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Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack All packed up and ready to hit the trails with the tripod in the expandable side pocket.

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
All packed up and ready to hit the trails with the tripod in the expandable side pocket.

With the multitude of camera bags available on the market today it can often be a difficult choice deciding on that one bag to meet the varied needs that each photo excursion. I have used many backpacks, holster bags, belt & pouch systems, and small travel backpacks. Let’s consider the pros and cons of each of these bags:

  • Large backpacks have the ability to allow the photographer to carry a vast amount of gear into the field at the expense of lugging around a ton of weight, making them impractical for long wilderness hikes (I once lugged my large backpack through the Pukaskwa wilderness for 4 solid hours and paid the price for it too).
  • Holster-style bags usually allow us to carry a camera body with a 70-200mm or 80-400mm lens attached as well as a couple of additional lenses in small side pouches. While this type of bag addresses the excessive weight issue of a large backpack, making it a joy to take on long hikes it is often lacking in that extra space one wished they had for a few additional items.
  • Belt & Pouch systems allow for a more practical way to take along lots of gear whereby the weight can be evenly distributed about the photographer’s waist and torso via a belt and vest configuration, however, this system is not very user friendly during the winter months and in the heat of the summer can be rather uncomfortable and hot to wear.
  • Smaller backpacks designed specifically for travel are often the perfect weight for an all day hike. These packs are typically designed to have a compartment for camera gear and a compartment for personal gear that may be required for the hike. These two compartments are generally separated by a divider that is permanently stitched into the pack.

Several weeks ago Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for the Manfrotto line of products asked me if I would be interested in trying out the new Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack. I have since used this pack to carry my gear through the wilds of Algonquin Provincial Park, the Georgian Bay Rugged Hiking Trail, numerous canoeing day-trips, and my day-to-day photographic needs. It has been a joy to carry around my gear in this light-weight bag.

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack All packed up and ready to hit the trails with the tripod securely fastened in the tie-down straps.

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
All packed up and ready to hit the trails with the tripod securely fastened in the tie-down straps.

Let’s take a look at some of the unique features that the Manfrotto Advance Travel Backpack has to offer:

  • expandable padded side pocket to accommodate small travel sized tripods
  • straps on the back to fasten a tripod to the outside of the pack…these straps could be used to tie-down a variety of things such as a light jacket
  • a dedicated compartment for a 13 inch laptop
  • upper compartment for personal belongings
  • lower compartment for camera gear configured for quick access to the camera
  • a removable, zippered divider separates the upper and lower compartments
  • protective rain cover included
  • comfortable, well padded harness system with a sternum strap for added comfort and a waist strap too (I do wish the waist strap was a little wider and of a padded design, but this is a personal preference)
  • numerous zippered pockets for storing smaller items

 

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack A view of the well padded harness system and sternum strap

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
A view of the well padded harness system and sternum strap

 

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack Included rain cover in place and ready for inclement weather

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
Included rain cover in place and ready for inclement weather

 

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack Quick side access opened

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
Quick side access opened

 

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack Side access fully opened - note I opted to use the upper compartment for additional camera accecories rather than personal belongings.

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
Side access fully opened – note I opted to use the upper compartment for additional camera accessories rather than personal belongings.

In the below photo (please remember to click on the image to see the larger, sharper version) you will see the assortment of gear that I am able to pack into the Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack and comfortably carry into the field for an all day hike.

Here’s what’s in the bag:

  • Gepe waterproof case for my Compact Flash and SD cards
  • Double-bubble Level
  • Micro Fibre Cleaning Cloth
  • Two spare batteries for the camera
  • Allen key wrench for quick release plates that may require re-tightening
  • Small Mini-Mag flashlight
  • Small reflector that is often used to provide shade for such things as flowers or insects
  • Cokin “P” sized filter holder
  • Nikon Polarizing Filter
  • B&W 10-stop ND filter
  • Filter stack containing a Canon 500D Close-up Filter, Tiffen 3-stop ND Filter and a spare Tiffen polarizing filter
  • Cable Release
  • Singh-Ray 2-stop Soft Edge Graduated ND Filter
  • Singh-Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated ND Filter
  • Nikon D800 with attached Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens
  • Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens
  • Nikon 18-35mm Lens
  • Nikon 24-85mm Lens
  • Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
  • Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens Hood
  • 13″ Laptop (when needed – I do not generally carry a laptop for day-tripping)
Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack My assortment of gear that easily fits into the pack

Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack
My assortment of gear that easily fits into the pack

Now that’s a ton of stuff and it all easily fits into this well designed and well built travel pack. Being able to easily pack, access, and carry my gear on long hikes through the wilderness, or on short day-trips, or during simple day-to-day activities means I am always at the ready. I often head out to photograph during periods of inclement weather and knowing that I can easily protect my gear with the supplied rain cover, provides the peace of mind knowing my gear is safely stowed away until conditions improve. Being able to easily store a small travel sized tripod in the expandable side pocket eliminates the need to carry the tripod around by hand or via a shoulder strap. The ability to conveniently store and access an assortment of photographic gear only enhances the photographic experience. There is nothing more frustrating than having to fumble around with bulky gear bags to get to your equipment when those fleeting moments in nature go whizzing past. The Manfrotto Advanced Travel Backpack has quickly become my new favorite gear bag for all of my photographic adventures.

I can’t wait to take it on a Caribbean holiday 🙂

 

 

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Tamrac Expedition 8x

Tamrac Expedition 8x Photo / Laptop Backpack

I tend to shy away from using backpacks to carry my photo gear into the field due to problems with my lower back. With my persistent back trouble I often prefer to go with a lighter type of carrying system such as the Tamrac Pro Digital Zoom 10 and the Modular Accessory System (M.A.S.). However, there are times when carrying a backpack into the field just makes more sense. On longer forays into the wilderness I like to have a good selection of gear with me so that I am prepared for pretty much anything I may find along the way. There is nothing worse than encountering that once in a lifetime opportunity and not having the gear at hand to get the job done.

For several years my standard photo backpack was a Lowepro Photo Trekker. This pack served me well until one day while photographing at the Torrance Barrens near Gravenhurst, Ontario when I lifted the pack and the zippered failed sending all my gear crashing onto the granite bedrock at this location. I contacted Lowepro about the failure of the zipper and they immediately replaced my Photo Trekker with a more durable Pro Trekker AW II. This is a great pack with lots of storage capabilities, but I disliked carrying it on long hikes as it seemed heavy and I found my shoulders bothered me by the end of the day.

Since becoming sponsored by Tamrac Canada  and Gentec International, the distributor of Tamrac products in Canada, I have had the opportunity to use the Tamrac Expedition 8x Photo / Laptop Backpack. I can honestly say that I love the pack. It is very comfortable to wear on extended hikes and offers a great deal of storage capabilities for camera gear and other miscellaneous items that you may wish to carry into the field. One of the reasons I find this pack so comfortable is right from the get go this pack is much lighter than my Lowepro Pro Trekker AW II. I did not realize this until I picked up the old Lowepro pack the other day and thought that it seemed very heavy, even though the pack was empty. I decided to weigh the bags when they were empty and could not believe that the Tamrac Expedition 8x Photo / Laptop Backpack only weighed a touch over 7lbs. while the Lowepro Pro Trekker was weighing in at a hefty 11.5 pounds. Wow, a 5lb. plus difference when empty. That alone is a huge relief while heading down the trail with your assortment of camera gear.

Aside from carrying the pack on longer hikes where I want to have my full compliment of camera gear and accessories at the ready, I also prefer to use backpacks during winter excursions and situations where I may be working from the car. I can easily lay the pack in the back of my Subaru and have easy access to all my gear as I need to. And during winter excursions I simply find it easier to work from backpacks as I can lay them on the snow and access my gear while using the main flap to shield my gear when changing lenses or attaching filters, especially if it may be snowing at the time.

What exactly does the Tamrac Expedition 8x feature:

  • two winged accessory pockets featuring Tamrac’s patented Memory and Battery Management System.
  • the inside of the front flap contains three, zippered, Windowpane Mesh pockets for various accessories.
  • adjustable foam padded dividers to custom fit all of your photo gear.
  • LockDown Rain Flap on the main zippered to help protect your gear during inclement weather.
  • BioCurve Dual Pivoting waist belt for greater comfort.
  • Dual-Foam Comfort Pads for your back with Air Flow Channels to help keep your back cool and dry.
  • Quick Clip Tripod attachment system, although I never carry my tripod on the pack I will often use the tripod foot pocket to carry additional items.
  • a foam padded front pocket to carry 17 inch laptops – I will often use this pocket to carry my home-made reflectors and diffusers.
  • fully compatible with Tamrac’s Modular Accessory System (M.A.S.) and the Strap Accessory System ( S.A.S.) allowing you to further customize the pack to your individual needs.
  • easily carries two or three camera bodies and a complete assortment of lenses.

In the two additional images of the Tamrac Expedition 8x Photo / Laptop Backpack below you will see the thick padding that rests against your back while carrying the pack and the air-flow channels. You will also note the weather resistant zippers that protect items stored in the laptop pocket as well as items stashed in the two zippered wing pockets.

Tamrac Expedition 8x (1)

Tamrac Expedition 8x – the rearview (check out all the padding)

Tamrac Expedition 8x (3)

Tamrac Expedition 8x – weather resistant zippers

I can honestly say that the Tamrac Expedition 8x Photo / Laptop Backpack is a joy to carry in the field, even with my persistent back problems, and it offers me all the storage possibilities that I need when I am about to hit the trail for an extended day of photographing our natural world.  It is absolutely the most comfortable, well thought-out and designed backpack camera bag I have ever used to carry my assortment of photography gear. If by chance you are sitting on the fence about whether to purchase a backpack camera bag or are looking for a replacement bag I would seriously consider the Tamrac Expedition 8x Photo / Laptop Backpack. It is a lightweight pack made of extremely durable fabrics, designed to protect your camera gear from the elements. If you are worried that the Expedition 8x may be too much pack for you, please view the complete assortment of Expedition series of backpacks available here.

Please remember to click on each of the photos to view a larger sharper version.

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