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.
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
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)
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 :)