Best backpack / rucksack for hiking photographers

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
TheBlackGrouse Senior Member • Posts: 3,093
Re: Best backpack / rucksack for hiking photographers

Very good text, you know what you're talking about

For multi-day hikes I don't use camera backpacks, I have several dedicated hiking packs.

Deuter Guide 45+: mountaineering pack with the lightweight 'alpine' suspension system and a flexible hip-belt. This pack has a side zipper that goes from top to bottom and a separated room for the sleeping bag. Faster access than a toploader. Things like shampoo, toothpaste, cleaning solution for contact lenses, wet clothes, extra drinks, everything that may leak go in the bottom compartment. The camera equipment and dry clothes are in the main compartment. Lightweight pack for shorter trips.

Mammut Trion Pro 50: backpanel access gives better organization, especially when shooting landscapes (Lee filters, holders, CPL, lens changes etc.). The large backpanel zipper is risky indeed in heavy rain. Then I take off the pack, put a large rain-cover around it and wait, or I wrap my insert in a waterproof cover. That said, I have carried this pack in 'normal' rain for 1-3 hours and had no problems. The F-Stop ICU, the second line of defense, is water resistant too. Not much but enough to stop some incoming water.

Mountain Hardwear South Col 70: large workhorse with in-built waterproof shell. Top-loader with a lot of options to attach gear. Functions as an expedition/approach pack with a smaller sling inside, used as insert and for day-trips.

No fast access, I use several systems to carry my 7DII with 100-400 II while hiking. None of them is ideal. When in the forest you have 2-3 chances a day to shoot a rare or special bird. It has to be done in a few seconds so fast access is really important. And you never know when it happens.

The Cotton Carrier system is great but adds a lot of weight (for a hiker) and it gets hot since your chest is covered. The Black Rapid Backpack Connection Kit works fine but you have to move slowly. Best used when you are in a bird hot-spot. The Mindshift Multi Mount Holster 50 is a chest-pack but can be attached to the backpack in many ways. However, you need an extra insert for other lenses, filters etc. This one is my favorite when I only have my tele-zoom with me.

In the past I used the Think Tank Harness and connection kit but it is complicated and makes you feel like Spiderman. There may be situations when you need to get rid of you gear as quick as possible. We don't have bears and cougars here but instead our forests are populated with wild cattle (some sort of bred back Aurochs) that can be quite aggressive. I had to run for cover two times and was glad that it was easy to take of my backpack and holster. Of course, these are rare incidents but over the years strange things will happen.

Finding the perfect backpack for a hiking wildlife shooter is the Quest for the Holy Grail. You may get close but it is in fact impossible.

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