Best backpack / rucksack for hiking photographers

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
TheBlackGrouse Senior Member • Posts: 3,099
Re: Best backpack / rucksack for hiking photographers

Chris 222 wrote:

TheBlackGrouse wrote:

Just like to add something to the thread.

The OP is of course right that a Pressure Panel makes your back sweat and when it's hot your clothes get soaked. When using a pack with a Tensioned Mesh Panel you don't have this problem as it allows back ventilation. And for some this panel eliminates pain.

Since I'm living in a sea climate with at most 10-15 days a year with a temperature above 30 degrees Celsius, I can live with a Pressure Panel. However, these few hot days are terrible and I have to put an extra layer on my back to protect the pack.

The big advantage of a Pressure Panel is that it keeps the gear as close to your body as possible. It saves a lot of energy because the weight won't pull you backwards.

Neither does a properly fitted and loaded TMP pack.

Besides, it improves balance. For me, when hiking in the mountains that's extremely important. Maybe it's because I'm a flatlander that I'm too careful in the mountains

Whatever the reason, you found something that works for you and that is what matters.

And I have no choice when I choose for freedom of movement, needed for wildlife photography. Skiing and mountaineering packs make this possible and they are all glued to your back. As always, it's a trade-off. Soaked clothes, better weight distribution and balance, vs constant ventilation and less back pain.

There are all sorts of compromises in life but this absolutely does not have to be one.
But I wanted to know what others thought so I ran a little poll in our group. Out of fairness I asked that only folks who moved from a PP to a TMP system as their preferred photo/hiking pack, enter their choices - for background, many have decades of hiking experience and some (retired, lucky) ones hike many more miles than I do. There was also space for additional feedback. 127 people participated.

Question #1: How many hours of hiking did it take you to get used to your TMP pack?
Under 1 hour: 22
1 to 20 hours: 84
More than 20 hours: 21
Many comments here about the importance of showing patience in adjusting to the different stance and hiking stride allowed by the considerably improved weight spread a good TMP pack provides. Some observed how disconcerting it was at first to feel that their CG (Center of Gravity) had been lowered with 3/4 of the load now on their hips instead of pressing on their shoulders and backs.

Question #2: Does your TMP pack pull you backwards more than your PP pack?
Yes: 0
No: 127
Many comments on this question about the fact that finding a pack that truly works for your body type and shape (that's why most women need a female pack) can be really challenging. Many other comments about the absolute necessity to load the pack in a balanced way (some observed/complained that those 10 pound bags at the Outdoor Store, while nice to have, are too small and compact to represent a real load, hence the need to "bring all your stuff" when buying a new pack) and then utilize the pack's compression straps, load lifters, etc. to bring the load closer to your CG. Several members found out that they had weak core spinal muscles and worked on that.

Question #3: Compared to your old PP pack(s), how does your TMP pack affect your balance while hiking?
Negatively: 0
Positively: 72
Same: 55
Many here said that they feel safer on tough trails without that high load swinging around. Several commented about much they love that by design, the heavier the load, the closer the better TMP packs bring that load to your CG (as close as about 1/2 inch or 1,25cm on the Deuter Vario, a little more on an Osprey Atmos) which gives you even more confidence.

Question #4: Compared to your old PP pack(s) does an identical load in your TMP pack feel?
Heavier: 0
Lighter: 106
Same: 21
Most here commented on how surprised they were at first by the clear perception of lower weight. Several said they load more photo gear on their hikes than before.

Anyhow, this was a fun poll. As always, your (hiking) mileage may vary.

Ok, Deuter is an exception as their packs bring the load close to your body and they have a superb waist belt. Every year I speak with hundreds/thousand hikers/photographers and less than 1 percent likes a TMP pack. This must be a typical difference between countries. Possibly because the majority of wildlife photographers is cycling a lot too.

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