Most versatile ICU (camera insert) for backpacks and other bags

Started Jul 2, 2021 | Discussions thread
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Chris 222 Senior Member • Posts: 1,837
Most versatile ICU (camera insert) for backpacks and other bags

This thread is intended to be the “ICU-focused” companion to this main resource, which I published a while back:


Since then, I have had numerous private conversations with fellow photographers from around the world who sought some advice about which particular TMP pack would work best for them, and also which insert(s) I would recommend.

While I have already detailed the solutions personally use the most in the articles above, I also frequently borrow packs and gear from friends in my community, and it turns out that many of them favor a type of ICU that is far more versatile than the standard models.

What we are talking about is a dual-access insert, or multi-access insert, meaning an ICU that offers access via more than 1 of its 6 sides (or called planes, or faces… as you all know an ICU is a rectangle or cube that has 6 sides.)

The models I see the most among my friends are from the Lowepro GearUp Creator Box series. Those come in three sizes, are well-built, and are fairly priced, especially when compared to the astronomical figures charged by some competitors. More importantly, they offer dual access to your gear (standard top side plus the upper small side.) Have a look here:

Once you have started using one of those, especially in tandem with a dual access TMP pack such as the DFV60, CS44, Quechua MH500, etc. – you have access either via the pack’s standard top opening plus via its front panel, see full list in main resource above, articles 2,3,4, 5 and 6) – it’s actually hard to go back to a “one-side ICU” because you have enjoyed so much more flexibility in pulling out or stashing your photo gear. You can of course place the Creator Box in the central or lower compartment of the backpack and its the large top side for access, but you can also place it at the top of the backpack and pull your most-used body+cam combo out very quickly. All you have to do is unzip the small upper side (the one that has the handle.) It’s the type of versatility that actually makes your outings way more enjoyable!

This works great with other packs and bags as well, such as the Granite Trailster wheeled pack, my preferred carry-on, reviewed here.

Your turn: do you use multi-access inserts? Which brands and models?

Please share your feedback and experiences.

Happy hikes and travels!


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