Organizing, Protecting and Selecting protection types available for each item of (LF) photo gears in non-photo packs for backpacking : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hopefully this is not just another backpack thread for photo gears.

I ended up with carrying my gear after trying a couple of photo packs (Tamrac Extreme series 787, LowePro Pro trekker and photo trekker AW) in the past for numerous reasons. I would like to hear some ideas and opinions on my following backpack configuration and logic.

Backpack - Osprey Vertigo (Straight Jacket design: protects gear by frame sheets and pads, can attach a tripod nicely at the center of the backpack, panel loading, 3lb7oz) See additional info at Osprey site.

Inside the backpack (items are listed from top to bottom in the backpack)

Outside the backpack

Some thoughts about Conditions

  1. Each item must be protected with a pouch or wrap unless the item is already in a pouch.
  2. An item must be protected with a hard shell padded pouch if outside the backpack.
I like the system overall although I have not tried any belt system yet. Instead I use pouches with beltloops on a normal belt for now. The OP/Tech wraps come with an additional 5" square pad for added protection but the pads are not thick enough to me. Has anyone tried other wraps from Zing and Domke? On the other hand, I like the tripod protector because it comes with Cordura covers (socks) for the foam. The beltloop of Calumet film holder pouch seems a little bit too big and needs some redesign for a better balance.

I'm discussing with myself whether I should protect the camera with further protection (padded hard shell case, hard shell case, padded case) but this results in significant volume increase and some weight. For now I justify myself that the camera is protected enough by the other padded items and the back and side padded framesheets of the pack. Any tips you find useful are appreciated! Related links:

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (, December 27, 1999


Ahhh, mistake. "Pouch F" under "Outside the backpack" should be Pouch E.

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (, December 27, 1999.

(Sigh) The first sentence of the second paragraph: I ended up with carrying my gear after trying a couple of photo packs ... should read "I ended up with carrying my gear [in a non-photo backpack] after trying a couple of photo packs.

Additional comment: An Osprey representative told me "Backside"(another pack Osprey makes) is the most popular among photographers of Osprey products; mainly because the the "back side" of the pack openes up like a panel loading pack therefore it enables a photographer to access the inside without removing the tripod where it is attached on the front center. I tried the pack in Medium and Large size but the pack design did not have the maximum head clearance compared to Vertigo when I tilted my head backwards. Nonetheless, I suggest to try Backside too since this maximum head clearance depends on your torso length. My torso length is about 18" which is in the middle of Medium and Large size (My Vertigo is Medium). BTW, I'm not affiliated to Osprey in anyway.

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (, December 27, 1999.

Hi Masayoshi,

I think you came to a sensible decision especially carrying your gear any distance. Personally, I think the overall choice of pack depends upon the individual and what fits/works best.

Over the years I have found that if you're reasonably careful (don't drop your pack on hard rocks, don't swing from a rope and smash your back into a rock wall) you don't need that much protection. I frequently wrap the camera in a spare jacket, or in the case where I need to wear the jacket, the camera goes in unprotected. Lens and light meter go into Zing neoprene pouches; these are handy because they already have a belt clip attached and can easily be attached to an outside strap on the pack if necessary. They offer good protection and resistance to water and stretch to accomodate large lens'. As you've already found, Calumet pouches for film holders work quite well; I've even strapped mine to the outside of the pack, though I wouldn't want to do that in extreme weather. I strap my tripod, without protection, to the outside of the pack - yes, it does show some cosmetic wear, but that's Ok with me - just clean it after extreme weather.


-- Pete Caluori (, December 28, 1999.

This is how I protect individual items. My lenses (mounted on Technika boards) and meters, and loupes go into variously sized Zing bags; rollfilm, Polaroid and Fuji Quickload backs go into Gara gear bags (I think Garagear also makes a bag for holding standard sheetfilm holders. Quickload and Polaroid gets carried in Quickload boxes, I start with one empty box to carry exposed film. the tripod with Arca Swiss B1 or B2 head attached (and head is covered by an approipriately sized zing bag, gpes outside of the backpack. I f I am flying the tripod(s) goes in a Lightware tripod case. My location camera (a Canham DLC) came with it's own Tenba case.

I used to use the flat wraps with Velcro closures from Domke and Calument but Zing offers more padding.

If you want the best protection, and you will pay for it, go with a Lightware BP1420 backpack. The problem with it is that it is huge and relatively heavy, not to mention not cheap. But is probably the best built back pack you can buy. If you aren't looking for a backpack I still recommend Lightware cases. I've been using them since they first came out and they have never let me down: no broken flashtubes, no damage period. like the Arca swiss B1 they are simply the best at what they do. (This not to put down Tenba's also very fine cases, I just haven't used them.

-- Ellis Vener (, December 29, 1999.

What are zing pouches? Is this a brandname? Can you describe them for me?

Thanks, Carey

-- Carey Bird (, December 30, 1999.

Carey, here is the web site of Zing. And for your reference, Two other companies that make similar pouches/wraps are Domke and OP/Tech. Lightware now has a web site!

I'm finding myself that a right size pouch is much better than a wrap if I can find one; simply because everytime I unwrap an item, in reality, I have to fold the wrap to shape from the beginning. I'll try some Zing stuff. I also looked into the Lightware backpack but decided not to go with a photo pack because it's not intended for an backcountry backpacking extending over 2-3 nights (where camping equipment is necessary). I have also realized that I can put much more stuff in a non-photo pack than a photo pack as you all know. One of the reason I don't like about a photo pack is dividers which take up a lot of space inside and they can be arranged in limited ways. My point of using a belt system with padded cases attached in a non-photo pack is that no such divider is necessary. I am ready to shoot just simply taking out the belt from the pack and no more need to go back to the pack unlike a photo pack because everything I need is in the pouches on the belt. Of course I'm assuming here that I don't have a belt system with a photo pack.

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (, December 30, 1999.


After reading Ellis' reply, I realized I forgot to mention a cool way to transport Quickloads/Readyloads/Polaroids. The plastic case from SONY digital Betacam tapes makes an excellent, hard shell, plastic case for carrying these films, once the plastic hubs are removed with a razor blade. The bad thing about these, is that they are not consumer items, but if you know someone that works at a television station or post production house they may be able to get some for you.

Regards & Happy New Year!

-- Pete Caluori (, December 31, 1999.

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