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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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Tamrac Pro Digital Zoom 10

During the last few months I have been using Tamrac’s M.A.S. System (Modular Accessory System) and the Pro Digital Zoom 10 to carry my equipment during photo excursions. The folks that have been following my blog for a while may recall last September I wrote about a mishap I encountered with one of my old Lowepro Street and Field lens cases. For those of you who have recently began to follow my blog here is the short version – while jumping down from a log beside a beaver pond, the velcro fastening system on the Lowepro lens case failed and the case went for a swim in the pond with my Nikon 12-24mm lens inside. I quickly went for a swim in the pond to rescue the lens before it suffered any damage resulting from the dunking.

Fast-forward to this year when the opportunity to become sponsored by Tamrac was presented to me by Gentec International, the supplier to Tamrac products in Canada, I was very eager to try out their M.A.S. System, which stands for Modular Accessory System and their Pro Digital Zoom 10 pack. When the packs arrived I was immediately impressed with the high quality fabric used in their construction. This fabric is called ‘ballistic nylon,’ which is a thick, tough, synthetic nylon material that is very durable. All the zippers have large pull tabs that make opening the packs and lens cases a breeze. I have also noted as I canoe throughout wetlands, when I inadvertently splash water over the packs that the water actually beads on the fabric.

What I love most about modular systems, aside from being able to customize them to your individual needs, is the ability to simply meander about in the field, knowing that everything I need is with me when photographic opportunities are presented. There is no searching for the pack you left laying on the ground while you wandered about or worse, hoping you have time to run back and grab that one piece of gear you need to photograph that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you have been dreaming of. This type of carrying system is also very friendly towards by frequent back problems.

Here is what I love about the Pro Digital Zoom 10 Pack:

  • large flap on top of the pack provides excellent protection from the elements, although not being used to such an extra large flap did take some getting used too but the extra protection this provides my gear in the field is paramount.
  • inside the large flap is a zippered pocket that I often carry my most frequently used filter – a polarizing filter.
  • easily holds my Nikon D800 with the Nikon 80-400mm VR lens attached.
  • I can carry the pack as a shoulder bag or use the built in belt loop to attach the pack to the M.A.S belt.
  • it is compatible with the M.A.S. system allowing me the convenience of changing the accessory packs around to suit the photographic needs day. In the above photo I have fitted the Pro Digital Zoom 10 with the Lens Case Pro 200 and the Lens Case Pro 50. In the Pro 200 case I have housed two small lenses, a 12-24mm and a 18-70mm lens (separated by a piece of foam padding) and in the Pro 50 case I have housed my 105mm micro lens.
  • a large front pocket to house additional items such as cable release, double bubble level, spare battery, and compact flash cards. Note the batteries and flash cards can be stored in Tamrac’s ‘Battery Management System‘ that is also found inside the large front pocket, however, I do prefer to carry my compact flash cards in water tight protective cases.

My personal M.A.S. set-up

In the above photograph (click on the photo to see a larger version that also shows the weeds and clover growing in my lawn :)) is my personal set-up of M.A.S. packs attached to the accessory belt. On longer hikes I will often remove the lens cases from the Pro Digital Zoom 10 and fasten them to this belt. The image above shows the two medium sized Backpack Side Pockets, the Lens Case Pro 100, and the Filter Belt Pack. Here is what goes in these packs:

  • the first Backpack Side Pocket houses my Wimberely Macro Bracket-single arm set-up and my Nikon SB400 Speedlight that I frequently use for my frog photography.
  • the Lens Case Pro 100 will often house an additional lens or other small accessories that I may carry into the field. This all depends on the needs of the day.
  • the second Backpack Side Pocket contains my Better Beamer Flash Extender and my SB600 Speedlight or alternately I will use this pack for my graduated neutral density filters.
  • the Filter Belt Pack is used for various filters such as my 3 & 10 stop Neutral Density filters, Canon 500D close-up filter, and my Singh Ray Warming Polarizing Filter

One small detail of the M.A.S. system that has impressed me most of all is the method by which they are attached to the accessory belt or the Pro Digital Zoom 10 pack – velcro and snaps. Velcro is often the main choice of camera bag manufactures to fasten such accessory items to the main packs, however, Tamrac have taken the time to add durable metal snaps (see the image below) for added security to ensure the accessories do not fall off. I most often find that velcro tends to lose its effectiveness over time but with these metal snaps I feel very confident that the next time I jump over a log alongside a beaver pond I will not be going for an unanticipated swim to retrieve any lens cases from the pond.

Velcro and metal snap buttons found on M.A.S. system accessories

If you are in need of a new modular carrying system for your photographic forays check out the various accessories that are available for the Tamrac M.A.S. system to see if there is a selection of packs and cases available to suit your individual photographic needs.

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Tamrac Adventure 7

Recently I became sponsored by Tamrac Canada and am pleased to be associated with their high quality, durable camera carrying systems. Long before I became sponsored by Tamrac I purchased one of their Adventure 7 backpacks, mostly for use on family vacations to the Caribbean where I would want to take more than just my photography gear as carry-on baggage. The Adventure 7 was a perfect fit for this need as it is uniquely design with two compartments; an upper section and a lower section. The lower section is for camera gear and will allow for two or three lenses and a camera body, while the upper section can be used for storing various items that you may wish to carry with you in the field and the upper section also has a small mesh pocket inside. I have found the upper section most useful for storing lunches / snacks, light weight jackets, hats, sunscreen and even diapers, when my daughter was of a much younger age. You will also find a large front pocket on the pack and two side mesh pockets. The harness system for carrying this backpack is comfortable, making the pack a joy to take on long excursions into the field where traveling lightly can often be a priority.

What  really attracted me to this pack in the first place was the rugged materials used in its construction ( my pack in the above photo is several years old and is still in great shape) and that it does not really resemble a traditional camera bag, which is a good thing when traveling to some foreign countries where crime can be of concern for photo enthusiasts. The Adventure 7 is a very well made pack with several nice features. The zippers have large pull tabs making them easy to open. A large weather flap provides additional protection around the zipper for the lower camera compartment and the large front pocket on the lower section will allow you to carry some filters, a cable release and Tamrac’s patented Memory and Battery Management System can also be found within this pocket.

Since I do enjoy hiking as lightly as possible, I now use this pack for much more than a family vacation to the sunny south. Often I will pack my Adventure 7 with my 18-70mm lens, 80-400mm lens and Nikon D200 for a long hike near my home. A polarizing filter, a couple of graduated neutral density filters and cable release go into the front pocket. A bottle of water goes into one of the side mesh pockets and in the upper compartment I store the lens hood for my 80-400mm lens and any other items that may be required depending on the type of excursion I have planned. My asthma inhaler is kept readily accessible in the small mesh pocket found inside this upper compartment as well. Being able to hike in comfort will improve your photo excursions immensely, I have found in the past that becoming bogged down with gear that is less than user friendly produces very poor results.

The Tamrac Adventure Series Backpacks currently come in four sizes to suit your individual needs. The two largest packs the Adventure 9 & 10 will also allow you to carry a laptop into the field and additional lenses. Having used the Adventure 7 pack for a number of years I can honestly recommend it as a versatile pack that is superbly designed to meet the needs of most photographers.

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