The perennial backpack search

Started Aug 5, 2014 | Discussions thread
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thelenspainter Senior Member • Posts: 1,894
The perennial backpack search

As we all know, the perfect photo backpack is as elusive as proverbial unicorn horns. Still, we try. I have been searching for many hours online for a backpack that meets a few simple criteria, and have only managed to find one. But first, the criteria (would not have thought these are all that tough).

  • Must be able to hold my D600 (no grip), a 16-35 VR, 70-200 2.8, 80-400G and 24-120 f4. Maybe the odd small prime as well.
  • Must have side access entry to quickly insert/remove the camera with lens attached.
  • Must have a central rear tripod mount - bottom or side tripod mounts unacceptable.
  • With all gear in place must have room for oddments such as travel docs, a couple of filters.
  • Side water bottle cradle desirable.

The hardest part was finding a bag that had side access and would accept the two large lenses simultaneously. Most bags seem to assume that you only want one large lens. This might be a fair assumption but all these bags (as far as I can see) create a problem: let's say I have only the one large lens, the 80-400. In most bags, I can configure it so it fits with that lens attached to the camera. But now I swap the 80-400 off and put something else on. Where does the 80-400 go now? If I put it where the camera was, I can't put the camera back in. Hence my desire for a bag that will fit two large zooms, so that when the large zoom is off the camera, it has somewhere to go!

The only bag that comes close to this seems to be the new and very expensive Tenba Shootout 24L backpack.

I was looking at a Tamrac Evolution 9 but it doesn't seem to be large enough for the two large zooms plus 24-120 and 16-35. On closer inspection the Tamrac seems to be one those 2.5 lens designs - it will fit two large lenses side-by-side but leaving only half a lens space that might fit a flash or so.

Another candidate was the Lowepro Flipside 400 AW but that has no side access, so you sacrifice quick access to the camera. I'm almost tempted to go with this because it can be had for around $120 from Amazon and I would be mainly using it in non-urban locations where really fast access to the camera would be less important. For urban shooting I would normally skip the 80-400G and bring my 70-200 f4 instead, which will fit in a smaller pack I have that does have nice side access (Vanguard Up-Rise 46).

I had also tried to look for backpacks that have some method for changing lenses without taking the thing off my back, putting it on the ground and squatting in front of it, which I absolutely detest. It seems however that this is an insoluble problem - only the Lowepro has made an attempt at this and it comes at the expense of side access.

I would dearly love to hear any other suggestions, otherwise I will have to choose between the Tenba and Lowepro bags I suppose!

 thelenspainter's gear list:thelenspainter's gear list
Leica TL2 Leica T 55-135mm F3.5-4.5 Leica Summilux-TL 35mm F1.4 ASPH Leica TL 18mm F2.8 +1 more
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