuming you would want to carry that much gear around.

3 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Mar 30, 2013)

Mike, thanks for giving us your take on how well it works in real life. I won't be buying one soon, but it's nice to know what's available.

1 upvote
Operator
By Operator (Mar 30, 2013)

A price tag of $220,- can be only a bad joke. A very similar Lowepro Fastpack 350 is available for €69,- by amazon.de

And it have a very useful side mesh for a water bottle ...

3 upvotes
photoramone
By photoramone (Mar 30, 2013)

Bought one while visiting friends, in Savanna, last week. It's twice the size of my previous back-pack, but now I can carry two cameras, eight lenses and the metz flash. Big, but safe and well worth the money.. RJM

1 upvote
Blackx
By Blackx (Mar 30, 2013)

Seems like an almost exact copy of Kata 3N1-33 DL, which I have been using for quite some time. Since the reviewed bag is marked on the Tamrac site as new it is easy to see who got "inspired".

1 upvote
cplunk
By cplunk (1 month ago)

After deciding I wanted that Kata bag, and discovering it's discontinued, replaced by a cheaper bag or much lower quality and a much more expensive bag, I found a used one locally.
The second or third time I used it, after carrying it 1-2 miles, I stopped by the camera store and found this Tamrac bag (err, evolution 8 actually, I think). Two big immediate differences were the chest clip to hold the straps together and the hooks to hold the straps to the bottom of the bag. The buckles on the bottom of the straps that Kata uses don't impress me, I had a lowepro bag with similar buckles fail to lock and hit the floor from waist level.
But the Kata bag also had the trolley sleeve. Going through airports, or anywhere else where you also have a pullman bag, it's pretty huge to securely cart your camera bag around on top of it... Tamrac was missing that, kinda a deal killer for me.

0 upvotes
daMatrix
By daMatrix (Mar 30, 2013)

Looks like a version of Kata 3-N-1 series .
Their model is ultra light and modern versions have a pocket for a laptop/ paper .
(I find a pocket to store brochures / books / tablets is essential)

What I do not understand in this review is the model name does not correspondent with images of Tamrac website.

3 upvotes
Ingloryon
By Ingloryon (Mar 30, 2013)

I don't like bags like this. Lowepro flipside is the best to me.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
StevenE
By StevenE (Mar 31, 2013)

I have a Lowepro 300 and a 400. Both are great. The 300 is a bit small sometimes, but the 400 is incredibly flexible and spaceous

The 200 is too teeny to be useful.

0 upvotes
Arn
By Arn (Mar 30, 2013)

I've found the worst thing about the Evolution to be the shoulder straps, which don't distribute pressure as evenly as they could - the padding is not as wide as the strap, leading to more pressure per cm2 and aching shoulders. That's why I got rid of the Tamrac Evolution and switched to a Lowepro bag, which has wider straps and more even pressure distribution. I tested this backpacking both bags for several days (and eventually a month with the Lowepro). From my point of view pressure distribution and carrying comfort is one of the most essential features of a bag as I usually carry the bag all day while travelling.

Otherwise I find the Evolution series to be excellent, but the straps are just not good enough.

6 upvotes
Mike Perlman
By Mike Perlman (Mar 30, 2013)

That is a good point--I noticed they are thinner than the Kata straps I've tried. Although it didn't affect my experience, it most certainly can affect others with sensitive shoulders.

2 upvotes
Robert Learner
By Robert Learner (Apr 3, 2013)

The thin-ish straps are my major gripe with the Evolution 8 -- otherwise I like it better than any other bag of its size. I'm tempted to replace the straps if I do something again that requires major hiking/hauling.

They're not awful, just not what they should be and can get mildly uncomfortable. Tarmac uses better straps on other bags -- don't know why they're not on this series.

0 upvotes
SRT3lkt
By SRT3lkt (Mar 30, 2013)

I always wonder why they use $40 cheapo video tripod for product shots. I don't think anybody who carry 70-200mm f2.8 in the bag using that kind of tripod.

4 upvotes
Universeal
By Universeal (Mar 30, 2013)

One thing i don't like is that it fits with hard or not at all a dslr with a grip attached in the compartment with a lens(i have 5dmk3) so i have to put the camera in another compartment which occupies 2 spaces.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 105