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Camera bag for outdoors activities

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I don't know if anyone will be able to suggest anything, since I have done my research pretty well, at least I think so. This is mainly venting after another futile day of research :))

So, the thing is that I like being outdoors, hiking. Mostly those are a one day hikes, but I have previously been out for a week, carrying with me most of the gear in my signature (except the flash and 100-400) as well as the tent, sleeping bag, food, clothes etc. And I can't really find the right camera bag that:

  1. allows carrying both my photo gear and some hiking gear
  2. is suitable for both larger lenses and smaller lenses at the same time, whilst not wasting space (being too deep)
  3. allows for quick access on the go, when needed - or supports hanging items from chest straps
  4. has a pocket for a hydration bladder (a must).

The one thing that, I guess we all love Fuji for, is that the lenses are not large and many are quite small indeed. If I don't want to carry around my 100-400, then there is really a plethora of bags that will do the job just fine.

However, when I want the gear to be with me, problems start.

Here is a picture of the superbly made Lowepro Flipside 500 that I own, but have never used in real life (I have more than 10 bags at the moment, and this is the largest; had a REALLY good deal on it):


As you can see, there is a) lots of space left in terms of area (and that could be used for other hiking gear, unless the jacket or anything else is wet, so thats ok, however the other thing b) is that there is lots of unused space in terms of volume! The bag could have been 2 inches shallower and have had a 2 inches wide pocket with top access in front of the camera compartment. Plus now the gear is moving around while walking, so that is less than ideal too.

And from what I have seen, there seem not to be bags with such configuration - most divide stuff between top and bottom, almost none separate the top and bottom with some kind of waterproof divider, and few have easy access.

So for now I am stuck with using hiking bags, such as Osprey Kestrel 68 or Haglofs Spira 25 and have multiple lens pouches attached to shoulder straps and waist strap, which is less than ideal but works. I don't like the PD Clip for attaching my camera to the bag, so the camera is on its neck strap around my neck and under one armpit - when not needed, the camera just hangs on my side and does not impede with more technical sections of trails, etc. I then have easy access to my gear, but little to none protection in case of massive rain.

The Lowepro Photosport Pro 55L/70L seems to have got most things right, however, I have not seen the bag in real life and the price tag seems a bit much, especially considering how many bags I already own :D Plus I have never used a bag that uses a camera cube, and have my doubts about whether it would actually be large enough for the lenses, and the access to them is not quick - I would still have to use the lens pouches and store them away in case of rain.

I really love the idea behind Think Tank Mindshift Rotation series (looking at 50 liter model), but have no way of fitting the bag and seeing how it feels - we don't have it available locally here in Latvia. If anyone has used it - how does the rotating hip belt behave, when the total weight of the bag is 15+ kilos? Does it rotate freely and does it provide enough support for the bag to rest on the hips, instead of relying mostly on shoulders? The bag is quite expensive and I would really hate to spend that much money on something that turns out to be a gimmick. Plus, the raincovers are extra, and not cheap. However, the waist bag as such is an awesome concept, I have an old Lowepro Sideline Shooter for outdoors shoots, say, on the beach, when me and the person I am shooting are almost knee-deep in water - very convenient to change lenses, without running back to the shore or balancing a backpack. Unfortunately, they don't make these any more, so this is probably my last of a kind.

Sorry for the long post, and thank you for reading through my frustration :) What kind of setup do you use for adventure/hiking/climbing photography.
Here's a bit of Iceland as my way of saying sorry :D

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Edited by ajurjans
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18 minutes ago, cpX said:

simple jeans backpack

How heavy is the pack? I cannot really imagine carrying a backpack heavier than 5kg for several days in a row without  hip and sternum belts. The Iceland hike was 5 days long and we spent nights in tents at temperatures around freezing point, sadly, a simple bag will not allow for that.

Edited by ajurjans
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So, the ugly truth is there is no perfect camera bag....I guess I have 6 or 8 bags/slings and which one I use varies with the gear I'm bringing as well as the scenario (Hiking, In a City etc...).

I lean towards F-Stop for hiking because the internal support of the bag makes it all easier on my back. If I'm bringing big lenses I steer towards a Gura Gear. 

Not sure where you are, and I'm not advertising for anyone, but, B&H will do a video chat and grab the gear you're packing and work with you, via video, to choose an appropriate bag. A great way to spend an hour!


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1 hour ago, cpX said:

If 5kg is already too much, then you can organize a carrier

It is not too much for a day, but not for several days over rougher terrain. I might be getting old, but I like not having any pain while hiking. 20 kilos on my back can be fine for 5 days, but only if the pack sits on hips, not shoulders.


6 hours ago, Warren said:

Not sure where you are, and I'm not advertising for anyone, but, B&H will do a video chat

I know they have a great service, but I am in the Eastern part of Europe and we don't have much options in terms of seeing niche equipment before purchasing it. Video demonstration is nice, but I'd love to feel a €400-€500 bag fully loaded on my back, before spending that money.

Edited by ajurjans
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I use the Lowepro Flipside 450, but it is more of a daysack than a proper hiking/camping bag.  It splits the body into two compartments, the lower with back access for camera gear and the upper compartment for general purpose stuff, although the divider is not sealed and can be removed, if desired, to make the bag more like a conventional rucksack.  I usually carry a small pop-up umbrella, snacks, a lightweight waterproof jacket, spare batteries, cleaning cloth and a 1m diameter folding reflector (for natural reflected sidelighting or as a shade while doing macro).

It has a front zipped area that can house a pad or small laptop that could easily hold a hydration bag of some sort, but I bring along my camera manual for light reading!!  I usually carry a water bottle or flask in one of the side mesh pockets and a travel tripod in the other side.

I wouldn't like to use it for extended camping out, though :)

On a recent trip abroad I used it as my walk-on flight luggage.  Having taken out the photography gear I didn't need to carry with me on the trip I used the empty spaces in the camera compartment to take spare underwear, socks, t-shirt and wash kit with me.  It was all very organised!!

Edited by Heccie Thump
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1 hour ago, Heccie Thump said:

Flipside 450, but it is more of a daysack

I have to agree, the Flipside is great as a day bag or transportation bag, but as a shooting bag it just does not give speed and things can and will get in way.

I have had great successes with Slingshot series and the Sideline Shooter - they both allow for a very smooth and quick lens change, etc.

I start to like the ThinkTank Rotation series more and more, will need to find it in a store somewhere to try and fit it.

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