Best backpack / rucksack for hiking photographers

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
TheBlackGrouse Senior Member • Posts: 3,094
Re: Best backpack / rucksack for hiking photographers

Chris 222 wrote:

TheBlackGrouse wrote:

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

Thank you. But as I said, I'm just one member of a large, incredibly experienced group with sub-groups that can be found hiking somewhere on this beautiful little planet just about every weekend. They made some really useful suggestions!

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.

Sadly no TMP here but for those who do not mind a sweat-drenched back/butt, these are 3 great packs you own!

We don't have many hot days per year although the numbers are increasing due to climate change. In this sea climate TMP is not the first thing you need.

I am a bit surprised at the slant towards ski mountaineering/alpine climbing type of packs though, I had no idea you had such high peaks in the Netherlands!

No we don't

Had to order my Mountain Hardwear Pack in Germany and I found the Mammut by accident in an outdoor shop on the Belgian border. The owner is a fanatic climber.

The reason I use mountaineering packs is that I do a lot of cycling too when I'm on a photo trip. Our nature reserves are small and too far away from each other to do by foot.

The heavy Deuter packs are superb for hiking but have (of course) enormous waist-belts that get in the way when cycling. The second reason is that I'm a wildlife shooter and mountaineering packs give freedom to move. You can easily kneel, crawl etc. with them. The downside is that their waist-belts give less hip support and at 15 kg they are really uncomfortable. I try to keep the weight below 12 kg.

Jokes aside, I'm not much into straight climbing these days but I have fond memories of my old Mammut, a real workhorse with very high quality (and a sky-high price, no wonder some call them the "Swiss Patagonia"!) That company's Alpine heritage shows in much of their gear, expensive stuff but well worth the money.

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.

Agreed, that is a real challenge, but there are solutions. The ones outlined in my OP work very well for many in our large group (and these are picky people!)

The Cotton Carrier system is great but adds a lot of weight (for a hiker) and it gets hot since your chest is covered.

Yup, and on top of that I was never able to make the CC harness work with a backpack (felt like the harnesses fought each other...) For quick access consider trying out the StrapShot, I'm away on assignment right now but here is a pix of a similar setup:

When I use it with a long zoom I add a little bungee that secures the front of the lens to my chest strap, works like a charm.

Yes, it is a good solution but the 7DII and 100-400 II are heavy, they need to be centered on the chest if possible.

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.

Those wouldn't be the Highland breed (originally from Scotland) by any chance?

Yes many nature reservers have these Highland Cattle and they have attacked me twice. However, this was in the rutting season and their charge is really short. If you retreat quickly they are satisfied and will stop.

I was talking about the Sayaguesa cattle a rare breed from Spain, that looks like an Aurochs and behaves like one sometimes

A strange hiker in early spring in the mist at sunset, no one around for miles, was enough to get one of the bulls to attack.

They look like this and in this case I took off my backpack and ran for cover. Behind a tree you are relatively safe as they have trouble to remember which one when in a forest. The big horns make maneuvering in forests difficult so a tree between some bushes saved my day. This is a rare event though, normally they are peaceful. It was early spring, and not many people had been there in the winter.

Sayaguesa bull, especially impressive in the mist

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