Which back pack??

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My Tamrac backpack bag has been of some use, but I find it a bit clumsy and I am thinking of getting a new one. I know Tamrac, Lowepro and others all make better looking models. I need to carry my 4 x 5 wood camera, 4 -5 mounted lenses, spot meter, film holders and some miscellaneous stuff(filters). Ideally, it needs a secure fastner/mount for my tripod. Any one have any favorites they can suggest. I am also looking for a second, smaller unit that could carry my Pentax 67 outfit that my wife would carry. Anyone have any favorites they might suggest? Thanks, Rob Rielly

-- Rob Rielly (ArtFlic@aol.com), January 23, 2000


The Lowepro packs are better made, but the f64 are better designed from the standpoint of accomadating a LF camera outfit including film- holders. I have a Lowepro Trim Trekker for my 4 X 5 (a Linhof Tech) and an f64 BPX for a wooden 8 X 10. Neither have a specific strap for the tripod, but both can be made to fit a tripod without too much trouble. I like them both.


-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), January 23, 2000.


I bought the large OutPack by Domke for 35mm hiking, but was pleasantly surprised to find it works very well with my Linhof Technikardan 4x5. enough room for camera and lens (lens stays mounted), spare lens, focus cloth, lightmeter, loupe, 10 film holders, various filters and miscellaneous.

there is a Tenba that comes highly rated for LF, as does the f64. I am afraid with one more lens purchase, I will be looking for something a bit larger. keep us informed.

-- Daniel Taylor (aviator@agalis.net), January 23, 2000.

Many people seem to think that the photo-specific backpacks aren't as comfortable or spacious as the packs geared to hikers and campers, such as the Kelty. I use the Domke Outpack myself. It's o.k. but I've never been thrilled with having to open (unsip) one compartment to get at the camera, a second to get at the film holders, a third to get at the lenses, and a fourth to get at the accessories. I'd prefer one where you simply unzipped the back and everything was right there in front of you. s

-- Brian Ellis (bellis@tampabay.rr.com), January 23, 2000.

After much consideration, I bought a Tenba Photo Backpack. (I got the large.) Nice thing about these packs is that they have two additional pouches on the back that could house one or two meters and quite a few accessories. See WWW.TENBA.COM; look under "Product Index by Name."

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@worldnet.att.net), January 23, 2000.

I use the Super Treker by Lowepro, it is their biggest (and heaviest pack) The empty pack weighs 12lbs! I would say it is well designed and very flexible with its velcro system, however, I am in the market for a better pack which may help my back and shouders on on long hikes. My pack weight when full is 60lbs,and at first it does not seem to heavy, but after a few hours, I am aching! I never used hiker packs, but am certainly looking into it now! Maybe they are not any better? The certainly are very much cheaper! The super Treker is about $400 while hiker packs that have a larger cargo holding area cost about $160. So save some bucks and check out the hiker packs first and see if any meet your needs, if not, then move to the photo packs... good luck...

-- Bill Glickman (bglick@pclv.com), January 24, 2000.

Which specific model of Tamrac backpack bag do you currently have?

-- Robert A. Zeichner (razeichner@ameritech.net), January 24, 2000.

Rob, I think it depends on what kind of backpacking you're going to do. It sounds like you just need to carry photo gears only so a photo pack might be ok. Having experiences with Tamrac and Lowepro's, your choice is probably Lowepro pro trekker AW. I don't recommend photo trekker AW. The harness, suspension system and shoulder pads of pro trekker is much better made and comfortable than that of photo trekker. I think it's worth extra money.

As Bill points out, you want to consider the weight of the pack. Photo packs tend to be much heavier (2x-3x) than non photo counterparts due to the compartment pads. Look into some non-photo packs. However, trying to figure out how to protect and organize photo gears can be a headache.

There is a static site for backpacks at this forum. You might want to see my thread, with which I linked some related topics.

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (mhayashi@phys.ufl.edu), January 24, 2000.

I use a Lowepro Photo Trekker AW. While the Pro does have a more sophisticated harness, the PhotoTrekkerAW is the largest Lowepro that will fit throught the new airline templates. I use this bag because it can travel by plane, protect my gear, and still be reasonable for a backpack. I agree with above that Lowepro quality is excellent, but the dividers aren't well suited to large format storage.

I have used Tenba PBLs in the past. They can be good bags, but make sure you check it out personally. In my experience, Tenba's quality control has been poor, and I have had to send two bags back for repairs. Silly things that should have been caught before they were shipped, like straps sewn on upside down!

If you don't plan to use the pack to travel by air, then condsider a non-photo pack to save weight like the Kelty's.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (gkroeger@trinity.edu), January 24, 2000.

If you plan hiking more than a mile with them, the central issue with LF photo backpacks is this: how well does it carry a tripod, the heaviest and most awkward piece of your gear? The backpacking principle of "heavy, hard, high" applies here: ideally, you want the heaviest gear at the top of the pack, namely, the tripod. But most manufacturers totally ignore this, except for Tenba, which makes a pack that fits on a Kelty frame, which would be ideal, since it allows you to lash the tripod horizontally at the top of the pack's frame; but this pack is very large. I bought a Tamrac 767, which was beautifully made, but inadequate for carrying a tripod; I returned it. The Tamrac 777 had the same tripod carrying system, which is designed for a very small tripod indeed. I settled on the Tenba 264 PBL, which has the best non-frame tripod setup of all the companies (Lowe Pro, Domke, Tamrac). It cost $225 from B & H. It carries a Ries backpacker tripod well-- high enough, and close enough to your back, without torquing your back. All the makers seem to make good packs, but only Tenba thought through the mechanics of backpacking with a tripod. And don't be fooled by John Fielder's endorsements of Lowe Pro-- he uses a Llama!

-- Burke Griggs (griggsb@bc.edu), February 04, 2000.

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