Top/Front Load Backpack? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

After receiving Domke Outpack and paying a great price from B&H, realized quickly how poorly designed the front loading system was(most likely the strongest reason why its on sale). My Lowepro has to lay down, straps in the mud or snow, totally opened up to access gear. Might anyone know of a medium to large backpack that has a combination top and front load, with water-proof padding on bottom, hopefully freestandin

-- Gary Albertson (, March 02, 2001


Gee... I like the front-loading of the Outpack. Lets me keep the pack standing up while I get lenses and camera... what don't you like about the front-load?

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, March 02, 2001.

Glenn, I had researched that particular standup backpack long before I ordered. But when I received it, noticed the openings to the compartments were too small. It still is a good idea, but also see how they could have easily made improvements, such as openings going out to outer seams, such as Lowepro does. Also they could easily have added more small exterior compartments. Also the waist belt could have been shortened-seems to be designed for a common larger belly, almost run out of room when cinching up. Again, it still is an interesting idea, just wish Lowepro would try a similar standup, front load backpack. AND perhaps include a top load sec

-- Gary Albertson (, March 02, 2001.

Glenn, I like to thank you for your original positive input about the bag. Threw 67 body, 3 lenses, bottle of water, pretty much everything out of my favorite bag, strapped it up, hiked a couple miles up the Metolius River. Felt balanced, weighted well on my back. Gear pulled out well, solid for an upright positioned bag. If my 45AX, 3 lenses and stuff also fits, might additionally order the larger Outpack. I sense now as well as you that it was a very good purcha

-- Gary Albertson (, March 02, 2001.

a comment--so far, I have been pleased with the Domke outpack--Glen's comments, etc.---My suggestion to further the "improvement of the design" would be to have a "handle" strap at the very top of the pack, like a luggage handle( ironically, I am very surprized that it was not designed that way from the get go.). Gary--look into an F64 pack if you are not satisfied with the Domke--presently, I am capable of carrying an arca swiss system--multiple lenses, roll film backs, plus 4x5 film holders and accessories----for practicality, I attempt to leave stuff behind when I go out--"less is more". the F64 bags would be an alternative for me if I was not satisfied with Domke.

-- Raymond A. Bleesz (, March 03, 2001.

Gary, I use a Tamrac 757 top loading back pack for my 45 kit. But I bought it about 1990 so I don't know if its still in production. It has a top zipped compartment in which I store a spotmeter, magnifier and an air blower. This hinges back to access the main compartment where I store camera with lens and either a Horseman back or 5/DD slides. The pack also has two large side pockets in one I store two lenses in the other either 5 more DD slides or a Polaroid 545i holder. There is also a front zipped pocket to hold filters, cable release etc. A nice feature of this back pack is that the harness can be folded out of the way in a zipped compartment and a shoulder strap attached. It also has a top handle. Regards,

-- Trevor Crone (, March 03, 2001.

The Domke Outpack in which I carry a 4x5 system has a canvas strap at the top with which the pack can be hand carried. Perhaps other models don't have this. The Domke Outpack that I use is o.k. but not great. The main thing I don't like is the number of different compartments that have to be accessed by zippers to get at everything. Other packs I've seen have a single zipper that opens the entire front, from which everthing can be accessed. With the Domke (at least the version I have) you have to open one zippered compartment to get at the camera, another to get at the lenses, a third to get at the accessories, and yet a fourth if you store things in the small interior compartment. For the longest time I kept forgetting to close one of the compartments and everything would fall out when I hoisted the pack to put it on my back. After having the camera fall out three or four times, once to the tune of a $300 repair job, I no longer do that but it's still an inconvenient system IMHO. I'm waiting for it to wear out so that I can switch to one of the camping back packs and add compartments. I use a camping pack for 8x10 and find it much lighter and more comfortable than any dedicated photography pack I've ever used.

-- Brian Ellis (, March 03, 2001.

I had a similar experience with carrying a 4x5(Canham)in the Outpack, and I hated the compartmentalization of this pack. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but opening a separate zipper or flap for each item you need gets old very fast. I also had problems with very shoddy construction on the one I got. The sewing on the raincover was so poor that there was a HUGE hole in one place. A couple of the inserts also had sewn seams that came unraveled at the slightest touch.

I returned it for a Lowe PhotoTrekker, which is better but still has many drawbacks. Laying it flat is a pain but it solves the problem of compartmentalized storage; most everything is handily available. I solve the "staps in the mud" problem by pulling out the rain fly and setting the pack on it. You also can't dispute the fact that there isn't anything out there that provides the protection that the Lowe does. My biggest problem is that I can't get the damn thing configuered in a manner that makes me feel like I'm using the space effectively. The dividers are obviously designed with a 35mm system in mind and it just doesn't seem to translate very well to LF. Every good configuration is thwarted by the lack of another extra long or extra thick divider.

I recently hauled my equipment down to a local shop and crammed it all into an F64. These packs definitely seem to have the LF photographer in mind, with a nice front loading capability. There are still a few too many separate compartments though, and the suspension system isn't nearly the quality of the Lowe (the Lowe is probably overkill though, unless you're carrying the load very long distances).

Another option is to wrap everything and throw it into a regular toploading backpack. This actually works quite well if you're not carrying a lot of stuff. I use different color lenswraps on lenses and wrap the camera in my darkcloth. My filmholders go into the rectangular padded case that the Canham comes in. A small fannypack holds filters, my meter, and other accessories. I throw the fanny pack right in the pack for carrying and wear it when shooting. This actually turns out to be quite handy. There was also plenty of room to throw in lunch and a jacket, which isn't usually possible with any of the photo specific packs I've tried.

Looking back on the whole process, my regular backpack option was the best price to performance solution. If I was determined to spend money buying a photo specific pack (which, for some unexplained reason, I was) I'd probably go with the F64, though I'm not sure I'd really be any happier in the long run than I am with the Lowe.

-- Tim Klein (, March 07, 2001.

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