Best backpack / rucksack for hiking photographers

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
starfly Contributing Member • Posts: 607
Re: Best backpack / rucksack for hiking photographers

Chris 222 wrote:

starfly wrote:

Chris 222 wrote:

Wateraddict wrote:

Not on ski trips but on short hikes with snow shoes and in the winter Yes. I love the winter for the type of photography I do. Light hiking and average use. If you have any other recommendations I would be all ears.

The Freerider Pro 30 is a super-well built bag (typical of this brand) but like many winter packs it has no water bottle pockets. We tend to ignore hydration in the winter but it's a mistake since we dehydrate just as quickly, especially at altitude. Anyhow, you can still stick an insulated bottle inside the pack but then you have to drop your bag any time you want a sip. But the bigger problem in my book, is the fact that this pack doesn't have a rain cover, a big no-no when you have photo gear inside.

FWIW if I were in your shoes I'd go with the Deuter Futura Pro 40 which is a true 4-season pack and has far more options for photo gear access (see post #1 for the gory details) and hydration. You also get a TMP with considerably better weight spread, meaning that in practice both the bag and the load feel much lighter. Alternatively, the Deuter Futura 36 Pro, a standard PP bag, has a side zipper but I'd caution about the practicality of this type of access. It's actually easier and less messy to just drop your pack vertical in the snow (the bottom is waterproof) and access your lenses in the ICU at the top of the bag. Both these packs should also be really nice for putting your snow shoes either in the stretch front pocket or lashed to the 4 loops on the top cover. BTW, both these models are under $130 now which is a steal.

Does this make sense?

You probably mean the Trail Pro 36, as the Futura Pro 36 is just a slightly smaller version of the Futura Pro 40

The Trail Pro 36 as an FYI does not have side access. That zipper you see on the side is just a zipped side pocket. It does have front panel access, and depending on how you have the zipper it can double as sort of side-access. I otherwise concur with you that more often than not, side-access zippers aren't that practical for photography purposes. It's usually not very easy to access an ICU through a side access zipper. A front access panel tends work a bit better.

I just picked up the Trail Pro 36 alongside the Gregory Zulu 40 I picked up last week, as I wanted to compare the two and see how they work. Initial impression is that the Zulu feels a bit more comfortable on my back, but the Trail Pro 36 might be a little bit easier to work with, partly because the TMP suspension on the Zulu means the bag is somewhat curved instead of more straight on a more traditional back like the Deuter, which makes it more finnicky to deal with ICUs and tripods internally for example.

Not sure yet which one I'll keep, or if I'll return both. I just laid my eye on a new Osprey Archeon series of packs, in particular the 45L version caught my eye. Quite a bit more expensive though and they're not in any stores, yet, at least not where I live. They seem very durable and I like the features it offers. No TMP back, but I'm not married to that idea as I'll have a sweaty back no matter what. The 45L appears to have very easy access to the entire pack, something the Zulu and Trail Pro 36 both have as well but less convenient/easy.

Anyway, I'm not in a rush to get a pack, I may just decide to return both packs and wait until I can see the Archeon in store to try it on and see if I like its features.

I also wanted to thank you for sharing your findings here about these 2 packs. I hope you have time to get out on the trail and test them with a full load. Keep us posted !

Well, I'm returning all these packs and will revisit my search in about 6 months or so, maybe there will be other packs on the market by then I can look at.  I was not in urgent need of a new pack and just wasn't fully satisfied by any of these packs:

The Osprey Archeon 45, while a nice pack from a feature and durability perspective, I just found to be very uncomfortable; the hip belt is very hard and not well padded, the shoulder straps the same, and the back of the pack doesn't fit my fairly curved lower back well at all.  Feels like I'm wearing a block, and it was also the heaviest by far out of the 3 I tried.

The Deuter Trail Pro 36 just doesn't feel like it properly transfers the load to my hips somehow, otherwise liked the pack.  I wish there was a Deuter Futura version that had similar features to the Trail Pro 36, but alas, the only Futura with front access is the Futura 26, which would be too small, or the Futura Vario 50+10 which is way too big for a daypack.  I'd still prefer a TMP back overall.

The Gregory Zulu 40 overall is the most comfortable, but also the smallest of the bunch in terms of internal pack space, so slightly less versatile as a photography backpack.  But otherwise it nicely hugs my body, and transfers the load to my hips well.  Also fits my curved lower back quite well.  I may revisit this pack in 6 months if there aren't any other new packs out on the market.

 starfly's gear list:starfly's gear list
Nikon Z6 Nikon 35mm F1.8G ED Nikon Z 24-70mm F4 Nikon Z 50mm F1.8
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